Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pastoral Visit to Amaquiría

My wife, Sandra, and I left Pucallpa on October 14th headed for the native community of Amaquiría. This village is home to the oldest Seventh-day Adventist congregation on the upper Ucayali River. In the past the community was almost completely Adventist, but sadly the majority of members are now in apostasy. The remnant continues to battle against the worldly influences that are becoming increasingly stronger in these once protected river communities.

The reason for our visit was to encourage the brethren and to address a couple of issues within the church administration. With God’s help we were able to resolve the majority of the problems and left the rest to a future visit when we could stay a little longer. We also made plans to celebrate the Lord’s Supper on the next visit so the brethren could begin 2011 in harmony with the Lord and their neighbors.

We boarded the “Cesar I” at 5:30 pm from the port in Pucallpa. The trip was tranquil and we spent most of the time in our hammocks. Fortunately, we were close to the motors which protected us from the cold that grips the nights on the Ucayali River.

My wife Sandra Fonseca

Pr. Aholiab Lozano

We arrived at 11:30 the next morning at the mouth of the Amaquiría creek. A committee of brethren was waiting for us there with a small boat to take us to the community. During the winter the launches can make it all the way to the community itself, but it is now summer and the river is so low that the risk of running aground is too high. An hour and a half later we finally arrived in Amaquiría where the rest of the brethren enthusiastically greeted us. After eating lunch and coordinating the weekend we headed out to visit some brethren. We hadn’t gone far when we were interrupted by an emergency from Nazaret, a community about an hour from Amaquiría. The patient was a woman with a swollen abdomen who had been unable to empty her bowels, and her situation had become serious. Shortly after a phone call our airplane arrived with pilot Chris Borcherding, who took the woman and her husband to Pucallpa.

Our Cessna 182 arriving in Amaquiría

Loading the airplane

Peru Projects pilot Christopher Borcherding securing the patient

Taking off toward Pucallpa

After the plane left with its patient we were able to continue visiting the brethren before the start of the Lord’s holy day.

When Sandra and I had finished our visits we headed to the creek to bathe and get ready to receive the Sabbath in the chapel. Following vespers we put on a video of Bible stories for the brethren while I met with the church leadership to coordinate the board meeting we were to have early the next morning and the afternoon home visits. Then we were able to rest for the night.

We began visiting the brethren in their homes at 5:30 am. Many of them were discouraged, so with the Holy Spirit and the Word of God we were able to encourage them and they joined us for church services later that morning. After a quick breakfast, we started our board meeting at 7:45 am where we attended to some points of vital importance to the church. Finishing the board meeting, we went right into our normal Sabbath services with Sabbath school and church service.

Church service

We had fellowship lunch with all the brethren of Amaquiría and from other groups as well.

Brother Esau Alvares (church elder) along with other brethren at lunch

A visiting sister from the group in the community of "Selva"

Our beloved sisters that prepared the delicious rice and fish meal

The afternoon was a full schedule of home visits, but again an emergency arose, this time from one of the villagers in Amaquiría. One of his false teeth had fallen out and, without realizing it, he had swallowed it. It got stuck in his throat and was producing a lot of saliva, so much so that the doctor feared he would drown in his own saliva. The medic tried to remove the tooth but to no avail. They asked if our airplane could come again to evacuate the man. Sadly we couldn’t because our airplanes were grounded. Even after months of working on it, we still had not received the new batteries for the ELT’s (Emergency Locator Transmitter) for our airplanes, without which we could not fly. The grace period on the old batteries had expired just the day before - the day we evacuated the woman with the digestive problems. But we couldn’t just let this man die without doing something to help him! So we called our friends at SAM (South America Mission, an Evangelical mission) to make this flight for us. At 4:15 pm the Cessna 206 from SAM landed to take the patient, his wife and the doctor to the hospital in Pucallpa. Praise God all turned out well and the patient was resting comfortably after they extracted the stuck tooth.

SAM’s Cessna 206 arriving at Amaquiría for the evacuation

The medic and patient seated in the airplane

SAM mission pilot loading the duffel bags

The ministry of the air program, with the emergency flights that it provides, is really a blessing for these villages that are very far from the city where they can receive good medical attention. The medical posts in the villages (for those that have them) can help with basic problems but they can do little for serious emergencies.

Once the Cessna left with the second patient, we returned to the church for the afternoon program in which we trained and counseled the brethren from the Spirit of Prophesy in how to walk as children of God and the foundation of our Christian experience: Jesus Christ. Following vespers we had a seminar on music and its influence on the youth. We had wanted to finish the night with social games, but when the rain started we decided to make an early night of it.

Sunday started with morning worship at 5:30 am in the church where we also said our goodbyes, because right after breakfast we would begin our return to Pucallpa.

Morning worship

My wife with a dead Jergón snake (very poisonous)

Goodbyes – until next time

We left at about 10am on Sunday, and after picking up many passengers and cargo along the way, and stopping for the night in a village downriver of Amaquiría, we finally arrived at 6pm on Monday in the port of Pucallpa, safe and sound.

With my wife leaving Amaquiría for the mouth of the creek to wait for our boat

This experience really taught us to trust the Lord more and see how much one can accomplish for the people in these communities. Also we were able to understand how much the enemy is working in these places with music, alcohol, and other vices to put the people to sleep with respect to their salvation. There is much work to do, and we hope that with the help of the Lord and the benevolent kindness of our brethren we can accomplish it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pastoral visit to Nueva Samaria

The community of Nueva Samaria is a 12 hour boat ride up the Ucayali River.

M/F Junior

I boarded the M/F Junior at about 4 pm on Nov 12, having arrived just as they were preparing to depart. Due to overcrowding inside, I traveled on the roof of the boat along with many others.

Brother Gilberto Picota, leader of Nueva Samaria church.

We arrived the next morning at about 5am. Church leader, Gilberto Picota, was waiting for me and welcomed me into his house for the weekend. As soon as I was settled we set out to visit the brethren in their homes briefly. After the visits we ate breakfast and prepared for church services.

Brother Gilberto’s house and my tent

We began our worship with song service, then Sabbath School, and finished with our church service at noon. We were pleasantly surprised early that morning by a visit from some brethren from Nueva Vida de Sheshea, of the Ashaninka tribe. They were traveling down river on their raft of logs which they were headed to the city to sell. It was wonderful to listen to two different languages spoken in the church. Of course we spoke Spanish for the services, but they would talk among themselves at times in their own languages.

Brethren from Nueva Vida de Sheshea

Brethren from Nueva Ahuaypa

After lunch, Brother Gilberto, his wife, and I traveled the 25 minutes by motokar to the native village of Nueva Ahuaypa. We visited with a number of brethren in their homes before returning to Samaria for the afternoon seminars and training.

The afternoon meeting consisted of seminars on various aspects of Christian life and stewardship. They asked many questions demonstrating their existing confusion about topics such as tithing, offerings, how to keep the Sabbath and more. After vespers, we said goodbye to our brethren from Nueva Vida as they needed to get some sleep before their early morning departure down river.

Afterward, Gilberto, his wife, and I walked around the village visiting about their work in the Nueva Samaria area. (Translators note: the brethren in Nueva Samaria are opening new work in four nearby villages!) We also made it an early night because I needed to be in the port by 5am to wait for the launch that would take me back to Pucallpa.

Picota family

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Pastoral visit to Maranon River

In 2009 the Auxiliadora Peruana III, our medical missionary launch, began its work on the Maranon River, a tributary of the mighty Amazon.

Her mission was to take the Three Angels Message to this area via free medical care as an opening wedge. The first village they arrived in was Leoncio Prado, then Santa Rita de Castilla, San Jose de Parinari, and lastly, San Rogue. Unfortunately, because of lack of funding they were not able to continue. In each one of the communities our launch stayed three months doing medical work and evangelism.

After the Auxiliadora finished her work in each community a Bible worker and his family were sent to live there to continue the work.

Elvio Manuyama and his wife: Bible workers in Leoncio Prado

David Saboya family:

Bible workers in

Santa Rita de Castilla

Antonio Zatalaya and family: Bible workers in San Jose de Parinari

Geisen Macedo and family: Bible workers in San Rogue

They have continued the work the launch started. Now, after almost a year in these communities we were able to see a harvest.

Let me share the adventure I experienced during my visit to these four communities along the Maranon River.

Leoncio Prado

I traveled from Pucallpa on Monday, September 20 on Star Peru (airline) to Iquitos, where I boarded the public launch, Eduardo IV, headed for Leoncio Prado on the Maranon River. Here we had a beautiful civil wedding for three couples, who were baptized on September 25th. In all, nine brethren were reborn in the Lord that day! Elvio and his wife will stay a little longer to organize them into a group and train them in their different responsibilities.

Left: Civil wedding

Right: New members of Leoncio Prado

San Roque

My next stop was San Roque. Brother Geysen Macedo and his family are Bible workers there. We had a night of evangelism in the street by his house, and also baptized four people who are now beginning to work in a small group setting.

Brethren of San Roque

San Jose de Parinari

San Jose de Parinari was my next destination where Antonio Zatalaya and his wife are Bible workers. Antonio and his wife have worked hard, visiting every home and five precious souls have responded and were baptized!

New brethren in San Jose de Parini

Santa Rita de Castilla

Next, and last, was Santa Rita de Castilla, the district capital of Parinari. Bible worker David Saboya and his family have taken on the challenge of working with the youth here, with many studying God’s Word. The devil is using worldly influence in this community to pull these young people away from God. Three young people were baptized to the honor and glory of our Lord!

Bible students

Baptismal candidates

During those two weeks in this zone I was able to baptize 21 souls for the Lord. The work of these missionaries in this zone is arduous. Sadly, various baptismal candidates couldn’t seal their pact with the Lord because my visit coincided with the closing of a political campaign and there were many distractions for some brethren that were beginning to make their decision for Christ. In addition, many baptismal candidates had to travel to their home community to vote (translators note: in Peru, a person is obligated to return to their registered home to vote or face financial penalty) so they had to postpone their baptism. However, even with all that, we were able to firmly plant the flag of our church in each one of these places and we hope with the help of the Holy Spirit to continue their growth. We also ask that you help us to pray for each of these small groups that have been formed that they will continue to shine with the light of evangelism!