Anticipating a quiet month was clearly a mistake. It’s true that we have been focused on just getting on with various aspects of the work, but things are never straightforward in the jungle.
So what does a normal week look like?
A significant part of Neil’s week is devoted to developing the training course. As well as preparation time this involves meetings with other local pastors to talk about the details. Most weeks this involves travelling to Iquitos for a planning meeting, but also other meetings as we try to develop a group of local trainers.
Lori’s life is more of a mixture. Part of it is working on the training centre accounts. The other part is just being around, occasional conversations with young people to help them practice their English, interacting with local children and so on. There is the possibility of helping with some guitar sessions but they either never seem to happen, or take place when we are not here.
So why are things never straightforward?
First off, strikes. The government are planning to build a road from Iquitos to connect to the rest of the countries road network. The people of Nauta are upset about this because the road doesn’t come through Nauta. So there have been strikes, with blockades on the roads to stop anything moving around and ensuring no travel on roads or rivers out of Nauta. The threat of another indefinite strike has been making planning hard. However, the threat has now been lifted (for now) by the Federal government promising more money.
Secondly, power cuts. It’s not clear why but we’ve had lots of power cuts recently. Most have been for 3 or 4 hours in the evening but we have had some during the day as well (the longest for 13 hours).
Thirdly, it is surprising how long it takes to get some things done. For example, yesterday we went looking for some anti-malarial tablets. The pharmacies didn’t have any but one said we needed to go to the local hospital. We duly did and found the malaria office and, when it was our turn, explained our need. They dutifully explained they couldn’t help us unless we actually had malaria, but we should try the hospital pharmacy. We found the pharmacy who said they couldn’t help us but if we went to the malaria office they would be able to sort something out.
Sometimes all this works in our favour though: earlier this week we were able to make a river trip about 100 miles upriver to Santa Rita and the communities around it. It was good to meet two students from a year or two back, one of whom is the president of the local pastors group and the other of whom has recently planted a new church which is going really well (seeing growth, baptisms etc). Neil got to preach (in Spanish) again. We went with Joel who runs JungleMaster a small mission that’s working with several of these communities… his original plan had been to go further up river but the water levels were not high enough, so we were able to catch a ride.