I can't promise I will write any more blogs during my time in Rio. I will write lots I assume once I return and am trying to make since of my time in this place. But for now, I'm pretty busy both with normal ministry activities as well as additional end of our time stuff like Christmas parties, farewell parties, debriefing retreat, and growing desire to spend time with our Brazilian friends. Today was a bit out of the ordinary as far as ordinary days go. I'll try to capture a few moments from it for you now.
Today, being Wednesday, was a long day of work. We were up a bit before 8am to make cafe de manha (breakfast-meaning coffee) and head out to catch a onîbus (bus) to Lapa (an area of downtown where the Missionaries of Charity is located). The bus didn't come right away. It seemed like every other possible bus had passed by several times before a very full bus that would take us where we wanted to go arrived. We had to stand about half the 45 minute commute and when I finally sat it was in the back row (5 across) and I got stuck in the very middle between two men. One was asleep and seemed to seemed to drift more and more onto me. Finally the man on the other side of me got off the bus and I got to sit on the crack between two seats so the sleepy man wasn't leaning on me anymore.
We arrived at MoC and say hi to all the wonderful old women who cook amazing almoça (lunch) on Wednesdays. We tell them that this week we have brought the sobremasas (desert), it is chocolate bolo, but we like to call it Brownies. After that anouncement, we joined the Sister from Rowanda to help with the laundry. She told me happy birthday in both English and Portuguese and asked if I danced for the party. She really likes dancing but I think that pleasure is a bit stiffled if you are a nun, but of course I can't be sure. A little later after the laundry is done and after we learn how to get coco (coconut) out of a dried green oblong shaped ball and how to then shave it like what you would find on the baking isle of a grocery store, the sisters let us try some candied coco. It was heavenly. Then they said to take it home with us to share with the other Americanos. After more time has passed and we have prayed with the cooks and eaten their amazing meal of rice and beans and noodles, and mean and salad and pineapple they get to try our brownies that we have been trying to make and give them for over a month now.
After MoC we get on another bus and ride 30 minutes or so to Tijuca, another area of town between DT and where we live. We check the mail box, nothing for me, then walk to Projeta Vidinha (the orphanage). Kids are eating lunch. IN (a 10 year old boy) is playing with the four little kittens with a clothes hanger. B (2 year old girl) is in a great mood and having my head be a race track for a matchbox like car. R (8 year old boy) is obediently eating. No other little kids there at the time. We take them to the main room after they eat to play a memory card game. It works for a bit before the other Americans on staff show up with their baby. B is playing with markers and stealing our cards. T (6 year old boy) and PV (8, boy) arrive. R has started to cheat. IN is rearranging the cards. R is becoming more obsinate each minute. Finally the other Americans who can speak excelent Portuguese come in and give the kids more direction. Now they will create Christmas cards for their American sponsors. Last week they created cards for their Brazilian sponsors. So because of this repitition they weren't very excited or engaged in the assignment. IN followed directions well once he possisioned himself on the other side of the room from me and requested marker colors he needed in Portuguese and had me throw them across the room to him back and forth. R just wasn't having a real good day and kept pouting. The other boys T and PV focused for a total of 10 minutes. Once they were done so were Heather and myself. The house quickly became chaotic again with kids trying to use us as jugle gyms, yelling and fighting each other. All the while I'm locking in having to throw markers across the room at IN. Three and a half hours of being in this house finally pass and we decide we've had enough and need to get home for the evening. We get directions for the next day from the American staff then start saying our good-byes to the kids. I ask little B for a hug in good enough Portuguese for her to have no doubt about my request for a hug, I said, "Eu preciso uma abrasar." She got a really big smile on her face, opens wide her little arms and flings herself at my chest. I'm squatting on the floor so it's perfect. Then the other kids see me within their reach so before I know it PV and T and R are all on my back. This frustrates me as much as it makes me feel loved and appreciated. We finally leave and tell the kids we will see them again Friday for Enlgish class.
So we leave and hobble like wounded soldiers the half mile or more to the bus stop more aware than ever of the toll that being in a forein country, doing manual labor, and working with kids has on a person. The bus this time is another 45 minutes and I settle in comfortably by Heather and start to drift to sleep (not deep sleep but just kinda nodding off now and again). We get off and walk home another 1/2 mile through the favela. At home Heather and I part ways, her to the internet cafe and I to the roof of our house.
At the roof, I take "Announcing the Reign of God" a book we will be discussing as a group tomorrow that I haven't finished yet. I also have my water bottle and disposable camera hoping to catch a good sunset and noticing that the neighbor kids are trying to get their kites to take flight. I love watching the flight of their little kites. It looks like a lot of work but well worth it. One of the kids has a roof like ours that is really tall above all the buildings around it. The other is under several clothes lines and has taller buildings on three sides so it's much more difficult to get a kite to fly from such a position. I watch them struggle for a while and then I hear teenage girl voices behind me and realize the kids from a couple houses down are joining me on my roof. I recognize them but have never had conversations with them before. Now I speak more and am up for the challence. T (14 year old girl) asks to see/use my cameral. I let her. She takes a picture of her friends. Then one of me confussed that she has so quickly figured out how my camera works, I will trash that one once I get them developed. Then she takes one of her friends and me with the mountains and kites in the backgrownd. We talk a bit about names, ages, where I'm from, do I have a boyfriend, my favorite types of music, and that was about all. Then the oldest starts beating up on T. Not really sure why but it destroys our moment of conversation and they find their way back to their own roof.
I look up after this and see the kids have finally sucessfully gotten their kite flying. I hollar PARABANS! (congratulations) at them and the girls I was talking to start laughing of course. Just as quickly as the kite takes flight it seems to crash back down so I decide I can probably invite them over to my roof because it is so much better possitioned for flying a kite but no kids live here to do the honors. So I hollar over again "vocês pode vam car aqui com suas peples." please excuse my spelling I'm not sure of my accuracy with Portuguese spelling but this is my attempt to say "Ya'll can come over here with your kite." They act like they understand and seem to say, really? After one attempt the kid runs downstairs and looks like he's asking mom for permission but then returns to the roof and resumes flight there. So I give up and just enjoy the sunset with the kids still trying to fly their beautifle kite for a long time. Heather joins me after a while with her camera also. I share a cookie with her that I got last night at my birthday party.
Then we go downstairs and evaluate our options for super. We are now out of noodles, out of rice, out of meat, cheese, we have two eggs, some slightly moldy bread, and good spices. I have no money. I have just enough money for the bus fair until we get paid Friday morning. I have so little spare money that I have been borrowing toothpaste and soap all week. I made the mistake of going out to eat Chinese food with Lisa on our birthday. It was worth it but now I have no extra. We don't get much money to live on, which is good. About 1/3 of the R$100 we get goes to transportation. The rest basically covers our food. But then we always end up doing things during the week with our Brazilian friends and nothing is cheap. So we decide to make egg sandwiches with curry and tabasco. Heather has some spare money and buys two slices of cheese. She is very generous to me. Most of her weekly allowance probably went to my birthday celebrations. I decide to contribute to the meal by sharing some Crystal Light to go Cherry packets with her. It is a really good meal.
After eating I came to the Lan House where I am at the moment. I hope you enjoy my day. So ordinary and yet so amazing. I really love Brazil. I love Rio. I love my teammates and friends. I really love the favela. And I thank God for drawing me to this place in relationship with all these people. Thanks for reading. I'll be back to Texas in two and a half weeks and to Chicago at the first of the year.