Pulling into Pucallpa

Streets of Pucallpa

We were up at 5AM and out the door to meet a taxi (van) the mission sent for us to take us to the airport. The driver was one of their guys. I think. It seemed to be affirmed by how he drove. Unlike Jehu, who drove furiously, he drove with discretion and self-control. It was notably different. He stopped at stop signs. He looked both ways. He was courteous to others.

Our flight was at 8AM. We were early, which was a plus and checking in was a breeze and we had time for the kids to get a Mickey D’s fix. That was nice. We sat in a cafeteria area of the airport to eat and chat. After going through security we had another 30 minutes to wait. Also nice.

The plane was a jet–three per side and it was full. We were the whitest people on the plane. Going from Lima to the interior jungles of South America reduced the number of white folks onboard. I really liked being a minority. My riding mate, Hoyle, could not speak any English. The other guy didn’t talk, but I’m sure he spoke none.

I drew a picture for Hoyle on my iPad of the United States to show him where I was from and our flight route to get here. He liked that. He said some things and I smiled. We worked pretty hard at talking to each other. It was fun. I would love to live here for six months and immerse myself in their culture and learn to speak their language.

Being white in a dark world is a great experience. It allows you to get a snapshot of what it’s like to be black or Hispanic in Greenville. Though there are a lot of blacks and Hispanics in Greenville, I still feel very white and a majority. To see things through the eyes of a person who is not the majority report is humbling and instructive. To be able to speak English and nobody on the plane (hardly) can understand you reminded me of standing in WalMart listening to an Asian or Hispanic and not being able to perceive what they were saying. It was cool. Kinda like the Gospel–seeing things through the eyes of others.

We flew over the Andes. That was surreal. It was huge, brown, and big. There were little huts and villages every now and again. I thought about the Gospel there too. Who is telling them about Jesus? What do they know? Will they know?

We landed in Pucallpa on time. It was a small airport with a “cracks filled in” kind of runway. Not bad. It was hot. A lot hotter than in Lima where the wind came in from the Pacific.

Kyle Thomas and the director over all of Peru, Mike, met us. We rode in an air conditioned truck and one that was not. Ansa, who is slow to relate to strangers was wonderfully agreeable to ride without her siblings in the air conditioned truck. That was an anomaly as far as not being with her siblings. It was not an anomaly to be thinking mostly of herself. She is like her daddy that way.

We pulled out of Pucallpa proper, into the region of Pucallpa (the same name) where all the roads were dirt. There were scores and scores of three-wheeled motorized buggy type taxis. Everywhere. Like cooters on a log, they were in bunches. All of them trying to make a living. The poverty hit you in the face, along with the dust and the mosquitoes.

It gave a whole new many to putting on the whole armor of God. Mosquito repellant is essential to put on many times a day down here. They can swarm around you. Happiness is a dead one, though it’s a losing battle. I feel like an Egyptian fighting against a plague.

We hit the compound, called Mission Tec, about 30 minutes later, after stopping to get gasoline or propane. I don’t remember which one. Their vehicles are dual purpose. The propane is much cheaper. They call it gas and they call gas gasoline to make the distinction.

Once we hit the dirt roads you had to decide if you wanted air coming in with the dust of if you wanted no dust and no air through the windows. We chose air and dust. I saw a lady riding her motor bike with her external shirt on backwards and the collar area pulled up over her nose and mouth to keep from eating dirt on her trip.

Kyle and Cristina Thomas have a nice home on the lake–a home her dad built stick by stick with his hands, back when he and others built the compound. They all are part of Kids Alive, an international organization that rescues orphans and other unwanted children and cares for them through programs like AWANA and other things. They provide counseling, parenting, food, relationship, and Jesus for whosoever will.

The kids come in from the jungle villages, some because they want to and others because their parents see it as a parental perk. In that sense it’s no different from the motives of parents who send their kids to counseling. Some kids want help and others come for lesser reasons.

We chatted with Kyle and Cristiana for a while, separately. Cristina, Lucia, and Mary were in the kitchen preparing lunch. We had talked to them through Skype, but this was the first real good sit down talk. I like Kyle a lot.

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