On the promise of Don, our man of peace, we came back to Quchumi in order to start the work teaching stories. We were faced with many difficulties mostly from our man of peace. He showed up a few days after we arrived and seemed distant even from the beginning. We were able to work a couple of days but after awhile the man of peace appeared to not appreciate us only working half of the day (leaving the rest to study Quechua and stories as well as rest). This was later only exacerbated as each day went on.
I attempted to teach Don the first day of Creation, which is relatively short but his idea of learning the story was to write it down. Laboriously he copied each word after I spoke it but in the end it was as if he just did not want to put the mental effort to actually memorize it. (During the whole time I told the story the son stood behind mockingly smirking at the event). The next day I tried to work on the story with him but to no avail. He only repeated that he could not do it. We even felt that he only indulged the idea of the story so we could keep working. I brought up the idea of a group meeting and teaching the story to many people, which he excitedly agreed and we planned to do it on Sunday in the afternoon. After a day or two I reminded him of the commitment of which he was supposed to invite people but he said that no one would come because of work. During this same day he decided to work without us, though we know he could have used the help (he just told us to watch wheat, which we are still trying to figure out what that meant – though probably nothing positive) and we received no food in the morning.
We thought all was lost or at least our connection to the community. We had no desire to keep pressuring him with the story because that was getting nowhere and did not want it to become a source of contempt. Later, thinking that three people had to be a burden to feed we decided to buy food in order to help out a bit and during this time we apologize and made sure that we were still right with Don. He said it was fine and no worries but if we wanted to do anything about Sunday (the next day), we would have to invite people.
I invited six people in the community but I only had hope in one. His name is Santo Filipe (Saint Phillip in English), a man in Quchumi that we had met even in the first trip. He speaks the best Spanish and we found him to be the best mannered and the most sincere. I had prayed about this man during previous trips but nothing came of it and we would rarely see him after the first day. This trip, however, he showed great interest to begin with and we had a chance to talk much about God. I decided to risk being culturally insensitive and went to his house uninvited to which he allowed me to come into their kitchen (a very rare thing among the Quechua but a sign of respect). I invited him to the meeting the next day to which he said, ¨all would come.¨
As Santo Filipe was my only hope he far exceeded my expectations. The next morning he brought his whole family to learn the story. They were even dressed up as if they were going to morning mass! It was obviously something important to them. I had a chance to teach the first day of the creation of which he learned rather well and during the time (of which I did not realize until later) was that his wife, who only speaks Quechua, mouthed the words the whole time learning it right alongside her husband. Santo even got upset with himself when he got something out of order and in this sincerely showed that he had interest in what we were telling and had a desire to learn. I then moved to the questions after it was apparent he had the story and though he speaks Spanish very well he answered all the questions in Quechua. I took this to mean that it was something so serious to him that he wanted to answer in such a profound way that only his heart language could explain. We were more than excited with this. Shortly after we left for a seven hour hike back to Pocoata to get some rest.
I do not think I can sufficiently describe the emotions and even the physical difficulties. It felt every day we were in a spiritual battle but that the Enemy had the upper hand on us. Almost as if an undercurrent of evil was undermining all of our attempts. I can say that only the sustaining grace of God and all of your prayers enabled us to keep in good spirits and see it to the end. We were forced to seek His mercies and found them anew with the beginning of each day.
It was as if we were constantly surrounded by darkness everyday but at the end the light broke through shining His glory and sovereignty. I am thankful for what I learned during this difficult time. I found that even in the face of failure after failure mixed with overwhelming disappointment I had confidence that I was still faithful in my duty to God and in this I could feel His daily pleasure in me. He is sufficient in all things and no matter what the circumstance dictates He is my portion; He holds my cup. He is just that good that he gave us such a victory in the face of overwhelming odds.
I just realized that God was asking for the impossible. We fail as men as our hearts our weak, but when God is the strength of our hearts and our portion forever we are truly Sons of God who can rise above the impossible.
¨My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.¨ – Psalm 73:26