Amazon Boat Trip
, February 25-March 6 - 2020
Day 1 - Thursday, Feb 27 -
- LOOOOONNNNG flight. Everything went as planned. Slight delay in Miami, but we made up the time in the air. Arrived in Manaus ~ 12:45A (BRT)
- Got our bags and packed everything into the bus with no issue. Drove to the boat dock and the adventure began. The bus got stuck trying to cross onto the bridge because of the weight, and the front bumper was ripped off. We all got off the bus, took luggage off, and packed it a short distance to the boat. Short walk at 1 ½ degrees below the equator still makes you sweat like a pig in the slaughterhouse.
- Finally got to sleep around 4:15A (BRT)
Day 2 - Friday, Feb 28 -
- Rise and shine at 5:45A (BRT)
- In complete sleep deprivation mode, went up to the kitchen, got a cup of coffee, went to the top deck of the boat and stood at the stern. It took a minute to take stock and realize we were on a boat in the middle of the Amazon river in Brazil.
- BREAKFAST!!!! Called out by Earl on all decks. We gathered for breakfast and then went up on the top deck to get marching orders for the day, and itinerary for the trip. Ten of us would be on the boat to treat remote villages along the river. Six of us would be let off in São Sebastião do Uatumã to help with various projects (building a house, moving a perimeter fence, work in the greenhouse, etc)
- Everyone gathered all of the medical supplies and gift bags we brought and began to separate them and organize into separate containers. We also were able to put together additional gift bags with the extra miscellaneous supplies that were brought.
- We separated into different groups to put supplies in their appointed storage areas
- Prepared things to be let off in São Sebastião do Uatumã with Rich and Allan. David F., Don, and Bob to join tomorrow around noon after a "quick trip" up the river to treat a local village.
- Docked, helped unload some items from the boat that were being moved, and loaded our bags and tools to take with us to the house
- Reached the mission property and house, met Santana and Mara, ate dinner, got our feet wet with what needed to be done, and went to sleep early to catch up a little and get ready for work.
Day 3 - Saturday, Feb. 29 -
- Woke up at 5:50A (BRT), gathered for breakfast, and made our way over to the house next door (which is Santana’s home being rebuilt from the ground up for her by CBM.
- Met Raimundo and Davi - They did not work for the mission, but were hired out of Manaus to rebuild Santana's house. Began by sifting sand to get rid of rocks for stucco.
- Helped Davi mix mortar with sand and take it to Raimundo to “throw” on the house
- Raimundo began teaching Rich and I how to throw “mud” (mortar mix) on the house with a trowel. Two things I learned very quickly - Raimundo is incredible at this...and we are not. It truly was amazing to watch a professional work (while we left most of the mud on ourselves and the ground). He and Davi work flawlessly together, and are incredibly efficient and exact in their work.
- David F., Don, and Bob arrived mid-day with Cesar and Isaque. Rich and I continued to work on the house with Raimundo and Davi while the rest of the crew began preparing to take down the old fence in the back of the property to move it back further and rebuild a new fence.
- Shortly after we split up, Isaque found a present to show us. It was a Boa constrictor that was laying in the overgrown grass they were clearing. That was our first clear sign we were not in “Kansas” anymore. Walking across to let it loose into the Amazon rainforest was the next reminder.
- We came to realize very quickly that it is not feasible to just “plow on through” and work 12 hour days like we do at home. The climate does not allow for it. Thankfully, the Brazilians are keenly aware of it, and do not let us overdo it in our overzealous attempts to make an impact.
- They take short breaks to make sure we are fed and hydrated. It has very quickly become evident that their priority is to care for us while they accomplish their necessary tasks. They are incredibly patient in teaching us, instead of just watching us struggle to adapt to the way they work, and the tools they use to do so (which are a lot fewer than we are used to).
- We stopped for lunch and then decided to take a walk about the town. Estava muito quente! (It was very hot!) so we quickly decided to head back and cool down for a few minutes before we began back to work on applying stucco to the house and resuming work on the post holes out back for the fence.
- After we finished up work for the day, we stopped for an amazing dinner. Then we spent some down time learning more about our hosts’ hobbies and other things they do for fun. Then we turned in to get ready for Sunday.
Day 4 - Sunday - March 1
- Woke up at 6:00A (BRT), greeted by Santana and Mara smiling and making what is sure to be another wonderful meal.
- Got everything together and got ready to work. Rich and I went over to the house and found out we were going to be cutting pieces to put together a truss for a veranda for the house. David, Don, Bob and Allan headed back to the back field to begin digging the post holes for the new fence and finish up taking down and apart the old fence.
- It’s amazing how well you can communicate to accomplish things without words when you focus on what needs to be done. Words make communication easier, but there are plenty of ways to communicate without them. We learned that by putting together key words, pictures and gestures to get directions and complete our tasks.
- Don has been a tremendous help already with his fluent knowledge of the language. I believe it is helping us connect on a deeper level faster.
- We found out we are only working a half day today so we can get cleaned up and relax before we go to church tonight.
- David F. ate a malagueta pimenta (hot chili pepper) at lunch. Got it on video. It was hilarious. Thinking about putting it on the screen during service when we get home.
- After lunch, and a couple of games of spoons, Rich shared a devotional, and Don translated for him. God had an important message he wanted to deliver through them about what it is to live and love in faith consistently through the woods and in the clear, and it certainly hit the mark by the look on the faces of our Brazilian friends.
- Walked out to the community soccer field out back and watched some league games after lunch for a short while . Then went back to the house and got ready for church.
- Church service was absolutely alive. It was so incredible to see how friendly and loving everyone was, not only to us, but to each other. It truly was a big family. Worship was amazing as well. The Holy Spirit was definitely present and accounted for in His house tonight. It was a pleasant surprise to see Davi at service as well. After church we walked home (which I thoroughly enjoyed), and sat down for dinner.
- A very impactful thing happened at dinner, as Raimundo requested to pray for our meal. Being as he was an independent person hired on to do a job, and not known to be a believer, it showed what God does through relationships that he was moved to thank God for the day, each of us, and the meal we would share. Goosebumps.
Day 5- Monday, March 2nd
- Woke up at 5:40A (BRT) and greeted Santana, Mara and Isaque. Made a joke with Isaque and said "Boa noite!" (Good night!) first thing in the morning because he's always awake and has already worked up a sweat before most everyone else even wakes up, and is always awake and working on something when everyone else goes to bed. The entire staff works tremendously hard, and are incredibly joyful and accepting of us.
- We learned why it's called the RAINforest today. Good gravy, did it rain! We worked on stucco in the morning for a while after another incredible breakfast, while the fence crew kept their head down and kept on going in the driving rain. Thought I might have seen rafts employed at one point. Tons of respect for their diligence and perseverance through the challenging elements.
- We then moved inside the house (and out of the torrential downpour) and began welding the truss together that we had cut the pieces for a couple of days earlier.
- Raimundo once again showed his patience and appreciation for effort as I fought to freshen my rusty welding skills.
- After wrapping up work for the day, our hosts showed us a game they play that is equivalent to live sized ping pong. Wanna know more about this awesome game? Come on a trip and find out!
- Yet another amazing meal, followed by another rousing session of spoons have way to retiring for the evening.
Day 6 - Tuesday, March 3rd
- Up at 5:45A (BRT), feeling the impending pains of leaving our newfound family tomorrow
- Santana and Mara continue to amaze with the love in which they expertly prepare their meals for us.
- Back to work on the outside of the house and the fence to make up for the time lost in Monday due to the sustained inclement weather.
- Worked hard and got a ton accomplished both in the house and out back.
- Sat down for lunch, which Davi prayed for and Raimundo echoed softly behind his own prayer (Goosebumps again), then took the opportunity to walk down the street into the jungle to explore with Raimundo as our guide. As we "talked" in Portuguese (essential words combined with gestures), I realized how much we had both learned about how to communicate with each other. The language of God's love and kindness is universal.
- Don, appreciating the lack of rain and knowing that time is fleeting, skipped the hiatus after lunch and went right back to work on the fence with some of the fence crew.
- We got back to work on the stucco, and stayed after it until dark to hit our mark, only stopping for a short break to enjoy homemade sweet bread and mango milkshakes made by, you guessed it, Santana and Mara. They are angels in disguise. I'm sure of it.
- Shared another amazing meal and conversation, complete with a birthday cake for Davi to celebrate his 21st birthday!
- Wound down the night and turned in.
Day 7 - Wednesday, March 4th
- Up at 5:30A (BRT), wanting to make this day as long as possible
- Everyone is fighting back the emotions today to stay productive and make our last day together a great one.
- Back at it to work on the house and the fence, when we get the rest of the crew from the boat arrive to lend a hand and fellowship.
- We work through the morning, adding greenhouse work and pre-seal sanding to the workload before lunch. Then the boat crew returns to the boat for lunch. We break for lunch as well and play a little more life sized ping pong. Then back to it to cut and hang the ceiling grid while Jerod G. and David F. continue to sand and then seal the interior walls. Rich is in his carpentry zone teaching Raimundo tricks of the trade, and earning his respect.
- We wrap up work and sit down for one last grand finale meal of made from scratch pizzas. One after another they keep coming. Santana and Mara certainly do not want us to leave with empty stomachs. That's for sure!
- We take a moment to pack up and say our final in-country goodbyes to our new irmãos e irmãs (brothers and sisters), and hop on our rides bank to the boat to join the rest of the crew for the ride back to Manaus.
- This truly has been a wonderful unique, engaging, and God-filled trip that saw to cultures not only find a way to coexist to accomplish tasks, but to come together as God's family to build lasting relationships and impact each other's lives for Christ. Até mais tarde, quando nos vemos novamente! (Until then, when we see each other again!)
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