I figured since I mentioned our plans to visit the favelas of Rio, I probably should send a follow-up note so you’d all know that we all got back safely. It was a very rich experience. Many of the Brazilians were impacted by these communities that are part of their culture, but areas they had always avoided or been unaware of. I think we Americans can quickly acknowledge that there are many similar situations in our own country – I could certainly point to several in our home of metro Atlanta! Part of the purpose of this training is to give us different eyes – eyes that see places and people that were invisible before. Eyes that don’t just see poverty and despair, but that see hope and possibility.
Our debrief last night was long and emotional. People had the chance to share what they had observed, how they had felt, and what they thought God was saying to them through the experience. Most of us had opportunities to pray with various people – from a woman affected with AIDS to the drug lords who run the community. The experience really pushed us well out of our comfort zones – bringing the trainees face-to-face with many of the issues they will face as missionaries. Many of the groups had the chance to see excellent examples of people who are working in these communities, identifying with the people, loving them, and finding appropriate ways to make a difference. It was a graphic reminder that solutions won’t be found by “drive by missions,” but by entering into the lives of the people to be served.
Today (Sunday) we’re in session in the morning. We have the whole afternoon off, then will worship in local churches this evening.
Grace and Peace,Jim"