Bom dia! Good morning from Agua Viva!
We’ve had another full week with many great projects and activities. After our projects with Hope Baptist Church and the Ruah Project, we went paddleboarding on an off day. The experience was extremely memorable, as we were able to see God’s beautiful creation from the refreshing water. After several days of hard work, it was a fun change of pace and provided the break we needed.
Our next project was working with a church called IP Manancial. Our work on the first day included painting walls and sidewalks, cleaning the sanctuary, clearing weeds, and helping the church with anything that needed to be done. After our worship team performed excellently in front of the packed church, we spent the second day evangelizing to people in a nearby town. We performed our gospel skit, and several people were receptive to Christ. Our time at this church is something we will remember for a long time.
Next, we worked with Cristolandia, a project our team had been looking forward to for a while. Cristolandia ministers to men who have previously been addicted to drugs or alcohol. They work in rehabilitating the men and sharing the gospel with them. We were especially touched by the choir performance in which all these men sang passionately about how Christ saved them. On the second day, we were able to help with their active search program. This consisted of walking through the streets, advertising Cristolandia, and sharing the gospel with people in a drug-infested area. We are very thankful for our experiences at Cristolandia.
This past week has been the most impactful for me (Jacob). I’ve seen God working through difficult situations daily. The week has consisted of several early mornings and nights of arriving back late. As a team, we’ve experienced God using our moments of being uncomfortable for His glory. Some things this week have humbled me and were tough to see. While some people here have hardly any earthly possessions, their trust in the Lord is amongst the strongest I’ve ever witnessed.
Being able to serve and get my (Jacob) hands dirty has been awesome. I love being able to feel useful and it’s been fun to work with our team toward common goals. Something that Impact 360 staff member Milena said really stuck with me. She challenged us to ask ourselves, “Am I doing things for my name? Or am I doing things for the Lord’s name?” It can be easy to fall into the trap of seeking praise from others when all of our efforts should go into bringing glory to the Lord. I was super thankful for this word of advice from Milena because it put things into perspective. It’s been a joy to work alongside our Residents and the Impact 360 staff during this trip. It’s inspiring to see how people, most only a few years older than me, continually approach every day with a Kingdom mindset. I’ve learned things from them every single day and am incredibly grateful for their Christlike influences.
One thing that I (Fayah) have learned this past week is how Jesus transforms lives. Working at Cristolandia and seeing the streets the men were rescued from and the place God brought them to not long after was truly powerful. There was one moment when all the men in the choir, as well as us Fellows and LifeShapers, held hands and worshipped our God. We don’t speak the same language, but our songs praise the same God, and He hears us all. Through Christ, no matter our background, our past, and our current situation, God can take us in and make us new. It’s been a beautiful reminder, and so clearly portrayed through the men of Cristolandia.
There have been challenging moments, where I (Fayah) have so greatly needed to learn to rely on God who’s sovereign and in control. There were several events our team struggled with together, but we have learned so much, and it’s been powerful to witness all of our growth and reliance on our Creator. I’m so thankful to have been able to go through this experience and trip in Brazil with my team, who have brought me closer to God.
The last few days of our trip will be spent doing a debrief at Agua Viva. On our way to this farm, we stopped by a market and the largest mall in Brasília. A lot of us were able to buy soccer jerseys and many Brazilian goods. Today, we are excited to go to a soccer match at the World Cup Stadium in Brasília. We’re looking forward to the next two days of reflecting on the experiences of our trip in preparation for returning to the U.S.
Jacob Waddell and Fayah Tornij