, Port Arthur, Texas

June 11, 2013

Mid-County couple goes 'home' to Amazon

Julie Garcia
The Port Arthur News

— In the five-hour plane ride between Houston and Bogota, Colombia, Breanne and Kendall Johnson’s bellies will be full of Chick-fil-A.

It’s a good thing, too, because the chain restaurant is pretty high on the list of things Breanne will miss about America when she and her husband move to the Amazon for two years to help install water hydration systems and to build a vocational center through Amazon Xpeditions.

Amazon Xpeditions, a Christian-based missionary organization, was formed to train indigenous pastors, church leaders and native Tikuna missionaries to bring Christianity to tribes in the Amazon jungles that normally go unreached, according to their website.

The headquarters is located in Leticia, Colombia, a jungle city where the Johnsons and other missionaries will be staying when they are not camped out in jungle villages.

Kendall, 24, from Bridge City, met Breanne, a 22-year-old from Port Neches, through a mutual friend a few years ago. Breanne had already gone on missionary trips to Holland, Spain, and North Africa before meeting Kendall, who had also travelled overseas on similar escapades.

When they took a trip together to Peru in 2011, Breanne said they both got a feeling they were “home.”

“We knew it was home, but not right then,” she said. “A lot of doors have opened since then and now is the right time to go.”

“It’s the same feeling as falling in love with somebody,” Kendall said. “God was telling us we would get there someday, but you can’t exactly just move there without being invited.”

That’s where Amazon Xpeditions came in. The organization provided a pathway for the couple to live there and take part in providing job skill training, clean water systems and minor medical care and supplies to the indigenous people of the region.

Both have two years of college under their belts, but Breanne said she knew from a very early age that she would wanted to help people.

“People asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I’d say, ‘I want to go overseas and help people,’” she said. “The paths that I’ve chosen have helped me get to this point.”

Teams from all over the U.S. will be traveling to their village this summer, Breanne said, each for two week increments.

“We will be targeting youth, who struggle the most because they want to leave their tribe to experience life in the city, and then when they try to return are rejected by their tribe members,” Breanne said.

Though they always encourage the youth to return to their families, they are seeking a way to provide job opportunities through the vocational school they are building.

With “survival level” knowledge of Spanish, Breanne is excited about immersing in the culture and learning the languages of region: Spanish, Portuguese and native dialects.

“We are staying at the border of Colombia, Brazil and Peru with the Amazon River running through them,” Kendall said. “Eventually, we will move in with a host family who speaks Portuguese, Spanish and Indian languages, but no English.”

In addition to Chick-fil-A nuggets (which they’ve found the “secret recipe” for), Breanne said they will miss family most of all and not being able to attend important events like weddings and the birth of Kendall’s niece or nephew in the fall.

Also, she said it will be very hard to leave their dog, Benaiah, who will be cared for by her parents until they return in six months.

“We’re thankful that the organization lets us come home a couple times a year to visit family,” Breanne said. “We will be taking Benaiah back with us in December and moving more of our things there.”


Twitter: julesbmt