Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Newsletter 6

Oi Friends and family,

I have been observing that Brazil has a lot of holidays. There were at least 2 last month: children's day and teacher's day. November 2nd was All Saints Day and November 12th I think will be another holiday. These are on top of our own Thanksgiving holiday and double birthday party the following Monday.

This month we will also throw a big birthday party for all the spring birthdays at Projeta Vidinha (the orphanage). The founder of that home, Dora, has a birthday on November 13th so I'm guessing that's when we will have their party.

2 Women from the Word Made Flesh staff in Omaha, NE are visiting the Rio community in mid November as well for about a week. We are all hoping to do many touristy things during that week because even after having been here for two and a half months we still haven't been to the Christ statue or a couple of the world famous beaches.

Though our life continues to maintain a type of simi-consistent weekly rhythm I realize I have yet to really expound upon what we do here. What follows is a brief description of our responsibilities but it all adds up to a long newsletter. I apologize for this fact and hope you will persevere to the end.

Sunday morning we attend the Timonis church in the favela Maginhos. The church was began there in early October I think. Sunday afternoon we go to the market and buy fresh fruit and veggies and decide which church to attend in the evenings (Sunday night is the big church gathering).

Monday mornings we study or rest up, eat lunch together, then travel downtown to a gorgeous cathedral with a tragic story. This cathedral is called Candelaria and during our time there we pray before walking to Praça XV to spend some time with our friends the street kids. Generally we spend a few hours with them. Chatting, playing uno, drawing, and solving math problems before distributing sandwiches, fruit, and chocolate milk. They generally are more appreciative of our time then of our food.

Tuesdays we still split up to double our ministry involvement. David, Will, and Lisa work at Timonis, a place for the kids in the favelas to learn the bible and play. I explain more about that later. Heather and I head to Tijuca (a nice part of town) where Projeta Vidinha is located to play with the kids living there. We learn each others languages, draw, do homework, chat, rest, eat, and generally have a decent time together. Sometimes we tell Bible stories and pray and sometimes we don't. I don't feel any guild about this. It's a very religious environment so often we share the love of God in more creative ways.

Tuesday afternoons we travel downtown to Lapa (the aqua ducts) and walk to the Missionaries of Charity home where we find the nuns in their personal quarters praying and the gentlemen in residence, thrilled to have two American women greatly limited in their understanding of Portuguese ready to attempt to converse or play dominos for about an hour. Most of these men are seriously limited in their mobility by various forms of cancer or injury. Then we descend to the kitchen and dinning area to assist with transforming the tranquil monastic setting into a bustling soup kitchen for homeless men for the following couple of hours. It's exhausting but also lots of fun.

Wednesdays are a reverse of Tuesdays in which we begin our day at the Missionaries of Charity and end at Projeta Vidinha. Wednesday morning at MofC are the weekly big cleaning day. We have have frequently been put to work doing laundry, washing windows, organizing the clothing donations, or changing the sheets and cleaning the men's rooms. We have the most fun when working along side a sister and get to hear a bit of her story. My favorite sister is a young woman from Rwanda. She makes me laugh a lot. Last week we threw four 50lb. sacks of jeans down the stairs together. She knows how to have fun while she works. After our tasks we return to the kitchen for more laughs with the crazy old women cooks. They are so full of joy, so beautiful, and their food is to die for! Yum!!! This week we promised them we would bring the sobrimesa (desert) and their faces lit up with excitment. We are going to try to make carmel brownies. Brazil doesn't really have brownies which is a shame. I think they will like it. After lunch we return to Projeta Vidinha and continue to spend quality time with the kids.

Thursdays we have community time. In the mornings we discuss our reading assignments. We just finished reading "From Brokenness to Community" by Jean Vanier. Then we eat lunch together and in the evening we have our Portuguese lesson for a couple hours.

Friday mornings we teach English at Projeta Vidinha. This class is going suprisingly well. David and I team teach the high school class. Heather, Lisa, and Will teach the younger kids. They do fun stuff like paint by numbers. David and I just talk from the chalk board.

The rest of the day Friday and all of Saturday varry from week to week. Sometimes we go to the beach, sometimes we go to the mountins. And sometimes we do nothing at all. This Saturday I slept until 9, read for a while, spent some time online, then went to the roof of the house in the favela Jacaré for a couple hours just to see the view. I think the mountain behind the favela is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I spend a lot of time on the roof and I have the farmer's tan to prove it.

That's our week and the regular responsibilities we uphold. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays David, Will, and Lisa work at Timonis is the neighboring favela. It is a children's program where they teach a Bible story, do a drawing, eat a snack, and play hard like there's no tomorrow. We also do other things of course. We have many Brazilian friends now and they are showing us the city bit by bit. We went bowling last week and went to a pizza rodisio (all you can eat brought fresh to the table including desert varieties). They boys went to a Brazilian broadway musical, sometimes we get taken to a beach or to a friend's home for food. Rest assured we are quite busy, healthy, and staying safe.

Congratulations on making it to the end of this long note. I hope you are all well. I'll see you in a month and a half if you are a Lubbock friend or 2 months if you are in the Chicago area. There's still time to get a birthday card sent to me (Nov. 26th). It takes 3 weeks to get here. My address is:
Jen Pare C/O Ben Miller
Caixa Postal 24103
AC Tijuca
Rio de Janiero, RJ 20550-970
Be sure to send air mail. Remember I have a blog, and have added new posts tagged "fun stories" that are quick blurbs from my life in Rio. The oldest ones are best. And please continue to send prayers, art, and other articles for my WMF project to encourage their full-time missionaries around the world. I have also added a snapfish photo album of some of the early moments of Rio. More will be added soon. Here is a link to view those photos. is doesn't work let me know and I'll find out a better link.
Thanks for reading. God bless. Don't freeze this winter.

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