From Anita Stanton – April 29, 2013
Today is April 29, 2013. On April 29, 1983, we arrived in Iquitos, Peru to begin our ministry. Thirty years have passed quickly.
Thirty years ago, people dressed up when they took a plane trip. I clearly remember my polyester dress, panty hose and heels. Our children were dressed up too. I can’t remember what Sheridan wore, but I am sure I had him dressed up also! I vividly remember disembarking the plane in the jungle town of Iquitos. As I approached the door of the plane, the heat and humidity felt as though they were about to smack me to the ground. I can’t say for sure, but that might have been the last time I ever wore a polyester dress and panty hose!! Adjusting to the jungle heat was something that I really never did well. When one is cooking over a kerosene stove and the temperature outside is 115 degrees and there is no air conditioning indoors, it can get very unpleasant.
I have come a long way in adapting to our adopted country. I remember the sounds and smells of my first market visit. And to tell you the truth, that hasn’t changed in 30 years. Our first house was a long, narrow structure with adjoining neighbor walls. We had two rooms in the front, a living room and the children’s bedroom. The middle part, the bathroom, did not have a roof, and the back part of the house was the kitchen and our bedroom. One night after going to bed, I saw a family of rats crossing our bedroom rafter to get to the neighbors. Sheridan had seen those critters nights before and was trying to figure out a way to get rid of them before I saw them. Now, he not only had a problem with the rats, but also with me! We tried poison, traps and other suggested devices, but finally settled on an air rifle. We would sit in bed in the dark and wait for them to start across the rafter. I had the flashlight and he had aim with the rifle. At the precise moment, (when Sheridan said “now”), I would shine the light on them, they would freeze and he would blow them away. Living in the jungle for 7 years, I became accustomed to killing scorpions, tarantulas and many types of bugs, but I never overcame my fear of rats. I saw a dead rat on the street the other day, it had even been flattened by a car, and I was still afraid!
Naturally, I survived the jungle, and in 1990, we moved to Lima. There was a huge contrast between the capital city and the jungle town of Pucallpa. In Lima, our children were blessed to attend the Fetzer Memorial Christian Academy for their schooling. The school was a blessing to all of us. Even though Lima was a much more modern city than Pucallpa, we had to learn to contend with the enormous problems of a city built for three million people but home for ten million. There were constant black outs, water shortages, (many times no water at all for days), horrible traffic problems and congestion and a city full of pollution. Still, we were blessed as a family. God blessed the works, leading to their organization, and to date, they remain strong and growing. It was in Lima that Sheridan began traveling one week a month to a different town where we have established works to teach the pastors. This was the beginning of the Bible Institute.
Today, there are over 140 pastors studying. When the sessions are held in Huánuco, I have the pleasure of cooking for about 50 of them.
When our children graduated and left for the university in the States, Sheridan and I moved to Huánuco. Huánuco is a huge contrast to the jungle and the coastal city of Lima. We live at 6,300 above sea level, and enjoy the best climate in the world. Our temperatures average 70 – 90 degrees year round with 0% humidity! I have a wonderful view of the Andes Mountains from my kitchen window.
Our move to Huánuco came with the empty nest. During the years our children were at home, I did what time allowed me to do in the work. My belief was always that my family came before the work. I was always involved in teaching children’s classes, but I realized that my own children would soon be gone and I needed to focus on them.
Huánuco offered a new branch of service. With an empty nest, I could give much more time to various aspects of our ministry. I became very involved with women’s ministry and through the years, it has been rewarding. I am preparing to teach a women’s conference the first of June. Huánuco is where I have found time to develop a two year Sunday School curriculum for five different age groups. This project is not complete, but I am getting there! I offer the materials free of cost; they even come with accompanying music CDs, to anyone who is burdened to reach children.
When we arrived in Peru in 1983, we had no language training. We had listened to others who advised us to learn Spanish here. We soon found this advice to be a mistake, and I would never recommend that to any new missionary. However, we struggled and with the magnitude of our work, I guess we learned well! We had no one to guide us. We really spent our first year or more learning by trial and error. I often told Sheridan that if I had the chance to help new missionaries, I would gladly be there. God has given me various opportunities to serve in this capacity. I have had the honor to teach young missionary wives how to cook from scratch, how to make a substitute for some food or cleaning item, how and where to shop and hopefully some good advice on adjusting to the cultural differences.
Through the years, we have hosted many mission teams in our home. Someone once asked me if I got tired of taking care of so many people. Well, the truthful answer is, yes, I get tired, but when I see the fruits that the mission trips reap, my part seems very small. When I return to the States and a young college student says, “That trip changed my life”, it is worth much more than any physical sacrifice that I might give.
When our children left for college, we realized that our time with them was over. Yes, over the years we have spent time with them, but not much! It meant holidays, birthdays, births of grandchildren and family time as a whole family was over. Last year, while on furlough, I spent my first birthday with my daughter in 16 years! When our children left, we missed them, didn’t have e mail, Facebook, magic jack phones or any other technology to stay in touch. A phone call was very expensive and happened very few times. Still, it was a natural process. After all, isn’t that the goal of parenting to guide and instruct our children to maturity so they can learn to live on their own? However, when grandchildren started to come, we realized how “far away” we were! It’s great to have technology to see them grow, but it would be really great if that technology allowed us to physically touch, hug, kiss, squeeze and play with them! I recently told my daughter that I think God might just give missionaries a little extra “grandparent time” in heaven!
I close with love and thanksgiving for each of you for your love and support for the past thirty years.
Sheridan and Anita Stanton
Apartado Postal 860
(614) 500-8823 – Internet Number
sestantonperu[at]hotmail.com – Sheridan
arstantonperu[at]gmail.com – Anita