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Rebecca translating for Pastor Pine

Memories from Peru 2020 by Ms. Rebecca Williams (April 2021 Banner)

A few years ago, I wrote in my journal a list of things I would need to surrender if God ever led me to serve in overseas missions. Many of those things were fears – insects, eating strange foods, and being ill; some were comforts – a warm bed, cleanliness, even privacy; most devastating of all were my sins – pride, selfishness, desire for control. Looking back on the Team Timothy trip to Peru last year, I notice that most, if not all, of the items on my list were challenged for me.  Yet I can also see that the more God took, the more He gave.

Having moved to Lima, Peru in 2018 to teach English, I was excited and even amazed when I learned about the timing and destination of Team Timothy 2020. God’s providence allowed the trip to be in a country close to my heart and for the date to fall during my school’s summer break. (In retrospect, I also wonder at God’s timing in that the trip took place just prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent restrictions on international travel.) Already speaking Spanish, I hoped that I could be of use and applied for the team.

Reflecting on my list of inhibitions, the connection between language and my pride was one of the areas in which God most challenged me on this trip. Due to my knowledge of Spanish, my role on the team was largely that of an interpreter. Like Moses in Exodus 4:10, I felt that I was “slow of speech” and was uncertain of my ability to adequately communicate the Word of God in my second language. Pastor Len even brought to my attention some of my own behaviors that I needed to change while interpreting for sermons, and I am thankful for the lessons I had in my humility and God’s exaltation. Whether interpreting for sermons, teaching VBS lessons, or witnessing to adults in the villages, the Lord reminded me again and again that, like Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 2, it is not my wisdom or ability to speak that can bring others to salvation, but the power of the Holy Spirit moving where He wills.

Living in the villages along the Ucayali River for a week, my fears were certainly encountered also, and were sometimes crawling over me in the middle of the night. From cockroaches to clouds of mosquitoes and zancudos (BIG mosquitos), from sleeping only a few hours each night to eating – well, I wasn’t always sure what it was – I can’t say I’ve ever had a more stretching experience. The week’s highlight in luxury was one cool shower in a bathhouse with a bucket and half of a coconut shell. A few nights under my stained mosquito netting, I cried from discomfort and exhaustion and counted down the days until we were back in Iquitos. Yet the more pronounced my weakness, more and more over the Lord granted grace and strength.

Team Timothy also impressed upon me how truly sweet the communion is between fellow believers. Rarely does one find oneself among a group so free of conflict and so full of desire to sacrificially serve others. Truly, the most conflict I can recall occurred when a few team members (who shall remain unnamed) ate a piranha that another team member was promised she would also be able to have a taste of. That team member is not bitter, of course. Not only was there fellowship among our small team, but with the believers in the churches in Iquitos, many of whom served us by housing us in their homes, cooking for us, or providing transportation for us. I will forever be thankful for the Flores family, in particular, of whom Franmig and his ten-year-old son, Nahúm, accompanied us constantly during the two-week trip. Pastor Roldán, who did much organizing for our trip, was and continues to be a brilliant example of a faithful witness in the villages where the gospel is otherwise unpreached.

Thinking back on the hardships and blessings of this trip, I can attest that God is faithful to bless much amidst and even through our lack. Of my own strength I cannot give up my fears, comforts, and pride, but God in His grace can pry these out of my hands and replace them with His fullness. Team Timothy left me with a burden for the unsaved and a strong desire to continue serving in overseas missions; yet if the Lord leads in this direction, I pray that I may decrease and that He may increase (John 3:30).

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