I cannot believe it’s been two weeks since my last post. I apologize for the length of time it has taken for me to churn out each one of these posts on the Amazon, but I’m not kidding when I say the weeks fly by like days. And here I was, thinking that after the outreach, this summer was going to be eternal. Classes start back at CFNI only three weeks from tomorrow! I am very much looking forward to what the Lord has planned for this coming semester. But that’s not why you’re reading this post. You’re reading because you want to hear a little more about what God has been doing in the Amazon region. I’ve decided to sum up the last few days on our trip into one last post.
On the morning of the twenty-first, our team packed up and hiked out of the jungle property. The previous night’s heavy rain caused the jungle floor to be even more muddier and wet than ever. It took us a while longer to get out, as the mud grabbed ahold of our rainboots and determined to suck us in. When we broke out of the jungle, we had a little time to wait before the truck came by, so we prayed and blessed the men working at the property, who are preparing for the many precious souls that will be treading those jungle floors–a mighty army being raised up by the Lord. We hopped into the back of the truck and experienced a much smoother ride back to port, where we ate and waited for our boat ride to Clauber’s property. We spent that evening setting up our tents, and getting to know Clauber. Clauber and his family are missionaries to the Ticuna and Brasilians in their area. He and his wife run a day school ministry for the youth in the area, with kids ranging from the ages of two to fourteen. Among these kids is a heavy bondage of sexual, drug and alcohol abuse. We made preparations and then went to bed so that we would be rested and ready for our day of ministry.
Our first group of kids came in the morning, and we immediately set about getting to know them. We then led worship, shared testimonies, lessons, and played games [which were a hit literally everywhere we went]. We got to serve the kids lunch, then we cleaned up and prepared for our afternoon session. My favorite part of our last day of ministry was watching stone faces melt into smiles, and seeing the look of recognition in young eyes that have witnessed far too much horror as they related to testimonies full of hope. It was a long, hot, exhausting day, but well worth it. As if this day wasn’t already beautiful enough, we got to witness the gorgeous Amazon sunset by the water that I had secretly been praying for. I even took a few snapshots of it!
We got up with the the sun the next morning and packed up our tents and belongings. We had a chunk of extra ministry money left over, and, as a group, decided to meet some needs among the AX native missionaries! We got to donate towards the renovation of Clauber’s feeding center kitchen in order to get it within governmental compliance. We also got to give the exact money amount needed to finish up a church being built quite a ways deep in the jungle. What an honor it is to be a blessing to God’s people! We said our goodbyes, and jumped into the boats to head back to Colombia. Most of the girls were in a faster boat, whereas the guys and our luggage were in an uncovered, slower canoe-type boat. Well, we naturally blasted right past them and arrived in Leticia, only to find out that the slower boat’s rudder broke and they were stranded. The Lord was faithful and Clauber was able to go back and find them and fix the engine. The guys were fine and made themselves at home on the water, breaking out the guitar and even spotting some of the famed pink dolphins–never a dull moment in the Amazon!
That night, after an afternoon of shopping, we debriefed, were awarded with our “AX Survivor” shirts, signed the “Survivor Wall”, and headed out to a nice dinner–our last in Leticia. Because there was so much work to do, Guille, our trusted cook, bunked with us girls and shared her testimony and heart with us–what a hard life she has lived, and yet the joy of the Lord is so evident in her!
The next morning, Saturday, we got the AX house back in order and ready for our departure. We said our goodbyes, got one more huito tattoo–just for kicks and giggles–and headed to the airport. That night we arrived in Bogotá, settled into our nice, home-y hotel, and then went out to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Crepes and Waffles. The inundation of sights, smells and the beautiful Andean weather brought back a great deal of nostalgia. It was surreal being back in Bogotá for the first time in over a decade! Hot, pressurized water, and two weeks of exhaustion made for one restful night of sleep.
Sunday was presidential election day, so quite a bit of the city was shut-down. We did, however, get to go up to Cerro de Monserrate, a must-see on any trip to Bogotá because it is a unique adventure that allows one to take in a panoramic view of the city from atop the mountain. If anyone wants hardcore training for a marathon, or anything that requires strengthened lung capacity, Monserrate is your ticket! Bogotá, famously known for “elevation sickness,” already boasts one of the highest city elevations. Add a visit to Monserrate and you can feel your lungs tightening and instant dizziness as you make your way [punctuated with breaks] to the famed Cathedral and shops. Of course, no trip is complete without enjoying a cup of coffee and pastry. We continued through the streets of downtown Bogotá, shopping and taking in the sights. We stopped by a Koko Rico [another Colombian favorite of mine] and picked up lunch, and headed back to the hotel for the rest of the afternoon. I had been in contact with one of my cousins, Kathy, throughout the weekend, trying to make arrangements to see her and a few cousins. They made it a couple of hours before we had to leave for the airport–what a wonderful surprise to see so many familiar faces! After all these years, it was ironically like a welcoming home. I only wish I could have spent more time with them and that I could have seen everyone! God is so good with His surprises though!
We had a long wait at El Dorado, where we finally flew back to Dallas and arrived back on campus bright and early the next morning.
As dreams become reality and Amazon Xpeditions gets ready to inaugurate the vocational school in late August, I think the greatest thing I really connected with and learned thoroughly on this outreach is the truth found in Ecclesiastes 9:10 “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.” With a right heart and righteous motive, everything we put our hands to do–no matter how large nor seemingly menial the task–in service to others, is service done unto the Lord. Every sacrifice of comfort, of self, of praise and thanks–all of it was seen by Jesus and gave Him glory as we opened up the possibilities for God’s Kingdom to grow and reach the unreached now, and in the future, as others continue to trailblaze the rich and ready-to-receive soil in the Amazon. I find it an honor to get to pray and support the ministry done in the Amazon with the details of first-hand knowledge, and count it a blessing that the Lord drew me there, if only for two weeks. The Lord is raising up spiritual armies all over the world, preparing to shake the nations with His glory, and the Amazon region is growing one of those integral armies.