Thursday morning was another early start to the day. I rolled out of bed tenderly as I was a bit sore from blood pooling beneath my skin along my right thigh that manifested in some pretty gnarly bruising along with a slightly tender rib. I also discovered another small cut on my opposite leg and new bruising.

 We’d since learned in our time in Peru to be ready earlier than what we were prepared for, so Renée and I packed our bags and cleaned up after ourselves to be ready before breakfast which was served upstairs. We sat among two long tables and were served a fruit puree (room temperature) which made me feel a bit at home since I love smoothies! We were served a plate of fried catfish caught fresh from the Amazon, cooked bananas and a few tomato wedges. I’d learned that most people were happy to swap me veggies for meat, so I passed off my fish for more bananas and tomatoes. I did keep one bite of the fish to try and it was quite delicious! The food kept coming … after we ate our plated breakfast, drank the juice puree and coffee, we were served a plate towering with bread rolls. We tried to eat them, but we were so full, which tended to be a theme for the whole week!

Sure enough, we needed to be ready pretty much immediately after breakfast to catch our boat. Indiana was such a beautiful community. As we passed through, I noticed the streets were neatly landscaped with sculpted topiaries and we walked passed a colorful market on the way to our boat. You could say Indiana left a mark on me ... wah-wah-waaahhhh.

But really it did!
📷Credit: Christina Brokaw
We arrived back to the floating dock and steep walkway that sent us off us just 24 hours prior. Right before the stairs, we slid over to try and let a gentlemen through who was carrying two ice bricks on his back, with a strap for extra support on his head. (I was in awe!) We entered in to the marketplace where the scent of fresh citrus excited me for the brief seconds we passed through. How I longed to try some!

We boarded a large tour bus and headed off for our next place of ministry. On the way we made a brief pit-stop at a gas station to use the restroom (and our own TP...😂) A stray dog made his way in to one of the bathrooms; I imagine to try and keep cool on the concrete floor. We headed back on the road out of town and through a more rural landscape. I tried to work on my devotionals a bit, but found it difficult to write while on the road. I wasn't quite sure how much time had gone by or how much longer we had to wherever it was we were going, but my bladder was getting heavier by the minute and bump. I made my way towards the front of the bus to Christina to quietly inquire and her face of relief made me feel better for being "that person"! We still had a little while to our destination, so we offered to use the side of the road. I mean, how often in your life can you say you went to the bathroom on the side of the road in the middle of the jungle?! We told every one to look the other way and climbed off the bus making our way to a small tree (there was strangely not many, easily accesible it seemed, when we needed one to hide ... IN THE JUNGLE!). Pastor Adam warned us to watch for snakes... Christina had a Shewee which was a bit more discreet (disturbing and HILARIOUS all at once) than my squat and drop it like it's hot method. And wouldn't you know that the quiet road decided to host a slew of spectators as we hung out there. (Like honestly ... another bus full of people, a van filled with family ... more cars.) Christina and I couldn't contain our laughter. It's hard to be modest in that position and with her 5-gallon bladder that didn't want to shut off! 

The rest of the drive I was still a bit anxious as I thought it was our day of ministry in the prison and I wasn't sure what to expect. But we instead arrived to a church and settled in to assemble the women's gift bags that Renée had prepared for service that evening while Christina, Pastor Adam and Pastor Belisario headed off to purchase food. We finished before they arrived back, so Jacob and Lindsey started playing worship music on their phones. Andrew hooked up his blue-tooth speaker and our team for the first time just. SOAKED. It was such a beautiful time in the presence of the Lord and where the song "Spirit Lead Me" became my anthem and the inspiration in these posts.
A few local people came in to pray at the alter. I knelt beside them to pray with them. When I was finished, Shawana brought to my attention that the Holy Spirit was moving in the back room across from the restrooms. I hadn't even noticed that area before, but this church had what is known as a "Weeping Room." We walked down the small enclosed alley, up two sets of stairs to the "Weeping Room" where we heard fervent and passionate prayers. Shawana discovered a young boy crying out for the children of Peru in the front row, so together we knelt and prayed along with him and he lit up with more fire and fervor, the overflow was electric. One by one we made our way through the room. I started getting caught up in my own mind again, as I often do, and wondered what I was really accomplishing. Praying in the Spirit, my words are so few, I wondered if they were really making a difference. Once again the Lord opened my heart to hear, "there may be a language barrier, but there is only ONE heavenly language in the Spirit." I remembered one of my favorite scriptures from Ephesians 6, verse 12
"For we battle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
It was in that moment I realized even if I didn't understand how, I was waging war in the spirit, standing alongside brothers and sisters.
📷Credit: Christina Brokaw

Once I felt a release, I made my way back to the main sanctuary where shortly after Christina had arrived back with boxes and sacks of food to make up bags for distribution in the community. We worked ourselves quickly into an assembly line to fill 200 yellow bags with a can of tuna, condensed milk, oats, rice and sugar. (Apparently there are different grades of rice in Peru, the cheapest contains pebbles which need to be washed out.) Christina purchased the best grade of rice.

Pastor Adam came by, once we were about halfway through bagging, with flyers to add in each bag.

I don't know all the details as I wasn't there, but as I understand it, while our leaders were out for food they had a divine appointment with a Pastor who happened to be in town with his motor taxi. It was in his community of Nuata that our team loaded up to go serve in and love on.

We were dropped off in front of the church, and divided among two groups, one for each side of the road with a parade of local congregants joining us. We were briefed on a phrase in Spanish which I seemed to forget no sooner than the words had passed through my mouth. I tried a few times but felt I was stopping things up. I was feeling discouraged once again that I was limited from what my heart longed to communicate. I pulled out my camera to capture the team. This was my comfort.

Nauta reminded me a bit of a western town, jungle style ... with its wooden homes lining wide expanses of dirt roads. The bright sky slowly dimmed as dark clouds rolled in. They were the darkest I'd seen them in our time there and I wondered what kind of weather we'd encounter. Surprisingly, just a few light sprinkles!

The children were so friendly and welcoming. As I write this it just brings to mind thoughts that have been on my heart long before Peru, in the innocence of children before the world molds them from experiences of rejection, comparison etc. I think as adults we sometimes forget that our prupose isn't just to teach children, but also to be reminded from them in the way we see, think or experience things. (Matthew 18:3)

We made our way back to the church, which by that time was packed full of the children who had followed us throughout the town. Pastor Adam has such a heart for the people. While the Pastor of the church and Pastor Belisario were opening up service, I caught this moment of Pastor Adam ministering to a precious mother outside of the church. Perhaps what speaks to me so much about the image is how he hunched over his tall frame to be face to face with her, on her level. That's how God loves us; He is sovereign and Holy and mighty, yes; but He is not so high and righteous that He would not meet us even in our lowest places.

Rebecca is like a giant awakening, and she and her Mama, Shawana, shared their testimonies that evening before we headed back to the other church for our last service of the evening.

When we arrived at the "blue church" we ate a large dinner of fish (like head to tail) or chicken depending upon your seat. I wasn't sure I could do a whole fish like that ... looking back at me, so I plopped myself in front of the chicken and didn't move. (I learned earlier in the day you loose your vegetables if you move LOL!) Jacob gave me a good laugh as he teased me like a sister throughout the trip and dinner, filling my glass to the brim and then having to drink it for me.

After dinner we split up men from women. The women held service up in the "Weeping Room" while the men gathered in the sanctuary. Lindsey, Taylor and Renée shared their testimonies. This was a pivotal moment for Taylor, who had never shared her story. The rawness of her emotion made me want to run from the back of the room just to give her a big hug.

It's easy to have a holy indignation when you listen to some one else's struggles or challenges (I think I felt that way for each one that shared on our team!) Yet when experiencing the same battle in my own life, it's harder to see clearly. In essence I think everyone fights a similar battle, just the tactic and weapons may differ. (John 10:10)

I snuck down with my camera to the men's service to try and capture photos of the guys sharing. I missed Jacob's testimony unfortunately. I made my way back to the women's service where Renée led us in corporate prayer and then we broke off to pray with the ladies individually in closing.

We boarded our bus to make the long drive back to our hotel for the first time in 2 days. (Our home away from home ...) On the way back, there was a bit of commotion as Pastor Adam happened to notice a man lying on the side of the road, dark and seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Our bus driver turned around so we could check on him. Our leaders advised everyone to stay back as they assessed to make sure it was not a setup for an ambush. It turned out, the older man was drunk into oblivion and convinced he was at home. The chaos of the situation bred feelings of offense between different people, mostly because we were all sensitive and tired; it was a clear work of the enemy's hand to try and cause dissension in the team.

We made a quick stop to see one more church (but only Pastor Adam and Christina went in as it was very late in the evening and we still had a drive ahead of us.) We got back to our hotel and quietly sorted to our rooms for the night with much to think about.


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