We just returned from spending 3 awesome weeks in Santarem, a PAZ base on the Amazon Basin. During the first 4 days we travelled by boat to a small village up the river where we held a “cell group conference” together with Josiah, Isaiah’s brother, and his wife Jennifer. The day before we left we found out that the speaker for the conference couldn’t make it so we were on for speaking. Four people accepted Christ for the first time and many others committed their lives to making disciples!
The first thing I (Erin) noticed when we arrived at the village was a freshly butchered cow hanging from the ceiling of a thatch-roof hut, they had killed a cow to feed everybody for the weekend. The last meal (after the cow had been hanging, skinned, for 3 days) was stew that was filled with rotten meat and smelled absolutely horrible. Isaiah’s brother got his bowl full and realizing how rotten it was and warned us before we sat down to eat so we were able to avoid going to dinner. But, when everybody from the village who had eaten got into the church and began to sing the smell of rotten meat was so thick on everybody’s breathe that it saturated the church building. I’ve never sat through a longer church service (I didn’t understand it, it was crazy hot, there was a cute little girl sitting on my lap who wreaked of rotten meat and not to mention the dog filled with fleas scratching right in front of me). I wish I could say my attitude was good but I was pretty worn out and grumpy after that 3 hour ordeal. I never scrubbed my body as hard as I did the next morning (we couldn’t bathe that night because there were alligators in the water) while taking a bath in the river.
Boat Trip to Uquena
We spent the next 2 weeks leading a team from our church in California that came down. We went on a week-long boat trip where we worked on building a brick church, held a health clinic, and had church meetings at night. 17 people accepted Christ including many children and teenagers. Isaiah was able to have a special meeting with the youth encouraging them to stay strong in their faith especially when tempted by peer pressure of their unsaved friends. This community has been closed to the gospel until a few months ago when God began to open the doors through the Christian worker at the village. Now, the problem is there are not enough mature Christians to disciple all of the new believers. It was amazing to see God changing the village before our eyes.
The last couple days of our trip was the huge evangelistic rally called the “Congresso da PAZ”. The city soccer stadium was packed to the brim with thousands of people for 3 nights filled with people eager to hear the gospel. Each night the field was filled with people who came down to receive Christ as their Savior and to be healed from illness. The last night during worship the heavens opened up and a huge downpour of rain fell on the stadium as people stood arms lifted to the heavens in worship. Just as worship ended the rain did as well, replaced by a beautiful blue sky. A total of 1,374 received Christ during this conference. We are repeatedly amazed at how ripe Brazil is for the Gospel! We believe that God is soon going to use Brazil mightly to send missionaries to the nations!
We are back in Fortaleza refreshed and excited to be a part of God’s work here. We have been busy moving into our new house the last couple days getting it ready for any visitors who may want to come…hint, hint. Sorry for the long update, it will be shorter in the future:) Thank you so much for your support of our ministry. We crave your prayers. Blessings! Isaiah and Erin
Slideshow of our time in Santarem and on the river!