Saturday, July 21, 2007

Greetings Everyone from the Alcance in NE Brazil,
Pastor Greg here. Thank you for your prayers for safe
travel. Garrett, Jesse and I arrived last Thursday
(July 12) without incident. We made it through
airport lines and even customs as though we had a
personal escort. We were glad to see a bed after the
long flight and a meal that didn't have to be unwrapped.

Since arriving, Steve Turner and Tele have kept us
hooping with a to-do list. We have done a variety of
things including: making Alcance an Internet Wireless
hotspot, making cabinets for under the frontdesk,
stripping paint from an iron gate and paving a strip
of roadway out in front. Our days are still loaded
with things to accomplish, it has been a joy to work
along side our Brazilian friends/believers. We marvel
at their creativity, work ethic and devotion to God.
It comes through in there work. Please continue your
prayers for our physical strength as none of us have
experience paving a road!

Sunday was an absolute homerun! We attended three
church services beginning at 10:00am and ending
around 8:30pm. I cannot describe the joy, excitment
and humility we experienced worshipping with our
friends in these community churches. My eyes well up
with tears as I think of the people and their
devotion to God as they gather in these local
congregations. Some walking over a mile in the back
hills here on dirt roads which are very steep. It was
a privilege to be a part of the team that
participated in these services. Steve Turner preached
twice that day and God used him to bring eight new
people into His kingdom. We praise the Lord as He
continues to work in and through us.

Garrett says: "I'm having a great time and looking
forward to seeing everyone back home."

Jesse says: "It's great to be working for the Lord
down here. Keep praying us through and we'll see you

We do covet your prayers as we will have more
opportunities to share the gospel and encourage the
beleivers here in this great ministry of NE Brazil.

You are all in our thoughts and prayers,
Pastor Greg

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Written July 8th

Today is Sunday and we are still talking about and thinking about the Big Dump. Cathy says she awakened multiple times during the night flailing away at the flies, only to realize she was back at Alcance with not a fly in sight. The picture above is of Josie trying to put her feelings down on paper. Hopefully her thoughts will be included here. I had to include one more picture from the Big Dump.
The people here at Alcance Brazil are simply amazing. You can sense the power of God in their lives as they live simply and work very hard to serve the Lord. Here are pictures of Pastor Assuerio, Tele, Heather and their one-year old Christopher, and more to come. Johnnie is a little fire ball. Full of joy and fun!
Chuck Taylor

Thursday, July 05, 2007

After arriving in Carpina, Brazil about 24 hours after leaving Indianapolis, We had a wonderful lunch at a local steakhouse, and then set about the tasking of packing the medicines. They have to be counted out in 30's or whatever is appropriate for the particular medicine. Labels have to be written in Portuguese explaining the contents of the snack-size baggy, and the instructions for taking it.By 10:30PM all the adrenaline was spent and we hit the sack HARD. What a thrill to see God's protecting and guiding hand at work in our lives!
On Saturday, we left for our first clinic at 9AM. This was at the "Big Dump." (The literal translation of the Portuguese name for this community). This is a village of people who live on the huge garbage mountains outside of Carpina. They search through the garbage looking for food and anything usable for their shacks or clothing. As you can imagine, these people have unimaginably poor hygiene. The mayor of Carpina again this year made the mobile health units available to us, so that we would have some shelter to work from. He is a believer, and a good friend of Tele. This year a husband and wife team of dentists who attend the community church of Acacias here at the Alcance also came, so the mayor also made the mobile dental unit available to us. They pulled 16 teeth in about 110 degree heat! These units don't have air conditioning--nor ventilation unless you want flies buzzing in your sour surgical field.
The pictures above show Josie Forrest, and Paul greeting the patients and taking their vital signs. They put up with the stink heat and flies with hardly a comment. Second is Dr. Flink examining a family in one of the mobile units. The chief problems were worms, lice, respiratory infections, untreated severe hypertension, and fungal infections. The two year old boy in the picture above (mother in a red top) has a protruding abdomen. His mother brought him to the clinic because of a cough. He had a belly full of worms, and was coughing up worms. (The worms travel through the blood to the lungs, are coughed up and swallowed, re-infecting the gut again). He also had a thick crop of lice, as did his mother and siblings.
The final picture shows the last few patients waiting to pick up their medicines at the pharmacy. As you can see, There are lots mangy dogs running around. What you can't see is how thick the flies are. This is the most immediate sensation you feel while at the dump. They just don't leave you alone. It's almost exhausting trying to swat the flies away, and it's almost useless. It's understandable why the people who live here seem to let the flies have their way, sometimes with dozens of flies crawling on them and making no effort to brush them away. We were torn between keeping the doors of the trailers closed to keep the flies out, and opening them to let some air in.
Despite the heat, humidity, stench, flies, and disease, we all cam away knowing that we had somehow been changed. We certainly will have a hard time complaining about our petty problems for a good long time. We're still discussing what exactly it all means. The long-term influence on this community's health has been tiny. They will return to the same lifestyle that produced their diseases. So what did we accomplish? We told them about the love of God in Jesus, and we showed them. We healed their discomfort if only for a time. And we followed Jesus' example. Only He knows what the eternal significance may be.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Medical Trip Begins

Well, we made it! Months of frustrations trying to prepare for this medical mission as responsibly as possible are finally behind us. Trouble with visas. Absolutely no cooperation with Brazilian officials in guaranteeing safe passage of our medicines. (even a request to split the medicines half and half with one gov't official in return for assuring safe passage!). We had bought $2000 worth of medicine and vitamins, and $24,000 worth of medicine had been given to us by MAP International (a division of Christian Medical and Dental Association). Last year a crate of tylenol and vitamins had been confiscated at customs as we entered Brazil. What would happen this time? We finally gave up worrying about and prayed, "God we've done every reasonable thing we know how to do. This is your problem, not ours."
Then we began to see the hand of God at work. First, all seven of us (Steve Turner, Josie Potter Forrest Craig, Paul & Chuck Taylor, and Steve & Cathy Flink) were able to get exit row seats in a PACKED out jet to Rio de Janeiro. This is a 9-hour flight, so the extra space was a God-send! In Rio, we prayed as we approached Customs, "please blind the eyes of the agents." Josie Potter went first with her crate full of toys and school materials for children, and a few large bottles of vitamins and Tylenol mixed in. The agent's eye was caught by something on the Xray and he pulled her over and searched her first crate. When he saw all the toys and school supplies, he waved the entire group through! Thank you Jesus! And thanks to all for praying for us! Picture: a small part of the excellent supply of medicines we have for clinics this trip. This is the best selection I've ever had on a medical mission!

More to follow, Chuck Taylor