Monday, December 10, 2012

Jungle Expedition Part 1

So far after 3 days, 1 hour by plane, 26 hours travel by truck,  130 miles on bad, muddy jungle roads, 2 major river crossings by truck, and 1 hour by an old, leaky wooden boat, just as the sun was setting, we found ourselves sitting in the village of an indigenous tribe of Indians deep in the Peruvian Central Jungle.  We were told when we got there that we were the first white men that have entered this village of 120 people. 
Many of the details of this trip were unknown when we left.  Scott Dollar had a contact with a Pastor named Miguel, who told him about his burden to reach a series of villages on the Tambo and Urabamba rivers.  He invited Scott to spend a few days there this trip.  That is pretty much all we knew when we started off.  We had no idea that we were going to an indigenous people, nor that we would be the first white people, nor that the people spoke Spanish as their second language, nor that it would be a reckless adventure just getting to the village, nor that we would be sleeping with spiders, like Jack would say, the size of a dinner plate, nor did we know many other details.
A taxi driver who did not make a turn on one of the twisted
Andean roads.  He launched off a cliff into the river.
 Very common here.
We left from Lima late, as usual in Peru, and we were headed for a small jungle town called Satipo.  We traveled across just about every environment in Peru.  We started on the coast and then climbed through desert and mountains until we reached one of the highest drivable passes in the world at just about 16,000 feet.  It was cold and there was a little snow on top.  We descended the rest of the way and stopped in a small mountain town called Juaja for some Chafa, which is Peruvian Chinese food.  We then continued our decent to the jungle and the finally arrived in the hot and humid town of Satipo about midnight.  A 16 hour day on the road wore us out.  We took cold showers and hit the sack.
Our guide, Pastor Miguel, insisted that we get shots for Malaria, Dengue fever and Yellow Fever.  We told them we already had Yellow Fever shots and Malaria pills but they insisted anyway and made a big deal out of it.  When the place giving the shots was closed, the issue was dropped and apparently became unimportant.  We began to find out more details of the trip.  We found out that we were going to an indigenous tribe that spoke a different language and that we had to rent a driver and 4 x 4 truck and drive 130 miles on bad muddy roads just to get to a small river town where we would take old wooden boats up a huge river that was flooded and the color of chocolate.  We also found out we would be sleeping in huts under a mosquito net.  This was a very accurate description because that is the only thing we had was a net. 
We left Satipo in a Toyota truck and 3 people road in the back and then we swapped about half way.  It was a long, long, long, 130 miles and our driver drove as fast as humanly possible which rattled us around and kept us awake.  We picked up a man and his nephew along the way, who jumped in the back with Scott Dollar and I.  He could not speak Spanish and was the first native that we saw.  We arrived at the river town with an hour of light to spare.  We jumped in a couple wooden boats with very loud motors that a few men from the village brought to town to pick us up.  We headed up stream for the 10 minute boat ride that was really an hour.  Time is relevant in the jungle, it seems that they just tell you what you want to hear. 
As we motored up the river we saw many people fishing from wooden canoes, washing clothes and bathing.  Scott Dollar's boat arrived 20 minutes after us because their motor had problems and they almost capsized when they hit a log in the river.  Some of the people in the village welcomed us.  Out of the 120 people there are maybe a dozen or more believers.  The village was spread out and consisted of many grass roofed huts and a few concrete buildings the Peruvian Government built for a school a long time ago.  There was no electricity or potable water.  We ate dinner after dark and they graciously fed us rice, fish, papaya, yuka and some kind of drink.
After dinner we went to the little church building they constructed so that Scott could preach.  It was translated in 2 languages so it was difficult but it went good.  Adin was the interpreter that Scott always uses and I must say that he is the best interpreter that I have ever seen.  There were about 70 people present. 
We were then brought to the old abandoned building that we would sleep in for the next two nights.  We had mosquito nets with woven grass mats.  Our rooms were infested with bats (which smelled and made all kinds of noises all night), huge cockroaches, and giant spiders.  The natives killed a couple of the spiders to appease us but they had a little chuckle that we didn't like the spiders.  The sounds of the jungle do not quit all night and there are many and they are loud.  A ton of different frogs.  Then of course you have the domestic animals of the village like the many dogs that barked at something throughout the night and the roosters that crowed every hour for some reason.  Around the village were anacondas, boa constrictors, poison frogs, caterpillars, jaguars, tarantulas, blood sucking bats, dangerous ants and just about everything else that can kill and maim you.
We woke up....or got up, since we never slept much, and went to the main gathering hut for breakfast.  They fed us fish soup with the guts and of course the head still attached, a stick of sugar cane that we pealed and sucked on, as well as papaya, yuka and sweet water.  The kids and a lot of the adults stared at us a lot and followed us around.  I told some kids that Jack was scared of spiders so they found a big one and were hitting it with their bare hands to freak Jack out. It worked.
Scott then taught for 3 hours on various subjects, which went very well.  The believers here are so hungry for the Word of God and they seem to soak it up.  On man walked 6 hours, which is about 30 miles at his pace, and then traveled 3 hours by boat just to come to the teaching.  This man was a real man.  He was humble but after some prodding he said that he killed 10 jaguars and many anacondas and boas.  This is a guy that the shinning path terrorist group, which were in the area, would be afraid of.  This is a man that you would not want to have on your bad side. 
After the the teaching we had another meeting so that the leaders of the 7 villages that were represented could tell us their needs.  All of them stressed that they need biblical teaching and materials and they invited us to their very remote villages to do it on our next trip.  They were very humble in their presentation of their needs and they glorified God.  After this meeting an old man wanted to show us his chacra (farm) so we followed him through the jungle.  On the way we saw the deadliest ant in the jungle whose sting is said to be more painful than anything on earth.  We got to the river and turned back. 
Then the incident happened.  A woman came running up to us and said that our friend had been found wandering and taken captive by gun point and was being held.  


Paul Lackey said...

Gunpoint?? Are you serious or kidding?? Do we need to be praying about this?

Arod said...

The gun pointing thing is serious! but God protected us and cared about us and the devil is not going to use that as a discouragement, but a couragement to continue to carry His word to those native communities.