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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mary Catherine's Excellent Adventure

Instead of the normal sermon by Pastor Spike Coleman, there was a presentation given by Mary Catherine about her mission trip to the Amazon.

(FYI: Clicking the pictures will let you see them larger and in greater detail)

Sunday Sermon Summary:August 19, 2007

The Amazon River

During the week of July 14-22nd, Mary Catherine was able to go on a short term mission trip to the Amazon with the help of Pastor Spike, the Mission Team, the Christian Education team, the Monday Night Bible Study group, the Dr. Who Group and other members of the congregation who provided donations and many, many prayers! The trip was a success and was a lifelong dream fulfilled.

The trip coordinated by World Hope Missions Ministry headed by the dynamic, Dr. Jonathas Moreira. (Check out the Amazon Mission Trip site for more information.) The week was spent on a medical supply boat named the Serguem Silva visiting the Mura tribe who live along the Amazon riverbed.

The Sergeum Silva

There was an American Team and a Brazilian team (who knew the language and could translate) along with the crew. Althought most of us were perfect strangers in addition to having language barriers, we all got along just fine and worked as a team for our plant seeds of hope in the hearts of the villagers we met.

The American Team Departing from Orlando

After a very long flight to Sao Paulo and then back to Manaus, we finally arrived, and set sail. We sailed a day and 1/2 to reach the first village. The Muras we visited were living in the "Flooded Forests." Every year the Amazon River rises more than 30 feet (9 m) and floods surrounding forests. These rising waters replenish nutrients in floodplain areas and regenerate floodplain lakes, floating meadows, and other seasonal habitats. Freshwater fish move into these flooded forests and often feed on the fruits that drop from the trees.

The Flooded Forests

And of course everything was up on stilts due to the high water levels. All the homes were elevated.

At each village our program was the same. The medical team which included a medical doctor, a nurse, a dentist and a dental hygienist would see patients first. The villagers all had several common ailments that included worms, parasites and colds.The children had white patches on their skin.A smooth white patch meant fungus.A bumpy white patch meant parasites. Most got worm medicine, vitamins and antibiotics for the white patches.

While the medical team was taking care of patients and the dental team was busy extracting teeth, the rest of us were free to walk through the villages visiting homes, playing with the kids and evangelizing.

Mary Catherine Visiting with a Family of Brothers
and Sisters at their house

After lunch the doctors were off duty and the rest of us kicked into gear. The doctors and nurses were now normally free to visit in the villages. The rest of us conducted vacation bible school, had hair braiding sessions, played soccer with the older boys and helped with the women's' group.

Doing Crafts during VBS

Braiding Hair just Before Vacation Bible School

The Women's group was run by an American nurse with the help of one of the Brazilian team. The women were taught basic hygiene, self breast exams, how to use condoms and the benefits of drinking lots of water.

Because the dental care of the villagers was so poor, the American team decided to teach the children to brush their teeth. We lined them up in groups and gave each child a tooth brush and toothpaste and we gave the demonstrations.

Mary Catherine with a group who had just
finished brushing their teeth.

The people of the Amazon are beautiful people. The land itself was something I can't even begin to describe. It was just like being in National Geographic for a few days. The beauty of it was breathtaking.

The water was beautiful and so was the sunrises and sunsets. Words just don't it justice. We were also able to see the pink dolphins up close on one of the days. We seemed to be surrounded by them at one time. The other times we saw them was a sunrise. We would see 2-3 jumping in unison at sunrise. That is how we knew that was the day the Lord had made!

This is the day, that the Lord has made
Let us be glad and rejoice in it!

Other marvels were the Meeting of the Waters and all of the marvelous food of the Amazon. We only had food on the boat that was native to the area. It all had foreign names but it was all good. It was really healthy as it was lots of fruits and vegetables and fish.

The last day of the trip was spent at an ecolodge for a day of rest...Tiwa Resort It was beautiful there as well. We had a chance to socialize all together and take a 1.5 hour tour in the rainforest. It was amazing!

Tiwa Ecolodge

One of my church members asked me on Sunday if I would go again! What else could my answer be but, YES! The people who live along the riverbanks of the Amazon needs lots of help. I feel that I am really making a difference in the life of someone who is truly needy. It is such a beautiful place, I don't think there is anyway I could see that beauty just once.


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