Saturday May 19, 2018
Sometimes the plans we make don’t work out the way we want them to. Sometimes God has a different idea and makes bigger and better plans for you than you could ever imagine. “Give thanks to the Lord always:” This is a phrase you hear people say quite often, but how many of us actually take that to heart and apply it to our lives. The term “always” means in good times but also the bad times. We often forget to realize that God knows everything and has plans to protect you and plans to make everything work out for the greater good for his kingdom.
Our plan was to arrive here in Manaus to begin our mission trip late night May sixteenth, Wednesday. God obviously had different plans, because that didn’t happen. We may not always immediately understand why but he always has a plan and it will be revealed to us later. So we give thanks for his delay and change in our plans always. For he knows better than any plans we could ever make.
Upon arrival we learned that God did have very good reason for our delays and as we look back we are thankful for them. It’s not my story to tell at this moment, but once again, God has reason and purpose in everything he does, even if we don’t see it in that very moment. It is all revealed eventually one day or another.
Finally, as the Lord’s will was done, we arrived in Manaus safe in sound with no other problems after our third attempt. We got here around three thirty in the morning. Expecting everyone to be asleep we show up to a fully cooked dinner meal. Edilza and Alice, our cooks, had stayed up and waited for use to arrive to greet us with a beautiful smile, a delicious meal, and welcome us aboard the CBM boat.
After getting settled in and eating dinner at four in the morning, we all went upstairs to see the third story of the boat. The story with the outdoor hedges, a beautiful view of the night sky, and the nature around you. We originally went up to view the famous, (and what seemed never ending) Manaus bridge. It was absolutely wonderful. My favorite part was when we finally made it past the city where there was almost nothing to be seen around you. It was nothing like I had imagined. It was breath taking and overwhelming. It was almost like a full surrender just to see something that hadn’t been destroyed, tainted, or changed by society. It was fresh and natural and just real. I had been zoned out in awe when Jan leaned over to me, she said, “All I can think of in this moment is this verse in the Bible. It says, ‘be still and know that I am God’.” This hit me personally because she was absolutely right. It did. There was nothing to do, no family emergencies, no one to judge, it was just pure surrender and feeling of God’s presence standing directly beside you. I stayed up there with Molly and Woody until about five thirty that morning when we basically forced ourselves to go lay down. There is just something about this place that makes you feel safe and gives you a whole new outlook on life.
We brought along about eight hundred pounds of medicine to stock up the boat and to aid our doctors in helping the people in need. Today we began by unloading, sorting, and filling the underground medicine storage. We have an abundant amount of supplies thank-you to so many of our supporters back home, and more. After a short, quick and busy morning of sorting and organizing once again the amazing crew had us a delicious meal ready to re-energize and continue our day.
After lunch, we had a quick lesson on basic Portuguese terms and then a geography lesson on Brazil. We then learned how to pack and sort vitamins to be easy to hand out during our first clinic day coming up tomorrow! We are all very excited for our first clinic day in the village.
Sunday May 20, 2018
We began our morning with a feast as usual, and immediately went into devotions. During devotions, our captain of the ship, Sanderly shared with us a recent event. He said, since we were delayed and not coming on time to leave, he decided to go home one more time to check in on his mother. He arrived just in time, because she fainted immediately after having a heart attack. Praise the Lord she lives, thank you to the lord change in plans for our group. This is just proof that we need to thank God in all times and learn to trust in his plan. His plans are so much better than any of us could imagine. Our delay’s saved a women’s life, so once again we praise God for this.
Today was the first day of the boat opening up. We came to the first village, called Bucuzai. Jan and I worked on passing out anti-worm pills, gift bags with soaps and toothbrushes, toothpaste, and handmade dresses from back in America. Our good friend Merle was the dentist assistant, and learned about different tools and dental procedures. Bob was the instructor, you enter the boat where and when he says, and is expected to stay on dog duty. Bill, Mike, and Molly were in charge of vitals such as, weight, blood pressure, and height. While Mark and Molly also played masseuse by giving massages to those that asked for it, and he also gave out eye glasses when directed. Thank God for Earl going around making sure everything is flowing correctly, and to translate. I am definitely going home to learn Portuguese for the next trip.
The people here in Brazil are absolutely gorgeous. Lifestyle is so different than what we are used to. Everyone seems to know each other, and if they don’t, then they get to know them immediately. The people are so beautiful in many ways. The people are very understanding about us not understanding their language. They seem thankful for our work and help and seem to be more patient with us. While waiting for people to arrive at my station, I would play with the toy cars we were passing out with some of the little boys. Even though you can’t communicate, you can make noises and at least make them smile. They understand “vroom Vroom” and are absolutely amazed with toy cars and car stickers. You don’t see very many cars in the villages at all, so it is probably just a rare sighting for them. In the villages you walk, ride a bike, or have a motorcycle for means of transportation. The village is small so there isn’t much need for one either.
These people seem very excited about the medical help we offer. Many people don’t see a doctor because there is usually only one in the village and they don’t offer much assistance. If you don’t feel sick you don’t see a doctor. Many of these people go years without it.
We went to church tonight for the first time. CBM was opening up a new church in the village. Church here amazed me. Back home we seem to have this routine and it’s just always the same and has to be a certain way, which takes a lot of meaning and personality from the church. Here, worship is led acoustically and beautifully. They have their own way of doing church. It was just so real and personal. Afterwards there was a siesta to celebrate the inauguration of the church. There was food and everyone was socializing. Even though I could not directly communicate with people, I knew enough to get to know their names, and play games with the children. The kids would just stare at us, waiting for us to acknowledge them, or talk to them. I met Daniele, Manuel, Gabriella, Isabelle, and Michael. They taught Molly and I different hand-shakes similar to Mrs. Mary Mack, and we taught them thumb war and slap. It was so much fun, I was last to leave the village tonight. After coming back to the boat, Molly and I sat in the kitchen with the crew and watched them play dominos and talked until even later.
Monday May 21, 2018
Today we came to another village, called Sol Nascente. This one is much bigger than the last. We opened up the boat as the clinic again today, same as yesterday. Once again, I was in charge of handing out anti-worm pills and toys to the children. There were so many people, probably more than the day before. These people were just so thankful for our help. We are all getting more into the flow of our jobs and responsibilities. We are also learning to communicate easier and better with the people.
There was a man that came in today; his big toe was completely smashed. It had been that way for over five months. He shared his story with us, which hit me so hard. His story was so touching, and he had definitely had a rough past. We formed a small circle around him, and took turns praying over him. Molly prayed in English, and Earl prayed in Portuguese for him as well. It was so powerful and touching. We will be picking him up on Wednesday, to take him to a hospital to get his toe amputated. Which, he seemed a bit more peaceful after we prayed with him. And after he left, he made sure to thank each and every one of us personally, which made me happy to see him in better spirits. It is absolutely touching and heartwarming to see the changes we make with the little things we do for these people.
Tonight, Bob, Molly, Woody, and I went up to the third story and watched the stars. I saw two shooting stars, and Woody taught us where each constellation was and what they meant. That was amazing, Stars are always something that gives me peace back home to watch, and seeing them here in Brazil was almost 10 times more beautiful. Clearer skied made them easier to see.
Tuesday May 22, 2018
My favorite part of every morning is worship time. We get to learn worship songs in Portuguese, and the Brazilians learn to sing worship songs in English. It is really amazing to see everyone coming together and worshiping and so many different ways. It sent shivers up my back, and tears to my eyes.
Today we continued the clinic in the village of Sol Nascente. Then, I played captain and steered us to the next village, called Divino. Of course, I haven’t had my captains training yet, so I relied on San to tell me what to do and where to go.
This village seemed to have more older people this time around. There was two brothers that came in to get checked out, one being one hundred percent blind. He was very sweet, and everyone worked well with him to help him where he needed to be. When I gave him his medicine, I had to hold his hand, and guide the pill so he could feel it between his fingers, and did the same for his water. He was very sweet, and thankful as most people were. The other brother was funny. Although, we continuously told him we did not speak Portuguese, he continued to talk to Jan and I. At that point, there is no point in continuing arguing, just nod, smile, and say “Sim”. Earl thought it was funny, and left us on our own. Funny enough, I did understand one thing he was saying. He asked for my phone number! This seventy-five year old man asked for my name and phone number to call me, and he was not taking no for an answer. So finally, Jan took a piece of paper, and wrote down a fake number and name. It was so funny, Earl said he just needed someone to talk to and we probably made his day by doing so. Come to find out later, he handed the same paper to Molly and asked for her number too.
Life in these villages are very different. There was a fifteen year old girl that came in today, with an almost two year old daughter. That is considered normal here, if you are already twenty and don’t have a kid yet it is very unusual. She came with what seemed her mother or grandmother that was helping her. That definitely made me think for a second. She was barely a year younger than me. I just cannot imagine how different my life could be if I lived out here. I can’t imagine myself raising a child already on my own.
Wednesday May 23, 2018
Today we found out that the man with the smashed toe talked to his family about us taking him to the hospital tomorrow. His family said no, which is basically a death sentence if an infection gets to his blood stream. We have no idea if it is a money issue, or why he can’t go, but I do believe he has an idea of who the Lord is. So all we can do is pray for miraculous healing if God wills and plans for him, and if not a healing, a definite awakening for him to be able to go to heaven and to no longer suffers.
We continued in the village of Divino. We treated there until about eleven o’clock, and then moved to the village of Paraiso. This is a Portuguese word actually meaning Paradise. It definitely did not look like paradise, at least in our eyes. We were able to take a break from working, and go walk around the village. It’s so funny, because everyone just stares at you as you walk around, because we look so different, or we talk funny, etc. This village was on a miniature mountain of natural clay. It was extremely small, but we were able to peak at what a school house looks like, and where all the town community events occur. We even got to see them building a new house, and how it is done.
Another thing that makes me sad is the way the animals are treated. The dogs look as if they are starving. You can see every bone and it makes you want to take them all home and feed them a McDonald’s burger to put some fat on their bodies. No one seems to care for any of the animals around even if they are a pet. The horses are lucky, because they just eat on the grass, and so are the cats, because they are foragers. Bob is quite the animal lover, he found a few dogs he was attached to and brought them food scraps.
My favorite part of the village was the handmade soccer goals. They used what looked like some sort of fishing netting and sticks to build a goal. The people were so good at soccer too. I mean they didn’t really have a choice not to be, because otherwise they’d lose the ball in the river. I do wish I could have went and played with them, but I have no way of communicating how they like to play or what team I would be on. When I get home, my next hobby is going to learn Portuguese for the next trip I come on here, because I will no doubt be back. I have fallen in love with this country, the villages, and the people. Once I can communicate, I feel that I will have a whole new experience of the trip, because that has been the only downfall to this trip, is not being able to communicate much with the people.
I don’t even want to think about leaving yet. Today was our last medical day. It makes me sad, because I have just started getting comfortable, and into this routine. Even though I do not speak the language (YET), you can begin to understand some of what people are asking and give them better guidance on where to go or what to do. I know for me I was getting used to learning how to communicate and get a point across in a way other than words, such as pictures, pointing, hand motions, and even facial expressions. I absolutely loved every part of it. Many of us wish we could have more time, and I know for me, I want to make a lifestyle out of something like this. It is just so heartwarming and touching, and I have never felt more comfortable and in the right place, where I am confident in knowing that I am exactly where God wants me at this point.
Tonight, I fell asleep on the top of the boat in a hedgy, talking with Woody, Merle, and Molly. I woke up only an hour after being bit by mosquito’s, so we moved to our rooms. Molly and I have already decided that we are sleeping in the hedgy tonight no matter what to finish off the full Amazonian experience on our last night over.
Thursday May 24, 2018
We stayed overnight in San Sebastian. This morning after breakfast, instead of worship and devotion like most mornings, we got to sit and listen to Earl’s testimony and how he came to working on the amazon. It is so cool to see in action how we have one plan for our lives, while God has a completely different one. One you would never ever expect you would be fulfilling.
After Earl’s testimony, we walked about two miles through the village to the greenhouse. It has so many vegetables and fruits. There I ran into Manuel, one of the little girls I was playing games with in the village of Bucuzai. It was so adorable because she was so shy to talk to me, and then opened up a little bit after I waved and smiled at her. Grazi helped me translate what she was saying. That made my day. We got a personal tour of the greenhouse, and explanations on functions of certain things. It was quite amazing to see the way they did things here. He also gave us a vision of what his goals are for the upcoming year, I can’t wait to come back and see these goals put into action.
The way the village ran was different than the cities we live in America. Everyone mostly walks, bikes, or rides a motorcycle to where they need or want to go. There are no traffic laws, and every one transports via the roads. There are many small houses; most of them not having air conditioning, so the windows are mostly always open. It is interesting to see all of the small shops and restaurants mostly family owned.
Woody, Mark, and I swam in the Amazon River today! It was the perfect temperature. It was kind of frightening at first, because you can’t see what is below you, knowing it goes about twenty to thirty feet deep. Everyone else was too afraid and didn’t want to get in. I called Molly’s name from above her, and she dropped her special Hawaiian sunglasses into the river, and they immediately sunk to the bottom. But Cesar to the rescue! He put on diving gear and oxygen, and swam to the bottom and found them for her. It was great. She was so happy; she gave them to him to keep. We will definitely remember that as a story to tell later.
This trip has been absolutely amazing. There are no words to clearly describe this trip to anyone to make them understand our experience. This will be something I remember forever. Seeing the things we have seen, and talking to people that live here has absolutely changed my perspective and for sure many others here as well. It only makes me more thankful for what I have. This trip has also confirmed what I want to do with my life. I have always wanted to be a missionary in some way, and this trip has only made me hungry for more of it. I cannot wait to see the plans God has, and the more things I will be doing, and places I will be going.
We leave late tomorrow night.