What a difference a few weeks can make! Or, for that matter, a few hours. A few weeks ago we took a 3 1/2 hour flight north to the city of Belém. Belém is a city that sits at the mouth of the Amazon, just south of the Equator. This is roughly the distance from Harrisburg, PA to Albaquerque, New Mexico. And just like there is a change in climate from NY/PA to New Mexico, there is a big climate change from São Paulo to Belém. When we stepped off the plane, we felt like we had stepped into a sauna. It was quite hot, and very humid. I think it surprised us just how the humidity would affect the heat.
We were met at the airport by another missionary couple who serves in Belém, Rick and Gayle McLain, with whom we would spend the next week. You may remember from our last post that we were traveling to Belém to meet up with Rubens Silva and his family. They arrived in Belém later that afternoon and we all attended church together that evening at Rick McLain’s church plant. During the service Pastor Rubens shared his vision for the re-opening of the seminary there in Belém.
First thing the next morning we piled into our cars and headed out to a town about three hours away called Quatro Bocas, or “Four Mouths.” Rick McLain’s daughter Erica and her husband Evandro are planting a church in that town. Rubens wanted to discuss the Seminary ministry with Evandro and find out if Evandro would be interested in helping teach at the Seminary. That afternoon Emily, Sofia (Rubens’ wife), and Erica got together with a group of ladies from Evandro and Erica’s church. After dinner Evandro took Rubens and I to a church about half an hour away, where Rubens again presented the Seminary ministry. This church has their mid-week prayer meeting service on Thursdays, and allowed us to come and share the ministry.
The next morning, after an early-morning run, we got back in our cars and returned to Belém. That evening we had a big dinner with Rick and Gayle and Rubens’ family. After dinner we all sat down together to make plans for the seminary and make sure we were all on the same page. It was a very helpful, informative meeting.
The next morning (you must feel like you are reading the Gospel of Mark! “Immediately after that…and immediately after that…and immediately after that.” That was pretty much how it felt for us too!) we piled back in our cars and headed to another town, Maracanã, another three hours away. This time instead of driving to the interior we drove to a coastal town. On the drive to this town we saw motorcycle taxis – can you imagine?! Motorcycle taxis! Not only that, but we drove past a motorcycle with 5 (FIVE!) people on it. We had five people in our car and that felt quite comfortable. Five on a motorcycle!
We were in this coastal town visiting the church of a Pastor friend of Pr. Rubens. Actually, this pastor had been with us through the whole trip to this point. He also wants to be involved in the seminary. So we were in Maracanã to tell his church about the seminary. Maracanã was very interesting. It is a very different culture from what we have grown accustomed to in the big city. Many of the houses in this town were actually mud houses. Many roads were dirt roads. All of the kids from the town hang out in the rivers to cool off from the heat. It was a way of life so much simpler than what we are accustomed to see in São Paulo. It was interesting for us to learn that Evandro, whom we had just seen the day before, grew up in Maracanã and is a product of the ministry of the church we were visting.
While we were in Maracanã we got to sample the local coastal cuisine of fish, crab, and Coke. The local mosquitos got to sample the rare cuisine of North American blood as well. We were assured, however, that these mosquitos were a different kind of mosquito than the ones which transmit Zika, Dengue, Yellow Fever, and Chikungunya. Yes, it’s one type of mosquito which transmits all those diseases. If there was ever any doubt to you that mosquitos are a result of the Curse, that fact should clear up your doubt.
So Sunday morning Pr. Rubens presented the ministry at the church there in Maracanã. Then we ate lunch and headed back to Belém. We arrived in time for a short nap and went to another church that evening where Pr. Rubens again presented the Seminary ministry.
Monday morning we were all pretty worn out from the travelling, so we were able to sleep in – until 7:30. We met up at the Seminary at 9 to take a tour of the campus. We had been in Belém since the previous Wednesday and we still hadn’t gotten to tour the Seminary! So Rick showed us around the campus during the morning. Rubens was planning to head out early the next morning to return to Brasilia. So he and his family headed back to where they were staying to get some rest before their trip. Meanwhile Rick and Gayle took us around to see the rest of Belém. We drove past the other churches in Belém, as well as passing by the port of Belém. It is a very historic city.
That night Chloe came down with a fever, and was ill during the rest of the trip. Tuesday and Wednesday we took short trips out to continue to visit different parts of the city and learn about the history of the ministry in Belém. Emily also came down ill on Tuesday, however. So Tuesday and Wednesday were much less busy than the previous few days had been. Very, very early on Thursday we caught our flight back to São Paulo. We learned something on that flight. We learned that the absolute worst place in the world for a 1-year-old to lose her stomach is 5,000 feet in the air. We thought that Chloe was feeling better after being so ill Monday and Tuesday – but we were wrong. Emily, however, is always prepared. Chloe’s wet/dry bag was quite handy, and not only fit her blanket and clothes but also managed to conceal the worst of the smell for the rest of the trip. Moral of the story: be a boy scout – always prepared.
The next Saturday the ladies of our church here in Carapicuíba had a baby shower for Pastor Arthur’s wife, Heloisa. She is due in just a couple weeks. Emily helped plan and decorate for the shower, and she gave the devotional.
From what I hear (Brandon is writing this) it was a stellar shower and a great devotional.
And all that pretty much brings us up to today! Last week and this week have been something of a return to daily life.
We plan to have a video of our trip uploaded later on this week, so stay tuned for that! Thanks for reading, and thanks for praying. We really appreciate the fellowship we share with you all!