Wow! Words cannot describe the week we’ve had. We started out last weekend as more or less strangers to our fellow team members and for most of us, complete strangers to the AMO team and people of the favelas. That was to be short lived, however. By Monday, we had all become dear friends with our teammates and with the AMO team, and several of the children who visited the AMO campus and church services. By Tuesday, I was already planning my next trip to São Paulo.
The people of Brazil 🇧🇷 are so warm and open-hearted. Even those with almost nothing offer hospitality, whether it be a cup of coffee or a cookie or a warm embrace, as if you are a long lost family member.
The children light up when receiving a ziplock bag with candy, crackers and a happy meal toy, as if it were a gift 🎁 on Christmas 🎄 morning! For some, it is the only toy they have, yet there is no fighting or arguing over who got what. Instead, they all share!
Today we continued various work projects around the property, and for lunch we treated the AMO team to an American meal consisting of cheeseburgers 🍔 and 🌭 hot dogs, Cole slaw, potato salad, Coca Cola 🥤followed by ice cream 🍦 sundaes for dessert. (They were very pleased)
In the afternoon we went into another favela that does not yet have a church. It is the favela where team members Daniela and Robson grew up. They are now married, and have been ministering to the people for five years, building trust, friendship and relationships along the way. It is their dream to build a church ⛪ there one day and, for Daniela (a gifted singer), to start a church choir to praise Jesus with song and provide a positive extracurricular activity for the children there.
Along our walk this afternoon, Robson delivered water filtration systems to multiple families, explaining to them, that just as the filter cleanses the dirt and toxic chemicals from the water, so Jesus cleanses the sin from our souls. Just as our physical bodies require clean water to survive, our souls need Christ to have everlasting life.
Since there is no church in that favela, we invited those we encountered to meet us on the soccer ⚽️ field, where Tim amazed yet another captive audience with his painting (met with enthusiastic applause)and Daniela, Nate and Julianna sang for us. Many people whom were not invited drifted in after hearing the singing on the PA system, in time to hear Tim and Pete’s message. All of them stayed.
After the message, we once again distributed reading glasses 👓 to those in need. Over the two evenings of doing so, we have blessed 104 individuals with clearer eyesight. Several tears of appreciation were shed, both by those receiving and those giving. (It truly is a bigger blessing to give than to receive!) The AMO team still has 102 more pairs to distribute at the two favelas we did not already bless, so more lives will be impacted for the better.
Reflecting tonight on this amazing week we’ve had, I have so many beautiful memories. Some sad, some tragic, some hopeful, some funny (my name translated into Portuguese is Gianna, the same as Diana. So, every day at least one child called me Wonder Woman, whose alter ego was Diana Prince). I think I can speak for the whole team in saying that we were the ones blessed the most by this mission and all the glory belongs to God alone. We are all humbled to have been His hands and feet here on earth and look forward to returning to do it all again!
Good night and God bless you! ~ DeeAnna