Thank you to each of you for reading, joining my email list and letting me know when a post speaks to you from Under the Magnolia Tree. This is part three of my reflections on my amazing trip to the Amazon Rainforest in June with Justice & Mercy International.
I am not a light packer, but on the trip to the Amazon I made a concerted effort to only take what I thought I would need. Flying forces us to conserve space, unlike when I’m going on a trip in my car and throw in everything but the kitchen sink. But by the time I had packed my clothes, a travel towel and pillow, Bible and notebook, rain jacket, and the items for the village exchange store, my suitcase and backpack were bulging.
On the return trip my bags were much lighter. As our group packed up to leave, we were told that if we had any unwanted clothes, food, or medical supplies, we could leave them behind for the jungle pastors to distribute.
I realized that there was little in my suitcase that I could not buy once I was home. So I pulled out shorts and socks, most of my snacks, my boat shoes, my bag of first aid items, and a t-shirt from my church. The designated table was soon overflowing with all that our group left for the villagers.
I had already parted with two important objects. One was planned, the other was not.
A few days before Lisa, Suzanne and I left for Brazil, a sweet Godly couple in our church, Tommy and Gail Duke, gave each of us a special gift. In the gift bag was a beautiful silver cross necklace and a card letting us know that they would be praying for us. They also suggested that if we met someone that we wanted to give the necklace to, we should pass it on.
We were touched by their notes and by the caring gift. As the days went by, the three of us kept our eyes open for the special person God wanted us to pass the necklaces to.
On our last day in the villages, I was assigned to help give facials and manicures to the local women. This was the assignment I had hoped I would not get! Painting fingernails is not my strong suit.
We assembled in a large open building and the women listened as our Bible teacher Angela talked to them through the translator. She shared with the women that God’s love is like endless water for our souls — and illustrated her point by splashing them with water! When the study time was over, our group assembled at the front of the room and began pampering the ladies. We wanted to show them some special attention.
I went over to an older woman named Francine and did my best to emulate Lisa, who seemed to know what to do. I placed a gel mask on her face and rubbed her arms with good smelling lotion.
Francine had a sweet spirit about her. Her skin felt smooth, and she seemed to relax under my touch. I knew she was the one I need to give the cross to.
When I had finished with her facial, I pulled the cross from the pocket of my bag and explained through the translator that some Christians in the United States wanted her to have the necklace and were praying for her. As the words came out, I thought about how far away the United States was to this remote village. What would it even mean to her?
But she smiled and we took a picture, showing off her pretty nails (not done by me). She wiped tears from her eyes, and we said goodbye.
I later learned that her husband had died a few months before. She had also suffered a stroke and God had recently given her back the ability to walk. Her tears were of joy and praise.
I am thankful I was able to leave behind something tangible, no matter how small. I smile when I think of someone in the deep recesses of the Amazon wearing a shirt that says First Baptist Church Dalton, of a teen-ager with my Nike shorts, and a child enjoying my Clif bars and peanut butter crackers. I pray for each of these and for Francine. I trust that God can use even the smallest of these offerings to touch a life.
Paul’s words continue to grow in my heart — that even the tiniest seed can bloom when God makes it grow.
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.
I Corinthians 3:6