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 Aníbol, 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

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