The Amazon flood waters in this region are higher than they’ve been for over one hundred years. The amount of flowing water that floods this river basin in a normal year is beyond comprehension and this year it is more than a meter higher than normal. We are accustomed to seeing two and three meter poles on which sit the river homes disappear in March and April and this over hundreds and hundreds of square miles. This year the water is up to the windows on most river homes (in June!). Many people have fled to higher ground but many remain in their homes because of preference, fear of theft, or no means of moving.
A team of 12 men and women from the Columbus Vineyard arrived at the peak of this flood. They just "happened" to arrive when so many people on these rivers were in crisis. Food was in short supply and many folks were displaced, causing several families to live together in small river houses.
We traveled with them to the region of the Una River, a very poor region about 12 hrs from Porto de Moz. We took with us 70 "cestas basicas", sacks of about 50lb of food that can feed a large family for about two weeks. After arriving in the area, we struck out on two large canoes to visit homes, deliver the food, pray and share with the folks, and invite them to an evening worship service that would be held in a central location. Over the course of three days, we delivered all the food and saw many people for health concerns. At every home, we prayed for the family and for any particular needs that they shared. Each person seen medically was prayed for, as well, following an interview and prescribed treatment. The evening services included worship, teaching, and a time for praying for each person.
We visited several couples in their seventies and eighties, living alone, and moving about their flooded houses quite precariously. One couple had several large fish trapped in their bedroom (in a foot of water), keeping them there until they were ready to eat them! They still slept in their bed at night! It is such a joy to see the pleasure in the faces of especially these elderly couples when visited by a group of people from another country.
It was a week of prayer. Especially in this region, it is easy to realize one’s limitations to really help in any situation. Jesus said that without Him we can do nothing and this team lived this out by demonstrating dependence on their Father, exemplified by their devotion to conversation with Him. Everything was taken to Him in prayer. There was prayer in the morning, prayer in the evening, and prayer at each interpersonal encounter. We certainly did what was in our power to do but there was also an honest acknowledgement that any real help could only come from Jesus. This team’s motivation to pray and bring people to their Father was an obvious love both for the person being prayed for and for the One being prayed to. I’ve heard it said that when one prays, he is drawn closer to the One he prays to, to the one prayed for, and to the one prayed with. This team demonstrated this beautifully.
It was a joy to see the local people receive the love and service provided by this team of sweet, sweet people. It was also a joy to be on the receiving end of their love, prayer, and encouragement.
While traveling with this team, I was motivated to love more sacrificially and to pray more dependently. Our work in this region is a work of love and I desire in me more of the Father’s love, as demonstrated in these men and women. My desire to live more dependently also grew as I observed this dependence lived out through this team. We want to meet real, temporal needs, but we desire more that our work draw people to our Father and this can only be done through His Spirit. I was reminded that God is always at work, drawing each and every person to himself. To live with an ear to hear His voice and eyes to see His hand, will put us in the right place at the right time to be His hands to touch those He desires to touch today. This team was evidence of being in the right place at the right time because they were a praying team, a listening team, and a team dependent on their Father. It was such a blessing to be able to work with them and to learn from them.
It’s a given that the yearly visit from Columbus, led by our dear friends, Craig and Linda Heselton, is one that our Father delights to use to bless, encourage and challenge all who come in contact with them.
We haven’t had internet forever and as soon as we are able to hook up again, I’ll post some pictures. We try to keep up with email at a public internet site. Thanks for writing!!!