It´s hard to believe that today is Monday; we are so far removed from a concrete sense of time.
Yesterday we spent the Lord´s Day marvelling at God´s creation. We got up early and drove to a beach about an hour and a half away. Half of the group took a two hour dune buggy tour, and they have great stories to tell of fresh water lakes and drives down the coast. All of us got to hike through these amazing dune that consist of multi-colored sand. There is a lot of sand art in Brazil, and we found out that the reason for this is that the sand actually comes in these beautiful shades of brown, red, yellow, white, black, and pink. Rosãngela commented that it was a blessing to see how we create art with God´s own creation as we collaborate to make a new language.
We also spent time on the beach, swimming in the ocean and enjoying the breeze. I love it that we were celebrating the Lord´s Day this way! There was plenty of time for rest (imagine that, sabbath!) as we relazed after lunch.
Worship services are usually in the evening in the Brazilian Methodist Church. We went to the church at 6pm, and there was a crowd waiting for us outside of the gate. The moment that we opened the door, people were jumping up and down. We were immediately embraced upon getting out of the van, those who were returning from last year and those who were new. It didn´t really matter; we were all literally welcomed with open arms. Someone said later it was like watching a family reunion, which is precisely what it was.
Church was rockin´ - that is the best way to put it. There was fervent prayer, singing, and preaching. We were interspersed among the church, with the translators sitting around most of us to help us along. There is no doubt that the Holy Spirit is powerfully present in this church, and we felt this welling up inside and moving all around us.
We were truly treated as honored family returning home; radical hospitality is an understatement. At the end of the service, Pastor Kristin and Rosângela, who is also a pastor, were invited to the front to give the benediction in both English and Portuguese. Then, we all congregated in the back of the room where there was a yellow curtain taped up on the wall to be unveiled...and it was a big silver plaque with the names of the U.S.churches who have helped to build this church and who have been partners in ministry with the peopel of Aerolandia. It was a beautiful surprise and we were very touched.
There is so much to tell...about the building, which looks amazing. It´s hard to believe that this is the same place as last year. About all of the friends...Ruth, Vanessa, Mario, Alejandro, Cher, Neanhy...
Today, Monday, was our first day of physical labor. We sifted lots of sand and several brave folks worked on sanding the walls of the second floor so that we can´prime and paint in the next few days. Most of all, we played, talked, and laughed with all the kids and youth who were around all day long. Alejandro in particular, who is 10, was there with us all day long, working with us, cleaning up, learning great phrases, taking amazing photos with Rachel´s camera, and being ridiculously charming.
God is truly doing amazing things here in this place, in this church, in this community, in the lives of these children, youth, and adults. It is a tremendous blessing to be a witness to this, and to feel so loved. Thanks be to God!