Thursday - June 20th, 2013 *these are slightly edited journal entries from our time with a tribe in the Amazon (6/16-20/2013) – so that’s why they are posted after the fact and in present tense. This was my first jungle trip! Loved it! We had so many stories from the trip that I decided to post a series of blog posts from my journal, of which this is the 6th. I hope you enjoy getting a more detailed, up-close glimpse into some of our adventures with this tribe – I know I did! Thanks for your prayers!
Well, we made it back last night to the town where we catch our speed boats today, well…just barely made it back, haha The last 2 ½ hours were a little interesting. =) To start with it was pouring! This ended up causing our driver to make a full 180 degree turn while driving down river – and he didn’t even notice it because of how hard it was raining. So a little while later, Juan, who was sitting on the bow spotting for the driver (watching for logs), waved at the driver to stop. We all kind of sat up to see what the hold up was, yelling to Juan over the rain trying to find out what the problem was. Juan just stood there staring intently at the river, and a few seconds later began motioning for the driver to turn around – we had been heading back up the river! The rain made it hard to discern which direction the river was flowing. We all got a good chuckle out of that. Thank the Lord for Juan noting the direction of the water despite the distraction of the rain! If he hadn’t, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have made it back…because we would have run out of gas, lol.
Haha, so the second close call yesterday was that we started to run low on gas halfway back to our stop (the total trip was about 7 hours). Our driver started getting really creative, repositioning the barrels to get every ounce of gas to the engine. I think the motor coughed to a stop 3 of 4 times, each time in the middle of nowhere, still a good hour or so from the nearest place to get gas. We all held our breaths each time, grinning at each other, nervously chuckling, the boys joking around leading to a fresh round of nervous chuckles, all the while praying silently that the Lord would once again provide as He had so many times throughout our journey. That He would somehow multiply our gas…or enable the motor to run on good old air. Anything to get us the rest of the way back. And…He must have done something along those lines, because somehow each time our driver was able to coax our motor back to life. Honestly, there’s no way we should have made it that far. The Lord is good!
Oh, and one more huge praise report! Throughout our whole trip, we had Juan with us. He is the nephew of one of the elders at Hamer’s church. We were so blessed as a team by Juan. He helped with the boat, carrying luggage, translating, leading the kids during Kids Games, and basically whatever else was needing to be done, he jumped up to do it. He pretty quickly became attached and key member of our team.
So after we got back to Hamer’s church and town where Juan lives, we found out from his aunt that he had trusted Christ during the trip! Apparently, he had lived with his uncle and aunt for the last year, estranged from his father (hadn’t spoken to him in a year), and before the trip, he was on the brink of being kicked out of school for his antics. His aunt told us they had been praying for Juan, that the Lord would save him, ever since he had come to live with them. He told his aunt as soon as he got back that he had accepted Christ as His Savior during the trip and that he felt different. He wanted to call his father and reconcile with him because of what God was doing in his life! His aunt was SO encouraged!
Needless to say, we were thrilled to hear the news! The Lord was gracious to pull back the curtain and give us a little glimpse into what He was doing through the trip. And all through a person, we didn’t realize the Lord was pursuing! So cool. We all agreed – this trip was totally worth it if the only purpose for the trip was for the Lord to work thorough our testimonies and presence to save Juan. Who knows what else the Lord has done over the last couple of days!
I can’t wait to see what the Lord does with Juan – he’s such a great kid and already such a bold leader. Saying goodbye to him this morning at the port was bittersweet - our new brother in Christ, but he had become such an important member of our team. We all hugged and rejoiced with him as we prepared to leave. You could tell he had developed quite an attachment to the team. Boy, are we going to be praying for him- that the Lord will give him friends who love God and with whom he can grow in his walk with the Lord. The Lord’s got something special in store for Juan – I can’t wait to see how the Lord uses him!
Wednesday, June 19, 2013 *these are slightly edited journal entries from our time with a tribe in the Amazon (6/16-19/2013) – so that’s why they are posted after the fact and in present tense. This was my first jungle trip! Loved it! We had so many stories from the trip that I decided to post a series of blog posts from my journal, of which this is the 5th. I hope you enjoy getting a more detailed, up-close glimpse into some of our adventures with this tribe – I know I did! Thanks for your prayers!
We said a sad farewell to the village and the rest of the team (those who had come from the neighboring tribe to work with Hamer’s discipleship classes). I got to say “chau” to 4 or 5 of the girls who made it to the boat before we left this morning. Sadly, I missed saying goodbye to most of the girls. =’( Thankfully, Mayeer (I have no clue on the spelling?) was there, so I got to say goodbye to him before I left. So many precious kidos! I’m really going to miss them.
In a sense, I’m happy to return to the world of electricity, internet, houses with walls and doors, washers and dryers, ovens and microwaves, privacy, indoor plumbing, real showers and beds, and ice cold beverages. On the other hand, I kind of hope and wonder if the Lord will open the door for me to go back to the tribe (or a similar, remote tribe) for long-term. I definitely discovered that I would not only like to work in a remote tribe, but I love the people and with all of my heart want them to come to know my merciful, loving Savior! Whenever I think of an unreached tribe in the Amazon, I will remember that group of kids sitting in a circle in the mud, underneath a rainbow, hearing for the first time of the story of their Creator who loved them so much that He promised not to destroy all of mankind, but instead made a way for them to know and enjoy His sweet presence for eternity. Now the term “unreached tribe” has faces, names, shy smiles, and sweet giggles to go with it.
As we all climbed back into our boat preparing to embark on our 8 or so hour boat trip, Mayeer, one of the village boys who has been our constant shadow since we arrived, climbed into the canoe adjacent to ours and leaned over the edge into the boat with us, with his shy grin, as if to stowaway with us…Oh man! Love that kid. There are about 20 little faces and smiles that have indeed “stowed away” in my heart.
Juan and our awesome boat
Juan spotting for our driver as we head down river
Tuesday, June 18, 2013 *these are slightly edited journal entries from our time with a tribe in the Amazon (6/16-19/2013) – so that’s why they are posted after the fact and in present tense. This was my first jungle trip! Loved it! We had so many stories from the trip that I decided to post a series of blog posts from my journal, of which this is the 4th. I hope you enjoy getting a more detailed, up-close glimpse into some of our adventures with this tribe – I know I did! Thanks for your prayers!
Today’s our last day here with the tribe… so sad! As I sit here in my little pop-up tent with my flashlight handing down from the fabric top, I can’t help but reflect on what God is teaching me here with these people.
Firstly, my mind constantly goes back to that moment when one of the little girls here slipped her little brown hand into mine, interlocking her fingers with mine. Oh boy…I was a goner from that moment on. I love these kids! Wherever I go in the community now, I have two little hands interlaced with mine. The remoteness and simple-ness of life here (before this trip, I would have said “extreme-ness”) isn’t really that noticeable most of the time. Occasionally, I’ll have a moment were I’m like, “Wow, this is so ironic! I’m 2 days from the nearest, moderately sized town, listening to the sounds of the jungle, with a snake somewhere above my head (and thankfully so! He keeps the rats from taking over the house at night and terrorizing us while we try to sleep), hand washing my clothes, braving the enormous spider in the outhouse, and all our cooking is being done over a fire with water that the boys haul up from our swimming hole each day...” haha, granted, a little different from my definition of “normal.”
Overall, I’m quickly coming to the conclusion that I not only could live in a place like this, but I think I would love (with God’s grace) to live here, if God gave me the opportunity.
getting ready to head out
Visiting with the one known believer in the village
Worship on the river! Oh yeah!!
The gringo part of the team the night before we left, standing in front of Krista's house, which she so graciously let us stay in. And the boys...being boys, lol.
*these are slightly edited journal entries from our time with a tribe in the Amazon (6/16-19/2013) – so that’s why they are posted after the fact and in present tense. This was my first jungle trip! Loved it! We had so many stories from the trip that I decided to post a series of blog posts from my journal, of which this is the 3rd. I hope you enjoy getting a more detailed, up-close glimpse into some of our adventures with this tribe – I know I did! Thanks for your prayers!
Today’s been so fast! We got up whenever the rooster decided to wake us up… well, it was more like the 3rd or 4th rooster’s crow. It was sometime around 6am, I guess. I haven’t looked at a watch since the beginning of the trip, and I rather like it!
Today was our first day of Kids’ Games, and overall I would say it was a success! We worked really hard to bring the kids out of their shells. Bethany & I are teaching the kids the memory verse, and Steph &Max are working through the gospel colors over our two days working with the kids. I’m so thankful the gospel is being shared so clearly with the kids and the adults who are watching from the sidelines! Steph also had gospel bracelets that her church made to hand out, so all the kids get to take home a reminder of what they learned – awesome!
Excited about their bracelets!
Bethany and I teaching the memory verse
Playing a water balloon game with the kids
Tom and I had 13 kids on our verde/green team. There were 5 teams in total, so I’m estimating that we had somewhere around 75 kids, if my math is trustworthy. ;) It was a good number! It was also really hot, lol, so after we finished, we all headed directly for the swimming hole.
All during that time, the girls were reminding me that we had promised to work on our beaded jewelry again that afternoon, so around 4ish, we finally got settled at home and broke out the beads again. There had to have been at least 15 girls and women sitting around in a circle on our floor, with several men and boys chillin’ off to the side visiting with the guys.
After dinner and everyone went home (it gets dark in the houses really early!), we were invited to join Hamer’s discipleship group/meeting. There were about 5 men and 1 woman from the tribe, our whole gringo team, and all the believers from the nearby village. I had heard from one missionary that worship in some tribes is noticeably lacking joy and well…worship. Wow, was I blessed by this group though!! The group of a ½ a dozen believers from the nearby village are obviously so excited about the Lord and seeing this tribe come to know Christ. The worship was heartfelt and full of loud, boisterous singing and clapping. It was pretty evident that they love to worship and love the Lord!
Meeting with the local believers and tribal discipleship group
Sharing my testimony
We were asked to share our testimonies a couple seconds before the service started. Haha, I was praying the whole time that God would give me the words He wanted the people to hear. Hopefully, He did! Worshiping the Lord in the middle of the jungle, with the sound of the jungle in the background, in a dark room, with a mixture of first-generation believers, with three different languages represented, seeing everyone sing their hearts out to the Lord…definitely one of my favorite moments from the trip. So blessed!
Sunday, June 16, 2013 *these are slightly edited journal entries from our time with a tribe in the Amazon (6/16-19/2013) – so that’s why they are posted after the fact and in present tense. This was my first jungle trip! Loved it! We had so many stories from the trip that I decided to post a series of blog posts from my journal, of which this is the 2nd. SO sorry it’s so long – a lot happened our first day. It’s like 4 stories in one blog post… I hope you enjoy getting a more detailed, up-close glimpse into some of our adventures with this tribe – I know I did! Thanks for your prayers!
We finally made it to the village this morning at about 9am, after 3 ½ days of travel! (1 day flying to Iquitos, 1 day on a series of speedboats on the Amazon, & 1 ½ days of chugging our way upriver in our own boat – all in all, quite an adventure!). What a day…so many things I want to jot down & not forget about. The Lord has already done so much within our team, with the tribe, and in my heart.
We had been warned that the village was not your traditional village – all the huts together in a clearing. That proved to be the case. When we arrived on the outskirts of the community, our driver took us down a tiny branch off the main river. It was about the size of a creek back home, but a little deeper, thankfully! J As we slowly edged our way around the corners of this narrow creek (trying not to hit any submerged logs or run aground on a sand bar), we started seeing our first evidences of the community – dotted along the dense, jungle banks were canoes and barely noticeable paths leading off into the jungle. Most of the houses weren’t visible from the river. We had to have passed at least 10 or 15 of these little “docks” – our first glimpse of the village we traveled 3 days to reach!
arriving in the community for the first time
At last we made it to Krista’s house (a Wycliffe translator who has just begun to work on translating Scripture into their language – she is there off and on, and during the time we were there, off) where we would be staying. We were warmly greeted by some believers who had come from a moderately close village to help Hamer, the Peruvian missionary we partnered with who traveled with us to do discipleship training with some of the adults in the village while we worked with the kids. Great people! We were so blessed by their warm, loving reception, especially since we were a little unsure of how the tribe would respond to our arrival. (The tribe had been hesitant to allow a team of evangelicals to come, but thankfully, after Hamer talked with them, they agreed.)
We got settled into Krista’s stilt hut/house – with 2 bedrooms, 1 main “living room” (if you will J), and a kitchen. The roof is thatched grass (or something like that) and the walls and floor are these small strips of wood lined up side by side = a cool house! It even comes with it’s own pet snake, or so we’ve heard! =)
The team in front of Krysta's house.
washing our clothes in the river
After settling in, we washed clothes down at the river, leaning over the edge of a canoe to soak and scrub our nasty, smelly clothes. After that, we began to have guests slowly appear in the yard and around our doorway. Three girls (10, 8, & 3) and one little boy (Peter, 3) particularly made themselves comfortable, sitting in the house, watching everything we did.
After exhausting the 4 or 5 phrases I knew in their language& basically using up my poor, limited Spanish, I was able to pry their names from their shy, quiet, giggles (giggling over my humorous attempts to speak their language, I’m sure, lol). After a while of just sitting and making small talk – really small talk with my limited Spanish, I noticed a little bit of fingernail polish on one of the girl’s hands. Bingo! Something to relieve the awkwardness! Thankfully, I had (for some reason) brought fingernail polish on our jungle trip. I know. I’m not really sure why either! ;) Anyway, I dug though my bag and proceeded to paint all 3 girls’ fingernails amid their shy smiles and giggles, and ever since, we’ve been best-buds! A huge praise for the Lord breaking the “I’ve just met you & while I enjoy watching everything you do, I don’t know you” barrier. Who knew? God used a ½ empty bottle of polish that I forgot to take out of my backpack to make friends the first day – a huge answer to prayer for me!
After lunch, our team split up and headed in different directions, following a trail through the jungle that connected all of “the homesteads” (I’m running out of ways to describe the huts, lol) in their community. Our goal was to meet the families and invite them to come to our kids’ program, Kids Games that starts tomorrow.
Our group passed maybe 8-10 houses, but only 2 or so had adults who were home and sober. With 3 of the houses, the adults were basically passed out from masati. Despite our limited success with connecting with the adults, by the end of our mile+ hike, we had a good sized group of kids (maybe 20ish) following us, chatting (but mostly giggling with us over our attempts to speak to them), as we stomped through the mud and in Seth’s case, fell through the wooden planks of a bridge…twice (getting an early bath of sorts :). All the while, I had two little, brown hands tightly holding mine, lacing their little fingers in mine. Apparently for them, if more than two people want to hold one person’s hands, they solve the problem by simply holding the hand of the person that is holding the other person’s hand…if that makes sense. So I had a string of 6 or more little girls, all holding hands on either side of me. Oh yeah, I was a goner at that point! I was head-over heels for their little giggles and shy smiles. Love these little girls!
Visiting the community with our little party, with our little string of girls
Our visiting crew.
After we got back to the house, we broke out the beading supplies and all our little amigas happily settled around in a circle on the floor to make bracelets and necklaces. There were maybe 8-10 girls with about that many boys hanging out outside the circle. I had so much fun! We also went swimming/bathing back down at the river. So cool, refreshing, and a bit terrifying all at the same time, lol. No one ended up getting eaten by anything in the murky depths, but we sure thought about it as we splashed around, laughing with the kids.
Our beading group
Our swimming/bathing hole.
That evening there was a rainbow in the sky – it ended up being one of my favorite moments from the trip! – and Bethany, one of our team members, asked a group of kids outside our hut if they had ever heard the story of the rainbow, and they hadn’t. So Bethany and Juan (a youth that had traveled with us to the village) proceeded to read them the whole story of Noah – so far one of the coolest moments of the trip. The image of those 10 or so kids sitting in a circle, with a rainbow overhead, hearing for the first time about God’s promises and how He delivered Noah…that image isn’t going to leave me anytime soon.
Hearing the story of God's promise for the first time
A great opportunity to share of God's promises
Hearing the story of the rainbow and God's promise from Bethany and Juan
The Lord brought that image back to my mind tonight as we spent 2 or 3 hours sitting with a flashlight handing from an overhead beam, singing and praying, worshipping the Lord. This was by far one of the most incredible times of worship we’ve had as a team, and perhaps one of the most powerful I’ve ever experienced. So incredible! None of us wanted it to end, so we sang and prayed, and then sang and prayed some more. Like I said, the Lord brought that image of those kids hearing of God’s promise for the 1st time as they stared up at that rainbow. That and remembering those tiny hands clutching so tightly to mine as we tromped through the jungle. Oh man, the Lord used both to break my heart into pieces for these people. (I’m sitting in a coffee shop now days after that happen, making a blubbering mess of my mascara as I remember it, lol.)
I’m not really sure what the Lord’s doing, but I’m pretty sure the Lord gave me a small glimpse into His heart for these people. These people that have gone millenniums, perhaps, without hearing that He treasures them so much that He came and died for them, paying the ransom for them. He loves them SO much! The cross leaves us no doubt of that fact. Oh how He (and now I) love these people and want them to know their Creator’s great love for them!
Sunday, June 16, 2013 *these are slightly edited journal entries from our time with a tribe in the Amazon (6/16-20/2013) – so that’s why they are posted after the fact and in present tense. This was my first jungle trip! Loved it! We had so many stories from the trip that I decided to post a series of blog posts from my journal, of which this is the first. I hope you enjoy getting a more detailed, up-close glimpse into some of our adventures with this tribe – I know I did! Thanks for your prayers!
We were blessed with such a great team on this trip! 3 edgers, 2 ventures (including me), our team leaders, and 3 other members of the long-term team. Here we're getting ready to catch our flight to Iquitos!
Here's our full team (the gringo part of the team, our driver, and part of the Peruvian team that joined our team) getting ready to embark on our last day and 1/2 of travel on the river to reach the tribe. Our awesome boat is in the background!
We were supposed to arrive in the village late last night (6/15), but after 12 hours on the river, it started getting dark and we still had 3 hours to go. Tom, our team leader, tried to talk our driver into continuing up the river in the dark until we reached the village, but after hitting one log in the dark, our driver put his foot down and started looking for a place to pull over for the night. Long story short, we stopped at a hut/house on the river bank and asked to stay the night. Thankfully, the family agreed.
The hut/house was a multi-level, multi-room, side-less, stilt house with about 10 pigs – make that 10 squealing pigs J - below the floor boards. We grabbed our tents & put them up in one of the larger rooms. It was already pretty dark so we didn’t waste much time outside, chillin’ with the mosquitos – we climbed into our tents and slept in our clothes.
This is the house/hut we stayed in overnight
The next morning (6/16), we got up “late,” around 5:30am to the sound of our driver calling, “vamos!” & revving the boat engine. We all scrambled to get our tents packed in record time. Oh and just as a side story, come to find out, (remember this house/hut was on stilts, so it was a good distance from the ground) not all the planks on the floor were all that trustworthy… Haha, this led to a series of events where at least three of us almost fell through the floor, as planks gave way as we sleepily ran to catch our boat. (Apparently, the family that lived there knew what planks in their house not to step on…our gringo team, on the other hand, didn’t). Very humorous in hindsight, but at the time resulted in one of the guys nearly getting knocked out when he stepped on one end of a plank, only to have the other end come up and nail him in the side of the head. Ouch! Yup, we are definitely gringos…
some of us girls on the way upriver!
We were so blessed to have a big enough boat to put up hammocks for the last 15 hours of the river portion of the trip! So we were able to make up for our early mornings by catching up on sleep as we traveled. Plus we had a roof! The Lord definitely blessed us.
Traveling on the Amazon was beautiful! Here the river split - to the right is the river that crosses into Ecuador and is the river where Jim Elliot and the other missionaries were killed. Our journey took us to the tributary on the right.