By Michael Lawrence
For the past five years, Pacific Union College’s Office of Service, Justice, and Missions has sent students to Brazil’s Amazonas to do mission work over the course of their spring break. The trip has since grown and now incorporates students taking Tropical Biology as well as Portuguese for school credit. The purpose of this year’s 10 day trip was to rebuild the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) home in which future student missionaries will stay.
For me, this trip was the lab portion of the Tropical Biology course I took during the previous quarter. My name is Michael Lawrence and I am a third year finance student. Although I was here for a class, the trip was the perfect blend of school, work, and play.
Here are some of the highlights of our trip:
Day 2: After a long day of traveling from PUC to Manaus, it was time for the trip to begin. Students were anxious to begin their trip on the Amazon River. What we did not realize was that from Manaus to our final destination was another day of traveling. The day-long boat ride from Manaus to Umari, the village where we held a clinic, was the perfect opportunity for students to bond with one another and get to know people they otherwise would only walk by on campus. I cannot describe the day without mentioning cabin fever. A full day sputtering along on a boat was not the most glamorous of accommodations, however in retrospect, this time spent with the group was key in the building of relationships within the group.
Day 3: Our first day on land was spent hosting a clinic put on by a group called Ação dos Estudantes Solidários Adventistas de Manaus (AESAM). The members of AESAM who joined us were medical, dental, and nursing students from various universities in Brazil. The “club” began in 2011 where members would visit villages putting on health clinics like the one held today. Students from PUC had the opportunity to work alongside AESAM in the clinic providing health screenings to members of the village. The club currently has over 80 healthcare students and professionals providing mission work across the Amazon.
Day 6: The final day of work was very bittersweet. After three days of back-breaking work, everyone was looking forward to coming home and the relaxation that followed. There were also friendships made at the village, and it was going to be hard to say goodbye. Nonetheless, the time had come for us to begin the long journey home. Over the course of our time at the village Rosa de Saron, we demolished what was left of the old house, dug the foundation for the new home, and just about everything else required in the house building process. Each night, we would participate in the church’s Vacation Bible School. Here, students ran the program from Bible stories to arts and crafts. It was the perfect way to unwind after a long day of hard work and also the time where we connected with the villagers.
Day 7: The highlight of the trip in my opinion was witnessing Kelly Siegal give her life to Jesus. Kelly was a PUC student who went on this same trip just one year prior. After her experience on that trip she decided to become a student missionary instead of returning to school for her senior year and has been a part of that village ever since. We all woke up early in the morning and saw Kelly get baptized with the support of the entire village. It was a heartwarming and emotional event and the perfect way to wrap up our time spent at the village.
Service and Missions Coordinator Fabio Maia sees the value in creating relationships through mission work. The way Maia operates, he discovers a need somewhere and will continue to return to that location until the need has been fulfilled. The Amazon mission trip has been happening for five years, each year in the same place, and will continue indefinitely. To find out how you can participate in one of the many mission trip opportunities stop by the Office of Service, Justice, and Missions or email firstname.lastname@example.org.