Alicia got sick in January, shortly after we left the village. She passed a lot of blood and thought she was having a miscarriage. Some of her family encouraged her to go to the shaman to be cured, but her older brothers, Noba and Pablo, encouraged her to follow God’s way and NOT go to the shaman but rather to the medical post. So she took their advice and ended up being evacuated to the city of Pucallpa.
I was called to go meet her at the airport and along with a nurse who accompanied her, we took her to the hospital. It took a few hours to get her through emergency and get her a sonogram and then get her admitted to the hospital. The doctor who took the sonogram surprised us by declaring that she had not been pregnant. OK, so what happened to her was due to some venereal disease. She confessed that she had been sleeping with a man for a month. He was off on a trip for a few months, but had said he wanted to come back and marry her. But after all she suffered with her sickness, she wanted nothing more to do with him!
She felt better after a few days of strong antibiotics and was released from the hospital. We took her to the hostal that is sponsored by the municipal government of the province (county). There she would live and wait for a flight to go home on. Unfortunately, however, there were no flights. None sponsored by the municipal government anyway.
So thus began a long, unpleasant wait to go home. She was not alone, however. Another Culina family of four had been in the hostal since before Christmas and couldn’t get home. Another woman her age who was part Culina and part Sharanahua was also there waiting. Everyone complained that they did not get enough to eat at the hostal. They often asked us for money so they could buy extra food. Sometimes we had them come and work for us so they could earn something. Most of the time we just gave them the money. They complained and complained about the crowded conditions and other problems. Food would run out, gas for the stove would run out, a water pipe or something would break and they’d be without water for a day, etc. etc.
Alicia was really homesick and worried about her four kids back home. They would call by phone and tell her they needed her. One day she and her friend apparently came to our house just to complain about their situation. Alicia said that if she hadn’t followed the advice of her brothers to follow God and come to town, she wouldn’t be suffering here waiting to go home. So was she wishing that she had gone to the witchdoctor instead? After I had had an earful of that I dared to say to her that if she hadn’t sinned by sleeping with that man, she probably never would have even gotten sick in the first place. So she should look at her suffering here as a result of her sin, not a result of doing the right thing afterwards.
Well, after that visit I was sorry that I hadn’t been more sympathetic and sincerely prayed together with them. I had gotten upset over a really minor thing, that being that the two of them had come to our house agreeing to pay the moto-car driver 3 soles instead of 2 soles which is all it should cost. They always arrive and ask at the door for the money to pay the driver. And we always tell them “If someone won’t bring you for 2 soles, then don’t come with him!”
So because that ticked me off and because I resented them taking up my time again after they had just been here the day before for money, I wasn’t in a mood to think about praying. Oh Lord, please forgive me. It was a perfect opportunity and I blew it.
Well, one day a flight did finally materialize. In fact, there were 4 flights, mainly to take teachers back out to the county because it was time for school to start. The municipality was granted only 25 spaces on the last flight. And all the Culinas at the hostal were on the list. Finally things were looking up! Jim went to the airport to see them off the morning of the flight and suddenly it was cancelled! The plane had to go do something in another town. Wow, was that a disappointment for all! The Culinas had also lost the bedroom they were staying in at the hostal, so they were out on the dining room floor for the night. That day the water was off at the hostal, and the bathrooms were a horrible mess!
Alicia and her friend came here in the evening to get some rice and eggs from us for their food and Alicia called home to San Bernardo. She covered her face with a pillow as she cried on the phone to her family. She begged them to get together and each put in some money to send to her so she could pay her own way home. Before they could answer today whether they could do that or not, we got a call from her at the airport. She was on a flight and she needed Jim to go pay for her extra cargo!
Apparently the mayor found out that there was space for one more passenger on an 18 passenger flight and he decided to put Alicia on. I think perhaps her brothers were praying back home because they didn’t have any money to send her! Actually, they were probably all praying all along, as well as our prayer partners who we kept updated on this saga. The other Culinas are still stuck in the hostal but Alicia is now back on the river and on her way back to San Bernardo! I hope she is thanking the Lord as we are!
Alicia with her four kids, Julio, Neyda, Eugenia & Quique. Tomboy sister Meque on right with Lili’s daughter Francia