As a child, many things fascinated me, and one of these things was the rainforest. For one thing, rainforests teem with exotic wildlife, a feature which attracted the attention of this boy who kept a zoo in his bedroom. That fact, combined with the lush green foliage and the potentially hazardous insects and crawling things, made the rainforest an amazing topic for research and discovery. The rug covering most of my bedroom floor was brown, so I decided that would be the dirt floor of the forest. I had a poster showing the green leafiness of the rainforest, so that went on the wall, with hopes of more such posters to complete the effect. And then I worked my creativity to fashion multicoloured rainforest animals out of construction paper, to place around my room. It may not have been quite realistic or convincing, but it was the product of inspiration and creativity!
Now at the age of 23, I can say that I have been there. I was in the Loreto region of Peru, the northernmost part of the country, for 17 days, and while I didn’t get to hike through the jungle and watch for wildlife, I did experience the rain, the heat, and the gigantic insects that wandered into the cities. It was a mission trip, so for most of these 17 days we were evangelizing, preaching, teaching children’s Bible classes, and encouraging the Christians there. Although I had been to a different part of Peru before, this was a completely new experience, with different food, culture, and even language. The people I interacted with did speak Spanish, but it was with an accent such as I had never heard before, and as a non-native speaker, I often had to strain to understand them.
It was a time of comfort zone-stretching as well. I am not the bold and reckless type, but I do like to try new things, and if there is something I am uncomfortable or uninitiated in doing, I try to take it as a challenge. On this trip, I translated sermons from English to Spanish for the first time. I could have done better, but for a beginner I think it went well, and I was especially impressed with the realisation of how great a responsibility interpretation is, to put a person’s thoughts and words into another language faithfully, so that others can understand it. Other firsts on this trip were teaching children’s classes in Spanish, and adult Bible classes in Spanish, all good learning experiences for me.
One characteristic of this region of Peru is transportation between cities. For some reason, there are very few roads between cities, but since the area has many rivers, people normally take boats to go from place to place. We travelled from Iquitos to Requena in a boat along the Ucayali river, and then on another boat to a small town called Bretaña. Later, we crossed the mighty Amazon to get to a small settlement called Nueva Jerusalén. I think it was the most I had ever travelled in boats!
All in all, it was a wonderful trip, and I hope to be able to return someday. To God be the glory, and may He bless His saints in Peru, and across the world.