On the second mission trip of the Luzeiro XXX boat, we went through a region where we had to use a small boat to cross a narrow path of the river to reach the Bacaba community. I know I’m a fearful person, but I had never felt such adrenaline. Until one day we had to return from the community at sundown. Adventurous as they all are (almost a “requirement” if you live on a boat), everyone was all excited to focus on the alligators, except for me! I bowed my head and silently prayed, “Lord, I did not know that I was afraid of alligators, please calm me down and keep these animals out of our way so that we may arrive safely to the boat.”
The route is done in 35 minutes sailing through this narrow path, but the banks were full of great Black Caimans (big species of alligators), most of them bigger than 4 meters! While everyone was amused by the size and quantity of alligators, I went all the entire trip with my head bowed, praying. After the longest 35 minutes of my life, my prayer was answered. Our mission for the month of September happened in the same community course, down the Rio Juruá; only this time we stopped and did some work in the lower part.
In each community attended I asked how the Bacaba Creek was, and the answer was that it was low (meaning it was very dry). I wondered what it would be like to go through that alligator course again and I prayed the whole time, “Lord, please, drive away the alligators.” The day we arrived at the beginning of the narrow stream we understood what people were talking about. It really was very dry and the entrance was much narrower than the last time; and I asked, “Lord, I can already imagine how the route will be. Help me by taking away this fear of mine, I trust in You.”
On our first adventure to the community we saw some alligators on the banks on our way there and on the way back. The problem was that the river level was so low and full of logs that the boat would not be able to pass for the next few days and we would have to go by canoe! Not being the bravest person, I was only maybe 2 times in a canoe for like 10 minutes. Of course I was terrified, especially with all those alligators on the dry river margins, plus, the route that previously took 35 minutes tops to complete turned into approximately an hour and a half. I heard community members saying (maybe to frighten me) that the big alligators were attacking canoes and one had to have a lot of experience to escape them.
Who was ahead of the canoe? An 11-year-old boy, son of the health agent of the community. I told God, “Lord, tomorrow is going to be a long day, you know how much people need to be cared for, so help us get to that community. You also know how scared I am, I just wanted you to take that away my fear.” That’s when I thought about Joshua 1: 9. I took my Bible and remembered how much that passage meant God’s answer to me: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. These words gave peace to my heart!
In the coming days, going by canoe to the community was a fun adventure. During those days, the number and size of the alligators that appeared could not be compared to the ones from the first trip, they were all small, maximum 2 meters. The entire way I prayed and thanks God because in the midst of the fear, when I cried for Him, He not only answered the prayer giving me courage, but also decreasing the amount and size of the Alligators. This made me understand that even in small things, when we surrender and trust completely in Him, He will always be ready to help us by moving away and reducing the size of the “alligators” so that we can fulfill His purposes. The mission field has been a blessing in many ways in my life, especially feeling God very close to me.
About the Author
Jemima Cunha is Brazilian from João Pessoa/PB, and she is the Luzeiro XXX nurse working in the municipality of Carauari, on the Juruá River.