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Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Volunteering in NE Brazil - Page 2

Written by Jon Bones
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This year I made my fourth pilgrimage to the Nordeste, Brasil’s northeastern coast. Although my travels in Brazil have taken me into both the rough interior state of Goiás and the urban sprawl of southeastern cities Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, the state of Ceará on the northeastern coast has been my first and faithful love. It is the Brazil that I know best and that has had the greatest impact on me; it is the land of red dirt, brown skin, and white smiles. I am drawn not just to the foreign terrain, or the luau of exotic fruits, or the sweet sway of the samba. I am called to the children. I need to go back and see how Wellison is doing. Has Dalmo been taking care of his sister? I wonder what Tayane thinks about the pictures that I sent her.


cruzando culturas – crossing cultures

My main purpose for traveling to Brazil is to staff and play music for a Christian recreation center. Located in Patacas, a modest pastoral village, the center is strategically placed there because of the lack of a Christian church in the area. We called the center Cruzando Culturas, which means “crossing cultures”, a pun on the word “cross” in both languages. We spent every weekday from 2pm to midnight keeping the center open for whoever wanted to come. I owe my true acculturation to this place because after spending countless hours conversing and playing with the children I began to speak Portuguese. I would learn sentence structure from listening to the missionary translate my team member’s testimonies. My vocabulary drastically improved after a few weeks and I discovered that there is no deeper sleep than that of a language learner in a foreign country. My dreams would sometimes be trilingual—English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

brazilI designed a skateboard with John 3:16 on the bottom for the kids in the neighborhood to share and it was a hit. We would often take it to the school across the street and take turns rolling around. Sometimes we played Frisbee, sometimes volleyball, but never a day passed with out a game of soccer. Known there as futebol (pronounced foo-chee-bow), soccer is the national sport and unity creator of Brazil.

I was lucky enough to be at the rec center during the first games of the World Cup. As can be expected, all of the irrational emotion and fanaticism of the games swept through Brazil. Billboards hosted Brazilian players advertising everything from bank accounts to bodywash. Old men and little children sat on their porches adjusting the antennas on their radios and TVs. Patriotic streamers and chalk art decorated every street corner and plaza. I got a headache one day from the sheer amount green and yellow that penetrated my eyes.


We took advantage of the opportunity and drew enormous crowds of kids into the rec center by projecting the game on a wall. It was difficult not to chuckle when I saw that the first match was to be against Croatia. I was surprised to see how close of a game it was, but I would not voice my opinion for fear of the consequences! All of the people I have gotten to know and love in Patacas were present. My friend Nego was there. He was hit by a car at a young age and consequently developed some mental problems and slurred speech. Miraculously, I was able to understand his garbled Portuguese better than the Brazilians and made a point to befriend him. My acceptance and patience with him led to his being received by the people of the village.


My days of playing and preaching hard at the rec center changed my outlook on life. For once I felt like I was doing something that had eternal effects. The first year, three young men believed in Christ. The second year, it was twenty children and teens. The results have been exponential. I feel God is proud of us all.

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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