Excerpt from Christi’s journal:
The next day we all went upriver for the conference at the village of Esperanza. It was a lot of work for John Mortimer to get the hover craft and the speed boat packed for the journey. We took all the food for the conference up on the boats, as well as a team from the church to do children’s church. Vince, the 17 yr. old son of the Mortimers, captained the speedboat. Also Pastor David of the Iquitos Church went on the speedboat. John piloted the hovercraft with Ron, myself, Cindy Mortimer, and Chris and Tony Ranalli on board. The weather had been good all week, but it rained buckets on our trip up river and we all got soaked to the bone.
We set up our tents on the second level of a house, which is in the process of being built. The house is up on stilts, as is every house in the village. It has no electricity, no plumbing, and no walls or windows. Actually all it has is one floor 8 feet above the dirt, and then a roof. Sleeping in the same tent, on air mattresses side by side were John, Cindy, Chris, Ron and me. That night we all got eaten up by chiggers and mosquitoes! I counted more than 50 big bites on myself from the waste down, and others had more.
The church services were powerful, but not as many folks came because of the rain. They were coming by canoes from other remote villages. At the service that night we noticed they were passing around bowls of “chicha” to all of the local leaders. Chicha is a unique drink in the Amazon basin. The ladies chew the plant, mingling the plant with their own saliva. Then it is set aside to ferment for a few weeks. We have drunk it before, but this time we were not offended by the fact that they passed us by. We forgave them and said nothing.
The team of young people from the church in Iquitos hosted a Kid’s Crusade on the other side of the sports field. Every village along the Amazon River tries to have a sports field, if possible. The ladies prepared meat, rice, noodles, and beans for us; cooking them in big pots on an open fire. All around, walking freely, were pigs and chickens. There was one outdoor toilet we could use some of the time, but usually we had to take a walk into the jungle. It was built to hang out over the river. The water flowed right below you, and the toilet was only a hole in the floor.
We were concerned when we arrived at the village, because the well was not working. The Mortimers had installed a well several years ago and it has always functioned well. But this time our water for coffee, etc. was straight from the Amazon River. We were hoping they boiled it long enough to get rid of any “bugs”; and they must have, as we all were fine. Everything went well and we went back to Iquitos on the boats.