I just got back from the jungle city of Puerto Maldonado. Now that is a different world than most of us are used to! We are in the middle of our first Puerto Construction Project. This project is focused on construction and will only have a small amount of impact and evangelism. The goal for this project is to get the building to a point where the second team coming will be able to have it ready for our 40/40 missionaries(Andrew, Callie, Olivia, and Wendy) and their support family(the Smiths) to move into on the 3rd of November. How exciting it is to see the progress that is being made. Things are happening in the jungle folks! I was able to help greet the group in Lima and help escort them to the site in the Puerto. Then the work began.
Those guys are some hard working fellows. During the first day of work, there were numerous buckets of concrete poured, blocks laid, rebar tied for columns, holes dug, mountains of dirt moved, as well as many a drop of sweat hit the heavy clay soil. At the end of the first work day, the crew realized that they were too anxious to get working and all forgot to pace themselves. They were ready for a day off. Good thing the first work day was Saturday! They had a Sabbath to recuperate. In fact they did. Monday, they were off to work, going like mad.
In the Jungle, there are some crazy weather patterns. It can be 100 degrees one second, then cloud up and rain and get cool all in the same day. We experienced the heat at first, then on Tuesday, the rain came and proved to us that we were merely mortal sun worshippers. Everybody piled into the tool shed to wait out the two hour shower only to return to the stickiest clay based mud you could ever imagine. I managed to walk around the job site and added a good inch or two to my height. This mud is crazy! I got used to it quickly. You must, or you might lose your sanity. It sticks to everything.
I left the project in the capable hands of Dennis Linnell of Alaska as I needed to head back to prepare for our next project. Dennis had already started the process of connecting with the crew on a deep level of love and encouragement. They were having a blast, getting a lot accomplished, and all the while, serving the Lord with their strengths and talents. What an opportunity.
I first must tell you about one of the stories that I was able to extract from my short time at Puerto Maldonado. After our Saturday Night service, Brian Tibbs and Martin from Creswell Oregon, were going to go into one of the many prostitution areas of town. Brian wanted to show these guys how rampant this problem really was. They went in search of a willing girl to interview. It is a powerful experience and rather humbling experience to sit face to face with one of these ladies. They all seem to have similar stories about how they came into the business. It is shocking, appalling, and most disturbing to say the least.
During the interview with a young lady, there was a commotion that began to take place. The national police showed up at the Prosti-Bar and started going through the numbers of people. What were they doing? They were looking for illegal workers and immigrants that might have come from Brazil or other areas. The problem was that there were a couple of white guys, one of which did not have any ID on him. Poor Martin! I bet his heart was racing like it was the last lap of a long race. They asked for ID and of course, he could not produce it. Brian and Martin proceeded to tell the story that they were just "pastors.”
That went about as far as a boat with no water. They continued to work on the police until they finally either started to believe them, or just felt sorry for their pitiful story. In either case, they ended up getting out of there with an amazing story of a young lady that had only been two days on the job. She had just started down a brutal path of abuse and self neglect, trashing the riches that God had blessed her with at birth. It is not a very uplifting feeling to know that this town is riddled with red, blue, and green lights which represent some of the darkest areas I have ever encountered. It is hard to understand. It is even more difficult to figure out how to tackle the problem. God is good! I have confidence that God will provide us a way to reach this area and transform a few more.
So there is a rundown of what is happening right now. There is no shortage of stories. I wish I had the time and the fingers to write them all. For now, just know that God is using our ministry to transform people, poco a poco(little by little)!
In the middle of the battle in good hands,