Tuesday, March 15, 2005

March 14th

Hi from Brazil! It’s hard to believe that we have been here almost two weeks! God has taught us so much already! My wisdom teeth extraction went well and despite huge chipmunk cheeks I’m feeling much better. This past week we started helping in the orphanage with a group of college students who were on a spring break missions trip. We painted the main meeting room (the cafeteria) of the orphanage with palm trees and bright colors. It was lots of work, but tons of fun. I also started helping in the nursery. It is hard not to cry seeing the hard cement floor the toddlers crawl on with one or two broken toys to share amongst them all. The children are well cared for in regards to food and housing but lack the love and nurture needed for optimum growth. The babies are only held when being fed so they do not learn to cry for human touch or affection. One baby in particular, Marcos, has captured my heart already. He is 16 months old and has AIDS. When Ben and I first visited Brazil over a year ago Marcos had just been brought to the orphanage. Despite his illness and petite size God has given Marcos an extra dose of personality: when he smiles and blows kisses you cannot help but melt. I pray that during our time here we will be able to show God’s love to children like Marcos, children longing for a hug, a word of encouragement and a smile.

Ben has already started preparing a garden with the kids and has reconnected with AnĂ­bol, the boys’ dorm supervisor who grew up in the orphanage himself. Sometimes Ben and I are overwhelmed with the many things we could do to help, but we are only two people. The director of the orphanage has specifically asked us to start a Bible study since the children are lacking spiritual leadership and guidance. Please pray that we can think of a fun way to teach God’s word, yet in a way I can help with my limited Portuguese (which is slowly getting better).

<>I’ll finish my note with two cultural observations from last night at church. The first is regarding church in Brazil. The service here usually starts at 7 PM and goes until around 9 PM. Visitors should always be ready to give their testimony or pray in church. However, Ben was still surprised to be called upon at the end of the service to pray in front of about 200 people—no, not in English, but Portuguese. He did fine, but then again, I don’t know enough Portuguese to understand what he said.

The second cultural lesson came after the service when some of the women came up to greet me (Becky), touching cheeks and blowing kisses in the air—the traditional Brazilian greeting among women. The only problem was my very sensitive “chipmunk cheeks”—a painful way to learn how to say hi.

Each day Ben and I are reminded how blessed we are to be in Brazil, to hold babies like Marcos, plant gardens, make friends and learn cultural and spiritual lessons. Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.

Love and God Bless,

Becky and Ben

Friday, March 04, 2005

March 4th in Brazil

Hello folks! Just wanted to send an update to you all and let you know that we’ve arrived safely in Brazil!

We left Miami March 1st and arrived “home”, where we’ll be staying for the next 4 months, AnĂ¡polis, around 7pm on the 2nd of March. We had an uneventful trip here, besides the 3 hour delayed flight out of Miami (very Brazilian!).

Becky and I have been trying to catch up on our sleep and “de-stress” a bit from the weeks leading up to our trip here to Brazil. We’ve already been able to get settled in our place, do some groceries, and even get to know some of the local folks who are either students or professors at the seminary where we’re living with my parents.

Beginning Monday we’ll already be getting involved in the orphanage across the street from us. A group of college students from the US are arriving here tomorrow (Saturday) and will be doing a few work projects at the orphanage, such as painting their whole cafeteria with a fresh layer of paint. Becky will be helping and I’ll be translating most of the time probably.

Today has been an exciting day for me, Ben. Why? Because I talked with Rev. Esli, a retired professor here at the seminary who in his free time has grown many fruit trees and other plants that do well in this area of Brazil (picture attached). He also has a good knowledge of who and what else is available in this area regarding small-scale agriculture. His dream has always been to have some basic farming or small scale agriculture program implemented within the seminary here. This would allow these adult seminary students to take this knowledge with them wherever they went, whether within Brazil to a more rural area, to the city, or to another country. This is exciting for me (Ben) to see, and to know that there are many opportunities for us here within a span of only 5 months.

Becky is tackling Portuguese head-on, spending time every day studying it, as well as trying to speak it with Brazilians that come to visit. We haven’t set up actual classes with a private tutor/teacher yet, but that will come. First, she will be taking out all four of her wisdom teeth on Wednesday next week. Pray for her as she goes “under the knife” Wednesday morning and that she heals up quickly. She’s very excited to get started helping at the orphanage, where last week 1 month-old triplets were just dropped off. Pray for these babies’ health as well.

We thank you for your encouragement, support, and prayers. We’re excited to be here, and can’t wait to send more news! Pass this along to others if you wish.

We have a US phone number here in Brazil (630-614-4554), believe it or not, that you can call if you just HAVE to speak to us. :-) It is a Chicago area phone number, so it’ll only be local or long distance for you in the US, and we can receive and make phone calls to you as well.

We hope all is well with you and your family,

Serving the poor in Brazil,

Ben & Becky Bacheller.