April - 2011

  Posted by Susan Abbott, RN     


firefox-gray
4/4/2011
Everyone excitedly met at the Miami International Airport for departure to Manaus, Brazil.  Most had been through this before but two, Debbie and I, had not.  Our flight was delayed due to a tornado in Nashville, TN, but once they announced the “all clear” we boarded our flight and approximately five hours later, at 7:20 pm, we arrived safely in Manaus.  Sara and Andrea, arrived much later on a separate flight.  We had dinner at the airport then retired for the night in the airport hotel.
 
4/5/2011
Early the next morning we caught a flight on TAM airlines and arrived safely in Manaus International Airport.  We were warmly greeted by Ruth and Earl Haubner and after boarding a rather large and comfortable bus, headed to the boat dock to await Francis Anne’s arrival.  She arrived and we boarded to begin our week on the Amazon.
 
The bright blue sky was blanketed by white billowing clouds.  It had rained earlier so the air was clear and the breeze felt like a comfortable 70 degrees.  We traveled on the tea colored waters of the Rio Negro River then onto the silty Amazon River.  The two rivers meet and it’s really quite peculiar.  The Rio Negro appears almost black in color and the Amazon is a light muddy looking river.  Where they meet it appears the waters do not mix so the meeting point is clearly defined.  Tomorrow may shed a whole new light on things, but at this particular moment, I am taking in this amazing place through all my senses and it is thrilling!  God has created a beautiful place on this part of the earth.
 
Wednesday, 4/6/2011
We traveled throughout the remainder of last night and the morning hours of today - approximately 22 hours in all.  Our set-up was quite comfortable.  The more daring of us tied our redes (pronounced hedgees w/ a hyphen over the last “e”), to the ceiling of the top floor of our boat. Sara and Andrea already had theirs positioned so I took a spot between Andrea and one of the main poles that supports the decks.  My thought was if it became a bit windy, I could grab the pole to slow down the swaying.  In my ignorance of boats and water, I failed to realized just how windy it can actually become on a river this size when a storm blows in, which is exactly what occurred in the wee hours of the morning!
 
Everyone had been lulled to sleep by the rhythm of the boat as it flowed gently down the river.  Occasionally Andrea’s hammock and mine would bump each others, I would then, in turn, bump the pole.  We had a few laughs over this until we just gave up and fell asleep.
 
I was awakened by the surge I felt when our boat hit some small waves and the wind blew mightily across the upper deck.  Our rede’s began to swing rather wildly when suddenly the wind became quite violent and the rain began to pour.  Everyone jumped out of their rede’s and got to work.  Without communicating, we all instinctively did what had to be done.  Jim, who had been sleeping on a mattress on the floor, jumped up and began trying to save anything that might get soaked or blown overboard.  I moved quickly to the left side of the boat and began untying the tarp.  Just as I untied the last rope and began to secure it to the bottom railing, the wind ripped it out of my hands and it went up and over the top of the boat.  Woody was securing the tarp across the front and I believe Andrea was securing the left side of the boat with Jim but I wasn’t entirely sure about the others because I was so desperately trying to pull the tarp back down in this blinding rain.  
 
I did notice however, that Sara was still in her hammock and she appeared to be sleeping as it blew back and forth.  Amazing, I thought!  It began to lightning and thunder and I got back to work.  I managed to pull the tarp back and somehow secured the left side (and I think I had some help), while shivering from cold.  I looked around and all three sides were down and secured, and still Sara slept!  The front of the boat is uncovered.  The tarp only covers three sides and the covering begins shortly before my rede.  I climbed back into my rede, soaking wet and covered myself.  It was cold and uncomfortable but I believe everyone managed to sleep after that, especially Sarah!
 
This storm brought to mind Luke 8:22 “…Jesus said to his disciples, ‘let’s go over to the other side of the lake’”…as they sailed, he fell asleep and a storm developed. Some of Jesus' disciples were expert fishermen but still they feared the storm.  “The disciples woke Him saying, 'Master, Master, we are going to drown.'”  Jesus knew they were not going to drown.  It specifically points out that Jesus “fell asleep.”  Why, out of everything Luke could have written, did he choose to say Christ fell asleep?
 
I have heard various thoughts on why or how Jesus fell asleep in the midst of a storm, but I believe it is there to point out the human side of Christ – He was very tired.  But I also believe it is there to make a very strong point.  This was a large lake and, as states in the footnotes, it was not uncommon to see 20 ft waves in a bad storm.  I believe Christ knew the storm would come.  He knew he would sleep.  He is driving home the fact that He has the power to calm “raging waters” with 20 ft waves.  “Where is your faith” He asks...
 
Our storm this night was pretty violent and in all honesty any one of us could have fallen over the railing while trying to secure the flaps and we could have been swallowed up by the rough waters of the Amazon, yet when I look over at Sarah, who is still asleep, it suddenly occurs to me just how much God is in control of our lives.
 
This missionary journey that Ruth and Earl have embarked on  and have spent their lives building up to reach as many lost souls as possible in the Amazon, is a journey of pure faith.  Sure, some will spend their time and money to go on one of these two week trips out of curiosity and some may never desire to return, but God is patient.  Seeds are being planted in some lives and some will be cultivated and harvested and will continue the task that He commands of us, to reach the lost and to win souls for Him.
 
This day we visited the village of Bucusal and saw 76 medical and 10 dental patients plus gave out three pairs of eye glasses.
 
In the evening, we had service in the new church that Roy, Jim and the others have begun building.  It only has a floor and roof so far but the children were so happy and many praises went up to God that evening!  Later that night I share nursing stories with my two  new friends, Andrea and Sarah.
 
Thursday, April 7, 2011
We spent a second day in Bucusal and treated another 57 medical and 25 dental patients plus gave out two pairs of eye glasses.  We saw patients from 10:30 to 1:00 then again from 2:00 to 6:30.
 
Woody, Earl, Andrea and I went into the village to see a woman who was too sick to come to our boat clinic.  I thought we should give her a beta blocker that we had on board.  It is not specifically for elevated blood pressure, but out of the meds we had, it would bring down her pressure, which was very elevated, but Woody said to treat elevated blood pressure in a village like this is not very practical.  There is no guarantee she will continue to get the medication she needs and her blood pressure would probably rebound higher, thus it would not serve her well and I understand. It may be three months or more before another clinic will come to her village.
 
After visiting her, we looked around the village some then stopped by to see Roy and Jim who are working again on the construction of the church.
 
We had church services that evening.  What an exciting time with all the children in there listening to Earl and singing praises to God!
 
Friday, April 8, 2011
Today it is raining and has been doing so since last night.  Laundry is backed up so we have to hold our dirty laundry until we are caught up.   The men on the boat crew are cutting up alligator for today’s lunch and/or dinner.  Everyone said I should at least try it.  I have tried many new things while here, but I seriously doubt that alligator will be one of them.  We shall see…
 
At 11:00 we depart for the next village.  Debbie spotted a dolphin in the cove.  As we head out we again notice the color change in the water.  You know you are on the Amazon when you see muddy water beneath you!
 
We reach our destination, Sororoca, at 11:30.  We treated 46 medical and 9 dental patients plus gave out eight pairs of eye glasses.
 
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Saturday we remained in Sororoca and treated another 43 medical and 17 dental patients plus gave out five pairs of eye glasses.  
 
When we attempted to leave, our passage was blocked by a floating island!  This is the most incredible thing I have witnessed.  An island of very large trees, bushes, plants etc, floated into our path and now we are trapped!  There is no way out.  It is so thick.  Earl said years from now people will find our cameras in this area and will be able to piece together what happened to us on this day!  Earl is pretty funny!
 
Dudu and the others knew what to do and for the next hour they used their machetes and their physical strength to free us from our entrapment.  We eventually departed from Sororoca and headed to our next clinic site in the village called Maranhao. 
 
The sun was shining, which had been infrequent for the past few days, so we quickly hung our washed clothing on the lines on the top deck. It took some fancy maneuvering by our boat crew through the trees and grasses but we finally made it back into the village through a very thick part of the rain forest.  We arrived and sounded the boat horn.  One of the villagers at this spot told us we were in the wrong spot but quickly told  us how to get to where we needed to be.  We went to our new spot and sounded the horn again.  Dudu tied the boat to a Guava tree with fresh fruit which we all tasted and enjoyed immensely!
We climbed some steep steps to see the village Maranhao.  The village is built at the top of a large cliff that overlooks the Amazon.  It was quite steep and very spectacular!  The villagers of Maranhao gave us a large cluster of coconuts as an expression of gratitude for our visit.
 
Our first patient was a young man who had cut one of his fingers three days before. Woody gave him an antibiotic and I took care of cleaning and wrapping it.  I told him how to clean and dress it over the next 7 - 10 days (it was beyond time to stitch).  We supplied him with all the materials he needed and we sent him on his way.  We saw many villagers.  All of the young men had very muscular arms indicating strong workers.
 
We treated 28 medical and no dental patients this day.
 
DuDu had caught an alligator and we had it for dinner that evening.  To everyone's surprise, I tasted it!  I thought it tasted like fish but many of the others said it definitely tasted like chicken; however, I ate such a large piece, I am positive it tasted just like fish!  :-)
 
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Today is the Lord’s Day and there is much to rejoice over.  The day began not unlike any other – we ate breakfast, sang praises and continued with our Bible study of Galatians. This is our second day at the village in Maranhao.  We saw 28 medical patients and no dental.  Terri was not feeling well today so Roy stepped in and did her job writing heights and weights on the health forms.  Everyone is always ready and willing to help in any way they can.
 
The main theme of Paul’s writings in our Galatians study is freedom.  We are free to choose how we live our lives.  We can live by the spirit through love or we can live by our sinful nature. 
Either way it is our choice.
 
This missionary trip is an opportunity for us to show our love for these people who are so very important in God’s eyes.  We are showing that love through taking care of their medical needs and their building needs.  God blessed Woody with the ability to become a very knowledgeable doctor and Woody chose to follow God’s leading in reaching out to people who need his healing power through this boat ministry.  It is with much respect that I watch him as he goes about his business of listening to, examining and treating these needy people in this part of the
world. 
 
It reminds me of a moment I had that morning.  Our boat was out in the lake filling up the water tanks when a small boat passed u,s creating waves that began to form and ever so gently spread out towards the shore line.
 
I started thinking about how God is using this ministry.  It had a starting point some 40 years ago and very quickly began to make ripples that ever so gently spread out and away.  Ruth and Earl are spreading out their boat ministry (over 10 years now) here in the Amazon, reaching new villages all the time.  They are so excited about it.  They are creating those ripples and people are hoping on board to help.  It is almost mind boggling to think about the effects this ministry has had on the people of Brazil.
 
Later in the day we pulled away from the shore line..  It is about 10:30 am and we are heading to another village called Paura.  It is close by.  We treat 44 medical and six dental plus give out three sets of eye glasses.
 
 
We sleep here this night.  There were high winds in the very early hours of the morning. Woody and I tied down the tarps.  No one else was awake to help.  We weren’t sure the weather was going to get bad but it was starting to rain and we had the new furniture for the new boat on deck and decided we shouldn’t take a chance.  Later, I was glad we did because the winds were very high and it rained through much of the night.
 
Monday, April 11, 2011
It is about 10:30 and we are on our way to a village called Paraiso where we treated 34 medical and seven dental patients.  We gave out five pairs of glasses.  After lunch we will head to a village called Divino (the Divine).  It is a beautiful day with lots of clouds in the sky.  I’m sitting on the top deck with Terri and we are both journaling.  Pat is relaxing and reading a book.  Debbie became ill yesterday.  She’s feeling a little better but at the moment she is in her quarters on the lower deck napping after taking some meclizine for motion sickness.
 
As we sit here cutting through the choppy waters with the wind blowing I am again reminded of God’s love for us and I can hear the words of a song we sang earlier during devotion time, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come…” We could easily succumb to the mighty force of this river, but for now, God is with us as we head to our next village to shine a little light on their world.
 
This first village is more poor than the last few based on their clothing and shoes, or lack there of.  Pat, Woody and Earl are introduced to their next family.  It’s a young mom with several small children.  She had a six year old son who was “all boy.”  He kept saying, “hey, hey,” to Woody while he and Earl were talking to the boy’s mother.  When neither of them responded he raised his little boy hands and placed them over his ears for awhile then removed them.  He repeated this process a number of times.  It appeared he was noticing the sound of the engine and the change in it’s pitch as he covered and uncovered his ears!
 
He was in a constant state of motion.  At another moment, while his mother is still engaged in conversation with Woody and Earl, he climbed down off his stool.  I knew what was coming next.  I said to Terri, “he is going to climb those stairs.”  He not only climbed the stairs but reached up and grabbed the edge of the opening to the top deck and hung by his little hands!  His poor mom was so young to have so many little ones.  She appeared worn out!
 
We have seen many young moms.  I believe the youngest so far was one who became pregnant when she was 13 - just a child herself.  Life is very different here on the Amazon.  These people hunt, fish, grow food, go to church and make babies.  As Earl said, they think “what else is there to do here?”
 
We stopped clinic for lunch.  After lunch Debbie and I head to the kitchen sink to do the dishes.  Terri made a list of dish duty for everyone earlier.  The left-over food is tossed out the kitchen window into the water for the reptiles and fish to eat.  We wash with river water that has been pumped into holding tanks and treated with chlorine.  We use this water for showers and laundry too.  We use 20 gallon bottles of water for drinking.
 
Clinic will begin again around 2 or 2:30 and when finished we will head to Divino.  It is reportedly, very close to this village.
 
I’m looking out across the expanse of this enormous river.  I’m watching flocks of parakeets flying to and gathering in a nearby tree.  The chirping is very loud because there are so many of them.
 
Just as I was writing, I looked out into the water and saw some dolphins.  They are gently coming to the surface and going back under, an obviously very relaxing day for them here in Paradise!  The boat horn just sounded so it is back to work for everyone.
 
We then head to the bank of a beautiful lake in the village of Divino.  An older man disembarked a boat with a bag full of fish that he caught earlier.  He left the bag on the bank and went to his house, returning moments later with a large round shallow tin pan.  He placed the fish in the pan then dipped the pan into the river at the water’s edge.  He drained off some of the water then proceeded to carry off the pan to his house. He appeared to be in his 70’s and was walking slowly, the gait of an older man who has worked many years in this rain forest.  He had  a very smooth, dark complexion with deep wrinkles in his face and white hair.  He smiled at us before heading off.
 
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
We worked almost a full day at this last village of Sol Nascente.  There were several more hypertension cases and a few more overweight villagers (not common).   I spotted a pink dolphin in the water here.  I had heard about them from Pat and the others who had been on this trip before.
 
We saw 75 medical and 13 dental patients and gave out three pairs of eye glasses. Jim and Roy spent an unbelievable amount of time helping with the church building and doing anything they were asked to do.  It is so refreshing when people have a spirit of joy and desire to do whatever needs to be done!  That was Jim and Roy during this trip.
 
To those who donated money to this cause you can rest at night knowing your money has been well used.  Because of donations and prayers we were able to treat a total of 451 medical patients, 98 dental patients and give out 40 pairs of glasses for a grand total of 549 people in all!!!
 
We departed at approximately 4:30 pm for a four hour boat ride to Sao Sebastiao.
 
Wesley and Fabrici (the pastor) are over the greenhouse project.  The have a full time grounds keeper.  They use the greenhouse as a source of income for some of the families in the church.  They help weed etc and they sell the produce.  Last year Wesley supplied the salad and vegetable portions of the kid's school lunches.  They formerly kept the extra medical supplies there but not now. Because the boat goes to so many places, they keep it on-board.  
 
Wesley and his wife have three children, Sarah, Samuel and Samarta.  Sarah was sent to Goianya to live with her grandmother so she could attend a better school when she was about 13, but now she is back with them.  I believe his wife is head of the lab in San Sabastiao. 
 
The weather could not have been better for our boat trip.  We were on a part of the river that floods at this time of the year.  It is a very peculiar, yet spectacular site to see trees standing in this very deep river.  I took so many pictures and videos of the scenery, birds, sunset etc...it was so beautiful!
 
Jim, Woody, Sarah and Earl played Euker while Terri and I talked.  Woody was kind enough to let me use his binoculars. Wow!  Nothing like getting up close and personal with the rain forest!  Sometime after sunset we were called downstairs to dinner.  
 
Sarah and Andrea cleaned out and organized all the many large trunks of medications etc, and relabeled everything.  They are such good workers!
 
The day ended at the boat dock.  Several of us, as usual, slept in our rege's on the top deck.  It was humid and bright from the lights at the dock and the breeze was down (i.e. not at all conducive to a good night's sleep!).  We pulled down the flap on the left side of the boat only to help keep some of the light out.  Earl said the mosquitoes are not usually bad at this dock but this night they welcomed my presence, and as I found out at 1:30 am, they also welcomed Andrea's and Sarah's as well!   I jumped out of my rege and grabbed my misquote lotion and shared a generous amount with Sarah and Andrea.  We didn't sleep much last night....
 
Today, we awoke, had breakfast and devotions then had a team photo (or I should say lots of team photos taken by Earl with each person's camera).    We met up with Wesley.  He and Jim jumped on his motor bike and Debbie, Andrea, Sarah, Woody, Roy and I followed Earl down many streets to Wesley's home.
 
We toured Wesley's beautiful home and then went to Santara's (not sure of spelling) home.  She is the children's minister.  She treated us to some delicious juice.  After that we toured the greenhouse and bought some of her home crafted gifts.  
 
Wesley and Jim rode the motor bike and the rest of us walked back to the boat.  By the time we arrived, the new furniture was being loaded on board.
 
We then took a 22 hour boat trip (all night) through a storm with high winds, lots of lightening and very little thunder.  The rege's were bumping into each other as usual.  
 
In the AM breakfast was at our leisure, spread out over about a 2 hour time frame to allow some to sleep later if they wanted to.
 
We docked at this very poor dockside town.  We stood and watched guys unload fruits and vegetables from one of the boats to deliver to the market.  Some of the men wore what looked like thick round caps on the tops of their heads.  They would then place a crate filled with fruits and or veggies on top of the cap and proceed up the steps with this tremendous weight on their head/neck/back.  
 
Some would also carry items by placing a band around their foreheads with a sack hanging down their backs.  Someone else would begin loading large bags filled with fruits or vegetables into the sack.  After awhile they would continue to load one bag on top of another bag.  The person loading had to stand on a stool after a time, just to reach the top of the load.  We all groaned as he topped it off with a total count of nine bags!  Sarah was wondering what this must be doing to the poor guys C-spine  What a nurse!
 
Many of us decided to shop at the flea market after watching this.  Earl shopped with us and helped us with negotiating prices.  After being satisfied with our purchases, Earl led us to another shopping plaza.  I needed one more item for my granddaughter.  After I bought that, Earl and I sat at a little cafe' while everyone else shopped some more.  He bought us a one liter bottle of Coke; it was very refreshing in this heat.  As the rest of our group was finishing up, they joined us for a small cup of coke.
 
After this we walked to the Opera House which was built in 1896.  I believe it was called the Teatro Amazonas (Amazon's Opera House).  The next English speaking tour guide  was not available again until 4:45 (another hour) so we left and walked to the front of the building and around the gardens.  Earl was taking pictures of our group, as only Earl can do.  Woody and some of the other men made it into the tour before we arrived so they had just finished and were looking out at our group from up and inside the Opera House.
 
Debbie and Ruth drove off to find an iron and some other items and the rest of us walked the streets in search of a few more gifts.  We were walking down a street we had previously walked up.  Earlier in the day we had passed a manhole with the cover off, on this same street, and Earl had told us the cover was off the same manhole a year before.  So as we were passing by this manhole again, a woman was being helped up by another woman.  She had apparently fallen into the manhole! Other than having black marks on her legs and arms, she appeared to be okay.  I'm sure she will be hurting tomorrow!
 
We returned to the boat, had dinner and played Eucker.  Woody and Andrea won the championship game but for old time's sake (for Woody and Earl that is), Earl and I played a final game with Woody and Andrea.  We were tied  before Andrea and Woody finally pulled it off and won.  It was a lot of fun.  Earl and I shared a lot of laughs, mostly at my expense!  I had to remind him I was ONLY playing because I was told they needed another player.  
 
The night before Earl and I were playing against Terri and Pat and I don't think I have ever laughed so hard in my life!  The first two hands we played, Earl said, “Susie, I think you've got it.”  Then I would do something stupid and his foot would start to twitch.  He ended up laughing so hard he was crying!    He tends to be competitive but he is also a good sport and so entertaining.  
 
It occurred to me that night that he knows no strangers.  Everyone he meets or talks to is drawn into his world which is why he is the perfect person for this ministry.
 
The next morning we awoke, had breakfast and the boat dropped us off in Manaus.  We departed for the airport in a large, very nice air conditioned bus.  We arrived at the airport early.  We shopped, ate, spent some time together then said “good-bye” to Jim and Terri.  I'm going to miss you so much, Terri,  I feel like we are sisters!
 
We took a short one half hour plane trip to Goiana.  We stopped in Ruth and Earl's to drop off the luggage we no longer needed until our final departure.  The pastor drove Pat, Andrea, Ruth and me to Ruth and Earl's house.  Woody, Debbie, Sarah and Roy went with Earl and their driver.  Ruth and Earl have a very nice home.  
 
We then went to the church and met our weekend host families and ate dinner with them.  Then each of us went with our host families where we stayed for the night.  Debbie and I stayed together with a very nice family.  Only one daughter speaks very minimal English so we found a translation site on-line and talked that way.  It was fun!
 
The next day Earl drove us around and pointed out all the churches they started here in Brazil.  We shopped this afternoon (the mall and the grocery store).  When we returned Earl said we could Skype our family members.
 
I spoke to my husband and learned that my mom was not doing well at all.  He said they have her on  morphine which means she may not be with us by the time I get back.  Her decline has been so bizzare over the last few months.  She is 87 and although it is not unexpected, it is hard to hear the words.  I'm about to lose my mom.  I can hardly breath at this moment.  I hurt so bad inside.  I pray to God that He will take her now.  I don't want her to hang on for me.   
 
This afternoon we all rested and relaxed at Ruth and Earl's house.  I slept for awhile, surrounded by very good Christian friends, after receiving the news about my mom. Later we all loaded into the church van and set out for dinner.
 
It was very nice.  Everyone's host family met there and we ate, laughed, took pictures and just enjoyed each other's company.  Debbie and I left with our family.  There were six of us piled into a very small car, but it was good!   We are now in our guest quarters and the little dog that lives here and has chosen Debbie as it's best friend, sits outside our door barking and crying.  It is so cute.  Eventually it settles down and goes to sleep.
 
Sunday morning 9 am
 
By Sunday I had my “land feet” back.  I actually woke up and took a shower without having to hold on the the wall because of the unsteadiness.  It only occurred in the morning and only lasted a few hours but no matter how hard I tried I could not steady myself.  I guess as a first time traveler on the river it took me awhile to get my land feet back.  I felt like I was still on that boat!
 
During the Sunday School hour, Anna Paula interpreted for us.  She is an amazing young Brazilian woman and so mature for only 19.  She is very fluent in English.
 
That evening we attended a wonderful church service here with Ruth and Earl.  The music was incredible and very uplifting.  We all sang out and lifted God up in praise.  At one point everyone in the church gathered together into small groups, holding hands and praying.  Earl asked, “Susie, what's your mom's name so we can pray for her?” It brought tears of joy to hear him ask that.  He and Ruth have become dear friends and he was genuinely concerned and wanted to lift her up to the Lord.  We prayed.  Debbie and others cried with me.  
 
Then at the end of this wonderful service, people began coming forward and kneeling down while others came and stood behind them with their hands on them praying.  Again Earl called my name and asked me to come forward.  He told the minister about my mom.  The minister placed his hands on my head and shoulders and began praying in Portuguese.  I could then feel the gentle touch of stranger's hands upon my shoulders and back and hear their prayers being offered up for my mom.  I wish she could have witnessed this.  These were strangers yet I felt so connected through our love for Jesus Christ.  I could feel God's love in this place and it was so wonderful!
 
We returned with our host family.  We had a light dinner then off to our guest suite.  I stayed up until 12:30 rewriting the journal notes I lost in the computer (not sure what happened but they did not save).  Many I had to write by memory.  I then showered and placed my clothes out for the morning.  I set the alarm for 3:15 am but it was not necessary because sleep did not come to me this night.  Thoughts of the church service, my new friendships formed, the wonderful Amazonian people we helped the previous week and, of course, my mom flood my mind.  There is no room for sleep.  
 
We all meet together in the wee hours of the morning to head to the airport.  A part of me desires to stay in this wonderful place, yet I long to go home.
 
We share some breakfast with Earl at the airport and soon tell him good-bye.  I look forward to seeing him and his wife Ruth soon.  They will be in the states this summer and again this coming winter and I have asked them to visit us.  
 
The next day and a half is spent flying.  We flew to Miami.  Sarah and I head downstairs for a late snack and spend some time talking.  She is a wonderful person and I just love her.  The next morning we tell Sarah and Andrea good-bye.  The rest of us head to a separate gate.  I sat with Pat, Roy, Woody and Debbie for a couple of hours before I said good-bye to them.  I was originally going to catch their flight to Nashville and drive back part of the way with Pat and Roy.  My husband was going to pick me up in Elizabethtown and drive me the rest of the way to Cincinnati but he changed my flight to a direct flight from Miami to Cincinnati so I can get to my mom sooner.
 
I suddenly feel very alone as they board their plane.  Five minutes after they board, I am called up to their gate.  They asked about my ticket.  I told them I am not taking that flight and apologized for the inconvenience.   Shortly after that the Cincinnati flight is announced and I am directed outside for a long walk to our small plane.
 
We took off shortly after boarding.  I found out later that Woody, Pat, Roy and Debbie had to get off their plane while some mechanical work was done on it.
 
I flew through a pretty rough storm over Kentucky.  My husband picked me up and we headed to the nursing home where I spent the next two and a half days by her side while she, in a coma, slowly left this earthly life for a new life with Christ. I hugged her and kissed her and told her I loved her.  I don't believe she comprehended any of that but it's okay because she knew – she has always known how much she is loved.  I was right next to her when she breathed her last, and although it was painful to watch, when she exhaled her final breath, I smiled with tears rolling down my cheeks because she is going to meet God, something we all long for, and she is now okay!
 
This has been a wonderful journey of faith and love shared with others from the U.S. and Brazil.  It is amazing how people of faith can unite and work for God's people.  No one complained.  Everyone enjoyed our service to these people.  I think everyone will agree with me when I say God has richly blessed us on this trip.
 
My prayers are for the Amazonians and for Ruth and Earl's ministry.  I pray God will allow each of us to meet again for another life changing trip down the Amazon. 
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almightily, who was, and is, and is to come.” Revelation 4:8