By Louis Normandin, OMV

Recently, I had the pleasure of doing a long trip between São Paulo and our mission in the Amazon. In the Amazon we had a jeep that had served us well for 3 years, but unfortunately an accident completely destroyed the engine. No one was injured — a stone in a hole melted the engine. Thank God the insurance reimbursed over 90% of the cost.

So we had to buy another vehicle and Father Gilberto came to join me in São Paolo with a good friend from our parish in the Amazon. The three of us made the trip in the new jeep and traveled 4000 kilometers between San Paolo and Castanho. We visited Father Gilberto’s parents in the state of Minas Gerais and then continued on our journey through the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, then the state of Mato Grosso, then the state of Rondônia, and then finally arrived in the state of Amazonia.

We discovered and admired magnificent landscapes, fields of wheat and sugar cane as far as the eye could see and herds of cattle like I had never seen before. The small towns where we stopped to eat and rest allowed us to meet very friendly and welcoming people. There was a lot of emotion towards the end of our journey as we crossed part of the Amazon on a road without asphalt. We traveled this road full of stones, holes and sometimes mud, and that over 420 kilometers between two gas stations, to finally reach our destination. And there we celebrated the joy of reuniting with the faithful with whom we prayed and celebrated.

Thank God there haven’t been many victims of the coronavirus in our small town where the people are nice and simple. They are men and women who truly love God and do many beautiful and charitable things. If they are not always present at Sunday Mass, it is because many men work far away to provide for their families or because they have a small house in the forest where they like to spend time in order to hunt, fish and bring back food. There is a lot of simplicity and beauty in these people. If we were to come to the Amazon with our ready-made ideas, trying to impose on these people the models of Europe or North America, or even South Brazil, we would be on the wrong track. One has to live with them, get to know them and go to their school. Proximity, patience and tenderness form bonds which create community. This is how the Church can grow in this region of the world blessed by the Lord for its vegetation and especially for these men and women so close to nature and so close to God.

Louis Normandin omv