Family and Friends
I really appreciate all the emails many of you have sent. I love the encouragement especially. We found this past week very exausting. Our orientation to life in the favela, Portuguese, and various ministry opportunities has ended and we have been released to DO what we came to do.
Basically that means I now have a weekly schedule. On Mondays and Fridays we go downtown to hang out-out with, minister to, play with, and sometimes feed the street kids. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays we break up into two groups and work with area faith based organizations. Heather and I will be spending those mornings at the Missionaries of Charity and the afternoons at the small orphanage in Tijuca (another area of Rio). Thursday mornings we have group meetins and book discussions and Thursday night we have Portuguese lessons. Saturday is Sabbath, spend however we choose. Last week we did nothing. This week we went to Copacobana and Arpoador beaches. Then Sunday is cleaning day and church. Church in Brazil is on Sunday nights instead of the morning. We find that very convenient.
Part of the reason this has been such an exausting week is because we have been passing around a soar throat and cough thing. I kinda think it is just our bodies trying to adjust to this new place with the allergies of winter transisioning into Spring and the smog of a large city. But just as our bodies are adjusting to this new place so are our neighbors getting used to the fact that we are not going anywhere. It is starting to feel like we belong here. When we walk down the streets of Jacare people recognize us and say, Oi, boa tarde! or some other friendly greeting. This is our home and the community has accepted us. To see where we live on Google Earth search for Jacare or Jacarezinho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We live in the most beautiful and amazing place. Yesterday (Saturday) we went to the beaches, Friday we went to the mountains, and most other days we go from the slum to the heart of downtown. We are constantly facing both the majesty of Gods creation and the poverty of injustices.
And this is the main reason contributing to why we are so exausted. Our minds are overwhelmed with images of starving young faces, glue sniffing youth, alcoholism and drug addictions, perverted sexuality, homelessness, and a host of other despairing realities. But at the same time, we just had a mini retreat to the mountains and saw a huge waterfall, monkies (micu) and a coati. Then yesterday we saw the sun set over Arpoador beach. It is all a bit overwhelming at the moment. But it is wonderful. I praise God for bringing me here and I thank you for the many ways you have (and do support) supported me. I do not want to become so familiar with seeing these injustices that I no longer feel the sting of rage welling up inside of me yearning to combat the systems of injustice or the compassion to love and help people who are afflicted by extreme poverty. Neither do I want to become too familiar with the beauty of creation that I begin to take the mountains and the ocean for granted. I want to experience all things in a way that will be glorifying to God. This is where I am right now. In my next newsletter I will try to describe what we do on the streets and while volunteering at the other organizations.
Our fifth teammate, Will, arrived Monday. Only two weeks late. He fits right into the group and went directly to the streets with us when he arrived. He is from Kentucky and he also just graduated from college.
I pray you are all well. That school has begun without too much hardship. That work is fulfilling. That health is well. And that you recognize your many blessings.
Enjoy the pictures! I love and miss you!