by Sam Miers
Waking up in Brazil is weird. It’s confusing when you wake up deprived of sleep in a beautiful, foreign, hot country. It’s weird having papaya and sliced meats on bread instead of an omelet. But, as soon as I remember where I am, I smile big and remember I get to see Eric and Jessica, the church members, and eat great food and spend time helping the local church.
Yesterday we went to a mall called Lojas Americanas which had stores named American things like Taco and Hope. After a good lunch there, we headed to Complexo de Alemão, a large slum named after the community founder who looked German (he wasn’t actually German). This slum has a great public transportation system of cable cars that carries you high above brightly covered homes.
At the end, we found a familiar stand with an artist named Maria and her family. Last time we saw her, she was raising money to speak at a Ted talk in California. Now, her family is painting beautiful murals around the community for a project called Favela Art. They are struggling. But after we showed up and bought the majority of her art, she posted on Facebook that a miracle happened. They almost set up their stand somewhere else because they were running out of money. Our desire to support the local art project by buying souvenirs gave them hope.
There are three key aspects to a mission trip: (1) See what is happening by listening and asking as much as possible. (2) Learn what God is doing through the locals and figure out how to teach others back home. (3) Help by working alongside the local church and encouraging with love. These all accomplish the main goal of sharing the Gospel. Sometimes it feels like we’re tourists who can’t do much actual work. We can’t continually sustain healthy ministry as a short term team. But we can see the needs, learn and share stories, and encourage healthy groups to keep doing what they’re doing year by year.
This year we went to a new church called Nova Vida that is in the process of joining the Acts 29 network. They are in a community of both slums and nice condominiums. The odd contrast requires that we pre-register all the children for VBS. The good thing about that is the church knows all the children, so they can build good relationships that will last. In the past, we’ve had about a hundred and fifty kids overwhelm our group during VBS. Now, we’re at about fifty kids maintained by several translators and our team of veterans.
Today we will eat lunch at our favorite pizza place before visiting Sugar Loaf. After that, we will spend the evening in a men’s homeless shelter. Pray that we get some rest and use our time to focus on God, that we encourage Jessica and Eric, and that we listen, learn and help effectively at the homeless shelter.
P.S. Rob got his bags finally, but his suitcase’s wheel broke off.
If you missed it, read about arriving, reuniting, and celebrating Easter in Brazil.