Saturday, December 5, 2009

Medical Clinic

My parents came in town a couple of weeks ago and it was great to see them and let them participate in what is happening in Brazil. My Dad, who is a dermatologist, spent two days in the favela providing medical attention. Not only were we able to help people who did not have the means to see a specialist, but many people entered the doors of the church who would not have otherwise. My mom was a tremendous host and hit it off famously with all of the Brazilians even though she did not speak the language. My parents were extremely flexible, full of energy, and eager to experience all Brazil has to offer . I am truly grateful to them and all the support they have given me in this new endeavor.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Honeymoon Phase

Experts say that there are different stages of living cross culturally and that after a short period of living in a new culture, the romanticism and newness wears off then frustration begins to set in. Well, I have not reached the second phase and only grow fonder of Rio and Brazilians with time. I can't help but praise God daily for allowing me to be here and cannot imagine living anywhere else.

The retreat was fantastic and included a costume party, dancing, a mechanical bull, lots of soccer, a water slide, soccer in a huge inflatable field covered with soapy water, games, great fellowship, and lots of worship. I was broken in some areas of my life that needed to be addressed and, although painful and repentant, absolutely necessary in my process of sanctification.

Saturday we had our usual English classes and then a big outreach event for the kids. There were around sixty kids, not including the parents, and it lasted for a few hours. This is was an important step in building the future ministry.

Three more people approached me tonight asking to get involved in Morro Azul and one of my English students, who is an incredibly talented performer, has agreed to meet with the kids in the favela once a week to teach singing and dancing for an event for the parents at the end of the year.

Cultural observation: When exiting the elevator in your building, you should tell everyone that is in the elevator goodbye.

Personal comments: I have been told that I look exactly like Enrique Iglesias, Pierce Bronan, Ben Afleck, and Jean-Claude Van Steve Nash comments, yet.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What's your name in Portuguese??

A couple of weeks ago, I was approached and asked if I would be willing to speak on "hoochie", which is the exact pronunciation of Ruth in Portuguese. So I accepted, while holding in my laughter, and will be doing my first bible study tonight in Portuguese. It has been really good for me to spend time studying and preparing.

This Friday we leave for a retreat for the young adults. It is a couple of hours from Rio and we will be there until Sunday night. We filmed a video where I am asking questions about adapting to Brazilian culture and asking for help in dealing with certain situations.My friends ,who are very good at video production, edited in different responses from people going on the retreat to different questions they were asked. When spliced together, it is pretty funny.

My parents are coming out in a few weeks and we are working on putting together a medical clinic for a couple of days with my Dad. Details to follow.

Ministry is happening and the doors are opening. The senor pastor has given me full support and told me that I can do what I see fit and the church will print up materials that we can distribute in the favela. HUGE!!!

Cultural Observation: When going through the checkout line at all supermarkets, the passage is too narrow to bring the shopping cart through. The system, at least everywhere I have been, is to randomly push the cart away from the counter and try not to hit people standing in line.

Locally: It appears that the people on my floor of the apartment building have pitched in their monies and rented power tools for the month. I was not notified but I have been enjoying the sounds of grinding, banging, drilling for the past couple of weeks.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cultural Diversity

I went over to some good friends of mine for dinner the other night and everyone decided on hotdogs. Although American, I have to admit that I'm not a big hotdog fan, but who cares I was over there to spend time with friends. Now if you would like the recipe for Brazilian hotdogs, take out a pen a paper and jot down these ingredients. Purchase small weiners and boil them in a red sauce with chopped bellpeppers. Now gather the following delicacies to put on your dog...shoestring potatoes, corn, and capers.

Cultural obervations: It seems perfectly acceptable for women to spit in public while men enjoy the freedom of launching snot rockets.

Ministry: I believe we are on the cusp of making large strides in Morro Azul. Several people have approached me wanting to participate and asking what they can do. I have been given some freedom to be more creative in terms of reaching people that are not interested in attending church services. We will be working on replicating a minstry in the local church that has various outreach components that include art, music, tutoring, and physical education for the kids. Another woman approached me Sunday night desiring to work with people struggling with addiction. I know this is not going to happen overnight, but we are moving in the right direction. Right now I am putting together a flier for English classes that I will be distributing throughout the favela while giving me a reason to knock on some doors and get to know more people. There are also 15 families that the church provides food for on a monthly basis, so I will be visiting with them because I believe only a few actually participate in the church.

Friday, September 11, 2009

O.K. Corral

Just over thirty minutes before our Wednesday night service began, the police raided the favela. It was not a covert operation but more like a wild west shoot out where the police came in firing like gangbusters. Being chased was a former trafficant and guardian of the favela who has since changed his life, but this was not information known by the police. This guy runs and dives into the church and hides while the police come in, armed to hilt, ready to unload. Maria Emilia pleads with the police not to shoot and that this guy is not involved with drugs anymore and that he has changed his life. The police listened and decide to take him into custody and fortunately many honest people from the favela accompanied him and the police to ensure that everything was handled judiciously. I love that the church was his refuge and safe haven and hope that we will have a chance to follow up with him soon.

Point of Interest: The ringworm turned out to be something far worse that spread all over my back like the wildfires in California. I sent my Dad some pics, he diagnosed it and I got medication that has sinced relieved me from what looked to be a mass of bed sores.

Finally...check out this link. It is a promtion for a retreat that is coming up next month. The first shots are at the church I attend and most everyone in the video is a friend of mine.

Fleeing is not Casual

The first time I saw them running, it startled me. A pack of people seemingly running for their lives, pushing carts and diving into small alleys. I did not know what they were running from but I knew that I was not going to walk right into lion’s den, so I stayed put and observed. I saw many other observers doing the same but I could not tell what was happening. Was someone walking down the street with an assault rifle? Did these people just rob a store and were escaping with the merchandise? What could be so terrifying that would cause them to act in such a manner?
It turned out that these street vendors were being audited, for a lack of a better word, by the municipality. It happens frequently where the auditors come flying in their cars to a screeching stop and jump out only to destroy the kiosks of the vendors and take all of their merchandise. Apparently it is not legal to sell on the streets although it happens everywhere, all day, everyday. However, the one word that best describes the reaction of these people when the authorities come is “flee”. I cannot think of a better visual to make this word come to life. So when we are told to resist the devil and he will flee from us or to flee from sexual immorality, it is not just a mild suggestion but an emphatic command. So when these temptations come, I need to react just like Joseph and these street vendors and run for the hills and I have found that the temptations, as promised, subside.

Friday, August 21, 2009

There's a Clock in My Floor

Despite extensive searches to locate the ticking, it has been narrowed down to a small area in the middle of the floor in the entry way (on the west wing of the apartment, of course). I cannot come up with a more logical conclusion that someone misplaced, buried, or hid a clock in my floor.

Point of interest: I think I have ringworm.

Now I realize that my posts have not spoken much about what exactly I am doing down here and even some have eluded that my blog looks like a vacation let me fill you in. My first few weeks have been a time of relationship building and participation. Monday night bible study with a pastor from the church in Flamengo and one of the worship leaders (about 12 total in the study), Wednesday night service in Morro Azul (favela in Flamengo), Thursday night (worship service, main church Flamengo), Saturday mornings prayer breakfast in Morro Azul followed by English classes, and Sunday night services at Morro Azul. I have been interviewing and visiting different English schools because I will need to teach part time in the mornings. Nothing has materialized, yet, but it will.

Bangu, Villa Alianca. I will be focusing on get a medical clinic that is pretty close to completion up and running. This clinic will have both medical and dental offices. In addition, I will be teaching English in this favela once a week and working with the kids in an afterschool program offered through the church.

English is in extremely high demand here. It seems like everywhere I go most people are either studying it or want to study it. I see this as an incredible tool for outreach while meeting practical needs...speaking English opens the doors to many opportunities (except teaching English, apparently).

I am at almost all activities the church offers during the week and take advantage of any opportunity I get to enter the favela. My hope is that the community of Morro Azul will have more options than only attending church services in the near future.