AMAZON BOAT TRIP - FEBRUARY 12-22, 2019
GEORGETOWN CHURCH OF CHRIST, OHIO
Our trip got off to an early start, and we arrived at the Columbus airport a few hours early. Everyone arrived on schedule, and away we went!
Several of us went for the first time this year, and a few others had been on previous trips.
There were a few mix-ups between flights, but thankfully, everyone made it to Manaus regardless. Earl and the boat crew helped us with our carry-on bags, loaded them into the transport bus, and we headed to the boat.
We ate a late supper, and then everyone settled into their rooms for the first night.
The first morning was off to a busy start after breakfast. The team went exploring around the boat, and took a walk to the zoo. We then sorted vitamins that would later on be handed out to patients as they left the boat.
We went back to the airport Wednesday night to get luggage that had been left in Miami from the flight mix-up. While we waited, Earl treated everyone to a milkshake. When we got back to the boat, the crew untied the ropes, and we left for Saõ Sebastião.
Some of the team slept in redes that night, and were woken up by rain blowing in in the morning.
We ate breakfast, were assigned to our jobs, and did a test run to get things running smoothly.
Jim McGee headed up the medical. Michele Holthaus prescribed glasses and gave massages. Merle Franks was assistant to the dentist. Scott Woodall was in the pharmacy with Ruth Anne. Frances Parker was in charge of giving out the worm medicine. Belinda Nort and Mona Wells sorted through outfit sizes to give to the children. Cindy Dunn took the blood pressures, and assisted Kathy Eubanks and Linda Gabelman with weighing/measuring. Dustin Armstrong and Angie Carrington called people onto the boat. Caitlyn Armstrong and Heather Meyer played with the children in each village.
Once we were in São Sebastião, the team stretched their legs and met more of the crew we would be working with for the week.
The next morning was Portuguese and English lessons/songs, and then a devotion from Jim. The following mornings consisted of a similar pattern.
We got to our first village (Taborari) Friday morning, and everyone quickly got to work. We saw 66 patients, so the team was thankful for a full first day. We headed back down the river to dock at the next village (Santa Helena) we would be treating in the morning.
Saturday morning got off to an earlier start. There were lots of people gathered underneath a shelter house, waiting to be called on by Dustin and Angie.
Caitlyn and I had gotten too hot to go back out in the sun after lunch, so we stuck to relaxing in the shade on the boat. As the day came to an end, we had counted 120 patients that we treated, with 32 dental procedures that had been done!
We docked at Cubuaca to treat there in the morning. The team got their refreshing showers after a long day, and we all turned in before 9p.m.
Breakfast was at 6 45, so we were able to start treating an hour earlier. We treated 51 people, and headed to Caranauaca while eating lunch.
There was a man there who was supposed to get a cyst removed from his side. While Jim and Michele were prepping the room, the man left, and was nowhere to be seen!
The sun had come out for the first time that day, and Caitlyn and I were already exhausted by 10:3 0 because of the heat.
We were introduced to lots of different foods and juices there. Each afternoon, the ladies on the boat would prepare an afternoon snack for all of us. From mantioach juice to Brazilian cookies, we all enjoyed the day-to-day refreshments.
We finished at 5:30 with a total of 69 patients, and headed upriver to the next village (Jacarequara) as we ate supper.
The next morning started off smoothly, and everyone had caught onto their assignments well.
Caitlyn and I were told to stay out of the weeds at Livramento because of snakes.
There were a total of 43 patients there, and once we finished up, we headed out to Reserva.
We got there in the afternoon, and some of us walked around the village. We ate various kinds of fruit, got shown around one of the locals greenhouse, and then went back down the hill and treated people for another 1 ½ hours.
We had our first church service that night, and sang 2 songs for everyone in Portuguese. Earl shared a bit about our team coming, and then Santana had a lesson prepared for everyone.
Before our trip started, I was warned about Brazil’s poto bug that urinates on your skin, and leaves discolored pigment and blisters on your skin. I came into contact with one, and Jim had given me hydrocortisone cream and Cipro to treat it with. Thank the Lord, it quickly started to heal up afterward.
Tuesday was another sunny day, and we got started treating patients again at 9:30. When we finished at Reserva with 32 patients totaled, we took a break for lunch before heading to Caiaua where we had 41 patients. That evening, Scott joined into a game of soccer with members of the boat crew and people from the village.
We got to our last village ( Inajatuba) on Wednesday morning, and worked the entire day while loving on children, sharing laughs, and taking Jesus with us every step. Our dentist repaired a little boy’s tooth that had been badly chipped. When she was finished, he was proudly showing off his big smile with his “new” tooth to EVERYONE.
We ended with a grand total of 617 people treated on the boat.
Just when we thought we had finished treating on this trip, something unexpected happened.
I woke up at 11:45 p.m. on Thursday, and looked out my window. There was a woman peering out from another boat right alongside ours. I went out to see what was going on, and was told that there was a medical emergency.
A boat nearby had contacted us, and told us that they had a diabetic man on board whose blood sugar was down to 25. He also had an infection in his right leg from stepping on a nail previously.
Scott had woken up to the motor reducing speed, and knew that something was off. Michele heard Earl yelling her name with panic in his voice, so she hurried to get dressed, and ran out her door. She slipped and fell into the boat railing, but thankfully wasn’t hurt. Earl told her to get down into the boat, since it had been tied off onto ours.
Earlier that day, everyone had waited on Earl at São Sebastião while he got medical supplies to stock up on in the pharmacy.
Michele went up 2 flights of steps, and Jim handed her everything she needed to get an IV started. He and Scott had fluids ready to go.
Before they got things upstairs for the IV, Jim had been giving the man hard candies to try and get his blood sugar back up. Michele blew the first vein, but quickly got another one started, and it was successful.
The man they were helping was in his 20´s, and almost unconscious. He was totally drenched in sweat, and unaware of his surroundings.
Some of the team was woken up by the entire ruckus, so they stayed outside to keep updated on how the man was doing.
After 20 minutes with the IV working, Scott and Jim checked the man’s blood sugar again. It had gone up to 107, and he was able to make conversation with Earl.
Everyone was thanked for the help, and hopped back onto our boat, continuing to head upriver to Manaus.
That night was almost unreal for the team. Any sooner or later, and we would never have come across that boat, and the man would have died. But God had the timing planned out perfectly. Because of it, the man was able to continue traveling upriver to the hospital in Manaus, where he would get proper care.
Times like that are when we have no other choice but to praise God. Here we were in the middle of the night on the Amazon River, treating someone on a boat when we had all thought that that part of the trip was over with. It was incredible.
There was a bond made with the entire team of February 2019. We witnessed lives changed, and miracles there with Project Amazonas. It’s something that none of us will ever forget. We know we will share in even greater joys than this when we all get to heaven. What a day that will be!
We were so blessed to be a part of Project Amazonas, serving those in needs, and sharing Christ to the beautiful people there.