Thursday, July 30, 2015

Brazil 2015

 At the end of June I headed down south to Brazil...again.  This was my fifth summer.  Each summer I think it will be my last, but each summer I'm called again.  This year, I went in with the same thought, but every boat trip down the Amazon I fall in love with the people, places, and stories along the jungle and all I can think about is going back.  It's not an easy trip-living in a hammock, no air, lots of heat and moisture-constant sweat, and full days of work.  At the end, I know I've had the opportunity to work with some of the most fabulous people on planet earth, and I've acquired a boat load of new brothers and sisters I'll see on the other side of heaven..if not next year in Brazil...which has happened before.
 This year we expanded the bucket ministry.  Our doctors deal with skin infections caused by the bugs and hostile plant atmosphere, and all sorts of internal problems caused by the river water.  Enough money was raised for 500 filters (50 dollars each) and buckets.  We drew a crowd, taught them how to use the filters.  This year some of our team was able to fly out to the villages we saw last year where our first 100 buckets were passed out, and the locals were proud to show them their bucket filters, and stories of better health that came along with this gift.
We flew into Manaus and headed 24 hours up the river.  We then spent 6 days in 6 villages along one of the tributaries off the Amazon.  
We traveled with a local pastor and the missionaries who spend their time in these villages.  It never ceases to humble me to compare all I was born into versus these people that live with dirt floors, wood walls, and palm leaf ceilings.  Even by America's humblest standards I am abundantly blessed.  Then again, life is simpler along the river-there are fewer conflicts interfering with who God is, and what He offers.  There are no false promises, just genuine faith.  They are thirsty for the gospel.  Yet, there are also universal problems.  We found one lady sitting on a little couch (a rare site) in the family's open kitchen area.  Her family had left for the day to go to the city and she had nothing to eat or drink.  She began crying as soon as we stepped onto her porch out of loneliness being met.  We brought food and water from the boat.  We also passed another house where there was a domestic dispute.  We spent time talking to the husband, and more time nurturing his wife.  She was limping and bruised, but more than that, devastated by her community who all knew that her husband took out his frustration with his fist, but they refused to interfere.  It makes my heart ache still, yet what an honor to be able to tell her she was loved, that we cared, and to step in and be the hug she has needed all these years.  My prayer is that the counseling with stick, and that our compassion will be remembered long after we leave the village.  
 The Amazon is a beautiful place with stunning sunsets, even more beautiful sun rises, daily rainstorms.
 In Manaus, there is a point where the Amazon and River Negro meet, but never quite combine due to their varied densities.
Wild animals are daily sites.  We met monkies, parrots, snakes, and birds of every color.  
...but the Amazon's most beautiful offering are the people.  They welcome you into their homes-each home pulls out their finest chairs, and stops whatever they are doing to entertain their new guest.  It's hard to come back to America with locked doors, and worldly beliefs.  I crave the simpler ways where nobody is a stranger for long.  I've learned a lot about loving others and welcoming newcomers from the people along the Amazon.  We share the bible.  Each member of our team has different ways of worshiping, through different denominations, but we all share the bible and our love of the people of the Amazon.
I don't know if I'll go back next year, but I know I'll be sharing the stories from this year's adventures long into eternity.