Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A Jungle Saga

The following is from one of our IMB missionaries serving in the jungles between Peru and Brazil:

Ashéninka Team

April 7, 2009

The entrance to the indigenous community of Ashéninka people called San Pedro is a long grade at about a 40 degree angle, about 300 yards long. You have to carry all your gear from the river, across some muddy ground, across a log that lies over a small brook, then up some 50 degree clay steps to the main sloping pathway that rises into the village center. By the time you get there with a heavy backpack you feel like your heart will never slow down. In many communities the folks hear your motor and know that someone is arriving. They hurry to the river to see who it might be and quickly descend to the boat when you reach the bank. Then they generously grab your cargo and carry it energetically to the place where you will lodge. At San Pedro the river is so far from the village center that usually no one knows when we arrive and we’re left to carry everything on our own! When I’m laden with my overstuffed backpack, a bedroll under one arm, a folding camp chair slung over one shoulder, and my back of teaching materials and cameras in the other hand, I look more like a storage rack trying to walk uphill. I asked Dena today how many trips down and back up the San Pedro hill I should make per day in order to get into shape. She suggested three. I just glared and wondered when you’re too old for this line of work.

Because of our short-handedness during the last several years and our emphasis on the farther extremes of the Pichis River valley, we’ve simply not been able to get back to the Río Azupizú to visit and encourage our friends at San Pedro since 2007. In September of that year, along with volunteers from South Carolina, we built upon previously started ministry at nearby Puerto Pascuala as well, but we’ve since not returned. This outing will be to check on the status of the San Pedro church which we helped initiate back in 2003, and to look in on and encourage believers at Puerto Pascuala.

In San Pedro, Pastor Alejandro and his wife Ana, have labored with a solid commitment to the local church, and have weathered criticism and the opposition of errant sects. The formerly strong Adventist community no longer has an Adventist church, but throughout the region there is still much adherence to that group’s emphasis on keeping the Saturday Sabbath, as well as strict rules about which foods can be eaten. Alejandro has faithfully stood for an evangelical doctrine of salvation through grace, and liberty in Christ. They have faced additional obstacles as well. In 2006 their bamboo church building was blown down by a storm. The church rallied with small financial gifts and the Lord sent them outside help as well. Today they worship under a metal roof with walls of sawn lumber.

Please pray for this visit to these two Ashéninka communities and that the Christians in both places will be encouraged in the Lord and will deepen their commitment to following Him, even when persecuted.

Quilmer has been continuing teaching in the Río Negro communities since I left him there in March. He will be joining me again for this Río Azupizú trip. Please pray for the following:
1. Safety in all travels
2. Growth from all teaching and training in Río Negro communities
3. Transportation to San Pedro from town of Puerto Bermudez; we no longer keep a boat in Bermudez
4. Fruitful times of teaching and personal ministry in San Pedro and Puerto Pascuala
5. Leaders Alejandro and Ana in San Pedro, Giovana and Ernesto in Pascuala.
6. Dena, Jacob, and Berta who remain in Pucallpa

We love you and thank the Lord for your support in prayer.

Marty McAnally
Strategy Coordinator
Ashéninka People Group
International Mission Board
Pucallpa, Peru

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