Let me begin by thanking you for your generous support. You have no idea how much it blesses me to know that though I am out of sight I am not out of mind. I appreciate every email of encouragement, the financial support and the knowledge that I am being prayed for.
With each month that passes, I become more familiar with the Brazilian culture and more comfortable with the reasons I believe God has sent me here. I still feel like I’m a fish out of water most of the time, however, as time passes I am finding my life more woven together with all the new friends I am making and the mission that I am called to. It is not a surprise that I am discovering that people are the same no matter where they live. At the same time, there are cultural differences that provide uniqueness from one country to another.
When I came to Brazil, it would have been easy to fall into the trap of thinking that I am here to help the churches learn how to do things like we do in the United States. My eyes have been opened to see that there are areas where I can both help and encourage, but there are also many lessons I have learned by seeing some of the unique characteristics in the Brazilian people and their churches. As Americans it is easy for us to be consumeristic Christians. Many times our personal comfort and convenience dictates our church participation. I have found that in Brazil there is a much higher commitment in people’s involvement in church and far less concern about personal comfort or convenience. Many people in the cities will walk a long way to go to church. The benches may not be comfortable and air conditioning is non-existent. Outside the cities and on the river one might travel for over an hour by canoe to get to church. The church may be simply a gathering of individuals beneath a large tree, sitting on rough boards suspended between two logs while brushing fire ants off your feet. When the river water is high, some of the river churches can be flooded. This doesn’t stop the people from wanting to gather together to worship. The opportunity to hear the Word preached, to worship, and to pray for others or receive prayer is highly valued and wouldn’t be missed because of a small problem like knee-deep water in the church building.
The gathering of a River Church:
A church gathers in a village. They outgrew their building, so they meet outside.
One of the more remote Vineyards in the world during the wet season:
The church in Porto de Moz:
The City Church where I attend in Altamira:
Brazilians tend to be far more comfortable in expressing their emotions. This is true both in their relationships with each other as well as in their relationships with God. No matter if it is during worship or ministry time, there seems to be no restraint in how they express themselves. In the States, there is much more of an effort to restrain the outward expression of our emotions in worship. I find that this can be a problem because instead of focusing on God we are thinking about how we look and how we need to hold our emotions in check.
Another difference is that there seems to be more of an expectation that God desires to draw near at any moment. Whether it is a matter of physical healing or emotional healing, there seems to be much more faith in God’s ability and desire to intervene.
This month I was asked by another Vineyard to help their worship team at a special service they were planning. We traveled to Porto de Moz by boat. This was the same town and the same boat that I traveled on a month earlier when the VCDC team was here. This latest trip brought into focus another cultural difference between Brazil and the United States: the need for personal space. When the team from VCDC traveled on the boat there were 15 people “packed” onto the boat. When I traveled to Porto de Moz with the Brazilians, there were over 70 on the boat.
The Mission Boat:
The VCDC team traveling on the boat:
Seventy Brazilians traveling on the same boat:
The trip was good for me. Not only did I make many new friends, but most everyone I was with only spoke Portuguese which helped force me to use my limited but growing language skills. The service went well and we saw God’s activity in the lives of many who attended. I am struck by how worship and music can draw people from various backgrounds and cultures together. Even though I had trouble understanding much of what was spoken, as soon as the band and I started working on the songs I felt that we were all on the same page and speaking the same language.
In just a few weeks we will be having the National Vineyard Conference for Northern Brazil. There will be dozens of churches represented and hundreds of people in attendance. I am looking forward to this conference because my mom and dad will be here for the conference, and we will have some extended time together afterwards.
Please continue to pray for me:
– That I learn Portuguese quickly.
– That I continue to stay healthy.
– That God gives me wisdom regarding how to invest my time here in Brazil.
– That I continue to have grace for forming relational bridges with the people I am here to serve.
Thank you once again for your emails, your prayers and your financial support.
In His Service,
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