Township of Novo Airão, on the Rio Jaú, State of Amazonas, Brazil
The mission to several villages of the Rio Jaú united the best efforts of Asas de Socorro and the Central Presbyterian Church of Manaus, Amazonas. Combining
personnel, organizational skills, medicines, medical machinery, their mission boat and crew, our mission plane and pilots, and massive quantities of prayer, the team was inserted on April 5, 2006 for an unusually exciting adventure.
(Left) Mara, a nurse, organized and ran the pharmacy. (Above) Dra. Sofia and Dr. Mario went to work on teeth, using the ultra-light equipment donated from the United States.
Toothbrushing lessons are given to the whole village by Drs. Mario and Sofia, while missionary Ivanete records the fun on camera.
Pastor Raimundo, above left, chats with missionary pilot Paul Bachman in a calm moment.
Darrel noticed a motherless wild duckling (pato da mata) walking about aimlessly. He picked it up and petted it while talking to Francisco, Branca, and Paula. From that moment, he was the duckling's mother. The team left that village for two days, but when they returned, the duck recognized Darrel and continued to follow him wherever he went.
The plot thickens. Rio Jaú is a sinuous tributary of Rio Negro. The pilots had done a masterful water landing on the twisted river at Lazaro, but they had to leave the plane there and go to the rest of the villages upriver by boat. All the equipment, medicines, and personnel went off into the night on one relatively small mission boat.
This dedicated missionary family shares the hope of Christ up and down the Rio Negro area from a Central Presbyterian boat. Asunta and Jair, at the helm, are parents of Jailson and Jaime, who follow right in their wake. Asunta has also been on many missions in the Caravan from Darrel's earliest days.
It started normally enough in the village of Lazaro with the typical medical, dental, and evangelical setup:
(Disregard the red circles on the map. Darrel used to put them on the places he went in the interior, but stopped about three years ago when the map was getting rather full of little red circles.) Rio Jaú is just above the blue State name Amazonas. Manaus is SW, where the rivers converge.
As night fell, hammocks were stretched out. There was no room for modesty. Side to side, they swung against each other as a fierce storm built up and the boat rocked and chugged up the river.
All through the night, the boat's rudder chain was getting stuck and had to be freed. During one incident, the boat ran into the bank. Since this is high water season and there are whole trees underwater, the boat's propellar was fouled in tree tops along the bank. The crew struggled for over an hour in the storm to free her amid lightening bolts and peals of thunder. The mission boat tossed in the river and knocked against the bank in the darkest night. At last, the wet and exhausted crew pulled her loose and continued upriver to Tambor.
Once safely in Tambor, Dra. Wilma sets up her clinic on shore, and examines all who come for free care.
The dental clinic is kept on the boat, now cleared of the hammocks, so that the equipment would not have to be carried up the long, slippery stairs.
Between flights, pilots make themselves useful by filtering drinking water, sterilizing dental instruments, setting up and taking down dental equipment, and by being beasts of burden in general.
Breakfast in Tambor was a regal event by jungle standards: hot coffee with lots of milk and sugar, stacks of pé de moleca, homemade cake, rolls and dry crackers (which had to be bought with money from a trade boat), various fruits and fruit juices, sauteed bananas, and manioc in at least four forms.
Plastic flaps came down on the boat, and the dentists turned on their miner's headlamps.
As the clinics continued to villages along the river, so did the rain.
At one stop, above, three thatch-roofed boats, roped together, pulled up to the bank. A pregnant woman seen on the right above needed medical treatment, and received it free in the name of Jesus. This family group were harvesters of Brazil nuts, which can be seen spread in the boat on the left.
A steep climb on steps of wet limbs to the no-name village proved perilous to our team. Walking down, carrying a load of equipment back to the boat, Darrel fell but didn't break anything. He finished this mission tired, stiff, and sore, but with the excite-ment he always has after God has let him in on a really special adventure.
A stop just before nightfall--and this photo was lightened quite a bit. One house, not a village, but someone here needed help. A friend in need, a witness given, prayers said, and the boat pushed off to continue through the night to return toward Lazaro.
Below left and right, another village with no name, but one very nice, large house with two levels. The entire clinic was set up--Dra. Wilma's consultoria, both dentists, and the pharmacy.
Wasn't that great? We're five days by boat from Manaus. We'll have you there in about an hour and fifteen minutes.
Okay, ready for take-off? Last item on the take-off check list is prayer.