Today is our team’s last day in Brazil. By 8:00 p.m. We should be on the first of three legs of our our long trip home – Belo Horizonte to Campinas/São Paulo to Fort Lauderdale to Newark.
The team’s goal has been to listen and learn, engage and encourage. We have come along side and often followed our Brazilian brothers and sisters, working, praying, singing, laughing, and growing together. We have learned and listened, engaged and encouraged, and have been encouraged.
Goodbyes are often difficult and it seems no more so than from Brazil. They’ve already begun. Jake and João Vitor embracing one last time as we left the church yesterday – new friends and brothers in Christ. Becky and our long time friends Odias and Nilda assuring one another “Próxima vez” – next time, knowing that, if God wills, there is sure to be a next time.
What has our team accomplished? We have listened and learned, engaged and encouraged. Already the good fruit of this trip can be tasted in the joy of friendship and common faith shared between our team members and so many at IPJA. The kingdom good from this trip may never be known or known mostly próxima vez or próxima vez after that. It will be known in the life of an American team member changed forever, and some will be. It will be known when a young Brazilian who has experienced God’s encouragement in a new friendship begins to dream some dreams he or she might not have otherwise dreamed. It will be known in the life of a child from EBF who has quietly decided to follow the Lord of Love she or he heard about in during those three full days at the church just the hill from the favela.
So we are headed home. Exhausted, changed forever, committed to new friendships and to encouraging those who live and share faith in Jardim America and Favela da Ventosa. It has been that kind of trip. Just what we prayed and hoped for.