November - 2011

   Posted by MARCIA HAWKE   

firefox-grayTuesday, Oct. 25

We finally made it off the plane!!! I don’t like flying, but I’m pretty sure everyone else also shared in my joy of getting off the plane. All our bags came through and going through customs went smoothly as well. Grandpa was even surprised how quickly it went. He said usually when visitors come he waits at least an hour and a half after the plane lands for everyone to get through. Unfortunately, we ended up waiting for almost two hours for the bus that was coming to pick us up to take us to the boat. The first bus broke down so we waited for the second one, but it was completely fine. If you’re going to go to a foreign country you have to be prepared for things not to go according to your plan, and also not to get done in your own timing.
            After the bus came we all loaded in for the ride to the boat. On the way there, I was amazed at all the trees all around us. I mean, I know we are in the rainforest but I guess I just wasn’t expecting to see it right in the city. It looked like something out of Jungle Book! I kept imagining a little Mowgli staring back at me. Sadly, I didn’t see a Mowgli or a Baloo. But the sight of the thick green trees kept my imagination running. Finally, we arrived on the boat and headed out! It took a little while to get our sea legs working and for some of us, who are tall, we had to get used to ducking and walking with our heads down. But I heard that the new boat is height proof, so we should be the last group with bruises on our heads.
            We settled in for the night, some down below in our bunks and others up above in their hammocks, ready for a good night’s sleep. But… it was going to prove to be a very adventurous night. During the night a storm blew in bringing rain and thunder and lightning. The boat began to rock more until suddenly we ran into something and came to a complete stop. I listened as the Captain tried but failed to get us moving again. Laying there I tried to sleep and trust that God would take care of us but I was already awake. Now, if you ask my grandpa what happened he will tell you that I slept through the whole thing, but I know I definitely didn’t. Anyway, sometime during the early morning another boat came along and towed us. We awoke that morning to find that now our boat had broken down; another thing that wasn’t part of the plan. But it was alright because everything happens in God’s perfect timing. I’d rather be on His plan than try to do things my own way. Disasters worse than a storm could happen when we try to drive our own boats.

Wednesday October 26, 2011

            Today we stayed in Sao Sebastião while we waited for the boat to be fixed. We were all a little anxious to get to the village where we would start treating people, but like I said before, all in God’s timing. We waited all day but while we waited we were able to visit the church and the Green House project. We walked into the village for about 30 minutes until we reached the church. Grandpa told us that the green house project started with just a few plants they were attempting to grow back behind the church. The land in the village is poor for growing but when they found a way to get the plants to grow they began the green house. They also have a specialist coming from Manaus to come get some dirt to run tests on it to learn the best way to grow more plants. The people in the village had never really eaten much greens and vegetables of this kind because of the land, so now with the green house the people of the church are able to sell it in the village; just another way to reach people.
            After our walk we came back to the boat where we found the men still working on fixing it. Grandpa said the boat probably wouldn’t be ready until morning. So we stayed the night in Sao Sebastião. But the men worked late into the night even though they could hardly see in the water. Thankfully, their hard work paid off. In the morning the boat was fixed!
            Even though we weren’t able to go to the village to get to work, the time we had gave us all a chance to get to know one another and just spend some time together. It also gave us time to prepare all the medicines for the next day. So far on the trip it seemed like we were waiting and waiting and waiting for time to catch up to us. It seemed like things kept happening that kept us from being where we wanted to be, or where we thought we should be. Sometimes we think we aren’t where God wants us to be and we beat ourselves up about it. But if we are following God with all our hearts then we are exactly where we need to be.

Thursday October 27, 2011

            We woke up today and the boat was ready to go! On our way to Sao Lazero, where we would be treating people, we stopped at another village and picked some people up who were traveling with us to help. While waiting we were able to continue to prepare for treating people that afternoon. We were so excited when the time finally came for us to start helping the people. Things moved slowly at first which was kind of funny because Grandpa kept telling us to call the next patient and we had to keep telling him they weren’t here yet. But eventually things picked up and started moving fast enough so that by the end of the day we couldn’t keep up! It was so much fun watching everyone at work and seeing them enjoy helping people. Also, listening to everyone using the Portuguese they had learned was fun too. Maybe that’s why God had us waiting? To give everyone enough time to learn their Portuguese. If you asked them they would say they are still learning it or they will say they will never learn it, but they are doing just fine. In fact, I’m surprised and proud of them at the same time. One of the men threatened to jump off the boat if he had to learn anymore Portuguese, but thankfully he didn’t have too. It could be that everyone told him there was an anaconda in the river that kept him out.
            Tonight, after another good meal, we are all sitting around talking or playing cards happy with the work we were able to do today and excited for what we will be able to do tomorrow. Now, we are just praying that we don’t get eaten by all the little bugs that are attacking us. The people sleeping in the hammocks upstairs better sleep with their mouths closed!
            One last thing before I head off to bed. I do have to say that I really enjoyed being able to work with my grandma and to be able to spend some time with her. I can see where my mom gets some of her habits. Its fun to tease my grandma the same way I tease my mom. It also helps me with all the homesickness. I can’t wait to get home and tell my mom about it! Well, that’s it for now, hopefully I’ll have some good stories to tell tomorrow, goodnight!

Friday October 28, 2011

Today we finished up at Sao Lazero. We didn’t have many patients for the doctor because we had already seen them all. But our dentist, Nayara, was very busy because they came back to see her. She was very happy though; she loves what she does and is glad to be able to help people.
We stayed there until after lunch then we moved on to another village called, Betel. Here we were able to see many patients and a lot of them went to see our dentist as well. Usually after everyone has been treated it is customary for all of us visitors to go up to the village for a little church service, well tonight was our first night to do this. It was funny because all the Americans learned to sing God Is So Good in Portuguese and now they all had to sing it for the villagers. They might not think so but they did very well!! Afterwards though, the villagers had to sing it to us in English. They did just as well if not better! Then we sang some other songs with the kids. Grandpa asked the children why God was so good and how they knew. Some of them answered, with some help from Grandpa, that it was because God gave them their dads and fish to eat and bananas to eat. But then he asked them what the most important thing was that God did to show that he loves us. Some of the kids still answered that it was because of the bananas and the fish but after they figured out what answer Grandpa was looking for they all yelled, “Jesus!”    
Next, Flavia, the children’s director, got up and gave the lesson for the kids. She taught the story of salvation using the colors yellow, black, red, white, green, and blue balloons. But before she taught the story she told all the children to sip up their mouths and give her the keys and that she would give them back when they were allowed to answer. So the kids actually did stay quiet and listen intently. She would call a child up each time to hold one of the balloons after she finished explaining one of the colors. Then, as she reached the end she threw the keys back to the children and told them to answer her questions. It was amazing and encouraging to see how well they listened and knew the answers. Afterwards we were able to pass out toys and popcorn to all the kids. I’ll have to say that that was probably my favorite part. However, my favorite story about today is one I was told after we got back on the boat.
Carl is one of the men who came with us from America. He had been helping Nayara as a dentist’s assistant. He told me that a little girl had come up to see the dentist and as she was lying there she began to cry a little and get scared. So Carl grabbed her hand and held it trying to encourage her. He also kept giving her thumbs up to try to tell her it was okay since he couldn’t talk to her. Well, Carl hoped that he was able to help her and he didn’t know it yet but he had. That night after the service, Grandpa told everyone in Portuguese to go up and pick somebody and give them a hug. That’s when
Carl realized what a help he was. The little girl he had tried to encourage pushed her way through everyone and ran up to him to give him a hug. He said that she about knocked him over. He said it was so nice to see that big smile on her face looking up at him. He thought that he wasn’t doing as great job at helping out as everyone else, but that little girl proved him wrong. Just like Carl we are all hoping to be a blessing to the people we treat, but just like Carl we end up seeing that we are the ones receiving the blessings as well.
            We are all settled down for the night and are excited to treat more people tomorrow! I’m excited to see all the blessings that will happen. Goodnight for now!

Saturday October 29, 2011

            Today we went to a village called Juro Pari where we worked until lunch then we moved on to another village. In both villages we were able to help many people, mostly families. We also saw a lot of cute babies today! One of them reminded me of a cabbage patch baby. You can be sure there was a lot of picture taking going on!
            Carl had another child patient today while he was helping Nayara, the dentist. The little boy was crying so much they had two people holding him still. I felt so bad for Carl! But he continued to sit there and hold the little boy’s hand encouraging him through the pain. I’m sure it was hard on Carl but they both made it through alive.
            I think my favorite part of the day though was when I got to help our nurse practitioner, Laura, clean out an old man’s ear. I know that sounds pretty gross and it’s a job not too many people would think is fun, but I had a really good time talking with the man… and the cleaning part was pretty cool too!! I know, that’s disgusting.  But anyway, we had to put ear drops in this old man’s ear and then he had to lie down for five minutes so during those minutes he and I were able to talk. He told me he was 70 years old and was unmarried. He said his wife left him along time ago but that he was going to find a new woman. It was so much fun talking with him and teasing him. He continued to tell me that his son lives in Manaus and that they were asking him to come there which he said he was going to do next year but with certainty that he was going to get him a new wife. I don’t know what it was about that old man but he brightened my day. Maybe it was his calm demeanor and the way it was just easy to talk to him. Thankfully, we were able to get all the dirt out of his ear and he was able to hear out of it again! I hope we were able to bless him. I know he blessed me.
            Another interesting conversation I had today was with the women who make our food, Nete and Egilsa. They were telling me about some of the Indian tribes that people have never seen before. Nete told me that there was a tribe where you had certain hours to pass through their land or they wouldn’t let you get through. Then, Egilsa told me about an Indian tribe where if their children are born with a defect they still kill them. These are stories I had only read about but didn’t know if they really were still happening. I found out a lot from talking with them. They told me how these tribes, even though they are way out in the rainforest, are still very rich because of the gold and other jewels they have. They also told me that the government provides these Indian tribes with satellites and cell phones and internet. It was amazing to me that they had those types of modern conveniences out in the middle of nowhere. But they explained that it was a program run by the government. It is similar to how the government treats the American Indians in the United States. What is interesting about all of this is that this morning for our devotions we talked about how no one has an excuse of ignorance anymore if they don’t accept Jesus as their Savior. Even the Indians out deep in the rainforest. They will have a choice and a chance to choose God. But the responsibility is on us and the people who know about God to go and tell them. If they don’t find out about Jesus their blood is on out hands. It’s a scary thing to think about. But the encouraging thing to remember is that God has the whole world in His hands and He sees and holds everyone in His care. He will provide a way. We also are learning that some people were called to teacher and some to be pastors and how everyone has their certain gifts from God. So we may not be missionaries somewhere deep in the Amazon but wherever we are we can be sure that God has a mission field for us. He puts us where we need to be if we choose to let Him.
            We are all settling down now after a good meal. I’m sure Mr. Eric enjoyed the meal way more than the bugs that flew into his mouth while he was trying to sing at the church service!! Anyway, that’s all for tonight! Hope you were able to enjoy the stories of what we are experiencing!

Sunday October 30, 2011

            Well, last night we had a very eventful and interesting night! One of our doctors went to go take a shower and then suddenly the drain started backing up. The septic system came back up in through the drain of the shower so the doctor definitely wasn’t standing just in water!! Poor guy! What was funny, though I’m sure it wasn’t funny for the doctor, but it happened during the middle of the night after people had already gone to bed so not everyone knew that the bathroom was out of order. So, then came the challenge of deciding whether we should wake people up and tell them or just let them sleep. First we tried writing a note but we realized that if anyone got up to go to the bathroom they wouldn’t be awake enough to read a sign or even see it! They would find themselves standing a pool of something they wouldn’t want to be in! Then someone suggested that we put a blanket at the bottom of the door so that their feet would feel it and maybe that would make them look up to see the sign, but then we decided a blanket wasn’t good enough. So the next suggestion was putting a bench in front of the door. However, we didn’t have any down stairs so I went up to look for one and ask the crew what we should do since I was the only one awake who could translate. Finally, after telling them what the Americans were saying, Dudu, one of the crew members, had a good idea! He went down below and came up with a chord so I followed him to see what he was going to do. He went down to the bathroom and tied the door handle to the door handle of my bedroom and then tied it to another door handle so that no one could get the bathroom door open. Finally, someone who knew what he was doing!! We started laughing thinking about the people who would wake up in the middle of the night stuck outside the bathroom door but knowing they would thank us in the morning. Looking back it probably would have been easier to just wake everyone up. Thankfully the next day the crew was able to fix the bathroom!!
            After that adventurous night we didn’t sleep much. But we woke up the next day ready to help more people. We arrived at a village called, Sororoca, where we stayed all day. Then that night we went into the village to the church service. We had brought benches will us on the boat for the church and that night was the first night they were able to use them. They were so happy and grateful! And we were happy and thankful to be able to worship with them. Mr. Eric sang, His Eye is on the Sparrow, as a special music which was very encouraging to remember that even though we were far away from home God was still watching over us. Then the Brazilian preacher Ronaldo did the communion thought comparing the Old Testament to the New Testament and how in the Old Testament they celebrated the Passover but now in the New Testament we celebrate communion. Afterwards, Sam had the honor of giving the sermon which Grandpa translated into Portuguese. Sam talked about how we are children of God and how God will take care of us and how as His children we receive gifts form Him such as the Holy Spirit. Then to finish he talked about how because we are children of God, we should look like Him just like we as children look like our parents. Overall, the church service was very encouraging. Especially to remember that even though we weren’t with our families in America they were worshiping God too. Even though we were separated we still were together. And that reminds me again of what we are studying in Ephesians. We are reading how the body of Christ is supposed to be united and grow up together into Christ. Last night was an example to me how united we are. It didn’t matter whether we were on a different continent or what our backgrounds were Brazilian or American, we are all united in Christ.

Monday October 31, 2011

            Today was another day of treating people. We went to three different villages. But what was different about today was that we couldn’t get close enough to the people in our boat so they had to come out to us in their boats. The ground had become so soft and muddy that it was hard for them to make it down the hill to us and we also couldn’t go up to them to have a service because of the rain. In fact, I watched one family trying to make it up the hill back to their village but they had two babies and one toddler and as they tried to walk the mud just caked onto their feet and would have caused them to slip. So one of the crew members, Dudu, (the one who helped us lock people out of the bathroom) went out and carried each of the kids up the hill. All of the trouble I saw people going through to get to us made me think of the stories in the Bible of how people did everything they could to get to Jesus. Not that we are anywhere near what Jesus can provide, but it just made me wonder how hard I would have tried to get to Him knowing that He had what could heal me. But then I think again, that is kind of what faces us everyday. God has what we need and He is waiting to give it to us if we would just come to Him and accept it. Sometimes it’s easy to reach Him but other times we have to go through difficulties before we get to Him. Maybe it all depends on how hard we want Him? I don’t know, but I know that it’s an everyday choice to stay on the narrow road. In the end it will be worth it.
            Tonight to end off a good day God gave us a beautiful sunset. The deep pink and orange colors painted the sky as the fiery sun settled for the night. Purple and bluish clouds surrounded it like a soft pillow. A line of orange light stretched out to us as if wishing us a peaceful goodnight.
            I know tonight’s journal is short but I think the sunset is a good place to say goodnight. It is true that God can be seen through His creations. Sometimes they are the only place where we can find peace when the world around us is full of storms.

Tuesday November 1, 2011

            Today was another interesting and fun day. We arrived in Urucara where we stayed all day to treat people. But before people began coming to us we were able to take a tour through the city. Flavia, the children’s director, showed us around town. First we saw where all the main shops were and then we passed through where some houses were. Flavia showed us where their soccer stadium was and where their largest school was. But the main reason for our walk was to see the church and to get ice cream! The church was beautiful from what we could see from the outside. Egilsa, our main cook, told me that on the inside the church is beautiful because when the sun shines on it, the varnished wood glows. We weren’t able to go in because the pastor wasn’t there to unlock the gates, but at least we still got to see some of it.
            Finally, we arrived at the ice cream shop! It was so very hot and we had all walked for long while in the sun so we were excited to be able to get some ice cream. When we got their the lady selling the ice cream put out all the flavors she had so we could taste them and then choose what we wanted. There was chocolate, white chocolate, vanilla, chicklete, one called abacate, which was avocado, and one called flocos, which was a like a chocolate swirl. I didn’t know that the green ice cream I tried was avocado because if I had I probably wouldn’t have tried any! I’m not going to say it was good, it was just . . . weird. But some people enjoyed it. While we were in the ice cream shop relaxing and getting ready for the walk back in the sun to the boat, I was looking around and found a jar sitting on the counter. Inside it was a dead snake sitting in alcohol! The lady didn’t know how long it had been in the jar but she said it had been a long time. I wouldn’t have mined seeing a live snake, but for some of the people in out group that was a close as they wanted to get to one.
            After our walk around the town we came back to the boat to wait for people who wanted to be treated. Today was different because my grandpa was in Sao Sebastião teaching a seminary. So besides the boat being a lot quieter and less lively, it was up to me to translate for the doctor.  I was so nervous that I wouldn’t understand everything people were trying to tell me or that I wouldn’t say the right thing in English or Portuguese. At first I was so nervous I just thought about not being able to understand people which held me back a little, but after we got into it and I learned what to ask people, it got a little more comfortable. Also, the people bore with me when I needed them to explain words to me when I didn’t understand so I was very thankful for their kindness and patience. I’m definitely not my Grandpa!! But it was fun and I hope I was able to help. Its weird, but I keep finding that it’s harder to translate Portuguese into English for the Americans to understand. In my head I know what they are saying in Portuguese but I can’t find the right words in English to translate it. But, thankfully, we all got through it!
            After we finished treating people, it was time to go pick Grandpa up in Sao Sebastião. We are staying the night here because tomorrow Grandpa is giving his students a final test before they graduate which we will be able to go watch! Tomorrow we’ll also be heading back to Manaus which is an all night kind of trip. I think they said it’s around twelve hours if not more. So tomorrow sound like another full day!!

Wednesday November 2, 2011

            Well, we are on our way back to Manaus now! We are going to have to find things to do to keep us busy on this cruise. This morning, after our devotions we walked into Sao Sebastião to watch Grandpa’s students graduate. It was another long very hot walk. But when we made it we were greeted with air-conditioning!!! A very welcome surprise! You can be sure we didn’t want to leave. We sat there privileged to be able to be a part of the student’s graduation. Grandpa even had us play a part in it. He would call up each student and then hand one of us Americans their diploma so we could hand it to them. It was fun to watch everyone congratulating each other. It was especially funny when Mr. Tom handed out the diploma he was given and said, “Deus te Abencoe!” In perfect Portuguese!! With which he added, “ParaBEANS”!! He meant to say “Parabems” which means congratulations, but the way he remembered to pronounce it was by saying “pot a beans.” And in his southern accent it made it even funnier!
            With each of the people who graduated grandpa had it marked who all had come for each of the classes every month and how many times people had missed. One man came all the way from another village that was 22 hours away and had never missed a class! It was amazing. That is the kind of dedication we all should have. In the Bible it talks about how people will be known by the fruit they bare. Sometimes people may try to trick others and be something they aren’t, kind of like being false fruit, but that man is the kind of example we should strive for. We shouldn’t take God’s word halfheartedly. When people look at us there shouldn’t be a question of whether we are dedicated to God or not, hopefully that is something that will be evident.
            After the graduation, sadly we had to leave the air –conditioning. But we had to get back to the boat to treat a few more people and to pack up for our trip back to Manaus. So now we are on our way after saying goodbye to a few of our members, Flavia being one of them. I was sad to see her go. She always had something wise to say and encouraging and she was always making us laugh. But the last night I was able to sit with her and Nayara and just talk and look up at the clear night sky full of stars. Flavia kept saying “there is no other moment like this one. This is unique. We will never have a moment like this again. These are the moments we treasure in our memories.” It was a beautiful night, not just because of the scenery but because of the friendships that were bonded that night. We sat there singing old Sunday school songs we had learned when we were little and laughing at how old they were. It is a great and mysterious thing to be a part of the body of Christ. No matter where we go, we can feel at home with other Christians. Flavia also said that whenever someone tells you that you can be substituted or that someone else can take your place, not to believe it because it is a lie. She urged that we are all unique and no one can take the place of anyone. She is right. No one is like her and we all make up the body of Christ. We are all needed. Its’ funny because that echoes another one of the verses we are reading in Ephesians 4. It says, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the head, that is, Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love as each part does its work.”  So, we all need each other. We weren’t made to grow alone. I’m thankful that wherever I go, I have a home in the body of Christ.

Thursday November 3, 2011

            Well, we are nearing the end of our journey. We have already arrived in Manaus and tomorrow we have to say goodbye. I’m sad to leave the friends I’ve made here but I am looking forward to going home. Overall, this trip has been a great adventure! Everyday we were able to help people and grow closer together as the body of Christ.
            Some might think that it takes a great sacrifice to travel the Amazon, and it does. But God provides all we need. We’ve seen it here on the boat. We had a place to sleep and a place to take a shower. And the most amazing food ever! I didn’t know I could get tired of eating such good food everyday. It seemed like every time we turned around it was time to eat again! I mean, who gets to eat chocolate cake for breakfast?! I almost felt guilty; my mom taught me that cake is not a breakfast food. But I couldn’t resist. Besides, it wouldn’t be polite to turn it down. Other than the cake, we had desserts after every meal and fresh fruit and vegetables. Plus, one of the women on board gave manicures and one of the men visiting gave massages! Sounds more like a cruise!! We were definitely spoiled. No matter where we are or what we are lacking, God provides us with what we need, and more. I’m very thankful for the friendships I’ve made on this trip and to have been able to be a part of the work we did. Sadly, I’m going to have to say goodbye. But thankfully, its only goodbye for a little while. We will always be connected through the body of Christ. “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:4)