Sunday, February 24, 2013
I didn’t have long to reflect on my wonderful week in the Peruvian highlands, the fruitful meetings with friends in its capital city of Lima, or how Reaching & Teaching would be able to respond to the opportunities God was sending our way. I said goodbye to the brothers from Comas and walked straight through the airport security process to board my next flight for the opportunities and challenges that awaited toward the steamy Amazon jungles.
From Lima I flew east across the Andes to Tarapoto to meet pastor Jairo who had invited me to help them train pastors in the high jungle of Chazuta. I arrived in a pouring tropical rainstorm, and although the plane landed okay, we had to wait in it for about 30 minutes for the rain to subside before we could deplane. Jairo was shouting my name as I went through the doors to exit the airport. He put both of us—and all my luggage—in a 3-wheeled “motortaxi,” and off we went, holding the handles of my bags as we went to find a car and driver to rent. We then traveled roughly east for about 1½ hours through some of the most beautiful scenery—and about a dozen of the scariest landslides—you could imagine. This is the last of what they call the “high jungle,” although my altimeter on my watch showed it as 700 feet in altitude. The little village we finally came to is poor and very humble. On Jairo’s street there were drunks challenging our car, just for something to do. We diplomatically extricated ourselves from the excitement and he put me in a room of my own in his home. I was thankful that its windows were open since the climate there could best be described as sitting in a steam kettle at full boil. I “deeted up” for the bugs and hoped there weren’t any thirsty bats since I had not brought a mosquito net.
The surrounding area is beautiful and the believers in the church there are sincere brothers and sisters. They train young men in a high school level biblical studies program one week per month, eight months per year, for four years. They explained that the ones who are teaching really need training themselves, and asked us to come once or twice per year to hold intensive workshops for their teachers. Even though most of the people in this area are lowland Quechua, most of the teaching can be done in Spanish. Peru has over twenty Quechua dialects and so training in a common Spanish must tie them together for now. After my rich experience in the high jungle, I was ready to descend to the Amazon River.
Jairo got me back to Tarapoto and I flew to Iquitos where I stayed while getting to know the town and the surrounding areas. Iquitos has an amazing history, having once been a thriving city during the rubber boom, it is still home to over 600,000 people and is the largest city in the world that you cannot drive to; all incoming traffic is by air or rivers. There is one road that goes out of town for about 1½ hour, which then stops abruptly in a village called Nauta. That is where I went—as far as the road goes—and is where I’ll tell you about in the next blog post!