Friday, March 30, 2012
(For you who would rather see just a summary, please scroll nearly to the bottom.)
We left our port in Nina Rumi with two friends from Free Chapel, Gene and Robin Willis, who had come to assist with this team, and traveled to Iquitos to the naval base where we loaded our food for the pueblos aboard the Chosen Vessel II. Also, two doctors, two dentists, Pastor Elias and Anita Valles and their son, Pastor Caleb and 12 of their trainee ministers and Pastor Manuel DeAguila came aboard to assist with this campaign. With our crew, medical staff and guests, we had 31 people aboard to do the work these past 8 days.
Living on a raft
Our goal was to help as many people as we could whose homes and pueblos were under water. The passengers were shown to their cabins, the food was stored in the hold of the boat, which took several hours, and we finally set sail for the Río Marañon, where pueblos were the reportedly hardest hit by the flooding.
The weather was cool and rainy, but the spirits of those aboard the Chosen Vessel II were anything but dampened; contraire, spirits were high and we knew we were on a prophetic mission. I was reminded of the time I was ministering at a service in a pueblo with a medical team and was speaking about the North Americans who had come to visit them. The Holy Spirit corrected me and I heard in my spirit, When I go to this much planning to get this many people to leave their homes, families and jobs, spend thousands of dollars to come thousands of miles, it is not a visit. It is a visitation of the Lord! All those aboard felt that was the case on this voyage; it was a visitation of the Lord! We were expecting miracles and signs and wonders and many mighty acts of God and we were not to be disappointed!!!
The first day out, Saturday, we gathered at 7 am for worship and prayer meeting where a sweet, sweet Spirit filled the boat. Yes, literally filled the boat! We then began to take out the 100-pound-sacks of beans, rice and farina from the bodegas below decks and proceeded to bag hundreds of 1- kilo bags for distribution, without a single complaint from the young people. The next day, that was repeated and when they thought they were finished bagging, another 1800 pounds still remained, but when we informed the young men, instead of frowns or ahhhhhs, they shouted, Praise the Lord!!! Clothing was also sorted into sizes and readied for handing out in the pueblos. By this time we had journeyed 53 hours out of Iquitos.
In the early hours of Monday morning, we arrived safely at our first port of call, without incident. At 5 am our staff arose and began to prepare for the campaign planned for the day. The young ministers arose and began to worship and pray for the day and the people to whom we were to minister. We stopped at Nuevo Alianza and treated a about 75 sick people where Pastor Elias had a church and during the home visits of the young ministers, there were reports of healings and about 25 salvations during the prayer station of the medical clinic! Praise the Lord! This pueblo was not under water and we reserved the food for those pueblos in more dire straits.
During the clinic, our crew scouted out another location that was under water. They came back telling us, with great emotion, of some places where the houses were flooded and they found about 25 mothers who were getting together and bringing all the food there was in the village to one place so that the children could eat one meal that day. We headed there immediately! In Cuninico, these mothers, who were down to the last of the oil in the cruse, were in for an abundant, unexpected, blessed answer to their prayers!!!
After the clinic, we gave out the food and what a blessing it was to them and to us!!! They communicated to Pastor Elias that they had never had this kind of help from anyone else and we all gave the Glory to God in the highest place!!
There is nothing comparable to seeing such depravation and being able to do something about it! That was due to those of you who gave to this cause and who sent us out there. It was as though all of you were right there with us!!! Some day you will probably get to see a replay of exactly what happened and how these poor, poor people were touched by all of the provisions that you made for them. They literally were rescued from true hunger!!!!! All because you responded with money and what money cannot possibly buy…….compassion and love!!!
I truly believe that what we do with our money in a time of abundance will determine how we will fare in a time of lack! Jim Elliot, martyred missionary to Ecuador, said it this way: He is no fool, who gives that which he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose!
We headed on down river and stopped at another village, San Antonio, where we held a church service that night and Pastor Elias preached and everyone in the church responded to the altar call in some capacity, either salvation or reconciliation to Christ or were healed. Everyone in the village was there and they stayed quite late, as nobody seemed to want to go to what was left of their home!
The next morning, Tuesday, we started with another service and then the medical clinic and the giving of food. We were able to repeat that in two more locations that day, 6 de Mayo and Nueva Esperanza, and travel on down river to where we would work on Wednesday. It was more hectic with having to bring all the people aboard the Chosen Vessel II for the registration of the people, the medical attentions and the food distribution, but at the end of the day, 1,200 attentions had been given since we started work on Monday!
Wednesday we were at the mouth of the Chambira River, where we had stopped the night before. It was a cool and overcast day and rain was imminent. We were at the village of Nueva Union where the people were suffering. We were able to cheer their spirits, as Pastor Elias preached and encouraged their hearts.
Across the river from Nueva Union was Alianza, in which all of the houses were under water. The pitiful conditions we found there were heart-rending, to say the least. Some of the people had a small area of split cane flooring attached to the walls on three sides nearly up to the rafters due to the water being that high! Some people were forced to live completely up into the rafters and what with the holes in the leaf roofing, everything they had was wet since it was still raining! Such conditions! Some of the more fortunate had plastic tarps to put over the area of their bedding.
When our speedboats brought the people over to our boat, I got aboard and spoke with the mothers and grandmothers about their plight. Such pitiful stories! I asked them how they could even cook with being into the rafters like they were and some told me they only had small cans of kerosene to cook with; the kind that comes in a can like sterno, while some had thick wood where they started a regular cooking fire right on the flooring.
Any activity of daily living was a real challenge for these people when it rained every day with a leaky roof and no way to get away from the leaky spots. The cane or bark flooring is the kind that bounces with any movement and not that secure the way it was hastily and temporarily done. I cannot even imagine lying down that close to the water on flooring that had spaces where anything could enter. God bless their dear hearts!
They were so grateful for the blankets, food and medical and dental attentions and the medicine we gave them. So many babies were sick with fevers, colds and bronchitis and needed antibiotics. One lady said she could not sleep the night before because she just knew something big was going to happen the next day!!! In all of their despair, they had no idea when they got up that morning that such blessings awaited them, which proves blessings can strike as suddenly as disasters!
We told them we knew that God’s eyes were upon them because of all of the hundreds of villages, they were chosen to receive this assistance. They knew God had been among them that day!!! They were praising and worshiping Him for His goodness.
Across the river was another village, Lisboa, where we had registered Wednesday evening for work the following morning. They were told be at the boat at 7 am sharp and they were! We wanted to get an early start so we could go to as many villages as we could Thursday.
We traveled on down to Solterita and again saw people whose homes were under water and we repeated the process of the medical, dental care and gave them the much needed food and blankets. Many of the children were home alone as the parents were out in their canoes looking for food. Imagine their surprise when they returned home and saw what had arrived in their absence! Thank you for providing those Holy Surprises!!!
We traveled on downriver toward Nauta and came upon a small village, Puerto Peru, of 16 homes and they were appreciative of the gifts that kept on giving! At this point, we had given over 1800 attentions! It had rained every day of the trip and been cool and windy and no surprise that Mike and I were fighting upper respiratory tract infections.
Friday we were on the Río Amazonas and the Río Tahuayo and visited 4 villages: Mariscal Castilla, where Gene and Robin went by speedboat to see the situation first hand and they saw a woman who had a rat in the pan to cook and in another house, the woman had a large frog ready to cook for their meal. That day we gave 177 attentions; Nuevo Belen with 37 attentions; Huaysi with 48 attentiones and Panguana I Zona with 87 attentiones.
They said the biggest battle after not having food was the snakes that had also been displaced and were entering where they were staying! It would be unthinkable to most of us to lie down right by the water knowing how many snakes they had already killed! They were moving their flooring higher to be farther away from the water as much as they could because of the them, but still they could and did get in. We prayed with them, encouraged them, blessed them with the provisions the Lord had provided through you and left them contented as they could be in view of the circumstances.
Saturday we were visiting around the islands several hours below Iquitos . We visited 5 pueblos: Jorge Chavez, Paraiso, San Pedro de Maniti, Suni Cano and Nva. Uchiza. 619 people served today, our last day of this campaign! Many, many smiles were seen in the midst of their suffering! These are a strong, stoic people and God surely had His eyes on them this past week!
- Miles navigated: 648
- Pueblos that received a visitation from the Lord: 19 in 6 days (2 ½ days navigation before we reached our first pueblo)
- Attentions medical and dental: 2,919
- Families served: 523
- Hundreds of Bibles were given, one to each family except for the 6 communities we had visited recently and had given Bibles out.
- Each pueblo received the good news of Jesus Christ and usually a short sermon, either from Pastor Elias or Pastor Caleb, his son. Unfortunately, a good count of salvations were not kept by those doing evangelism, but many received Jesus!
- Many were healed from fevers, hernias, swollen painful hands, painful leg that a woman couldn’t move, and several others. We found many pueblos where everyone reported to be Christians. PTL! We were able to bless the household of faith with our provisions!!!
- 7 tons of supplies were given comprised of beans, rice, oatmeal, farina, sardines, salt and matches and that is not counting the blankets or clothing.
We are heading home now, about 4 hours out of Iquitos, but we are still so full emotionally. Thank the Lord for each one of you who gave and as this crisis will not resolve itself anytime soon, we will be making more trips as the Lord provides. Again, thank you until Himself gives you His thanks personally, face to face!!! We covet your prayers for safety and for the Lord to provide us with volunteer workers down here to help with this much food!
Much love and appreciation,
Mike and Susie