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Lake Murray Presbyterian Church, Chapin, SC - 2012 Iquitos Trip

We had a small group this Summer from LMPC made up of Anne Peters and her daughter Rachel Harris, Robbie Johnson and Ray Peterson. In some ways a small group was good as we could spend more personal time working with the members of Casa des Dios on smaller projects. Our goals this year were to help finish the new building, assist with stocking its new pastors’ library, and most importantly spend more time and sharing our testimonies with the people of the Presbyterian Church in Iquitos.
After a lengthy trip we kicked off our week with a Sunday church service. As always the music was great and the congregation of Casa des Dios was inspiring. Following Pastor Guillermo’s sermon on Psalm 19 he had us come to the front of the sanctuary where we were greeted warmly by the congregation as they prayed for us. After service we met a young German couple who were doing mission work throughout Peru. They heard the music from the street and were drawn in to listen.
After lunch, Tony who is learning to be a guide, took us to the downstream village of Padre Cocha and the Pilpintuwasi butterfly farm for the afternoon. The jungle was beautiful. In addition to gorgeous butterflies, the farm is home to rescued wild animals.

On the return trip our boat captain helped locate two pods of the famous pink dolphins at the confluence of the Nanay and Amazon Rivers. Upon returning to port we noticed a spectacular rainbow over the water.

Monday morning was laborious, working on our “rock pile” that has become infamous to LMPC members over the past few years as we made final preparation for the new courtyard adjacent to the church. We also scraped walls to prep for painting. After a wonderful dinner of grilled dorado that evening we met with the women of the church.

Each of us told a little bit about ourselves and we had a great time answering questions. At the end of our meeting we presented “prayer patches” made by some of the Lake Murray Presbyterian Women. The ladies of Casa des Dios later took them to some of their shut-ins who could not attend our meeting. The ladies then gave us a prayer list and asked us to pray for the members of their congregation.
Tuesday was met with more wall scraping and morning rain. We were taught how to make decorative bricks for the courtyard using concrete forms made of mahogany. We were also instructed in the art of “proper” concrete mixing and we in turn showed the local workers how to “properly” grade the site where the bricks would be laid. Somehow though, they were still faster at grading than we were. By the end of the week we were all best friends. Tuesday evening we attended a prayer meeting which was very moving, after which Pastor Guillermo expressed his appreciation for us coming to Iquitos.

On Wednesday morning there was more scraping and dirt grading. More rain redirected our efforts to working with some of the men of the church, helping to put up wire screen at the entrance to the church to keep out litter and critters.
 After lunch the sun came out we had a “Vacation Bible Class” with the kids that

was more fun than expected. Because of the language difference, Pam McCraw, resident missionary, suggested we do a lesson on the Tower of Babel and how God had caused everyone in Babel to speak in different languages. With that thought we interwove a Spanish-English lesson in with the Bible story. Later we exchanged letters from the LMPC kids with drawings and letters from the kids of Casa des Dios.

It was amazing how well the kids picked up the English words and they had a lot of fun coloring their own towers.

Thursday was a road-trip day to the village of Nauta about 50 miles away. We saw some beautiful countryside and at the end of the long trip we simply stopped in the middle of the village, the end of the road. Pam had arranged for new furniture for the kids of the local SCOTA school and she was there to help coordinate its delivery. The children were very happy to see us and their new furniture. We toured the market and then were welcomed by the principal and teachers followed by a lunch of local fish, plantains and salsa. Tony, our guide, brought his family along including his new baby who became attached to Robbie (or vice versa).

Thursday evening was a time to share with the Casa des Dios congregation. We discussed differences and similarities between our churches and offered our testimony about experiences in Christ. We shared prayer, laughter, concerns, emotions, and a new friendship with all. Photos of the Andes mountains from a previous trip were given to the church members. Pastor Guillermo commented that in all his life in Peru he had never seen the Andes, but it took a small group of Americans to show him the beauty of his own country.

The Message Home

Friday was a day of mixed emotions, departing from Iquitos and traveling to the city of Lima for sightseeing and shopping. As always the flight over the meandering waters of the Amazon River basins followed by the contrasting peaks of the Andes Mountains and then the Pacific Ocean was awe-inspiring.  Carlos, our guide in Lima showed us the city and helped us along our way.

When we got home we presented the ladies’ prayer requests to the LMPC congregation during Sunday service.  Following that service several members noted that it was so much more personal and meaningful when we can associate a person’s name with their concerns, and the message hit home that the people of Iquitos were not just a distant mission project, but rather real people with needs and concerns just like us. A few weeks later on “Rally Day” we presented the same Bible story lesson of the Tower of Babel to the kids from LMPC and gave them cards and drawings from their new friends from Iquitos.

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