ELIZABETHTOWN – FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH, KENTUCKY
Hello everyone my name is Vicki Thomas and I am from First Christian Church in Elizabethtown, KY. This is my second time serving this wonderful mission. A few years ago my daughter Kathryn asked me to go on a mission trip with her for her birthday. So in April 2016 she and I went on our first CBM trip. I can truly say it was a wonderful trip. She came again last year in May. We had said after our trip in 2016 we wanted to come back with FCC in two years, so here I am.
We start our journey to Brazil in three groups that will unite in Miami. One group originated in Saint Augustine, Florida (Ben & Marlo), one from Nashville, TN (Bethany, Chris, Jane, Jillian, Judy, Kathryn, Pat, Roye, Vicki, & Wendy), and one from Louisville, KY ( Terry, Madison, Lisa, Laura, Jill, Suzanne, Sid, Kim, Ashlie, & Karlene). What a wonderful group of people wanting to share God’s love and help those with medical needs.
Most of us start our day around 4:00 a.m. to make to the airport on time. Kathryn, Jill, and I arrive at 4:30. Bethany arrives shortly. We start getting concerned about the rest of the Nashville group. Gradually they start trickling through security. As the first group begins to board Pat and Roy arrive.
When we arrive in Miami we meet up with the Louisville group and Marlo and Ben from St. Augustine, Florida. They will be fishing most of the trip. We have plenty of time in Miami to get acquainted with everyone. We had plenty of time to meet, eat, and greet! Our group makes it to Manaus around 10:30 P.M. We are greeted by Earl (Pastor Francisco) as the crew calls him and a few of the crew from the boat. The crew took our luggage and loaded it in a truck and we loaded on a bus with Earl. We all meet at the dock and unloaded the luggage. The crew placed them in our rooms and our other luggage with the meds was put down in the waiting room. The cooks, Edilsa, Elizia, and Alice prepared a delicious meal of baked chicken and pasta. We enjoyed it so much. Then off to our rooms. The waves just rocked us to sleep after a long day of travel.
What a beautiful morning! We started our first full day on the boat. It is hard to describe God`s beauty that is around us this morning. Rise and shine for breakfast! We all enjoyed a great breakfast of fresh fruit, rolls, fried plantains, juice, and coffee.
Everyone then hit the lower deck to unload suitcases with an abundance of medicine, tooth brushes, toothpaste, and items for the families. Our First Christian Families and other churches out did themselves with all of the donations. We finished unboxing and sorting all of the items. The meds were taken down below and sorted in storage bins. Lunch was rice, beans, pasta salad, and baked chicken.
In the afternoon we made a stop at São Sebastião do Uatumã and unloaded food items for the green house. We also delivered some appliances and the crew also dropped off a boat engine. We head to Cubuacá. On the way we have a trial run of our work stations we would work at when we see patients in the morning.
We have another great meal. I do not believe anyone on this boat is going to lose any weight on this trip. After dinner we went to the top for devotions. During the trip we will be discussing attributes of GOD. Tonight Chris discussed “The Holiness of God” Isaiah 6:1-5 and 1 1 Peter 13-16. Each night different people will share their HIGH moment(s) of the trip. We also shared the names of God or characteristics of God according to the alphabet. Tonight God is awesome, amazing, almighty, beloved, beautiful, bigger than big, counselor, creator, caring, and divine.
At 5:00 a.m. the early bird catches the fish. Chris, Ben, Marlo, Junior, Cesar, Judson and Cristiano set off for some Peacock Bass fishing while the rest of us slept a couple more hours.
This morning we are up at 7:00 a.m. A surprise for us all was a delicious cake for breakfast. After breakfast everyone is preparing for our first stop here at Cubuacá. We saw a good amount of people from this village. The fishermen return with only fish tales to share. Lunch was some delicious fish, salad, rice, pasta, beans, and the most delicious lime dessert that reminded all of us of Key Lime Pie. Know we are headed to the next village Caranauccá. We arrive at Caranauccá and families begin coming to the boat to see the Médico and Dentista. Madison and Karlene help Dentista Michelle. Madison is excited to get to clean a few teeth today. When we finish we head back to São Sebastião.
We arrive at São Sebastião do Uatumã just in time for dinner. Tonight we feasted on what seems similar to our roast, potatoes, carrots, rice, and salad. Of course at every meal we have saw dust to put on our food. I love the crunch it adds to your meal. Santana joins us for dinner and devotions. Tonight our devotion is “The Mystery of God” Isaiah 55:8-9 and Ephesians 2:4-10 lead by Judy. After our HIGH moments we gave our names of God or Characteristics of God. Some of them were excellent, everlasting, eternal, exalted, Father, faithful, forgiver fantastic, great, glorious, giving, holy, holiest, hosanna, healer, and humorous. After devotions we waved bye to Lisa, Roye, Pat, Chris and Janey as they took off with Santana. They will work at the Greenhouse until we return on Tuesday.
The boat pulled out of São Sebastião around 5:00 in the morning. Luckily we all were able to sleep in until breakfast at 7:00. We were heading to the Reserve -Boto. Beyond this point is all a national reserve that is watched very carefully for trees and wildlife taken pass this point. This was a very tropical looking place where the ladies on board purchased some handmade baskets. There we saw a few families and headed on to Deus Ajude. Oh no, no one home. Everyone has gone to the city to vote in the Presidential Election. Earl had a feeling this might be the case for the next couple of days. Next stop Bom Jesus! We are able to see a few gentlemen that stayed in the village while everyone else went off to vote. The villages were starting to feel like old western ghosts towns. We will be staying docked at this village until Sunday.
Earl roams the halls yelling LUNCH! After lunch and a little time to rest a group went out to fish. Marlo, Ben, and Cezar head out to try their hand at catching Peacock Bass with fishing lures. In the other boats are Terry, Madison, Kathryn, Judson, and Cristiano. They will be using live bait that Cristiano caught. Sorry to say they did not bring back dinner. The ladies prepared another lovely meal. I forgot to mention everyone takes turn washing the dishes each day.
We head up to the top for devotions. Tonight our discussions will be on “The Mercy of God” Micah 6:6-8 and John 8:3-11. Before Sid begins Earl goes over more Portuguese and we worship God in beautiful songs in English and Portuguese. The voices are just beautiful along with Daniela’s accompaniment on the guitar. The names of God or characteristics of God that are shared tonight are invisible, joyful, jubilant, kind, loving, and lasting love. High moments of the tripped were also shared.
It is hard to believe it is already Saturday. A group of us got up at 5:00 a.m. to go Peacock Bass fishing. The small boats take off around 5:45 to fish. We grab a quick breakfast before we load the boat and off we went. This fishing trip group was Marlo, Ben, and Cezar in one boat and in the other boat Earl, Sanderley, Cristiano, Junior, Wendy, Bethany, Ashley, and I headed off to fish. The first place we stopped we did not stay very long. There was a tree full of little yellow and black birds. The tree also was full of nest that were the of huge tear drops. We are fishing and all of the sudden we heard an awful noise coming across the water. The noise was a screeching and unlikable noise. Earl said they were monkeys. Either it was not a happy group of monkeys or they have a very loud way of communicating.
Earl, Ashley, and Junior got a boat and headed down the water. Cristiano continued to fish for bait with a huge net. We continue to catch nothing from the bank. All of the sudden Junior comes back without Earl and Ashley. He tells us to pack up and we are going to move down the water a little ways. There they were sitting on a bank. We unload all of our gear, find a stick to prop our pole upon, and take a seat and wait. Around 9:00 the fish start biting. Needless to say we are overjoyed! We end up with around a total of 20 Peacock Bass. We did have a little excitement; one of the poles was taken in by a fish. Judson dove in and saved the pole. The bites slow down and we pack up and head back to the boat. We return and show everyone our great catches. Cristiano starts cleaning the fish and that is what is for dinner! Lunch is served, rest time and around 3:00 another group head out to fish. Unfortunately the group was not very successful.
I do not remember if I mentioned we have wonderful snack in the afternoon. So far we have had fried plantain chips, cake, avocado shakes, mango shakes, acai shakes, and cookies. Dinner and then we have devotions on the top. Tonight Kathryn will give lead our devotion on The Sovereignty of God, Job 38:1-8 and John 21:20-23. Tonight’s names of God or characteristics of God are majesty, master, merciful, nurturing, never ending, obedient, ominous, precious, perfect, and powerful. High moments were shared and off to bed we went. We did not get to see families again today due to the presidential election.
Today is Sunday and again we will not see any families due to the election. About five crew members had to get up around 5:00 and head to São Sebastião to vote. They will return this afternoon after they vote. Rise and shine for the rest of us around 7:00. Breakfast this morning was a delicious chocolate cake, fruit, and warm rolls. After breakfast the boat took off for another village. It is so beautiful floating down the water seeing all of God´s beautiful creations. The breeze is so enjoyable!
Land ho! We have arrived at Leandro Grande. When we arrive a child and his father are by the water’s edge. Cristiano and Judson go and catch bait for the next group going out fishing at 10:30. The little boy is eager to help get the bait out of the net. He shows true case of love and eagerness to help those in need. As a thank you for his help he and his uncle are asked to go along with the fishing group. Terry, Madison, Kathryn, Karlene, and Earl go fishing. Madison catches a stingray and a Peacock Bass, Kathryn catches a catfish, and Earl and Terry catch some Peacock Bass. They return to a wonderful lunch of salad, steak with gravy, salad, potato salad, rice and pasta. Dessert was left over flan and chocolate cake.
Everyone rest until 3:00 and another group heads out to fish. Get your poles ready Terry, Madison, Kathryn, Vicki, Earl and Karlene. We get to experience a rain in the Amazon. The rain was really refreshing and seemed to cool us off a bit. The temperature seamed to drop and it was so peaceful to sit and listen to the sound of the rain, the birds, and frogs. After the rain the water was so still and calm. We just loved sitting listening and enjoying all of God´s creations. The fishing was not as great as this morning. One Peacock Bass and two Catfish were the catch of the day.
As we approach the boat everyone is outside. They did not get to experience the peaceful rain we did. Dinner was delicious as always. When we reached the top of the boat for devotions Daniela was playing her guitar with Alice and Elizia accompanying her with their beautiful Brazilian voices. We start our service by singing one of my favorite hymns, Amazing Grace. How is God just and justified Earl read from Romans 3:21-26 and challenged us all to memorize this verse. Our purpose here on the Amazon is to teach people about Jesus. We must understand and believe the word. We must go through Jesus to get to heaven. We ended the night by taking of the Lord´s Supper.
Today is Monday and it is hard to believe we are almost half way through our trip. Today the male crew, Terry and Earl went fishing at 5:00. Breakfast was at the normal time. Seems a little strange just having only females at the breakfast table. The people in the village have still not returned from voting. Earl and the men return from fishing. They caught many Peacock Bass this trip. Terry caught the biggest fish. We see a few people from the village and then it is lunch. After lunch we head of to another village.
I believe this village truly is my favorite. As we approach we can see a sandy hill side with a tropical feel to it. There are wooden boats and a partially wooden dock. There is beautiful foliage everywhere. Behind where we are docked is land filled with tiny yellow canaries. There sound is so sweet. Terry, some of the crew and Michelle decide to do a little fishing. Cristiano went to shore and caught some live bait.
In the mist of all of the beauty we spot dolphins and start trying to catch a few pictures of the graceful creatures. It seems that they know we are there and keeping entertaining us. Before dinner some of the group decided to go ashore and look around. A family was back and entertained the group with their pet Macaw. We are blessed with another great meal as always. Tonight we had what in America looks like a giant Pizza Roll, and I am not kidding. There were many great flavors of Pastel we could choose from. The dessert one was filled with Guava. Devotions were a little different tonight. Earl asked the group to quote his\her favorite scripture and the rest of us would try and tell where In the Bible it is located.
Today marks one week that we have started this wonderful mission. Rise and shine at 7:00 for breakfast. Today we will be getting to see some families. Many had returned from São Sebastião on a taxi boat. Before seeing patients many of us watch for the pink dolphins for photos. Those pink dolphins are so quick it is hard to get a photo. The horn blows and many families make their way to the boat. It was wonderful seeing all the beautiful faces. Kathryn my daughter is so excited that two of the children remember her from when she was here in May 2017. Madison and Kathryn play Frisbee with the children while their families wait to be called to the boat. Marlo and Ben go through the village looking for families that need to see the Atendimento Médico. There are no more families so we prepare for lunch. Before lunch Marlo takes me on a walk through the village. We see the family that has a Macaw for a pet. The father gets the bird to lie on his back so it can have its belly scratched. The birds do a few more tricks for us. We thank them and keep walking. We then come up on where the village makes Farinha. It is very interesting to see each step that is taken to make this fine crunchy food they love to sprinkle on everything. After lunch Ben, Marlo, and Cezar head out to fish.
After lunch the boat pulls out and we are headed back to the Reserve-Boto. On our first stop we had stopped to purchase handmade baskets and jewelry. There were very few items our first stop so they had told us to stop on our way back. When we arrived Earl jumped and to let them know we were there. The ladies had not had time to make any more so he said we are headed out. As we start to pull out an expecting mother and her daughter paddle up in their boat. She walks up to the reserve then tells Earl her baby is on the way. One of the crew takes the mother and child back to her house in one of the small boats. We keep moving slowly so they may catch up. We watch her walk up and down the steep hill loading items and children. They head our way then turn around and go back. She must have forgotten something when the boat arrive the mother has four children and her oldest daughter has a son of her own. Everyone is eager to help and especially entertain the children. We are taking her to the hospital in São Sebastião.
When we arrive at São Sebastião the ambulance is waiting. We help her get her family and belongings to the ambulance and taxi. We all pile into 3 motorcycle taxis and are headed to the green house. There is a small group however wishes to walk and are positive they know the way. We arrive at the green house where Chris takes us on a tour. Roye, Pat, Lisa, Janey, and Chris have been at the garden since we dropped them off. They tell us how they helped with the irrigation system, and worked in the green house. They tell about the amazing meals Santana prepared for them and how they had homemade pizza. Chris also played a little soccer and on Sunday they went to church where they watched two baptisms. God is GOOD! We have finished the tour and start to wonder where our walking group is. We all sit down to freshly made juice. Chris has gone out to see if he can find them. Shortly they arrive having taken a rather long scenic route. Two of the leaders of the bunch were just off a few streets. We say our good byes and head back to the boat by taxi. The group did walk back this time, but took a short cut compared to their earlier journey. We eat dinner and have devotions. Good night!
Rise and shine you early fishermen! Today we are fishing at 6:30. Breakfast is at 6 for those going fish. Chris and Lisa are coming from the green house to go fishing. Today is a big group of fishermen. We head off, the ride is a little long but so worth it when we get there. The place looks like a tropical island. The sand is white with a few trees on the end we dock. In the distance it is the jungle. As we get out of the boats and make our way towards the shade we spot two large paw prints. Something big was here last night. Cristiano goes bait fishing with his big net. It seem like the bait is not around. Is this a sign there will be no fish. We fish and around 9 the fishing hour Chris catches a Peacock Bass. They probably hear the cheer all the way back at the boat. Jill caught a 5.5lb Peacock Bass and another one is caught. Ben, Marlo, and Cezar return and take Marlo, Ashley and I back to the boat.
While part of us went fishing the rest of our group went to the green house. They helped with composting and taking apart the raised garden beds. Santana did not let them stay in the heat too long. Everyone from the garden came back including our land dwellers. Some of us were together again for lunch. We had the most delicious chicken salad with tiny potato sticks on type.
Around 2:00 another group went out fishing while everyone just hung out. Instead of a knitting circle there was a cross stitching circle around the dining table. Everyone just took it easy the rest of the day until the fishermen and women returned with no fish. Then a group decided to jump of the boat into the water. Terry, Ben, Marlo, Madison, Kathryn, Ashley, Jill, Bethany, Chris, and Lisa where the brave group that splashed around in the water.
This was the first time we are all together for a meal since the first day. It was nice to have all of our CBM family all together on the boat. After dinner it was time for devotions. The singing was so sweet and angelic as always. We were glad Santana, Pastor Ronaldo and his wife is able to join us. Chris shared with the CBM crew how FCC loves CBM and all the wonderful work they are doing here in the Amazon. He said the four things we do at FCC is lead people to Jesus Christ, Love God, Love people, and Serve Others and CBM does all of these here. He thanked them all. Roye finished the attributes of God with The Incomparability of God, Isaiah 9:6 and Philippians 2:1-11. He discussed how there is no comparison to God and us. He is incomparable! God put things right the first time and we are continuing to work. How is God going to use you? The group from the green house shared their HIGHS of the trip. Some of us stayed up for a while and enjoyed each other`s company.
Breakfast is around 7 and today I have dish duty. We all enjoy breakfast and head up to the top deck for a group picture. CHEESE! Earl then tells us how CBM came to be. It was a very inspiring story. Santana has brought beautiful dish towels and jewelry for us to purchase. We love supporting her. Today is a day just to chill out and enjoy being with our CBM family. As we made it to the Amazon the temperature has dropped a little and the sky is overcast. It is very comfortable. We have lunch and later are treated to a wonderful roll with coconut made by Santana. A lot of the females sit around the table talk, share and laugh as I am typing. We will soon have our next to last meal with our new family.
This is our last breakfast on the boat. It seems like just yesterday we arrived. This has been a wonderful enlightening trip for all. To be able to serve God and others with our talents and love for God is very rewarding. Our last breakfast is traditional fruit, rolls, cheese, meat and juice.
We are able to see the meeting of the two waters which is amazing. We are all pumped for our shopping extravaganza as we approach Manaus.