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We Went to a Remote Amazon Tribe – They Were Waiting for Us

Braulia Ribeiro shares how God taught a first-time missionary group to depend on him:

In 1983, I was part of a first-time team of Brazilian young people going to plant a mission station among the Paumarí. I was chosen because I had some training in the Paumari language with the Summer Institute of Linguistics.

We traveled on a small boat to reach Lábrea. From there to a small river where the Paumarí were, there were no transport boats available. We would have to hire a private boat to take us there. We would be the first missionaries to reach this particular village.

The only money our little team had left was a few hundred dollars we put aside to buy supplies and food to stay in the jungle for three months. “What do we do, Lord? Should we just stay here waiting?” I felt that I had received Matthew 13:46 from God. It said, “he went away and sold everything he had.” Is God saying that we have to use all our money to pay for the boat ride?

And that was exactly how things went. We hired the owner of the smallest boat we could find. The price he charged amounted to the exact figure we’d saved. We set out with food for only the short trip, no kerosene, or other supplies. After five-day trip we found a man with a large canoe that was available to take us the rest of the way to Maniçoã Lake.

We got out of the canoe in front of the first hut. I shouted from the land in my broken Paumarí, “Ivaniti?” – “Is that you?” An old woman answered me from the top, “Ha’ã hovani!” – “Yes, it’s me!” She did not seem to find it strange to hear me speaking her language.

We all climbed up to the hut and sat ceremoniously on the floor. After a good hour of conversation about the trip, she asked what we were there to do. I said, “We are missionaries. We want to help you to know Jesus, the Son of God.” The lady looked at me with a puzzled expression and started shouting for her grandson, Danilo. “Come over, Danilo. The missionaries have arrived. Take them to their home.”

“Our home?” I asked. She pointed to an empty tall hut nearby. “Danilo and I built this hut two summers ago, preparing for your arrival. We heard in the radio about the Creator God, and how his Son, Jesus, wants to help us. I said, ‘If that is true, he will send us his people.’ So we built the hut for you.”

We were placed in our “home,” and from that day on, we were fed with abundant fish, manioc flour, and jungle fruits. For the whole six months we stayed with the Paumarí we were well taken care of, never needing a cent of the money we applied to renting the boat. We had nothing to offer them except ourselves, and that was all they needed.

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