By: Lisa Hill
Following are my personal experiences and thoughts of our missions trip to the country of Tarapoto, Peru. Different things touch different people in a variety of ways. These are the things that touched me.
We arrived in Tarapoto on the evening of Saturday, October 8th after a very long period of waiting in the Lima airport. There were 9 of us on this trip. The grace of God was upon us indeed! There were many people praying back at home for our unity and strength and I thank God for their faithfulness! We were all very tired after flying all night on Friday and having delay after delay in Lima due to bad weather. I knew in advance that the wait would probably be extreme. I resolved within myself to handle the frustrations with grace and humility so that I didnít set myself up to be disappointed and discouraged. Lack of sleep and being in an airport in a foreign country all day could equal crabbiness and a bad attitude if allowed. We all thanked God for our interpreter Ivy! With delay after delay, she was able to tell us what was go. Flying over the jungle at dusk was a thought provoking experience. How many people live out there Lord that have never heard your name? The Amazon river seemed to wind endlessly throughout the region with smaller rivers extending off of it. I thought of the awesomeness of God who created the river to wind. I was getting more excited to get to our destination and to go forth into the areas where we were scheduled to teach, pray and lay hands on the sick.
When we got off the airplane there was a lot of commotion in getting our bags and getting everyone assembled into tiny little cars with big luggage! They had 2 cars just for luggage! We all piled into the church van and headed out from the airport to Pastor Jaime's and Mama Telma's house for a late dinner. They had been waiting all day for us. They had experienced very heavy rains that day. The planes they use do not have the same technology as ours, so we were unable to land in it. I was immediately cast from my environment into a totally different world. I looked on in amazement as we drove to Pastor's house. The roads were bumpy and uneven, the houses were small and dirty looking. Attached together, one by one, they stretched down the road. Everything is open there. No windows as we know it. People were cooking food on little grills right there in the street. The smells were fabulous! No pollution smells. Only the smells of food, the soil and the rain that had fallen earlier, which were settling comfortably in my head.
There were motorcars everywhere! There aren't very many cars in Tarapoto. The main mode of travel is scooters, motorcycles and motorcars. I was taken back by the fact that there are little to no stop signs or traffic signals. It was a little unnerving at first, but it all seemed to flow. They beep the horn as they approach the intersection and there is an unspoken respect between the people as they drive. We saw many of what we call "close calls" yet no one was angry toward each other or making angry hand gestures. In ever really did get used to the traffic. It was simply amazing to watch it flow
We arrived at Pastor's house and we walked in to a turquoise blue, cement home where the love of Christ could be felt immediately! TRUE servants of the Lord Jesus Christ! We were made to feel comfortable and welcome. It was very late, but we were all hungry. Mama Telma knows what food our American bodies could handle, so she gladly cooked our lunch and dinner everyday that we were there! Mama exudes the love of Christ through her smile alone. She sat us all down and before we prayed she sang us a song. We sang before every meal! Even though I only understood certain words here and there, you could feel the love for Jesus and the lost to come to salvation. The people with whom we were in contact with all impressed me with their servants' hearts. From the people helping in the kitchen to our drivers. They rarely had to be asked to assist us and when they did, they literally jumped to our aid.
We ate and left. I have to admit, I felt very poorly about that, but I was assured that everyone understood we were tired and needed to get to our hotel to get settled in for the remainder of our journey to begin!
Sunday morning we all went upstairs to the top floor of our hotel for breakfast. There was a continental breakfast of homemade juice, espresso, bread and jam. The juice was made from fresh mango and a little water in a blender. Nothing like anything we have here! Our interpreter was not at the hotel. She stayed with the Pastors' at our "American turned Peruvian" hosts house, Lauree. I had taken Spanish all of my years of High School, so I asked the Lord to open my ears to understand and to help me to communicate with the people. We managed to order fried eggs and I drank almost the entire little pitcher of espresso with hot milk, not realizing that I was supposed to water it down with the hot water provided! That was ok though. I needed it after our previous day of traveling.
We were enjoying the view from up there. You could see all around the town! Our very own watchmen's tower! Again, I was in culture shock. Roofs made of corrugated tin, all rusty looking with bare spots. Laundry hanging at the roof lines. The house just below our window had a bucket of laundry waiting to be washed by hand. The dogs did their business on the cement flat roof. The sound of motorcars filled the air. Sunday morning in another country. And then we heard the singing. The beautiful sound of worship from the church just across the street from our hotel. We could feel the anointing. By this time, our other interpreter Elisa, was with us. She could sense my excitement and asked me if I wanted to run downstairs and go across the street to go check it out. We literally ran. I was welcomed with open arms and bright smiling faces. I could understand the name of the Church on the wall. It was The Temple of the Holy Spirit. The Pastor was teaching out of Proverbs regarding the family, but I didnít understand very much at all. People kept coming in like a regular flow without disturbance. It was beautiful to see so many hungry people for the things of God. We stayed about 20 minutes and had to get back to our hotel to get picked up for church at Pastor Jaime's
We pulled up in front of the church and I was once again culture shocked. The church had metal walls on the outside with a big open gate. It reminded me of an airplane hanger with blue benches. But it was much more than that. It was God's house. His place of prayer and praise. It was very, very hot the entire time we were there. But by the grace of God and the excitement of being there, you forget about it most of the time. It caused me to reflect on how we as Americans feel uncomfortable when the air conditioning is broken, or we don't have it. These people meet in an open air church with a roof! There is never air conditioning and it is a tropical environment and always hot! Yet there they are, ready to praise the Lord and give Him the glory due His name, sweat running down their backs and all!
Pastor Jaime's adopted daughter Cristina opened up services with a worship dance. Ivy our team mate did the same and it set the stage for a beautiful time of worship. The praise team consists of three young men in their early 20's. Moses is the worship leader and an extremely anointed one at that. I was struck by how everyone joins in song with no lyrics projected. Eyes closed and hands lifted to the King, they sing their hearts out to Him!
After a short message, the people were called up for prayer for various needs. I would have to say that basically the entire church came forward. Pastor had Ivy interpreting peoples needs and they were being touched by the Lord. All of a sudden, Cristina is telling me to pray for these young girls and I tried to explain to her that Pastor Paul hadn't given me the ok to step out and do so. I personally believe that I needed that from him. I was a part of the altar team, to support him and stay in prayer for others, but Cristina didn't seem to understand me and kept insisting that I pray for people since there were so many. A bit of fear came to me due to that fact and the language barrier. Cristina's English wasn't that great, so I just started praying in the Spirit. The Lord knew their needs and so I asked Him to touch people accordingly. They had such looks of gratitude and thankfulness on their faces. The bible says they will know us because of the Love of Christ. I wanted them to see that love and therefore see Him. One lady was standing there crying and I just went and hugged her and loved on her. I asked the Lord to give her His joy. I could hear my Pastor in my head because he quotes the scripture that the joy of the Lord comes in the morning and then he says to people, "Good Morning!" So I prayed that for her and said good morning! The joy of the Lord hit us both. It was a beautiful thing to experience. The thing that really broke my heart and caused me to want to see miracles more than ever was a little girl about 5 years old who came to me for prayer for a tumor in her stomach. Cristina said her parents have no money for doctors. I didn't feel like anything "miraculous" happened to her when I prayed, but I am believing that she IS healed and that I will see her again, healed and made whole!
Church lasted a long time, yet I never felt like I wanted to leave. These are people with some very real needs! They don't have the same commodities and modern conveniences that we do. Our needs are real as well, but I feel that they pale in comparison to the needs of these beautiful Peruvian brothers and sisters.
That afternoon after lunch, TR and I supported one of team members, Darryl, by going to an afternoon service that he was teaching at. The youth were just finishing up a time of prayer together. You could sense the unity amongst them. Moses lead us in worship on his keyboard alone. He sang a song that he wrote and TR and I wept under the anointing of it. The song stayed with us the remainder of the trip. Lauree said she is working with Moses to do a CD and get it out to all of Latin America.
It was very difficult for Darryl to flow as he brought forth the Word as he is accustomed to speaking to Americans in terms and sayings that they understand. He got through it though! I learned that if you are going to teach or preach to people in a foreign land, you must keep it simple!
There was also an evening service that night. We arrived at the church and there was a full house! There were children, young women, and young men all at the front of the church dancing and singing. I was taken by the fact that there were so many young men up there. They were not embarrassed to dance before the Lord with hands raised! Talk about thankfulness. I can't help but sense how grateful these people are to the Lord for all He has done for them. The prayer line was very long that night. Many people were being touched and then there were those that I wasn't certain. They would say that they are healed, yet they seemed expressionless. Lauree said that many people are under ancestral curses and that as those curses are broken, the joy of the Lord comes and they dance before Him as they are set free.
One other thing that I noticed is that some of the people think they are supposed to lay down after they get prayer. They don't fully understand the move of the Holy Spirit. My prayer is that laborer's be sent into this harvest field to teach them the things of God and that they would truly feel the anointing that destroys their yokes and bondages. I wouldn't even call it a "courtesy fall" because they honestly don't have full understanding of being slain in the Spirit. They just think it is something they are supposed to do. Lauree said they have cell groups in Peru, discipleship programs in people's homes. I pray that the best teacher of all, the Holy Spirit, teaches them what they need to know to be victorious in Christ and to expand His kingdom!
Monday morning we all met as a team in our hotel for breakfast to go over our schedule for the week. Lauree also went over some customs such as tipping and told us NOT to do it. She said if all Americans started doing that, the people would start to expect it out of each other and they can not afford to. As it is, when they see Americans, they see dollar signs. And no wonder. Our money was worth 3 times as much as theirs. It helps to have a local with you so the people canít take advantage of you. I wanted to be a blessing since my money was worth more, but Lauree said it will change their mind set and make it hard for the people who live there.
I had a migraine that morning when I woke up. No amount of Advil was helping. So after our meeting I asked for prayer. We prayed right there in a circle of agreement in the restaurant. Lauree cancelled any witchcraft incantations spoken against me and made a cutting motion with her fingers like scissors behind my neck. My knees weakened and I fell to the floor free from pain! Danny said he saw in the spirit that a crow took his talons from my neck and flew away. Lauree told us some stories of heavy witchcraft. We tend to discount such things, but no more. Especially when you are in a country where it is ancestral and has been around for a long, long time. I can see the need to study this more in depth. We must have knowledge so that we do not perish.
Lauree then asked for prayer. She has been having throat pain and she felt it was spirit related. Both Pastors saw in the spirit that there were talons on her throat and they cancelled the assignment of it. There was no one else in the restaurant but the waiter and the cook. The waiter Lucas came to Ivy and asked her if we would pray for him!! What the enemy intended for our harm turned out for good! Lucas said he was a Christian. I don't know what his prayer need was, but he stood there under the anointing of God receiving. It was a beautiful sight to see. He was so lost in the Lord that he didn't even hear his phone ringing.
I had no headache or neck pain after that and a spring came into my step for the remainder of the day! I needed it too, because that headache was causing me to feel like I couldn't go forth for the day. Satan loses again and God gets the glory! The enemy lied to me that morning and said it was a headache from sleeping wrong, etc; He is a very real enemy who slithers his way into causing us to believe the lie. I am glad that I asked for prayer!
The Monday evening service was for all local Pastors' in the surrounding area. Lauree created an invitation from Pastor Jaime who is well known in the area. He is head over about 150 churches in Peru. The numbers were somewhat small but the power of God that fell that night was not.
Ivy and Moses seemed to hold hands in the Spirit that evening. They flowed together in song to the Lord. I had no idea that Ivy could sing and I was immediately drawn into the heavenlies. During worship I saw the Lord in my spirit standing at the edge of heaven with His hands outstretched over us. I cried out to Him to come closer. I kept saying, Come closer Lord, closer, closer! I saw Him at the half way point and cried out the more to come closer. Before I knew it He was at my side and Ivy announced that the Presence of the Lord was in the house! Everyone started to weep and cry to the Lord. I couldn't help but fall to my knees and repent for everything that came to my mind. We all were weeping and kneeling before the Lord. Pastor John was on the dirty cement floor on His face. It was an incredible feeling. Ivy led us by the Spirit of God behind the veil into the Holy of Holies.
Ivy made her way over to where I was standing and she began to prophesy to me. She said that I have been asking the Lord to do something. She said that I have allowed fear to keep me from dancing and preaching and teaching. The Lord said it doesn't matter what anyone thinks. I am to trust Him. It is He who will cause me to dance like a little girl. I am to trust Him and step out into the things He has called me to. She was right on. I have never told anyone about the times when I was young that I would go to the basement and pretend that I could dance gracefully. Or how lately I have been feeling that I am not a good teacher of the Word. Satan becomes more subtle as you figure him out. I am learning more about his tactics though and will not bow down to fear anymore. This was a breakthrough time for me.
Everyone received a Word that night. It was beautiful to watch Pastor Paul and Pastor John flow together in the Spirit prophesying to the leaders. We didn't get back to the hotel that night until 1:00am, but I was wide awake!
Tuesday evening we had a service at a newer church near the airport. When we arrived it was dark and there were benches set up outside the Pastor's house. The outside of the house was newer looking brick, but upon going inside to use the restroom you notice that they have absolutely nothing. There was a kitchen table and the chairs that they did own were outside for the Pastors' and the team. Yet the Pastor and his wife worshiped the Lord with a thankful heart. You can truly sense the gratitude that they have. There were many children there that night. The people gladly come and sit on wooden benches in the heat of the night under the mango trees with lights on strings to have a church service. They want to be healed from their ailments. They have no money and very little doctors. The hospital that I did see was not exactly one that I would feel at ease in. I was impressed how the children get involved in singing and dancing. We videotaped a girl about 5 who sang with her eyes closed the entire time. You could tell it was genuine. It was breathtaking.
Pastor prayed for a lady who had glaucoma. Her name is Juanita. He asked TR and I to stay with her and continue praying. I kept thanking the Lord for her beautiful brown eyes to be free from the white covering over them. We stood there for the longest time and we were both in agreement that we needed to ask Lauree to come over and ask her if she had gone to a witch doctor for anything. She said she had not and Lauree asked her if she had any unforgiveness toward anyone. She said she did not. We told her to thank the Lord every day that He was removing the glaucoma and to confess only positive things every day. Pastor and Ivy came back over later and prayed with her again. It turns out she did go to a witch, but there is a difference in their culture between a witch doctor and a witch. So itís not that she didnít answer truthfully, she answered what we asked. I do not know what the outcome of their time with her was, but I will continue to pray for complete restoration of her eyesight. Lauree said that the dust is so bad on a daily basis that it affects the nerves in peoples eyes. She said that her husband Jose is in need of eye surgery because of nerve damage. We blessed him with a pair of nice sunglasses while we were there. He had them on his person day and night for the remainder of the time that we were there. It was a blessing to see that he was blessed.
After praying with Juanita, it made me stop to ponder the things of God, healing, etc., to desire to hear Him ever so clearly. To know what may be blocking or hindering someone from receiving. It breaks your heart to know that these people have no money to go to the doctor. Hers was a case that here in America we could go have an outpatient procedure done and have our sight back. I may never understand, but I know He is the healer and that He heals ALL of our diseases. I long to see the time when I will actually see situations like hers changed in an instant by the power of God!
TR and I decided to take a motorcar back to the hotel. The van was packed out more than usual and it was still hot out. We had on an average, 15 people at a time in the van. Lauree hailed a driver but he wouldnít budge on his price. Lauree is very head strong when it comes to these things. We were far away from town and the driver probably figured we were at his mercy. Little did he know that Godís mercy was there for us. No sooner did he drive away and 2 motorcars came! And it was someone who was affiliated with the church somehow! We had a nice ride together back to the hotel in the night air. Before we left for Peru, Mary Traynor prophesied to us that the Lord had our backs. That we didn't need to be concerned for that. Well, not only did He show us that in this instance, but He sent us Elisa who was at every church service with us sitting guard over our things. She helped us get around town, communicate with the townspeople and she made sure they gave us proper change and didnít charge too much for motorcars. Her and I became yoked with one another. She is my hermanita, which is my little sister.
Wednesday after lunch, Lauree invited me to her home to see her dancing outfits. She was at the church the night Ivy prophesied to me. Itís funny how I felt like I knew Lauree since the moment I met her. Little did I know that the Lord intended for me to know her and drew me to her! She told me that she too would see things in the spirit when she listened to music, but that she never danced. She said she had the same desire as me when she was a young girl. She wanted to be a ballerina though. The Lord showed her how to make a dance instrument similar to a tambourine and told her that she would dance in Peru. Lauree's testimony is extensive, but she used to live in Florida and started working in missions there. Long story short, she began to dance in Pastor Jaimes' church. She has many beautiful dresses for dancing and it encouraged me to see how simple they were to make because the Lord has begun to do the same for me.
Lauree asked me if I would like her to lay hands on me and pass her mantle of dance to me. I trusted her and felt it was a positive thing to do. She prayed a very simple prayer, asked the Lord to let nothing pass to me but through His blood and the power went straight down the middle of my body as quickly as lightning. It then began to rise up from my feet. It continued to rise, spilling over into every part of my insides as it went to my head. I literally felt it rising behind my eyes. I said so to Lauree and she put her hand on my head and sealed it. Her hand was shaking and the power of the living God passed between us! It was a moment I shall not soon forget. In fact, when I got back to the hotel I talked TR's head off!!
Earlier that day, we as a group took a collection to bless the church by replacing the 2 front tires on the van which were completely bald. TR had noticed it and the Lord put it on his heart to take action. It was always such a blessing to bless these wonderful people!
That evening our destination was a church called Satellite. It is in a town up a very steep and bumpy dirt road on a hill. There was a lot a lightning in the sky that night. TR felt a bad presence there. He began to have a heaviness in his head and stomach. He told Pastor and we all got together to pray. I looked up into the night sky and directly over head of us was a cloud in a swirl. It never moved. I thought this interesting as it was in a circle over us as we were in a circle praying.
The praise team was setting up their equipment at the edge of the road at the top of this hill. Pastor Manuel is a new Pastor who lives there and has started a church there. It is a very new church. He grew up in the river bed as a child and had to find his food amongst garbage. It took a long time for the praise team to get things set up. They were having ďtechnical difficultiesĒ. This church service was even more primitive than the previous! At the top of a dirt road in the middle of nowhere in an even more poverty stricken area with a couple of wooden benches under string lights.
At long last they began to play. The people literally came out of the darkness to see what was going on. Before I knew it there were children everywhere! They were very curious over our video cameras and what we were doing there. I met a little girl about 7 who seemed to be taken with me. Elisa helped me speak to her. Her name is Genesis! How cool is that!? I never saw anyone who might be her parent. Most of the kids we encountered at the services were seemingly by themselves. Genesis told me twice that she wants to come to the United States to learn English. She has a beautiful spirit about her and I can't shake the feeling that I will hear about her again someday. She held my hand during prayer and she held it firmly as if to say... I'm with ya. I don't know how else to express it, but it touched me. It made me feel connected to her.
Pastor Paul did a teaching on the need for salvation. There were about 70 people that came forward for Jesus, including the children. Genesis had me walk her over to receive salvation. It's times like that when you wish you could communicate with people. I had to release her there so I could help with altar work. I never did get to say goodbye to her, and maybe that is a good thing, because I would like to see her again someday. The moment the people finished praying a salvation prayer, a bolt of lightning shot across the sky. I couldn't help but feel it was prophetic.
There was a call for prayer for healing and as we lined everyone up it began to rain ever so gently. Lauree had told us of the need for rain due to a very dry summer. During our group morning prayers we prayed for prophetic rain to fall. People just stood there. They had no concern over getting wet. We turned to see that a white truck had stopped in the middle of the road. We found the man who it belonged to and learned that he stopped out of curiosity. He received salvation and healing for a neck problem! We called it a drive by miracle. I was writing down what people were healed of and all of it was headaches and stomach problems. I thought this a strange coincidence. The next morning I remembered that Mary Traynor prophesied to TR that the Lord was going to cause him to feel what people needed healing for. That was the only time that happened during our time there, but it was an awakening experience that he will not soon forget.
We prayed rather quickly as the rain wasn't letting up and we knew that we needed to clear out and get down that dirt road before it turned to mud. We packed our usual 15 plus people in the van and headed down the road. It was at this point that we were all thankful for the 2 new front tires. It was a somewhat hair raising experience slip sliding sideways. Stop and go. Having to move out of the way for someone coming up the hill! We all prayed in the spirit and Elisa and Cristina were singing American worship songs in Spanish! We made it down the hill with no adversity, went to change out of our wet clothes and headed over to Mama and Pastors' house for a late dinner. Mama was sick in bed from the rain. Lauree said that the Peruvians' are so accustomed to the heat that the rain cools their bodies down and causes them to get sick. Our bodies aren't as used to heat on a regular basis as they are. We welcome the cool down. Mama allowed us to come in her room and pray for her. She rose up smiling that sweet Mama smile and we told her good night and that we would go out for lunch the following day so that she could rest. That night at the dinner table before we prayed for Mama, Pastor Jaime gave us a couple of testimonies that happened to him. I will only tell one and it will be short but sweet.
Peru has been under both military rule and communism in the past. One time 2 military men grabbed him and they were going to kill him by hanging. He told them he was already a dead man. They looked at him in confusion and he began to share that he was dead to the world but alive in Christ. He told them they might kill his mortal body but that he would go to be alive with Jesus. He then took hold of their hands and said, "Holy Spirit.....give them a headache!" Well, a headache they got! They were in so much pain and Pastor told them he could pray to his Jesus to remove the headache. He asked them, "Do you want me to pray?" They said yes, yes, please make the headache go away! He did so, led them to the Lord right there and they are both Pastors' today. Glory be to God! We wanted him to tell us stories all night long. But it was late and we knew Mama needed to rest.
On Thursday my body began to feel the effects of eating and drinking foreign foods. We had a church service that night in La Molina. The poorest location yet. It was the same experience as the rest. People would come out of the woodwork. Tons of children here! And they are so curious to know what is going on. They stay the whole time. They had 2 beautiful worship dances. They seem to place importance on the dance as a regular part of worship. It made me reflect on bible times and how it must have been the same.
I wasn't feeling that great, but I was needed at the altar. I stood behind Pastor Paul to prevent him from being bombarded. Out of the darkness came a lady who was so hunched over and old that it kind of scared me. She had come for prayer being held up by a family member. We got her a chair and as she was receiving prayer she said she was seeing fire and then white. She wanted prayer for her sight and hearing and one of her legs. We found out she is 120 years old!!!!!!!!!!!! She felt better, I know that. I didn't, so I went and sat down. I got up to where Pastor Jaime was sitting and asked him through Elisa to pray for me. Not more than a few minutes after he prayed I ran to the side of someone's dwelling and began to lose my dinner. Pastor thought I was under spiritual attack because someone last year had been. I honestly can't say whether I was or wasn't, but I couldn't wait to get back to our room. There are no bathrooms in most places and I had only a small "room" made out of tarp in someoneís back yard with a 5 gallon bucket. Not my idea of fun.
Lauree was very helpful and went back to her house to get me some green healthy liquid. She made me drink a big glass and I went to bed. I was much better the following day, and thanks be to God because it was our last day. Most everyone came to the airport to see us off. Lauree and Jose stayed while the others had to get ready to go back to La Molina. We had favor the entire trip back. From people speaking good English at the airport, to the clerk telling us that our airport tax was already paid. We got through customs with no problems. If only we could have found the van at the Miami airport!!! We did finally and we headed for Edgewater. Papa Hill ran down the driveway to greet us. We only stayed one night and headed for Cleveland the following morning.
It is most definitely a life changing experience. I thought of the stories that Pastor Walter and Colleen have told us of the conditions in South Africa. I can tell you that as bad as it was in Peru, I know it did not compare to the suffering they experience.
It is an experience that I think everyone should have. It humbles you and causes you to truly appreciate what you have. It causes you to see the need for Godís kingdom to permeate this earth. It causes you to pray more for people to find the Lord and the freedom He alone can bring. It causes you to see that you don't know half the things you think you know, about anything. It causes you to want to go deeper with God, to know what He wants, thinks and feels.
It causes you to want to see the kind of miracles that Jesus performed. It causes you to want to learn more about the world out there and the needs of the people.
Do we need to evangelize in our own neighborhoods? Absolutely yes. However, the people in third world countries seem hungrier for the things of God because they don't have all the "stuff" we have, the distractions and idols and pride that we can do it all by ourselves. This is where I can see the ministry of Kirk Cameron coming in because it causes people to question what will happen to them on Judgment Day. It causes them to see that what they thought about being a good person does not apply when they stand before the Lord. It causes them to see the need for forgiveness of sins because it points them to the Lord.
There is so much to do and learn. I only pray that I can be that watchman, that instrument that the Lord can use to reach the lost and point them in the right direction by snatching them out of the hand of the enemy.
The end of the book says he loses. And a loser he is