Partnership. This is a concept that can greatly be taken for granted. It’s a tool that few understand how to exercise. It’s a commitment that can often challenge one’s perspective. Partnership brings great joy, but it can also bring great burdens. As followers of Christ, we must learn how to be good stewards of this gift. We have to handle it with care while also being sure we don’t neglect it. This balance, this tool, this gift, was exercised by my team in Curitiba, Brazil this month. Our job was quite different from the others. Unlike other teams whose main focus was to engage with kids during camp, our job was to love our partner, Calvary Curitiba. This was so different from what any one of us expected. We started to understand the value of communication (even if it’s through google translate), we realized how encouraging partnership can be, and finally, we discovered that our hearts were changed just as much theirs. This is the gift of partnership.  

Throughout the month, communication was key. We had to make a distinct effort to communicate what was expected from both sides. The leaders had to communicate what we as a team were supposed to be doing. This could apply to large things such as what plane we were supposed to board or even small things like when we were having breakfast. However, in other countries with other languages, communication can be rather challenging. For instance, Brazilians speak Portuguese, while my team does not… at all. This could get frustrating at times. But, learning to work through these differences was part of the challenge in partnership. Luckily, we had the opportunity to work with translators from Calvary Curitiba. They came alongside us during our conversations on university campuses and even in the church itself. They helped us resolve the barrier of communication effectively and we were able to grow closer through the experience. . 

Another aspect of partnership we cultivated as a team was encouragement. Like I said before, our entire purpose of being in Curitiba was to love on and encourage Calvary Curitiba. However, we underestimated the power of partnership once again. Even though we entered the church ready to extend love, we probably received two times as much encouragement and belonging than we could have possibly given. When you join other believers on a mission to spread the gospel, you both should come out encouraged. We were able to care for the members of the church by evangelizing with them and reminding them that God’s work is never finished. They encouraged us by showing us what a healthy community of believers can look like. They extended love to us by cooking our meals and taking us through the city. We shared moments of grief and joy. We laughed together and prayed together. This is the beauty of our partnership.  

Throughout this month, I can honestly say that I learned how to care well. I can say that I learned how to cultivate communication and encouragement through the gifts that God has given me. I want to bring this skill back to the states in even the smallest things. I want to learn to have tough conversations that can bring growth while also finding joy in the community.  

This is a tool that the Lord has blessed us with, and my team had the pleasure of experiencing it first-hand.