I want to begin this post with my sincerest apologies... about my 'lack of' keeping up with blogging. God has been speaking, teaching and stretching... we aren't really taught as kids or as adults the importance of a life of transparency, especially when you call yourself a Christian... therefore here is my best attempt of transparency.. its a work in progress...
Campinas, Sao Paulo - BRASiL
Before I left home a couple months back, I set up this blog to help me process and keep communication with my loved ones back home. Especially so I wouldn’t hear those things like, “you feel off the face of the earth when you went to Brazil!”, “why didn’t you keep a blog.” etc, etc. You know making you feel like a terrible person because you don’t keep a daily journal of everything you eat and do hour by hour on a blog. Okay with all that said I think you can pretty much tell that I wasn’t too excited. Its true. I’m being honest and open.... I was scared to have a blog. Why scared? What if I don’t met people’s expectations? What if I don’t met my own expectations? I’m not that great at writing. I actually stink at it pretty badly... and so I even asked my self, “are there particular blog rules to follow?” If you can answer that last question, please don’t let me know. Thanks!
The other truth to this blog thing is the pressure. I was and still am super excited to be in Brasil. Its one of those surreal things in life. I never thought that God could bring me here. Wow, I mean ... I don’t mean to put God in a box, what I am trying to say is that I never thought that the journey with God would include a place and opportunity like this one. So I was nervous. I still am at times, a little nervous about how God is using me and going to continue using me. So that’s why I was afraid of writing on this blog. I was afraid of being completely transparent....and having “uneventful” blogs where all I say is “we just hung out with people this week and ate a ton of rice and beans...”
It was hard to let go of that mindset. Sometimes it tries to creep back up on me, and I have to challenge myself to look at things through the best perspective Gods. There are no such ‘uneventful days’ for our God. So why use the word ‘uneventful’ well because usually when people think and hear about someone going off to do ‘volunteer mission work’ for a year they quickly associate it that with whatever short term mission trip they had or someone they know had ... and those are full of what we know as “eventful” (agenda driven) things.... Please do not misunderstand me, I am sure you all and the people you remember did some great things for the kingdom and Glory of God, but It was especially personally hard for me when I would hear about the kind of work the team Ireland and Croatia were doing, because to me their 365M experience sound way more ‘eventful’ than my own experience in Brazil. I had done the week long mission trips, the 10 mission trips, the 2wk mission trips and the 2 month mission trips... I felt ready for a year of hard work. But oh man was I ready for a ride.... God was about to teach me some important things.
Its the first year for 365M. The program is a good work in progress. 365M is different from other mission experience that I’ve had. A good, a great different. A ‘different’ that requires flexibility, adaptability and a humbling willingness to be a continual learner. I’m not talking about building physical things, I’m not talking about reorganizing structures and systems according to what you think is best. I am talking about living out to the fullest the transforming redeeming love of God into the world. And for those of us that are participating in this program that means, a lot of less talking and a lot more ‘living it out’ and being constant representative even when everything is changing around you...
Now for a small recap of the first stay... Campinas, SP!
Participating in Community
So the first couple of months of this abroad experience where in Campinas, Sao Paulo. Sao Paulo is the wealthiest and most thriving state of the country Brazil. It makes part of the Southern Region of the country were the majority population resides. A bus ride from Campinas to Sao Paulo, one of the largest cities in the world, is approximately an hour and a half. Many people make this commute daily, while others once a week and others like us only once during the time we were there. Yes, I was pretty bummed about it because there was so much more to see! Its okay though because I will go back someday, God willing.
Anyway, we lived at the Faculdade Nazarene do Brasil that is located in Barão Geraldo, which is approximately 15-20 minutes outside of the city of Campinas. This was our humble abode for the time we spent in Campinas. During the first month we had some intensive Portuguese classes from the missionaries there. Yes, we are talking bootcamp style to the point that when you get out of class all you want to do is sleep because of information overload...that is how I felt most of the days after class those two, three weeks after we arrived. Our living arrangements for the next three months would require constant Portuguese usage. I was a little nervous about this, actually super nervous about it but I have to take this time and thank God for their patience and willingness to be so helpful and understanding with us and our learning of their culture and language.
During the weekends in Campinas the team had home stays. Some were the four of us together and other homes stays were divided. Aimee and I were extremely blessed to stay with some amazing people. We stayed with a professor from the faculdade Pastor Ramon. His family and the church ... there are not enough words to express how great it was to meet and live life with them, learn about their vision for the church and see their passionate love for God and their community. It was at their church that Aimee and I had our first opportunity to share a small devotional with the teens, yes in Portuguese. It was also at this church that we experienced a Baptism service in Brazil. Wow! The baptism was under the sanctuary platform. Center front, near the people. Not so far away as you see in many churches in the States. As each person went down into the waters there was a crowd of family and friends standing on the other side of the baptism. When they would come out of the waters, the crowd of people near to them and the entire church would celebrate loudly! The crowd near the baptism would help the person get out and they would begin to hug them. It wasn’t important if that person would get soaked, what matter to them was the celebration and embracing of them! I couldn’t stop crying as I watched one of the teens go into the waters and the entire youth group going over and celebrating with him as if he had just won the world cup. They had flags and whistles and were jumping up and down and hugging him. What an amazing blessing to have been there!
There were other great stays too. With the Heaps, who are some of the most extraordinary people. With our Portuguese professor Sirley, she is so sweet. With the Sandra the librarian from the faculdade, fun times. The church in Indiabuta, where each night we stayed at a different house, it was awesome. God has really given us the wonderful blessing of meeting some special people. These special people definitely include our friends from FNB. They are our family. Moments of tears, laughter, theological discussions, political debates, ping pong competitions, UNO and LIFE nights, movies, PSP, nights of just chasing out a mouse from the dormitories, playing music till the wee hours, cooking, birthday celebrations and the list goes on. Community is an innate part of mission as it is an expression of and representation of who God is through the Church. It is the calling of being a relational community, koinonia, that fully expresses The Good News of Jesus Christ....