Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Bom Fim- THE END

Hello All, First of all, let me apologize for the cliff hanger I left in my last post. so dreading writing that post that when I finished I just left it like that. Secondly, for those of you who haven't heard or seen me I am now officially home in Good ole Franklin Tennessee. The decision to come home probably one of the fasted made decisions I have ever come to.
When my little group of 8 had finally arrived safe and sound in Georgetown and we had, had time to hang out for a few days, catch up on some much needed rest and finally get some quality time with our other family members we hadn't seen in very long. As I rested I couldn't keep my mind off of the decision I knew I was going to have to make. A large sum of the team had made plans to go home for Holiday to see family and finally be back in their homes for a little while. While everyone else, including myself, planned to continue on and finish the 2 remaining countries (French Guiana and Suriname) then wait for the next step from Papa. However, if I have learned anything from this past year is that plans will change, especially when we are following Holy Spirit's lead, and nothing will ever make since (and I don't believe it is supposed to). My issue was, was that I had basically run out of finances and if I had continued on with my team to finish those last 2 countries it would have been just like it had been for most of the year, a complete walk of faith. It was a choice I would have easily made, but something was drawing me home. It was almost as if I could tangibly feel the weightiness of God's Grace for me in this season lifting. When God initially prompted me to go on this trip I had no clue what I was getting into, but I kept hearing a year. Without even knowing what it would look like, when people would ask how long I would be gone I always told them a year. Well that year was up this month November 1st to be exact. God is always faithful to His word. So all of this brought me to the decision to come home. Only problem was I had no money to get home. Well you better believe as soon as I had made the decision in my heart and really felt peace about it ( even though I would be missing a crazy adventure in those last 2 countries) God provided the money. One of my long time supporters a wonderful man who clearly hears the voice of God, sent me an email saying he wanted to send me some money. Now I had not said a word to anyone about this, but God knew! I told my supporter what I was thinking and he was able to get a ticket home for me, from the help of my extremely over-joyed mother. I would be heading home from Georgetown, Guyana within the next 3 days. Those last days were a bit insane for me. A rush of emotions with so many other people heading home as well it was a crazy time. The people I had lived with, bleed with, cried with, got angry with, the people I loved so much, my family, who always held me accountable and I learned so much from, they were all going to be leaving. But I was determined not to dwell on that matter. My last few days in Guyana were amazing. I was able to see most of the city while spending a lot of quality time with my family still ministering where ever I went. My team mate Liz and I went out one day to do some souvenir shopping. We came across this woman who had a prosthetic leg I wanted to stop and pray, but was apprehensive, I definitely should not have been. We start to walk past her when she stops us to ask what the buildings around were. We told her we were not form there and didn't know. She then begins to inform us she is almost blind and is walking around to local businesses asking for money for an expensive eye surgery. I look at Liz and then at the woman and say “well ma'am we are Christians and we would love to pray for your sight to be fully restored.” She agrees and we pray a simple prayer then ask her if there is any improvement she says “a little.” So I ask to pray again and after I prayed a second time she seems shocked and says “I can almost see you completely right in front of me” all while really testing out her eyes, moving her sunglasses and squinting. With a huge smile on her face she says “thank you so much and God bless you” then continues on her way. I am still contending for her complete healing! I believe she got it! Now the day arrived when I was actually flying home it was a strange feeling , then again that feeling could have been from the lack of sleep I had, had the past week. All the many 3am airport runs, staying up late with family, hanging out with the homeless guy that lived outside the door of the hostel. We had met a taxi driver who was a Christian one night and asked him if he would be willing to drive us 2am in order for me to get to the airport by 3am to catch my 5am flight. He was more than willing and well as one of the coolest men of God I have met especially in Guyana. On the drive to the airport he shared with us so much about his life, his incredible testimony, his story of how him and his wife got together, and some serious revelation about the presidential election! Before this time the President Obama had not been announced as the winner. However, God had given our Taxi driver some extreme downloads about it. At one point he just says “oh so Obama has won the election and we all says “really when did they announce it?” to which he replies “ oh they haven't yet, but God told me and he showed me a vision about why.” We all just look at each other. Without going into to much detail of the vision basically it basically entailed that if Romeny had won the country would no longer turn to God for answers, but would look to a man for them, but because Obama had won people will turn more and more to God for strength and shelter in our times of need. I walk up to the desk to check in and that is when I was informed my flight had been canceled due to a snow storm in my layover in New York. I didn't know what to do.. I asked if they had a computer with internet so I could get a hold of my mom (after all this is Guyana and working WIFI can not always be expected). They say the internet is down, but they allow me to use their phone to make an international call. I talk to my mom and she already knew. So we get in a cab back to the hostel. I go back to sleep. When I wake up I begin to try everything. Finally after many failed attempts I get a hold of of someone, who to this day I am convinced she was an angel. All I had to do was tell her my flight info and that I wanted to change my flights to fly out of Miami instead of New York and she did everything else and for free. My tickets were changed and I was flying out the next day and with less layover time getting me home about 5 hours earlier than I would have. Even if it was 4 flights in one day. I was happy to be home. My family had to work so my best friend Shelby picked me up from the airport, bags and all! Now I am here! Spending time with family and friends, working, and loving life!
This time the transition back into American society has been so much smoother and easier it almost took me by surprise just how smooth it has been. I feel as if I have come to a new area of understanding where my home really is. In Jesus. Therefore, I am able to be home wherever I may stay. Being able to love whomever I am around just the same as the rest! So that is where I am at.... Don't worry I still have more to come. Love and Blessings, Rachael Michelle

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Buses, Boats, and Hammocks.

SO much has happened in the last month since I last wrote an update. I am so sorry that I have not had the time or energy to update you all sooner. Better late than never I guess you could say. Fortaleza, Brazil. A time of sewing, a time of rest, and not to our family's liking, a time of goodbyes. I think this is where I last left off. The most beautiful couple, Herbert and Lorelei, for the last few years, have been in the process of getting Iris Fortaleza up and running. I felt so honored to be able to meet them and run with them for the time that we did. Completely unplanned we all settled in at the new Iris base that, for the past week we had been cleaning and constructing. For the first time, in most of my entire 20th year of life we stayed in one place for more than a week. In all, the majority of my team was there in Fortaleza for about 3 weeks. This is where we came to the conclusion the end of our season together as a family was very much near to its end. Especially with how things once were. In Fortaleza we began the process of donating our vehicles to the Iris base there. (which is a lot of work considering it is illegal to give away anything imported into Brazil). By the Grace of God we were able to at least give the vehicles over to the government and having them sign a paper saying they would then in return give them back to Iris. As we all began to talk together about the end and what things were going to look like we decided to have one last family time in Georgetown, Guyana with a set date.
Allowing people to go finish Brazil the rest of the cities in Brazil we had hoped to go to as others waited for Zion, Jesse and Tanya's (our leaders) Baby to be born. Me and 7 others decided we would take the cheapest, yet slowest way to get there (being a little tight on the cash side of things). This way was by bus and boat!
and being the City on the mouth of the Amazon River. We spent 2 nights in a cheap old hostel
It took out group of 8 a while to finally get organized enough to leave, but when we did it was extremely bitter sweet. Saying goodbye to the base staff and the hardest of all, saying goodbye to family members that were flying home early. A group before us had left several days earlier to head to Manaus, Brazil, to go into the Amazonian jungle. We found out after a week or so that some of our family was flying home from the city there and we would not get a proper goodbye, just to make things harder. However, for my little group of 8 we headed first for BELEM known for its ACAI and being the City on the mouth of the Amazon River. We spent 2 nights in a cheap old hostel.
After those two very hot nights in the city of Belem we set sail on the boat ONZE DE MAYO Crammed in hammocks with about 50 other people on the lower deck.
And that is where we stayed for the next 60 plus hours. While on the boat we made many friends. Some hippies from all over South America, some of the sweetest older ladies, and some crazies (as you always do). All kinds of people. We Prayed with them, learned from them and just loved them. Practically living out love in all ways possible. Finally we arrived in Santarem, Brazil having sailed nearly half the Amazon at that point. We hopped off the boat and not even 10 minutes went before God hooked us up. We stopped a lady on the port walking by to ask her when the next boats to Manaus would be leaving. Right then she gave us an offer we could not refuse. She sold us tickets for a boat leaving the next day for very cheap and then offered to give us her office space and the key to the door so we could store all our bigger luggage in so we wouldn't have to carry it around the town. So we packed up the office and started walking into town to try and find the contact we had gotten in touch with before hand about staying over one night. Eventually we found the house and met the contact. He let us sling up our hammocks under his gazebo. We had heard about a little town, from our hippie friends, about an hour bus ride away that had a part of the Amazon you could swim in with White sands and clear waters.
So we took off for this town. Swimming in the Amazon River! The town was beautiful and the water was warm and kinda clear. After a crazy night we got up bright and early to head back to the port. After a long wait we are allowed on the boat and like usual the mad race of hundreds of people trying to get the best hammock spot begins. People can be so cheeky. This boat was much larger than the last on we had been on. For the most part it was hot. Very hot. As in over 100 degrees at midday. This boat was much different than the last. With many more people and less of a community vibe. However, we met lots of really great people and had a lot of fun together. 48 hours later we dock around 8pm in Manaus, Brazil, but we have been out of contact for the past week and a half so we have no clue where to go and no idea where the rest of our family was. We knew there was some of our family in Manaus, but no way of contacting them. We find out we are allowed to sleep on the boat if we want to. So we take that as a God send. A place to sleep for free for the night even though it was hotter than a polar bear in the desert. A couple of us went out to find some food and internet to see if we could find out where anyone from our family was. It took so much effort to finally find internet, but 2 of the other woman who had come into town with us finally found it. The news we received back from the rest of the team left us in shock and aw.
First bit of news we received was that Zion Jesse and Tanya's baby still had not been born yet. Next we heard that some our dear family had already flown home out of Brazil and we wouldn't see them in Guyana, finally we heard that Jesse and Tanya were now moving to Micronesia in January and were not going to the Caribbean. This left us all stunned. Finally we found out that not only were they not doing the Caribbean they were headed back to America that day! All this news hit us pretty hard,but we were not going to let it take the best of us. The next morning being woken up extremely early by cleaners we left the boat headed for the port so we could look up bus schedules. We hopped in a taxi to the bus station then booked our bus tickets to leave that night for Boa Vista. Once again being blessed with someone in the bus office who let us store our luggage so we could hang around the city without the hassle of carrying our bags. We finally were able to catch up with some of our team that was there in Manaus before our bus took off. Getting to the bus station right on time to catch our bus. 12 hours (overnight) to get to Boa Vista and from there we immediately hopped on another bus headed for Bom Fim. At Bom Fim we met some guys that had a mini Bus service and agreed to take us all to Georgetown, Guyana after we crossed the border. Finally after 3 months of being in Brazil we crossed over into Lethem, Guyana. We were directed to a place where we were able to hangout and shower at a local restaurant while we waited. Finally all 8 of us and the 5 others (3 locals, one america, and one Brazilian)piled into our small, dirty, squeaky minibus. What happened over the next 19 hours was nothing that we expected!
The entire road to Georgetown was through the jungle on a dirt road full of potholes. Every so often driving though a plot of fields that had been caught on fire by the lightening storm. We were stopped almost every hour for a passport check to make sure we were legal. The whole journey I was extremely reminiscent of Africa! Around 9pm we pulled over at a place where we just slung up our hammocks under gazebos with all the other travelers, from other buses heading to Georgetown that day. We slept for 6 hours and woke up at 3am to head back on to the road to finish our journey. In total 16 hours is how long it took us to actually arrive in Georgetown.
The only problem was that we had not paid our bus driver yet because of the lack of ATMs in the previous cities. Our bus driver then drove us around for an additional 3 hours to find an ATM in order to pay him. Finally after 2 and a half hours of no luck we were saved by the Scotia Bank. However, while on our mad scavenger hunt through all of Georgetown. Before we had made it to the Scotiabank we were pulled over by a truck load of local police. One police men gets out and welcomes us Americans to Guyana. Assuming we are all American because we are white. He assures us everything is fine and this stop is nearly protocol. In the mean time our bus driver has gotten out and is over by the police truck talking. From our point of view it looks as if they are laughing. When our driver gets back in the van and the police men are driving away. Marcus, our bus driver, is chuckling to himself. We ask him what just happened he laughs and says “man they wanted a bribe and wanted half of your money. So I told them I was trying to get your money too!” We all laughed. God totally saved us from having too pay off those policemen by delaying us from finding money. Once again we learn the lesson of trusting God on everything including His perfect divine timing!
After we have finally gotten our money I realize this was the first time this entire year of travel I have gone hungry from not having money for food and that wasn't even because I didn't have any it was because I couldn't get any! I would say that is a testimony in itself knowing everything I have gone through. This was the first time I had ever gone hungry! God is so good to his Kids. Our driver says he knows of a cheap hostel we can stay at and offers to take us there. We payed 5 dollars for one night, granted it was probably one of the worst we have ever stayed in, and we have stayed in some pretty bad hostels. No matter we were just happy to have had a bed after 2 weeks of sleeping in hammocks and buses. We are finally able to contact the rest of our team that had already arrived a couple of days before. They had found an amazing hostel for not so expensive that was owned by a Christian woman. We made plans to move into that hostel the next day. Where we would then begin our scheduled Fam Fest 2012 as soon as the rest of our family arrived. A time to be together, encourage each other, and say goodbye. Most of the team was planning on flying home from there only 11 people were planning on moving on to finish the remaining countries, Suriname and French Guiana.