Day 3 of Updates from the 2017 Brazil Team, Written by Jamie Thomsen
As we have reached Wednesday and the middle of our trip, I think the whole team can agree that we all feel exhausted physically, mentally and most definitely emotionally. We started our day with a devotional using Jonah 4:1-10, and we discussed our own sinful ways and how we sometimes seem to run from God. I felt that this was a good way to start a day we knew would be tough and would want to turn away from.
We drove to the ministry near Crackland, Hug Therapy, to prepare breakfast. Each year, the Karis team visits Hug Therapy and serves breakfast to Crackland.
We buttered and packaged many rolls to be distributed. As we worked we sang some worship songs in preparation. Before we headed into Crackland, we heard from Paulinho, the leader of the ministry, and about his journey from substance abuse to finding the Lord and starting a ministry for the neighborhood. Paulinho told us of the quick growth of his ministry and how much of an impact he has made in the neighborhood.
We took our supplies down the hill to the entrance that is a small strip where crack is sold on the corner. We stopped so Paulinho and Scott could offer a Word, prayer and understanding to those on that corner. To enter into the city, we had to physically walk through a large hole in a cement wall. As we walked through Crackland, we sang songs and made few stops except to preach the words of the Lord and feed people. When we fed some people, Paulinho let them know we could put them on a list to be prayed for. While there, we saw the worst living conditions I have ever seen in my life, such as homes made of wood pallets and tarps. The area was covered with trash and animals roamed free. We stopped for a moment to pray for a woman named Maria and her son Lucas. Maria’s life was saved by the ministry when she was addicted to drugs and pregnant with Lucas. When Jana Rae and Scott prayed for Maria, you could see the sadness in her eyes and the hope for her young son. Before we left Crackland, we had the chance to hear the testimony of Simone, one of the women that works with Paulinho and how she hit rock bottom but after many years found the love of Christ and worked to help herself to a better place. This lead to a very heavy hearted morning.
In the afternoon, we headed back to city of God to have the third day of VBS. While entering into the city, we saw a stronger presence from drug lords. We even passed some men stationed on a corner with large guns. The VBS had its largest turnout yet with over 80 children. I felt that the interactions with the kids were better and less chaotic than yesterday. I personally enjoyed building relationships with some children in my group that made them want to hug me and hold my hand a large amount of the day. This made me feel amazing connections. As we headed out of the city it was hard to say goodbye today. I know I personally feel a lot for all of the kids and hope they understand we are here to show Christ’s love.
As I reflect on today I realize why I needed to be here. These kids need us and need a hope for something more. We can’t give up on them. I hope when we are done, this trip helps the Papps and Jessica feel renewed in their call to be here.