BELMONT CHRISTIAN CHURCH, - CHRISTIANSBURG, VIRGINIA
This is just a little information in case you are like me and may read one paragraph and be done. God has truly been with us on this trip. He is using Pastor Earl (Pastor Francisco) to the locals to make new missionaries to continue to take the Gospel to others who have not heard it in the Amazon. Pastor Earl and his family are seeing the harvest of many years of hard work. The people here are friendly and very hard working. Each person on this boat has brought a unique gift that God has given them to use here or wherever they may be.. The little villages have small wooden homes on short stilts to keep out the critters (animals and whatever else may crawl in). The churches are concrete buildings and very pretty. It is an honor and privilege to have been able to worship together with the Brazilians. I am humbled to be on this trip and have been praying for God to prepare my heart and use me. I am blessed to have been able to honor the Lord[s supper with people from a different country. We were fortunate to be able to see the locals making tapioca, (which is used to make sandwich wraps and to sprinkle on our food as well). Others saw people washing their clothes outside on the wash boards like people used to use in the US. Travel is slow on the Amazon by boat. It may take days or weeks to get somewhere. Of course, this is all by boat. The Amazon River is overwhelmingly large with highways of waterways that branch off from it. Internet is sparse and some of the villages are limited to how much time of electricity they get in a day. It is Hot in shade and Hotter in the sun in the Amazon unless there is nice breeze during the day. Each day we eat some delicious fresh Brazilian foods! The nights are very cool and comfortable some times. Each day we have uplifting devotions and most nights we have an unforgettable church service with the locals. Every day I am touched and blessed by the children and by the adults that want to hug us or shake our hands as they the boat. I have had the best job on the boat this trip. I have been the photography, journalist, gopher, and played with the children along with one of our members that is 12 year old. Now, I do want you to know that when I talk about having devotions Even though it is a little scary sometimes, this is not the way we have it at home. Earl may call on you to sing a song in Portuguese! The Crew of this boat and Pastor Earl, Ruth Ann and Mike have been wonderful! I thank God for the strength, patients and love he has given to each of us and the crew of this boat. Remember this trip is for basic medicine what you can do for God to be a blessing for others and what God can do for you. Now I hope you will read on to hear a little more about this journey. I hope one day you come and make your story and hear the stories of the others that were on this trip.
Serve one another in love wherever you are.
When we arrived the first night in Manaus on the CBM boat, it was a beautiful hot night with the moon shinning across the water. The calmness of the water and the humming of the boat traveling down the Amazon made it easy to fall asleep. The next morning we had a wonderful breakfast with local foods and fruits. Everyone worked to get the pharmacy, clothes, dental supplies, treat bags and hair supplies ready for our first village stop on Wednesday. We had a yummy passion fruit dessert with lunch time meal. Pastor Earl is great! Our main goals for the mission –teaching people about Christ – Health and well being. We traveled down the Amazon into tributaries where were able to see fresh water dolphins, even a few pink dolphins. Today we stopped at Soa Sebastiao. We dropped off some of our men to work on the Chicken Palace and for them to place the concrete pillars in the green house. Several of us walked down the quiet streets of Sao Sebastian. At sunset our boat headed back down the river for a 3 hour journey to Caribi.. The sunset was amazing! Something even better was the night sky. We could see Mars, Venus and Jupiter. The crew and the cooks are amazing!
Thursday after a beautiful sunrise, we started the day with Pastor Earl teaching us our Portuguese phrases. Then, Michael and Daniella playeded the guitar while we sang along in either Portuguese. I am not sure, but I think only God could understand our singing at first. It quickly warmed up to a nice 105 and on we went to our first village, Moliverieiras. When we arrived, we were greeted by 2 little boys that were excited to see us and helped us set up our hair salon under a cashew tree. Everyone worked together and the flow went well. For some on the trip it is their very first mission trip but it really doesn’t matter if it is your first or 10th- somehow everyone just works together. The children loved having their fingernails painted and playing Frisbee while they waited. We broke for lunch and had some delicious Amazon Fish. Then back to clinic we went. After the patient[s had been seen by either the dentist or the doctor, we had a church service at the local church. It is wonderful feeling worshiping with people that you know may have never heard of the Gospel if it weren’t for the CBM mission Boat. Then after service 3 people were baptized in the river.
Friday morning I awoke to an exhilarating sun rise!! The word exhilarating is a word that I usually use in my everyday language. Seeing the sunrise this morning made me want to sing and run but since it was 515 am, I felt, I should contain myself. If it weren’t for sleeping in a rehg, which is similar to a hammock on steroids, last night with a couple of members on the top of boat, I would have missed this spectacular sunrise. God is all around us but sometimes we forget we need to get out of our routine to be reminded of how thankful we should be every day. God is bigger than any problem we will ever have and he will be with to guide us through the storms we have in life. Isaiah 40-29 He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Thank you Lord for your goodness and grace in allowing us to be on this Trip. As Aliza has been singing this morning,´´ Because he lives, I can face tomorrow´´. We had a good turn out today from the village. The children are very curious about us Americans. One little girl about 2 had all of us chuckling with her dance moves and sassiness. She was all over the boat! Towards the end clinic a refreshing rain came and one of the nurses stood in the rain to cool down.
Saturday morning our devotions were about love and making sure that we do not miss our mission field and that we all have a unique purpose. That we should witness about God to those in our community and abroad. Before leaving this village several of us went up to village to look around and played on the soccer field with some of the children. Playing soccer with them on their real soccer field instead of the steep river bank was great. We lost the soccer ball several times in the water but the Brazilian children were great to go in the water and retrieve the ball.| The Brazilian’s, take much pride in their soccer fields. I was surprised at the second village when the children wanted to play volleyball. The children are enjoying the Frisbees too. One of the children brought me a fresh cashew straight from the tree that she later had for her snack. Each village is unique in how they perceive us, some are friendlier, and some are shyer. Our youngest patient has been 3 months old and our oldest that was 95 years old. We were told of how he had been Baptized in the river last year! We could hear the locust while we were outside. Venus and Jupitar looked as if I could stand on the top of a tree and reach and touch them! I would like to end on a lighter note. What is up with this cool dentist. She is amazing.
No one ever comes out of her office crying. The dental assistance who is a nurse is so good that she been asked if she is going to change professions. Of course, she said no.
Sunday - I heard the local boats going out, maybe to catch fish for the day. Interestingly, after having devotions together, someone pointed out that one of ducks that had been swimming around was now being prepared for Sunday dinner. We are one our way back to the Caribi village. I am praying to have internet service. I know I am spoiled but I do miss my family. It is truly a different feeling going days without phone or Wi-Fi service. Random fact learned– Sylvester Stallone, sponsors one of schools here in the Amazon. This has been the busiest day yet. 90+ people came for medical services and 30+ for the dentist. The Bible says to serve one another with love. We should do this whether we are at home or abroad. Everyone works together so well. Everyone is very flexible in their assigned jobs. The people assigned to giving out worm medications, sandals and clothes also had to be babysitters and keep up with who went was to go where, dentist, pharmacy off the boat etc. The main thing is that I know the villages can see Christ in us. They see us sweating and know that it is not easy for us to be in this kind of heat. The Church service this evening was amazing. We sang several songs in different groups and that was good, but when we all sang together it was outstanding. Something was just different. I felt like people could hear us even if they were far away from the church. We honored the Lords supper last night which was very humbling to be doing with the Brazilians. We are all one in Jesus eyes.
Monday-We saw several patients at the same town before we set out to next village. However, a pit stop, along the way saw an un-announced clinic. Believe it or not word spreads quickly and what originally started out as maybe 10 people quickly increased and 3-4 hours later we finished. Water taxis and boats brought some of the people in while others came through the jungle from a nearby village. After treating patients at this village we traveled over to the school. Some walked and some road the boat. A man climbed a tree and picked us a tray of cashews to take back to the boat. The School was beautiful with lots of beautiful flowers around it. Some of the children followed us on the trail to the school and picked some tiny berries so a few of us tried the berries with the children. They were ok and the children filled their pockets full of them. Then off to the next village. After treating the patient’s, most everyone came off the boat and played with the children and explore. Some walked in the water, which is about the temperature of a bath, while others played soccer with the locals. I``ll give you one guess who won that game. One our members sustained a toe injury and a possible ankle injury! We learned about the Brazil nut and how it grew. One of the locals cracked some Brazil nuts for us and we shared with the children. We also had a local come with beautiful handmade items for sale. It has taken me all week to find out that the Brazilians play a mean game of uno every night. Last night I played with them and we laughed so much that one of the members was just about had to come and shush me, so she could go to sleep.
Tuesday- This has been the most humbling day for me. I watched one of male members as he helped a crippled man put his sandals on as he left the boat. It may not sound like something big but it was. The crippled man thanked him and told him it was humbling to him. Our only doctor on the boat has led us in prayer, devotions and The Lords supper. You see, even though he is a doctor as soon as he is done seeing patients, he is always out playing with the children and not just on this mission trip. It touches my heart to watch him with the children. Also, one of our ladies members was teaching one of the Brazilian patients to read out of one of the children’s books. For me today, I held one of the beautiful little Brazilian girls. As she rested with her head on my shoulder l hummed and softly sang a song that I used to sing with my son when he was a little boy. I did not ask her name or even how old she was but she was just a little extra special to me. She cried as I left and I fought back the tears. I am glad to say we are back to Sao Bastiao. We all went to the´` Chicken Palace``, the hen house and the men have done a great job building 40 some mini coups in the big Chicken Coup. It is very hot here too! The men said they had worked hard, sweated a lot and ate good food! Some of the group stayed to work on the chicken palace for the rest of the evening while others went back to boat. There was a little unrest in the town but we were safe. Apparently, it was something really, really big! I was never quite sure. Our members that had stayed behind at the chicken palace had to squeeze their way through the crowd to get back to the boat. They played loud till sometime in the night but this is the normal for the Brazilian culture.
Wednesday- This morning some have gone out for a fishing trip while the rest of us go to work at the green house. I would have liked to have gone fishing but after a bout of stomach issues due to a combination of heat and some good food, I felt it would be better to hold off. We worked on putting dirt in some cups, for the raised planters, and then moved onto working in the onion and cabbage patch. We were not allowed to work between 11am and 4pm due to the heat. One of the ladies worked in the chicken palace and got to take a ride on a motorcycle to deliver some cabbage to the nearby school. Now that was pretty cool! I did venture out on the evening fishing trip making sure that I was covered with long sleeves, long pants, socks and shoes to help ward off the mosquitos. I was hoping to catch `´the big one” for our dinner but was only able to feed some smaller fish until the piranhas ate my bait and fish hooks. Yes you heard right the hooks too. While I was waiting for a bite, I got to watch some dolphin’s that were swimming nearby. It was great being out on the John boats and seeing the sunset then racing our other fishermen back the big boat. I was glad the earlier boat of fisherman\women got fish earlier. The fish was very delicious at dinner!
Thursday-Today has been great! After breakfast a large school of playful dolphins swam by our boat. Pastor Earl gave us the history of the CBM ministry this morning. God had placed the right people in the right places to grow this ministry. Even though we might not know exactly why yet, I know God placed each of us here for this mission trip. A few things we discussed today is the need to keep prayer journals and goals to meet. Also, being a witness for Christ no matter where you are. I am thankful to have been on this trip and to have made new friends and to watched people bond with each other. Thank you, Jessie in helping all of us with our Portuguese language. If you are called to go out of your comfort zone remember God will always keep you in his comfort zone. If someone has not been touched on this trip, by God, then maybe they missed the mission. Each person has their own experience to tell of this trip. Thank you for reading just a little bit about my experience. To end on a light note, has anyone seen Brenda’s water bottle