Off we went, our diesel engine echoing painful chugs against our ears and filling the cabin with exhaust smoke. After about an hour into the trip, people had settled into hammocks and the gentle rocking of the boat attempted to lull some into sleep. I kept awake, nervous about the possible carbon monoxide threat and made sure no one sleep too soundly. My head and face hurt, and I was a afraid to sleep in case I had a concussion.
Soon the waves became such that the people on the hammocks became like human pendulums, swinging back and forth, crashing into one another. It was apparent that a great storm had come upon us and it was getting worse by the minute. We had two small windows in the cabin which soon became prime space for those getting sea sick and from the diesel gas which hung like a blue vapor in the cabin. Some people were crying and shouting out when large waves tipped the boat over to one side. Others quietly prayed and clung to whatever they could find that gave them some stability against the rocking of the boat. I tried to take solace in the fact that by growing up in Minnesota, the "land of 10,000 lakes", I had good swimming skills in case our boat dumped us all into the waters of the Amazon (actually Tocantin) river basin.
After about 4 hours of storm we finally felt it leave us. Exhausted, sick and humbled by the experience, we all crawled into hammocks and left our fate regarding toxic fumes to the Lord. Our ears had become numb to the pounding of the engine and were all too tired to do anything but sleep.
When we arrived at our destination a few hours later, I was beginning to feel quite ill. However, I knew that we had a group of people who had been assembled from the area for us to minister with. I knew the Lord had gotten us safely through a dangerous storm for a reason. So I popped a few ibuprofen, asked for more strength, and climbed off the boat. I walked into the swamp on three inch wide felled trees used as a walkway, and into the lush rainforest ahead.
After a couple of sweltering miles we walked into a clearing that was quite amazing. A large wooded "tree house", standing about 25 feet off the ground was to be our host dwelling for the afternoon of ministry. We climbed up the ladder and were warmly, but shyly, welcomed by those who had come from the area to meet with us.
We had a great time of praying and ministering to the people gathered there. God blessed both them and us in those hours of fellowship together. I felt completely drained and satisfied that we had done what the Lord had wanted us to do. So when a Brazilian brother asked if we would stay a bit longer to wait for a man who hadn't gotten there yet, I wavered. I wanted to say; "what about me? I'm sick, bruised and battered. Completely exhausted from the last 24 hours and have no energy left to minister to one more person!" But I didn't say that, even though that what was screaming inside of me. Instead, I said; "Of course. We'll wait and pray for him whenever he gets here."
When he finally arrived, I knew then why the Lord had brought us through such difficulties to get us there. It was all for this man who stood before me................