How is it already Thursday?
I don’t understand why time has decided to fly by.
Everything within me wants to turn back time. Yesterday as we had our nightly debriefing, I began to cry. Some of my team members might have thought it was because I didn’t get to spend time with the kids doing the craft, or because something Bill said was so profound that it brought a tear to my eye. 😉 Or maybe they didn’t realize that I was crying because I’m an expert at hiding it, and thought I was wiping away dirt that had flown into my eye on our last moto taxi ride. Whatever the case, my heart is heavy as I type this; it took four long years for me to return to Peru, and last night I began to wonder when I’ll be back next, if ever again. God has called both Caleb and I to be missionaries, but in the end, both of us need to be in one accord as to where we decide to plant our roots. It would be selfish for me to say, “We’re called to Peru,” if Caleb isn’t completely sure in his heart as well. So, I continue to trust & wait. The process is never easy, but as I’ve seen on this trip, the results of doing things in God’s timing are always so beautiful and perfect.
If I were to bet how many people on our team were afraid when we arrived in Iquitos, I’d be a very rich person, and then I’d be able to pay off all our school debt, and enter the mission field right away. Then again, Pentecostals don’t bet, right? Right.
I know we were all scared, but I think we were scared for different reasons.
Some of us All of us were scared because, hello – this place is an entirely new world. It smells, there’s garbage everywhere, and walking the streets at night alone is just another way of saying, “I think I want to get robbed tonight.” Pedestrians don’t have the right of way, and moto taxis decide whether or not you’re going to return home with all your limbs intact. Thankfully, we all run fast, and have common sense to look both ways.
But for me, it was a different kind of fear. I’ve written before about my struggle with the fear of failure. I want to please everyone all the time, and I’ve realized that I struggle with being a perfectionist because I don’t want people to leave or to stop loving me. During the ride to our hotel the night we arrived in Iquitos, this fear of failure came at me the way moto taxis come at our group every time we cross the street. I felt attacked, and almost incapacitated. I thought about our children’s program, and realized that we had written two skits, but never practiced them. I realized that I still didn’t know the movements to “Jesus is My Superhero.” And I realized that I forgot to pack scissors. What if they don’t have scissors in Iquitos?
As one of the leaders of this trip, my strongest desire is that this group paves the way for future ministry. I want Bill & Lena to love us so much that they say, “bring back groups every year from Valley Forge.” As I thought about this desire, my fear said, “you’re going to ruin everything.”
But you know what? This trip has been an incredible blessing. Someone commented on a photo I posted on Facebook and said, “I give you so much credit for doing this.” A huge part of me wanted to respond and say, “Thank you so much!” What person wouldn’t want to accept a compliment that acknowledges how good he or she is? But the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let me. I wasn’t able to take the credit because I really haven’t done anything. If I were doing the things we’ve done in my own strength, I would be dehydrated and lying in a manhole, and my beloved Canon would be floating around the Black Market.
We have completed three days of children’s ministry and completed a big chunk of the bathroom remodeling. On Tuesday, we spoke to the high school students that go to the school in Belen, and three of us (and Bill) gave our testimonies. We all felt extremely sick and run down, yet as soon as I got up to speak, I felt like I had been refilled, and I was able to tell them what God has done in my life. Samantha and Elias gave their testimonies as well, and the little mama bear in me was so happy that they put aside any fears or anxiety they had, and spoke to the teenage group. In reality, the guys on the team are the real heroes, and have been working so hard every day to mix cement and lay the bricks for the bathroom walls. Joe from Colorado is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met, but is also humble and has such a sweet spirit about him. I’m so glad that Joe, Jennifer, and Percy decided to join us here in Peru. I’m especially proud of Caleb, and am continually thankful that God brought us together. You would never know that he had never laid brick before, because he learned so quickly and did it like a pro. It becomes more and more evident to me how well we balance each other out.
Each and every day we have dealt with heat, rain, exhaustion, changed schedules, and even a few scary dogs, but we have somehow still ended our days feeling accomplished, renewed, and filled with joy. We walk on rickety wooden planks every day, and get bit by pesky mosquitos, but we remain united and have deepened our friendships. That, my friends, is the hand of God.
Side Note: through it all, there has been minimal complaining – with the exception of my table at dinner last night when our waiter told us they didn’t have frozen lemonade, and then the other waitress brought the rest of our team frozen lemonades. But I digress.
There are so many stories I could tell, like how we get churros every night from the same sixteen year old girl who has a nine-month old baby at home, or how we all worked together yesterday to mix concrete and laughed hysterically at all of Percy’s jokes. Or about how sometimes the way they do things in Peru just don’t make sense, but you go along with it because it’s all a part of the journey.
I could tell you about how some of the children at the schools are abused and unloved, and poverty is a reality that most, if not all of them will never escape. Some of the high school girls we met might have babies this time next year, and most will end up selling chickens at the market, and won’t make more than a dollar a day. Yet, they have a purpose. If they could only see their potential.
Yesterday we visited a school in Punchana, and even though there is an incredible difference between the children in Punchana and the children in Belen, they still live in an extremely hopeless place.
But what I will tell you is that this week, these people have heard about the love of Jesus. In the grand scheme of things, we are just a drop in the bucket/ocean of their lives. Two days at each school is not enough time, but that’s mostly because I’m selfish, and I don’t want to go back to my regular life in the States. I don’t want to student teach at an American school- can’t I finish it here?
However, the Lord reminded me this morning that I am just His planter. I have been given a packet of seeds, and am responsible for sowing them wherever I go. Not only in Peru, but in Phoenixville as well. Our team was never called to save these children, but instead to sow seeds in their hearts, and to trust that the Lord will do the rest of the work. We now have a responsibility to continue to pray for these children and their communities, and to make others aware of the need here in Iquitos.
If any of you are interested in learning more about how you can sponsor a child here in Iquitos, or give to one of the many projects that Percy has planned, please let me know.
Today we are doing our last children’s service at the school in Punchana, and tomorrow we are taking a trip to see the Bora Tribe on the Amazon. We have lived six adventurous days, and I feel like this is still just the beginning.
Continue to pray for our team, and once again, thank you for your love and support as we finish out our last few days in Iquitos.