Amazonian Wednesdays 🌴
For today’s post, I went back to my oldest files and pulled up one from my very first year as a missionary. Reading through the stories of my “freshman” year on the missions field has gotten me a bit on the edge of emotional. What a journey these twenty-two years have been! Today, you get to read about my beginnings. Without further ado, here is my report back to home from November 1997, at twenty-one years old:
I want you to be able to taste what I am tasting, feel a little bit of what I am feeling. I got back Sunday night (Nov. 2) from a brief trip to a pueblo called Nuevo Tarapaca. I went with my partner Emy to encourage the brethren and help celebrate the third anniversary of the growing village church there. Departing from Iquitos, we traveled for four hours by boat down miles and miles of milky-brown river, winding our way through the territory of the jungle trees. They stand in rows along the banks, tall and strong, as if they feel a responsibility to guard the secrets of the life within. Sometimes I felt like I was holding my breath as I cautiously lifted my head to take in their deep green essence. Truly the jungle is an immense expanse, one of the ends of the earth, completely penetrable only by the hand of its Creator…
It was beginning to rain when we arrived, and you have never felt anything so refreshing as tropical rain drops falling on your face and soaking your hair, turning the ground under your sandals into a delightful mud, as you breathe in the vibrancy of a whole other world, a green paradise. Evening was approaching, and we got ready for the service, in which I was to bring the Word.
As we walked over the soft, wet grass towards the church building that night, we could see through the windows that it was lit up and colorfully decorated for a program which would include a visit from the missionaries, the celebration of the church’s anniversary, and a wedding as well to top off our time together. I stepped out of the darkness of the night into the happy, bright light of Coleman lanterns. Warm, gentle hands clasped mine, and beautiful brown faces drew near to kiss my cheek. Soft voices uttered the greeting, “Dios te bendiga.” I found a seat on one of the wooden benches, and we began to praise the Lord together.
When Pastor Madardo invited me up to the front, I opened my Bible and began to share about the Secret Place where we can go and be alone with God. I spoke of the intense desire of our King to share our lives with us. They listened intently and made their agreement know by interjecting heart-felt amens as the Word of God successfully reached the soil of their hearts.
The people of the villages have a quiet, gentle, simple way of life. The celebration continued until 10:30 or so, with music and games and laughter, and in the morning we met again in the church. There, I had the privilege of administering the Lord’s Supper for the congregation. Afterwards, I gave a brief teaching on baptism and we all went down to the banks of the river. One of the pastors and I baptized three new believers, including the couple who had been married the night before. When they had come up out of the water, we laid hands on them and they were baptized in the Holy Spirit as well.
The Holy Spirit meets these people right where they are at: as they are reserved and gentle, He comes on them in a way that is also very gentle. They stand with their heads bowed, their hands raised, their eyes tightly closed in concentration, and, after telling the Holy Spirit they are hungry for Him, they begin to quietly speak in tongues. Afterwards, their happiness shines out of their eyes and puts a shy smile on their faces.
I will be leaving again next week, this time for about a week, to deliver discipleship course material to fifteen communities in the jungle. As we continue to intrude into territory where the enemy has had strongholds for thousands of years, I covet your prayers! I am firmly convinced that the powerful and effective prayers of righteous men and women are the only way to rip down satanic strongholds. Pray for souls, for thirst for the Word of God among His people, and for a new, deeper understanding of the Scriptures as we begin to set discipleship courses in place. Thank you! Your are God’s best, and precious to my heart!