At the end of January I was talking to a well known bishop about the “joy of the Lord”. He finished our conversation by saying “you must go back to the Amazon”. Next morning as I checked my emails there was an email with an invitation to go back to the Amazon.
In April 2012, I flew to Manaus to join the team of five American Paediatricians and a retired Paediatric Psychiatrist for an eleven day medical trip. I had already worked with the leaders of the team on my first trip to the Amazon last year. As the aircraft I was travelling on was entering Brazil at San Paulo, we passengers were told to collect our baggage and recheck in for onward journeys. On arrival at San Paulo my baggage was missing and unable to be tracked. As I turned on my mobile phone to find the contact phone number of Ray of Hope for the Airport Officials, I received a text assuring me that God was in control and He had prepared the way.
Our boat was ready and waiting for us at Manaus, as it was last year. We journeyed on the Amazon and Rio Negro Rivers carrying out clinics in villages along the way. We lived on the boat and spent a few nights at the new Terra da Paz Medical Centre. The building, a Ray of Hope Project, is almost complete and will be used for medical clinics, to teach new life skills, Christian education and train jungle pastors
We went back to some villages we had visited last year; it was encouraging to see how the people are helping themselves and trying to make a better way of living. There were more hens and chicks to be seen running around and as numbers increase they are shared with other villages. Some people had left the villages to find work in Manaus and their homes are now boarded up. One man came as we were finishing a clinic and invited us to see his plantation. He took us up river and into the jungle where he proudly showed us his pineapple plantation. Ray of Hope had given him a few plants and he now has a plantation and sells his pineapples. He gave us some plants to bring back with us for planting at the Terra da Paz Medical Centre.
Some villages were new to us this year. The medical conditions of patients follow a similar pattern, children with cerebral palsy and I also saw one little boy with Down’s syndrome. Many patients suffer from back, shoulder and elbow problems caused from working with tree trunks in the jungle.
In the words of a banner we saw hanging in one of the churches “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” Jeremiah 29 v13. The people in the jungle villages have found Jesus and we experienced something of the joy of the Lord which they have, even though they have so little.
Gwen Patterson, CMC Society Steward