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 us...it'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.