JULY - 2023

by Amy Guenther

    People say foreign travel broadens your experience, but after this week serving with Central Brazil Mission, I will say my perspective has forever been altered. God has given a new awareness of life outside the shelter of the United States. We are privileged beyond measure, but as Christians, that privilege comes with responsibility. We are called by Jesus to live out the Great Commission, to spread His Love and His Truth, the life-giving Good News, to the ends of the earth.
    Our trip began with a struggle to even get out of the country. We flew from Cincinnati to Chicago with no issues. Due to storms, flights were delayed but we boarded with hope that we would soon be on our way to Panama to meet the rest of the team serving on this trip. But…after four hours waiting on the tarmac to depart, we returned to the gate. The flight crew was not allowed to make the long journey after such a lengthy delay. We had been blessed to bring ten large suitcases filled with medicines graciously donated for CBM. But now, we had to claim all those checked bags and transport them along with our personal items and carry on—16 pieces of luggage with only three `old ladies´ to carry! We felt outnumbered and discouraged. We were told the airline added a flight to Panama the next morning to accommodate those displaced by cancelation. We spent an uncomfortable night in the airport with little to no sleep; but God used us there. We became the adopted Grandmas for three young women traveling alone, dispensing encouragement and advice, sharing contact information and making friendships with Ale, Erica and Kessia. We ordered food and shared our meal with strangers in the same predicament. At 5:30am,we got in line with our three carts of luggage. We had to wait for a previously scheduled 8:40am flight to board, and when we finally reached the counter, we were informed we were not on the 11am flight that day because there would be no connecting flight from Panama to Manaus until the following day! The airline staff understood how difficult it would be to leave the airport with all 16 bags, so they kindly allowed us to store them in their office at O´Hare. We were able to book a hotel and check in early to sleep. We took in our ``refugee´´ friend Erica into our room and Kessia got her own room. Ale had been allowed to fly out because she was going to Uruguay instead. We finally laid down for a nap after 32 hours without sleep, and were awakened by tornado sirens! We had to evacuate our fourth floor room and get downstairs to safer ground, a fact our new Brazilian friend Erica didn´t seem to understand as she got into the shower! We had to rush her out and get down to the first floor! But a nap and a meal did much to bolster our little group. We prayed for all those impacted by the four tornadoes which did damage all over the Chicago area. Praise God, the airport was not affected and the remainder of our trip went like clockwork.
    We were so grateful to see the friendly faces of Earl and Sanderley at the airport after 96 hours en route for a trip that should have taken 22 hours! We arrived at the boat at 4am, the remaining men on the crew-Cristiano, Daniel, and Junior-came out in the rain to take our bags. The ladies who serve in the kitchen crew-Rose, Mara, and Francy- had prepared us a warm sandwich that tasted wonderful to these weary travelers! We immediately felt welcomed by all. Their example of serving others impressed me greatly, and that is the attitude and intention of all who serve on the crew. From the airport, they insisted on carrying our luggage. Each day, the crew insist on the volunteers eating first. They see that the operation runs so smoothly that you do not even see the myriad of things done behind the scenes. They humbly place others before themselves. Is this so that we may be served(QUESTION MARK) NO! This is so we are shown from everyone involved- from the leadership to the kitchen staff preparing delicious meals three times daily, to the crew that works so hard (on this trip they rigged a hoist and chains to lift out a heavy motor that needed repair) to those cleaning the cabins- each one an example of service! This is not a cruise ship…we ALL came to serve; but they lead by godly example and do as Jesus did “come not to be served, but to serve.”
    The volunteers had wasted no time while we were delayed and traveled upriver from Manaus to the village of San Francisco. Leticia and Jim M. treated medical patients and others saw the dentist, Natalia and her assistant, Linda. After a rest, we took our places with the volunteer crew. Sherry took blood pressure readings. Pam weighed and measured each patient. Denise and I gave worm medication and handed out hygiene packs with soap, shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrushes, along with some small toys and candies for the children. The people are understanding of our feeble attempts to converse in Portuguese. But all seem to appreciate a loving smile. As the boat nears the dock, the ship’s horn sounds to alert all those in surrounding areas we are available to see patients. Many travel by small boats and canoes to reach the ship. We have been greeted warmly in each location. Each patient has a card on which their visits are logged, their height and weight recorded. They proceed through each station. Merle, a twenty-five trip veteran, assesses their vision, glasses are given when indicated. Then, the patients are treated by the doctor Leticia and Jim M. who either speak Portuguese or have an interpreter in the exam room. The doctors listen and prescribe what each patient requires. As each person waits for their medication which the pharmacist Jim L. fills, his assistant Daniela patiently explains in Portuguese how each medicine is to be used. All but pregnant women or mothers nursing young babies are then administered worm medication by Denise and I. We give supplies to the families and small toys to the little children. The patients needing dental care see the dentist Natalia who reassures and calms them as she fills cavities, and performs extractions. Everyone is treated with compassion, but efficiently so as many people can be reached as possible. Our opportunity to show them God’s love may be but for a moment, but the care they receive helps them throughout the year with ailments, as there is no local doctor and only one hospital in the remote region which doesn’t have doctors available on many days.
    Each day begins with devotions led by Jim M. and worship music by gifted Daniela and Earl. The daily schedule hums with the rhythm of a well-oiled machine. A pattern, but each village, patient and case different. We have seen aged men and young babies, each one precious. Earl, now 81, but with the vigor of many men half his age, noted several people who were now coming in with the second or third generations of the same families. The trust built over time by the faithfulness of CBM is felt in these relationships. It is not just a medical boat, it is a COMMITMENT…to be there with help, whether it is training native Brazilian missionaries to lead congregations where CBM has planted churches, or building a home for a family with nine kids sharing a one room shack whose only furniture was a bed frame with no mattress, or teaching communities to become self-sufficient in starting greenhouses to grow and sell produce—each venture opens a door to share Jesus with these, His children in the Amazon. Today is the 54th anniversary of the day Central Brazil Mission began! I feel privileged to witness the fruit of so many years of sowing. But the fields are still “white unto harvest”…I invite you to COME! See firsthand how this mission has shaped and continues to impact the people of the Amazon.



Michael Haubner
P.O. Box 420
McCoy, Virginia 24111
Phone: 1-540-633-2419
Cell: 1-540-392-7867
E-mail: mehaubner@gmail.com


Earl and Ruth Anne Haubner
Phone: 804-467-7463
E-mail: cbmhaubner@gmail.com