Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Village Church - 1st Day

We Have Arrived!
Having landed in Manaus late friday night, we boarded the Linda Esperanca just before midnight and each claimed the hammock which would become the place to lay our heads under a starlit sky.  Some of us scoffed at the possibility that we would sleep well in such a contraption and were pleasantly surprised at the peaceful sleep that ensued.
We traveled along the Amazon all night and all day Saturday, using the day to relax after a full day of travel and prepare for the following day's activities.  Relaxation time included card games and gazing overboard to see dolphins, riverside villages and a beautiful sunset.  Preparation involved sorting the many checked bags of donations and making family packs to provide the villagers as well as crafting picture frames and gospel bracelets for VBS.
We have enjoyed worship time both morning and evening led by David Quinones (the evening with the lights out overlooking the side of the boat at a marvelous sky).  We also heard Chris White's testimony.
The Linda heralds team members from New Mexico, California, Louisiana, Florida and Texas and the group has united well for this short time and we are ready to serve the people of the Amazon.  Each of us received encouragement uniquely written by Chris Klein's wife, Hollie.  Hollie, we miss your presence and are grateful for your kind words.  All, continue to pray for good health.  Pray that as we enter the villages that they know that we are Christ's disciples by our love for each other and that the hearts, eyes and ears of the people of the Amazon be opened to receive the gospel.
Looking forward to sharing more,
The Village Church Amazon Team

Friday, July 13, 2012

Days 5 & 6

Readers, today is our last in the Amazon! We are so sad to leave, but so overjoyed at the work God has done and cannot wait to share it with you in person!  Your kids have been incredible servant-hearted disciples on this trip and we know that they are anxious to share all God has taught them.
Wednesday night was our last concert in Parantins.  It was one of the students' best performances, and God moved tremendously!  It was wonderful seeing the Brazilians dance to our songs and being able to participate in worship with them.  The performance was held at a beautiful outdoor pavilion and the energy from the crowd was amazing to witness! 
Thursday, we traveled along the Amazon River as we headed back towards Manaus.  We held three different panels on the boats where students had the opportunity to ask questions to the adult sponsors concerning serving in ministry.  The panels included how business men share their faith, lead their families and serve in the church; how business women share their faith and serve in the church; how wives of men in ministry support their husbands, remain obedient to their callings and serve; and how college students remain strong in their faith during school. 
We arrived in a village this morning and spent time doing a little shopping in the market before we will board on our planes in Manaus and head back to the USA! Thank you for supporting our students through prayer, we can assure you prayers have been answered and lives impacted!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Days 3 & 4

Hello, Readers!  As you can tell, our days are so jammed packed, that it is difficult to update as often as we would like because of limited internet connection, so this post will be filling you in on the activities of yesterday and this morning.
Yesterday, our students went to another community and were able to do VBS activities for two different school groups with about 200+ kids.  Several of our students put on skits, shared their testimonies, and did question/answer sessions for the Brazilians, and we had many opportunities to share Christ!  Here is a testimony from one of our students on her activities yesterday:
"Yesterday, my family group was supposed to go help with the clinic in a village oustide of Parantins.  Instead, we were assigned to go back to VBS.  I was a little disappointed because I was really excited to experience something different.  But, before we headed to VBS, I prayed that the Lord would change my heart and attitude.  Whenever we arrived at VBS, God gave me the opportunity to lead 9 girls to Christ.  God showed me that if our circumstances don't turn out the way we want them to, He will faithfully answer prayers and give us the chance to glorify Him!" -Macie Herring
The groups that were not doing VBS activities, were able to assist our nurse and a dentist in a clinic we held.  We also had many people come, and were able to give away basic necessities to them.  It was truly touching to be able to serve these beautiful people.  Some of our girls were able to paint nails, cut hair, and love on women and of course we have been playing A LOT of soccer! 
Last night, our students performed in another outdoor pavilion of the community we had been working in all day.  It is wonderful seeing our students love on the crowd--especially the younger children.  Afterwards, we were able to hear from two missionaires we've been traveling with, Josiah and Megan McIntyre.  They are a young couple in their 20's who have been in Brazil a little over two years.  They also have an almost one year old daughter, Asia.  Our students were blessed to hear about their call to the country of Brazil, and we are thankful for their hearts in serving the Kingdom. 
This morning was the first time we were able to go into the classrooms of 8 different schools here in Parantins.  The students were split up into groups of 3 with one translator and the majority of them shared their testimonies to the classes of the hope they have found in Jesus Christ.  Our students really enjoyed getting to share with teenagers around their age, and the school's faculties were very appreciative of us coming!  We are going to be visiting more schools this afternoon, so please be praying God provides us with opportunities and great conversation!
Here is another student's account of yesterday and today:
"During this week in Brazil, I wasn't expecting to be so open about my faith.  I'm used to talking to friends and family about God, but would never thought to speak to young women in a foreign country who don't even speak my language!  On this trip, I was expecting to sit back, play and love on the kids and not actually share my faith or the Gospel with anyone.  But, God had different plans for me in store.  The third day, we were here I was told to help speak in front of a classroom in a village and talk about my trials of being a Christian and how I can always overcome them because I have a personal relationship with Christ.  When I was told that, I was extremely nervous and scared I would say something wrong or wouldn't say enough to where they could understand my point I was trying to get across.  The night before I prayed about that God would speak through me.  When I was handed the microphone the next day, God completely took over when I spoke.  Afterwards, a girl my age came up to me and told me she wanted exactly what I had and I got the opportunity to pray with her and help her to accept Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior.  During this trip, God has really taught me to let go and let Him take over control of my life, and now I have spoken to so many girls and boys about having a personal relationship with Him.  This trip has made a huge impact on my life!  I am now more comfortable to share God's Word with anyone, and on this trip I learned to let go and let God!" -Nicole Craven
We have our final concert in Parantins tonight, and we have invited students from all of the schools we've visited and will visit this afternoon. Please be praying for a mighty work of the Holy Spirit and that He will move amongst this community.  God Bless!
Another student shared her account of the past couple of days:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Day 2 Blog

(This is the blog from yesterday!  I apologize that it was not posted yesterday, we had no internet signal where we were! Enjoy!)
"Last night (Sunday), our students performed their first outdoor concert in Parantins.  It was an incredible experience, and the students were blessed to be able to watch a service in Portuguese including worship, praise dancing, and a sermon!  We saw 8 people make decisions for Christ and it was a tremendous blessing!  Our students enthusiasm has been awesome to watch, and the relationships some of them have built have forever impacted their lives.
Today (Monday), we went into the community of Cabori.  Our students went into the schools and ministered through various activities including VBS, sharing their testimonies, and question/answer sessions about life in the United States.  Several of our students led children and teenagers to the Lord, and were able to experience the love of the community.  Here is an excerpt from one of our students:
"God has taught me to be a servant for Him.  Over the past few days, He's shown me how great I really have it and how much I can help others.  I've really enjoyed helping others and sharing a smile.  I love you, family!" -Tristyn Richardson
Tonight, we performed a concert in front of the schools and saw many of the same students with their families.  God is alive and active amongst our students and their witnesses have truly impacted those around them.  They are truly giving above and beyond and God is using them to glorify His name!"
Be on the lookout later this evening for an update of today's activity and concert tonight (Tuesday)! God Bless! 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Day 1 Blog

Hello, Readers!  We have officially been in the Amazon since Friday afternoon, and God has already been working and moving immensely amongst our group and the people of Brazil!  Friday night upon our arrival, we performed a "flash mob" scene in the Manaus Mall and invited people to attend our concert the next evening and tonight's performance we will have in Parintins. 
Yesterday, our groups had the opportunity to do ministry along the Amazon River.  Three of our groups went to villages and ministered to the people there through VBS, and men's/women's ministry.  The other group went to an orphanage and painted all day while loving on beautiful kids!  Below is an excerpt I've asked one of our students on our boat to share about her experience yesterday in one of the villages:
"I was so nervous for going to the village today but God definitely tore down all the barriers between us, the kids, adults, and the village.  I absolutely fell in love with the people.  It was so hard to leave.  A little girl name Susianna gave me a neckalce and told me to never forget about her, it seriously broke my heart (in a good way).  I've really been considering being a missionary lately because God has been placing it on my heart so much, but I've been nervous.  My life changed today...I will never forget Susianna and the people I met and made relationships with." -Barbara Pascale
Then last night, we had a concert with 3,000 in attendance at New Baptist Church in Manaus.  There were 18 decisions made for Christ last night in result, and God truly moved through our students' performance and attitudes.  We had the privilege of getting to talk with many Brazilian teenagers after the performance, and our students were truly blessed to be able to learn from and minister to them. 
Please be praying for our performance tonight and be on the lookout for our post tomorrow!  God Bless from the Linda Esperanca!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Day 5 Jay's blog

hello all,
    our trip this year was the best ever.  the work in lake carara is taking such a nice form.  who would have thought that 9 years ago when the presbyterian church of manaus thought to send a single girl to one of the hardest places on the river that we would be a part of such beautiful things.  years of relationship building in the villages led to Erika and her husband Vanderley moving into one of the villages to show their full committment to the lake.  the land was donated for the expected future construction of a "church".  a mission house was soon to become a reality and  eastwood donated the first books for the library.  the next year, we built a playground.  the community now calls the mission house the "church" and even let them paint the church name on the building!  this year we dedicated a beautiful baptismal font, communion trays and rocking chairs for the Presbyterian Church of Sol Nascente. we enjoyed a communion and baptismal service and heard from the Presbyterian pastor in charge of the entire region.  the little church is growing but with much persecution from the local community.  the areas are heavily influenced by a weird hybrid of Catholicism and mysticism.  no catholic service is offered but the folks think they must be loyal to that order.  its weird but the truth is marching on.  thank you for praying and giving.
come with us next year as we have been asked to return to lead another summer bible conference for them.
in Christ.

Day 5 Sue's blog

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sue's Blog on Sol Nascente

If I wrote alll the things I have to say, it would end up being a book, so I will try to be brief. Saying goodbye to Sol Nascente last night was very difficult. We waved goodbye to a few of the closest friends beneath a huge full moon until our boat pulled away from the shore. Of all the villages I have visited over the last nine years, this is the village that I love the most. This is why I chose to come with the Alabama team instead of my home team who is heading to other villages in a few weeks. Of all the people in the world, I consider Erika one of my dearest friends even though we live at opposite ends of the earth. Getting to spend these days with her and Vanderley and Emmanuelle serving in their villages has been one of the biggest blessings of my life. I was astounded at the changes they have brought to Sol Nascente. Many of these changes have been possible because of Jay and the Eastwood Presbyterian Church. The village now has a beautiful church with a sound system and a small air conditioner. It has a full library for the people. Erika lives in the Missionary House that is attached to the church. I love the wonderful playground, Eastwood Parque, that the village children enjoy each day. It was so fun to see other playgrounds popping up in some of the other villages. This shows that Erika and Vanderley's ministry has had a far reaching influence over the entire lake area. These missionaries are the real thing! They not only talk the talk, but the walk the walk. Their level of committment to Christ has deeply touched my life and encouraged me to try to be a better person.

So many things happened at Sol Nascente during the two days we spent there. We tried some new things in VBS this year since this village has believers that are being discipled. The children learned how to pray using the 5 Finger Prayer and made fun foam hands with words on each finger in Portuguese. We improvised and made looped handles for the hands out of pipe cleaners. Children of all ages were totally fascinated with pipe cleaners. Who would have thought? The next day we gave each child a simple pipe cleaner and thrilled them! We let the children role play a wedding after hearing the Bible story about the Jesus' first miracle at the wedding at Cana of Galiee. We had a real wedding veil, donated flowers from a villager's yard, a bow tie for the groom (a fun foam visor turned around backwards and fastened in front), and of course pipe cleaner wedding rings. Each child got a Burger King crown to decorate. We hope it made them aware that Christians wait for God to choose their life mate and get married. There was a real wedding in the village not long ago which was an example for the people to follow. I think the highlight of VBS was the Easter Egg Hunt! After hearing the story of the Resurrection and opening a set of Resurrection Eggs (which they loved), we had a traditional American Easter Egg Hunt. It was the funniest thing to see these children run like crazy to find 300 eggs stuffed with Portuguese verses about New Life in Christ and some bon-bons. Of course the village children (and adults) were delighted with the Glo Bracelets that were given out after dark after worship services. We could see them glowing from the boat as the children darted back and forth on their way to their humble homes..

Another memory from Sol Nascente was the powerful service we had in the church on Tuesday afternoon. There was a dedication of the gifts brought from Eastwood: four heavy wooden rocking chairs for the women who hand craft colorful rugs and kitchen towels, a beautiful full communion set, and the most exquisite baptismal font built by Dr. Jack Hinton. The cedar came from woods behind their home. A whole family and precious little Emmanuelle were baptized. It was the sweetest moment, and I am so thankful I got to see it. The church was packed and many people stood outside the building. We concluded the service with a very meaningful time of communion.

The most unforgettable thing happened to me at Sol Nascente. God had a Divine appointment waiting for me. Years ago a relationship was built between some members of my Texas team and a woman named Nia. Julie Jackson, I hope you are reading this blog because this is for you, too. For two years in a row our team came to Sol Nascente, and this was before teams could choose their village destinations. Julie and Nia had many conversations about salvation and Heaven. After two years Nia fully understood the saving grace of Jesus Christ and was assured of her place in Heaven. Later that year, Nia died of cancer. On the first day of our visit here, I asked Erika to take me to Nia's family. I met Luis Carlos and his fourteen year old daughter, Rafaela, and one of his sons. Most of their children are grown and have moved away from Sol Nascente. Luis Carlos is one of the men who physically built the church building, but he does not come near the church now. He is not interested in the things of God but says he believes. We talked at great length about many things and about Nia. The son said he definitely was not saved and not interested at all. Rafaela is not saved at this time, but after all the conversations with me, the teenagers and young ladies from our team, she said she is not quite sure YET, but her tears let us know that her heart is softening and she is becoming less resistant. I was deeply touched when I looked outside the church on Tuesday afternoon and saw Luis Carlos all cleaned up, dressed up, and standing there a few yards from the open door. He stayed the entire time. Rafaela was inside the church and listened to the pastor's message which was excellent. It was dark by the time the service ended and all the family packs had been handed out. My heart was heavy, because I hated having to say goodbye to Sol Nascente. But Luis Carlos and Rafaela walked with us beneath the big full moon all the way to the Linda Esperanca. Luis Carlos pointed to the moon and said the Portuguese word for it and said, "Nia" and pointed up. He said, "Deus" and touched his heart. He said, "Hug Julie." The father and daughter stood on the shore by the boat for at least two hours and did not turn to leave until the boat finally pulled away. This action showed that our visit meant very much to them. I will never forget seeing them wave until the boat was out of sight.

We are now on our long voyage back to Manaus. It is the 4th of July and the girls have planned a big red, white, and blue party for tonight. It was been a relaxing day on the boat. A morning rain storm on the Amazon was the perfect opportunity for a nice long nap for our tired bodies. Tomorrow morning we will shop at "Stuckey"s. If anyone from Texas sees Timmy Lambert, tell him that I have not forgotten my promise of a stuffed pirhana for him! We will have a couple of rooms at the Tropical Hotel (now with a new name and new owners) for hot showers and some rest before our trip home. If we are lucky, we will get to go to the Brazilian steakhouse before our flight home.

I am so glad to said yes when God called me to the Amazon this summer. So many times I almost said no. I will return home a different person. I have never felt such peace and such joy and such assurance that God will always take care of me and my family just like he has all of my life. He is in control of every detail of our lives. Even in times of sorrow and uncertainty, I am reminded and amazed by His overwhelming grace. I am glad that I can recognize His voice when He speaks to me. I consider it a great privilege to have spent these last few days with this incredible team of missionaries. God bless everyone who took the time to read my blog which did not turn out to be short.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Day 5 at Sol Nascente :D

Hey Peeps!

Today was a great last day in Sol Nasciente!! We had our last VBS this morning, and last medical clinic. This afternoon, we had a service in the church. We witnessed the first baptisms and first communion. It was an awesome experience. Last night, we went on our 2nd gator hunt!!! I was almost eaten by a 15 footer.....just kidding!!! We did catch a 5 footer, and I held it!! That thing would make some awesome cowgirl boots!! Tomorrow we will travel all day. We are going to have a party rockin' 4th of July, while cruisin' on the Amazon River. HOLLA!!! Yes, we are going to stop at Stuckey's on the Amazon! We get the great privilege of scootin' around Manaus on Thursday. Holla, again. It's sort of bittersweet having to leave these people, but I will return if the Lord wills. Thanks to everyone for supporting this trip, whether through prayers, or financially. I hope all is well at home, and Happy 4th of July, everyone!! God Bless 'Merica!

P.S. Papa Jay (Big Bad Wolf) told me to blog for him, and say hey!

I'll be home soon,

George of the Jungle.

Well George pretty much summed everything up. And I agree completely that the being able to watch the first communions and baptisms was an awesome experience. It was so sweet, God is so awesome. Papa Jay informed us that a few years ago, the A team was standing around an empty foundation, praying for a church. This afternoon, we had a service in that church that the team prayed for two years ago. I dont know why we ever doubt God's power or ability. He can do anything He wills. This trip has been a huge reminder to me of just that. God is SO powerful and mighty. His purpose for me, for my team, for yall is so much bigger than ourselves. Going on a missions trip, always reminds me of how selfish I am. Ugh, it just makes me sick. These people, they have barely anything but yet are so content. I thank God for continuely bringing me to my knees and reminding me of how I am in desperate need of a Saviour. Trust. Trusting God is so important. Sometimes, I get discouraged. "Why wont ALL these people just believe? Why dont they get that God loves them so much and wants a relationship with them?" I need to, I have to, trust that God is mighty to save. Because He is. So, now we are on our way to Manaus. As George said, it is bittersweet. "Although we Ameicans are leaving, God never will." (Jordan quote) Anywho...boa noite to all.

-Emily (Flipper)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Day 4 at Sol Nascente :)

It is amazing how simple things make such a difference. In the U.S., our kids and us are so caught up with the latest toys and the games only for them to quickly grow old and need to be replaced. Here in the villages, our trash (water bottles) have become instruments (with rocks inside), swords, balls, etc. It is so amazing to see these kids enjoy the simple things in life. This evening, I had the simple luxury of talking to two people: one was a brother in Christ who is needed someone to talk to and one is the most beautiful woman in the world, my wife. The wonderful gift of conversation and relationship is something that so often gets lost in the busyness of our lives. I am just grateful that I was allowed an opportunity to be in the middle of the Amazon river and be reminded of that gift. Lee Ann and my five incredible kids, I LOVE YOU and will see you soon!

- Chris Duggar

There is a white board beside the "buffet line." Every day, the list of the villages that are ministered to are recorded. As the trip has gone on, the list gets longer and longer. It is impressive to see the various places we have visited:

1. Divino - 6/29

2. Maranhao - 6/30 A.M.

3. Paraiso - 6/30 P.M.

4. Sol Nascente - 7/1 A.M.

5. Bucuzal - 7/1 P.M.

6. Sol Nascente - 7/2, 7/3.

Under this list, the people blogging that night are listed. Tonight it reads "BLOG OPEN TO ANYONE." So, I am taking advantage of this opportunity.

I hope y'all prayed today for the teenage girls of Sol Nascente like I encouraged you to do yesterday. Your prayers were greatly felt by Georgianna, Emily, Becky, Erika, Rosi, and I. All fears were calmed. The saving power of God's word and the testimonies of His love in our lives were given with power, love, and urgency. It was beautiful. It was amazing.

We started with 12 girls in Erika's home, excluding Rosi, Georgianna, Emily, Becky, and I. Once everyone had arrived, we decided to "break the ice" by introducing ourselves. We didn't even get through the Americans before we just jumped right into it. Becky told them the reason why we are here: because we are called by God to come down here to Lake Carara to minister to them. We shared our life stories of God's grace, mercy, and the continual struggle to focus ONLY on Christ...and no one else. Rosi, our faithful, amazing, translator, translated for us. Then, she jumped it.....telling her story and got "down and dirty" with those girls...telling them the urgency, the need, the sole satisfaction found in Jesus. It was amazing. By the end of the session, we only had 7 girls.....and only about 3 were really listening. But those that were were greatly impacted. Honestly, I can't wait to head back out in the morning to Sol Nascente to see what God did in their hearts during the night. HIS WORD NEVER COMES BACK VOID.

So, pray tomorrow that, as we continue to ask these girls hard questions, they will be open to us. Pray that God will remove the scales from their eyes so that they can see Him.

OH! Tomorrow, we are having baptisms at the church from the new baptismal font! AND Communion from the new communion trays. I cannot wait for those sweet moments of fellowship with my brothers and sisters from the boat, Igreja Presbiteriana de Sol Nascente, and with Christ.

Pray for strength. Tomorrow is our last day.....and we are exhausted.

Thanks. Love y'all! Solo Deo Gloria!

Jordan A. Holley

P.S. We went gator huntin again tonight.......and we caught a biggun! ;)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Day 3 at Sol Nascente and Bucuzal

Hey y'all!

There have been so many memories made on this trip. Georgianna fell out of her hammock one night...then Emily fell out last night. So many new inside jokes have been created. It is fantastic. But what is even better is the work God is doing here. I don't know if it is because I have been here now 3 times, if I am noticing it more, or if there is a real concentrated presence of God in my life and here in the lake. I believe it is the third one. There seems to be more hearts that are open and willing to receive Christ. Combined with people who are literally pouring their lives into and sacrificing everything for the sake of Christ, amazing sermons, and fantastic personal testimonies of God's goodness, the Word of God is making a huge impact. His work (even though it may take years) and Word NEVER come back void.

The translators and crew are fantastic. I think this is the best group I have ever worked with. I am building some amazing relationships. These people are incredible. Their testimonies of God's work is phenomenal. I am blown away.

Mom, I am fine. I haven't gotten sick, nor have I forgotten anything. Ok, I take that back. I forgot a flashlight...but then I realized I have the flashlight app on my phone. :) I did slice my toe open in the first village (Divino) right before lunch. I was walking past some tiles in the community center...and they went right between my 3rd and 4th toes. But everything is fine. :) You can see the scar when I return. And, if I come back with a child............don't blame me. I have already picked him out. ;) Oh, and I thought I had lice today. I was doing girls' hair in Bucuzal and several had lice. So, I skipped the service to treat my hair. Turns out that I did not have any. Huzzah!

Now, I want to encourage y'all to prayer. Whether you are family, friends, subscribers to the blog, etc....pray pray pray. It is so powerful. The prayers that were sent up before arriving have been answered...and are continuing to be answered. Be praying for continued open hearts. Tomorrow, we minister to Sol Nascente for 2 days. Georgianna, Emily, Laura, Becky, and I will be working with the teenage girls. This is the ministry that has been on my heart and quite a burden for me. These girls have no interest in the gospel....even after 3 years of coming here. Pray that the Lord will use us mightily for His work. Pray that their eyes will be opened. Pray it will be fruitful....whether to full fledge faith, or tiny seeds planted/watered. I am on my knees about it...and I encourage you to do the same.

It is hot. It is humid. It is cold at night. It is hard work. It is tiring. But, it is beautiful. I would not trade a single moment of seeing God's goodness for a moment of AC (even though it is tempting). I have so many pictures (no, Mom...I haven't lost my camera...aka phone. Ha.) and I can't wait to post them on Facebook! I may even put several on my blog along with stories. So, when we return, be looking for it!

Love y'all! PRAY!


P.S: Mom, can you please send this link to Elaine, people at Eastwood, and possibly David? Thanks.


Greetings from the J.U.N.G.L.E!

This has been the BEST trip yet! I can honestly say that the success of this trip is because of the constant prayers on our behalf. Please continue to pray ferverently, as we still have much work ahead of us. I am going to mirror Jordan's comment on the memories and inside jokes, so many have been created. It is a bit overwhelming to see the many ways God is working here in the Amazon. It is even more overwhelming to think that God is working in so many more ways that I cannot see. God has worked in my life these past few days with drawing me closer to himself, and falling deeper in love with him.

Mom and Dad, I am fine! Hopefully I will not come home infested with chiggers this year. I just returned from Alligator hunting. It was fantastic!

I love everyone so much! Keep praying!

Love your Amazon Woman,

Georgianna :)


Querido(a)s, (Dears)

We had a great day today! It was long and busy, but we feel as though our day was a huge success! This morning we dedicated the baptismal font, the communion trays and the rocking chairs to the church at Sol Nascente. This is the church that our missionaries, Erika and Vanderlay serve. The ladies in the church have a sewing ministry that supports the church and some of us bought rugs and dish towels. We had a service there this morning where Jay's mother and Walker Lee sang and Sadler accompanied on the guitar, "God is my Shepherd". It was great. We moved on to another village where we set up the clinics and had VBS. We had lots of folks that lined up to see the doctors and the dentists. VBS was standing room only!!! Emily, Georgianna, Jordan and Becky (our translator), acted out the story of Saul on the road to Damascus. I read from a big picture book and the girls made it come to life!!!! Academy Awards await them all. At this writing, I am recovering nicely from my shock at being handed an alligator straight from the Amazon River. Yes, it is true. It was a great adventure and I didn't even mess up my nails!!!

The people here are so hospitable and we are being blessed by their faithfulness in a place where there aren't many creature comforts.

We will have LOTS of stories to tell when we see you all again! In the meantime, please remember to pray for us!!!

Much love,

Scarlett O'Hara aka Sonja

I am so blessed to be here again with Jack, Jay and his family. God has blessed us this week. I enjoyed praising God with our special music in the service this morning. We will spend the next two days ministering to the folks in Sol Nascente. It will be wonderful to see the baptism and to have communion with them.

Love to all my family and friends,


P.S. Attn: family of Sue Rolf. Please pick her up on Friday at the airport....she told you Saturday, but she was wrong. She does not want to be left overnight. The baggage claim will not allow her to sleep there.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day 2 at Maranhao and Paraiso

June 30, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

Today has been a most amazing day on the mighty Amazon River. The A Team from Eastwood Presbyterian Church of Montgomery, Alabama (with one transplant from Texas and one from Georgia) is happy to report that our deepest expectations were met today, and we are most thankful to God for the many blessings He has given us. The team is thriving under Jay Hinton's leadership. He makes each team member feel important, and he brings joy to the team. The team is very close and bonding is growing deeper each day. This blog is being written jointly by Sue, Emily, Sadler, and Walker Lee.

Today we visited two smaller villages, Maranhao and Paraiso. Maranhao is a very unique village that is in one of the most remote areas of the Lake Carara region. The houses are built on the side of a hill. This village has families that are mostly nonbelievers. Paraiso is one of the most beautiful villages. It is the one with the steep stairs that used to be green, but now they are pink. The view from the top of the hill is breathtaking. Paraiso now has a generator, so electric lights line the outdoor paths. Both villages have new municipal areas with school rooms and restrooms (that were locked). At both villages we had medical and dental teams, ladies minsitry, and VBS. At Maranhao 56 patients were seen in medical and 14 patients were seen in dental. At Paraiso 52 patients were seen in medical and 12 were seen in dental.

Walker Lee (8 years old) - Today I played soccer with some Brazilian boys. We were just playing for fun. I also went to VBS at both villages. I thought it was a lot of fun. I liked how the children made the craft that showed how Jesus is our bridge to God. The kids glued a red strip of paper on a piece of card stock that had each kid's name at one end and Deus (God) at the other end. The word pecado (sin) was under the bridge. They arched a red bridge over the pecado and wrote JESUS on the bridge. Then they decorated their papers with fun foam cross stickers.

Sadler - Today was a great day. My grand-father and I finished putting the last pieces of the baptismal font together. Also, we put placks on the rocking chairs and the font that dedicate these things from Eastwood to the Presbyterian Church of Sol Nascente where these things will be place. I've had a lot of fun working in the villages. Hopefully the next week will be eventful.

Sue and Emily - The following people worked in a morning VBS at Maranhao and an afternoon VBS at Paraiso: Sue, Chris (translator, guitar player and song leader), Jordan, Georgianna, Emily, Becky, Nathaniel, Jonathan, Eleanor, Sonja, and Walker Lee. At Maranhao we asked the children if they knew Jesus or if they knew anything about Him. Not one child knew anything at all about Him! So the team spent the entire time focusing on evangelism stories and activities. We used the Evangecube, the Wordless Book, and the illustration of how the blood of Christ covers our sins (white t shirt, red marker to write words for sins that the kids dictated to us, tulle or net to show how we try to cover our sin ourselves, and red cellophane that represents the blood. We also sang fun songs and had a Big Book story about miracles of Jesus. Most of the children were young (from about 3 - 12 years old). There were five older teenage boys standing outside the open window. They were very cool dudes. They seemed very curious. After a while we coaxed them into the room, and they participated in all that we were doing. When VBS was over, they stayed seated. They had questions. We invited Pastor Raimundo Jose Barbosa to come in to talk to the boys. The five boys accepted Christ as their Savior. They received new Bibles, This thrilled the team because they will be the future leaders of this village. At Paraiso we did much of the same activities. Dr. Jack brought toothbrushes and toothpaste for all the kids. We can hardly wait to do VBS at the rest of the villages!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Day 1 at Divino

We started the day at Divino, the weather is beautiful. The village is located on a hill. Dr. Twilley and Dr. Eli set up their dental station and saw patients all day. Not as busy as we would like to be but saw everybody that needed to be treated. The people were very receptive and appreciative of our services. The best part was that 5 people were saved when the Brazilian pastor, Pastor Rai, preached. This is significant because prior to this visit only one person had been saved. Dr. Jack worked on the font and put all four rocking chairs together. Sadler was very helpful and did lots of the work. The people in the village were very receptive and there were many many children. The medical team treated over fifty patients today. We had some rain off and on, the weather generally has been good. Our team is working real good together as well as our interpreters. So far the food has been great except for the fish heads. We are currently in construction of the baptismal to put in sol nacente. A highlight of the day for Sadler was the nail and hair clinic that we ran for the girls in the village. Finally, we handed out thirty-five family bags at our service tonight.

-Dr. Jack and Dr. Dog

We have been on this trip for 3 days and we are just beginning to get used to sleeping in the hammoks and eating beans/ rice three times a day...The theme of our trip has been sacrifice...Sacrifice of comfort, AC, family, money, etc. But, it is all worth it when compared to the riches of Christ and seeing God glorified in these villages. One of the highlights of this trip for me is seeing familiar faces in familiar villages and knowing that they are hearing the same and True gospel year in/year out. May God be glorified by Eastwood's dedication to and pursuit of this area of the Amazon river! May all of us in the body of Eastwood revel in the fact that we will someday spend eternity with our Brazilian brothers and sisters that we as a church have supported all of these years!

In closing, I would be remiss to not take a moment and thank my incredible, talented, beautiful, faithful wife for HER sacrifice for the men/ women/ children on Brazil. If it was not for her and many other wives and husbands through the years, we (the team here) would not be able to do this. I can rest at night knowing that my family is okay because my best friend is taking care of them; looking to Christ for guidance, provision and wisdom. I DO miss my kids; I DO miss my wife; I do miss my dogs...But, I know that they believe as strongly as I do that this is where I should be right now and that daddy is praying for them as strongly as they are praying for him.

- Chris Duggar

Monday, June 25, 2012

Day 5th at Nossa Sra de Fatima II

Hello everyone!

I would like to start off by saying how blessed we have been because everyone is healthy and well! Our trip has been going great these past couple of days and I would also like to thank you for all of your prayers. Saturday morning we woke up and did our usual morning devotional and we went to the village around the First Baptist Church of Janauaca. The Lord worked through us in men's and women's ministry, VBS, eyeglasses, medical help, and soccer games. Our translators have done an incredible job helping us speak to the people in the village and the Lord has did incredible work touching peoples' lives on Saturday. A couple of the men on our team took some of the men and boys from the village over to the opposite side of the river to play soccer. It was such a blessing to see the men and children both light up when they got the opportunity to play. Mary Beth has been doing a great job as our VBS leader, and on Saturday led around 21 children in songs, stories, and crafts. That night we attended Philadelphia Baptist Church again and we celebrated the 1st birthday of a baby boy named Allyson. His mother came up and spoke about how he was born with tumors on his brain that were inoperable, and the doctor did not think he would make it to his frist birthday. Due to nothing but the abundant grace and love of God, we had the opportunity to celebrate his birthday with him and his mother. On Sunday morning we arrived at the Assembly of God church and helped the people with the same things that we had on Saturday. We got to meet the pastor of the church and speak with the people, which was an incredible experience. That night we attended the church where Andrew delievered the message to the people. He did a great job in his sermon and the pastor was very thankful to have him there. Today we are visiting a village that is very different than the ones before. Its name is Nossa Senhora De Fatima II and it is in the middle of the jungle. We have previously used the churches as the make-shift pharmacy/room for eye glasses, but this village does not have a church so someone offered up their house for us to use. The VBS is being held in the middle of the trees on a tarp. Though this is different than what we have experienced before, we have grown to appreciate the circumstances in which God has put us in today. The men women and children are mostly unbelievers and we are so thankful to get an opportunity to witness to them. We just had lunch and right now is our one hour break until we head back into the village to continue our work. I hope that you will continue to pray for us as we are going alligator hunting tonight! We are taking a small boat out, but the men are pretty excited about getting the chance to wrestle and alligator...

Thank you again for all your prayers and I will update you on our journey tomorrow!

God bless!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Days 5 & 6 - Vila Candida, Boa Vista dos Ramos, Itapeacu

Dave D - What a blessing this week was for so many...Brazilians and Americans!  My greatest joy is watching your kids choose to serve God in ways they did...some for the very first time.  God is good to show Himself to all of us in simple and amazing ways.  Thank you for making it possible for us to be here.  The stories of His grace and mercy abound.  Here are a few...
Katie Mc - On Tuesday, Grace Colombo, Izabel, and I were grouped to go from door to door. It was amazing. We came to the first house, and an old woman opened the door. She invited us in and to sit down. She said she did not know who Jesus was, and after Grace and I began to talk to this woman, she opened up more. She seemed interested, and after letting her know about the service that night, we let her know that she could talk to the pastor. Later that night, I saw her at the service, and she was singing along with the worship songs. God really perservered through Grace and me as mouthpieces for Him.
Blake B- Mark and Francisco. The (simplified) names of the two men who made an impact on me that will last a lifetime. I was helping out at VBS in Pedra (The Rock in Portuguese). Pedra had never been visited by an Amazon Outreach boat so the day held much opportunity in itself. Earlier in the week, I was feeling like I wasn't too useful (as did many others in the beginning of the trip) and I prayed that God would use me accordingly to what He needed done. Basically I prayed that He would use me and that I would be satisfied immediately seeing fruit or not. So the afternoon after this prayer, I saw Mark in VBS and started asking if he had a kid in VBS and he said no I invited him to play soccer and of course he said yes...He's Brasilian. So I continued and asked him if he wanted to know that story of Noah; the story the kids were learning. So I began to tell him out Noah and tried to fit in the whole gospel as part of the story. We arrived at the soccer field and thankfully the Lord took over. After talking for about 20 minutes with Francisco (he came with us) and Mark, God just did a marvelous work and allowed Mark to have a soft heart to the great grace of God. He accepted Christ as his personal savior and I praise God for that. Unknowingly, he was from another village and I gave him a New Testament and a couple gospel tracts. God used me as a tool to share the gospel to two villages. Wow. I was so humbled at God's intricate creativity in His plans. I was also able to encourage Francisco in his faith: He told me that he had a dream that a large group of people came in a boat to Pedra to spur on his beliefs and he had been praying for reinforcement to instill faith in Pedra. Once again God answered prayers. This has shown me that God is ALWAYS faithful. Whether it's immediate or way later, God comes through and works his will into everything. He is so so good. Brasil has yet again been a fantastic channel which through God has blessed everyone here; from Texas or Brasil. Shout out to Jean Prouvaire. Miss you and love you so much. BRASIL 2012. Lego. Psalm 34:8.
Hannah Pavey- I've never seen a more beautiful smile. Hannati opened my eyes to a new kind of beauty. A few days ago, we traveled to Terra Praeta, and I felt the Lord calling me to serve in the youth girls ministry. We were setting up tables and chairs under a shaded tree and also looking for girls to invite to paint their nails and play with their hair. We had a few customers and then it happened....My eyes locked with a beautiful eleven year old girl standing off in the distance. It took a few minutes for her to accept my invitation to paint her nails and get to know her. She told me her name was Hannati. This precious girl had a cleft lip and two front teeth. Looking at her for the first time, most people in her city would have rejected her because of her appearance. However, her handicapped smile enabled me to see a picture of pure joy: Hannati reminded me that we are made in the Lord's image and PERFECT in his sight. As I painted her little nails, I kept glancing up at her and saw that she was beeming with joy. I kept saying "bonita! bonita!" This only made her smile more. We then went into a classroom with about 15 other pre-teen girls. We shared the gospel and our testamonies. After having a conversation about things girls struggle with, the Lord faithfully opened up and revealed himself to those girls. Hannati was especially blown away with the vastness of the Lord's love for her. I gave her a bible and wrote her a note in the front page: "Precious Hannati, You are Beautiful-never let anyone tell you otherwise. You are a daughter of God and he loves you more than you will ever imagine. I love you and I am praying for you." I had a translator read this out loud to Hannati, and once she heard these words, she leaped into my arms and her whole body shook with tears. I absolutely lost it when I felt her tears run down my back. The Lord brought her to me to reveal that even those with cleft lips and rejected by society are breath-taking in the eyes of the Lord. I am speechless with how the Lord places people in our lives by divine intervention and chooses to use us as vessles to further HIS Kingdom. His name was magnified this week, and all Glory, Honor and Praise go to Him!
Preston Pownell - Two years ago I met two young mentally handicapped boys in a village that made a drastic impact on my life.  When we first arrived in Brazil, we were told that we would be going back to the same village that these two boys were from.  Last year, we did not get to go back to their village and I honestly gave up the hope of ever getting to see them again.  Two days ago we were told that we would not actually be visiting the two boys village, and this was a very discouraging thing for me to here.  I felt like God was giving me a false hope of joy, and I was almost mad at God.  I realized that I am not on this trip to fulfill my own fleshly desires, but to do the will of God, but, God's plan was not yet finished.  Rose Delph approached me and told me that I might have the oppurtunity to take a few friends on a speedboat to their village called, Sao Benedicto.  This morning, I woke up and heard the announcement that my mom, my brother, David Jordan, Chloe Robinson, Presley Scott, Bruno, and I would be taking a speedboat to the village for the morning.  When we arrived in the village, I vaguely remembered where things where and I told the group to follow me.  It was a total God thing and I ended up walking straight to their house.  We knocked on the door and the father answered and we asked where the boys were.  He had three other children in the house and he said that he had one more somewhere outside.  He sent his younger son to go find him and I sat down in their house just praying that it would be one of those two boys.  I looked up and saw one of those two boys walking into the house and he immediately recognized me.  I was astounded and blown away at God's power and how he works things out.  The boys name is Adeyuto (I think... I can't ever really understand) and it turns out that the other boy was actually Adeyuto cousin that lives in another village but to be able to see one of them was just incredible.  Our whole group got to spend the morning with them and everyone with me got to see how sweet of a young man he really is.  God answers prayers and I would just like to encourage everyone who reads this that God is all powerful and he can even allow someone to travel across the world with a gamble that one boy might be there and provide a way for me to see him again.  God has done magnificent things this week and He does not intend to stop just here in Brazil.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day 4 - Cameta

Oi from Brazil! Currently we are waiting for the rain to pass here in Cameta so we can go out and serve the village. Last night we were reflecting on our experiences throughout the trip so far and we realized we forgot to tell you about an incredible experience God blessed us with in the airport while we were waiting to receive our visas.For those of you that don't know, 13 people did not know if they would be able to go to Brazil because their visas were denied. Jed Thompson, the director of Amazon Outreach, flew to Houston on Thursday (the day we left) to work out the visas. Because of this, all 13 of us were stuck entertaining ourselves for four hours waiting for the visas to come through. During this span of time, we all got the incredible privilege of meeting David Teran. David was helping us with our
luggage when he started to ask us about our trip. We told him all about Amazon Outreach, and how we were going to spread the love of God to the villages along the river. David had to go to work for a little bit after this and later told us that he had gone up to a Muslim man and used us as a testimony for Christ. He challenged the man, asking him if Muslims pursued love in this way. The man replied no, and simply left. While this doesn't seem like much, David was confident that God had planted a seed in that man through us. David spent about an hour talking with us, sharing his love for Christ and his testimony. He had only been a Christian for about three years, but the Holy Spirit's presence
was so evident in him. Not having our visas was an extremely stressful beginning to the trip, but us meeting David was just yet another example of how everything is just part of God's grand plan. If nothing else but meeting David came out of the stress of retrieving our visas, it was undeniably worth it. His love for Christ was the perfect start to this trip, and we hadn't even left Dallas yet!
Taylor, Tori, and Kathryn
Oi from Grace C.! I am so thankful and grateful to be here in Brazil! The Lord has so graciously allowed me to be here, but for a short time, He completely emptied my hands and made it so that I literally had no control over my situation. On Wednesday morning, my mom and I woke up at 4:45 in the morning and flew to Houston. We had found out previously that my passport picture and visa had been denied, and at this point, I didn't know if I was going to be able to go on the trip. A lot of things were running through my mind, and I was confused. I knew that if it was the Lord's plan for me to go on the trip, then nothing could stop that from happening, but I assumed that it just wasn't the Lord's plan for me to go, and I didn't know why. I was jumping to all these conclusions and trying to figure out why the Lord would have me stay home instead, as if I knew what God had in store.
As soon as we got to Houston, we drove to meet with the Brazilian consulate, and the man who drove us there happened to be a Christian. We shared with him a little bit of what was going on, and somehow he had a peace that everything was going to work out, even though I didn't. He prayed for us in the car on the way, and when we got inside there we met Jed Thompson, the director of Amazon Outreach. For the majority of the time we were there, we sat in the waiting room, which was in some ways the hardest part, in others it was the most peaceful. I recieved texts from multiple people saying that they were praying for me, and I knew God's hand was at work. The Lord gave me peace that everything was going to work out according to His plan, no matter what that was. I know that the Lord withholds no good thing from those who love Him, and even if I had had to stay home, the Lord would not have withheld good things from me there.
But it was His plan for me to be here in Brazil, and the truth is, He didn't temporarily take this trip out of my hands, but He had it in His hands all along, and never let it go even thought I felt like I had lost everything. God is working and moving in so many hearts here in Brazil, and not just the people who live here. I feel so blessed to be a part of it, to witness this change, and to be a part of God's greater plan.
Oi from Brooklyn and Annie! Last night Brooklyn shared her testimony for the first time in front of a crowd. Brooklyn has been to Brazil four times, but this was the first time that she had shared in public. You could tell by the crowds reaction that her testimony really hit home while talking about a broken family. So many lives were touched by this beautiful testimony, including those on the boat. She talked about how the absence of her real father made her more aware of how God is out ultimate
father and he'll never leave us and he is always by out side. In the process of giving her testimony there was a sense of peace because she was so nervous before but when she got up there, she knew God's hands were resting on her. She was really happy that she had finally shared her testimony after so many years. Brooklyn really felt that God was calling her to share her testimony with the people of Predas. Amazon Outreach had never been to this village, and it was really neat to be able to be the first ones to make a lasting first impression with them. Many came to Christ and we hope that the foundation that we have laid in this village can continue to grow from here with other trips that have yet to come. We are really excited about what God has in store for those in Predas.
Con Amore
Annie and Brooklyn

 The day was amazing despite a late start due to rain.  Nearly 200 little ones attended VBS, many came to receive medical and dental care.  Two different teams of 6 went into every classroom in the morning and afternoon to share the sin solution illustration to every elementary and high school student attending school today.  Many went door-to-door to share the gospel, and we closed with an evening service.  Our share time was especially sweet...and one alligator hunting group caught 2 small and one 4 foot gator.  Dr. Pablo saw a 92-year-old woman who gave birth to 25 children (yes, you read that correctly...20 of whom are still alive today).  She daily rides her bicycle to work her agricultural fields.  It's amazing what we see here!
Thanks for praying for's a blessing to serve here.  We have a full day tomorrow and a half day on Thursday...then we're headed back to Manaus...a 20 hour return.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Day 3 - Predas

       After surviving a major storm at 3:00 am, we awoke to a small shower, praying the rain would stop so we could serve this community...Amazon Outreach's first to visit Predas, a town of 3,000. Because we were here, the schools closed for the day.  We were able to leave the boats at 9:30 and proceeded to use the school classrooms for medical, dental, eyeglasses, hair cutting, nail painting. The president of the town allowed us to announce over the church loudspeaker that we welcome everyone to come take advantage of all we had to offer.  An answer to prayer, over 100 children came to VBS in the morning and several teams walked through the town to share the gospel door-to-door and invite the people to afternoon events, soccer game, and evening service.
    One of the continuing themes throughout today for all of us was the fact that all the parts of the body of Christ have different functions and gifts. Some are better at holding crying children all day. Others can handle the medical and dental fields that required a strong stomach, but can really comfort those suffering and sick. And some just have a passion and gift for relaying the message of Christ's love to people, whether it's door-to-door ministry or giving a testimony in front of a whole community. All in all, we have been blessed by the fact that every person on this trip has come to find their purpose on this trip. We were blessed to see many come to Christ in this village, and we were able to hand out several Portugeuse Bibles. Here are a couple of cool stories that were shared at our nightly share-time: Blake Barnes was planning to go to VBS today and on his way he met a man with whom he was able to share the story of Christ via a translator. Blake fully intended to play soccer and hang with the kids as his ministry for the day, but God had greater plans as he helped lead a Brazilian man "Mark" to Christ. In the words of Blake: "We now have another brother in Christ that we will one day see in Heaven and I think that deserves a round of applause."
     Many people also shared tonight that they have a hard time with the fact that in VBS there does not seem like a lot of time to share the message of Christ with others because you are busy loving the kids. But today I (Grace) shared this story with the group of my experience today in VBS to encourage them of the gateway VBS does provide to talk to others about Christ. Today, I saw some adults in our group using tracts to talk to some of the parents hanging around VBS about Christ, but one young mother was distracted by her one son clinging to her ankles and her young baby in her lap. I decided to try and distract the child around her ankles so she could focus better on the adults teaching them, and she ended up wanting me to hold the 1-month-old baby in her lap. I was shocked that she would trust me, this random American teenage girl, with her tiny baby. But it turned out as we began to talk, that she thought I had children because she started having children at my age. As we continued to talk, I was able to talk to her about her faith and the struggles in her life, as well as my family back home and faith. Who would have thought that all of this could start from me just trying play with her small kid? God has revealed how He is ever-present even in the small things. We are all very thankful for our experiences so far and are excited for the challenges and stories to come as we head to Cometa tomorrow.
Grace Martin and Hannah Pavey

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Day 1 and 2

Oi! Jordan, Hannah, and I (along with a magnitude of what we call "pee bugs") are peacefully sitting in a small, white room attempting to organize our thoughts on the last two days of the trip. The first half of day one was spent frantically searching for pink dolphins and preparing for the week ahead.We were welcomed into Barreirinha by a horrendous rainfall, which left us damp and admittedly, but temporarily, quite discouraged.However, as we soon realized, God had this night in his plan. We stayed in the church for much longer than we had planned, but this allowed us to spend more time with the children. In this way, He was able to take what we assumed to be a negative thing and turn it into something positive, teaching us all a lesson on the importance of flexibility (a quality which came in handy when the horde of "pee bugs" descended upon our unsuspecting boats tonight).
    Today we went to the village of Terra Preta to bless the families through VBS, pampering the women, medical work, and other means of ministry. After recieving their first bibles, the women of the village appeared to be resistant. However, we remain confident that God has used the opportunity to plant His seed and enact His will. Many children came to VBS today, and, from our perspective, seemed exceedingly open to the message of God's love. Games were played, names were learned, and children were saved. It was inspiring to demonstrate love to those who have most likely recieved nothing but hardship and neglect. Overall, God has used the opportunity to bless the students and the villagers in countless ways. Now we are off to bed, excited about what He will continue to bring throughout the week. Please keep us in your prayers, that we may be productive, patient, and "pee bug" free.  Tomorrow we will be in Pedra.
        Duncan, Jordan, and Hannah.