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Monkey meat, mud and missions

There were land-slides everywhere.... At times it felt like the mountains were crashing down behind us as we drove along, but by the grace of God we got through the treacherous terrain to Chazuta where we would continue our journey by river.  By 7:30 a.m we were in our boat ("El Chasqui del Rey") and speeding down the very muddy and very turbulent waters of the Huallaga River. Along the way we picked up 10 students from different villages who were about to spend the rest of the week studying with me as I taught a basic overview of systematic theology. All the rain was a blessing in disguise and it was what made it possible for us to get the Chasqui up the Yanayacu river (a small tributary to the Huallaga) for the first time ever. 

As darkness settled over the jungle we proceeded along by flashlight which attracted thousands of flies which in turn attracted the big bats. To add to the excitement there were several occasions that I had to jump into the dark, murky, sting ray infested waters to push the boat off the many sand bars that tried to hold us back. After almost 14 hours in the boat we ended up arriving at our destination point around 9 p.m. A multitude of excited villagers met us as we pulled onto Santa Rosillo's beach. After lots of back slapping and hand shaking and hugs we headed to a brothers house for an amazing dinner of smoked deer meat, rice, beans and chicha.  It doesn't get much better than that! After a good night's sleep in our mosquito nets we were ready for a week of intense ministry.

My team was made up of 16 believers who all effectively played different roles on this trip. We had a nurse who was constantly ministering to the sick with prayer and medicine.  Another one of the sisters gave a sunday-school teacher training course.  Three of the believers dedicated themselves to a VBS event with children (about 70 kids came out each day).  Several brothers split up into evangelism pairs and went hut-to-hut sharing the gospel with each family in the village.  One brother faithfully filmed and photographed the different events.  I preached a devotional every morning, taught the bible institute students for 6 hours each day and preached open air every night.  One afternoon we even did some back-breaking work, carrying heavy sacks of sand for about 300 meters from the beach over to the main square to fill in some mud holes for which the villagers were very grateful.

The work was arduous but we had a spectacular menu to keep us going!  Each day was different but here's the short list of our quality cuisine: we ate turtle, monkey, jungle pheasant, jungle rat, wild boar, peanut soup, peanut mazato, armadillo, lots of rice and hot chocolate made right from the coa-coa tree.  Wow!  Makes me hungry just writing about it!  Yes, just about everyone on the team got sick at one point or another but nothing was real serious and all recovered quite quickly.

On Saturday morning as we prepared to leave we gathered with the believers on the beach for one last word of exhortation and prayer.  It had been a great week of ministry and everyone had been greatly challenged and encouraged!   Our trip back to town ended up being quite a sobering experience.  After two days of travel (and many obstacles faced) we finally made it back to Chazuta where we docked the boat and loaded the van.  Just as we were getting ready to leave a screaming woman covered in mud and blood arrived from the Tarapoto highway.   She had just lost her four year-old grandson in a huge landslide that had swept him out of her arms and into the river.  Others that narrowly escaped were able to pull the woman out of the mud and save her life.  If we had been a half an hour ahead of schedule we would have been in that landslide too. It was a sober reminder that life is fragile.... Don't waste it!  You never know when you might be called home.

Missions quote of the day by Elizabeth Elliot:  God's command 'Go ye, and preach the gospel to every creature' was the categorical imperative.  The question of personal safety was wholly irrelevant."

Micah for the Tuttle's



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