In July of 2018, my family joined Amazon Outreach to help serve in small villages along the Amazon river in Brazil.
We were on a 3-decker river boat that traveled 30 hours up the river from Manaus. We spent the next 5 days in 7 of the small villages in that area.
For dentistry, the patients came on our boat and I worked in a small, air conditioned (to keep the equipment dry) room with the “boat” missionary dentist, who was originally from one of the villages. He saw the need for dentistry and some families from the U.S. sponsored him so he could become a dentist! He now serves in the many small villages the boat travels to throughout the year. We also had 2 dental students as our assistants, which worked great as I enjoy teaching. They happened to be on break so they could come. The 3rd year student also led worship daily, playing guitar and keys.
Tom used his leadership skills but wasn’t very challenged by the work – I guess he was challenged in other ways! Leia(11) helped with vacation Bible school all week – she’s not a natural kid person but she did fine. She loved the most primitive village. Just thatch huts, some without walls. In fact the ladies set up VBS in what they thought was a public pavilion but it was really someone’s house -OOPS!- no privacy there!
The villagers were very welcoming. Most had been visited by Amazon Outreach before so there were Christians. Each night the team did a presentation along with the villagers, singing songs and sharing testimonies. Then they passed out big family packs of food and clothing,etc. These people had very little so they really appreciated it. I felt funny giving our table scraps to the stray dogs when the kids were undernourished. I’m thankful for all my patients and friends that donated items and $. We dedicated a new church in one village!
We slept side by side in hammocks and had nice showers and toilets. Great food too. I kidded the leaders about our “Cruise” especially when we had an “excursion” to go hunt for alligators – the water was too high but it was beautiful to be out in a small boat under a full moon.
At the end, Leia and I joined some of the ladies to hold a conference in the closest town. I taught on Elizabeth and Leia helped with the many kids. Tom worked on some of the dental equipment on the boat.
Just the 3 of us went on to Iguazu Falls – beautiful, parts of it remind me of Niagara but there are 270+ falls! It’s so wide. Plus, on both the Brazil and Argentina sides, you take their transportation into the rainforest for 20-30 min.just to get to the start of the paths to the falls. It’s really hidden away! We saw coatis(like a raccoon) and little monkeys too! We also visited Itaipu Dam, the biggest dam in the world until just recently(China), bordering Brazil and Paraguay. It’s a refuge for capabaras (look like big guinea pigs) too.
Went to Rio but was too cool and rainy for the beach. We took a cog train up to see the Christ, really cool. It was pretty clear so we had beautiful views of the city and beaches. We also took the cable car up to Sugarloaf but the fog and rain came rolling in. It was like going into the clouds! Saw cute marmoset monkeys and toucans.
Our trip was a nice combination of serving and enjoying God’s world and each other as a family.