As I write this post sitting on a blue plastic covered mattress in a cabin in the Brazilian woods, I find it hard to believe the POA team hasn’t even been here a week.

Just last Monday, we woke up on a plane headed for the São Paulo airport. We clumsily ordered our lunches in the little Portuguese we had been taught and made our way to a second plane headed for our home for the month, Porto Alegre (POA). For some of us, international travel is old hat. For others, it is their very first venture outside of the familiarity of the United States. For all of us, our first week here has been unpredictable, challenging, and impossible to forget.

Already, the faces around Palavra da Vida Sul have become familiar. The chimarrão and terere, once exotic novelties, are now happily passed around and enjoyed while watching a quick soccer match on the field. The strange pine trees in front of the cabins, which are home to a sizable population of very loud parrots, are no longer strange… even if they do look like menorahs made of pipe cleaners.

As for our short weekend in the city of Porto Alegre, there were plenty of surprises for a group of unprepared foreigners. We all fell in love with our host homes. Every morning as we filtered into the church to meet, new stories were excitedly shared about what we had done last night, what we had eaten, and what conversations we had had with our temporary families. Our time ministering in the juvenile detention center taught us about the power which comes from the Holy Spirit, and the ways in which He speaks and works through the Body of Christ. A short visit to a foster home taught us that fun and games can be just as impactful as sermons and hymns. And of course, our meals, especially at the Solare buffet and Severo Burger, taught us that the human stomach can hold much more than seems quite possible.

Tuesday will see the start of our first camp at PV Sul. It’s hard to imagine after all that has happened that there are still new experiences waiting. However, a quick look at the calendar tells us that we have barely started this adventure.

Lord, You are sovereign over the whole of the earth—whether that be Pine Mountain, Georgia or Porto Alegre, Brazil. As we continue into this month, let us see the beauty to be found in Your Church. The Body of Christ may look or sound different here, but we are joined as brothers and sisters in divine adoption. Let us lean in to the new, the strange, the confusing! Above all, Lord, don’t let us lose sight of the One for Whom we are living. We are entirely dependent on You. Bless this team and everyone involved with this time. Amen.