GEM mission trips are organized in several ways. A team leader may pull all of the members from a local church. Members may come from several states and be organized by GEM. A trip may be organized around a specific purpose like construction or dentistry.
No two trips are just alike. Team leaders and the needs on the field help determine just what takes place. Here is a general idea of what happens on a trip that leaves the USA on a Friday.
Usually volunteers groups meet up at the airport of departure from the country…most often Miami. The flight to Brazil is an overnight flight (7-8 hours), arriving in Sao Paulo in the early morning. We then catch a flight on to Mato Grosso do Sul (1.5 hours). Very small groups may take another plane to the Pantanal area, but most will travel by either charter or commercial bus to Corumba (6 hours). There is no jet-lag. Mato Grosso do Sul is only a couple of hours different from the Eastern United States. Phone and internet contact is available.
- Upon arrival volunteers are settled into the quarters chosen for that group, either a hotel in the city or, most often, the dormitory style accommodations available on the Farm of Encouragement.
- Dinner is arranged if it was not eaten during the trip into town.
- Because arrival is most often a Saturday because of flight schedules. Saturday activities may vary. Many times team members are asked to be a part of an English learning activity with local English language students. Sometimes the medical clinics begin on Saturday morning. Other activites may be scheduled but usually there is a chance to sleep in just a bit.
- Sunday is a day to rest and regroup. A devotional time is held after breakfast. Local church services are attended in the evening, which is the larger service in Brazilian churches --- dress is “nice casual.” Community evangelism opportunities may be planned.
- Following lunch on Sunday and a short sight-seeing trip, volunteers get a chance to meet with the team on which they will be working. Volunteers may be divided into medical, pharmacy, dental, children’s ministry, sports ministry, evangelism, school evangelism, women’s or men’s ministry, etc. Each team has a leader. Volunteers relate first to their team leader who then relates to the GEM coordinator. Preparations are made and materials are organized during this time.
- Breakfast is served beginning at 6 or 6:30 on the first day of work. A Brazilian breakfast consists of breads, ham, cheese, cereals, scrambled eggs, fresh fruits and cakes. Of course with lots of coffee, served with milk if desired. American breakfast is also served when staying on the Farm of Encouragement.
- Construction teams begin early Monday morning. Supplies will be found on the job site with additional supplies being bought as needed. Most construction team members bring some of their own tools and should bring gloves and hats.
- Medical clinics usually begin on Monday morning. The first day usually gets off to a slow start as the clinic is set up and the pharmacy prepared. Patients go through triage with nurses. Then each person receives a presentation of the gospel or a time of prayer and spiritual support. Once the patient has seen the doctor, he goes to the pharmacy and receives his prescriptions. We have seen as many as 600 patients in a week.
- Evangelism can include the gospel presentations mentioned above or house to house visitation. Local pastors may set up individual meetings. Bible studies can be led for groups of men or women. Student evangelists may take groups into the local schools to present skits or speak to English classes. There are many opportunities to share Christ.
- Children’s ministry meets in the morning and in the afternoons because Brazilian children go half days to school. Backyard Bible clubs, VBS, or more informal play times attract children into the mid teens. Sports evangelism can be arranged using soccer, baseball, volleyball or basketball.
- Women’s and men’s ministry may hold Bible studies in a location near the medical clinic or the construction site. These groups may visit neighborhoods or hold Bible studies in the evenings in homes.
- Lunch is usually served on the job site. It is usually the bigger meal of the day cprepared by Brazilian cooks. It will include rice, meat and salads. Team members may eat without worry and it is always food. Water and drinks are readily available during the day on the work site.
- Dinner may be served on the way to lodging or may be scheduled at 7 pm after a chance to clean up from the day’s activities. We experience dining out when possible or dinner may be a lighter fare.
- Evening schedules vary from trip to trip. Sometimes church services are planned. The Jesus film may be shown. Home Bible studies may be held in the neighborhood where the work is being done. Team members may visit local universities which have classes in the evening. Most evening activities are optional for those who feel they need extra rest and recuperation.
- Evening excursions for local ice cream is a favorite activity with most volunteers. Ping-pong, volleyball, chilling in a hammock or jumping into the pool are activities you can enjoy on the Farm.
- Times of sharing what God is doing may be scheduled in the evenings.
- When possible, a half day for shopping and sight-seeing is planned for Saturdays. Departure times will vary according to the flight plans available at the time and the work schedule.
Important Reminders: We recommend…
- A personal thermos will help you keep the bottled water provided cool longer.
- Bug repellent and sunscreen
- Hats, sunglasses, and umbrellas
- A jacket and clothes that can be layered as temperatures may vary
- Closed-toe shoes for the work day. Shoes that you can throw away at the end of the week are even better.
- Washcloths, if desired. They do not exist in Brazil.
- For dormitory quarters you will need to bring soap and flip flops, and reading lights are a good idea. Sheets and towels are provided but a pool towel is a good idea, also.
- Personal snacks such as nuts, or crackers and cheese, granola bars (water and soft drinks are provided)