God Is So Good: My 10 Years of Amazon Trips - Justice & Mercy International Brazil Mission Trips

God Is So Good: My 10 Years of Amazon Trips

Written by Anna Townsend, Preschool Pastor at Rolling Hills Community Church

Don’t you love it when God allows you to experience something that truly marks your heart in a way you couldn’t have dreamed? As you think about those things, it’s likely that whatever it is, you now can’t imagine your life without it.

Brazil is that experience for me! I didn’t expect it to become such a profound part of my story, but I can’t get over it. I remain in awe of God and how He is at work, especially in the Amazon region of Brazil.

It all began in 2014. Despite more unknowns than certainties, God whispered to my heart, “Go.” So that’s what I did. After months of preparation, meetings, checking, and rechecking the packing list, I went.

Arriving in Brazil, walking on the boat, and meeting the precious crew, translators, nurses, and part of the JMA staff, it felt like home. Such a strange thing to say about a place that’s so different from the home I know. It was a beautiful gift that continues, even today, to give me joy and gratitude.

There was a particular moment on my first trip that shaped my heart and perspective on the Amazon and God’s people there. I smile as I write because my first trip to Brazil was also Juliet Paculabo’s first trip back to Brazil after her late husband, John, went to be with Jesus. What a gift to be with her. John spent time in Brazil and laid the foundation for much of the ministry continuing through JMI today.

He sees us, knows us, and meets our needs in such intentional ways.”

One day, a few members of our team, including myself and Juliet, took a trip to a small village, up on a hill, to see some precious people. What happened next was one of the most meaningful encounters I have ever seen. As we approached this village, a sweet lady came running, and Juliet began running, too. They met and embraced in a hug as if they were family and had missed each other greatly. There were tears and joyful exchanges in English and Portuguese, and at that moment, my eyes saw how God was working. It was a legacy story of what it looks like to obediently follow Jesus to the places He calls, the deep friendships that form and surpass language barriers, distance, and culture. It was a picture of God’s kindness to His people and a promise to provide. He sees us, knows us, and meets our needs in such intentional ways. This woman had prayed and prayed for another opportunity to see Juliet, and Juliet needed to see her to be reminded of God’s love and His care for her grieving heart.

I’ve had the honor of traveling on 10 boat trips with JMI. As I close a trip, I’m always already expectant and excited for the next one! People often ask me why I return, and I simply say, “I can’t get over the people and seeing God so intentionally move in their lives through their obedience.”

It’s an honor to…

  • Meet pastors completely surrendered to Jesus and fully dependent on His care for them in every moment of every day. They are taking His love to the ends of the earth.
  • Worship with other believers, praising Jesus in two languages and knowing that He is blessed by our adoration of Him.
  • See God break through language barriers to create lasting connections that result in beautiful friendships.
  • Watch God restore, heal, and provide for His people.
  • Experience the vastness and beauty of His creation and know that He lives in each of our details, too.
  • Dwell in joy. It’s everywhere, from the face of a sweet child to the hug from a stranger. Joy is a way of life for the Brazilian people.

There are stories upon stories of His work in this special place! On my last three trips, during our VBS time with kids, we sang “God Is So Good” in English and in Portuguese. It’s sweet and so powerful. The words are simple, but the truth is rich. Lately, when I pray for the dear people of the Amazon jungle, it’s this chorus I hear over and over again…

“Deus é tão bom, Deus é tão bom, Deus é tão bom,  é tão bom pra mim.” (God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, He’s so good to me.)

God is moving, and He is, indeed, so good to us!

Trips to the Amazon with JMI are often life-changing. Learn more at justiceandmercy.org/amazon-trip.

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