The Perfect Storm

Tucked away beneath the Amazonian canopy are countless little villages where people live tranquil lives growing coffee.

They don't worry about mortgage payments because their homes are built from the resources which surround them. They don't stress about car notes or repairs because their only means of transportation is the strong feet the Lord has given them. We never hear parents nagging their kids about turning off lights because the homes don't have electricity.

Michael discovered that the black tarps covered in drying coffee beans
made for a warm place to rest.

A couple weeks ago we arrived at one such community uninvited and unsure of what to expect, especially because it is prime harvest season.

At first glance it seemed as though everyone was gone working on their (coffee) farms; so, we made ourselves comfortable...

...and took the opportunity to praise Our Lord in song.

My eyes filled with tears as I listened to the sweet voice of my husband of almost 19 years ringing out over the mountaintops.

After finding "Main Street" our speculation was confirmed. The only people around were children left home alone during the workday: 3AM - 7PM.

Although there was the temptation to feel disappointed, we quickly recognized the gift of time we had been given to learn and practice new songs for our ministry.

As our voices filled the air a curious young man poked his head out the door of a nearby house. We learned that he was visiting the pueblo to collect a supply of coffee beans for a friend in Lima.

We shared a bit about our story, but quickly realized that he was more interested in Jack and Michael's Bionicles. As he clicked and turned the little pieces he explained that he had never seen such a fascinating toy. After they had been playing for a while our new Bionicle friend began asking the boys about why we're here in Peru. It never ceases to amaze us how perfectly the Holy Spirit finds His way into each situation.

As we wandered around trying to figure out how to eat lunch in a village without any restaurants, open stores or available adults we noticed the educational opportunities before us:

TOPIC #1: Erosion

What is it?   Why is it dangerous?   How can it be prevented?

TOPIC #2: Waste Removal

What are the different types of waste?

How do people manage waste in different parts of the world?

Why is it necessary?

What are the dangers of poor sanitation?

Morning had faded into afternoon and we were still unsure as to why the Holy Spirit called us to this community. We found a covered porch which offered relief from the blazing hot son. Gradually more kids appeared and Jack and Michael were invited to play marbles and soccer on the community field.

Knowing that we had to walk 2-3 hours uphill to the next village, where we had been invited to spend the night, some of us decided to be proactive on the energy management front and catch some ZZZs.

Nap time was interrupted by shrieks of panic as adults we didn't even know existed scrambled to scoop up their drying coffee beans before the black storm clouds arrived. We rushed to help our new Bionicle friend save his crop from the impeding doom.

Once the beans were safely stored away we returned to our little place of shelter to wait out the storm.

Inconvenience? Not hardly.  It was the perfect time to read our bibles...

...and pray for our team members.

Just recently we wrote each of our team member's names on large popsicle sticks.  We take these sticks with us when we travel so that we can easily pray in transit.

As the dark clouds continued on to the next village they took the gigantic raindrops with them. In the misty air that remained the most beautiful rainbow appeared.

As we looked up in awe a soft voice whispered, "Read the children the story of Noah's arc."

And so we did...

Realizing that this was the first time most of them had heard the story, Katelyn did a great job of engaging them with questions and examples.

When we first spotted the rain clouds our minds filled with dreary thoughts of the upcoming journey along a dirt road that would be more slippery and dangerous than normal. However, while Katelyn was reading scripture, I dispelled the evil spirit of pessimism and acknowledged the beauty of what was happening right before my eyes.

It was in fact The Perfect Storm!

Soon after Katelyn was done the blessings began to shower down upon us.

The school's religion teacher showed up and offered to help us gather the community together that night.

He rounded up some buddies and together they carried a huge generator into the communal building so that we'd have light.

They used the town's (really loud) PA system, which is also run by a generator, to invite everyone to our gathering. All praise be to God, we had a tremendous turn out.

As we concluded we asked if there was possibly a truck which could take us to the next village. We received a resounding "No" because the roads were just too dangerous, even for the most skilled drivers. We accepted the reality that we'd have to transverse the path on foot, in the dark, and began loading up our gear when all of the sudden an incredibly kind woman with several little ones in tow approached to ask if anyone had offered to make us dinner before we left. We had planned to eat some crackers along the way, but this was a much more attractive option. By the dim glow of a flashlight we followed her down slippery slopes to a humble home where she lived with her beautiful 9 kids and wonderfully faith-filled husband. While we were enjoying the delicious rice, beans and freshly harvested coffee they invited us to stay overnight. God is so good!!!  When we accepted they began rearranging kids, blankets and bug nets to make space for their unexpected guests.

In the morning our hosts inquired about how they might start forming a Catholic community in their village. Instantly, the burden of carting around bibles, song books, rosaries, and pamphlets on how to pray the rosary vanished. After sharing the resources that we had on hand they felt they had what they needed to begin inviting people to gather in the Lord's name.

When we arrived in this village we were totally unsure as to what the Holy Spirit had planned. Although we renounced the evil spirits of doubt each time they taunted us, we struggled throughout the day to rest in the loving arms of Our Lord. How many similar experiences will we need to have before we learn to just trust?? Our time in this pueblo was incredibly blessed because of the very thing that had caused us stress ~ The Perfect Storm.

Please pray for the success of our journey back to this community in June, that our travels are safe and that the hearts of the people are softened and made ready for the workings of the Holy Spirit.

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