Since our first visit to Humaita, we’ve recognized the advantages of having this as a strategic base. It is a fairly large city (50,000) but yet is also very close to the river communities. It is connected to Porto Vehlo (the capital city of the state south of Amazonas) by an asphalt road which is then connected to the rest of Brazil. Another aviation mission organization is located in Porto Velho, however almost every flight comes close to Humaita and then they continue past. This means they fly two hours, one coming and one going, before they start their “mission”.
Therefore we have spent the last 8 months getting our mission set-up (office for Scott, our accountant; guest rooms for both Americans and Brazilians while they are here helping at the mission, etc) and we have also been planning a hangar. Our goal is to have at least two planes based here. In the future, we see this as the maintenance hub for the other mission bases. Praise the Lord plans have been moving forward! With some generous donations and some strategic contacts here in Humaita we were able to “break ground” in August.
Last week we were able to put the Bearhawk “under roof”. Although the ferrying of this plane did not go as planned, we are thankful for a great place to begin working to put the Bearhawk back in service.
A quick timeline of the hanger. It may look like we were out taking pics daily…..one advantage of living in a culture where things move sssslllllooooollllllyyyyyy is that you only need to take a picture once a week or so to monitor progress!
For pics, etc see the mission website;
Matt’s brother-in-law, Ryan Stoller came to visit last week with his son Braedon. Ryan serves as Vice-president of Amazon Salt and Light and Braedon is just a little older than Luke so we could take care of “business” and enjoy family at the same time. Ryan and Matt spent one day in the community of Calama. This is a little over an hour upstream from Humaita. Two families have opened their homes and hearts to hearing the Gospel. One of the fathers accepted Christ when the American team was here a few months ago. He was talking to Matt the other day and asked if we were ever going to start visiting communities farther upstream (all of the other Amazon Salt and Light missionaries live downstream). Matt said, “yes, that is our vision, but we want you guys to do it. We will help, but our goal is for it to be driven by the locals.” He said, that’s what I want to do. I need to learn some more about the Bible, but I want to start training to be a leader. Praise the Lord for this testimony. The same person also told Matt that the other family’s father never like Christians before. He always made fun of them or got mad at them- never wanted them around. The guy told Matt, “but now he has totally changed. He is always coming over whenever we have cell group and seems to want to learn more. He actually likes you guys.” Again all Glory to the Lord as we simply try to love people and begin teaching them the Word.
Ryan, Luke, Braedon and Matt
Two of our mission boats. Thankful for faithful donors that allow us to have much needed transportation.
Matt, Ryan and their sons in the community of Galeleia.
Ryan and Matt also spent time downstream where a family in the community of Galeleia has opened their home to have a cell group. This is even more special because this contact and initiation of the work was started by a local volunteer. The mission provides Erickson with a few gallons of gas each month and he oversees 3 cell groups. He would always travel past this community to get to his other cell group. One day he decided to stop and visit this family. They opened their home to weekly visits and are now looking to help enter yet another community where the wife’s parents live!
A leadership group from the US was here a few months ago. During their time spent here, we spent many hours discussing what is the role of Amazon Salt and Light (the US mission) in advancing the Gospel here in the Amazon Basin. We felt God telling us to focus on two main areas; taking care of the Brazilian missionaries and transportation. “Taking care of the Brazilian missionaries” not only means financially (until they get their ministries up and running) but also caring for them spiritually as needed. Four couples are living 5 and 7 hours from us. Two couples are living in a community that “expelled” the last missionaries that tried to live there. With limited internet and not many other believers they can get spiritually deprived!
Last month Scott and I took the men to a 3 day conference (Vineyard Church) in another state. The women and families stayed here in Humaita to be blessed by Janelle and Scott’s wife, Aldine. Us men had 3 days in the car going and 3 days coming back. Almost all dirt roads! Here is a taste of some of the road(click here) and one of the many bridges (click here) . But we were able to practice “iron sharpening iron”. One of the missionaries commented to me during the conference, “Matt, I’ve been just giving, giving, giving for the last 6 months and didn’t realize how much I was running on empty until I came here.” This is exactly what we feel the US mission is about- helping them stay healthy; financially, spiritually, emotionally.
After the men returned from the conference, we had 2 more days of “refreshing” here in Humaita. We had talks on personal prayer, devotions, keeping a healthy marriage, raising children and young adults, finances and the vision of the mission. Our plan was to send our soldiers back ready for battle! Worshiping!
Two of the couples had never had a religious marriage ceremony so we did that one night also!
The final day of our refreshment, we went over what God has been doing so far this year. Between the 3 bases, we are having weekly meetings in 19 different communities. Over 50 people have come to Christ and we are working to disciple them and raise up local leaders from within these communities. We also identified 6 more communities that we have contact with and hope to start cell groups within the next two months. Our goal is to fortify these 25 communities over the next 6 months with local leaders taking a larger pastoral role so that in 2020 our Brazilian missionaries can become more supervisory and pray about the next 25 communities to enter!
Lucas (vice-president of the Brazilian Salt and Light mission) came to minister about discipleship.
And since we do live in Brazil we had to play some soccer.
Dirt roads, curves and dust can make for dangerous travel. Praise the Lord we arrived safely!
Enjoying the Vineyard conference.
It was just to hot not to!
The kids had fun playing volleyball, soccer and of course some TV time.
Luke made a new friend.
We did have one flat tire as the rocks are hard on rubber.
Our team on one of the many barges crossing one of the many rivers.
At the Vineyard conference
The women sure enjoyed their time without the men!
Saying their vows.
Last week we had our first team from the United States! Five men from Illiniois and Indiana, including two pastors, arrived on Monday the 6th. Another mission based in Manaus, with an experimental plane that seats 8 people, was able to bring the team directly to Humaita from Manaus. This was a huge time saver as their time here in Brazil was short. That afternoon the team, Jaelah, my dad, and Frank traveled an hour and 15 min. by speedboat to the community of Calama to hold a church service. Jaelah was given the job of translating from English to Portuguese for one of the American pastors. Three people gave their lives to the Lord during this service! The team spent the night in Calama, as the Madeira river, the river we now live next to, can be difficult to travel at night as there are many pieces of trees and things floating that are hard to avoid in the dark. They arrived back in Humaita on Tuesday morning and we went to a churascaria for lunch- the ultimate Brazilian experience! That afternoon the team, my mom, and Frank and his wife went to a another community, called Namor, to help with a small group. The interest factor of 5 Americans drew more people, so it actually was a rather large group–over 30 people. They were able to hand out school kits put together by my cousins’ school in the US, Prairie Christian School in El Paso, IL.
Then Tuesday night we went out on the town- burgers and ice cream for a taste of home!
Then it was my turn to take over translating duties! Wednesday morning the small plane that brought the team to Humaita came from Manaus to pick up the team and I and take us to another small city (Manicore~30,000 people), where the mission has two couples living and reaching out into the surrounding river communities. My dad flew his small RV-6 to Manicore so he and I would have a way to get back to Humaita after the team left from Manicore to Manaus.
It took about an hour to fly to Manicore. This trip on a line boat (the ‘bus system’ of the river, would have taken almost 24 hours). About 3:00 that afternoon we left in two speedboats to have a service in Jatuarana. We arrived early, and since the service wasn’t until 7:30 we went to another community, Terra Preta, to meet the host of the weekly cell group. We went back to Jatuarana and ate acai at Dona Branca’s house and talked until 7:30. (Dad visited Dona Branca and her husband almost two years ago and they were so excited when he went back to visit them after we had moved to this area. They joke that he has his own room to stay in at their house whenever he wants to visit.)
Andy Kaufmann, our good family friend, and Amazon Salt & Light board president, preached and I translated. I was prepared to translate for that but then one of the other team members was asked to give his testimony and I was caught off guard. But I think it went okay. 🙂 After the service we carefully made our way back to Manicore since it was dark by that time. We had supper at the apartments where the two ASL Brazilian couples live and the went back to the hotel to sleep.
A hotel the team stayed in
Thursday morning we headed out to Mucambo, the final community we planned to visit, about 7:30 am.
Arriving at the community (click here)
When we got to Mucambo most of the people were busy making farinha. Farinha is a yellow crumbly type of flour made from the manioc plant and is a cash crop in northern Brazil, vital to the Brazilian household. In all seriousness if you don’t have farinha for a meal, whether it be rice and beans or lasagna, some Brazilians can hardly eat without it. Back to Mucambo… since most of the community was busy we didn’t plan on doing a big meeting but some people showed up so I translated for Jeremy Zobrist who gave his testimony and Andy Huette who talked about the Prodigal Son. My dad also gave the school teacher a water filter. She had been boiling water for the kids to drink at school and was happy to not need to do that anymore. After our short meeting and the water filter donation we went back to Manicore for lunch and then the team took off for Manaus about 3:30 on Thursday. Remember they just got to Humaita on Monday morning, so we pack a lot into a few days! Here is a video of the team leaving for Manaus (click here)
Dad and I were also going to leave that afternoon to come home to Humaita but he decided to stay and have a meeting with all the Brazilian ASL missionaries as they had all come to Manicore because of the team. Since we stayed they also had a service that night.
Thursday night service
The plan was to leave at 7 am on Friday morning but it was foggy when we got up so I got to sleep in a little longer. 😉 But then the sun came out and he and I took off for Humaita! We got here safe and sound and are waiting for the next team to come down!!
This week has been like no other. Janelle left last Saturday with Mariah to the United States. Janelle had gotten a thyroid biopsy done right before coming back to Brazil in January. The results came back “strongly suspicious for malignancy” so rather than start all the exams over again here, we decided it was probably cheaper for her to fly back to the states and have it removed. At the same time Mariah could get her drivers license and take some college entrance exams— and hopefully help take care of her mom during the recovery.
Tuesday I went with Frank to visit a couple communities. We always try to “kill two birds with one stone”. Meaning we like to take a local worker with us as we make contacts and have cell groups. That way we are spreading the Gospel and at the same time training a worker.
Erickson (local worker) and I going by canoe
We ate lunch with a family that we have visited many times. They are a bit isolated. Both parents are believers (although the dad is not yet baptized) but three of the daughters were not– until Tuesday! After some discipleship and evangelism, the three daughters decided to follow Jesus.
After this we went to another community to have a cell group.
The community of Namor
This was our second meeting at Ricardo’s house. Although he was not yet a believer, he had asked Frank the week before to begin discipleship. That afternoon after hearing the Gospel again, Ricardo, his wife, his son (Philip) and his wife all decided to follow Jesus! Click here to see the cell group in Namor.
We got home from this trip about 5:30. I took a shower and was at Frank’s house when they came running saying Luke got hurt. Remember, Janelle is in the US. Well, Luke was playing and broke his arm. The next day (Wednesday) when Janelle was in the hospital having surgery in the US, Luke and I were in the hospital in Porto Velho getting his arm X-rayed. Just a cast and time to heal. Unfortunately it is his right arm.
Luke getting more attention than he wants from the girls
Frank left Thursday evening to do supervision downriver. That left me to “hold down the fort here”. Saturday we had two meetings marked and Sunday morning another. Praise the Lord Sunday morning in the community of Santa Rosa, a mom and her daughter decided to follow Jesus! We have lots of work to do now discipling these new believers.
Our team leaving Santa Rosa. There are mostly women in the house we are visiting so thankfully Frank’s wife (red shirt) was willing to go with us.
Cell group in Santa Rosa
We live on the Madeira River. Madeira means “wood” in Portuguese. Some say it is because there are so many trees lining the riverbanks. Others say because there are so many trees, branches, and tree trunks floating down the river. Five hours (by speedboat) downriver are two Brazilian families living in the village of Auxiliadora. Around their community are many other smaller communities. Three hours farther away are two more Brazilian missionary families living in the community of Manicore. Last week Frank (our Brazilian leader) and I visited both of these areas. Not only where they live, but also traveling to many communities where they have been visiting and sharing the Good News. We left Sunday about 4pm. The flight to Manicore was against the wind and therefore took about an hour and twenty minutes. Coming back, with the wind, the flight was just over an hour. A college-age girl came to our cell group the day I got back. Instead of the hour or so by plane, she had spent over 30 hours on a boat to do the same trip!
A 30 hour boat ride was only an hour and 10 minutes by plane!
Monday morning we got up early to make the three hour boat ride to Auxiliadora. It was pouring down rain at 6:45. We waited for a few minutes and then decided to go for it. Thankfully the boat has a top on it……well, going 20 mph the top doesn’t keep the wind from blowing in and soaking you!
Here is the speedboat with Fernando, his daughter, and Frank (sitting).
We met up with Jadilson and John Paul (the two workers in Auxiliadora) and headed up river. They had just received their speedboat the week before, so this was only their second trip up this particular river. We visited about five communities, some they had contacts in, others we were visiting for the first time. The first night Frank had a powerful message in the home where we were staying. By the end of the message, we were on our knees pleading for the lost souls living up and down that river. You can see an interactive map to locate the different villages we are working in.
In the home of brother Ne, pleading for God’s mercy on the lost souls here in the Amazon.
We then headed back to Manicore to go out and visit the cell groups and GE (Group evangelism) where Fernando and Jouffre have been working. We visited Vista Alegre first. There they were all working to make farinha, the cash crop that sustains many of these river families.
Here they are peeling the mandioca. The first step in a long process to make farinha.
Later that night we had a cell group (small family group meeting) in the city of Jatuarana. I had visited this community two years ago on one of my first vision trips to this area. They remembered me and actually gave me and Frank the same room I had slept in last time!
Cell group in the village of Jatuarana
Many of the communities we visited are in terra firme (or solid ground). However there are many villages that we visit that are not. Here is how they get around sometimes!
Overall a great and needed trip. I just saw in the title “supervision trip”. It actually was a Super Vision!
Remember these families uprooted and moved 900 miles from their hometowns. Some had never traveled more than 50 miles from where they were born!
Please pray for these families as they spread the Gospel and more importantly find men and women of Peace that can be trained as local leaders.
Also pray for these villages that are experiencing severe flooding as the river rises to record levels this year.
If you would like help financially (either us personally or the mission), please visit the mission’s website.
Two Saturdays ago Matt, Mariah, Jaelah, Frank & Samires (the girls’ new neighbor friend) took an afternoon trip out to Neguinho do Acai’s house to perform the cell group that they have been having there every Saturday.
Going by boat
Arriving there, they were warmly received by him, his wife, and his 4 daughters.
After chatting for a bit, his mom arrived for cell group.
She arrived talking J the sweetest old lady; she began to tell us a bit about her.
“I can’t read. The Lord knows I’m not jealous of anybody except of those who can read. I can’t read His Word and learn more about Him. I have to ask someone to read it for me. The Lord knows I don’t know Him as well as I would love to, because I can’t read His Word that teaches me about Him.”
As she continued to talk, I believe many hearts were open, hopefully reminded, of what a great privilege His Word is. To have it, in our hands and possession everyday. To be able to pick it up at any given moment and read and learn more about our Father. What a privilege that I so often utterly overlook for the many other things I could and should be doing, when I have a Bible in both of the languages I understand, and simply pass by the chance to read it, because I will always have it, right? No need to memorize it. Why wouldn’t I have it always? We don’t know.
As I began to read, she sat down beside me and looked reverently upon the thin pages of the blessed Book (click here to see). My heart was touched at the simplicity, loveliness, and beauty of this lady. Hands calloused from probably a lifetime full of daily hard work. Wrinkled skin. The beautiful white and gray-streaked hair. A face seemingly constantly wreathed in smiles, but when she began to speak of her illiteracy, the eyes that quickly filled with tears as she again told how she longs to read to know her beloved Jesus more, but cannot. Someone must read it to her.
enthralled by His Word
I pray that as I go throughout my days, forgetting, that Jesus would constantly bring this afternoon to my mind, the rain silently falling outside, the smell of nature at every breath, the souls of the few but precious there gathered. Of the little old lady who couldn’t read, but silently, with what she did and did not say, urged us who could, to daily, constantly, be seeking our Jesus through His Word that He left with us.
May we always remember what He did at Calvary for us, and thank Jesus for His sacrifice, and for His Word that is available to us.
In early January, when my uncle Philip and his family were here, Dad & I & U. Philip & Naomi & Derek & Chloe & Rudy, along with Frank (the Brazilian leader) & his son, Michael, took an overnight trip to Auxiliadora to visit the two families living there.
We took off Saturday morning by speedboat. It’s a 5 hour ride by speedboat, better than 12 hours on a line boat, however it’s constant wind in your face so you decide which you’d like more 🙂
We had a pretty smooth going, thank God it wasn’t bumpy on the way there or on the way back (I think we were pretty heavy hehe). About half way there we stopped at a bunch of what look kinda like house boats, but what are actually gold mines. They have big tubes hanging off the back, and when they start the motor up it goes down in the water & pounds the bottom of the river till it makes a hole, and sucks up the water and dirt. The water and dirt then runs across a carpet on top of the boat, and they then scoop the water off and sift it till they find gold. It’s a long, ardurous process, and all for little speckles of gold J these particular people had about 7 of these boats lined up, and a ‘stock’ boat with a little store tied to one of them. On the way back we stopped there as well & they made us a bit of lunch & gave us acai.
Arriving in Auxiliadora, Jadilson & Joao Paulo came to meet the boat and helped us carry our things to their house. We greeted everyone after we arrived & they had prepared a delicious lunch for us so we ate almost right away. The afternoon was spent sleeping, reading, relaxing in hammocks, playing four square and other games with their kiddos, and talking and discipling.
Saturday evening we had a cell group with two teenage girls visiting. Our family spent the night in the hotel in town to support local business 🙂
Sunday morning we got up and had a little devotional and then some of us along with the two husbands and some kids walked to another community about 20 minutes away from Auxiliadora. It had rained allllll night long so we thought it was going to take us about 40 minutes. it was, indeed, super muddy (some of us ended up just taking our shoes off, me being one of them hehe) but we did make it in about 20 minutes click here to see video 🙂 We didn’t stay for long as we were planning on leaving about 10:30am because heading back it was upriver so it was going to take longer. We made the trek back to their house, washed our feet off and headed down to the boat.
Said our goodbyes, hopped on, and off we went again 🙂
Below are some pictures:
These are the two families 🙂 Joao Paulo and his family are on the left (two kids) and Jadilson and his family are on the right (three girls)
me and Chloe on the way back 🙂 the wind was constant there and back as we were going about 30mph..on the way back we got smart and got sheets out of our backpacks to cover up with 🙂
Juciele, Poliana, me, and Chloe (we played games with these two girls in the afternoon and then they were our visitors at cell group. Juciele actually lives in Humaita :))
Naomi and Derek relaxing in their hammocks
me and Chloe relaxing, reading, and enjoying our music
beautiful views, there and back, left and right and sometimes in front, and lots of green and brown and blue and white 🙂
me, dad, naomi, chloe, rudy, and derek right after we left Humaita 🙂
thank you all for you continued prayers, support, and thoughts 🙂 they are seriously SO appreciated, and we mean that wholeheartedly!
your support and love and prayers, honestly, 100% keeps us going.
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We are about a week away from Luke and I heading back to Brazil. Three of the Brazilian missionaries have been in Humaita (the city we are moving to) last week going out on the river. They have already made some great contacts (a nurse that has an outpost many hours from the city), visited various communities that don’t yet have any evangelical church. And PTL they found a house to rent. It is a little expensive ($125 / month) so for right now, two of the families will be living together. But it is a nice little community about 8 hours by boat from Humaita and has a school for their children. The third couple is getting there next week and they are planning to live on a houseboat right close to the city. They will begin going out visiting communities and evangelizing and we believe God will soon show them the most strategic place to settle. The last couple will arrive in mid-January. He is excited about going 12 hours downriver and possibly settling in a community close to the city of Manicore.
Jofrem, Frank and their guide
Here is a map of where they will be living compared to Humaita (our base). About 100 miles, but you can see all the red dots in between. The green are communities with a church, the red are communities without. We’ve got plenty of work to do!!
Here is a table information of the counties located along the river system we will be working in. The first column is the name of the county. Second is number of traditional (or recognized communities), the third column is the # of communities with an evangelical presence, and the last is the % of communities with an evangelical presence. On average about 14% of the communities in this rivers system have a church. Remember, in the Amazon if your village doesn’t have a church, you don’t just hop in the car sunday morning and drive for 10 minutes!
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: