A typical couple of days in jungle ministry

by Carlos and Meredith Block

There’s no “typical day” as it depends on whether we are home or traveling, but we thought we’d share this trip we took in April, just to give you an idea:

Peru river road

Needing to coordinate some of the year’s events and catch up with the Yanesha pastors in several communities, we left early Thursday morning. We closed up the house, set the timed light in the living room, and packed up our Nissan Terrano. Several repairs were made on the car in Lima (electrical system, a new grill, and functioning AC!), so we were ready to go.

The first hour and a half up to Villa Rica is smooth…a paved 2-lane road winds from 2500ft to 5,000. It narrows to 1.5 lanes on the way to Cacazu. Having passed what was obviously a major landslide weeks before, we stopped to ask about the rest of the way, as no trucks had passed us yet. The owner of the exotic-game-restaurant-shack assured us the way was clear, so we continued on, on dirt roads for the next 3 hours. Thankfully, it rained a bit, making the whole first half of the trip cool and enjoyable.

Peru road

Hoping to talk with Pastor Santiago Pascual, in the community of Santa Maria, we stopped about 2 hours later to look for his house. Donning rubber boots, we set off on a trail the neighbors indicated. We found him and his wife Teresa, finishing lunch. We were able to catch up, discuss and pray about upcoming events. His wise insights and biblical basis for ministry were refreshing. Their 12 children are grown and live on their own. They offered us a sweet rice drink and we were on our way.

In the car, we discussed work plans, and personal concerns, prayed, memorized a Bible story, and listened to music. The day had grown warm (94 degrees?), so we tried out our recently repaired AC. Closing the windows also implies arriving without a coating of dust over ourselves and our stuff. It worked well, but a clear liquid began to drip on to the floor of the passenger side, eventually soaking the floor. Was it water? Coolant? On my bare feet??

All of a sudden we heard a huge metallic crash. Carlos stopped the car and we jumped out, wondering what had fallen from underneath. Walking around the front of the vehicle, we found the problem. The new grill and fog lights had fallen off in one piece! Thankfully our curvy-dirt-road-travel speed never surpasses third gear (read: we did not run over it). Apparently the Lima welding job wasn’t enough for the kind of roads we were driving on. We hoisted it into the car, over the back seat, chuckling to ourselves, grateful it wasn’t the motor, and hoping we to find the right mechanic to weld it back on in Iscosazin.

An hour and a half later we arrived at Villa America, looking for Ps. Santiago Hurtado, to greet him and confirm the meeting for Friday. He was carrying his new baby granddaughter and wanted to introduce us to her. We checked out the church property again to discuss the training center building project to take place there, along with Ps. Jose Velasco (who lives next door). We found him teaching a group of elementary students to memorize Bible stories.

Men walking on road

On our way out, we ran into the Mayor, Aydee, who asked about the Engineers without Borders team, affirming her support of their proposal to fix the nearby reservoir for the community.

Pastor Santiago didn’t let us leave without giving us two huge papayas from his farm. Saying our goodbyes, we headed for Iscosazin to check on the lodge situation for upcoming teams, take a shower, and rest. At a local restaurant, we had chicken and fries for dinner, then stopped by the internet café, our evening entertainment. 1 hour for 60 cents and we got to sit next to each other (a very affordable date : ). Getting a little work accomplished as well, we head to bed at the lodge around 9:30pm, since the mechanic agreed to fix the grill at 6am.

Car fixed by 8am Friday morning. Running into one of the Yanesha hermanos and his wife in town, we offered to drive them to the meeting after breakfast. After having coffee, papaya juice, eggs and bread, the owner of the small eatery (who we hadn’t seen in awhile) gave us some very hot coffee to-go in an empty Gatorade bottle. Compliments of the house.

 Taking advantage of the local gas station, we bought enough to get home, and set out for Villa America. On the 45-minute drive two of the pastors passed us in a taxi, going in the opposite direction, assuring us they’ll be back soon for the meeting! There were plenty of other details we need to check on in the meantime, and we know this it how they roll.

Several pastors were already present; some we hadn’t seen in several months. We were able to catch up on the last few months apart. The meeting was fruitful as the group of 12 discussed the upcoming Yanesha translation of the Old Testament, sponsored by Wycliffe. The decisive meeting would be held the following week. Everyone involved would elect a team representing existing Yanesha church associations. The committee will then choose the translators.

Carlos with pastorsThe rest of the events of the year, were also deliberated: training center construction, school and community outreach, water systems, theological training, discipleship and Bible storytelling (Orality).

Later, we visited their local high school to coordinate for upcoming teams working with the 60 plus students. The new director was out, but we left a note, asked for his phone number and talked to some new teachers.

Pastor Santiago’s daughter-in-law prepared chicken and rice for lunch for the group, which we enjoyed sitting around their wooden table, sharing glasses of purple chicha. I had to ask Flora where her lovely blue drinking glasses came from…Avon mail order.

 Our trip home was sans AC (all of the coolant must have leaked out), but our grill stayed on! Our hearts were full with the time shared, anticipating the opportunities in the coming months.

Remember our end goal? We envision an indigenous movement of healthy churches resulting in Gospel penetration and transformed lives in the next generations for the glory of God in the central Amazon jungle of Peru.

Carlos and Meredith

You can contact Carlos and Meredith and learn how you can get involved at:

Carlos.Block@EFCA.org

Meredith.Block@EFCA.org

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