By Ally B
It has been a couple months since I returned back from the Amazon and I still don’t think I have the words to describe the beauty of Brazil, the people, and the experience. The trip was more than I ever imagined it could be! Below are some brief notes about the incredible journey through Manaus and the Amazon:
*MANAUS (the city)- The outdoor markets in Manaus were filled with culture. There was music, dance contests… and I bought a coconut to drink while shopping. :)
*OUR PARTNER CHURCH- The Presbyterian Church in Manaus was packed with believers singing worship and praise in Portuguese. It was moving to see people worshiping our same God in another part of the world and in another language! (Revelation 7:9-17)
*OUR BOAT- was 3 stories with the kitchen and a few rooms on the bottom level (mine was there). Our dining room/hangout/guy's bedroom was on the second level along with a few more rooms for the girls. The top level was just an open hang out area where we could watch the MOST BEAUTIFUL sunsets and sunrises I have ever seen in my life. The stars at night would completely cover the sky in a way I’ve never seen and because of our location the moon would disappear.
*LONG JOURNEY- It took us 18 hours on the boat to get to our first village. Hints why they call the people of the Amazon the “Forgotten People” because it takes so long for anyone to get out to where they live.
*THE RIVER- We were on the Rio Negro River. The water was like glass…wake boarders/skiers seriously the smoothest water I have ever seen in my life. The water created a perfect reflection of the land, clouds, sunsets/rises, and even lightning. It was breathtaking.
*THE VILLAGES- The villages we went to were small, around 10-30 families in each. Women on average have 3 children by the time they are 25-27 years old (my age). Men fished and hunted; one even speared a jaguar a couple days before we reached their village. Women would work in fields and take care of the children. Many children also attended a small school in their village.
*OUR TEAMS- We had a medical team, women’s team, men’s team, and children’s team. The people would line up to get medical help and even medicine from a pharmacy we had on our boat. The women’s team would paint nails to open conversation, go to their homes to help cook or just meet them, and have afternoon meetings to share testimonies, share the Gospel, pray, and give them goody bags with everyday toiletries. The men played soccer, went on jungle tours, got to know the men, and shared testimonies, etc. The children’s team would play games, do a VBS, sing songs, and act out skits of Bible stories, etc. They worked so hard! At the end of the day we would have a church service where one or two of us would share our testimonies and then one of the leaders would give a message. We also were lucky that a guy on our team, Justin, brought his guitar with him so we did worship on our boat during devos and in the villages as well!
*RESULTS- I am not sure how many people were “saved”, but seeds were definitely planted and we left encouraged. Many had a wrong view of the Gospel, so we had the opportunity to share with them the TRUTH and the Good News! We shared a lot, prayed a lot, smiled a lot, and even cried. Lives were changed…both theirs and ours.
*FUN FUN FUN- Some fun things we got to experience: jungle hikes, picking pineapples, canoe tours, swimming with dolphins in the river, an alligator hunt(!), fishing, touring incredible hotels in Manaus (including one with a zoo), and eating amazing Brazilian food!
*THANK YOU GOD- Three of us actually got baptized on this trip. Kylea, Kiersti, and myself. I was actually baptized as a baby, but this was different. I truly understand and believe the Gospel now, and the fact that in being reconciled to Christ I am a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5, Romans 6, Matthew 28, Acts 2:38) JP, our young adults pastor, did all three of our baptisms. God has used him in all our walks, and he has spoken so much truth to us that we all were so grateful he would agree to baptize us in the Amazon River. It was INCREDIBLE! Thankfully none of us were bitten by anything during the process! :)
*REFLECTION- I learned so much about sharing the Gospel and praying for people in the moment. You know how people tell you something and you tell them you will pray for them? I’ve learned not to wait, but to pray right then. It’s amazing. The people taught me so much about living simply, being content, and realizing I already have more than I ever need. The joy of the Brazilians that served with us was contagious, I pray that I can be that way! To many of us the trip made God seem so huge that He could reach so far and so many languages, but at the same time be so small that He wants each and every one of us. I am truly humbled at the opportunity I was given to serve HIM and make HIM known.