Today our team woke up in comfortable houses with very kind hosts. We are constantly surrounded with hospitality and kindness from the full time staff and volunteers here. As soon as we came down to the common area, breakfast was ready and waiting.
After we cleared the dishes, we headed outside to greet our guests. Staff here provides transportation from the favelas so they can come to church. We waited at the top of the hill for everyone to arrive, and hugs and smiles and handshakes were exchanged immediately. It was lovely to see how comfortable everyone felt together. Until service began, the visitors (mostly kids) played soccer and climbed trees.
When it was time for church, we walked down and took our seats. We worshiped together, enjoyed "God’s Grafiti" and heard about God’s grace. Then, we broke into groups. There is a class for children, a class for adults who are believers in Christ, a class for non-believers, and a class for teenage girls. It was great to see how much care went into preparing for each of the groups, with material designed for each need. We all enjoyed lunch together.
In the afternoon we visited another favela. We walked through the neighborhood and invited nearly everyone we met to church. We visited the families that are regulars in the church. We were welcomed into their homes to pray and visit.
When the evening church service began, it was FULL of children. Many parents send their kids alone. We watched many young children bring themselves to church. A child of 6 leading a child of 3 by the hand into the church. It’s great that parents trust the church with their kids, but also so sad that children come through the neighborhood on their own. We sang, worshiped, saw more painting, and broke into groups for more directed study. After service, we enjoyed some home baked goodies that EVERYONE loved and appreciated.
Over, we were so blessed to have a day of family, friends, food, peace, joy... and GOD.