Maybe you have thought of going on a mission trip. Bet you have questions.......
Questions often asked--
1. Do the team members all come from one church?
Not necessarily. They may come from several different churches but one church usually organizes the group.
2. How long do they stay?
3. How long is the trip to get there?
Now we fly straight into our destination city. It takes three planes to get there from our hometown. It takes about 24 hours.
4. Where is the Paraguay River?
Near the middle of South America, runs between Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia; so we work on all sides. The river runs from north to south and empties out into the Atlanta Ocean.
5. What kind of animals do you see?
Pirranha, anacondas, caymans (alligators) and lots of fish live in the river. You might also see deer, monkeys, cougars, cows, and capibarra (the world’s largest rat). The bird of the Pantanal is the tuiuiu, a large stork. You can also see toucans, parrots, and macaws.
6. What is the Pantanal?
The world’s largest wetlands, or swampland. It is found in the middle of South America. It is below the Amazon. The water rises January through May. Sometimes people pile their belongings on their rooftops or have to move for a few months because their homes are flooded.
7. What do the people do there?
They live in small towns or villages or on farms with just a house or two. They take care of cattle on large ranches, fish, or live in Indian villages. They might raise sheep or grow things to take to the larger cities.
8. Where do the team members sleep and eat?
The Pantavida has beds 25 people counting the crew. There is a nice kitchen and a cook is onboard to fix meals. There are 6 bathrooms with showers. There is an outdoor area where we sit and talk or eat.
9. Do the people know about Jesus?
Some people do. Some people don’t understand why Jesus is so important. Some places have small congregations or small churches. But there are always people who do not have a relationship with Jesus. Many get confused because there are also a lot of other kinds of religions in Brazil.
10. Why is it important for the Pantavida to go up and down the river?
a. The people look forward to the boat coming. They are encouraged. They know they will get something special. They especially know that they will get a chance to see a doctor or dentist and get medicine. It is hard for them to get to a health post.
b. One time a couple had a very sick baby. We helped the baby but then we gave them gas and money to take their little boat to town about 2 hours away to take care of the baby.
c. One time when the Pantavida arrived, the team found a small baby who had been burned when a kerosene lamp turned over. The baby was severely burned and was very sick. On that trip God sent a nurse who had worked with children. She knew what to do. She said if we had not come by, the baby would have died. Now when the boat passes that village the little girl comes to see us. She is a teenager now!! Some Brazilian doctors who traveled with the boat have helped take her to the city to get surgery for her scars now that she is older.
d. People along the river always come to know Jesus, but sometimes someone on the boat accepts Jesus. Our translators are usually university students who know English. Ana Paula was a medical student. She observed the people on the trip. She listened to what they told the people. She saw that there was something different about the team members. She felt Jesus’ love through them. Ana Paula became a Christian at the end of the boat trip.
11. How often do you go to Brazil?
Global Encouragers Ministries takes at least one boat trip a year. At other times, we take mission teams to work in towns along the river. We form a tean when a USA church seeks us out or when a Brazilian congregation asks for a project. We work where Brazilian Christians want to start churches or we help a church make an impact in their neighborhood. We also have the Farm of Encouragement Retreat Center. We feel God has asked us to continue to encourage His work in Brazil.
12. Is it dangerous?
We do not feel in danger nor have we ever had any problems. We advise wisdom and caution because we are foreigners, the Brazilians are very warm and receptive. We do not go into a malaria zone. Sometimes the government recommends a yellow fever shot, but you will be advised to any health precautions.