All day I was on the verge of tears. This morning, Aureni and I headed over to the street ministry in the park. Upon our arrival I was greeted exuberantly and hugged tightly by a group of homeless children. One of their names was Andreza, who must have been 8 years old or so. Dennis a missionary from the U.S. ushered everyone in a circle and we all sat as he shared a message of hope to all. We began singing wonderful songs of praise! Everyone joined in unison singing and clapping songs of worship. It warmed my heart to see such impoverished people so grateful for the little that they possess. After a few songs, Dennis shared passionate words from the Bible. Although I did not understand everything, his message was clear. With God, you can overcome anything. Dennis also explained how Christ came for the poor and the oppressed. How he did not come for the rich, but those that need him most. At the culmination of Dennis’ message we began handing out sandwiches and drinks to the homeless. My part was to give each person two ham sandwiches until all were fed before handing out seconds. It was impossible to only give some of these people two when it was evident that they were starving for more. Small children bombarded me with desperate prods and pleas for more food and water to drink. It took all the strength I possessed not to break down and cry. I felt like falling to the floor and weeping. The sorrow I felt was almost unbearable.
Once we ran out of food, the LST group, Aureni, and I headed for the church to join in an English bible class. Once we arrived we were happily greeted by all. Once we were able to navigate through the multitude of brothers and sisters we joined in the English bible class held in the beautiful garden of the Church. Giacomo, led our lesson about Job! Our class was beautifully interactive between us Americans and a few Brazilians including the lovely, Eloa. We sang songs together led by the talented member of the LST group, Steven. When class was finished we joined the rest of the conregation for an invigorating sermon. Being my third day in Recife I have been blessed by the ability to understand quite a bit of Portuguese. Pastors took turns delivering the message for the morning with one theme in common. God is almighty! Each minister enlivened the congregation with a fiery message welling with passion. A young man from church led our songs of worship in the most resonant, baritone voice. These songs of joy filled my heart with such joy that it had nowhere to go but in my tears. Tears of complete happiness.
Following service, I mingled with as many brothers and sisters as possible. I met many wonderful people, all eager to know more about me. I met a teenage boy named Victor who was dying for me to come speak with is Amateur Brazilian football team after I shared that I am a varsity football coach. He explained that although American football is relatively new, that there is a fairly large league in Brazil. We talked about football and shared each others favorite teams. Victor and his younger brother’s team are the Cowboys…Go figure?! Victor’s little brother who must have been 12 or so animatedly explained that he was going to become like Ray Lewis as he puffed up his chest. At least he had one thing right about football!
After spending the majority of the day at church, Aureni, Mike, and I headed home. I immediately seized the opportunity for a 20 minute “power nap”! When 7 o clock rolled around Josh and the LST group picked me up and we headed for the youth group beach ministry. After arriving an hour late the group from church cheerfully pardoned us as we tactfully blamed Josh. 😉 There were 30 or so young Brazilians in our youth group. I was immediately asked if I would like to join in their game of soccer and I excitedly obliged. I was astounded at how the Brazilians handled the ball with such finesse. It was almost artistic how they weaved the ball in and out of their legs all while sprinting to and fro. Hospitable as Brazilians are they allowed me to play offense. As soon as I recouped from the amazement, my teammate passed me the pelota. All of a sudden everything became still. A reel popped into my head illustrating how I was going to score like the Great Pele! In my mind, was a vivid movie of me brilliantly orchestrating agile maneuvers ending in a glorious GOOOOOOAAAAALLLL!!!!!! When I snapped back to reality, the ball and my feet had not budged. An opposing player nimbly stole the ball from me and with it my budding aspiration of soccer stardom. In the end, I did manage to score a GOOOOOOOALLLLLL!!!!!!! No wonder soccer has such emphatic celebrations. It took me two blistered feet and 10,000 spent calories to score that goal.
When everyone was spent we all gathered in prayer. We were greeted as new members of the group and were offered a thoughtful gift. It was a miniature picture frame with the name of the beach ministry called Ministerio da Praia (Beach ministry) and this verse from 1 Peter 4, “But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” There is no better way to sum up the past few days.
After such a blessed day, Josh treated us with the ideal drink to top off such a refreshing day, Agua de Coco (Coconut Water! YAAAAAY!)
Boa noite meus amigos. Tchau!