Thursday, February 05, 2015

Hope Spotlight: Antonia, Segadores Missionary, Returns to the Jungle

Aoti, Peru – Antonia Yalta has worked as a missionary for Segadores in Aoti, Peru for more than 10 years. A few months ago, Antonia left Aoti and returned to Lima due to continued health problems with her back. She recently was cleared to return, and has been welcomed back into the community of Aoti.

Years ago when Antonia first arrived in Aoti, she wasn’t accepted by the local people. Aoti is a small community of the Ashaninka tribe. Many of the indigenous groups in Peru have suffered various injustices, making them very cautious of outsiders. Antonia had to learn their language and slowly build up their trust. She began by creating relationships with families, bringing small gifts of food or items for the children.

Not long after, Antonia began working alongside the local church in the community. Through building relationships with the chief of the village and the pastor of the church, she was able to start a children’s feeding program and a Sunday school. She started teaching the bible and leading trainings for Sunday School teachers and other church leaders.

Today, Aoti has become home for Antonia and the community accepts her and treats her as part of the Ashaninka tribe. As her work has grown, she has seen many lives in the community transformed. This only made the decision to leave more difficult for Antonia as she began experiencing back pain, “I’ve always had health problems and a lot of people say I shouldn’t travel or live in the jungle. But I don’t let that stop me. I really feel this is what I’m called to do, and until God tells me it’s time to stop, I will continue serving Him and the community of Aoti,” said Antonia.

So in July 2014 when the pain became unbearable, Antonia left the jungle feeling discouraged. After many doctors’ appointments, she was told not to travel and to remain in Lima for a few months to undergo physical therapy. But Antonia new God wasn’t telling her to give up; he was just asking her to take a break and stay in Lima to get the rest and treatment she needed.

In December, Antonia returned to the jungle and says she is feeling great. While she was gone, the church took full ownership of the ministries and programs Antonia helped start. They didn’t give up during her absence. And when she returned they welcomed her back with open arms. Aoti is her home and God still has big plans for her and the community of Aoti.