Week two of outreach began with a day off. You need a day of rest, even on outreach. I’ll say again that it was so nice to take a cold shower with clean water, be able to wash the mud out of our clothes, and sleep in a bunk bed. On our day off we rode in a couple of very beat VW vans over to Tabatinga, Brazil to an overlook of the Amazon River. Not too much else to see. The town is smaller and appears much poorer than Leticia. We all gathered at a small cafe for lunch and then walked back to the base in the pouring rain, which felt wonderful. The weather here changes several times a day.
On Sunday we were honored to attend the wedding of the pastor’s son from the church where we stayed in Santa Rosa, Peru last week. They were so insistent that we come after we had helped get the church ready for the wedding. It was really a fun experience to witness a Peruvian wedding. The church was decorated with many balloons, ribbon up both sides of the aisle, and flowers on the aisle posts. The ceremony seemed disorganized with many changes taking place as it went along…fit the culture well. At one point the rain on the tin roof was so loud we couldn’t even hear the pastor, which didn’t make too much difference for us since we couldn’t understand anyway. They invited one of our team members to play the violin for the ceremony and had Fritz speak a blessing over them.
That evening we went to a park nearby, “Bird Park”. At dusk thousands of small parrots fly between the trees and are very loud, hence affording its name.. It was amazing to watch. While we were there we started to invite a few people to come over and join our group for some skits and music. Within a few minutes we had about 200 people around us watching and listening. Afterwards we stayed to talk and pray with people.
The following day we were planning to go to another village on the river, but were unable to contact the pastor to confirm, so we stayed back to clean all of the camping gear and help with cleaning both YWAM houses. Communication with some of the outer villages is a bit challenging at times. We are getting used to operating on South American time. When we set a time to leave, or to eat, or for an event it will usually happen somewhere within an hour or so of the scheduled time. Once we arrive we also spend time sitting around waiting while we wait for plans to unfold. Gives us lots of team bonding time. It may be challenging to step back into the pace of life at home.
The next two days we did three outreach events in different barrios around Leticia. These are all poor communities where we did programs for children. We were able to spend time playing with the kids before the programs and often had time to pray with and talk to people afterwards. We also gave out food, toothbrushes, and toothpaste to the kids.
Thursday we took another boat up the Amazon to the village of Ronda to work at a new YWAM base being established to train indiginous people to reach more remote villages where outsiders are not welcome. The boat we took this time is called a peca peca because of the loud sound the motor makes, and rides very low in the water. After about an hour going up the river we turned up a small tributary that took us back into the jungle. Upon reaching the village we hiked about 20 minutes further into the jungle to the new base site. We helped clear jungle growth with machetes, got to watch monkeys in the trees, and even killed a poisonous snake. We hiked back to where our boat was supposed to pick us up and after waiting for over an hour, he finally arrived. We were getting concerned about getting back before dark because boat traffic isn’t allowed on the river after sunset. We definitely needed showers when we got back to Leticia and enjoyed going out for ice cream in the evening.
Friday was a day off. Everyone enjoyed a day of rest, with no structured schedule. Please continue to pray for team unity. Stepping out of comfort zones can really stretch people. Some of our team members are bothered by the discomfort and itching of heat rash and mosquito bites. Oh, the joys of tropical climates.
We have enjoyed wonderful hospitality and new friendships built here at YWAM Leticia and are thankful for all God has done in and through us. Monday we travel to our next destination, Cartagena, and anticipate new adventures, challenges, blessings, and wonderful works of God!
DTS Outreach Team/Colombia Jan. 2014