Author: Amy Moore
A team of 12 people from Faith Community traveled to Brazil on a Mission Trip in September 2019. One of the team members, Amy, shares her experience on today’s blog!
I’m going to try to put a small part of my experience into words but unless you’re able to live it first hand, you will only get a glimpse of what I saw, felt and heard while in Brazil. Sleeping in hammocks, living on a boat that is docked on the banks of the Amazon River, just below a Sateré village sounds a little like relaxation, and at times, it is. I knew the work would be tough, the temperatures warm and the showers not quite as refreshing as what we’re accustomed to but beyond that, the rest was a mystery.
The travel is long, hot and trying at times, but as with life, the journey was a big part of the process. From St. Louis, we traveled by plane to Miami, Florida then Manaus, Brazil where we stayed overnight at a hotel. Before boarding a boat to Maues, Brazil, we were able to have breakfast and lunch as a team, taking in a little shopping at the local grocery store. The Big Boat, as we called it, would be our home twice on the trip; once on the way to Maues and then on the way back to Manaus. On the way there, we traveled for 18 hours and a different Big Boat made travel a whopping 22 hours on the way back. It’s close quarters, steamy bathrooms, but oh such an amazing way to see the land that the Amazon River flows between.
Arriving in Maues, we were taken to a little corner vendor for turbanados (a treat similar to a smoothie), which was an instant hit with the team. Shortly thereafter, we boarded our home for the next week, which was a quaint boat where we would eat, sleep, work and worship – oh the worship! One of the most touching moments on the boat were our times of worship. The Brazil team weren’t strangers to inviting the presence of God into any moment. We would wake up around sunrise, put away our hammocks, go to the bathroom, get dressed and brush our teeth, all in a matter of about 15 minutes before sitting around the tables that were arranged down the middle of the boat. This is where morning worship, all meals, lots of laughs and a few tears were shed.
At the village, our team carried numerous heavy loads off the boat and up the hill to where we would be drilling the well. For two days, the team prepared the land and worked with the rig to get to about 100 feet below the earth’s surface. We were able to play with the kids – coloring, sharing a message and singing as well as taking photos – once we were given permission by the Chief. God worked in the hearts of the villagers, many of which were closed off to the strangers who came to work. Our team had a lot of laughs, sometimes at the expense of one another, as the ladies took some time to go to “the spa” a liquid mud pit used as part of the drilling process. We may have been tricked into getting in quickly and one of us, not naming names, may have been pushed in but we enjoyed it so much!
Day two proved to be the toughest emotionally but strongest spiritually, as we learned that a piece of the gearbox that ran the drilling rig broke. We were a day’s boat ride from a town that may not even have the part we needed. It was a big disappointment to the team, not only because this was what we thought God had sent us there to do, but it was even more discouraging because this village had been praying for 19 years for fresh water. It was an emotional evening. After a tearful explanation to the villagers the next morning, we all worshipped and prayed together in the village. We prayed for the LIVING WATER to remain since the physical water wouldn’t arrive until later. Physical water was temporary, but the living water, God’s presence in our lives, that is the lasting water that quenches a thirst deep within our soul. We prayed for healing, for unity, for the well that would be finished one day. (Because of the waters receding, we would not be able to get back to the village until early April.) It was a joyful “goodbye” as the villagers came down the hill to see us off.
The remainder of our work would be back at the mission base, where we would help to build a home for one of the missionaries who lives part-time at the base. We watched one of the workers cut down a tree that he would then cut with a chainsaw into perfect 2×4’s to use in the construction of the home. We helped to carry those fresh-cut pieces out of the jungle. Days were long, hot, but so rewarding. We were all pushed past our limits, stretching in many ways and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, who spoke in and through each of us. We were able to have service at the mission base with three different languages present – Sateré, Portuguese, and English.
I know I speak for everyone when I say this was a life-changing experience, but for the ladies especially, we were definitely stretched in ways we could never have been elsewhere. We took turns on kitchen duty (which included a lot of dishes), carried our own weight and then some (literally), took measurements for a home, and even swam in the Amazon River multiple times, something we had all determined ahead of times would not happen. These ladies were friends that quickly became sisters, along with our Brazilian and Sateré friends. It is one thing to open your home to someone, another to open your heart. I learned so much through our team’s hard work, through the vulnerability of the individuals I was fortunate to work with and was touched in the deepest part of my soul by the beautiful people we shared this experience with.
With the Holy Spirit, language doesn’t have to be such a barrier. From drilling the well to building a home, dancing in the kitchen to singing in the village, we communicated in ways that only God could have orchestrated. We prayed together, worshipped together and built bonds that will last a lifetime. I have only touched on the work that was accomplished on this trip so if you want to know more, ask one of our team members – my family. I know they would be more than happy to share what this experience meant to them.
Mission trips are so impactful, as unique in location as they are also in results, both physically and internally. I will never be able to adequately describe what this trip meant to me or what it has done for my soul. I have never felt so connected to people and a culture as I did with the missionaries we worked alongside. They are forever friends that I know I will see again.