One of Word Made Flesh's central values is community. This concept of community is one of the main reasons I chose to apply with WMF. I have learned that I need community. But I don't want to get into that here.
Brazilian culture seems to foster community in many distinct ways. I would like to share a bit about what I have seen community to be in Rio.
Primarily, the family is community. It is quite common (at least among the people we know that are middle to lower SES) for adult children to still be living with their parents and still sharing one room regardless of gender. Nobody ever leaves home except when a man gets married. Then he moves in with his new sogra (mother-in-law). And our Brazilian friends love their families and especially momma's cooking. I think this form of community is a beautiful arrangement because ever Brazilian has a place in society provided you get married and have female offspring who outlive you. The elderly are loved and charished. They have family to take care of them. It's beautiful and economical.
Secondly, nas ingrasas (in the churches) you will find community. Sunday night is the big church time but they have other sevices for the "real christians." Christian culture here seems really ridgid to me but they have the community in place to support it. Sunday morning church is like Willow Creek Wednesday nights for the believers craving meat. This is also where they quarterly community is served. On top of Sunday morning and night, they also meet every night of the week for special prayer time and healing. These services go late into the night. And after each gethering of the church they must eat together. And often smaller groups of church members will get together before sevices to "hang-out" so essencially the "real christians" spend all their time that's not spent at work or sleeping at church and with church people. This is odd to me but it is definantly a strong form of community.
We have now lived inside and outside the favela and through the recent displacement we realized we were experiencing a separation from community. The favela (slum) is a community. Everyday in the favela we waved and chatted with the same neighbors as we executed the daily routine. The neighbor kids would invite themselves over to play Janga or Uno, the mom of a friend from the local church would prepare us some homemade Brazilian Cuisine, the drug dealers would say "gringas" as we passed y in their ominous ways, and the list of acquaintences that somehow add up to the community of the slum continue. We had only lived there two months and already we had connections with tons of people. I can't imagine how vibrant the bonds would be if I were a hild of the favela and my family had lived there for several generations. Wow!
There are two more types of community I want to talk about but not now. I want to describe them in story form when I'm feeling more creative. These communities I'm thinking of are the Choparias (bars) and the street kids. Wait for it. I promise to get these stories up next week.