AMAZON BOAT TRIP - JULY 16-26, 2019
BETHLEHEM CHURCH OF CHRIST – WINCHESTER, OHIO
HAUBNER FAMILY 50TH ANNIVERSARY IN BRAZIL
Day One – Wednesday, July 17
The Bethlehem Church of Christ team touched down in Brazil at 12:08am. We were met by Earl Haubner, Captain Sanderlay, and Michael Haubner. The team, along with the Central Brazil Mission team, loaded the bags into the bus and proceeded to the docks. On the journey, Earl explained the schedule, our room assignments, and the various jobs we could do on the boat. At the docks the luggage and medical supplies were transferred to the bottom of the boat and both teams climbed aboard. The Bethlehem team was given a tour of the boat; we were then able to settle in to our rooms before making our way to the kitchen to have a late dinner. Our first meal at 1:15am on the boat was a delicious combination of local cuisine. We were all very tired from our flight so we settled into bed. Many of the Bethlehem team enjoyed sleeping in hammocks on the top deck of the boat. When we all woke up, we enjoyed breakfast and then began unpacking the luggage that contained the supplies we brought. Once all of the items were sorted and stored away, the Bethlehem team began making up small gift bags for the patients. These gift bags contained shampoo\lotion, bar soap, comb, and wash cloths. After this, the teams had some free time until we were called back for a meeting. All passengers met in the kitchen and listened to Earl as he held up maps and showed the team where we were located and where we would be heading. After going through those, Earl passed out small copies of the map along with English translations of certain phrases and songs. We were given our t-shirts and then volunteered for what jobs we would like to have. After this, we were given free time again until we were called to help count and sort vitamins. Each member took on a different job and we worked together under the supervision of Earl and Ruth Anne, his wife. Once this was complete, we gathered for lunch and many of us went up to the top deck to eat and watch for dolphins. We had made it to the city of Itapiranga where we picked up the Dentist and another cook before setting off again. We cut across farm land to save an hour and a half on our time. Normally this short cut would be impossible to use, but with the high water this month we were able to do this. Our next stop was the city of São Sebastião to pick up supplies at the greenhouse. The doctor on board told us the story of the Saint Sebastian statue that we could see from the boat. Saint Sebastian was originally a Roman Centurion who had converted to the Christian faith. Due to his changed faith, he was tied to a column and shot full of arrows. This however, was not enough to kill him so he was then beaten to death. He was made a Saint and his statue was placed in front of the church and the city was named after him. Our boat still had about three hours to go until we reached our destination so the team was given the rest of the night off to eat dinner and rest before our busy day tomorrow.
Day Two – Thursday, July 18
We started our day at 7:00am with another great meal by the cooks. After, we went up to the top deck for devotions. Earl translated the songs into English for us and then we sang them in Portuguese. The language is a bit difficult to understand if you are not familiar with it, but as the day went on it became easier to understand a few words and phrases. There was a devotion give in Portuguese for the crew and Michael translated for the Americans. Then the Bethlehem minister gave his devotion with Michael translating in Portuguese for the crew. After we said the final prayer, we were able to watch as we passed through the channel and out of the lake we stayed in last night. We dropped off Merle, David, and Junior so they could help with the building of the fruit juice factory. We made it to a village where we dropped off the freezer, and then we set up the ramp and headed off to the village of São Tomê. When we got to the village, we got each of the stations set up and then lowered the ramp to welcome the people. We treated quite a few people from the morning until 5:00pm. After we finished cleaning up the lower level of the boat, we all climb up the hill to watch the children play soccer. Our team also blew bubbles, played, and made balloons for the children in front of the church. It was amazing to spend time with the people and see how they lived. After we watched the soccer game we climbed down the hill and had our dinner then were able to enjoy the rest of the night.
Day Three – Friday, July 19
We ate breakfast at the village this morning and felt very welcomed by the people. The fruit was some of the best any of us had ever had and it was great getting to spend time with the different families we were treating. They sang for us and they prayed with us before we went back to the boat to begin our work. The member of our team that was giving massages was invited into the home of a villager, which is very rare, to massage the legs of a young girl who is bound to a wheelchair. After we finished seeing our patients for the day, we went up to the soccer field in the village to have a game of soccer with the villagers. Those who didn’t participate sat on the sidelines and braided the hair of the female villagers. All of our players were very tired afterwards so we called it an early night.
Day Four – Saturday, July 20
We left São Tomê this morning and traveled 15 minutes away to Santo Antonio where we began helping those villagers. There were 90 for the doctor, 92 to see the dentist, 12 for glasses, and 3 for massage. We would only be staying here for the day and leaving in the morning. They were shy at first to come down, but once the first few villagers came to the boat, the rest followed. This village had a big issue with ticks so we weren’t able to get out and see much like we did yesterday. There were several villages around the one we were docked at so they loaded them up into boats and brought them over. Once we finished taking care of everyone who came to visit us, we decided to have fun swimming. We spent the rest of the evening jumping off the boat into the water and relaxing the rest of the night before we head out to the other villages tomorrow.
Day Five – Sunday, July 21
After we had devotions, we left Santo Antonio and headed to São Pedro to treat the villagers there. It was clear that this village was poorer than the last few villages we had visited. We were told that there was an issue with ticks so it was advised that we didn´t go out on the land much. Though we had more people come to the boat, about 76 people come in to see the doctor, 60 to see the dentist, 9 glasses, and 4 massages. One little boy came in with his mother and he needed to have 7 splinters removed from his foot which was made difficult due to the swelling. He had refused to walk on his foot for about two weeks so we had to disinfect it very well. After seeing all the people we could, we headed down to the village of Mocambo. Here we saw 85 people for the doctor; our dental equipment was down so we couldn’t offer any dental work. There were 7 people for glasses, and 2 for massage. Once we finished up, we headed up to the village for church at 7:30 pm. We sang one of the songs we had been learning on the boat for the people at the church and had an amazing service. The missionary, Daniel, was the one who´s village this was and he invited us to see his home and we met his family. He stayed behind because he had to be with his wife who was due to give birth any day. They served us cake in celebration of the Haubner´s 50th year here in Brazil. It was a very busy day for us and at the end, after playing Uno we went to bed early.
Day Six – Monday, July 22
Today we went to the village of Remanso and we saw 88 for the doctor, 98 for the dentist, 8 for glasses, and 3 for massage. The only way the villagers could get to us was traveling by boat to where we were docked. It was really hot today so some of the team members gave small cups of water to the children who were waiting. We all continued the work we had been doing in the other villages and were able to treat many patients. After the work, we were able to enjoy the shore we were docked on and talk to some of the village children who were interested in our boat. Once we got ready to leave, we headed three hours away to Buçusal for our last village that we´ll be at before we begin heading back towards Manaus.
Day Seven – Tuesday, July 23
Today we stopped at Buçusal village where they are building the fruit juice factory. We were able to get out and look at the work that was done by Merle, David, and Junior. After, we traveled to the village of Urucará where Earl, Michael, and Doctor Woodrow Wilson got off to visit the hospital where the Mayo/CBM team will do surgeries in October. And finally, we made it to the village of Taboraí where we treated our last patients for the week. We had 35 for the doctor, 20 for the dentist, 6 for glasses, and 0 massages. After all of our patients were treated, we cleaned up the clinic and some of the team members headed down to the village to pass out some bracelets we had made to the people we saw. We ran out of time to give them all out so we gave them to an older woman who promised to pass them out. After, we headed back up stairs and relaxed for a bit while we head to São Sebastião again to enjoy time with the villagers for the 50th celebration as well as do a bit of exploring. We were able to see the greenhouse and all the things they were growing there. We will keep heading back to Manaus throughout the night where we will all fly back home.
Day Seven – Wednesday, July 24
Since tonight is our last full night on the boat, we were all able to relax and have free time for the entire day. We are going to keep going all night until we reach Manaus where we will get to spend our day. We exchanged our American money for Brazilian currency since we are going to the market tomorrow. Many on the team are excited to buy hammocks and other souvenirs to take back to America with us. This morning instead of devotions we were able to look at some pieces of jewelry and dishcloths that were made by some of the crew members. After we made our purchases, Earl told us the story of how this ministry became what it is today. Through their amazing journey, they have touched so many lives and shared the Gospel. At the start of this trip, Earl had told us that “Wherever Jesus goes, things always get better.” It is now very clear to each member of Bethlehem Church of Christ on this trip, that this statement is very true. This has been an experience that we will all remember for the rest of our lives. We cannot wait until we are able to come back in a few years and see all the people we helped once again. When we go back home, we hope that by sharing our experience in Brazil will inspire other churches to help support this amazing mission.