Sunday: Tour of the fields/The wedding

Sunday, November 19, 2017
Boa Vista, State of Roraima, Brazil
From our Cristal Hotel we leave for Maloca de Moscou a little after 8 am.  With us is Iracema and Bernilda.  Bernilda had to shop for items for the wedding, including the reception.  Our car is the only transportation that can take such items.  We picked her up at the market place.  Carried many bottles of soda for later in the day. 
The road to M de M is divided into two section.  The total trip is 75 kilometers, about 46 miles. First, the paved road. It’s a very good road in the direction of Guyana.  Then to a road of lesser quality, but still tar.  This part of the trip is 50 minutes. The bridges are obviously ones put in last in this section.  They build the roads first, then the bridges.  And, since they are low on money, the bridges suffer and look temporary.
Then you turn on gravel road for the final 55 minutes of the journey going in, around potholes and negotiating changing dangerous routes.  This is the dry season (October to April) and they are bad.  During the rainy season, the road is virtually impassable for those without a 4 x 4.   Jorge does not come out here during the rainy season.  At times you are jostled back and forth and hope that we make it successfully through hazards without scraping bottom.          
We make it to M de M.  We’re glad to see the brethren.  Very friendly and inviting.  More speak English than I thought because they came originally came from neighboring Guyana which is English-speaking.  So, that helps me communicate with them.  If it’s only Portuguese, it’s not good us.
Jorge goes off with the couple, Aledir Mateus da Silva and Bernilad Edwin Ingaricó to be married to counsel with them. In the meantime, I talk to Geraldo, one of the original members of this group. I want to find out from him about how they all got started and what were their origins.  It was an interesting story.
Geraldo came from Guyana to Brazil in 1977 to find work and came to a Malaca de Malecacheta.  I believe he was married in 1979 to Dalva. Incidentally, his wife died about three weeks ago. Then, in 1982 he moved to Malaca de Moscou.
In 1987 a visitor by the name of Vibert came to de Moscou.   He left a Plain Truth magazine behind.  Gerald found it and like what he read. He sent off for his own copy all the way to headquarters in Pasadena. He ordered more booklets and the Bible Study course.  Then he was visited by Kingsley Mather and Arnold Hampton in 2001.  By this time the group also had Benedito and wife Anna and Carlos.  Also the father Anna and Carlos who is a man by the name of Francisco Agulier who had children Anna, Carlos, Nelson and Robert.  And other children Ricardo, Neshto and Fatchma. 
Francisco lives above the settlement on a hill by the church’s borehole. He currently goes to the Living Church of God.  His son Robert is Philadelphia Church of God and he’s the only one who is a member of PCG.  
In 2000 when they started as the United Church of God, they built a church building. Various people came for the Feast of Tabernacles and one notable person who came and donated generously was John Carvelho.  At one time he bought shoes for everyone.  Kingsley Mather came three times.  Geraldo was ordained a deacon in 2008.   Then they had visits from Saul Langarica. 
Then came the church split in late 2010 and early 2011.  He stayed with the group trying take everyone for one and a half years.  They were swayed by a convincing argument by their pastor. He quoted from Revelation 12, the chapter about the Church in history and prophecy.  He stated that in the chapter there was one church of God, but there is evidence of another church of righteous people who would be persecuted by the Great Dragon (verse 17), but still kept the Commandments of God.  This was highlighting the fact that someone was not keeping the commandments of God and gave credibility to the group that left. In this exegesis, he highlighted the fact that they were the righteous ones who keep the commandments. 
But, after a little over a year, it became obvious that those they left were no less “keeping the commandments” who they came from. The allegations about the United Church of God were erroneous and this group disbanded.  They did not return to UCG, but instead went to the Living Church God.   There was also, one other, Robert, who had earlier gone to Philadelphia COG, but over other issues.
So, from this tiny settlement you can stand on the hill by UCG’s borehole and see all the churches of God as far as the eye can see.  On the top of the hill is PCG with one member.  Way in the distance to the right is Living Church of God, which is the bigger group.  At the bottom of the hill is the UCG building, social hall and Feast site.  Cogwa is no longer here.  When will people realize what the true damage is from a church split and how it affects relationships, but mostly faith in God?
Continuing with Gerald’s story.  The first appearance of Jorge de Campos was after the Feast of Tabernacles in 2010 and just before the split.  President Denny Luker sent Jorge, who was a breath of fresh air to them.  He spoke their language, Portuguese.   
I finished my conversation with Geraldo as Jorge finished counseling with Aldair and Bernilda. 
The day is getting hotter and hotter. Temperature about 100 degrees and bright sun.   When using the faucets in the restrooms where water flows from an outside tank, the water is hot from the spigot. We are being baked here. 
We now go on the walk to see the gardens and farming projects.  First deacon Benedito shows us plot which includes a banana plantation, onions, melons. Also, grown are shallots, cabbage, peppers.  The water is from the UCG/LifeNets borehole at the top of the hill.
Benito and his wife Anna are parents to the groom of today’s wedding.  They also have a daughter Lassia (11) and Thais who is 20. The gardens were fascinating to see.  The point of these additional gardens was to supplement their income from their other personal growing of cassava and other staples.  This way they could raise marketable fruits and vegetables.
Then we walked up to Arlindo and Iracema’s home. They lived right next to where the first church building was which cogwa took. But, now it’s abandoned and fallen apart.  The new building where we met yesterday is at the bottom of the hill and was built with money from Good Works.   The new building is nice, too, it has modern restroom facilities adjoining, a kitchen and assembly hall and others shelters.  We have been so blessed to have things work themselves out this way.
At Arlindo’s place I saw my first cashew tree.  I had no idea how they grew.  The cashew nut is part of the cashew fruit.  We had cashew juice served to us at lunch.  We saw their laying chickens and other features around the home. Also, I was introduced to the hydraulic goat...and ingenious device that pumps water up without using power.  Amazing.
Then we walked over to the borehole a short distance away, less than 100 meters I guess.  It is next to a home that has been built for the visiting minister. Jorge stays when he comes here.  The holding tank for the water close to it as well as the switch to turn on the water pump.
The borehole is a quality one with a complex set of pipes to carry the water in different directions to various fields.  The person responsible for assembling this was Nick Lamoureux who came here with his wife Megan on a Youth Corps project a few years back.   Nick was given high praise for his contributions to the agricultural needs.  He is the one who put together the piping for the borehole and was highly spoken of!
Then we started walking down the church building from the borehole.  This has been a most satisfying visit to see what I had heard a lot about but never had perceived how it looked in real life.  A marvelous day.  But, it’s not over yet!
Everyone is getting ready for the three pm wedding at the church hall.  The bride is decked out and the groom is ready as well.  We all move towards the hall.  Jorge is preparing.  The young people are all looking good. The smartphones come out as different one are taking photos and videos.  Jorge conducts the ceremony. Photos are taken outside.  We head back to the assembly hall and rejoice with the couple. 
Then we take the couple back with us to Boa Vista with Arlindo who has family business to take care of.  Two babies have been born in the family.  He needs to get some items to the families. 
As we drive back and the sun sets…which is very quickly.   There is so little twilight at the equator and the day is bright, quick sunset and darkness. 
Jorge hits something on the highway.  We hardly saw it.  We’re not sure if it was an animal or a piece of tire.  It tore up the mudguard under the car and Arlindo had to remove the part that was interfering with car’s fan. We’re grateful that it did not cause damage out here in the bush.  We dropped everyone off and told them we’d meet them at 7:30 the next morning.  Jorge and I went to a restaurant and found the Tambaque fish we had yesterday at lunch.  We both ordered it. 
We had a full day and ready to get a good night’s rest!