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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Analysis of My Trip {AM Trip #20}

23 days, 11,000 km, 8,000 miles, 14 types of transportation. 5 (6) rivers (4 major) and a fair amount of money (haven't figured that out yet). So, what did I gain from the trip. I didn't go for adventure or sight-seeing and several times consciously made decisions to that end.  I didn't even really feel it was an adventure. I felt at home in the local culture and speech and only mildly frustrated by communication and transportation complications. I saw a lot of interesting things but few things seemed strange and I never felt I was in the "jungle" or in danger. 

Maybe it's because I'm naturally kind of easy going, or maybe it's because I've been here 20+ years. My visit was quick and superficial and because of family illness in one place I visited and a couple of boat problems, I was not able to do some of the in-depth visits I had planned. Too late I had the idea to go back to Barcelos and rent a boat and visit river communities there. It was my first survey trip and there were some things I should have done differently (taken maps & gps for example).

But here's what I took away from the trip so far. (I'm still analyzing).

1) Life and ministry there are difficult and expensive because of travel.

2) Ministry is complicated because of FUNAI (Brazilian government Indian organization).

3) Efficient ministry is difficult. A lot of time is spent "just living" and the pace of life is slower. Everything lakes longer.

4) There has been a LOT of investment in the region. There are old, mature works there and a lot of money has been invested. There have been and are many projects started though few ever get off the ground, much less last. There's something "romantic" about going or sending someone to the Amazon Jungle.

5) It's much more modern than I expected. A/C, electricity, cell service, internet (if slow and spotty), power along most of river (except the Negro). If your boat dies, you'll see someone or some house before long. (Where I went. Obviously you don't have to stray far to be remote, and some of superficial appearance belies the dangers just out of sight.)

6) There are a lot of churches in cities. Mostly charismatic and contemporary, but the conservative churches that remain are even more conservative (attire and music) than those where we are now. Many are old, mature works, but many are also struggling and static - not making much effort to reach those just around the bend.

7) Assembly of God is an exception. They are good at grass-roots growth. I was not able to assess the quality and am told that many of these "works" are weak, scandal ridden, and name-only. Which is the down-side to the Assembly of God method where someone was a drunk yesterday, converts and starts preaching today and is a drunk again tomorrow.

8) The afore mentioned Jehovah Witness push is making inroads. My observations and those of others, as well as the comments by a member, and the Halls I saw all lead to the same conclusion.

9) There is still a great need. It seems to be similar to the need hear in NE and many needy regions are prohibited now even to Brazilians. Mechanical abilities and decent support to operate a team boat ministry seems advantageous and viable. BUT I didn't sense an urgent, desperate, specific call to any place or the region in general. In fact, it opened my eyes to the possibility of a similar ministry here.

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