Today, Sindy came to take us to her house. She, too, was an awesome guide! Her mom, Hna Maria Miranda, and her siblings--Cristian, Omar, Marta, and Ana--as well as her cousins--Luis and Veronica--were all waiting on our arrival. After some hot chocolate and bread, the boys all ran off to find guama for us. It's a fruit that grows inside of a pod. It pretty much tastes like bubble gum! They brought back their treasure to share with us, and then they climbed up in the tree to eat their portion of the fruit!
Hna Maria Miranda's husband was out working today, so we didn't get to meet him. We were able to share lots of our testimony with Hna Maria Miranda and Sindy. Hopefully we encouraged them. We talked with Cristian about being a pastor (that's what he wants to be) and reading the Bible as much as he can.
We got a little thirsty while we were talking, so Hna Maria Miranda walked over to one of the coconut trees and knocked down a couple of coconuts for us all to share. Cristian used the machete to open them up for us and we drank the milk out. Then for the best part...the soft part inside...with a spoon we scooped it out and ate it!
Not long after lunch we headed back to the house because we needed to prepare the Sunday school lesson for tomorrow. Unfortunately, Chris had a headache and fever by the time we got home. So he went to sleep. While he was sleeping, I went over to listen to the praise band practice! Wow!!!! They all asked where Chris was, so I told them that he was a little under the weather. They stopped what they were doing, and filed over to the parsonage. Pastora Dionisia lead the prayer for his healing. Praise God! He is big! Chris immediately began to feel some relief!!
Sunday, January 27th
This morning, Chris felt 100% again! Praise God! So we were able to prepare the Sunday school lesson on faith. We started with a faith walk. Luis volunteered to help us, so we blindfolded him and sent him through the obstacle course. Pretty difficult...he couldn't make it out. Domingo volunteered to guide him through by taking him by the hand and telling him what to do. We talked about how sometimes we can't see what God is doing, but if we'll listen we can hear His voice guiding us even when times are tough.
After church, we had another lunch appointment...this time with Hno Alfredo, Hna Odilia, Darley, Alfredo, Josue, and Esther. They have eggplant and squash growing on their parcel of land along with tons of other fruits and veggies that we've already mentioned. Lunch was delicious!! We were able to fellowship with them a ton. Then they boys wanted to show Chris how to play marbles. Chris finally got pretty good at it!! I was impressed with his new skills! ha, ha, ha!!!
Since Sunday is the day of rest, we went back to the parsonage and took it easy for the rest of the day. We had devotion together tonight, and we all turned in early.
Monday, January 28th
Today is a church-wide fast...and today we knew ahead a time, so we are excited to participate. When we were waiting outside the church for everyone to show up, Alfredo and Josue came to talk to Chris. Yesterday, they noticed he wasn't wearing his watch (the one that Nohel gave him in Mexico), and they asked him where it was. He explained that the band broke (again...like in Mexico) and that he was carrying it in his pocket. (He didn't tell the boys yesterday that he was praying for God to fix his watch or to send him a new one.) Today, they showed up with several different watch bands and a knife and they went to work on Chris's watch. Just as Pastor Leo was calling us all into church, they boys finished fixing Chris's watch!! Now it's half Mexican and half Colombian!! Isn't God amazing?!! He's concerned with even the smallest details!
From there, we went into church. Pastor Leo taught on intercessory prayer this morning after our time of singing and praying. Moses, Samuel, and Jesus were the lives that he focused on...it's really about standing in the gap for other people. We as Christians are called to this!
This afternoon, it was time to wash clothes again. We also walked down to the downtown area just to get some exercise. Tonight we had a good time fellowshipping and swapping testimonies with Pastor Leo and Pastora Dionisia.
Tuesday, January 29th
This morning, Hno Obidio came to get us. He wanted us to visit his other son (Hno Alfredo who we ate with on Sunday is Hno Obidio's son) as well. Plus, he wanted us to visit with his house and spend some time with his wife.
So first stop, a visit with Esteban, Dionisia, Dennis, Weimar, Weimer, and baby Kiara...This is Dionisia's second marriage, and Dennis is her oldest daughter from her first marriage. Dionisia's first husband was killed by the guerilla in front of her and their children. Dennis was about 12 years old so she remembers it vividly! Again, our hearts just grieve for this innocent family! About 5 years ago, Dionisia met Esteban, and they married. Now they have three children together. Both Esteban and Dionisia have walked far away from the Lord, so we prayed for them this morning...that God will draw them back to His feet and unify this family through His Holy Spirit.
While we were visiting with Esteban and family, Ana-- one of the neighbors came up. Ana's husband, Ricardo was stung by a mantaray yesterday in the river. He's in a lot of pain, so we went with her to pray for him.
From there we went on to Hno Obidio's house. Hna Dominga was waiting for us!! What a sweetie!! Chris's friend, Pancho (the monkey) was also hanging around to greet us! We had a great time listening to music, playing with there grandkids (Darley, Alfredo, and Josue), and sharing testimony with them!
Hno Obidio walked us back to the house late in the afternoon, and we found Hna Francia and Hna Gladys there! They just arrived back in Tanela. Oh my, her feet look terrible...BUT...they look a ton better than they were before! We are trusting God for complete healing!!! Two of Hna Francia's sons came to visit their mom. She wanted us to share the plan of salvation with her sons, so we pulled out the evangecube and walked through it with them. They understood that they were sinners and that they needed a Savior, but they didn't want to make a decision to follow Jesus. So sad!! Please pray that God uses Hna Francia's healing to bring her children to the feet of Jesus.
Wednesday, January 30th
Today is the export day...and today we were able to go see the process!! First we met the guys who work on the tug boat. Then we talked with Hno Nafer who helps load the containers. Of course, we ran into tons of brothers and their sons bringing their plantains to the boat, so we saw the weigh in processes and everything! Hno Luis (Monica's dad) even took us over to see the new dock that they've built to make the process easier. It will probably be open as soon as next week!!
We made our way back to the center of town, and this guy, José Manuel, stopped us to talk for a bit. He's out of work right now, and he came to Tanela to visit his son. He loves to learn especially English...so he took advantage of meeting us and pulled out his English book to work on his pronounciation! We also talked to him about seeking God for guidance. Before we left, we prayed with him that God will lead him to a new job where he could glorify God!!
As we were saying good-bye to José Manuel, he told us that Franklin the owner of one of the plantain chalupas was standing down by his boat. We walked down to talk with him, and he told us that he would take us to Turbo. WAHOO!!!! We are finally going to cross the water! We just have to be down at the loading area tomorrow night after 6 pm! Praise God!
We went back to Pastor Leo and Pastora Dionisia's house for lunch and we spent time sharing testimonies again. This afternoon, Chris and I helped the family clean up the yard next door. Hno Lorenzo and Hna Regina are going to move to Tanela for a while, and they are going to rent or buy the house next door. After I got cleaned up, Leidy painted my toe nails...the first time since we left Texas!!!! I was sooo excited! The day ended well...we were able to share a lot and learn a lot from their testimonies of God's constancy and consistency.
Well, it looks like we are heading out tomorrow!! The next time we'll be in touch, we hope that we are writing from the other side of the water in Turbo, Colombia!!! We hope that y'all are all doing well! We continue to pray for you daily. God bless you and protect you! We love you!! Keep walking with Jesus!!
A little more about Tanela...
I've never seen anything like this place. Everything grows here. In the middle of the plantains, you can find every plant imaginable--yuca, oranges, papaya, guayava, guanabana, lemons, tomatoes, bananas (two other forms than the plantains), sugar cane, passion fruit, star fruit, plums, pineapple, cacao (used to make chocolate), rice, and the list goes on and on...including some fruits that Chris and I didn't even know existed. I think we have entered the land of milk and honey. Food flows in abundance...they don't have a lot of other things though...their houses are made from wooden boards, sometimes with a concrete floor (other times it's just dirt). The houses are about 150-300 feet apart, but a person can't usually see his/her nearest neighbor because the tall plantains provide privacy!! Very few people have electricity or any form of bathroom. (When they need to go to the bathroom, they dig a hole, and then cover it up when they finish their business.) There is also very little running water. They have to carry water from shallow (not so clean) wells or from the not so clean Tanela River. There's also no doctor or clinic nearby...the closest medical help is more than an hour away on horse. So they have learned to depend on God for their healing instead of medicine. I've learned a lot about the power of our God! In the center of the plantain fields, there is a small area with a few shops to buy supplies. They are truly happy...families live together and work together. As I questioned in the Comarca Kuna Yala, I question again here...who is really more "civilized"?