This summer I joined three other college-age women from the U.S. to teach English in Iquitos in northern Peru. Iquitos is located in the Peruvian rainforest surrounded by the Nanay, Itaya, and Amazon rivers, making it almost an island that can be reached only by plane, boat, or through one road that leaves the city. My two month trip to Iquitos totally blew my expectations out of the water – in more than one way. I was humbled, challenged in my faith, brought out of my comfort zone, and drawn closer to my Savior Jesus Christ who I need daily. Honestly, I came into this trip with a lot of pride. I was planning on enjoying every moment of the mission trip “experience” by building relationships with Peruvians for the purpose of sharing the gospel, and although these were good intentions, I had no plans of relying on the Lord for my daily strength (even though I never would have acknowledged this to anyone). I thought it was going to be very easy, and that I might even be having so much fun that I would forget to depend on the Lord for sustenance, strength, and power from His Spirit. Of course, God broke me of that!
The unexpected happened in that I started getting homesick within the first week of being in Iquitos, and that continued almost every day for the rest of the two months. The root of that struggle wasn’t so much that I wanted to be home, or away from Peru, but it was that I was not being content with whatever situation God had placed me in. I wasn’t finding my satisfaction in Jesus. Reminding myself of Philippians 4:4-13 was an incredible help for this. It was definitely hard, but I’m thankful that God allowed me to draw closer to Him through it and really cry out to Him and admit that I absolutely cannot live without Him. When my “everything” of family and friends and my comforts were removed, God remained faithful and led me straight to Him. God is so good, patient, and full of grace to constantly supply our every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Through this trial, I know he deepened my faith in Him.
Moments when the Holy Spirit was working around us, in us, and through us this summer were made clear to my team and I. My teammate Meg and I knew the most Spanish out of the four of us, but were far from fluent. We knew that the Holy Spirit was speaking though the both of us when we were able to share the gospel in Spanish with our classes, talk our student Loanna through how she can be saved, and even explain to Fausto, a new believer, the redemptive story of the Bible from creation to the ascension of Christ, just as Meg was led to do. There was no way we could have done that by ourselves! He also answered our prayers in His perfect timing, sometimes using dreams to make certain things known to us.
My team and I were taught to trust in the work of the Holy Spirit everyday as read and discussed 12 different Bible stories as a way of teaching English and talking about Jesus with our students. We were blessed to witness how God’s word goes out and accomplishes His purposes – it does not return to Him empty. It was amazing to see some fruit from our short time there through four of our students repenting and believing in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. My team and I are praying that these were truly seeds planted on good soil and that they each have been sealed by the Holy Spirit. Even if were were to not have seen any fruit this summer, God used our brothers Ron and Alex and sister Lidia from Iquitos, who were such an awesome encouragement to us, to remind us of 1 Corinthians 15:58 –
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
He is faithful and merciful to use us to fulfill His purposes.
Overall, my trip was a life-changing experience for me. I’ve learned that it is a gift to be able to serve God and be His witness here in Fayetteville, in the states, and wherever He wants us to go!
Written by SD