Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Two Months Goes by Too Fast...Seriously.

Sunday January 10th was our last Sunday celebrating and worshiping the greatness of our God with the Niopolis Church of the Nazarene. It was that night that God reminded through the sermon what I was here for...

The pastor challenged us to becoming the living love letters to the world. Yup, that sounds like incarnational ministry to me.. yup, that sounds like fulfilling the missio dei to me! Oh man... took me back straight to NTS and reminded me of some of the things we learned and talked about last year and during the 'training' of 365M.

Rio de Janeiro both the state and the city is a vibrant place. Its also a state with so many contrasts.... obvious contrasts and many which people deny to see sometimes. It is natural beautiful, absolutely marvelous. I have loved every minute of every day in Rio. I have some serious "SAUDADES" of that wonderful place. Saudades the Portuguese word that is used to express an emptiness, longing of someone or something that is more intense that simply missing someone...

It was here that we met more amazing people. This time at this site we didn't do weekend house stays, it was a completely different experience. We stayed Pastor Pedro Paulo's house. Its a 10 minute walk from his house to the church or the school. Its also a 10 minute walk from Pastor's house to the 'downtown' of Niopolis. During my first week in Niopolis my skin quickly gained more color... and I was beyond excited because we hadn't even made it to the beach yet, hahahaha! And of course with lots of sun comes TONS of heat. I will now take a moment and reflect on the intense heat of Rio... yup, its summer alright!

These last two months have been so great. We've had the opportunity to not only meet amazing people, but grow and learn from them as well. Twice a week we had 'language and culture class' and then we would have lunch at the church with the church staff. The afternoon were our 'free times' to get school work done, visit/hang out with friends, run errands or whatever else needed to be done. Mondays, Tuesday and Thursdays nights there were Bible studies/Worship services that we would attended at the Niopolis church. Every weekend (Saturday and Sunday) during the first month and a half we would do ministry work with "Amigos de Ezequias" the compassionate ministry at church. God used them to teach me and reminded what it means to love and serve your neighbor wholeheartedly. With this ministry we had the opportunity to visit and learn about the favela's in Rio, the work the church is doing there and really come to understand the context of lives of the people there. One of the most memorable moments for me was our visit to Dona Marta. We took a huge bus filled it up with the teens from the church along with the Amigos de Ezequias and we basically invaded the community. We took 'cesta basicas' (food for a month for a family) and went around the community giving the food basket and praying with the families. It was such a blessing to see teens so passionate about sharing the love of Christ... That reminds of another time that we went with the 'Amigos de Ezequias' to a slum community under a city highway... this time the youth theatre ministry from church came along with us and they presented the Christmas story to the children and their families in that community. It was there that also gave 'cesta basicas' to more families and prayed with them... It was there that I met Samantha, a young single mother in her late twenties... As we were walking the tiny 'walk ways' in this community she was sitting there and she asked us 'can you please come to my house and pray with me.." we walked inside the one room home and as one of the leaders of Amigos de Ezequias began to ask her about her day and how we could pray for her... she began to cry and pour out her heart... as she spoke about her circumstance... my heart hurt for hers... how I wish that my Portuguese could be more fluent so that I could have prayed with her and spoken more with her... while she was speaking all I could was intercede for her... for the Holy Spirit to move in her life and that God would open her eyes to see the power of His hand... at the end of our visited with her I gave her the biggest hug and what I could say I shared... "May our God bless and protect you, your son and your home"...

These are perhaps the most difficult times... when you desire to share and communicate without stumbling over incorrectly pronounced words and verb tenses.... people say that my Portuguese is getting better but that doesn't stop me from wishing and praying for improvement... I'm thankful for those that I have had the opportunity to share life and part of my heart with in Portuguese, and they have been so patience.... I'm thankful for those that encourage to express myself in Portuguese. You would be proud I can basically understand Portuguese all of it, well except for a huge chunk of formal words and good chunk of slang, lol. Still I'm progressing :) Oh and I am getting better at reading out loud! You know I thought that coming to Rio was going to confuse me and what I had already learned because of their heavy accents, but its challenged me to train my ear to better understand and recognize sounds!!

We have it the middle of our time here in Brasil... I really can't believe it. I just can't believe that its January. Sometimes its still hard to believe that I am really HERE! Ahhhh (that's an EXCITEMENT scream, lol) All that to say, the first two months here in Brasil... felt like the slowest two months of my entire life... I couldn't even imagine getting to January and now January is almost over! The last month and a half in Campinas flew by... and by the time Rio was beginning to fill like home it was time to pack up and move again.... UGH!!! :(

SAUDADES de Campinas e Niopolis!! And even though I miss it I have to admit that I am also beyond excited to see the great things that God wants to teach us in Manuas!!