Friday, March 13, 2009

Fw: Blog 13

Title:  Is this really ministry?  
Body:  This is the thought going through all of our heads as we stuff ministry tracks, toys and candy in to balloons and launching them off the boat to kids on the shore. Many of the villages know the Amazon Outreach boat and run to greet us. We fill a balloon with goodies and tie it then stuff it in to another balloon and fill it will water or air to help give it weight and let it float. It is one of those moments when you say, "I am having way too much fun to be suffering for Christ."
We slept in this morning and had a nice leisurely breakfast at 8:30. It was optional but almost everyone made it. When you are waking up at 6:30AM every morning, it is tough to sleep in, even if you stayed up till 2AM the night before.
We spent some time in the word this morning as Maddy led us in a devotional. We went through some logistics and then launched some more balloons. Ayana lost a farkle and had to try to eat 24 starbursts in 2 minutes. We appreciated her effort but we are pretty sure it is impossible.
We are meeting at 4PM this afternoon to talk about a book called "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. It is a great book that we gave everyone the morning we left. It is a book on spiritual life and how we can avoid complacency in our relationship with God. After that, I am sure that we will be going late in to the night again enjoying the relationship we have formed.
I spent 3 of my summers in college working for Pine Cove camps in East Texas. My experience is a big part of what has shaped me and my heart for college students. Their motto for their college staff is "work em hard, play em hard". It is the same motto that we are celebrating right now. We are relishing this time right now where we are not having to change our shirts 3 times a day because of how much we would sweat. The cooks actually made us a treat of French fries today for lunch and are planning pizza for dinner (most of our meals consist of noodles or rice with some sort of stew to drip over it). Brazilians do put ketchup on their pizza so we are hoping that we get that on the side.

Fw: Blog 12

Title: Best of
We are finished with our work in the villages. Below is the "best moment" from each of the students.
Patrick Blocker – My favorite moment was the night of our first village. I was running late to the meeting, and it didn't matter because our students had it done. They were amazing initiators! More than 100+ folks came to Christ that night and Michael Shapleigh became an international star.
Cody Scott- Greetings mom and dad from Brazil! I have too many good experiences to number talk about here. I will tell you later with the three hours I have filmed. Greatest consistent moment might be taking a shower on the back of the boat turning around and seeing the majestic Amazon river behind me. See you soon!
Sierra Anderson- Not sure it's possible to name a favorite moment but I will settle for a couple, haha. For one, living on the Amazon River has been unreal! Waking up in a hammock, falling asleep to the sounds of the jungle, and open showers (in your bathing suit) at the rear of the boat- UNREAL! Next best 'moment' for me would be our last village stop where I met  a girl named Angela who was about my age and had a precious 6 month old baby boy named Carlos.
Alyson Ryall-"Oi" as we say here in Brazil! I have always loved travelling internationally & have been blessed enough to have traveled to a number of countries over the past few years but I must say that I am absolutely amazed by what I have seen & experienced here on the Amazon. It is virtually impossible to choose just one experience to highlight however, this afternoon in VBS I was greeted by an elderly woman who made a lasting impression on me. She pulled me aside from the kiddos who were hanging on me like monkeys & she asked to pray with me. She told me that she has never seen her grandchildren's faces light up like they were when they were playing with us & learning from us. She then insisted on taking a picture with me so that I would remember that it was not only the children who appreciated our efforts but all of the villagers alike. Can't wait to fill you in on every little detail when we get back…I'm off to tutor one of our translators named Lucas in English now! LOVE.
(oh and we will soon have a new hammock to enjoy during the summer) 
Sawyer Stone- Too many amazing moments to pick out just one.  The first day that we visited a city, our nightly event surpassed all expectations.  150+ kids showed up to dance, sing, watch puppets, and listen to PB's chair speech: "I LOVE these chairs! I don't see who MADE it, I don't try to BREAK it. I just sit!" Yesterday, in the village, for some reason Cody had an army of 200 kids that would chase and bring down anybody that he wanted.  When the thunder of feet came my way, I didn't know what was happening, and soon enough I was attacked by every one of the kids!
Maddy McAuliffe- Hi mom and dad  The only way to really say it is that the two worlds are incomparable.  Out here we have no cell phones or facebook to distract us and it really brings out the true beauty in people.  I've seen such beauty in the people of the villages we've visited, and just as much pure beauty in the other people living on this boat.  Today  I was sitting with the sweetest four year old girl in my lap, and we both were watching Nico and Michael shoot water balloons into a crowd of Brazilian children.  I stopped and just looked at this little girl for a moment, and she looked at me, and I don't think I've ever seen someone so innocent and beautiful in my life.  It opened my eyes to what really matters in our lives.  This trip has been unbelievable and breathtaking in so many ways. 

Claire McCormack- There have been few times in my life as peace filled at this time in Brazil. Words cannot even begin to justify this experience. Each person has been impacted in a unique and powerfully passionate way of their own and each story brings to life this experience we all share. While serving and loving the people in the villages has been incredible, it is the moments spent with this team that has impacted me significantly... like the number of hours spent laughing- from the second we roll out of the hammocks looking mighty good, to the nap time songs sung to each other and the stories we fall asleep to…  or singing at the TOP of our lungs off the back of the boat while showering in our bathing suits with friends… or waking up to the sun rising and sharing those unforgettable moments together… or 2,000 pictures we have taken together… or the friendships that have been set on fire from this trip.  Let's just say that the videos and stories can't do justice to sharing the truth about the hearts of the people here and their passion for loving the Lord and serving others.
Sarah Taunton:  This week God has blessed me by letting me become more acquainted with all the wonders of who He is.  He is bigger to me after this trip to the remote people of Brazil.  He has created so much more than what I see every day, and He is sovereign over all of it.  Telling the story of how God changed my life and made it better was so fulfilling.  These people's faith is so simple but still so big.  No one I talked to rejected the opportunity to accept Christ as their friend.  The coolest thing I got to do was share Christ with a mother who was hesitant to accept Jesus because she prays for her baby every day to be healed of her skin disease and the baby is still sick.  She decided to accept Jesus anyway, and before we left I asked if I could pray for her baby.  She was excited about that, and I think it meant something to her that someone wanted to pray for her baby other than just herself.  I also appreciate the little things God reminds me of – smiles and joy and excitement and beauty are universal. God's love is universal.  It was good to be reminded of what we live for – the story of what God did for the world. We live for the story.
Nina Williams- This week by far has been the most amazing and rewarding experience of my life. As a team we have all grown together and all have something to bring back to Dallas when we return in just two short days. My favorite moment of this trip would have to be in the first village where we had hundreds of people attend our worship service. The high energy of that night and the people's commitment to Christ simply can not be expressed properly in words. I know it is a night that we will all remember and brought smiles to everyone faces. The one thing I learned from this trip is that a smile truly speaks a thousand words and that God made us all in his image so we can pass on his joy through a simple smile. A smile simply lights up a child's face and the children of the Amazon whose faces were lit up this week I will never forget. Thank you everyone who made this experience possible and I can not wait to share all my stories.
Mel Canizo Bueno- I am the first translator to do this, so here we go. When we got on the boat I was so sad because I wanted so bad to go to the other boat and I cried when I went to sleep. But as I meet the guys and see the work they were doing I just felt blessed to be their translator. It is awesome to see a team so hard-working and I am so proud of them. They did their best and it was amazing to see everything they did on the villages. Amo voces guys!
Nico Stirling – My favorite moment has to be watching Michael Shapleigh give autographs to little Brazillian children after PB told them he was one of the best soccer players in America. He literally had a line of probably 50 kids asking him to sign a paper, their clothes, and their arms. One of the kids asked a translator if he was on Playstation because he wanted to use Michael as his character.
Matt Church- My favorite part of the trip was not any specific moment, or any specific day, but the relationships built with all of the members of the mission team and the families in the village.  I love the fact that most everyone on this boat started out as strangers, and by the end we had all become family.   Words would do no justice to describe how much I have come to love and respect each and every person here. Throughout the whole trip, everyone has shown selfless humility completely leave their comfort behind and do things that they normally could not have done, and I cannot say enough good things about them.  I truly can see God's love overflowing here in the Amazon, and it is going to be very difficult to say goodbye to all the translaters, Brenda, and Warner.  Also I really enjoyed witnessing first hand PB's "casting lots"/gambling addiction.  I will continue to pray for him even as we get back to America.
Ayana Fletcher-Tyson – My favorite part of our trip is a very special moment that happened in our second village. Early that morning at the first VBS session I befriended a little girl named Inesh, and when I saw her at the second session we got to spend even more time together. While we were presenting to the kids, I sat with her, and continued to attempt to communicate with her. After our presentations were over and all the kids had run off to play games, she asked me the same question repeatedly. Finally, I got a translator to tell me what she was trying to say to me; it turned out that she was asking me to pray with her.  I took her over to a corner, and first I prayed in English, and then she prayed with me in Portuguese. I felt so blessed to be the person she asked to pray with her, and it was such a joy to my heart to hear her prayer.
Julia Biebighauser – I have absolutely loved getting to love on the kids in these villages! Helping out with Vacation Bible School at each stop has been my main job and I have had a blast.  Every time that we pull up on the boat, all of the children come running up with the biggest smiles on their faces. They follow us all the way in, play obediently, and help us pack up everything to load back on the boat. The kids at one village even ran alongside the boat as far as they could, screaming goodbye. Our group is so blessed to be able to impact these kids and just seeing the looks on their faces is the most rewarding thing in the world. I can clearly see the Lord working through us to get the love of Jesus across to these kids and I am so sad that today closed our adventure. Miss you Mom and Dad 
Michael Shapleigh – My favorite moment was Wednesday in the village when Nico and I were invited by the guys to go play soccer during VBS.  We went through a few trees and then came upon an open field that was surrounded by trees in the middle of the jungle.  Once we started playing, it started pouring.  The moment was so surreal.  The blue sky, the lush green grass, the waterfall of rain, and just guys playing soccer in Brazil – it was a perfect moment to enjoy God's creation.  I am so blessed to experience the relationships we build with all of the people we encounter, and for the opportunity to see part of God's creation that most people will never see.
Emma Killingsworth- This trip has truly been the best experience of my life, and it is so hard to pick out just one moment as my favorite. One that did stick out to me, however, was yesterday during the Women's Ministry. As I was sitting there painting an elderly woman's nails, I realized that this is such a simple task that people do for us in America all the time, and we take it for granted. Let me tell you, it was not the most fun job in the world, but it was definitely the most humbling. When I was finished she looked at her nails and then looked up at me, then her eyes just lit up as she gave me a huge hug. This woman was so happy and thankful for my horrible attempt at a manicure, and it seemed to mean the world to her. I guess the point of all of this is just that it made me realize how often we just go through the motions, taking everything we have for granted. All of the Brazilians have the best attitudes and just pour out their love on you, even though you are a complete stranger and can't even speak their language. We should all learn from these people, and take some time to spread out love and appreciate the simple things in life.
Alissa Windle – When I first came here I had little expectations because I didn't know the treasures this land would hold or the secrets within its thick forests. Through it all, the Lord led me on an adventure through his beautiful creation. I was given the opportunity to capture the smiles and stories behind the eyes of Brazil's people through family portraits. It was beautiful to take their picture and give it back as a gift. While the picture itself may not seem important, this captivating land will view those photos throughout the years and remember God's love that followed these pictures. The truth these pictures hold of a greater love can never escape their grasp. The beauty of this fact blesses my heart because I know even though we were only with each village a day, our impact will not be soon forgotten and the seeds the Lord planted this week will continue to grow. What more can I ask for than Brazil's people to praise the name of the Lord and bring him glory? The Lord is faithful.
Chelsea Reckell- It is virtually impossible to pick out one experience that stands out from the rest. It seems as though everything is connected with each other and there is not one event that could be taken out of the trip and not have it affect the rest. So here are some of my highlights: Yesterday I was able to go out with the evangelism team in a small village and talk to the people in their homes. I was able to pray with some families to invite Jesus into their life after explaining who he was and what it meant. While doing this we had an elderly lady come up to us and tell us how grateful she was for us coming to the village. She also explained that her granddaughter had been healed from missionaries praying with her, so she was overjoyed people kept coming back to their village. I have also enjoyed being with the kids in the village. They have so much joy in them over simple things that it has been really easy to feel God's love in the villages. I have also enjoyed watching Warner pull teeth, or "surgically remove" them. He is a very gifted man and has a heart for God. He is also one of the funniest people on this boat and always has a smile on his face. We are so lucky to have him with us on this trip. Lastly, the team bond is like glue on this trip. Everyone here has a heart for God and has truly extended themselves out of their comfort zone. We all get along so well that we are like our own family. From alligator hunting to puppet shows together it is evident God handpicked every member of this team. The leadership has also been amazing PB, Abby, and all the translators have been so helpful and efficient. God has been so good to us and his love and grace has been evident. God Bless.   
Katye Rohr- Oi mom and dad, friends and family! This trip has been absolutely amazing and every moment has been a blessing. I know that one of my most favorite experiences from this trip was after a morning of VBS we would go back to the boat for lunch and the kids would follow us and wait for us to finish eating so we could play! I loved being a part of the VBS team everyday and getting to pour into the hearts of the children in the Amazon.  This has been an eye opening experience and a blessing to love and share life with God's people in Brazil. Love you all!

Fw: Blog 10

Title:  Our fans are waiting
Body:  Bon Dia!  This is Abby Goins, one of the "leaders" on this adventure…or otherwise affectionately known as "Big Mama" from many of the girls.  I tell people all the time that I really do have the best job in the world – in being on staff at a church in Dallas, I get to hang out with college girls and watch them walk and grow in their relationships with Christ.  Well…this week has just confirmed that even more.  To all the parents reading this blog, you all should be so proud of each one of your children!  One of the best parts of this week, for me, has been watching how these college students have loved and served these people on the Amazon, so selflessly.  Whether it's through making a silly balloon hat for a small child to wear through the village (that thinks it's the coolest thing ever), or providing eye glasses so a woman in her later years can actually read for the first time in a long time, to pampering the women – braiding their hair and painting their toenails, making them feel beautiful and cherished for probably the first time in their lives…these college students are AMAZING and I feel so privileged to be a part of this team!
One of the jokes this week….we have all gotten a small glimpse of what celebrities feel like and even though it may be for a moment and in a country we can't speak the language and the Brazilians have NO idea who we really are…we are rock stars to them!  Every village we have entered, we are greeted by hundreds of kids…waiting at the boat for us to get off.  As we unload the boat with the supplies for the day, there are crowds watching and following our every move.  We have even had kids waiting at the boat for hours…while we eat lunch and have our daily siestas in our hammocks.  As we were entering the village yesterday, I couldn't help but laugh as I turned around and saw the sea of Brazilians (mostly children) following us.  I know that we look different and talk differently (which has something to do with the fame each day) but what I realized yesterday is that even though there is a huge language barrier and we can't communicate with one another, there is still something different about us and the Brazilians see that.  They are drawn to us, not because of who we are or what we can do(even though Michael would like to think it is because of his mad soccer skills)…they are drawn to us because of the One we love and who brought us here.  The One that loves these people as much as He loves us…and what a week it has been sharing His love with these people of the Amazon.
As I am sitting here writing this post, I am listening to the sounds of our team laughing over breakfast and enjoying each other's company.  We all just sang Happy Birthday to Sarah…what a way to celebrate a birthday!!  We are starting to dock up to our last village of the trip…to give it all we have.  Looks like another fun and exciting adventure awaits us today.  We need to go get busy…our fans are waiting!
PS – Husband, I love you and miss you.  Mom and Dad, it's been a great week and call you when we land in the states.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

blog 9

Title: Meet Dr. Warner Heathman
Body: Dr. Heathman is our oral surgeon on the trip. He is from Houston, Texas. We met up with him in the Atlanta airport and got to know him a little bit. He has practicing dentistry for over 25 years, and because he is an oral surgeon, he is able to do a lot from the people.
Our students have loved serving with him. I have been looking for an opportunity to be in there myself but to no avail as that is the team most requested to be on. Pulling teeth is cool! Doc has a quirky sense of humor that the students love. On the plane from Atlanta to Manaus, he sat next to Sierra, and on the boat someone introduce him to her and he replied, "Oh, I know Sierra!, We got high together….. 37,000 feet high" He seems to always be smiling, even when pulling teeth. It is obvious that he loves his work.
Today, he pulled 8 teeth out of one person's mouth (the rest of the persons teeth) and had to sow inside the patient's mouth. Julia was the one holding the patient's head when all of this was happening, and seemed to dig a little closer look than the Discovery Channel offers.

blog 8

Title: Why are all the churches blue?
Body: This is the question as we pulled up to our 3rd straight village with a light blue church right next to the dock. This village had a steep stairway from the dock up to it. Almost all the villages are this way because of the rise and the fall of the river. We first got the dentist, optometrist, and pharmacy set up. Then we got the VBS running and then we got some teams walking throughout the village to tell people about the 5PM gathering. It is starting to become a "routine" for us. Many students are switching in and out through teams to experience everything.
The story of this village was the kids. Over 200 kids showed up for VBS. This is not normal. Some other trip leaders that I had met in the past 6 months as I prepared for this trip told me they never had any more than 100. Our numbers have been 300, 125, and 200.
We pulled out the balloon launchers for the first time today. I was a little bit worried about how this was going to work. If the kids saw the balloons, we were dead, and the mob would take over, but we thought it was way too cool to not do. So, the students collected the students in to 2 groups in a field. Each group put their hands on a big white sheet while others waited to see if the game was going to be to their liking. Then, the leaders told them to catch the balloon. On the other end of the field, the leaders set up 2 launching stations with over 100 balloons. Literally, every time a balloon was launched a roar came from the crowd. This kind of contraption had never been imagined or seen. Pretty soon, we have 100 passer-bys that were watching the fun. It was such a hit and a great way to bring something new in to our program. Everything is a competition (atleast to me) and the team of Nico, Michael, Sawyer, and Sierra beat our launcher team 15-11 in getting the balloons to be caught in the sheet.
I continue to amazed  what great leaders our students are. I had to tend to an pressing need on the boat and had to change our schedule of construction. I had about a 30 second team meeting and these students were on it! I came back 45 minutes later and saw the most amazing sight. Somehow, they created a game where they were commanding the kids to tackle whosever name they called. Image 200 screaming kids at the command of college students. As I walked up, I heard the scream, "PB!", and was first encouraged that my arrival was met with such joy. I soon realized that my name was not the object of affection, but the call of the next target and I was soon tackled by 200 kids. After I gave up and the next target was being pursued, I asked our student how they did that. All parents of young kids want to know.
We have our normal service that night and continued to be amazed by the folks deciding to accept Jesus as their savior. Maddy gave her testimony and did a great job. I gave the message and decided that I am not going to speak anymore. We have too many leaders on this boat, and I have decided that any leadership that I take is simply taking it away from opportunities for students. So, someone else is going to give the sermon/gospel message tomorrow night.
We got back on the boat for dinner right as another American boat full of American business men came to look at land to invest in building a church.
Our schedule has changed for tomorrow. Our original plan was to be in the same village tomorrow, but we have decided to shove on and be at the next village by tomorrow., and Friday morning, we will begin the 24 boat ride back to Manaus.
At our meeting tonight, I asked who was tired. It was not a real question as we are all completely worn out and do not have any more non-sweaty t-shirts (some go through 3 t-shirts in a day). We have worked so hard and are ready to finish strong tomorrow and leave it all of our energy there.
We are looking forward to the ride back because our team has become so close. We have been so busy and long for time for us to just play together, and I think there will be some serious napping.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

blog 6

Title: Day 1 …. B
Body: Today, we stopped at a small village along the Amazon. This kind of feels like Day 1 all over because we are breaking out all of our supplies that we have prepared for so diligently. Here are the teams that we made available this morning:
VBS: Maddy, Julia, Emma, Abby, Ayana, Matt, Michael, Katye
Haircut: Claire, Chelsea, Alyson, Nina
Dentist: Sawyer and Alissa
Prescriptions: Sarah
Eyeglasses: Sierra
Promo Team: Cody, Nico, PB
It was a great morning of serving and having fun! Every mouth gets 2-4 teeth pulled. Some parents bring their kids by to get a haircut and then to the dentist. Our oral surgeon is great as two students help assist him and clean his tools.
We are at lunch right now and will head back out soon to continue our work while adding a family portrait team to our repertoire. At 5PM, we will have a similar town meeting as last night, but this one will be in a small pavilion with a dirt floor. We are thinking around 100 people will be there. Although we will probably downplay the international fame of Michael, he will show off his futbol skills.

blog 5

Title: Michael Shapleigh – International Futbol Superstar
Body: Last night we had an event in the large village gymnasium in town. It was a large open air building that housed an indoor soccer (futbol) field, stands on both sides, and a stage on one end. We packed in about 250 kids at the start, and then as we made more and more noise, many other folks filtered in as we had about 350 folks at the peak. We started at about 7:15 PM and went for about an hour of program.
We started with about 2 Portuguese songs that were done by one of our translators. We then did a puppet show which was hilarious. Then, one of our students shared their testimony, and then I got to get up and share the Gospel. Before I shared, I knew that my talk needed to be brief (with a translator, a 5 minutes talk becomes 15 minutes) and VERY interactive. At one point, I was trying to communicate how none of us are perfect and we fall short of God's holy requirement.
Well, about 2 minutes before, I had grabbed Michael and told him that I was going to use him in this part. Michael is a soccer player and when I announced him to the crowd, I did not spare any expense of drama. I told everyone that we had a great surprise for them, that "one of the best American futbol players is in the arena tonight!" I then asked Michael to make some very crazy shots on goal around the arena. Eventually, he missed a shot and my illustration was complete that we can sometimes be good, but none of us are perfect. I continued on with the presentation, and at the end, I asked for all heads to bow down and all eyes to be closed and for those who want for the first time to declare that Jesus is their friend to raise their hand. What a beautiful sight it was when more than 100 hands went up. We then prayed together and talked about next steps. Never did we think that we would get this kind of response, but God went before us.
During this gathering, I could not be prouder of our team. Every single person was acting the part of the initiator, engaging with kids and adults, helping then to embrace the truth that we were presenting. Literally, the level of leadership I saw was something I only hoped we could attain by the end of the week. Very proud!
So, this is when the crazy part happened. We finished our program with one last song and then turned the gathering over to a local pastor. As we ended, our students got rushed by a mass amount of kids, especially famous futbol player Michael Shapleigh. They rush him and urged for his autograph. This rush happened so quick that no one realized what was going on until the children were asking Michael to sign their arms with a sharpie. When Michael was too crowded, they moved on to another one of our students for autographs. Do not worry, this moment was caught extensively on video and you will see it at some point.
So, in about 5 seconds, Michael, who had been thrown in to an illustration 2 minutes before, was now the town celebrity, along with the rest of the students. As we left the auditorium, a large crowd followed that just want to spend more time with our team. Somehow, through sharing the gospel with these people all day, we were able to win them over in friendship and truth. As we walked back to our boat, close to 75 towns people followed us and continued to engage with us. We pulled the boat out very quickly because of the crowd as they yelled and cheered, and as we started our way down the river, the 75 kids and adults ran along the shore and those on bikes kept up with us for about a half a mile.
To say the least, it was a crazy night. Although it was only our first day, the whole team feels like it has been a week because of all the new experiences and how great the day was.
Side note: The team has decided, that when we get back, we are going to make Michael Shapleigh USA soccer jersey to commemorate our trip.

blog 7

Title: "When are you coming back?"
Body: This is the question many of the people in the village asked our team as we finished our town meeting. There were several sorrowful partings and great things that God did. Emma met a sweet little girl named Evelyn that literally would not let go of her neck. She jokingly called this sweet girl her "carry-on" as she did not think that she would be able to let her go.
Our optometrist station had a line of 20 for most of the day. Our dentist pulled over 100 teeth. Our family portrait team took pictures of 23 families. Our promo team, as they walked around the village, led 4 people to Christ. We installed a swing in the village that caused a mob of children to rush, so we left an extra one for the church pastor who will have his church built in the next week. At our town meeting, more than 40 children raised their hands to want to call Jesus their friend and savior for the first time. My favorite though is the older adults who are in the back that truly have their heads down and hands raised and are faithfully repeating the prayer to receive Christ.
We have already moved the boat and are docked outside the next village. The breeze is cool. The lights are dimmed on the boat to lessen bugs, music is playing and there is constant chatter and laughs on the top desk of the boat.

Monday, March 9, 2009

AO Blog: do not reply

Title: Brazilians stick together
Body: Tonight we played a game called "Mafia" with our Brazilian translators. Mafia is a game of secrecy and elimination which is too complicated to explain, but we discovered an important fact: Brazilians stick together. The game is designed to spur controversy and sides which ends with tons of laughter and drama. We started with 32 people in the circle, and we soon discovered that the 10 Brazilians were always voting together. It was too late when we realized it and there was nothing we could do to stop the inevitable…. an all Brazilian final.
It is the end of our first day on the river, and having spent the majority of day preparing all of our supplies, refining our ministry training knowledge, and building relationships with our connection to the Portuguese language, we are ready to get busy tomorrow.
We picked up our local pastor today who has hand-picked the villages that we will visit, and currently (10:32 PM on Sunday night), we are anchored outside the first village we will minister to. Here is our schedule for the week…
Monday – 1st Village (this will be a large village)
Tuesday – 2nd Village (small village)
Wednesday – 3rd Village (small village)
Thursday – 3rd Village (2nd Day)
Friday – 4th village (small village)
Friday lat e afternoon, we will begin our 22 hour trek back to Manaus by boat. Our flight back is at 12:30AM Sunday morning.

Title: Humidity, Heat, and Day 1
Body: Breakfast came 7AM this morning as we started our first day. We ate our breakfast, met at 8AM for worship and devotional (by Sarah Tauntan) and then split up in to groups of 3 and 4. Each group had an interpreter and several supplies as they moved through the village. Some teams got to speak in the local school. Some teams went in to homes, and some teams played soccer with the local kids. We did this from 9AM till 11:45.
It was hot, humid, and very encouraging. Everyone that we talked to was very responsive. Even with over 40 bags of ministry supplies, we are worried that we are going to run out. It was a day of our whole team getting to try out their ministry skills.
We had lunch and rehydrated. Most of us took another shower because we needed to cool off.
The rest of the day will continue as follows ….
- This afternoon, we will hang out around the town square, playing soccer, making balloon animals and sharing with folks. We will also use this time to promote our big activity tonight.
- We have reserved the town gymnasium that holds more than 500 people for tonight from 7PM-11PM. We are going to do a puppet show, have a testimony and let someone share the Gospel. It will be a good time.
Will hopefully send pictures soon!


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Blog - do not respond to email! We cannot recieve it!

Title: A hammock never felt so good
Body: The flight from Atlanta was tough. Instead of 5 hours, it was 6 (again, a confusion on the time difference). It seemed more packed then normal flights. We had the hope of tv's on the seats in front of us, but for some reason, every announcement had to be given in four different languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian). And when the announcements were going, you couldn't watch tv. You never really realize how many announcements are given until you have been on a quad-lingual flight. The occasional "we are cruising at 37,000 feet" or "the attendants will be coming through the cabin for trash" would last 10 minutes when you added the pleasantries in.
The sight of the team getting off the plane was a comical one. Everyone's face shown of exhaustion of being in a cramped space for many hours. The customs process did not help. For a flight of around 150, there were 2 custom agents. This process took another 2 hours to get our team through. To say the least, we were DONE with traveling.
As soon as we got to the boat, the whole mood of the team changed. The boats were not pictures anymore. They were real and were magnificent. Both boats were docked as a team from Prestonwood Baptist in Dallas had a team that was in the other boat. The girls went ahead with the translators to tour the boat as the men (not going to call us "guys" here since we were doing a manly duty) started to organize the luggage from the bus and get it to the boat.
Everything about the boat seems somehow authentic. It is completely wooden and is covered in a thick layer of varnish-like material that keeps the wood from rotting. The first floor was a big wide open room where we put all the luggage. There is a little nook there for the washer and dryer. As we make our way up to the second floor through the spiral hallway in the back, you see the girl's floor with their hammocks lined up. It looks like the most comfortable version of human sardines ever invented. The hammocks are so close together tied across the skinny boat, but somehow it did not looked nearly as cramped as the 737 we just got off of.
On the 3rd floor of the boat is another empty room where the guys hang up their hammocks at night to sleep and put out tables in the day to eat meals and meet. At about 2:15AM, our boat pulled out of the dock and slipped out in to the night. No lights on the shores around (this is the Amazon river). Favorite comment from was Cody Scott. As all the students were flipping out about how cool the boat was and what a great adventure they were in for, and Cody said, "dude, I just realized we are in another country! I was looking around the boat and how cool everything is, and then I saw a bird out on the shore, and realized, we don't have birds like that back at home. I forgot. We are in Brazil!"
It was 2:30AM when we finally met as a team on the 3rd floor. We got all of our translators to introduce themselves and give their favorite cereal (the most popular one was Captain Crunch) and sing a worship song. After that, we began to figure out what it meant to sleep in a hammock. They are so much more comfortable that you think. Before the trip, they let us know that we can purchase the hammock we sleep in for $35 at the end of the trip. While I am very much against buying souvenirs that gather dust in the closet, the comfort of this hammock is starting to win me over to the point of purchase.
At about 3AM, we began to fall asleep, with the cool wind of a moving boat making us feel so at peace. As I fell asleep, I was overhearing a conversation between Matt Church and one of our 1st time translators (we have 9 total) on our trip who was eagerly learning the English language. Matt was patiently talking very slow and use hand movements to help him understand his words.
Cody was right. We are in Brazil.

Title: Waking up in the Jungle
Body: This morning I woke up to Cody videoing me sleeping. It was a pretty fun morning for us. We all woke up with the jungle all around us. Both banks were full of trees and jungle. The night before it was all dark. The day before it was all skyscrapers. No one wanted to get out of bed because once you get comfy in the hammock; you do not want to get up.
We had great breakfast of fruit, coffee cake, eggs, bacon and some sort of grill cheese action. It was delicious. We met with the boat crew and went over boat rules. I somehow feel that our team is going to add on to these rules before this trip is over.
We are traveling all day today to get to our first village. The other Amazon Outreach boat was right next to us all morning until it veered off to a different part of the river. We will be seeing them in a week on the way back.
We spent the whole afternoon unpacking 45 suitcases full of ministry material, organizing for our first village tomorrow. Our VBS team practiced their puppet skills which left everyone in tears. Our haircut ministry practiced on a few heads, and one of our young gentlemen (Nico) lost a farkle and had to be the victim of our women's ministry and got to paint his toenails. I wish I could share video or pictures over this blog, but the satellite connection in which we are posting has a very low bandwidth and we are just thankful to be able to send what we have.
The big win so far is that our team has already bonded so well with the Brazilians on the boat and we will be set to be very effective when we land at our first village tomorrow morning. Not bad for a bunch of rookies!
We hope to update this on a daily basis , but it will all depend on satellite  coverage. Thanks for your prayers!