We recently visited Agua Preta (“Black Water”), a remote village on the Xingu River, about 150 km east of Altamira. Seven motor bikes with 14 people made the trip on sloppy, muddy roads and paths. We experienced many falls with scrapes, bruises, and a nice hand laceration and a broken arm. When we arrived at Agua Preta in the dark at about 8:30p, we all collapsed in the small wooden church building. We looked like we had been in a war. We were all dehydrated, covered with mud and sweat, and several wore bandages. After resting for about an hour, we worshipped the One who brought us there and His presence was obvious. It was a sweet time. We then hobbled down to the river for a refreshing bath. These river baths after traveling all day in the heat/dust/mud is always a special highlight on these trips. The darkness and the stars certainly add to the moment.
The group of nine men and five women remained upbeat and had a lot of fun, despite facing some obstacles. We had a flat tire, a bike that kept dying, and many falls into muddy water or onto the rock-hard clay roads. We had to lift all of our bikes over a fallen tree with a 4 ft diameter trunk and we also had to break up and move another large fallen tree to pass by. The three hour ride took us almost six hours to complete.
Luke went with me and said several times how much fun the whole experience was for him. He was certainly “one of the guys” and everyone appreciated his being along, especially his dad. Tyler and Allison joined us, as well, and they got a very good feel for what we do in the remote areas.
We visited many homes during the days and we were welcomed at each place, without exception. I was able to help many with their health over the course of the trip and the last morning we saw 30+ in a simple living room with many watching. These folks have no access to health care in their area. We saw infections, abscesses, parasitic stuff, headaches, back pain, masses, abdominal pain, and many other types of illness. We offered advice, gave them simple meds (that anyone can buy here without prescriptions), and prayed for each one. This little help we could offer was received with such gratitude. Allison had a nice opportunity to see the very real benefit that a little health knowledge provides these rural folks.
The trip was a tough one physically. I remember, as I write, that the Good News of God’s grace and love has been delivered at a cost for centuries. Cost measured in lives, time, money, illness, ridicule, tears, scratches, and broken bones, many, many times over. It’s an honor to take the Gospel to these rural Amazon folks. gratefully serving the One whose joy over us changes everything.