Jungle Trip (part 3 of 3)

As we were doing the interviews for the students, a Brazilian man came up and asked if we wanted some Jacare (amazon crocodile). I have to say that I prefer Jacaré over any other meat – it is the cleanest, leanest and best tasting meat I have ever had. Don’t even think of comparing it to gator! It is like white steak…so I was listening to an Indian speak some broken Portuguese, writing his summary in English and listening to the “Jacaré conversation”. I knew they didn’t have the funds to buy it but when I head the price of 30 Reales (15US) I asked if they wanted it (I already knew the answer). I bought us lunch. I continued the interviews and took pictures of each young man to finish the project packet to send out to donors. While I was doing that, a couple of the young men went and prepared our feast.

As we wrapped up, we all headed to the eating area. Lunch – Jacaré and rice, with farinha of course. They also fixed me some juice. I didn’t realize it until that point but I was in desperate need of some fluids. We thanked the Lord for His provision – in Matis. I want to quickly say here, it never ceases to amaze me to hear people with different languages pray to our Father. Amazing to think that in a instant He created all these languages and now, some that have never mentioned His name are now beginning to thank Him for His provision.

They graciously served me first and gave me the best 2 pieces of meat. I was honored and humbled. Thankful that God has given me favor among these people and humbled by the fact that He would use me to serve them and help them learn and grow to share Christ with their families.

After lunch, it was time for me to go. I thanked them all and told them I looked forward to returning in January. Shapu, who has an incredible testimony of how Jesus used a Jaguar to cruch his skull as a 12 year old, to get him to the Gospel, helped me get to the taxi place. It was a great time together as we shared what the Lord was doing in our hearts. He shared with me that he REALLY wants to return to his village, his heart is broken for his people. He is ready to graduate next year and is already planning his return to his people. He is going with the other Matis and Marcos during December to give the Gospel to his people. I was so encouraged to hear his heart and see what the Lord is giving him vision to do. He helped me pick a safe taxi and I was off.

That afternoon, I had the opportunity to meet with Pastor Lolo in Benjamin. He left his village and made the hour trip up to the town to meet with me. I was excited to talk to him. We spent some time talking about what the Lord has been doing in the village and I shared the desire I had to help sponsor him and the churches first missionary (imagine that people, these “primitive” Indians have started a church and within 4 months have sent out their first missionary to another village.). I explained the program that I would be launching to get financial support in for these guys so they can reach more of their own. We talked about how good the Lord was and all the ways he was blessing us.

I told him I wanted to treat him to lunch on Saturday and also wanted to invite his wife, Fernando (the missionary) and Otasio (the village medical leader). He said they would be free, we prayed together and both headed out.

I tried to find a free place to stay with several of our contacts in Leticia and Tabatinga but no one was home. I ended up having to get a hotel but I was very glad to have accomplished so much.

Saturday, I checked out, found peanut butter in the local store for my pregnant wife and son and then headed to the restaurant. As soon as I got close, they were already there. I want to explain the depth of that. Brazilian culture (much like most of Central and South America) is NOT punctual for anything. The Indians are even worse –they come from a culture where time is counted by moon phases – not hours and minutes. So when I arrived 15 mins earlier than our agreed upon time, I expected to wait at least an hour. To my surprise they had already arrived. Otasio, whom the Lord saved on one of my trips back in April, was the first to greet me with a big hug and a “Nuxmaxē  Pa Chauenee”, Ticuna for “Hello my dear brother”. Otasio is a man of great influence in his village, it is amazing what the Lord has done with his heart. This is a man that would have run me out of his village less than 2 years ago because of his hate and distrust of the Branco. Now, with the Lord changing his heart, not only has he invited me into his village, he has also told the chief, who is against us, that we are welcome not matter what he thinks and has even gone as far as to give a large portion of his land to ME to build a house for my family. When God changes a heart, it truly is something amazing.

Otasios brother who is also Lolos father-in-law, Alcydes, was also invited to the lunch. This was the last big miracle of the trip. Alcydes, from all I can gather, is not a believer. His daughter is a VERY strong Christian and her husband, Lolo, is the Pastor that I will be discipling when we make it to the village full time. We installed a water purification system in the village in April. Most of Alcydes’ family lives there now and he has great influence there. After hearing from his family the work that I had done for their benefit, he wanted to meet me. We had a great time talking and he thanked me for all that we had done. He talked about future projects and he told me I was welcome any time. Now, here is the BIG part of the story. He is a member of the elite Indian affairs agency that is run by the Government here. They have been the single biggest hurdle to evangelization of the Indians. They rate missionaries on the same scale as loggers and drug traffickers. Now, because the Lord has given us favor, he is writing an official document from the agency granting us unlimited access to live and work in this village and not only that but to also bring teams to work as well! It is always amazing how the Lord works. He has moved even the heart of an unbeliever, who has a great amount of power and influence to help us do what He has called us to do.

I left the lunch VERY excited and humbled once again. God is certainly up to something in this place. One thing I have always believed and was confirmed even more for me on this trip is this; God created these cultures to glorify Him. They don’t need me to bring in a denomination, a certain type of dress of a certain type of music. As a matter of fact, they don’t need me, a branco, for anything! Yet the Lord, in His infinite Grace and Wisdom, decided when he created their race, that he would not only allow but USE me to serve these people. He has been knitting this story for a long time. Their souls were on His mind as He hung on the cross and He is letting me be a part of it. I have NOTHING to boast in but the cross, everything I “have” or “can do” was given to me by Him to be used for His glory and it can be taken away just as quickly.

I am committed to serving these people and guiding in any way I can to help them see the cross. I want them to know what it is like to live a life devoted to Yahweh. I want them to see that He created them for a purpose and the He has plans to glorify HIMSELF through their lives. Some have caught that and they are teaching others to the extent they are able. My goal in life is to enable these people in any way I can to reach their own. After all, God has given them the call to missions as well – they don’t need a white man to “show them how it is done”. They need a bit of guidance, discipleship and love so they can grow in Him and lead others to do the same. I have always planned and am more than willing to live my entire life with these people, with my people, my brothers and sisters, but I am praying that the Lord will allow me to “work myself out of a job” to the point where they have a strong leadership that is fully independent.

Thank you for your prayers and support in our lives. We are SO ready to be in the jungle full time. We love these people and miss them dearly. If you would like to learn more about the 2 projects God has laid on my heart to begin, please contact me at B.r.whittemore@gmail.com.

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