Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I went to a soccer game. Atlético x Sâo Paulo. My first reaction was this: Americans are awful sports fans and especially awful soccer fans. A flood of cars and people pour into the parking lot. We’re late, and every radio is tuned to the same radio station. Atlético scores and my ears rang with the sound of honking and screaming. I could go on and be all descriptive so everyone could essentially have the experience without being here but i’m too lazy. Facts. The game cost 2 heis (1 u.s. dollar) but this was no lame soccer game. This is Belo’s team against sao paulo’s team. sao paulo having a population of 21 million (the 3rd largest city in the world) and belo having a population of about 6 million. We had to buy scalped tickets because they had no more at the box office. I was felt up by security for weapons before i was allowed into the miniheiro stadium full of 54,000 fans, all wearing black and white (atletico’s colors). Where we were there were no seats. everyone stood. The noise was deafening. Someone would start singing a chant and before i knew it, the entire side of the stadium was singing as one. These were not wimpy chants either, but long drawn out songs calling the other team ‘fags.’ Not only would they sing, but they would jump and dance. Sometimes someone would take a firecracker out of their shoe and toss it in the middle of the crowd. I looked up to see the ‘galo cura’ section waving roman candles and giant flags. This is where the atletico gang is and their sole purpose is to find people supporting the other team and beat them and maybe rip their jersey. When they’re not fighting others or each other, they freely pass a joint around. When you watch the World Cup on TV, you don’t see anything but the field. But directly outside the field there are 12 military officers with dogs making sure no one runs onto the field. Directly in front of me there are officers with helmets and night sticks. The game is over before i know it. Half the time i was watching and the other half i was trying to move up to get a better view. Atletico wins 2-0.
Today was not my day. i wasn’t paying attention and accidentally let murphy, the dog, out... twice. He came back both times pretty quickly, thank you God. Then everyone decided to walk through the forest to get to the waterfall. Stephen gave me his camera to film him swinging on a vine. I was going through the photos to delete some and accidentally deleted all of his photos. I felt awful and wretched, but Stephen did something i did not expect. He just shrugged it off and told me to forget about it. “Thats what Jesus would have done,” he said to me. I feel like i have to make it up to him somehow but i’m not even good at that. I know he was sincere because we haven’t talked about it since I couldn’t eat a meal without spilling something on myself, which, in itself, isn’t a big deal but still frustrating. Stephen is an awesome guy and i need to make an effort to get to know him better.
Sometimes i’m confused by this Brazilian culture. I mean that it’s just different than I’m used to. Everyone is so emotional. People cry almost everyday, whether it’s a goodbye to the team that was here for a week or whether it’s simple worship. Some will be into the moment or be moved my the holy spirit (sometimes it’s hard to discern between the two) that they start to shout and shake, and not only once. Repeatedly for 15 minutes this guy at IBC was shouting in a high pitched voice. At first i was very impressed at his ability to let go and let the spirit work, but after 7 minutes it turned to be very annoying and distracting to my own worship. Maybe it’s just how i operate. I experience God the best being alone. I can worship with people but rarely am i brought to tears. I kinda just like letting loose and using my body as worship to God by dancing. I operate in the quiet place.
Monday, July 27, 2009
After a short 30 minute devotional each day, the next three days involved taking countless wheelbarrows full of rocks and sand up a giant hill to the place where Wellington is building his own house. We did the same thing with Melissa and Sagares’ garage except we mixed the concrete and laid it down for their floor as well.
We took a day to visit Ouro Preto (Black Gold), and old town colonized by the Portuguese. All the old architecture and history fascinated me. They wouldn’t allow camera’s inside the museums unfortunately. Also there is a market where artisans sell anything from chess sets to jewelery boxes to 2 foot long lions all made from soap stone, a very maleable type of stone.
Saturday, the last day the team was here, we put on a street fair for kids. For four hours everything from a trampoline, a ball pitt, cotton candy, face painting, soccer, volleyball, and arts & crafts were available. Later there was a very intricate skit that the team put on and all the childrens were captivated by it.
Some things God put on my heart through the week: The irony that in order to be a leader for Christ, we must become the servants. The typical leadership skills that we learn from the kingdom of man are flawed. Teach by example. If you only use words, you are a hypocrite. Missions will be a lifelong passion of mine, but i’m only here to help and encourage those who are here permanently. It is pointless to go somewhere and love people for two weeks and then leave to never see them again. Real loving relationships happen with consistency, an everyday effort with one person. People are not saved in a day nor can they feel loved by someone speaking to the thousands; it takes years of relationship. We may have planted a seed but after people go back to their homes, life goes on. Missions are great and they bless the permanent ministry but it is more important to be in constant ministry and relationships at home.
This was just a short overview of week one.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
So Day 1. I get my things into my room and brush my teeth after almost an entire day of travel including an 8 hour layover in Miami. I can’t sleep on planes, so I’m pretty tired. Everyone is meeting for church at Tom & Kathy’s, my host’s, living room. The first thing I hear from Tom before everything begins is that at this service, there isn’t a plan. People do whatever the Holy Spirit leads them to do and just because someone is playing the songs, doesn’t mean that they’re the one leading. The songs, like everything else, are completely impromptu. Tom, in short, said a word about Michael Jackson and how people like him, who have many things, are not happy. They don’t know who they are anymore and they become who their fans want them to be and they desperately need Jesus. Keep in mind that he did not plan this. I asked him about it later and he said that he usually writes down what he said after church as opposed to before. Funny and miles away from what i’m used to. He believes that this is how the church was within the 100 years after Jesus was resurrected, before man corrupted it. No one gave lectures or led worship. People met and the Holy Spirit did the talking.
After this is when I met the group from Ohio and the rest of the family living in the “compound.” Tom and Kathy have been here since ’88 and have 4 kids. Three of them, with their families, live literally it a 100 ft radius. I recognized the Ohio group from a DTS that my dad made me attend.
We played a game called ‘kick-the-can.’ for lack of the portuguese name. Basically it’s soccer except everyone has a 2-liter filled with water, which they’re trying to protect. The goal is to knock everyone else’s over (3 times and you’re out). Alliances and teams can be implemented. This is important because i have played this game everyday since i’ve been here and also i am bringing it back to the States with me.
Finally i got to shower then i’m off to another church service, IBC (Igresia Baptista Central (Central Baptist Church)). This was in a building. The worship was amazing. Songs lasted sometimes for 15 minutes. The drummer never held back. The guitarist was using a giant food pedal system and an eboe. I would hear crazy guitar solos but they were not distracting in the least bit. People danced and shouted with their arms raised. Very baptist. The sermon lasted for an hour, which seemed like an eternity, but i still enjoyed it. In its entirety, the service lasted maybe two and a half hours.
Friday, July 3, 2009
Alright, so this is my first blog. One thing you should know: Being the absent minded, spontaneous person I am, I have a lot of trouble with starting habits and maintaining them. Hopefully this blog will be an exception for those of you who want to check regularly, but I apologize in advance for being consistently inconsistent.