Friday, August 29, 2014

Brazil 2014

 First, did you know that the cashew grows attached to a fruit?  This is my fourth year to visit Brazil, but my first time to see these little beauties growing.  The Brazilians told me they usually toss the nut and just eat the fruit.  What?  Do they know what we pay for those little guys in America?  Each morning cashew juice is offered at breakfast, but I assumed it was like almond milk...not that I know how that is made either, certainly wasn't attached to a fruit in my head!
 I go to Brazil for many reasons, too many to really explore in one post, but one big reason is this guy...
Bill has been to Brazil about 20 times.  He spends the entire year raising money to help build churches, wells, and just try to make life better for the folks along the river.  He's 85.  I can barely handle this trip at 35.  When I grow up, I want to be just like Bill...with, maybe, a little bit cleaner vocabulary.  He pretty much keeps us laughing from the airport, to the Amazon and back again.  
 I'm also totally inspired by this lady, Phyllis.  She keeps us sane, and organized.  She can juggle just about anything, including 6 well behaved children, 3 with special needs who are incredible-all who help out with our trip, one who has joined us the last two years and absolutely is the smile I need on the boat.  I'm inspired by his love for Jesus.  He's also one of my favorite parts of the trip and I feel blessed to get to call him friend.  Phyllis gets us all there safely, with paperwork, pills, and shots, AND organizes all the daily groups, packs all the supplies, and always comes up with new ideas to make each trip more amazing.  The last few years we've been taking this camera that prints off sticker photos on the spot.  We stick them to adorable scrapbook paper with accessories and give them to the families who usually have few to no photos.  It melts my heart.
 And then there are the people, the babies, the women who work hard from sun up to sun down.
 There is the water, the yearly flooding, the floating homes...
 I love to pull up to a village and see them waiting there...
 ....when we leave it's not uncommon for the entire village to be waving us off.
This year we were joined by a guy, Chris, who went two years ago and saw the river water that is the part of most family's daily life.  It causes all sorts of illnesses with the parasites living in the waters.  He raised enough money to buy 100 buckets this year (50 dollars each) and he gave them out from village to village and showed the villagers how to use them.  One bucket would actually keep an entire village with fresh water for 7 years.  It's pretty incredible-100 liters a day, for seven years, and it filters out all impurities.  Most of the folks on our boat were willing to try the water.  Look, it's not that I don't trust the filter, but....somebody had to be available to call the medics should the filter be a I sat out this round.
 The Amazon, no surprise, is an array of colorful flowers and fruits.  I can look around at just about any time and see our folks pulling fruit off trees to try it out-the known-bananas, pineapples, oranges, coconuts, sugar cane, Brazil nuts, and all the exotic I have no idea how to name.
This flower comes from a tree called the jumbo tree and below it's branches these petals fall and create a pink carpet.
 ...but seriously, these babies...
 At each village we get off and try to bring a little bit of pampering and fun while the doctors and dentist do their work.  We host VBS for the kids, the men often hand out fishing supplies, and the women usually try to find the women of the village and give them a break from all their chores with community, nail, hairs, crafts etc.  One afternoon, after giving out foam stickers to decorate with in the morning, one of the kids came back for the afternoon, and she had used her extra stickers to stick her puppies name across it's forehead.  She also highlighted his private area with a c.....
 This year, the flooding was taking longer than normal to go down, so there were a few villages where we set up camp in the local schools, and then a speedboat took misc groups to other  villages or floating homes to visit with the people.  Share our faith.  Hear their stories, and often give them a hug from America and let them know we love them, and are thinking about them.
I wish I had words to really wrap around all I learned this year.  I've heard it and know this well-no story is the same as the one I wrote the year before on the river.  There are new challenges (this year, it was the bugs).  But God has prepared this time for these people, and He wrote His love for them in my heart.  I feel blessed to get to see how much God loves them, and how it's impossible not to-the joy that reflect from their hearts despite their circumstances.  Each visit is a big family reunion with the translators who travel with us, then group I travel with, and the people we meet and will see one day in heaven.  This year I went to Brazil with so much chaos back at home-my house is falling apart, my Mom had a terrible fall and was facing surgery, extended family has been dealing with life altering tragedies, but I knew God called me, and the trip reminded me of how much I have, how much I am blessed with in the midst of storms, and how equipped I am to deal with the things back home with a loving Father to guide me.  Yes, it's difficult compared to what I know, but not compared to the rest of the world.  If God wants me back in Brazil next year, I'll be there, who am I to say no?  So, I place my yes back on the table and will wait to see what happens next year.


msheepers said...

Awesome! Oh, and I understand if you eat the cashews straight from the tree that they're poisonous, and you'll be burning up inside for four hours.