Friday, March 30, 2012

Ecuador: Into The Jungle We Go

Taking off to Campo Ayui
As we entered Ecuador our excitement for jungle outreach was overwhelming.  We would spend a few days in rest and preparation before a week or longer of being in the jungle and not sure of what was going to happen.  We left on a Friday, split up into teams of 13 and 14, my team headed to the Puyo area and the other to Tena.  After riding on four buses we finally reached Puyo and right in time to find a cheap place to stay and a good meal.  After dinner we found out where area churches were and went to a service that night to see what connections we could make.  While there we expressed our heart for the jungle and by the next day we met with a pilot who agreed to take us wherever we wanted and suggested a small village called Campo Ayui.  By that night we found ourselves jumping onto the grass airstrip with no food and little water, ready for whatever the Lord was going to do.
Loading up the plane
The next day was Sunday and we were able to share at the church with those who showed up, normally it’s a packed house but the villagers were afraid of us.  They had never had white people stay overnight before in their village and were leery of visitors.  In church their faces were expressionless and they never looked at us in the eyes.  That day our group broke up into 3 smaller groups, one group went to a village said to be a 3 hour hike away, another would stay in Campo Ayui and my group would hike to a village 2 hours away.  After the long muddy hike, we arrived in the village San Francisco and met and ate with the chief and his family.  That night Roberta and I did the service with the kids and had a blast!  We taught them “duck-duck-goose”, sang songs that I learned in Africa and gave a short message and nearly all the kids accepted Jesus in their hearts.  It was such a special time, their faces would light up with excitement learning new games and about Jesus, their new friend.  Early the next morning Steven and I stayed to have another short meeting and I had to say goodbye to my new friends, watching them play their new favorite game “duck-duck-goose” as I left.   

Family in San Francisco

Once back to the main village we began planning for a leadership meeting that we were going to do for the leaders of that village and the surrounding villages.  We had 12 to 14 people come and it turned out great.  We talked about how to lead like Jesus and how to trust each other but what we didn’t know was that not all the villages got along.  But by the end one man got saved, the villages were praying together, hugging each other and recognizing that they need to unite as Shuar people.  It was amazing to see them accepting their new brother in Christ and repenting of past wrongs and hurts, truly beautiful!
The next day we woke up early for our going-away party with the village.  We played volleyball, soccer, and shot the blow guns until we heard the sound of the plane coming in.  Saying goodbye was hard and now the faces that were scared and blank in the days before were now saddened at our departure, eyes full with tears.  My time there was so special and in the future we hope that other Iris teams will be back to bless those villages and the ones we weren’t able to visit. 

Colombia: Cartegena to Cali

Greetings from Cali!  Here is just a highlight of what has been happening here in beautiful Colombia.
             After shipping our vehicles we flew to Cartegena, Colombia to await there arrival and meet up with our Colombian friends, who drove from Cali to meet us.  We spent Christmas in Cartegena, most of us skypeing and calling family from a nearby mall, followed by a somewhat traditional Christmas dinner.  Once we heard the vehicles had arrived I spent a good deal of my time with the other vehicle owners trying to get them from the port.  You might think that it’d be easier getting the vehicles back but it took just as much time as putting them on.  We walked back and forth to customs offices, inspection offices and the port trying to figure out what needed to be done in order to have our cars back and drive to Bogota.  It was all very confusing and took days to complete but we arrived with our vehicles late one night and left early the next day for Bogota. 
We were told the drive to Bogota may be dangerous because of recent flooding, but it was surprising pleasant and beautiful with little traffic.  It took 17 hours to get there which was split into two days.  We arrived on New Year’s eve and parked on some land right next to a restaurant on the outskirts of Bogota where we had an incredible view of the city.  We saw the fireworks over Bogota at midnight and had a great time together as a team.
One of the highlights of Bogota was going to the red light district to minister to the prostitutes and transvestites, showing them true love and not the physical.  We were able to bless many of the men and women working and passing by and when we began to pray for one of the ladies who was ministering with us she was healed of breast cancer.  She had a lump that she could feel and after we prayed the lump was gone!  We have been keeping in touch with her and after a doctor visit it was confirmed  that she is now cancer free!!! 
In Cali we had the pleasure of meeting up with fellow Iris Alumni and ministering  in churches, prisons, villages and in the red light district.  It was amazing to partner up the a local church, Rey De Reyes, and minister along-side, we were truly blessed by everyone we met and ministered with.  One of my favorite times ministering was in the largest prison in Colombia.  We weren’t even supposed to get in and minister because of time restrictions but we got in and had an amazing time with the women.  Several of us shared something that the Lord put on our hearts and we all prayed together and again for each individual women, we saw hope return to their eyes and all left with a smile and a hug.  We were sad to leave Colombia but so thankful for all that the Lord did.

Sorry this blog go up so late, thought I had already published it, whoops :)