When I stood on a hillside overlooking the vast jungle, I was aware of how grand, and how uninhabited this place on earth is. The Amazon. As far as my eyes could see, like standing on the oceans edge, I saw jungle.
To ride a canoe up the river at sunset, to watch children bathing by the shore, to see families maneuvering their boats through rocks and rapids, makes a suburb girl like me feel humbled by such simplicity and beauty.
God is an artist.
Most days were hot and humid. The team dug trenches, finished a zip line, hauled sand and gravel through the thick jungle full of bugs and snakes, installed third world power lines made of trees, and played with beautiful children. It was work, but this group of people from Buckhead Church never complained.
Tuesday, the sky opened up with a magnificent storm. We rode the canoe through rain, thunder and lightning soaking us to the bone. When we arrived at the project, it was too flooded for us to work, so we sang, played and enjoyed the cool weather.
As the children arrived, I noticed many children with bare feet covered in dirt and mud. I became aware of how many children in this village did not have shoes. I went on a covert mission for www.shoesforkids.me to distribute shoes to as many children as I could without drawing attention.
I did not have enough shoes for everyone, but I did meet little Shiloh and gave her shoes. She was afraid of me at first because I sort of stalked her. She was three, and I looked pretty big and scary to her. Eventually, she let me approach, and once I put those little Sketchers on her feet, she became my best friend. Those shoes were her first pair ever, and she wore them the rest of the week. She sought me out everyday, and I was so tempted to bring her home, but I decided her parents might not like that. I will take her home in my heart.
God revealed himself to me through Douglas. His crippled body goes unnoticed when you witness his joyful spirit. As I spent time with him this week, his beauty amazed me. Watching Douglas climb the ladder of the slide was like watching someone reach the top of Mt. Everest. He worked so hard to get his body up the ladder, but once he reached the top, you could see the joy in his face as he slid down. I will not forget Douglas and how he smiled while he danced, sang, and prayed with us this week. He taught me about contentment in all circumstances.
The lack of clean water became real to us when we watched all the Compassion children trek through the jungle, down an embankment to the river to wash their dishes after lunch. One by one, they would go down to the river. Thankfully, the people from Buckhead Church completed the water project, and by Thursday afternoon, water was flowing to the church project and community.
I walked deep into thick jungle a couple of times. I never saw a snake and I only suffered a couple of bug bites thanks to my husband who sprayed all my clothes with bug killer juice. I thought of him daily as I put on my bug resistant clothing. Thank you Stephen!
They know nothing of materialism. They don’t watch TV, clothes are just a covering for their skinny little bodies, food keeps them alive, and water….is for thirst. The river is their playground, bathtub and a source of food. When you ask a child what they want, they have no answer. Food, water, friends, a river, a community, a jungle, a church, love…. this is enough. Compassion makes sure they receive what they need and they are content.
At the end of the day, Michael, one of the Compassion kids, walked us down to the canoe. As we motored away, Michael sprinted along the rocky beach in his bare feet to keep up with our boat. Watching him sprint with all his might on the rocky beach was like watching the gracefulness of a deer. If I should try such a move, I would end up with two broken ankles and a head injury for sure. When the beach ended, he stripped his clothes off in one fluid motion and plunged his skinny body into the river wearing only a smile and red underwear. This was his grand tribute to us. I envied such freedom.
On our final night in the jungle, we sat outside and talked about the week while we watched a distant thunderstorm. The children had so little yet, they seemed so happy. I could see the river glisten from the moonlight and hear the sounds of the jungle and I thought to myself, the whole earth is full of His glory. What a life.
Our God is amazing to create such a place and He deserves our worship.
This was my impression of the Amazon.
Specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy
Life, Family, Faith and Travel...the life of a Jones
Dominican Republic Missions trip
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