Monday, August 30, 2010

Some pretty cool people
Jesska giving her testimony
Optical Set up

No....Wait yes....

Today is the fourth and final village we get to be apart of and Ive been challenged to step up and start talking to people one on one about Christ. In my opinion, the best place for this is optical ministry. Its you, the translator and an amazonian. Up until this point, my walk has been really trying to understand the character and nature of god and not to much of spreading the gospel, the call to all Christians. I am determined to tell someone about Jesus today. In America, around my friends, its easier to open up and walk with someone but here, where you need a translator and you fear that you'll say something that could translate into something offensive, its tough. So I need a foundation and a guide to do this. Im the guy that took four months to understand John 3:16. Im not the sharpest knife in the drawer, ill admit. Hollie, seeing the fear in my eyes, was kind enough to go over Romans road with me (Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8 and 10:9.) I guess she owed me because I saved her life from the demon bat. Well I read this Romans Road and studied it till I felt ready to say it. I had my small talk questions picked out and went over in my head how this was gonna go down. My past has been you are gonna do and think what I say or Im gonna punch your face in. I dont think that works well with our mark as Christians to love one another so Im pretty sure you cant punch the Jesus into somebody, although if you could... (thats a joke aunt marion).... Cameron, Scott and I are together and formed a game plan that we would rotate as the people came in since we had one translator. I watched Scott talk to an Amazonian mom who was a Christian and needed prayer for her son. He was 19 and an alcoholic. Alcohol? Out here? I also learned that they have all of the same struggles and issues that we have back home. Some are more apparent than others but god reminded me that we are all in this together. Everyone, regardless of nationality and race, we are all image bearers. So Scott prayed for her and her family and then helped her with her trouble seeing as she reads. He hooked her up with some stylin reading glasses and she got up. Go time. I opened up my journal with Romans Road ready and saw my opponent. He is an older gentleman, very stout, missing several teeth. Looks like he has been in the jungle, hunting wild boars his whole life. Im half this guy's age and obviously not the man he is. But Im relying on God to talk through me and let the conversation go. He sits down and I ask his name. He says gives his name and the translator repeats it and I pretend like I knew what they both said. Their names here are very long and they talk very fast. Ill try to get it again soon. I tell him my name and he nods. I ask what kind of problems he is having as if I am an optometrist. He says that it hurts his eyes when he reads. He then explains how he was hit in the head in a fight with a board and that he hopes I can fix it. Im thinking "bro, I have no idea if these glasses really help at all reading. Quite honestly, I thought that they were just lenses and didnt actually change the focus of your eye." Im glad its not a scam. I explain that Vonnie is a doctor and she can do surgery if he wants it, Ha. He shakes his head no and we move on. I tell him that we are here for two reasons and before I even get into my practiced speech, he says "I want Jesus in my heart". Immediately, I almost shout out NO! I practiced and read and prayed over walking with you through the scriptures and you jump all that and go straight for the desert. And then I think "wait yes". Its funny how God works. Just another example of how we are not in control of anything. We can plan and plan and watch how God says "good for you, but its gonna go down this way." This was just a minor example of that. I ask him some foundational questions and make sure he understands what it means to believe in Christ and then I pause.....Whats next? Dont you say a prayer or something now? My mind was at a standstill. I look to Scott and say "Hey, will you say a prayer with him cause I forgot what to say?" Scott jumps in and the interpreter asks what is going on? I tell her that Scott is going to say the prayer for us and for some unknown reason, she now cant understand English. I tell her again, and she says "huh?". I remembered what we had prayed for earlier about god speaking through us and I said to Scott "welp, here goes nothing" I tell him to repeat after me and we began to pray. I can honestly say that I dont know what I said. I know that I had to make sure he understood the cross and how we all fail as humans to be justified because of sin but how Christ came and died for all so that we are justified through Christ, by faith in our hearts, before God. After the prayer, I looked to Scott and he gave me the thumbs up.

The question now in my head is "was that real?" is he saved now? I know in my life, Ive said that prayer before but nothing changed, I never felt "saved or justified". I said that prayer when I was eight, sixteen and eighteen (making a joke of the Christian faith at one point) and I didnt truly believe until I was twenty five. Whats the deal? The difference, for me, is that God didnt choose to transform my heart until 25. I didnt begin to really search for the truth until I felt that I was no longer in control and for me, that was something I felt I always had to be in. God promises throughout the scriptures that "if you seek me, you will find me." (Jeremiah 29:13-14, Deuteronomy 4:29-30, Proverbs 8:17, Hebrews 11:6 and more) We are saved by grace (gods choice) through faith (from our hearts). I didnt take the time to really understand that and I truly believe that God didnt choose to save me until then. I can write alot (for me) about predestination and the sovereignty of god, although it confuses me sometimes, but my basic thought here is that only god can transform hearts. It nothing that you or I can do, because if we could, we wouldnt need a god. Whether or not god just transformed his heart is between him and god. My job was to bring about the gospel of Jesus Christ and to plant "seeds" in the hearts of these people and encourage and teach those who believe already. I can and do pray that God will move in his heart but its only a prayer and not my decision. Thats not only scary but humbling also. Now, I do know that these people desperately need a leader who can walk with them in sanctification because if they arent spending time in the word and growing in their faith, it will get messy.

I got up from the desk of glasses and felt complete at this point. I dont think anything else could make this experience better. Is that a parrot?? AJ had a real parrot on his fingers. Monkeys, parrots, bats... this is the jungle. I had to get it. I coerced the parrot,without candy, into jumping on my finger. He apparently didnt like my finger so he tried out my forearm. He didnt like that either, so lets crawl up Klein's shoulder. Still in complete control, I asked for someone very calmly to get this "pterosaur" off me. (yeah, google that, actually that bat may have not been a bat but a pterosaur also..I saw teeth). It then thought "hey, Klein's ear looks like whatever I eat all day. Lets take a bite." That thing bit my ear twice. Still in complete control, I shrugged and shrugged for it to fly off but he has to workout cause his grip was on point. Finally, someone got it off and maybe rescued me and my ear. I have to admit, I was freaking out. The pictures will tell the story. So if you havent noticed, I dont like animals. I mean I do until Im food and then we arent friends anymore.

The rest of the day ended up like the others, getting beaten in soccer. I will say this. This team could beat any team you can make up. We showed up on the soccer fields and they were practicing corner kicks, in full uniform. They had a stud who could fly down the field and was way faster than us. Jansen told them that whoever could recite John 3:16 would get his own soccer ball, which is a huge deal over there. I think seven of them recited it and were handed out soccer balls. We worshiped and Jesska gave her testimony and didnt cry (good job Jess). We handed out family packs and loaded up for the night. Last village. Talks of America have been sprouting here recently and my fear going back is not living how we live here. In community, spreading the gospel and trying to glorify god in all we do.
The BOM BOM incident....

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Preparing for baptisms
My man Elios


If I had to rate each day, today would probably be my favorite. We are at our third village and Im stepping out of mens ministry. I havent really given much but pray while someone is sharing the word, although praying while others are sharing is something. Quite honestly, I have never prayed more in my life. I may have mentioned this already but wow, we pray everywhere all the time. Its how it should be. But today, I get to go to VBS with the kids and thats always fun and easy. The key to the kids are to just be one, Im pretty good at that. Im gonna take more candy than I can carry and bribe them to love me. What kid doesnt love candy? I practice all the time, Lillie (roommate) loves cake, candy and really anything that contains enough sugar to kill a squirrel. Anytime he gets mad that I havent cleaned up or taken my clothes out of the dryer, I throw sugar at him and he forgets. So thats my battle plan with the kids. VBS starts out with songs and dances that get the kids involved. Its fun to watch the interpreters work. They are very good at what they do. The American VBS team rocked it also. Arts and crafts and stickers, I found myself coloring in the corner and realized that I was there to be with them and not color. Dork.
All the kids, aside from the older "too cool" kids (who eventually colored too) were participating except for one, named Elios. He cried for the most part of the beginning and I wanted to see if my sugar tactic would work. I fed him more suckers than he knew what to do with. He would bite down on them and get surprised when he realized that it was hard candy and not soft. He had around eight. He trusted me after that. We got him to color and join the group. Then they all went over to play with the parachute and Elios and I played soccer. Lunch time came and I started walking to find the team, when all I hear is "BOM BOM!!" I look up and I see Nayara, VBS translator, point to me. Then, imagine, over 50 sugar mini zombies running at you with their hands up, wanting candy. Now, I immediately had two choices... drop the bag and make a run for it or stay and fight them one by one.... Luckily, Jesus transformed my heart, and only one person got hurt. I started to hand out candy and me being dumb, threw some in the air and the maniacs went after each other, knocking down a small one. Nayara then yelled at me. I actually didnt go anywhere without getting yelled at but thats no different than in the States.
I made it out alive and went back on the boat for lunch. Rick came up to me and asked if I had prayed about being baptized and I said that I had and am ready. He said "You have fifteen minutes". The realization of being here with my family of believers and being baptized in the Amazon river was truly a gift from God. Of course the thought popped in my head that I would get attacked by a group of hungry parana's but then I thought if I die by Parana, at least I was doing something awesome. Joey, Amie and myself are being baptized today. We all say a short testimony about how the grace and mercy of God brought us to where we are. I attempt to say mine and make sense but all I can do is stutter my way through. I have to look down cause Jesska always cries and that makes everyone else cry so I almost made it through but lost it at the end. Thanks Jess...We walk into the river and I lost it, again. Two years ago, if you would have told me where I would be today, I would have laughed, in your face, and probably pointed. I had a heart and mind set on the things that were empty, idolizing everything that appealed to me. Things that only satisfied the now and not the one thing that could endure. God transformed me. Thats not to say that Im good now or that everything is all better now but my heart is set after only one thing...Christ. Its that daily battle that we now get to fight after being saved. Jesus restores the broken world we have. The theme to this day is restoration. Jesus restored everything that I, you, since adam and eve had destroyed. I had always viewed God as an angry God who punishes. I was more concerned growing up that if I messed up, God would kill my family. I feared him but it was a wrong fear. So my answer was to stay away from him. Walking into that water, with my family with me, I felt loved by God. God loves. If you are reading this, its proof that he loves. He stills has us here. He has shown mercy to us day in and day out because he loves us. With God being over all things: life, death, good times, hard times, its an example of his love by grace and mercy. To think that I took and take advantage of that mercy everyday, is hard to understand. Why couldn't I do this sooner? Why did it take this long and after so many trials and dark spots, why couldn't I see his glory?..... We professed that Jesus Christ is our lord and savior and were dunked. David led us into worship as some Amazonians watched. I want to thank God for my family and friends again who were apart of this trip, and really the whole life that has been Chris Klein, in whatever capacity God placed you. Seeing everything come together the way it did is just humbling and another reminder that God is in control and no matter how you think things will happen, it will happen his way and I am thankful for that.

The rest of the day took place like the others did with praise and worship and of course soccer. A good concept, you wake up praising his name, do life praising his name, eat praising his name, get owned in competitive sports praising his name and end the day praising his name. Feels complete and how life was designed. Tomorrow is the last day of villaging and David and I just came up with a plan to take control of the boat and never leave....  

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Below are the pictures of the well that your donations helped build

Our march through the jungle

                                           Thats the face of complete control...
This should be easier to read and I couldnt get the video up but here are more pictures

Village #2 - Monkeys and Bats

Judging from the title, this day was interesting. Sleep last night was shorter than normal. I still havent gotten used to this hammock yet and im pretty sure I heeled Richard in the head last night trying to get comfortable. I wont say anything unless he says something, ha. I got up before the sun did this morning. There is really no observance of the sunrise back home. By the time I see it come up, Im either driving down 35 headed to work or it hides behind our neighbors house. To see it break the sky for the first time in awhile gets you thinking why havent I watched this more than what I have. Of all things that are going to take place for sure, its the sun setting and rising and I dont watch it. Sad. Welp, there is a morning pick up you right? Im in mens ministry again today. I am pumped about what God has in store for us today. Yesterday gave me a good idea on just caring for people. I got to watch VBS with the kids and the medical team work and I consider the first village kind of a breaking in.
So we exit the boat to see all of the village men standing there, waiting. Normally, we arent the first ones off of the boat. Its the crew member who ties the line to the shore so the boat doesnt float away. Then its the Brazlian Pastor, who's main ministry is the Amazon river and I believe his church is in Manaus. He is a very polite man, who honestly looks like the Dos XX commercial guy, the most interesting man in the world. Very laid back personality as do all of the Brazilains. They dont have a time frame on anything. They dont have a schedule they are ruled by. If it gets done great, if not, great. So seeing the "eh" face from him all of the time, is pretty funny. So he gets off the boat and meets with the village leader to let them know who we are and what we are doing there. They were very welcoming. There was no need for us to split up into groups now because all of the men were there. Well the ones that werent on the river, working or visiting the nearby city. Rick, Jeremy and myself took the village leader, along with his brother aside and began sharing the word while the others grouped up behind us with our men. We learned that the village leader is not a Christian but his brother was. His brother had been through a difficult divorce and stated that Jesus guided him through that. He was also fundamentally sound. The village leader, did not know how to read nor wasnt a believer so we began to encourage his brother to teach him and the village the gospel. I wanted to chime in. I wanted to say something. Rick looked at me and said "Chris, would you go over Romans Road with him"?........... Uhhh.......... Thankfully Jeremy stepped in and saved my butt. Not that I wasnt familiar with Romans Road but I wasnt fluent with it nor comfortable. And I choked. Initially, I was more upset that I let Rick down but later I began to understand the Holy Spirit's nudging. I didnt let the Holy Spirit work. Lesson learned. Im in observation mode at this point and I began to look around. I see Christian men sharing the gospel. I watch as men share their faith and arent being either lazy, passive or both. Its was humbling to watch and I wasnt around that environment growing up. I do know strong Christian men, individually. But to see a group of men, working through the holy spirit, proclaiming Christ in a region of the world that they could be killed for doing it gives you a sense of understanding what Paul says in Philippians 1:21 "to live is Christ, to die is gain." (Brazil is a Christian region but surrounding countries arent) I honestly was in a moment of awe. This is how its supposed to be. This is what men do. Its not about making money and conquering the world. Its not about being the best at some sport or pride and respect is all you have. Its about leading, providing and protecting. Its about searching for truth and when God reveals it to you, with a transformed heart that only Christ can give, you stand up for it.

I took two pictures of what I saw when that thought hit me. Well to say the least, this is one of the moments ill take with me forever from this trip. We ended the meeting with prayer and thanks to God for the grace and mercy he shows everyday to us and for continued encouragment for this village and its leaders. Like I said before, just planting seeds. They wanted to show us their generator that was broken and as it stays broken, they dont get power to the village. Bob looked through it and as they did that, a couple of us snuck off for a journey into the jungle. Henrique, a translator, caught us and we tricked him into coming with us. We didnt make it to far into it cause it started to get a little dense. On our way back, we found the others playing with two wild monkeys that live in the village. I told alot of people before I left home that I would bring back a monkey and here was my chance. We lured it down with life savers and it ended up in Nicole's arms. he made its way to Jeremy and then over to me. I stuck my hand out to hold it and it grabbed my trigger finger.....oh no. Its gonna bite off my shooting finger and im gonna have learn how to shoot left handed! Why I thought of that first, I dont know. He was merciful as I stayed in fear and crwaled through my lap and onto the ground. I stayed froze for a couple of seconds and was thankful that ended well. Its funny, down here dogs are considered pests. Well I guess thats not funny but odd. They treat the dogs poorly and monkeys get to eat in the living room with the family.
We had lunch and had prasie and worship with the village. They thanked God for us and our visit with medical aid and spiritual aid. We thanked God for their open minds and hearts. Then we played soccer. Im losing weight with this soccer ritual. We lost all games again but they were good sports about it and took it easy on us. I loved the end of soccer games, not only cause im exhausted but we come together as a family, tired and thirsty and we pray to God thanking him for our time together and the fellowship we had. When you are tired, you see the imperfections in the human body and soul. Knee hurts from last years mud run (thanks Bruno), thirsty beyond all get out, its hot, and we are all tired. And we thank God for it. Its then to where we all share the same reality, whether you are from Brazil or America. That one day we will together with one language in new bodies, doing the same thing we did today, praising the fathers name.
We boarded the boat for the evening and Jansen pulled out the Bom Bom sling shot and we shot Bom Bom Bombs to them. Pretty funny watching them scatter after the bombs. Picture a homerun at the Ballpark in Arlington in center field and watch as people fly to get it, thats what it looked like. Hopefully this video of it works...

We soon found out that we are getting to go see the well that you all donated for. We learned that it took about 18 hours for the two man digging team to dig it and lay concrete down. It was about thirty minutes away. Cameron is a 12 year old boy who raised 2300 dollars alone for this well. Each well cost 5000 dollars and throughout the whole fundraising process, we didnt think we were going to raise enough. Its amazing to see how God works. The very last meeting before we left, he handed Rick an envelope with 2300 dollars. When I was twelve, it was progress if I didnt pick my nose let alone fundraise any money. I hope I get to be a witness to what God will do with that young mans life, incredible. We get there and there was a small number of people standing by it. The concrete had still not yet set and we had to be careful not to touch it. I had to talk myself out of writing in it. Its fresh concrete!....for those who watch the Office. Anyways, Rick shared the gospel as a group and thanked God for the water well, but also quoted John 4 and 7 that Jesus is the living water. Cameron led us in prayer and we all drank from the well. To think that before, these people were forced to drink river water. Its no wonder why they stay in constant sickness and disease. We are blessed as a nation to have what we have at the touch of a hand. Its our call to be stewards of what we are given so to fundraise to build a well with fresh water makes complete sense.
Later that night, after another amazing worship session we came to share time. I shared with the group that its amazing to see men, though god's grace, stand up for their faith and its amazing how god changes hearts. It got emotional for the first time here for me and I have never been that way. You arent supposed to right? Men are supposed to be hardcore and no emotions...well I did do some pushups afterwards. All throughout my growing up, its been portrayed that men dont. Its a sign of weakness. That love is for women. How ignorant is that? Imagine a hero. One who took a bullet for another or pulled someone out of a fire but lost his life in the end. One who gives himself so another could live. One who died on a cross. What greater love is that? We see it in movies all the time. Good movies too, not just cheesy Dear John movies. Its something that I have thought about for years. Thats love. Now imagine doing that for someone who hates you? Dying for someone who doesnt even care. I know Im not man enough to do that. Think about it.
Ok off of my tangent. We ended the evening almost being eaten by the creature of the night. Talking with Hollie and Jarrod we see the caped crusader flying next to our boat. Its a huge bat, I mean as big as a small human, flying (ok it was a little bat but it was a demon bat). It taunted us for a while until it made its move, straight for my face! I first, saved Hollie's life by jumping in front of it a throwing a right cross at its head, dazing it. She made it out alive. It then went after a fleet of babies to where I jumped on its back and stabbed it through the neck with a dagger ending its rule of the darkness...........Well it kinda went down that way. Hollie is pretty sure that as it came at my face, i pushed her into it as I screamed like a 7 year old girl running away. I kinda remember that but where did the dagger come from that was in my hand. Who do you believe??
I know this, I definately do not want to be anywhere else right now than here. Thank you to all who donated for me to be here. God has done wonders on my heart and mind being here. Thank you.....

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sorry Rick! I had to. He is napping after a long morning of sharing the gospel. Shout out to Texas!
Korbin giving his testimony with Daniel translating
Soccer time
Meeting with the men in the first village
First step off the boat since we got here. View of boat in first village
First home we visited

Day 3 First Village - Jutai

My hammock didnt fall! I prayed that it wouldnt since I tied it last night and not a translator and the lord is faithful. I was honestly nervous. Still laying in it, watching everyone move around the boat in excitement. We finally stopped moving down the river sometime last night and we are here at our first village. And the nerves set in. Its go time. Not really sure whats about to happen, I get up and start getting ready. We eat and do a morning devotional with worship as we have every morning and then we split up into teams. Im in mens ministry and happy to be in it. Im curious to see how this is done. Rick goes over agenda and we group up for prayer. We split up into three mens groups and grab supplies, bom bom (candy), bibles and my note pad. Our group heads left (I would say east or west but Im lucky that I know im in Brazil so I wont attempt) We get to our first home and meet with a man siting inside. He invites us in, welcomingly. Pause.....First off, If im chillin (chillin means hanging out mom) in my house and four people ask to come in my house, Im not positive that Im cool with that. But maybe thats just me, in America, where we dont know our neighbors and are worried about being robbed all the time. Anyways, he asks us to sit and Rick starts talking to him, thru a translator. Basically its small talk and then Rick goes into why we are here. Medical aid and spiritual aid. Through conversation we find out that he is a Christian and has been for over a year. Rick begans to encourage him through scripture and asks some fundamental questions of faith to make sure he knows the truth and not false teaching that is spread worldwide, like god will give you things if you love him. After some conversation, Rick asks if he has been baptized...... and it hits. Klein, you havent been baptized since you were saved. Of all the baptism services I have been blessed to be apart of at home, I haven't thought about me doing it. Baptism is where you publically announce your faith in Christ and by being dunked in the water, you are dead to sin and alive in Christ, Romans 6. I will say that I have been dunked in the water before but at the time, I wasnt a believer. I didnt understand, in my heart, what it ment to be saved. I didnt understand, in my heart, the gospel and how Christ, god in the flesh, perfect and holy, died for us, sinners and wicked, to be called holy and blameless before God. That through Christ, we will get to walk with God in heaven, praising him in worship for eternity. Thats something only god can give you. Its through grace you have been saved though faith, Ephesians 2:8. We as humans cant do that. It was more about being cool, not cussing or drinking and apart of the "good people" to which there is no such thing...
Not being baptized kinda plagued me until lunch. We spent the morning inside his home and then prayed over him and his family and met up with the rest of the team. We all met on the boat for lunch and naps. I met with Rick about the baptism situation and he told me to pray about it. Confession time... I dont pray enough at home. Being here in the Amazon spreading the word, you stay in constant prayer. Praying while someone else is sharing the word, praying for the village as you walk, praying for the words and courage to speak and praying that you dont get taken by any animals in the village. Praying. We ended up after lunch rounding up the men of the village all together and having man time. Rick spoke through Daniel, the brazilian interpretor, challenging the men. Taking them deeper into thought about what it looks like here, in heaven and salvation. Some of the men, laughed and really didnt pay attention but some did. Some look sincere and some wanted to know and learn and some wanted to be encouraged. Which we prayed together and handed out bibles. It was explained to us before we even got off the boat this morning that we are here to spread seeds. We cant get frustrated that some of them wont listen or dont take their faith seriously. We are there for encouragement and prayer and spreading the word. Santification is something that needs to happen there but for our team, it wont be through us. It is kinda frustrating at the same time but more about that later.

Now its football time. Let me share to you something about this sport. It doesnt matter where you are in the world, football (soccer) is worldwide. These dudes could ball. They played barefoot and with both feet. They knew the rules and held them. They were very polite as they stomped us. To say this much, we even had a decent squad. Some of the guys on our team played in college and are on teams in America. We did score one goal but we needed more. We gathered again and praised God for the time together, praised God for the people in the village and praised him that Christ died for everyone. To see someone completely different than you in appearance, language and traditions and to know that we will see each other again in heaven, to where we dont need a translator to communicate is awesome to say the least. Thats something we all took as Christians with us, American and Brazilian. We met as a group for night service inside an open building. Praise and Worship led by David and Bruno, the Brazilian translator, who also played guitar. We sang in Portugese (probably spelled that wrong) and in English. Korbin gave his testimony, which is inspiring in any part of the world. As he was doing that, the kids ran a muck with no parents having them sit so Korbin was interrupted alot. After he finished, we grabbed them and went away to entertain. We played Duck Duck Goose. I havent played that since I was a kid and wow that was fun.
Everyone boarded the boat for showers and dinner. Of course I was on the outside shower with my shower buddies, Jeremy and Jarrod. We ate dinner and gathered for praise and worship and share time. Let me say one thing about praise and worship. We were blessed to have such a talented leader in that from David. With him, the amazon river which by now is as smooth as glass, the jungle surrounding you, and no light in the air to shut out the million stars you can see, you cant help but awe at the creator. We worshiped.
Share time was about sharing what you experienced in the day that someone else may have not gotten to witness. We went around and from everyone was saying, we had a good day. This team has come together. We are starting to see why God chose this team. We are all different in many ways and we are together in Christ. The relationships that we are forming are getting strong and its going to be great to see what God has in store for us. What is that crawling on my leg.....

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Doesnt get much better than this....
Meeting of the two rivers / Houses along the river close to Manaus

Day 2 Still on the way....

So mostly of day 2 consisted of us traveling from Manaus to the village which was about a 30 hour trip, give or take an hour. The captain sailed all night and the boat is still moving. We swayed all night, knocking into each other like bumper cars. At one point courtnee and I were swaying in rythm but then I would crash into Richard. We only got about 3 hours of sleep due to breakfast being served and as I mentioned before, top deck had to get up and set up for breakfast. Not really sure what was in store as far as food went, I came in with an open mind.... Yeah, I havent eaten better in my life! Eggs, fried banannas, Pancakes, cinnamon toast, fruit and coffee or juice. There was always plenty for seconds but we rarely went up there for them. I was coming in assuming we were eating beetles and snake fat but that definately wasnt the case....thanks mom. Youll have to forgive my ignorance, this is my first trip outside of the country. We cleaned up and prepared for morning devotional. I went to jump into the shower and thats when I realized the bag that had my soap, deodorant, and toothbrush was in Dallas. So....I had a decision to make and I still stand by it. I went downstairs and raided the villagers bags for soap and deodorant and a toothbrush. Dont judge me, we had plenty of everything and I was in desperate need. I went to take a shower and the boat had four closed door showers along with three outside shower heads. I went into the closed door shower and found out that the boat doesnt have hot water. One thing Im not very excited about is a cold shower. I mustered up the courage, and jumped in. Its was one of those take your breath away showers. I would find out later that you really appreciate the cold shower but thats for later. I will confess that I did go all day without deodorant because I was too proud to ask. I probably would have went the whole trip but Hollie made fun of me so I broke down and asked Joey and Travis to borrow the rest of the trip. I live with Chris Lillie, dont act suprised....Ha
We all sat in a circle on the top deck and Rick went over a devotional and then we went into a worship. The day was spent mostly hanging out talking to people. It ended up being a blessing that the villages were so far away cause we all got a good chance to chit chat and settle in. We got some folks together and started some card games, all in which I lost. I dont know if any of yall played nerdz before but if anyone asks for you to play, make sure your blood pressure is in check. Its pretty much solitaire on speed. Im terrible at fast thinking games, or actually thinking games all together. It could be slow and I would lose. But we had a good time. We spent a good amount of time watching the shore. My ignorance got the best of me again as I wonder why the river was so wide. In some areas, its well over a mile wide. When I think river, I think 100 feet. There wasnt much as far as trees so far either. There are alot of wooden houses with wooden fences. And then we started to see cattle and horses. It looks just like lonesome dove, except for the ginormous river flow next to it. Yes ginormous is a word. It really looks like the states did back in the 1800's. Then after some short conversation, we were still along way off from the jungle I assumed it looked like but we definately would get there. We then came upon the meeting of two rivers. Rio Negro and Rio Solimoes come togther and they dont mix. Rio Negro is black while the other one is brown. Its awesome to see in real life. Why they do that is beyond me but I have a good idea who put it there. We then spent the remainder of the afternoon dividing supplies that we brought to make family packs and groups got together for what ministry they would be apart of. I took Mens ministry and we prayed over the village, the villagers and our team. Watching the sunset on the amazon river is something I can not describe in words, so I wont attempt. We got our first taste of it tonight while also playing "Hey Cow". This game im pretty good at. Its simple. You yell "hey cow" to a herd of cattle and then count how many cows look at you..... It really is amazing how much fun that game was. Try it before you knock it... ok I didnt graduate college but whoever came up with the game did. Anyways, dinner was great and we got to watch dolphins follow the boat. We spotted our first pink dolphin which was pretty cool and then we asked what the ugly dolphin with the broken fin was and none of the brazilians knew. Weird. I took my first shower on the back of the boat and after that I never went back into the closed door one. The back of the boat had a balcony on the second floor that had three shower heads. The captian makes you go in pairs, that way if someone slips off, they would know. It was well barricaded so I didnt see how that happened but you didnt argue. The crew contained all brazilian people and one in particular I was concerned about. He looked like a could body slam a bear and really looked like a bjj fighter. So I didnt ask questions. You had to have a bathing suit on to be back there obviously. You would get a random cold glass of water poured on you every now and then but being back there was worth it. I layed down for the night with questions still but with an overall feeling of "who cares". All the stress at work, home, bills, money, relationships, and every other distraction wasnt here. I was away. I looked on a map to where we were and I couldnt be father away from the world I knew. Im on a boat. In the absolute middle of the Amazon river in the heart of Brazil surrounded by death (gators, fish, panthers, giant man eating bats) and Im completely at ease, ha. Here comes that oily musk again......

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Picture below...

Sorry, still learning this thing. The picture below is me, Courtnee, Rick (trip leader) and jesska, from left to right

08/01/2010 Day 1 still....

Im guessing its about 4 am. We just got our hammocks and everyone is beginning to lay down for the night. When we pulled up from the bus ride, we unloaded the bags and boarded the three story boat. Everyone took a quick tour of it and by the time I got on the boat, the hammock space was too full on the second and first deck so a few of us took top level. Top level is where most of the action goes down. The kitchen, tables and chairs are up there so we will be getting up early every morning due to the awesome ladies cooking breakfast! Its kinda hot right now. I have an oily musk going that is not very comfortable right before you go to bed but im so tired that I dont care. Im not sure on the rules about guys taking their shirts off to sleep but its happening. Normally guys and girls would be on seperate levels but we have too many people here so thats hard to control. We are definately close. Courtnee is to my right and Richard is on my left. I just hope that brown demon spider above me, staring at me, doesnt fall into my mouth as a sleep. We are starting to rock in the hammocks. Its kinda pleasant. Although I sleep normally on my stomach, the hammock forces you to sleep on your back. Hopefully I can adjust....The last light just went out so I think im the last one going. It still hasnt hit yet where I am at and what I am doing. One year earlier I would have said that I would never picture myself here. God has really changed my heart. I cant take credit for anything that has happened, truly. Just to understand that its his grace and mercy that I am still alive today, makes me happy. Let alone salvation. Its cool to see Jesska here also. I didnt have a clue who anyone was the first meeting we had and I heard her voice from around the corner. I havent seen her in awhile. Well before I was saved. She knows my past. Its cool to show her how god can heal and bring restoration though my life. I guess my purpose in coming here is to really see the glory of god. I want to know what that looks like outside of everyday bleesings that we see and take for granted in the States. Why am I still up???
Leaving Dallas!!
Luggage in Manaus Airport, Manaus Brazil

7/31/2010 Day 1

Ok... So I didnt get a chance to write in this journal till the bus ride to the dock and boat. Customs was a heck of alot easier than I thought it would be and honestly aside from eight hours in a plane, its been great so far. We each (33 people) brought two suitcases that we checked in. Each suitcase was full of supplies for the villages. What was ours was what we carried on the plane, which wasnt much. Each suitcase also weighed 50 pounds. Our plane from Dallas to Atlanta was too heavy and they took off twelve of our bags. One of which had my deodorant, soap and toothbrush in it. We didnt find out whos bag didnt make it till we got to Manaus. No sleep on the plane. I ended up talking to everyone around me and had a good chance to get to know the ones who sat close. I wore my straw Indiana Jones hat on the plane cause Im awesome and cause Rachel and Cody bought it for me. People were jealous. Im really going to make an effort in writing in this journal the whole trip to make Cathy and My Aunt happy and to see whats its like to remember things. After getting a chance to hear some of the stories around me, it makes me see that God is working. We have such a variety of people here and such a big group. Its awesome to see everything come together the way it has. 27 are first timers including me... wow. Ill have to say the reasons why I wanted to come are that I have no other "obligations." Not married, I dont have any children and my job isnt preventing me. Ive always wanted to do a mission trip also. Ever since I was saved in Oct 09'. Also, Matt plugged it in a sermon and that kinda sealed the deal. Ive met some interesting people in the past year who have devoted their lives to long term missions and it sparked an interest even though this is a short term. This bus is bumpy. Manaus looks dirty. Its hard to see outside but it doesnt look like Denton Texas. We are at the boat. Oh dear....

Amazon Mission Trip 2010

Ok Folks! To all the ones (Cathy Crawford and Aunt Marion) who said I wouldnt journal..... here it is. I havent written so much in my life till this trip. My hand stayed in constant pain from writing, hope you are happy... Ha. Well what can I say? Three weeks heading into to this trip, id have to say I was struggling to even muster up the prayers or quiet time or really anything. A week into it, ill admit that I was so tired of stress that I really didnt want to go. Jess mentioned sprirtual warfare and Id have to say that I felt it. Satan knew what kind of trip this was gonna be and what great plans god had in store for us and after talking to some of the other people on the team, I wasnt the only one he was attacking. My plan was to journal a couple of days before the trip but I actually didnt get to start until the end if day 1.  So my plan here is to TRY and type as much of the trip as I can while I send out the thank you letters to you all with the http address so you can read this. Hopefully by the time you get your letters and log on here, itll be done......but probably not. Bear with me, im learning this thing here. I wont be able to put all of the pictures on here but if you go on facebook, they are on my profile. Or, email me and I will mail them to you. We will have a picture party soon so I will have well over 5000 pictures!! Ok it goes......