@JusticeMercyInt · Amazon River · Mission Trip · Spirituality

I’m going to the Amazon!

I planted my little raised-bed vegetable garden a few weeks ago, gently putting my squash, tomato, cucumber, and pepper plants into the freshly turned soil. They are coming up nicely after our recent rains.

My little garden

The real work was done months before. Back in October, after I pulled up the last of the pepper plants, I started using the vegetable bed as a compost pile. Over the winter I put my coffee grounds, smashed eggshells, potato peelings and brown lettuce in the dirt with grass clippings and ashes from my burn pile. About once a week I took my shovel and mixed everything up good, and voila!  Like magic, my scraps had turned into dark rich soil.

This spring I added a second raised bed and spent most of an afternoon mixing up part of the compost with a few bags of store bought ‘raised bed dirt,’ until I had a nice comfortable place for my vegetables to spread out. Digging the holes and plopping them into their spots was the easy part.

This simple verse from Paul came to my mind as I surveyed my accomplishment:

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God made it grow.”

I Corinthians 3:6

Even back in the time of the early church, people argued over which preacher was the best. Paul tells them that they need to quit putting so much emphasis on which man they are going to follow, and instead focus on what God is doing. God needs all of us fulfilling what we feel called to do for his plans to work.

Sometimes we use the term God’s timing to describe events that arrive in our lives at just the right moment. Often God is preparing us to be ready for something that he wants to teach us or do for him. He is getting our soil ready to grow the seeds that he is going to plant.

I did not realize it, but God had been preparing my soil for an adventure I’m undertaking in less than two weeks. Along with my friends Lisa and Suzanne and thirty-eight women from all over the country, I’m heading down the Amazon River on a boat to study the Bible, learn about the ministry of Justice and Mercy International, and interact with the people who live in the remote villages tucked away in the jungle. To say I am excited is an understatement!

The new three level boat we will be on.

I feel very humbled at the opportunity to go on this trip. A year ago I would not have been ready for this experience, but I look back and see how God has been working to turn the drab bits and parts of me into rich compost that can accept and grow the seeds he is planting.

I will be honest to say that my motives for going on the trip are not wholly altruistic. I am so excited to see the vast beauty of the Amazon River and to be in a South American country. I am looking forward to getting to know the other women on the trip, who are coming from all over the United States. I am even curious about sleeping on the deck of a boat in a hammock for a week! (I will be sure to report back to you on that.)

The last few months I have been reading about Brazil, shopping for jungle appropriate clothes and planning for what I will pack. I got my second Covid booster, have my malaria pills ready to take and a prescription for anti-diarrhea medicine just in case (!).

But now I am spending more time in prayer to get my soil/soul ready. As one of my fellow travelers said at a recent Zoom meeting, “We need to make sure we have our inner packing list in order.”

This will be my first time on this type of overseas trip where we will be getting to know the villagers, having Vacation Bible School activities with the children, and participating in worship services. I am a little scared at what God is planning to plant in me, but I want to be receptive to whatever it is.

The folks at Justice and Mercy International have been working for years with the people along the river and with the ‘jungle pastors’ who minister by traveling to the villages by boat. My few days among the women and children seem like a small ripple on the huge Amazon River, but God can cause each ripple to grow into a wave.

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God made it grow.”

The trip is June 11- 19. I ask for your prayers for myself, the others on the trip, our leaders, and the Brazilian employees who will be steering the boat and fixing our meals. Pray for our families at home as well.

And please pray for the souls/soil of the villagers we will meet along the way.  Others have come before and planted and watered. Pray that they will be ready to let God grow.

Click here to watch a short video of the boat we will be on.