Hello, my name is Linda Patterson and I have worked in ministry since 1975. I have done short term mission trips to a few countries, Mexico, Nicaragua, East Africa, Russia and Peru. But it was the trip to Peru that changed my life forever. I had never felt led to return to any other country, but this one was different..it was there that God gave me the largest and most dynamic vision of what I was to do.
It was the last night in the third city of a three city evangelistic mission. Dr. Tommy Combs had brought with him a team of ministers to do the work in Peru, and I along with a friend who is a Bible Teacher and Exhorter, Tara Jessen had gone with the team to do the Ladies Ministry. We had been in two other cities in Peru, Pulculpa and Tarapoto before coming to the city of Iquitos. Iquitos is a beautiful Jungle city with a population of around 400,000. All the crusades had been held in arenas in each city and were "open-air" and the crowds were very large. Dr. Combs was healed miraculously as a young boy and he walks in a strong healing anointing, we had seen many healings during all the crusades. The services would go late into the night, but the people didn't care..some would have walked for miles to get there, they came with hunger and anticipation. We saw wheelchairs made from plastic chairs with wheels attached, we saw people on crutches and some had to be carried into the meetings, but whatever and however..they came expecting.
That last night in Iquitos we went for dinner at a Polleria (chicken dinner) and to get ice cream, it was late but we all decided to walk the 5 blocks back to our Hotel. This walk would take us through the beautiful Plaza de Armas, passed the restaurants and stores that had closed for the night. It was after midnight, so the crowds of people, the children begging and selling their gum and candy, and the hustling motocars had all but disappeard for the night. Most all the buildings in the plaza are old and have the large wooden doors with the deep thresholds. There is a building on one corner of the Plaza built by Architect Mr. Gustave Eiffel (builder of the Eiffel Tower Paris) using the spare metal from the tower. It is called "La Casa de Fierro" "The Iron House of Iquitos"..such a beautiful and interesting historical site. And this building is where we saw mothers putting their babies to bed on the hard concrete and wood threshold! There they were, they waited until after midnight when most tourist were already settled in for the night..and they would put their babies down for the night, but would rise early in the morning to go about the day so as to not draw "bad" attention to the city..or so we were told.
What we had noticed and were told by our translator..children selling nuts, candy and gum..children begging for left over food or money..children as small as 4 and 5 yrs of age seemingly alone on the streets. We were told that if the ones selling goods and/or begging did not obtain the desired amount of money, that they would be beaten and sent back out to make it happen. Beaten by who? By a parent, an older sibling, a handler..we learned that there are children who are thrown away because they are girls or because they are weak, just put out on the streets and then an older child who has been on the streets for awhile will take care of them..but that can mean that the children are prostituted or taught to steal, beg and do whatever necessary to eat. Even mothers and fathers would turn the children out to prostitute, or would sell them. There is alot of child trafficking in Iquitos, however; God did not let me see or learn about this for a couple of years..if I had seen everything in the beginning of this walk, I probably would have done things differently and may have missed God and His Plan.
After seeing these mothers and babies on the streets, I could not sleep..I cried, I prayed, I got angry with God for allowing me to see this painful situation..after the long sleepless night, I was getting dressed and finishing packing to leave Iquitos. The others of the team were downstairs having breakfast and I was in my room struggling with God. I was praying and asking "how could You let me see this when I can't do anything about it??" "Why God", "You know how I am, I was the child who took all the strays home with me." "I don't understand!" All these words came out, all the feelings of a mother, a grandmother who has a "fix it" mentality..but here I was with something too big for me to fix. Then He gave me the Vision..a Home (refuge, safe place) with a Daycare, Training Center, School for the mothers and Basic Life Skills of motherhood were to be taught. I saw it, I knew it was God..but how could a 56 year old grandmother from Alabama do what was being asked of her? I said, "Give this vision to a man, a man can make it happen." But God said, "I have called you to do this work." "But, I am only one person." He said, "I only need one person, a conduit to work through.", "But God this is Too Big for me." and He said, "BUT IT IS NOT TOO BIG FOR ME!" So at that, I gave into His Will..I did however make a plan with Him..I told Him that if this vision came to fruition, it will be because He did it..I am just the conduit and I will do whatever He said to do and go whereev