Two weeks ago we took a trip with a team to the jungle town of Pucallpa where Mark and I oversee several Shipibo (Peruvian indigenous people) churches and their leaders. I was looking forward to being with the team, seeing the women and children there and seeing my own children enjoying the wonders of the jungle life which they always love. Mark goes to Pucallpa every month, but for cost and effectiveness reasons we have decided to just go as a family once a year.
I went to look after my children and allow them to be part of the mission trip.
I didn’t expect God to speak to me in the way He did...
'No Recuerdes - Siente'
'Don’t Remember - Feel.'
The graffiti on the wall blurred as we sped past in a motortaxi. My mind, like the air, was muggy and dusty and I knew that that was what God was telling me I needed to do after the conversation we had had with the Shipibo leaders the day before. He needed me to keep feeling what I felt. To not become hardened.
The jungle town of Pucallpa in many ways feels like a second home. Mark and I always talk about going and living there for a time whenever we go, and know that at some point down the line it will probably happen. I love the people there - their warmth and hugs and the way they are so hungry for a touch of God. I love that the moths are ten times larger than the ones in my garden, that the rain comes suddenly and that the ladies and children break out into laughter when we jump at a spider or a cockroach. I love the simplicity of the life there and the simplicity of their hearts.
But the meeting the day before had left me shaken. Five Shipibo church leaders and their wives (minus one who couldn’t attend) sat in our hotel lounge, because the rain had prevented us from meeting in their village. Mark told them they could tell us or ask us anything they needed too.
Casilda spoke up. Shipibo women rarely speak out loud in Spanish in a group situation. They feel more comfortable letting their husbands translate from Shipibo for them. She looked at me straight:
When are you coming to teach us, the women? We need discipleship. We need input. We need to know how we can disciple other women. When will you, Anna, come and teach us?
I looked around the room for an answer. Someone who could teach them.
I could hear the hunger in her heart and knew she was not alone. That she spoke on behalf of many of the women there.
I knew that she was right. That they needed teaching or even time, availability from other women walking what they wanted to walk. I knew that I had to be willing. Or at least I knew the Holy Spirit was asking me:
And you? Are you willing?
I told her:
I am willing. But I don’t know how with three young children running about.
I told her:
Pray. I am willing, but it is just not that easy with a 1.5 year old who is picky about who he is with and who is a bundle of action and exploration.
She came to me at the end of the meeting again. With her beautiful smile, her extravagant but shy hugs, her friendship and her eyes which tell me of her desire to be known. Our hearts are already connected from a previous trip when she had shared her story.
I told her again that I would pray and think about it. That she needed to pray.
She must have prayed. She must have prayed hard.
Next week Mark and I are returning to the jungle with Kaleb, our youngest. The eldest two are staying at home with Lili (the first time I have left them for that long), and Miriam, our German intern who is living with us (so Kaleb knows and loves!) has agreed to help us out with Kaleb so I can lead the key women.
And I know that God wants to do something special in the hearts of those women. He sees their desire to learn and know how to disciple others.
Are there not questions in all of us women which ask for that affirmation? Don’t we desire that equipping to move forward and have our destiny called out?
And it was feeling her heart - seeing the potential that there is in those women that makes my heart love them and want to find a way to teach them. Not because I feel like I have a banquet to offer - but because I know I have bread today and they are crying out for spiritual crumbs and I can’t say anything but ‘yes‘ when I look at the roll in my own hands.
Because I don’t just remember the Shipibo women. I feel them in my heart and I want to see them beginning to walk in their destiny as beautiful daughters of God.
Please...Pray for us...