Thursday, February 3, 2011

Porvenir visit - Brother Juan's return to God

Porvenir is a Shipiba community 6 hours by boat down river from Yarinacocha on the Ucayali River. The M/V Rivernauta departed about 7:00 Friday evening. This small launch’s route goes as far as Roaboya Mestiza on the lower Ucayali. We arrived in the port of Porvenir at 1:30 in the morning.

Our Bible workers, Miqueas Rojas and Wilfredo Maynas, were waiting for me. They had been visiting our groups along the lower Ucayali since Bretaña and we had planned their visits so we would be able to meet here. After climbing the river bank we walked the 20 minutes through the jungle to the community. Arriving at the church where the BW’s were staying, we left my things and headed over to Pervis Urquía Ramirez’ house. Brother Pervis is a fisherman and he was waiting for me with a Chilcano de Tucunaré (fish soup) that heated our bodies from the cold night. We were there until 3:00am as brother Pervis told us the story of how the Lord had gotten their attention.

On the 20th of September, around noon, Juan left his home along with his son, Pervis, and his grandson headed for one of the small lakes to go fishing. When they arrived at the lake, Juan climbed in his small canoe, and Pervis with his youngest son boarded a larger one. The two canoes separated and they went to fish in different areas. In just a few minutes Pervis heard his father scream and immediately went to look for him. When he got to the place where his father had been fishing, he found his canoe empty. He started to search for him, but could not find him, when suddenly his father emerged from the water at a considerable distance from his canoe. His whole chest was covered with blood. He told his son he had been attacked by a black alligator. Pervis began looking for the alligator and soon spotted it. It was at a distance, eyes fixed on the canoe. Pervis paddled up to his father and helped him into the canoe. His whole chest was open, he could see fatty tissues inside and he was bleeding badly, so Pervis decided to try to carry him out of there right away. They reached the village and contacted our base. Our pilot took off in the amphibious airplane and evacuated Juan to the port in Yarinacocha. Some of his family members met him there and took him to a hospital in Pucallpa where he was treated.

As I was finishing my soup Pervis began telling me about the incident that had happened to him. He was in Tiruntan, the district capital of Padre Márquez, in March of 2002. The natives of the area had taken control of City Hall and had ousted the mayor for corruption. While in Tiruntan on business Pervis was hit by a stray shot. Praise God the shot was from a considerable distance because the shotgun spray entered his skin but did not cause mortal wounds. In all he had 5 pellets lodged in his leg, muscle and abdomen. These pellets remain in his body but don’t affect his overall health significantly.

Prior to his near death experience Juan and his wife had been having serious marital problems and had separated. This break had also caused him to stop attending church or seeking the Lord. Pervis also was at a low point spiritually. But seeing how the Lord protected them, even when they weren’t so faithful to Him, brought both men and their families back to the Lord, and to church. Praise God for His loving care!

After telling me their stories we said our goodnights and I went to bed. At 6am we got up and readied ourselves. The brethren came early to set up the audio and video equipment that they had borrowed for Sabbath, along with a small generator. They watched the Jesus movie in the Shipibo language while we left to eat a delicious fried piraña breakfast.

Brethren from Pto. Islandia

Song service led by Bible worker Wilfredo Maynas

Following church service we had a delicious lunch with all the brethren: fish stew (pirañas, acarahuazu, palometas, boquichicos).

About 3:00 that afternoon we dedicated 20 little ones, children of the brethren of Porvenir. The parents had been very encouraged to hear the significance of this act and wanted to present their little children before the Lord and to accept the responsibility of guiding them in the path of God.

Finishing the dedication we discussed the condition of the church. We also conversed about various aspects of Christian living. It was during this time that the majority of the brethren began to ask questions which allowed us the opportunity to counsel and make recommendations. We finished the afternoon with a nominating committee meeting for the 2011 church leadership.

Following evening vespers everyone left to freshen up for the 7:30 meeting where we had a small devotional thought about the influence of music. Before dinner the BW’s and I went to visit a few brethren that were having serious personal problems. Praise God we found repentant hearts that had forgiven each other!

After supper we again returned to the chapel to watch a video about music. After seeing the evidence of the dangers of secular music they made the sincere decision to stop listening to this type of music that praises the demons and they proposed to begin to invest their money in buying Christian music instead.

That night we rested early because I was physically exhausted, but internally I was very happy to have been with this congregation that had come to have so much fervor and desire to learn and to get back up each time they fall.

At our 5:00 am morning devotion on Sunday we reviewed the Sabbath school lesson and meditated about our great hope that Jesus will return soon.

After a hearty breakfast of smoked Tucanaré fish grilled over charcoal with rice and milk, I reviewed their treasurer books and prepared my things for my return trip.

As we waited for the boat it began to rain, which made everyone waiting at the port seek cover under a small palm lean-to. While it was raining I meditated on how marvelous the Lord is with what He has created, I also reflected on how much pastoral work there is to do in all the communities. Our native brethren need patient continual instruction because the majority of them are slow to learn to depend on, obey, and trust in the Lord as their customs often cause them to separate from the only source of salvation.

That Sabbath I had tried to give counsel from the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy and it was evident that the Holy Spirit impressed its Truth to them. They recognized the things that were separating them from their Creator, and they decided to start over living in Him and fight as a true child of God in this world.

Praise be to God for the things that were accomplished for the people of Porvenir and for our brothers in Christ. I praise Him, too, for His protection and care in my travel, having arrived home on Monday at 3am without problems. Really, thank you beloved Lord!!!!