Explore Church Travels to Brazil – Day 12, Part 1

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Explore Church in Missoula recently went on a mission trip to Brazil. Follow them on their journey as we post journal entries written by a member of their team. You can find previous entries at www.mtsbc.org.

Day 12, Part 1

Today was the final workday and food delivery. The amount of things completed in a single rotation of the earth was staggering. Once again, that left little time for writing blog posts. From the list of frantic scribbles and lists of completed tasks, I can compose a general idea of what all happened, but I would rather tell you how it felt to do it.

We worked to complete all the tasks and additional tasks that we had been assigned and re-assigned. The reward for a job well done, as a volunteer, is more work. If those you volunteer for find you are competent and productive, the expectations placed on you instantly increase ten-fold. That is typically because many missionaries, social workers, and volunteer coordinators have come to expect so little of volunteers. 

Having coordinated several volunteer projects, I feel their pain. I often tell people that you can get 2-3 hours of actual labor from any volunteer crew, that is if you offer them free lunch. After that 2–3-hour period of actual labor, you get a 2-hour lunch and a 2-hour social hour. It is sad, but statically true. Most people don’t work labor jobs and are not conditioned for a full day of manual labor. My pastor friend used to often quote his Grandpa, who was a pastor and church planter, saying, “People work a whole lot harder for money than they do for Jesus.” I try to disprove this quote when I volunteer, and I have had the fortunate experience to be on many productive teams.

All that to say, we did well and raised expectations, completing projects they didn’t even dream we would get to. It is always better to complete more than they expect than less. Under promise, over deliver. It may sound miserable, to be assigned more and more work, but never underestimate the power of feeling truly useful. When you find your place and purpose, the feeling of being a crucial part of a team, project, and mission propels you with motivation you didn’t even know you had.  

We designed, engineered, and installed a rain collection system. This included a new gutter system on the outdoor classroom roof we had created. We piped the existing rain gutters from the Casa de Buffalo, the caretaker’s home, and the outdoor classroom into a 100-gallon tank to collect all the available rainwater. The 100-gallon tank was suspended on an onsite engineered, designed, and built 5-foot-tall platform, capable of holding up to 750 lbs. of water. This allowed the tank to fill bottles, hoses, and sinks. 

This extra project was timely and of the utmost use because the Amazon district is in an unprecedented drought, with the lowest rainfall in 100 years. Water sources were beginning to run dry, including the 45-foot deep, hand dug well at the Casa de Buffalo. Other bonus projects included the creation of an outdoor concrete kitchen and grill area, the installation of gable slats to prevent further theft of the church plant equipment, and finishing the painting of the building and sidewalks. 

After this deluge of “mas trabaja” we headed back to the Rio Negra to soak in the cool waters. At least, they were the coolest thing around. After my favorite part of the day, Rebecca invited us to a home-cooked dinner, where she made a family recipe of “non,” a special flat bread.  It was amazing and delicious.

We completed the day by souvenir shopping. With Bryan as our guide, we made sure to buy local indigenous crafts, made by the people we came to work alongside. The variety, beauty, and authenticity of these creations was astounding. We got treasures for our kids and relatives. Boosting the local economy through buying locally is a major way that we can make a difference with our wallets. 

Check back tomorrow for Day 12, Part 2!

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