Earlier tonight I was looking for a book on my shelf and for some reason I picked up an old journal from 2003. I opened it up to a page that I had written a Life “To Do” List. On it are things like “Publish a book,” “Go skydiving,” “Take a pottery class,” “Learn another language,” and … “Go on a mission trip to Brazil!” I love how God does things! I’m so thankful that He saw fit to take me there. It is now another place I call home as it is in my heart forever!
I so appreciate the prayers that all of you offered up on our behalf and I assure you that your prayers were heard!
This will be a synopsis of the journey… After I finish finals on Monday I will start sharing specific stories and reflections on what God taught me!
God began working in and through us even on the plane ride. One woman accepted Christ through the witness of one of our team! I was able to spend over an hour talking to the man next to me… Sharing with each other about our lives. I was able to share my testimony with him and explain the difference that Jesus makes in my life. He believes but he doesn’t have faith… I pray that our conversation was a step in the process of him coming to Jesus.
We arrived in Manaus on Friday night and were greeted at the airport by the Amazon Outreach Crew. We hopped on a bus that took us to our boat (The Linda Esperanca). We slept that night in our hammocks (amazingly comfortable) as we traveled up the Amazon River. I woke up super early the next morning – very excited and ready to soak up every moment! We had 20+ hours of traveling to get to Parintins. That was awesome time to spend with the Lord and with each other. (More on that later!)
Sunday we went to a church in the Invasion Zone of Parintins (the poorest area of the city, where people go hoping to transition from the villages to the city). We did a program with the children and they captured our hearts and prayer-walked through the area. That afternoon we had an opportunity to prayer walk through the main part of the city. We split up into groups of 3 or 4, each group with a translator. We prayed over the stadium where they hold the largest Pagan Festival in all of South America. We spoke with people on the streets asking them about their lives and how we could pray for them. There were many sweet moments that I will never forget. We shared the gospel and encouraged believers. We prayed over the local Catholic Church that is full of untruths and corruption. That night we went to Pastor Elmer’s church and Josh Rolf (our team leader/Minister at Prestonwood/a good friend of mine from CBU) preached the sermon on Acts 2:42-47. It was a great time to encourage and love on the local church!
Monday we journeyed to a village a few hours away. We spent a couple of days here doing VBS, medical and dental ministry, door to door evangelism, men’s ministry, and women’s ministry! It was amazing to see how each person on our team was able to use their various gifts in such significant ways. It was awesome to have such a large group (34 of us plus all of our translators)… We were really able to permeate the entire village, touching everyone in some way. There was no one in the village who didn’t know we were there or why we were there! We held a worship service both nights, the second night showing part of the Jesus Film (until we lost power).
Wednesday we went to a very small village (El Shaddai). Seven years ago another team from our church visited a village across the river from El Shaddai and several families accepted Christ. Soon after they were kicked out of their village and cut off from all government benefits. This missionary village was established for them with the help of Pastor Elmer’s church in Parintins. This village is the home base of all those that were kicked out. We were able to serve them by helping to tear down their wooden church that was falling apart so that they can begin to rebuild a brick church.
Thursday half of us went back to the Invasion Zone and the other half went to a place called Samaritan’s Village. I was in the second group. This is a place for children who have been abused or abandoned. Both groups led VBS and spent the afternoon loving on kids. I fell in love with a little girl who reminded me a lot of myself. Her story will be one that I’ll expound on later.
Friday we began the long journey back to Manaus (30 hours going against the current).
Saturday I met a woman on the plane who is Brazilian but lives near us in Plano, TX. She is Catholic but does not know Jesus personally and has never studied the Bible on her own. Her, Stacy (a teammate), and I talked for the entire 3 hour plane ride. She’s going to help us learn to speak Portuguese and we’re going to take her to church and help her learn more about the Bible. (More on that later!)
I’ve just given you a brief description of what took place… It does no justice to the power of God that was demonstrated, to the lives that were forever changed (including my own), or to the beauty that was seen! Many people came to know Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord… Others came one step closer… God was glorified!
Our team came back changed… challenged… refreshed… renewed… and with a heart for the people of the Amazon.
God spoke to me and changed me… some of it was hard… all of it was beautiful!
Thank you so very much for being such an integral part of this ministry! Your prayers were such a blessing. Don’t stop praying for the people of the Amazon!!!
Pictures to come… Blogs to come… Emails to come…
I have a lot to say… God is doing a lot in my life! Stay tuned!