Selmira was a young teen when she married, older than most of the girls in her Napo Quecha village in Peru.
She had asked if she could wait until she finished primary school before her marriage. She wanted to learn to read first.
Shamanism and alcoholism are widespread in the culture of her village, according to Wycliffe Bible Translators. Alcohol flows freely at gatherings that invoke a multitude of spirits. In many families, heavy drinking leads to violence.
When the men are too drunk to fish or labor in the fields, poverty usually falls upon them like a bandit. Their babies frequently go hungry and are given alcohol to stop their crying and put them to sleep.
Unimaginably, Selmira buried 11 children and suffered four miscarriages during her marriage. When she was 28, her mother drowned. Once, when her nine-year-old boy died from snakebite, she was so traumatized she ran away. Her older daughter took her in for three months after that, which allowed Selmira time to grieve.
But God did not forget Selmira in her grief and despair. She had a series of powerful dreams that God used to awaken her to His presence and His concern for her life.
First, she dreamed there was a large tree laid across a river as a bridge, and she was attempting to cross it. She wobbled dangerously, almost losing her balance, when suddenly a man appeared wearing a bright white robe.
The tall, glowing man handed her a Bible, and when she nearly fell, he took her right hand and led her across the river to safety.