Friday, April 3, 2015
This is a compilation all of the blog entries for the entire time that the Brazil team was on the Amazon River, due to the lack of internet availability along the river. Read and be blessed!
Day 2 (3-23-2015):
Our first stop in the Amazon was at a village called “mipindiau”. After a delicious Brazilian breakfast and brushing our teeth over the side of the boat, we joined with the Brazilians for a devotional. It is a beautiful experience to hear two languages sing the same praise song. I am sure this is what Heaven is going to be like.
I was on the evangelism team today and myself, Patricia, Chris and Pastor Juan Wilson went door to door sharing the gospel and treating patients that were too sick or old to get to the boat for treatment. The second house we came to we found out that the grandma other in the house had a stroke 5 years ago….and had never received medical treatment for it! God is so good because she was able to ambulate with the help of the railing in the house however not long distances. We brought one 4 point cane and with a little encouragement she was walking around her house independently. The next house we went to we discovered the grandmother in that house was suffering from severe “trigger finger” from long days in the forest working with her hands. After putting our heads together Sam and I were able to come up with a splint for her finger to wear at night to prevent further damage. I am so thankful for collaboration!
At the end of the day we joined with the village and had a church service with the local Baptist church. What an amazing experience to worship with these people and share God’s love with them. Ashley gave her testimony and talked about how her mother taught her how to pray and how Jesus has always given her peace and comfort no matter the situation. You could definitely feel Jesus through her testimony. It is such a wonderful thing to give a testimony as uncomfortable as it may be because it really makes you stop and think, ok how has Jesus impacted my life? What has He done for me? What am I doing for Him? If you can not talk about how God has changed your life then how can you expect to fully share His love and glory to someone else?
Before I sign off, I must say that the Amazon night sky is another affirmation of how real and amazing our God is. Pictures to follow.
Day 3 (3-24-2015):
This morning, we started as usual with a wonderful breakfast on the boat followed by devotions led by Pastor Joao Wilson. The village we stopped at today was Aruau. Today I (Brittany) was a part of the evangelism team led by Pastor Joao Wilson. This village was one that the IsleGo boat had only been to one other time but the people were so welcoming and open to hearing the gospel. While we were evangelizing I was so blessed to be a part of the team today as we witnessed to many young people and an older man who prayed to accept Jesus into his heart. Praise the Lord! I loved hearing stories from the villagers about their lives and struggles they have been through.
During this trip, Dusty and Corrine (our leaders) have challenged us to share where we see Jesus during the day. I saw Jesus today at our church service in the village. During the day I prayed at a house for a younger couple who had a new baby. They were open to hearing about Jesus but said they needed more time to think about their decision. I prayed that the Lord would work in their heart and send them to our church service to hear the good news and as I looked up after sharing my testimony, the young mother was there! Through this whole day, God challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone through praying, evangelizing and sharing my testimony during the church service. While I was nervous to stand up and share with these people, I was blessed after doing so. So far, this mission trip or “missionary journey” as Dusty would say has been amazing. Also, the relationships that our team is forming with each other and the rest of the crew on the boat are amazing! I am very excited to see what the Lord has for the rest of this journey!
Day 4 (3-25-2015):
Bom dia from the river!
This morning, we began our day with a delicious Brazilian breakfast filled with lots of fruit, and their twist on cinnamon toast. It was wonderful! Today is my (Ashley) 23rd birthday, so everyone sang me Happy Birthday this morning—in two languages! This was my first Brazilian birthday and I loved it. After breakfast, we had a group devotional led by Pastor Assis. Pastor Assis is a missionary to the people of the Unini river in Jau National Park. He told us about many of his experiences working in that area, and encouraged us to live out the Great Commission.
Then, we divided into teams for the day and set about our work. The team I was with today was the evangelism team, led by Pastor Joao Wilson, who is one of the missions pastors from Igreja Presbiteriana Manaus. We visited with many families in the village, and went into several homes. One of my favorite stops today was when we sat on the porch of a families house and talked with a mother and her daughter.The daughter was close to my age, and had been married for 4 years. She and her husband have been trying to get pregnant, but she has no children yet. After visiting with her for a bit, she made a decision to ask Jesus into her heart. It was amazing to see Pastor Joao walk her gently through that decision. Then, I had a chance to pray for her to have a baby. Pastor read the verse from James 5 that talks about praying for the sick and anointing them with oil. He put oil on my hands and had me lay my hands on her stomach while we were praying. It was beautiful to see the Holy Spirit build the faith in her heart that she would be healed and have a baby. She joined us for church this evening so I had a chance to encourage her again.
Today, we also were blessed to be a blessing to some of the villagers by buying them much needed groceries and household supplies. Seeing the joy in their faces was wonderful. Many of those we gave to had already prayed to receive Christ earlier that day. They hope to start a church in the village we went to today, which will give these new believers much opportunity to learn more. So much more happened today, but I want to give Sam a chance to tell you about some of what happened in PT today!
Today was an amazing day in PT. Leslie, Rachel and I were able to work with a handful of patients that came in with knee pain mainly from playing soccer or lumbar pain from working hard in the fields. It was exciting to see Leslie and Rachel taking the lead working with our patients. However the highlight of our day was a 15 y.o girl named Maria. The Bible says that all of heaven rejoices when one sinner repents and our team was fortunate enough to pray with Maria as she accepted Christ as her savior. It was great to see the excitement on Maria’s face, it was contagious.
Day 5 (3-26-2015):
Today we served the village of Aracari. This morning we awoke to another amazing variety of Brazilian food. A new commodity was Brazilian donuts, not quite as sweet as U.S. donuts. ; ) Chris (Ashley’s husband) gave us a wonderful devotion to start off our morning. I (Leslie) began the day on the painting team. This village feels very small compared to the previous ones and is in the process of building some more. We were able to give one house its first coat of paint! By lunch time 6 of our team and 2 village members who got the whole house painted. After lunch we got a treat, our first swim in the AMAZON river!! = D We were fortunate enough to jump from the trees into the river with the locals, see dolphins about 30 feet away and even saw the heads of river otters poking out of the water!
This village has a missionary presence already, so for the first half of the day the evangelism team went with Pastor Wilson to assist the preachers there, the second half of the day he cut the local mens' hair. = ) I helped assist with VBS after lunch and it was a great turn out (around 18 kids.) The kids were eager to participate and answered the teachers questions easily. We got to teach them some words in english, which you could heard them repeating later in the night. We sang songs with them that we saw them doing the motions to hours later. I did not hear a report from the PT team today, but I know I heard some of the crew members saying they felt better with the PT’s help. ; ) Women’s ministry had the best turn out its had so far! There were about 14 women there and they had a great time. They got to pick a pair of shoes and a goody bag. After they opened the bags they were all gathering around each other and putting on the necklaces or perfume spray they received.
We had church later in the night as we are closer to the last village we will visit and do not have to travel far tonight. The service tonight with this village was special in its own way. The people had a lot of enthusiasm about church, they were repeating the pastors prayers and singing with their whole heart. I ended up giving a testimony that flowed right into Pastor Wilsons sermon and I can promise you we did not coordinate that before hand! We walked back to the boat under a sky full of never ending stars, some played Uno others painted nails together to end another awesome day of serving.
Day 6 (3-27-2015):
Today is our last full day on the boat and we are visiting the last village, Sobrado, we are going to serve. We are sad to have the week coming to an end but that is part of it. I am going to share the mornings devotion from Dusty because I feel it is really important to keep all of this in mind. We came here to do what God called us to do and now we are getting ready to go home. Just like we are called to the throne of God. Sometimes our journey will have us in the US, Brazil or other countries but it’s all apart of the same journey and we have the same task from Jesus Christ in every place we go. The environment may change but God doesn’t change. What He has given us to do as children doesn’t change. We have to remember that we are agents of change, but our God is not.
Our life starts at salvation and ends at the throne; in the meantime our life will take us many places. We are to show justice, mercy and humility. What does this look like? Isaiah 61:1-3. It’s to preach the good news to the poor, consolation to the broken hearted, liberty to those who are enslaved by sin, freedom from the darkness for the prisoners, comfort to all those who mourn, provide to those who grieve, bring a crown of beauty instead of ashes, oil of gladness instead of mourning, bring them a garment of praise rather than a spirit of despair. That’s a lot of stuff to do! How in the world are we supposed to do all this? Well it is not about us, it’s about sharing Christ’s love. We can only give to others what we have received ourselves. If we have not received this redemption that how can we share it with others?
What is an apostle? Saved and called to go wherever God calls us. The second part we aren’t keen on. We want the grace but we aren’t sure about God sending us some where. We are afraid of where God may send us. Alas! Don’t be afraid, more often than not we will fall in love with the place that He sends us. He will bless you more than you can know if you surrender your life to Him and go where He calls you. Because we have been sent to reconcile His lost Creation. If you live your life being saved but miss the part of sharing Christ’s love, you have missed the joy of being a Christian. Can this be uncomfortable and terrifying? Absolutely! Will God guide you and take care of you if you put your trust in Him? ABSOLUTELY. Last thought, keep this in mind. We are saved to go. “Isle Go”, will you?
Deus te abençoe,
Day 7 (3-28-2015):
The week has come to an end and I write to you at 5 am in the Miami airport after about an hour of sleep. As exhausted as I am I would do it all over again in a heart beat. God really worked in our hearts this week and gave us all a new love for helping and serving others. I am so proud of the team as I watched each individual serve the communities; I saw Jesus in each of them. Last night, we stopped at different villages on the way back to Manaus to hand out bags of food and provisions. I was so proud of our team because earlier in the week because when Pastor Wilson asked for donations for groceries we quadrupled the amount he asked for within 5 minutes. It wasn’t the fact that we quadrupled the money, but the immediate willingness to give without question. After getting off of the boat this morning we were able to go enjoy Manaus for a little while longer and go shopping. It’s such a fun experience, especially trying to communicate with the little Portuguese I know. After the shopping spree, we all sat down together in fellowship with Dusty, Corinne and Deny and enjoyed some guarana and some sort of cheese bread that was heavenly. Also, if you haven’t had guarana, I recommend flying to Brazil just for that ;-)!
Before the start of each day, we were reminded to ask ourselves ‘where do I see Jesus today?’. While this may seem like a simple question to some and a strange question to others, it is very important to keep in mind especially when serving. If we don’t seek Jesus while serving others, then why are we doing it? If we are doing it for our benefit, then we are not furthering the kingdom of Christ. I saw Jesus in the eyes of the villagers, in the hearts of those who were being stirred by the Lord, the striking beauty of the Amazon forest, and in the giving hearts of my team.