The last time I wrote was on Thursday, and I was kind of sappy, and lamented over the fact that we were leaving in a few days. But now we’re back, and both Caleb and I can say with certainty that our time on the mission field has only just begun. It’s comforting when God confirms things like that, isn’t it?
I’ll say it again – we don’t know God’s timing, and as of right now, we have too many loans to become full time missionaries as soon as I graduate. If anyone feels led to send us a check for $80,000, I won’t say no. I’m actually not kidding at all about that. If anything, believe in prayer with us that God will provide the money we need to pay off our school debt.
Thursday in itself was a tough day. I wrote that sad post, and then our team split up; the girls went to do children’s ministry at the school in Punchana, and the guys went to do some work on the bathroom remodeling. We did our usual songs and puppet show, played two games, handed out candy, and then I gave the message. I had originally planned to tell the story about the Good Samaritan, but felt like I was supposed to give a salvation message instead. When I gave it, no one listened. The teachers sat in the back of the room as the kids talked over me. But I pushed through, and even though I felt like my words fell to the ground, there was still a group of children that came up to the front and asked Jesus into their hearts. There was one girl in particular that I had connected with the previous day, and she ran up to the front and I prayed with her. Once I finished praying, I told her that she was precious and that God loved her more than anyone else could ever love her. I then started to cry because once again, I realized that this was the last time I was probably ever going to tell these specific children about Jesus. Bill most likely thought I was crazy, but it’s okay. 😉
Craft time was also hectic, and once again, none of the teachers helped us as we tried to teach them how to make Gospel bead bracelets (each color bead represents a different part of the salvation story). As soon as I brought out candy and prizes, I was pushed into a corner, and attacked by little hands wanting packets of starbursts. In the end, Valerie and I both felt drained and defeated. Before we left, I helped Janet paint faces, and did my best to paint more spiders and hearts. It became even more clear that I wasn’t created to become a face painter.
We said our goodbyes, and then headed off to Belen to check in with the guys. When we got to Belen, the high schoolers were on their break, so I started passing out candy and glow bracelets. I started talking to one boy and more high schoolers trickled in and joined the group. We sat down and I showed them how to make the Gospel bracelets, and they opened up to me about what they want to do with their futures. One girl said she was inspired to help other people because our group came and helped them. I was able to spend a couple of hours with them, and was once again amazed at how the Lord works. I will be the first to say that I have never felt called to work with youth, yet here I was interacting with the students that had talked over my testimony just a few days earlier….and loving every minute of it.
As for the bathroom, we were unable to finish it completely, but the guys were able to put up most of the walls!
Before we left to go back to our hotel, Percy took Valerie and I to see Juan and Axel’s house.
Their family lives in a one room shack, and Juan & Axel sleep on a board with a thin sheet. Their mom sleeps on the other bed with their little sister Suli, and their dad sleeps in a hammock. Valerie and I had written them goodbye letters, and also made them little bracelets and necklaces. Axel took my letter, and carefully placed it in his drawer with the rest of his personal items. He gave me a huge hug, and then smiled that adorable smile where his tooth hangs over his lip.
We said goodbye, and then headed off to our hotel, which doesn’t seem fair.
That night, the team split up and went to two different church services. Bill, Kristen, Valerie, Samantha, Elias, Joe, Jennifer, Janet, and I went to the service in Punchana; Kristen and I led worship with Bill, and Elias preached. At the end of his sermon, Elias gave an altar call for people that wanted the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. We prayed over people that came to the altar, and at one point, the lights turned off completely. Even then, the presence of the Lord was so powerful, and we just prayed louder until the lights came back on.
Friday was an exciting day. We went on a boat ride down the Amazon, visited a wildlife animal sanctuary, and danced with the Bora tribe. We ate lunch overlooking the water, and even ate some grubs in the market.
I’d have to say the highlight of the day was holding the sloth – it was SO slow, and I still have a hard time believing it was actually real. The grub on the other hand, was terrible. Not that I was expecting to love it, but Andrew Zimmern lied to me. Friday night we left Iquitos and flew back to Lima.
Saturday was spent at a few different places.
1) San Cristobal hill:
2) The Cathedral of Lima:
3) A market that sold souvenirs
4) A Brazilian Steakhouse (amazing)
5) Bill’s House where we debriefed and ate tres leches & flan
Sunday morning, we got up early & flew from Lima to Bogota, Bogota to JFK, and then drove two and a half hours to Phoenixville. Everyone was excited to be back home.
Looking back, I can say with certainty that this trip was life changing. Caleb and I have a little more direction as to what we know we are supposed to do on the mission field, and are continuing to pray for God to show us where we are supposed to go and when.
We are so thankful that we were able to connect with the Shraders; they are great examples of what missionaries should be like, are great parents, and welcoming hosts. I think I speak for the whole team when I say this was the best missions trip I have ever been on.
I learned about the true meaning of simplicity, and the genuine joy and contentment that is found when you seek God wholeheartedly & understand that He is all you need.
We’re still on an emotional/spiritual high, but I pray that we never forget the poverty, and the hopelessness, and the struggles that Iquitos showed to us.
I love that my life is a life of purpose, but I can’t afford to lose focus on what I know God has called me to do.
For the next few months we’ll be in the States, but I’m so excited to see where our next adventure will take us.