the Steidingers
Steidinger family

Humaita- road trip

Posted by on August 3, 2018 in Brazil with no comments, please leave one

Last month at 4:30 one morning seven guys left Santarem to “spy” out the land for our move next year. We drove over 1800 miles– mostly dirt. Two river trips allowed the Brazilian missionaries to experience the river culture in another state. Two families (including us) will live in the city of Humaita along with the group leader. Janelle is happy that we found a house to rent so she can visualize where everything will be– well, except when i was filming i went a little too fast in some rooms– just so she would have a few surprises. The board of Salt and Light (our new mission) also decided to purchase another house which will be remodeled into an apartment for one family, a small mission office, and some guest rooms for workers coming in from the river. Here’s a few photos:

Crowded car with 7 guys. sometimes not the best smells either.

 

Just one more wooden bridge on the Transamazon highway

 

the tires do get some wear and tear from the rocky roads. just one flat though!

 

I met a Baptist pastor the last time I visited Humaita. He insisted we come to church and basically turned the service over to us. He even let a gringo preach a bit!

 

The team heading out to do some community visits.

 

One of the many barges we needed to cross where they haven't built a bridge yet

 

Dirt roads equal dirty car

 

we overnighted in a city called "alligator"

 

We stopped in a the city of Apui where i ministered earlier this year. The church is super excited about our project and we even have financial commitments from some of the families!

Bearhawk- transformation

Posted by on June 27, 2018 in Brazil with no comments, please leave one

After much prayer and consultation, the mission gave the go-ahead to purchase some amphib floats for the 4-place Bearhawk. This occurred last fall. The floats were finished (in Canada) and shipped to Brazil in March. They arrived in April, and of course were delayed in customs. Almost to the day they were liberated, the truckers went on strike here in Brazil protesting the increase in diesel price. No trucks equal no lots of things. Flights were canceled as airports ran out of jet fuel.  Final exams were delayed as classes were canceled because gas stations didn’t have gas and people couldn’t get to class. Grocery stores began to run out of fruits and vegetables……and our floats were stuck in the port because the truckers blocked the exit!! Well…after a few weeks they were finally released. During this times, we began the project of moving the Bearhawk to the hangar that has a ramp down into the water. Matt had had hernia surgery just a week before, so Janelle had to be there making sure he didn’t lift anything. That meant the kids might as well help also! The wings were taken off. For an abbreviated video, you can click here if you don’t want to read all the way to the end. Placed on a trailer that Jaelah and a good Brazilian friend stood on and held the wings as Matt drove them about 10 miles to the hangar. Jaelah decided that she probably didn’t HAVE to be on the trailer securing the wings from falling off but since she had asked, her dad said, “definitely!”.

Although Matt wanted to drive the fuselage 10 miles to the hanger on the road, that was vetoed and we hired a tow truck. Then the process of putting the wings back on and preparing the floats for installation. We are in the middle of that process now.

The crew. One wing down, one to go!

The crew. One wing down, one to go!

 

Both of them off. Luke examining the plane

Both of them off. Luke examining the plane

 

Janelle verifying that the wings will not fall off during the trip to the hangar.

Janelle verifying that the wings will not fall off during the trip to the hangar.

 

I was going to say, "hold my beer and watch this." but I don't think a missionary pilot is supposed to say that.

I was going to say, “hold my beer and watch this.” but I don’t think a missionary pilot is supposed to say that.

 

Off the truck

Off the truck

Wings on, floats arrive!

Wings on, floats arrive!

 

Painting the floats in our homemade paint booth

Painting the floats in our homemade paint booth

 

Mounting brackets installed.

Mounting brackets installed.

To All the Moms Everywhere…

Posted by on May 12, 2018 in Brazil with no comments, please leave one

what a gift it is to know you and to see you love the way you do, to see you go the extra mile even when you do not have to. i am endlessly inspired by you, and this courageous life you live. what a gift it is to know you, and to receive the love you give. -morgan harper nichols

 

to all the moms everywhere ^ :)

this year i wanted to write something for Mother’s Day :) i have seen so many amazing examples of mothers throughout my life, and i just wanted to be (yet another) young girl who looks up to so many of you amazing females and say:

Dear Momma,

the tired one, the worn out one.

i know, it feels like no one sees you. but to start out, let me say, one day those little grubby hands that caress your cheeks will hold their own babies in those hands and say, “thank you Momma, for all you taught me, for the example you are, and for all that you do.”

one day, they will see, and it will all be worth it :)

maybe, for some of you, it already is worth it! amen! but we are A L L walking such DIFFERENT paths, that i just wanted to say, to those mommas that can’t quite see the light at the end of the tunnel yet…can’t quite see the silver lining and God’s great purpose in all this..your day WILL come!

and on that day, the King of kings will hand you your crown and will say, “well done, good and faithful servant.”

why?

oh dear mother :)

because of all those years you spent waking up to change the sheets once again, waking up early to make breakfast and get them on the bus, washing and folding all those clothes with care & love, and raising those children up to follow JESUS!

that is why!

your job is sacred!!

what you do, the kiddos you have, NO ONE ELSE could raise them or do the things you do with them the way you can!

no one else was chosen by Jesus to raise them, but you (and your husband :))

no, i don’t understand or know about all the nitty-gritty.

but i know it’s hard.

i know you don’t want to get up and do it all over again somedays. (maybe most days :))

but you could be raising world-changers, Jesus-lovers, kingdom-builders.

so don’t give up.

let your feet hit the floor each morning and let the devil say, “oh crap, she’s up.”

cause you’re Jesus’ princess 😉

so i don’t keep repeating myself, may i just say…

THANK YOU.

they will understand & see one day all that you’ve done.

but for now,

Jesus sees, knows, & cares.

He created you for this.

you got this 😉

cause He don’t ever leave you :)

bjs & kisses,

Jaelah (and the inspiration from my Jesus ;))

 

“And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”

-1 Peter 5:4

Rebel- accident

Posted by on May 1, 2018 in Brazil with 3 Comments

Some of you may know that Matt was in an accident yesterday with the floatplane. He had flown a pastor to some river communities to minister over the weekend.  They were on their way back and needed to land because a storm was coming. When they were coming in to land the motor quit and they had to land in some trees.  Matt is ok, unfortunately the pastor broke his femur. Prayers are greatly appreciated for that because it is normally a long recuperation.  Genivaldo, the pastor, has been working in these communities for 15 years—please pray also that he would not be discouraged and that this would be used for God’s glory.  (Romans 8:28) I guess Matt’s ok and not too scared to fly because he got back in another ultralight to come back to Santarem :) (he was about 2 hours away by plane so we were thankful that a pilot friend was available to go pick him up)  

The Rebel the day before the accident. Parked at a community.

The Rebel the day before the accident. Parked at a community.

And then the accident

And then the accident

upside down.

upside down.

After removing it from the jungle

After removing it from the jungle

 

Matt always wanted an open cockpit.....

Matt always wanted an open cockpit…..

 

and those floats he was so proud of. well... he's got a lot of work to do again....

and those floats he was so proud of. well… he’s got a lot of work to do again….

*Huge, huge praise that the guys survived the accident, and with just cuts & bruises other than the broken femur—recognizing that that will take a little longer but with time will heal and we pray will not have any permanent effects

*For Pastor Genivaldo—quick, uncomplicated healing and encouragement. We are thankful he was able to be taken to a major city hospital yesterday where he can receive highly skilled care.

*The area around Matt’s right eye is purple and swollen. He was checked out at a small hospital near the crash site yesterday but we are going to have a CT scan done here in Santarem today thanks to a doctor/pilot that Matt knows who arranged it all for him—not a small feat, especially given that it is a Brazilian holiday today and everything is closed.  He also has a sprained ankle.

*Matt is supposed to leave tomorrow morning to travel to Atlanta, GA for his sister Faith’s wedding this weekend.  Prayers appreciated especially for comfort during his long flight.

*As we wade through the details of getting the plane removed from the forest, that things would move forward in an uncomplicated manner.  The plane is more or less destroyed—crushed wing, bent float, etc. –prayers appreciated for deciding the next steps in terms of what is salvageable and/or how do we replace it. 

 

We want to especially thank all of you who pray for us, whether on a regular basis or once in awhile—we fully believe the outcome was as good as it was thanks to the power of prayer.  I got emotional this morning listening to a message from a fellow Brazilian missionary pilot in another part of the Amazon.  He had prayed for Matt and mission aviation yesterday morning during his mission group’s prayer time—just about the time that Matt and Genivaldo were involved in the accident.

God is so good and we praise Him…and fully recognize that even if the outcome had been worse…He is still good, and worthy of our praise!!

Love to all,

Janelle

 

Latest aviation project

Posted by on December 15, 2017 in Brazil with no comments, please leave one

One major headache I’ve encountered while living in Brazil was the importation of some aluminum floats. We asked for much prayer and after thousands of dollars and 18 months of waiting they confiscated them. HOWEVER we were able to purchase them “back” at an auction (I know if sounds frustrating, but this is Brazil). I had a few spare days this last week and utilized my brother’s visit to mount them.

Rebel with 25 year old Full Lotus floats

One of the reasons we wanted these aluminum ones is everytime I complained about our slow plane, experienced pilots told me the biggest problem was these floats. They have advantages (able to hold up to rocks, etc) but they are also the opposite of aerodynamic and (we found out since) weigh 20 pounds more than aluminum.

It was a big, expensive project but we felt worthwhile. Here is the progression of removing the floats and then installing the new ones.

Luke, not THAT excited about being there-- but a big help!

We had a block and tackle to lift up the wing attach points. then things under each wing to stabelize it

Aluminum floats set up to go under the plane

 

Old floats disconnected

 

IMG_4807

 

Positioned.

Here is a video of me pulling out the old ones (click here).

We also weighed the airplane during the process to verify the weight and balance

 

The cart it sits on when not in use also had to be modified

 

and finally in the water!!!

 

It was a great ending to the story. As mentioned, the aluminum ones are 20 pounds lighter (that’s 20 more minutes of fuel I can take) and we gained over 10 knots in airspeed (more than 10%!).

 

Thank you everyone for all your prayers and support for this project!

Guest blogger- cousin Paige

Posted by on December 7, 2017 in Brazil with no comments, please leave one

On November 19 through the 26, my Dad, Mom, my brother Cody and I made a visit to Santarem, Brazil. It was so fun seeing, talking and hanging out with family that we haven’t seen in a long time! The first day we stayed in Santarem we got everything settled and were about to all take showers. But when my mom moved the curtain a frog jumped out of the shower! She wasn’t very fond of that at all! I was so surprised! So we caught the frog and put him outside then we saw a giant cockroach climbing up the bathroom wall. Aunt Janelle said it was normal size and just killed it with a shoe like no big deal but us from America thought it was HUGE!!! On Tuesday we got ready to go on an overnight boat trip. We went on the trip so we could give people in a community water filters, so they could have cleaner water to drink from the Amazon River. My dad, Mark, his brother, Matt and “Little Mark” or Marquino would drill holes into a 5-gallon bucket to insert the water filters. filterThe small filter will get rid of the bad stuff. As they were working, Marquino and Matt would explain how the dirty water would represent us as sinners. The filter would represent Jesus and how through him we are clean and pure. I think that’s super cool and totally well thought through. We met so many wonderful families there and it really opened my eyes! A little boy named Wesley that I remember was so sweet and cute and loved his bibles story book we took him. I also got to swim in the Amazon! I was so nervous to jump in. So now I can say I swam in the scary Amazon River!!! One night Cody, Sierra, Luke, and I used plastics cups to “fish” for minnows. We actually caught a couple of minnows, then we used those to fish for bigger fish but we never caught any. At night we slept in hammocks. hammockThe hammocks were super comfortable. We had them lined up in a and we all close together. The whole trip was super fun and exciting and I’m glad I was able to go.

plane

Teen Camp & Cucaru :)

Posted by on September 19, 2017 in Brazil with no comments, please leave one

Hello peeps! This post has two ‘happenings’ of Jaelah and I’s life recently. The first is the yearly teen camp that we go to, a few pictures and a brief account of how it was. The second is a boat trip that we went on a few weeks ago!

On our way to camp! With friend Adria.

On our way to camp! With friend Adria.

I assume most of you have heard of the color fest, in the U.S. they usually are done after a long run. It is a powder made from corn starch (well, actually, we homemade ours and that’s what we made it out of. I’m sure stores’ are very different) & coloring. It was really cool how they turned it into a Biblical thing. For example, share with your friend or someone beside you if they don’t have any, and have FUN together!! :) It was so much fun to throw it at each other hahaha and see everybody screaming and laughing and being crazy. And, the video they did of us throwing it turned out pretty sick. :)

Before

Before

A few more pictures with a few more friends!

A few more pictures with a few more friends!

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These are some friends that we made playing cards :) we just sat down at a table in the dining area and started playing with some of our other friends and then other teens just came over and asked if they could play. So we said yes and taught them how & laughed a ton & just had fun!!

 

hi, now it’s Jaelah’s turn! :) so we had a few weeks after camp to continue settling in to our new house & then we were off on the boat trip to Cucaru! it was such a wonderful trip & i (or we :) are so grateful we got to go! being able to help out with the kids’ ministry was by far my favorite. they had such a joy & are always so fun to be around! they took  quite a liking to all of us so that was quite fun hahaha :) we actually went to more than one community because there was PAZ churches in both of them and the other one (Sao Diogo) was only 5 min. away. below you can see pictures from when we got stuck in the mud trying to drive there the morning after a big rain!

we left on Monday morning and got there late Monday night. we left Friday afternoon around 4 and arrived home (like at our house, since now we live a minute from the boat shop :) at 7:30AM Saturday.

we were really tired & i got a cold/flu something for a few days after but it is ALWAYS worth it. loved this community and these people & their souls just as I do every community :) <3

worship before devotion one morning

worship before devotion one morning

teaching the kiddos in one community about Nahum!

teaching the kiddos in one community (Sao Diogo) about Nahum!

sharing the evangelism cards with the kids

sharing the evangelism cards with the kids

the Dr. Amanda and the monkey skit!

the Dr. Amanda and the monkey skit!

the day we got stuck in the mud on the way to the community!

the day we got stuck in the mud on the way to the community!

we stood on the edge (right where there is more of a pileup of dirt) of the road while they were getting it out and then walked down the road to where it wasn't flooded to get back in the truck :)

we stood on the edge (right where there is more of a pileup of dirt) of the road while they were getting it out and then walked down the road to where it wasn’t flooded to get back in the truck :)

me, Emmile (a friend we made who came with us on the boat), Thayane (the children's leader in Cucaru who also became our friend), and Mariah, with our sandals that were almost completely covered in mud lol

me, Emmile (a friend we made who came with us on the boat), Thayane (the children’s leader in Cucaru who also became our friend), and Mariah, with our sandals that were almost completely covered in mud lol

doing a Noah's ark skit with the kids at the school! they sure like this one! :)

doing a Noah’s ark skit with the kids at the school! they sure like this one! :)

a group walking on Tuesday (the first day there) to do house evangelism & invite kids to the children's service that night & everyone to the service that we held in front of the church on Thursday night :)

a group walking on Tuesday (the first day there) to do house evangelism & invite kids to the children’s service that night & everyone to the service that we held in front of the church on Thursday night :)

Recent flight

Posted by on September 14, 2017 in Brazil with 1 Comment

If you’ve read the book about the mission (Sunrise on the Amazon) or heard us talk about the mission, then you’ve probably heard of Pastor Nilton. He co-founded the mission (as an 18 year old) with Luke Huber. He is now 60 years old, still doing the same thing- pastoring churches in the Amazon Basin. He has traveled many rivers and streams around Santarem over his lifetime and is well known near—- and kinda far.

But, our desire is for him, actually for HIM to be known FAR and near. Nilton has been “confined” to about 30 hours by boat from Santarem. More than 30 hours by boat, and it gets very difficult to oversee churches. We have bases that are farther out, but Nilton rarely gets to those because of the transportation difficulty. Last year I had the idea of taking him to these other bases and doing mini-training series. Calling the river workers in (or better yet, going out to them) and letting this powerful man of God speak into their lives. Forty years of stories, experiences, and miracles.

We are planning to do one of these training sessions every other month, squeezing it in alongside of the many other responsibilities that Nilton has in Santarem.

Last weekend we went to Itacoatiara. A city two days by boat from Santarem, or less than 2 hours with the RV6. Friday afternoon Nilton did a session on evangelism. Friday night he shared about missions to a group of young adults. Saturday we were out on a river (2 hours by speedboat from the city) where the local worker / pastor was installing water filters as a way to begin a Gospel work there. We had three teams installing the filters in the local houses.

Loading the speedboat Saturday morning

Water filter (blue barrel in corner)

I was blessed to be with someone that was skilled in installing the filters, leaving me time to evangelize!  The first house, the owner was a little preoccupied, but his daughter and her cousin listened. I started with Adam and Eve, then moved to Jesus. The girl said, “Oh, I have a book about Him. Here in the house.” I was then called to do some more filter installation, but when I left her and her cousin were hunched over that book studying the life of their Savior.

Typical Amazon house (outhouse on left)

The last house we waited and waited for Nilton’s team to come back and pick us up. We installed the filter, I went through the Gospel, and then we still had an hour and half of waiting, talking, etc. It was getting dark and I was anxious to get back to Itacoatiara because I had marked a flight with another missionary at 6AM the next morning. They finally arrived and Pastor Nilton had a huge grin on his face. “We won a couple to the Lord” he said. That was worth it! Because it was dark and our boat driver was unfamiliar with the way back, we got lost. We were so lost that he was asking me which direction I thought we should go!

With all those different islands and channels, it's easy to get lost!

Praise the Lord we made it back by about 10pm. I took a Brazilian missionary up the next morning to show him the value of aviation. He has been working in that area for about 9 years. His range is about 250 miles, and wants to go farther but without an airplane it is almost impossible. Our 30 minute flight took us to one of his training centers — which he normally spends 4 hours traveling by boat.

After that flight Nilton and I hopped (30 minute flight) to another larger community and met with another river pastor. This pastor moved to a small community (he go up at 5:30 to leave his house and travel to this larger community to meet up with us at 10AM) about 8 months ago and now has 17 disciples. Twelve are ready to be baptized and he is asking for counsel on a variety of things. He is self-supporting and is in need of boat gas as the other nearby communities are asking him to come and visit them but he doesn’t have enough gas to make these trips. We are in prayer on how to help him.

Airplane in the community of Urucara

Sunday night we were in another city (Parintins–see Jaelah’s previous blog). Nilton preached two services on missions– they did let me share a little before each service!

Pastor Nilton praying with the church in Parintins.

Monday morning we were back in Santarem.

Thanks for your continued prayer support! Each flight over the Amazon jungle is a risk, but worth taking as more and more people are able to hear about Jesus!

trip to Parintins (by Jaelah)

Posted by on July 17, 2017 in Brazil with no comments, please leave one

hi guys! so it’s been awhile huh? :) sorry to have left you for a bit! we’ve been busy around here lately :)

on June 17th-June 19th i went on a trip with Dad to a city that is about 12 hrs. by boat from Santarém and 2 1/2 hrs. by plane.

we took Pr. Nilton (a missions pastor and co-founder of Project AmaZon) & Jusilene, a brother in Christ who is also a worker on the river and he (Julsilene) is actually planning to move with his family to Parintins! (the main reason we went was so he could check out the city, etc. 😉

we left early Sat. morning (the 17th) and actually had to go pick up the other guy somewhere else about 55 min. from Santarém. we stopped and picked him up, stretched our legs a bit and then got back in :)

Nilton, Jusilene, Dad, ME

Nilton, Jusilene, Dad, ME

Parintins is actually an hour behind us so Pr. Nilton had told the pastor there we would get there at 11 but it was actually 10 their time! :) but we got there within good time! Pr. Samuel (the pastor in Parintins) picked us up and took us to the stadium where they do the Festival of the Bulls. not sure if anyone’s heard of this but the city of Parintins spent $10 million dollars (that is wasted pretty much) getting ready for it & 50,000 people come for it. it’s just a sinful party & only Carnival draws more people. it’s based on a local folklore about a resurrected ox. there is two teams (red & blue) that try and outdo each other. so, yeah, not a good party :/ but they were  starting to get ready for it when we were there so he took us to see the stadium.

we picked up some açai and some fish and things for lunch and headed out to the church’s camp. we ate there and then spent the afternoon talking & strategizing. (well, the adults did. i talked with Pr. Samuel & Pr. Fatima’s son & held a baby 😉

they had pigs out at camp (and geese & ducks & dogs :P)  so they killed one and we took it home & Pr. Samuel cooked it for us on the grill. my, i missed pork 😛 talk about your mouth salivating! (and yes, mine now officially is :)

Sun. morning the men got up and flew to another community to encourage a brother there & check out his churches etc. I stayed back with Pr. Fatima & Judá (their son).

When they got to the community on Sunday morning they had to figure out how to get to the village because they really didn't know anyone at the airport. God provided and they found a guy with a boat that took them and let them sleep on the boat when they got back.

When they got to the community on Sunday morning they had to figure out how to get to the village because they really didn’t know anyone at the airport. God provided and they found a guy with a boat that took them and let them sleep on the boat when they got back.

 

The boat parked at the village where Dad and Pastor Nilton were able to visit. One family has accepted Christ and they were blessed as Nilton shared from the Word. We are hoping to return soon and encourage them!

The boat parked at the village where Dad and Pastor Nilton were able to visit. One family has accepted Christ and they were blessed as Nilton shared from the Word. We are hoping to return soon and encourage them!

we hung out, watched cartoons, read books, had lunch, took naps, took showers, ate more açai, then left for church :) they are the head pastors in Parintins (and there is only one church there) so Pr. Fatima preached for the 5 & 7 PM services. so i got to hear the same sermon twice :) after the last service was over i met some of Judá’s friends and we chatted for a bit & i got to know some of them, which was super cool! when we were all done talking we went down to like the main park, i guess you could say it was. they had (have) a bunch of stands set up that you can get burgers from (that are verrrrrry delectable!). a disciple of Pr. Fatima’s & her husband and son were there so they chatted while we waited for our food (yes, they. i chatted a bit but was really trying to focus more on the keeping my eyes open part ;). we ate and then we went back to their house, i got my stuff all organized to leave the next day. (actually it was kinda already the next day by the time we got in bed. and yes i was very tired the next day!)

this is part of the stadium where they do the Festival of the Bulls at

this is part of the stadium where they do the Festival of the Bulls at

me & Dad after visiting where Pr. Samuel works :)

me & Dad after visiting where Pr. Samuel works :)

this was at the camp in Parintins. twas a very restful & relaxful afternoon ;)

this was at the camp in Parintins. twas a very restful & relaxful afternoon ;)

at one point during the afternoon at camp i was reading my book and the geese started making a bunch of noise so i looked behind me and they were all headed like this towards the river. i thought it was funny for some reason :)

at one point during the afternoon at camp i was reading my book and the geese started making a bunch of noise so i looked behind me and they were all headed like this towards the river. i thought it was funny for some reason :)

açai before church :P we had this every.single.day when we were there! yes please! ;)

açai before church 😛 we had this every.single.day when we were there! yes please! ;)

the baby that i got to hold at camp <3 i could do this every day, all day long ;)

the baby that i got to hold at camp <3 i could do this every day, all day long ;)

(from left to right) Judá, Pr. Samuel, Pr. Fatima, & me on Monday before we left :) love these people so much!!!

(from left to right) Judá, Pr. Samuel, Pr. Fatima, & me on Monday before we left :) love these people so much!!!

our view on the way to pick up Juseline! right after this we flew thru clouds! it was amazing! God is amazing! ;)

our view on the way to pick up Juseline! right after this we flew thru clouds! it was amazing! God is amazing! ;)

and this was right after we left Parintins! all those communities that still need Jesus!!! :) raise 'em up Lord!

and this was right after we left Parintins! all those communities that still need Jesus!!! :) raise ’em up Lord!

 

 

so, the men had left early that morning and they actually stayed over in the community because Dad didn’t want to fly back in the dark. so they slept on a boat that night & got up really early the next morning (Monday) and flew to Parintins, picked me up, and we left.

i called Dad after we got back to their house and he told me to get all of my stuff together & the guys’ stuff too (they hadn’t taken anything hardly) and be at the airport at 6:30 AM :)

so we slept and then got up early, Pr. Fatima made some coffee & we left & went and got some bread & headed to the airport.

they were landing right as we got there so they landed and came out to the truck and we ate and then walked to the plane, took some pictures, said our last goodbyes, climbed in and we were off :)

we dropped Jusilene off again & then continued to Santarém.

andddddd we were home by 11AM on Monday :)

so that’s it! I so enjoyed this trip and want to go back soon! :)

Guest blog- Derek Steffen

Posted by on May 30, 2017 in Brazil with no comments, please leave one

Hello everyone! My name is Derek Steffen and I recently got to spend time with Matt, Janelle, Mariah, Jaelah, Luke, and Sierra in Brazil, so they asked me to write a short account of my experience. For a little background about myself, I am originally from Alto, Michigan and I count myself very blessed that I got to meet the Steidinger family while they lived in Michigan for Matt’s flight school. During their short time in Alto they had a big impact on the church community there and my family especially enjoyed their friendship. This year I just graduated from college (thank you, thank you) and I have a short break before I start my first professional job. I asked Matt and Janelle I could come visit them in Santarem and even though I didn’t give them much notice, they were extremely generous and accommodating making it possible for me to see Brazil and their mission there.

I first flew into Manaus where I had an overnight layover and stayed with another American missionary named Jim Benson. During that short stay with Jim, he introduced me to the violence and corruption of Brazil. He told me a little about the different missions in northern Brazil and how there are tens of thousands of unreached communities along the Amazon. Jim was an extremely interesting person who has served in the military and lived in almost all 50 states. I think if I had spent my entire trip talking with Jim, it would have been a trip worthwhile.

After my all too short layover in Manaus I finally flew into Santarem where I was picked up by the entire Steidinger family. All of the kids wanted to come along; what a warm welcome! We had to drive all the way across town to get back to the mission and the streets of Santarem are very poorly maintained with potholes that could swallow a small truck. The lanes in the streets might have been painted once, but a “four-lane” road was treated more like a seven-lane road with cars, motorcycles, and trucks doing whatever it took to get ahead each other while dodging potholes, stray dogs, and horse drawn carts. Matt had obviously adjusted well to the culture as he raced through the traffic and potholes with formula 1 precision. Luke calmly read his book in the back of the car seemingly unaware of the surrounding traffic buzzing like a beehive.

That afternoon I helped Matt attach a wing to his float-plane named Rebel. Two bolts and a prayer later, we had the wing attached. Matt always test flies his planes after a repair to make sure all of the instruments are working correctly. He asked me if I would like to go with him to test fly the amateur built float plane over the Tapajos river that had a missing wing just minutes before. He didn’t have to ask me twice! I waved to the fishermen in their canoes as we skipped, bounced, and lifted off the water in the orange light of the setting sun.

Matt diagnosing the plane to find a wing missing

Matt diagnosing the plane to find a wing missing

Watching the sun set from 120 feet over the Tapajos

The next day I got to go on a boat trip down the Amazon with a group of pastors visiting from southern Brazil. This was no doubt the most special part of my entire trip. I was introduced to Marcos who was not much older than me and fluent in English. Marcos and I sat and talked on the boat for countless hours about how the church started by Project Amazon, Igreja da Paz, has grown tremendously over the past 40 years through discipleship and small house churches called cell groups. I had with me a book called Sunrise on the Amazon, the story of how Igreja da Paz was started by an American missionary named Luke Huber and a Brazilian named Nilton Cordeiro. Marcos took the book and flipped to a picture of Nilton, who was then a young man, and told me that Nilton was his father! Then Marcos took me to the man who was piloting the boat and said, “this is Nilton, my father.” I couldn’t believe it! The original person who started Igreja da Paz and helped it grow to what it is today was right here with me on the boat! I pointed to the picture of Nilton in the book and said to him (through the translation of Marcos), “it is such an honor to meet the man in the story.” He then said to me with a warm smile, “you are now a part of the story.” I will never forget that special conversation I had with Nilton that day.Marcos (left) and his father, Nilton (Right 

Marcos (left) and his father, Nilton (Right)

 

That night we stopped at a small village along the river. Even though it was a Saturday night, the river community was very excited to have church and hear the visiting pastors preach. We started with worship lead by an electric guitar and drum set. The entire community was in the church with their hands raised in worship. Each of the visiting pastors took turns going up to preach. Marcos very graciously translated the fast-paced, energetic sermons for me to hear.

The river community and my new friends I met on the boat trip

The river community and my new friends I met on the boat trip

The church in the river community

The church in the river community

The next day we took off down the river again. We found a sandbar just up the river of Santarem and spent most of the singing praise songs on the boat and swimming around the sandbar.

Singing praise songs on the boat

Singing praise songs on the boat

 

Our boat “Because of Jesus” parked at the sandbar

Our boat “Because of Jesus” parked at the sandbar

During my stay, I also got to go to church with the Steidinger family. There are dozens of small Igreja da Paz churches all over the city. We attended the largest church. The worship and sermons had so much energy and passion! I couldn’t help but feel rejuvenated and encouraged even though I didn’t understand much of what was being said.

Janelle piloting through the wild streets of Santarem on our way to church

Janelle piloting through the wild streets of Santarem on our way to church

 

One of the many small local churches

One of the many small local churches

Church

My favorite part of the trip was all of the many wonderful people I met. I would describe Brazilians as being friendly, genuine, and anxious to celebrate anything! Saying hello or goodbye to anyone involves a ritual of a dozen hugs! I personally wouldn’t mind if America adopted that practice 😊. While I was sitting in the Santarem airport before I flew out, some men tried to talk to me. They were obviously fascinated by an American in Santarem. We had a hard time communicating, but I recognized the words “Igreja da Paz” and I quickly lit up! Yes! That’s why I’m here! One of the men explained through cognates and hand gestures that he was a pastor and the other men were his disciples. I told them that the famous pastor, Abe Huber, was my cousin. He’s technically my 2nd cousin once removed, but I don’t know how to say that in Portuguese. They were so impressed they wanted to get a picture with me! They all gave me many hugs and shouted every English word they knew, “Chicago bulls! Michael Jordan! Scottie Pippen!” They each took turns taking pictures with their own smart phones smiling and patting me on the back. Apparently, since I’m part Huber, I’m a celebrity in Brazil! It was a very fun way to end my time there and the epitome of Brazilian friendliness!

home

Now when I read about the corruption in the news, and see the statics about the violence, it brings me real sorrow. I can’t help but share the burden of my brothers and sisters in Brazil. Brazil is full of beautiful people but you can’t miss the ugly razor wire around the houses and the metal bars covering doors and windows. There is a richness in their joy, but you can’t ignore the poverty that infects the city and the countryside. I had a very fun time, but the main thing I am taking home with me is a new sorrow. Pastor Nilton was right, now that my eyes have been opened to the need in Brazil, I am a part of the story. May Your Kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.