Fulfilling a dream

Rental operator to make mission trip to Peru


Randy Caldwell, owner of Southern Equipment Rental in Benton, Ark., has had the opportunity to do a lot of things he loves. He runs a successful rental operation, has a great family, serves as deacon and music director at his church, and is the president of the ARA of Arkansas. Just recently, though, a dream he has harbored for years was about to become reality: to go on a mission trip.

As of press time, Caldwell, his brother, their sponsor and his wife, and two translators, were getting ready to head to the mountains of Peru, near Chavin. After flying a day to Lima, they will spend the night on a bus going up the mountains. The next day they will acclimate to the altitude change. Then they will work for five days, staying in motels at night and walking every morning to the villages, carrying all of their supplies in backpacks.

“This is my first mission trip. We are going through the International Mission Board. Our set objective is to build beds for the villagers because they sleep on the ground. But you always keep an open mind because those objectives can change,” he says.

For someone who has never been outside of the United States, how did all of this come about? “Well, I was putting in a zip line at our church camp last January. The camp director told me that he had been a missionary in Peru. I told him that I always had wanted to go on
a mission trip. The next day, he came over to the store and talked to me for about 1½ hours, drilling me with questions. At the end of the conversation, he asked me whether I would like to go to the mountains of Peru in September. I said, ‘Sure.’”

That eagerness to jump in and help in a country he has never been to was spurred on by an old friend of Caldwell’s, who, in his younger days, went on three mission trips a year. “My friend, Buster Warrick, and I belong to the Saline County Executives Association,” Caldwell says. “During those meetings, he always shared stories about those mission trips. After listening to those stories, I said that ‘I have to have some of that.’”

Caldwell, who has been planning this trip for the past nine months, is eager to finally be able to go. Bearing most of the cost of the trip himself, he believes he is ready. “I have broken in my hiking boots and have been doing a lot of walking. My daughter lives in the mountains in Colorado. When I went to visit her, I did a lot of walking in the mountains. I’ve had all of my shots and I have been doing a lot of praying,” he says. “I am looking forward to helping others who can’t or just don’t know how to do these things for themselves. If I can spread the good word, too, how do you lose?”

He has no concerns, but is sure that carrying all of his belongings in his backpack each day will be a challenge. “You can be assured that when this is done, I am leaving everything there. I’m not toting this stuff back home,” he says with a laugh.

Caldwell believes this trip is a calling and says, “If you are called to do something in the mission field, you don’t question it. You just do it.”

Caldwell is just one of many rental operators whom the American Rental Association (ARA) and the ARA Foundation are celebrating during October, which has been designated as “ARA Makes a Difference in Your Community Month.”

“This month is a way to honor those who give back,” says Jenni Venema, ARA Foundation director of development. “We are highlighting the generosity of those in the rental industry. Those in our industry are a very giving group. We want to honor all of those philanthropic efforts as all make such a difference in the lives of others.”

When Caldwell returns to the states, you can read all about this adventure and the philanthropic efforts of other rental operators in the weekly e-newsletter, Rental Pulse.