Our family is in Peru for two years to serve with Extreme Nazarene. We are living in the jungle city of Puerto Maldonado supporting our team of 8 missionaries as 12 churches are planted here in 18 months! Please keep checking in to keep up on our our ministry and adventures in Peru!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Amazon 3 Day Trip

This last week was our break week from classes so we planned a 3 day trip up the Amazon to help a small village church. Knowing that in the future some of our church plant locations might be 8 hour or more from Puerto Maldonado, this should prove to be an excellent experience for our group. We arrive in Belen, a little floating part of our city to board the boat and they are in the process of loading the boat with diesel that they are filtering using an old T-shirt. The two story boat has a motor sitting in the middle of the bottom floor spitting hot oil and exhaust on passengers below. The upper deck is half covered with hammocks strung up from side to side in preparation for the 10+ hour boat ride and we were last to arrive so we get the sun deck which means that after about 3 hours all the white folks are burnt somewhere. Thankfully the boat does have a toilet for this long of a ride, just don’t slip from the splashing river water below and watch your aim. The trip was long and as darkness swept in fast the rain did as well which of course had to happen and everyone had to squeeze underneath the bug infested hammock area. Callie, Cristobal (our school organizer) and I headed downstairs which was about 85 degrees and a man with a flashlight was tending to the engine with a rag over his mouth to protect for the fumes. As we got closer to our destination which was the last stop on this route, we would pull in drop people off at other villages in the dead of night and every time we did this we were swarmed with mosquitoes because our boat was no longer moving and we all started lathering on the Cutter. We arrived at Famento at 9:20ish and walked with our gear another 20 minutes to the town, where we settled down at the church to put up our bug nets and beds and then headed to pastors Nehemiah’s house for dinner. We all got fish and I do mean fish, the whole thing, and some even got one or two on our plate. The fish had about as many bones as my Spanish dictionary has new words. Imagine swallowing one of those pins from a new collared shirt from Nordstrom and have it stay in your throat for 2 hours. Anyways, this is a normal meal which we were soon to find out, and we knew to always eat and accept what is given to us. The girls had a harder time, but it was very delicious, even the one with the huge teeth. So we woke up the next day, had fish for breakfast and got ready to help the local pastor with his evening service and invite another local village to the service. So we headed to San Juan which was a cool 20 minute walk. It looked to be a slightly larger village than Famento and bumped up to a beautiful oxbow lake. As we split up to invite the community, we began noticing a somber and concerned mood amongst the villagers. The first house we arrived at explained that a local man went missing the previous afternoon on the lake. Each house we went to invite was concerned but not with empathy. It’s difficult to describe but it was as if they had been through this so many times before, they just didn’t display their sadness visibly. It’s as if this sort of thing happens more often than it should, with health issues, dangerous jungle animals and hospital visits out of the picture. We gathered around and followed the local pastors lead in prayer for the family of the missing man. Whether there was a relationship with the pastor and this family or town I could not tell, but my prayer was for open doors for the pastor in that village and peace for the wife. There was a man who went in search of the man the previous day and kept saying that it was likely the large Boa living in the lake. As we returned to Famento, I just thought about how surreal it seemed to me that this happened during the little window of time that we were there.
That afternoon, we played games, tug of war, soccer, relaxed in the heat and prepared for the night service. That evening the service was packed and our team provided some excellent leadership in song and drama. The local pastor seemed to be very encouraged which I gathered was something quite needed.
After the service we walked around the center soccer field and talked with the locals thanks to the village owned 12kw generator running power to the walkway lights. The mosquitoes were something fierce and what’s strange is that the locals have a different name for the ones that come out at night. They’re called San Curos. They were big but don’t worry ma, they didn’t have malaria. The next morning at 5:00am we packed up, ate our fish breakfast and started out on our 4 hour jungle walk out because tThe boat we had headed in on wasn’t available so this was our only option.
As we began we got our packs, dufflebags and handbags, bed mats situated, prayed for the village and headed out with our 14 year old guide. 20 minutes into the hike we came to San Juan and as we passed by many of the local homes we noticed many sitting together talking. As we continued on our route the most surreal part of the trip was about to take place and I didn’t know how to react. The last house we pass on our way out of San Juan had the man’s body wrapped in white laying on a table alone inside the house. There were 10 or so villagers sitting outside the house morning the loss, we stopped to pay our respects, said our goodbyes to the villagers and headed on our way. Apparently, he was found floating in the lake 2 hours earlier and the thought was that he must have fallen in and just couldn’t swim. I never would have imagined that this strange chapter would have come to a close while we were there. We all were shocked at what had transpired and again our prayers were that this would open the doors for Christ in this village. As I read Psalms 136, it struck me that even this situation can fit into the list of how “His love endures forever” even when it seems like a terrible situation, God is sovereign. Our hike lasted an hour and we came to another village with a man who had a sugar cane slash alcohol making operation which he showed us. We were excited when he said he was willing to take us 2 hours up river in his boat to our destination. Beautiful jungle river, like out of National Geographic and then finally and hour by bus and we were back. It was memorable and great for our group to spend this unique experience together and help with what we could. Had our group not been there it’s likely that Pastor Nehemiah would not have visited San Juan and met the community at their point of need. Thanks for reading and sticking with our blog, your support and prayers are so appreciated.


Anonymous said...

Love reading about your adventures. You guys our in our thoughts and prayers. I pray that God would give you strength and encouragement with everything you are doing. I bet you will always remember this time in Iquitos as one of the best times in your lives - and ministering to so many people at the same time. Isn't God good? Jill

Anonymous said...

leave those people alone and don't think you know better then they how to live.

Vicky said...

We know you guys aren't there to tell them how to live, but to shar that there is hope and love in a harsh world. Life is not just about the daily survival and death at the end. Bless you as you learn more from them than they do from you!

Miriam said...

Your life is much different than mine right now...
You continue to be in our prayers.

Jerry said...

I don't know who said 'leave those people alone' (I notice they didn't believe enough in what they said to sign their name) but please, don't ever leave hurting people alone. Offer them what you can, including the spiritual aspects of life. We all need each other, even the person I mention who doesn't quite 'get it.'
- Jerry Moen