Covenant supports many global missions with our finances, prayer, and personal participation. For example, Covenant has sent members for short-term mission trips to the Dominican Republic with Rivers of the World in 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2015.

Mission trip to Amazon Rain Forest of Peru

by Mila Shackleford

Imagine living in a part of the world that has no electricity (therefore no appliances), indoor plumbing, grocery or department stores, etc.  The only way that some of these things are available is if one has the money to purchase solar power, a generator (and the gas to run it).  The river and the jungle are their resources.

I was blessed to go on this missionary trip for 4 weeks where I got to experience and witness the above and many more challenges with which the Peruvians of the Jungle live.

God truly led me to this trip and prepared me along the road of preparation; but mainly He continually spoke to me the words, “Blind faith, Mila.”  I can now understand why He did so, as those words came to in my mind as I went through the many challenges that I got to go through while there. The challenges made the blessing of the necessity to go to the Holy Spirit for leading and leaning on; because I did not have a clue!

I did not know that I would be the lone missionary in the Jungle, nor that I would be the lone American after the first week of the four I spent there.  I am not complaining, as it was His will that I grew closer to Him as each challenge came and for that I am truly grateful.

While there I got to go via kayak to the 3 nearby villages and give the things that God had me take: 120 Spanish NT Bibles, candy, knitted Jesus caps, school supplies, children’s books, some toys and knick knacks, costume jewelry (rings, braided, bracelets, and 150 marble cross necklaces), first aid supplies for the 3 schools (thermometers, band aids, wound cream), a hand crank pencil sharpener, and the list goes on.

I do speak some Spanish and was able to communicate whether by voice or with my hands.  I had the necessary words to explain what Jesus was to me, how they could learn of his love and that they could take their challenges to him.  Please join me in praying that those who received Bibles will be drawn to them and that they will know to ask God how to comprehend them and then go and share the good news with the others.

I did have problems with the diet, as it changed after the other Americans left.  So, after almost three weeks I went into the kitchen and told the cook I could only eat oatmeal, rice, beans and pasta, and did so for the remaining 10 days of my stay.  Praise God because I was tired of spending so much time aching in my stomach and going to the bathroom.   I got lice after the first week I was there and was quite appalled and angry at first; as I could do nothing about it until I returned home.  My first response was that I will not go near the children or homes; but got over it soon and softened to my tasks at hand.  I got stung by a scorpion on my foot and praise God that he healed me right away, as the next morning all traces of the repercussions were nil.  It was hot, rained a lot and the mosquitoes were very prevalent during my stay.

The Peruvians are dark in color, eyes, skin and hair and the tallest of them (the men) were at least a foot shorter than me.   The men were challenged in that women don’t do manual labor such as I did in helping them to tear down a large building (tambo) and building the free clinic.   I continued to help the men, but the differences led me to concentrate more so on doing missionary work in other areas.   The Holy Spirit gave me many ideas and tasks to do.  So, I got in the kayak and utilized the supplies already at the site to do things such as:  attending classes and interacting with the students and teacher, creating ABC banners in Spanish for each school, making a swing set and showing the children how it is used, creating scripture plaques for the church (which looked like a large manger scene), made about 25 toy boats and rafts,  30 one foot crosses and  200 small crosses for necklaces and gave them away.

Sitting here typing this report takes me through many emotions.  The Spirit within touched me in many ways during my stay and there is so much I could share about the experience.  I got to grow up in many ways; and for that I am truly grateful now; NOW being the key word!

I want to thank those of you who prayed for me; as when it got really tough I could feel the flow of prayers and the comfort of His love and presence.  And regardless of all of the physical challenges I came back safely.

The most challenging experience above all was that I said “Yo Te quiero”  and “Jesus Te quiero tu mas,” to all of the people that i encountered throughout the journey….and got either no response, giggles, or quizzical looks.  Those words mean I Love you, and Jesus loves you much.  But, the last day of my stay two canoes full of children from ages 4-12 came to visit with me and to say goodbye.  We had a great afternoon together playing.  At nightfall i watched the children row away and for the last time I shouted, “I love you” and I was so touched when I heard them say “Te quiro Tia Mila” which means I love you Aunt Mila.

The trip was all it was supposed to be and for that I truly am grateful.