YAAAAAAY! I heard from Joel.
This summer has been a little crazy already...and we still have a ways to go. Me and the kids took a trip, which was glorious. I'll post about it someday. Got back and my brother visited...also glorious. Then, on Tuesday, Joel set out for the annual big mission trip that Asas de Socorro does in July (they do many smaller outreaches during the year, but this is the big national whammy).
He set out at 9am on Tuesday morning headed for the airport. They were in several airplanes/airports until around 1am Wednesday morning. Then they went and rested for a few hours when they arrived in Santarem. At 8am on Wednesday they headed out from Santarem by boat. They traveled 8 hours by boat and arrived in the community they will be serving...a place called Curuai. Click here for a very basic map and click here for a Google Earth map. On the map below, we live in a city near Goiania (central Brazil)...between Goiania and the national capital, Brasilia. You can see Santarem (where the team caught the boat) there at the top on the Amazon River.
When I think river community in a very remote place, I think of just tiny little communities. But, when Joel called me today (from a very flaky satellite payphone the government put in), he said that it is a community of about 10,000 people. What? ;) That's crazy to me...and awesome...and mind-boggling. 10,000 people living far, far away in the middle of nowhere where you can only get to by hours on a boat. No phones, no paved roads, electricity but not very reliable, no internet. So incredible to me. Oh world...you continue to surprise me.
Joel and the team (about 140 total) are split into several different teams consisting of medical/dental outreach, kids/youth team, evangelism team, etc. Yesterday was their first day and it was a training day. So today is the first day of actual ministry. Joel is overseeing 3 evangelism teams and helping out with the Jesus film that is shown every night. So, Joel's days are full of just going door-to-door...meeting people on the streets...getting to know the community. So cool. Today as they walked along, Joel met the DJ of the radio station (the only radio station you can get on the radio there) and she invited them to come speak on the radio, so they did. There are 4 churches there in the community, 3 of which are partnering with Asas to accomplish this outreach.
He said it's been really, really cool so far and the people there are really great. They walk everywhere they go. They sleep in the high school which has no walls. He said the weather there is comfortable...hot and humid (like 90s in Louisiana he said), but with a nice breeze. They are right on the river/lake (he can see it at all times). And, things are just going really well in general.
I'm so glad I got to hear from him. He had tried to call on Wednesday and yesterday, but the phone finally worked after about 5 tries today. ;) So...I'm not sure when/if I'll hear from him again. But, I'll keep you posted. And thanks for the prayers for Joel and the team (which includes Joel's sister, Priscilla)...and the people of Curuai.