Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas around São Paulo

No snow, but sand!
Christmas means summer vacation here, though the holidays are still celebrated with gusto and color. Below are some of the many Christmas displays throughout the city.

A Charlie Brown Christmas tree
Yes, I have a small, but sufficient tree purchased for a mere 2 reis (cheap) at Walmart! It still put me in the festive spirit!

I attended the PACA school Christmas program, and an evening of song and scripture reading at the Calvary International (English speaking) church I attend. The Morumbi Baptist church put on a production entitled 'a Alegria do Natal," which presented the joy of the birth of Jesus through a circus themed production, complete with acrobatics, dancing, singing and even a fire breather! As crazy as that sounds, it was beautiful and presented the Gospel very clearly.

Vila Andrade - it's a Wrap!
The community center wrapped up its program for the year, with the children making Christmas crafts and performing at the churches. I helped put together their Christmas packages, consisting of either a doll or truck, plus cookies and a hygiene kit, that they received at their Christmas party. The mother's of the children attending the social project also put together a Brazilian-themed Christmas program

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Lar Batista de Crianças Home

The Lar (or home) for children has five facilities in Sao Paulo. I am working at the Campo Limpo site. Here, there are 40 children housed, plus another 300+ from the surrounding community who attend before or after school programs. I will be teaching English starting in February.

The children are between the ages of 2 and 18. Besides additional classroom time, the children take part in music and dance programs, sewing and cooking lessons, and arts and crafts. Below are pictures of the children presenting some Christmas music at the Morumbi Baptist Church.

Please pray as I prepare my lessons, that the children would be excited to learn, and that I am able to present the Gospel message along with the English lessons.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Fun with missionaries!

One of the neat things I have enjoyed since arriving in Brazil has been re-aquainting myself with friends from Minnesota who are missionaries here, as well as meeting the other missionaries who are part of the South Brazil team. They have all been very helpful in getting me acclimated and making me feel very welcome here.

I went with the Riley family to the Horto Florestal Park, which is in the northern park of the city. We saw some exotic animals, birds and plants there. Below is a 'capivara' - part of the guinea pig family, a bird, and myself in front of some bamboo.

I celebrated "American Thanksgiving" with the family of the home I am temporarily staying at, the Kregnesses and other new friends.

The Embu Arts and Craft village with some teachers from the Pan American Christian Academy (PACA).

Helen (daughter of the couple whose home I am in), Lalia Kregness and myself at the Ladies Christmas Tea hosted by the Igreja Batista Morumbi church.

The WorldVenture Americas Director and his wife have been here visiting and meeting with all of us. Ken and Arlene Flurry were missionaries in Brazil for over twenty years before Ken was asked to move into his current role. They will be 'retiring' to Brazil in May 2008.

Field Christmas party at Casa de Pizza!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Camp California visit

The WorldVenture South Brazil team held it's yearly field conference this year at Camp California (named for a church in California who bought the property for Restoration Ministries, also part of WorldVenture). I was last here in 2001 with the first short-term church team visiting Brazil, and at that time we built the 'Minnesota Tree House' and a zip-line. Both are still in place today!

It is a beautiful camp located outside the polluted city of Sao Paulo, and Restoration Ministries uses it to bring street kids here for weekly camps. This is a huge treat for these kids, as they don't get to see so much 'green' space and areas to play in the city.

There have been many improvements made to the camp as well. Three new cabins have been built, and overlook the beautiful valley below. Another building has been added for a worship and meeting space. Playground equipment has been built. Plans are to continue adding cabins, to allow bringing as many children as possible to enjoy this beautiful facility.

The Minnesota Tree House, new cabins and worship center

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Fale Portuguese? Language School Training

I have been taking language training at a school called 'CEL-LEP' - (I don't know what the initials stand for!) which has been around for 35 years in Brazil. Their primary focus is teaching English as a second language, but they also provide individualized Portuguese lessons. Here are pictures of my school (don't you love the "English" phone booth?), my teacher Regina and me, and the lab area, where I go and listen to Portuguese tapes after each lesson. Hopefully soon I will be 'falando portuguese muito bem'!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Vila Andrade - A Place of Hope

The Vila Andrade Ministry site has changed a lot since my last visit in 2003 with a short-term team from my home church. At that time, Pastor Marcelo was in the planning stages of starting community service projects, as well as grow the Vila Andrade church itself. Our short-term team was able to do some painting and build a stage for worship services, which is still in use today, only now it has moved to the lower level of the building.
Pastor Marcelo was able to rent (not buy yet as he had hoped) the space previously occupied by an auto mechanic, and has turned it into a nice worship area. The upstairs is being renovated, with help from the city, to house a library, computers, and other classrooms for community learning, as well as renovated bathrooms, an office, and even an elevator!

Next door is a space being rented from 'Habib's' - which is actually a hamburger chain here, where the Sunday School classes are held. Another few doors down is where the Community Social Assistance program is held. During the weekday's, 60 children come either in the morning or afternoon for a meal, devotional and then spend time in a classroom setting, to supplement what they are learning in school. This also keeps them off the streets during non-school hours. On Tuesday's and Thursday's, a group of children go up to the Morumbi church, where they are a part of a band, orchestra, or singing group.
While children are a big part of the community service project, the adults are getting assistance as well. A number of women come and take part in jewelry making, which will be sold later on, and a new program started training women on hair cutting and doing manicures. It was only a test program, but was so successful, they are going to run it again. Women now can have their own little business in their homes cutting hair.

If you have one of my bookmarks, you might recognize these two boys from the back!

Henrique and Leo