Our Saturday in Iquitos was full of fun and activities! We started off the morning by going to the area of Belen to play with the children. Belen is the poorest area of Iquitos. It floods just about every year and we could see the water line from this past year’s flood-it was halfway up the houses [that were already built about 10 feet off the ground]. Walking through the streets of Belen reminded me of those natural disaster commercials you see where the houses are falling apart, clothes are hanging out and blowing in the wind, there’s trash everywhere, except, this is every day NORMAL life for these people. I have heard of poverty, and even seen poverty in the US, but nothing compares to the way these people live. I’ll share a little more about their home life in a post later because a small group of us spent the day with a family in Belen.
So for our fun day, we walked the streets and hollered for the children to come out and play with us! It was amazing to me how they just flooded out of homes and followed us. It was rare for me to see a child ask their mom or dad if they could come; most of them just left without asking. That was shocking to me! It was a ton of fun. We all got in a HUGE circle, and one-by-one we introduced ourselves and did something silly for them to have to mimic.
It was amazing to me how these children would just look at you, and as soon as you smiled, their face lit up! A lot of them are taken care of the best that the parent(s) can, but you can tell that they still long for that love. I’ve heard the stories of what some of these children have seen and live with, and it’s heart-breaking. Right now, Abundant Life is wanting to buy a house down there and open what they will call the Hope House, or House of Hope. This will be a great way for them to have a 24/7 presence in Belen. Please be praying for the funds to come and God to continue to soften the hearts of the people of Belen to what this ministry is trying to accomplish.
It was, I think, 107 steps that we had to walk down to get to Belen. You can see from the pictures how the houses are built up. After our trip to Belen, we headed back to the mission for lunch. We split up that afternoon into guys and girls. The guys went to the Safehouse to play soccer and the ladies went to a hotel to swim with the ladies from the Jessica House. It was a ton of fun and a great way to relax after our busy morning. It was also a great opportunity for us to get to know the men and women that are currently living in the Safehouse and Jessica House. I know that we had more pictures than this taken of us swimming, however, I haven’t been able to get them off of Facebook yet, but I’ll add them once I can.
We finished off our day with a youth service at the mission’s church. It was so awesome to see the people there just worshipping and praising Jesus without any care of what others thought, and without any agenda. I’m pretty sure that we could have worshipped all night and nobody would have complained! God is so good! My husband, Lance, was able to share his testimony with everyone, while Michael translated for him. It was an amazing experience!
A side thought: I’ve never been around so many MEN who openly shouted and sang to God as loudly and boldly as the men of Iquitos. It blew my mind to hear them singing and to see them dancing. They were probably more bold than the women in their worship! When the music quieted down, it was male voices that you heard all across the building ringing out. This was so cool to experience!
*A lot of these pictures were taken by other people on the trip. I’m very thankful to them for allowing me to use these pictures to share our experience with you!