A note from Susie……..
When we first started living in the small pueblo of Nina Rumi in 1999, we decided to build a campus for the express purpose of having a place to dock the boat and to bring pastors for a time of biblical training, fellowship, encouragement and renewal.
After a few years of having training seminars for the pastors and leaders, we asked them if they would permit us to have the same meetings for their wives and daughters. They actually ran to make sure they got their wives signed up for these meetings! What can I say? You would just have to know ……!
Some of the greatest joy I have ever had here, apart from watching God work in salvation and healings, is when I bring 65-80 women from around 9 rivers together at the campus for 5 days of intense worship, bible study and encouragement under some mighty impressive women of God to help lead them. Sherrie Hawn, Jackie Beavers, Lisa Covert, Sharon Smith, Tricia Sowell, Nikki Hallinan and Annette Thiesen have helped me teach the Word of God over the years.
The last seminar we had, I was in our debriefing session when I felt impressed to ask the sisters how they had decided to attend and what was their story about getting to the seminar. I was blessed beyond measure when I heard some of their stories.
For this seminar, I had invited the women of the Tahuayo River for the first time. One pastor’s wife knew she wanted to come and even felt the Lord was leading her to come, but did not have her passage from the river into the city of Iquitos, nor for her passage on to our pueblo. All she possessed was a few laying hens and a rooster. She decided God wanted her to be at this seminar and so she sold her good laying hens for her passage money. She had never been to one of our seminars nor spoken with anyone who had been, so it was a real step of faith for her to sell her only source of income and main source of food for her children just to come to a seminar!
When she arrived, she was thrilled to be a part of what every woman was experiencing during this intense time with the Lord and she was a real blessing to everyone there and when I heard her story of how she had been able to attend, I informed her that we always provide the women’s transportation money home and reimburse their travel expenses to our campus. She started praising God that she could take the reimbursement money to buy some more laying hens on her way home!
I told this story to Dr. Bob Hackman, one of our doctors who has been a source of encouragement since our very beginning, and he said, ‘Is it possible to get her some more hens? I want her to know that God will give double for her trouble and her faith touches me.’ It so happened we were going to her pueblo that week, San Valentin, and he was, indeed, able to present her with even more hens! She recognized the hand of the Lord moving because of her faithfulness to seek after Him in wanting to attend to be in His presence.
Another elderly lady attended from another pueblo on the same river and it was her first time to attend, also. She knew God wanted her to be at that seminar and so she said to herself, ‘I will pack my things and go sit down by the river to see what God will do about my passage money.’ And so she packed and then went down by the river to see what God was up to. Remember, this was an elderly lady!
One of her neighbors, who made hammocks, came along and asked her where she was going. She told her God was sending her to a seminar with the people who visited their pueblo in the medical boat. Her friend asked her if she had a hammock for the long riverboat ride into the city and she told her she did not. The neighbor said, ‘Well, I will lend you one for your journey.’ The lady laughed while telling us that she knew right then how God was going to provide for her passage.
As soon as the riverboat arrived, she went aboard and sold that neighbor’s hammock and took the money to buy her passage! She had fretted all week that she would have to go home and tell her husband that he owed her neighbor for a hammock. She rejoiced, and we along with her, when she found out she could take her reimbursement money and pay her debt!
Another group of women traveled by foot through the jungle, up hill and down, had to kill snakes in order to pass on down the trail, and this they did for 6 long hours and that just got them to where our speedboat picked them up, as there was no public water taxi service in that area. They still had an eight-hour speedboat ride back to our campus, stopping to pick up other ladies en route to the seminar. A speedboat full of wet, hungry and so tired pastor’s wives arrived late that night, but were thrilled and were rejoicing to be there!
I greeted them and arranged for their accommodations in the dormitory with all the other ladies and a hot meal and I couldn’t help but marvel at the contrast to seminars I had attended in the States. Everything there had been very comfortable for us; good transportation, beautiful arenas or churches, everyone looked and smelled wonderful, everyone had private accommodations, and yet some had the attitude, ‘Bless me if you can!’
When was the last time you heard of women in the United States, who have had to go through such leaps of faith and stretching, personal danger of traveling a treacherous river at night or killing snakes, or having to make huge personal sacrifices like selling their most valuable assets, not to mention their personal hardships and weariness in travel in order to attend a meeting? Not just any meeting, but one where they were expecting a uniting of spirits to worship, learn more about our Lord and give of themselves all they could to participate in a single seminar?
It was the first time in their lives since they were old enough to carry a baby brother or sister on their hip, that these native women had no cooking, washing clothes, cleaning, tending babies or any of the other duties to perform; rather they were able to be Marys and just sit at the feet of Jesus and learn of Him and just be in His presence for five whole days! We fed them and cared for them in a manner befitting the princesses that they are; daughters of the Great King! It has brought such joy to us and to them over the years… to God be the glory!
It is a very humbling experience to see what it takes for the poor in this world’s goods to do what they think God would have them do! We would stagger under the heavy burdens most of them have to carry daily and yet, they just go on with God, joyfully. Truly, the last shall be first and the first shall be last! These women remind me that,
‘I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh when no man can work.’ John 9:4 KJV
Susie Dempsey, RN Nina Rumi, Peru
Sunday, June 26, 2011