We are now safely back in our Nauta home and adjusting to being in the heat again after leaving Europe in snow and ice.
Each time we return we notice how things are slowly changing here. In the last 6 weeks one of the shops on the ‘high street’ has closed but another business has opened. Gradually, ever so slowly, you can see Nauta becoming slightly richer and better built.
The biggest change is that the view from our house; we no longer look out at jungle but on the latest community to settle here. The group had started to cut the trees down before we left, but now houses are starting to spring up. It’s not a great way to go, chopping down the vegetation causes soil erosion which is already a problem but is, perhaps, a reminder that when you are poor, just having somewhere to live is the priority, rather than worrying about the long term effects. (It’s also against the rules but the municipality doesn’t enforce them). Another couple of hundred square meters of Amazon rainforest disappears – but even so their carbon footprint is probably better than mine.
Change is not limited to Nauta of course. At Manchester Airport the computer system wanted to know if we have Schengen visas for transferring in the Netherlands (a computer glitch or a sign of things to come perhaps?). Our Uber to the airport in Lima was a ‘Great Wall’ a Chinese car brand that is becoming a significant player in global car production. And Peruvian airlines have stopped giving complimentary food and drink on internal flights. (Not all change is good).
Each time we return to Peru we are reminded we too are changing; over the last two years we’ve learned some things about mission. Some of it missions theory and what might be good or bad, some of it about the way that mission agencies work, and lots of it from the experience of living in a different culture and context. When we arrived for our first 3 month stint we had a clear sense of what we were here to achieve. Now on our 4th we are much more aware it is our presence, rather than things we accomplish, that is our primary contribution. And the lasting benefit of our time here will not be in things we have done but in how we have enabled others.
Over the next couple of months there will be training events, Bible Studies and discipleship groups. There will be sermons. There will be trips up river to visit pastors in their communities. There will be long discussions and meetings to plan for the future, as well as sessions of admin and accounting. Only time will tell if we have equipped people to plant things rather than unwittingly helped them cut things down.