March 7: Wednesday
!5 of us met in Indianapolis and headed to Miami. After a wonderful 7 hour layover, we flew to Manus, Brazil. We arrived around midnight, tired but very excited to meet Earl Haubner, our fearless leader for the next 10 days. We traveled per luxurious bus to our home on the Amazon River, the Amazonian. The cooks had prepared a delicious meal for us. Finally after being awake for over 24 hours, we hit the sack.
March 8: Thursday.
What an awesome experience to wake up to the sights and sounds of the Amazon River. We cruised down the river all day, stopping in San Sabastian to drop off four of our guys – Lou, Drew, Jeff, and Kenny. They will be spending the week there doing concrete work and a building a fence for a chicken coop. The river water was muddy with much debris floating in it due to tributaries dumping into Amazon River. Once everyone was up, we spent several hours sorting through suitcases filled with vitamins, tooth brushes, tooth paste plus shampoos, body wash and lotion we had brought down with us. We also counted pills and packaged them in smaller quantities. Earl then taught us a geography lesson of Brazil. Many facts were unknown to our team members. In state of Amazonia there are 1100 rivers and 30,000 villages. The Amazon River is 250 miles wide. Recently it has been discovered that there is another river that runs under the Amazon.
March 9: Friday.
Another cool cloudy morning but days develop into very warm days. There is sunshine between rain showers. Devotions were shared by Charles Lyons who shared thoughts from Billy Graham. Earl began teaching us Portuguese songs as well as phrases in Portuguese. We docked in our first village Santa Andre, the largest village that we will visit during our 10 days. 110 families; 400-500 people resided in the village. Each team member was assigned the “job” for the 10 days. Kevin, Peggy and I weighed, measured and took blood pressures. Then the patient would go in to see Dr. Lyons. Then most every patient got a worm tablet from Madison and Christy as they waited for their prescriptions, if needed. Betty worked in the pharmacy with Ruth Ann Haubner. Every family received a gift bag of goodies – soap, lotion, shampoo, tooth brushes and tooth paste. We also had sun glasses to give patients. We also had a dentist on our team and there was a Brazilian dentist, Dr. Michelle who worked with us. Dr. Joe had Ruth Ann assisting him while Marlene assisted Dr. Michelle. Dr. Joe had one little girl today who was 11 years old and needed a tooth removed. Poor little girl screamed and screamed. We all felt so sorry for her!! Dr. Joe said if he had had her as a patient in the States, he would have sent her to an oral surgeon!!! Most of the dental patients needed extractions although a few had their teeth cleaned and several needed fillings. My favorite patient of the day was a young gal in a wheelchair who had deformed legs/feet. Also was a hydrocephalic. She was so happy and laughed at everything. It was her birthday! Earl gave her a game, sun glasses and beads. We all sang Happy Birthday to her. So touching!
Observations of people we have seen thus far. All are so very clean and neat. Most all wear sandals, which the remove before entering the boat. Families came in groups of 5-7 persons generally and all went into room to see the doctor at the same time. They are friendly, happy and most appreciative. We had a Go Fishing game in the small waiting room which the kids loved. It kept them occupied as they waited.
In the evening, we walked up to the village for a church service. We met in a Catholic church which is only used once a month. By the time the service started, the church was full. Did lots of singing, both in English and Portuguese. Earl had me come to the front of the church. I gave a short greeting in English and Earl translated into Portuguese. Then I presented Lindsey Schenkel’s soccer ball to the head of the community. It was a very touching time. Then Earl gave short sermon on God created each of us to be just who were are and live where we do. Then a Brazilian minister, Pastor Geraldo, also shared a short sermon in Portuguese, of course. It was a very moving service. At end of service, we handed out treats to each child present.
March 10: Saturday
Awakened to another cloudy but warm day. After breakfast we had our daily devotional time with singing; language lesson and devotions. Today I shared my story about Dr. Cooper’s conversion. We held Clinic in the same village today. The same type of health issues as well as dental problems were encountered today. Dr. Lyons did have a lady come in who had three sores on her lower leg that had been there for over a year. She had received some treatment but not affective. Dr. Lyons said she would need to go to Manus to receive debridement, skin grafting and likely lose her leg in the end.
After lunch Ruth Ann and I walked up into the village. One family invited us into their home. They had just moved here today from another village where the husband had run out of work. They moved their goods here on a boat, which we saw arrive earlier this morning. They were so friendly – showing us about their house and their yards. They had multiple fruit trees in their yard. We will include a few pictures of the family and house. They did have a stove in their inside kitchen but also did cooking on the back veranda. As we headed back down to the boat, Ruth Ann gave out Frisbees to the kids. They were elated and caught on quickly how to use them.
Held Clinic in pm. Had one patient who needed an ace check done. Otherwise quiet afternoon. We finished up there and headed to San Pedro. We were greeted eagerly by many little children. Several of us headed up in the village. It was raining by the time we got to the top of the hill. A man and a woman invited us to come sit inside the schoolhouse where it was dry. The man proceeded to tell us he was President of the community. What this involved was he was in charge of a council who decided if they wanted to build a new building or refurbish old one – things that would better the community. He held an elected office. We then went outside and walked around the village with a group of children, mainly girls, telling us where they lived. The woman walked with us and told us about their community buildings and festivals. While the girls were with us, the little boys were playing soccer in the mud!!! And grown men were playing in anther full size court. Ruth Ann again brought some Frisbees which we enjoyed playing with the children. They were delighted and caught on quickly. As it was getting dark, we headed back to boat. Then we returned to the village for a church service. Once again in a seldom used very plain Catholic church. Just so touching to worship with these people.
March 11: Sunday
Clinic went smoothly again. No real issues for doctor or dentist. Santa did bring in one little girl who said she couldn’t breathe. Dr. Lyons checked her over and said she was breathing fine. She had eaten a piece of hard candy which wasn’t dissolving. He encouraged her to drink more water and it would dissolve. Then also had a 12 year old boy with a gaping wound on the inside of his left arm, which had happened over a week ago. So it definitely was too late to suture it. Cleansed wound with Butadiene; applied Bacitracin; covered with 4X4 and wrapped with Ace bandage. Dressing supplies and ointment were sent home with the mother. Pray it will heal without getting infected. Will likely scar but not in a real visible site.
After Clinic closed, we walked up the very steep hill with scary wooden steps – a real challenge, especially after dark! We worshipped in a Catholic church which appeared very much the same as the previous two nights. The church was filled with many children. Seems to be the children love to sing and worship!!! Earl once again led singing in English and Portuguese. He had the children singing their hearts out and clapping like there was no tomorrow. And they knew the words to the songs. Plus he had them sing songs in English, which they all seemed to be able to pronounce the words. After song session, Earl presented a soccer ball to the community from us. It was accepted with appreciation. Pastor Geraldo shared a short sermon. The kids seemed to be more restless tonight than the previous two nights. My heart was really touched tonight worshipping with my new Brazilian family in the community of San Antonio.
We then had a very moving Communion service on the top deck of the boat. The crew members were all with us – just like one big family. Several songs were sung with the girls their playing guitars. Scripture was read and prayers said in English and Portuguese. Then we shared in the elements as each person was moved. In closing Earl made comment that this would be the last time this family shared in Communion until we got to Heaven. Of course, tears flowed from my eyes. It amazing to me how quickly we have bonded in this group. Seems like we have been together forever!! Earl and Ruth Ann are such wonderful living examples of Christ’s love. What a pleasure it is to get to finally serve on a mission team with them
March 12: Monday
Breakfast was yummy as always. It was already sunny this am as we gathered on the top deck of the boat for our daily devotions. We sang longer than usual, which I loved. Then Daniela and Diandra played the song from the Amazonian video – “Lindo, Lindo, Lindo es!” Muito bonita!!!! Pastor Geraldo shared from Ps 46:10 “Be still and know I am God.” God is control of every situation. Clinic ran smoothly with usual little hitches – having medico cards for people who weren´t there; patients going to dentist before seeing the doctor!!! But overall, it ran smoothly. The most exciting patient we saw was a 102 year old lady who appeared to be 80!! She walked up and down that steep hill with scary wooden steps without a problem!! Her 56 year old son was with her. Another blessed experience was after lunch getting to go up into the Clinic with Earl, Charles and Ruth Ann to see a gentleman, probably in his early fifties, who was an amputee. Two years ago he was riding in a cart pulled by a horse when a motorcycle side swiped him, injuring both of his legs. He was taken to a larger village by boat to receive medical care. His right leg was amputated just below the knee. His left leg has a deep scare across his leg just below his knee. It made you think he was fortunate he did not lose that leg also. Charles measured his legs for a man who will make prosthesis for him. He appeared to be a happy man. He was sitting in a wheelchair repairing fishing nets. His wife was also present – very friendly. She had been seen by Charles in the am Clinic. Later in the day, Charles listened to the baby’s heart beat in a 7 month pregnant gal. The couple appeared moved when they heard a healthy heart beat. Earl told them it was a girl! But then told them not to count on that for certain!
Once the Clinic was finished, we headed down the river to the village of Mocambo. There are 1500 families living here. From the boat we saw a huge school. Houses appear larger and better constructed. We docked here for the night. No church service this evening. Games were enjoyed by most of the team. And another day of this life’s long dream was completed. We definitely sense the good that Earl and Ruth Ann are doing here. People are so appreciative for the love and care shown to them because they receive this from no one else.
March 13: Tuesday
Morning was cloudy and cool, perfect temperature. Arose early so we could watch boat depart. Our devotional time was very moving to me this morning. Jim shared devotions from Ps 37. “Commit your way unto the Lord; trust in Him and he will do this.” Eph. 2:10 “For we are God´s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” He shared about the last couple years in Christy and his life. Very touching. Then we sang longer than usual. Just a moving time of sharing with our crew members – brothers and sisters in Christ. How fun it is to learn their language as they are learning ours. Thank you Lord for allowing me to be part of this mission trip.
Then the Clinic of Monte Sinai opened!! People had to walk 25 minutes down a long, muddy road. Near the end of their walk, the path was flooded. Many of the people walked through it but some rode on a motorcycle or came by canoe. The people waited in a building with four poles supporting a thatched roof!!! When it rained during the day, several got under a turned over boat!!! We noticed the people were not as clean as in the previous villages. Many of them wore jackets or sweatshirts. One of the first children we saw, I thought she had a skin infection. Later realized she was covered with mud from her walk to the Clinic! Families were smaller today with four being the most kids in one family. Many people came alone, which has been very rare in previous Clinics. Had an exciting time with Madi. Earl told her to give sun glasses to three children of one family. When they sat down in waiting area to take their worm medicine, a mother sitting beside them became quite upset because her children did not get sun glasses. That mother told Earl she wanted her kids to have sun glasses. She pointed to Madi and rolled her eyes in disgust!!! But Earl did not give in. Her children did not get any sun glasses. And Madi did not give any more sun glasses out today!!!! The dentists once again did fillings but mostly extractions.
After lunch, Ruth and I ventured out to the village. Two young girls walked beside us talking to Ruth Ann. After we had walked for 10 minutes, we came to a flooded area on the path. Ruth Ann told the girls we could go no farther because we couldn´t wade through the water. After saying our good byes, a motorcycle appeared on the scene. He offered to take us across the water. So I got on first!!! What a sight. We made it through the water with only one of my shoes getting wet. Then he went back and brought Ruth Ann across the water. The girls continued to walk with us. Ruth Ann had them singing songs. They knew “Deus é bom”!!!! The road was a very steep hill and certainly not smooth. At the top of this hill, was the village. The girls took us over to see their school where a third girl joined us. The school was nice size. It was divided on sides for the younger and older students. We were told there are three teachers at the school. Then there was a small church next to the school. We couldn´t get in either building as they were locked. Did not see many other children or people walking around. We did walk through a man´s back yard to view the Amazon River and jungle from many yards above the river. Oh what a beautiful sight. Looked like a nice place to retire!!! Then the rain began again. We stayed fairly dry under the overhang at the school. Once it quit raining, everything was MUDDY!!!! But we started our walk down the hill. Was not as bad as it might have been after the way it rained. Going down was much easier. Once we got to the flooded area, there appeared another motorcycle. He insisted on taking both of us at the same time. I really was not sure he could make it through the muddy water. But he did!!! He even took us the rest of the way to the boat. And there was not a soul on the boat to watch us make our entry on motorcycle. Yes, we were very disappointed.
The afternoon Clinic went fairly smoothly. People all are grateful for our care. The children in the waiting area were well behaved. We heard little arguing among siblings or being disrespectful to their patients. For the first time on this trip, we gave out three Bibles. After Clinic closed, we had to get out of the tributary we were in. Our guide boat went ahead of us to direct the captain. Such beautiful scenery. I actually got to see the dolphins diving up out of the river. How exciting. They were grey and white; not the pink ones that were seen earlier on this trip. We arrived safely at Remanso and docked for the night. This is in a tributary as Earl does not feel safe docking on the Amazon. As we arrived at the shore, there were horses and a colt grazing in the grass. This village is up on a hill also across a lake from where we are. So people will get to us tomorrow by boat. That will be fun to watch. Evening was spent relaxing however you wanted to. A group of us played cards with Santana. She was hilarious!!!! The card game now has been named “See You Tomorrow!”
March 14: Wednesday
Devotions were shared by Kevin on Matt 25:14 – Parables of the Talents. We all have gifts. We can´t hide what God has given us. We must use it for His glory. Clinic at Remanso opened early today. People had to come by boat to see the doctor or dentist as the village was across a lake from where we could dock. Earl said in the dry season that lake dries completely up. The came by boat loads and many of them just stayed all down on the grassy banks. Once again families were larger in size. The little girls were wearing darling crocheted hats. An aunt of one of the little girl crocheted them. Patients were mainly healthy wanting vitamins and worm medicine. Dr. Joe filled 4 cavities in one child!!! After lunch, Ruth Ann and I walked up on grassy bank. Walked up muddy trail where water buffalo were taken to graze for the day. Then Ruth Ann started visiting with two ladies waiting to be seen. She asked one lady if she could sing, which she did for 5 minutes. Three young girls sang with her. As I videoed them singing, Ruth Ann asked two ladies and a couple young men to dance!!! What a riot. We finished Clinic early and left for San Sabastian. I helped Santana count crayons, children´s toys and beads. Santana uses these for her children´s program while waiting on family members to be seen. The evening was perfect weather. Viewed a gorgeous sunset. This was the first day of our trip that we did not have rain!!!
Earl presented us with the statistics of the week. In five days, Charles saw 774 medical patients. Dr Joe and Michelle saw 237 patients and performed 428 procedures. We gave out 315 reading glasses. What a wonderful feeling to know we touched that many people in just the short time we were here. God is evident even in these remote villages.
March 15: Thursday
Earl shared his very moving story about how he and Ruth Ann came to Brazil and in time the boat ministry was started. So very evident that they are led day by day by the Lord. Statistics are not what the Lord´s mission is about but their numbers are astounding!! Their ministry has baptized over 40,000 persons in 40 years of ministry. We had our group picture taken with all our team and all of the crew on the top deck of the boat!!!
We left the boat to take an invigorating walk to the greenhouse, church and two homes the mission has built. The church was very clean – using plastic chairs for their benches. We were able to go inside Santana´s house – very nice with gas stove, refrigerator and freezer. The greenhouse was indescribable!!! Growing lettuce, cabbage, kale, onions, squash. The free range chicken compound the four guys built this week was very impressive. They really had a work out!!! They were glad to rejoin us on the boat today. We were served delicious guava juice by the gal who cooked for the four guys all week. So yummy!!! Easy walk back to the boat.
We were blessed to be part of a baptism in the Amazon River. Charles baptized Ruth Ann by immersion since she had only been sprinkled as a baby. A very moving short service.
The afternoon and evening was spent enjoying bonding time with our team members. It was a gorgeous day with a nice breeze off and on.
Thank you Earl and Ruth Ann. You are a living testimony to God´s love. My life is richer because of my time spent with you two on the Amazon River. May God bless you as you continue to serve Him on the Amazon.
Humbly submitted by Claudia Rosen.