A week ago, 63 students embarked on a journey they knew would be unforgettable. Leaving behind the comfort of our familiar home in Pine Mountain, Georgia, we began to embrace the new culture and adjust to the heat. After a long trip, team Brasília Verde arrived at Água Viva, our new home for the next month.

We spent the first few days hanging out with the rest of our class, playing volleyball, and enjoying the company of our new Lifeshape friends. Before the other teams departed for their cities, we kicked off our journey here in Brazil with a Lifeshape Brasil conference at Água Viva, preparing us spiritually for what is to come.

Heber Aleixo, Lifeshape Brasil director, delivered a message that proved to be a catalyst for the Holy Spirit to come and move. Pastor Heber brought attention to the glory of God and His different attributes. Thousands of miles away from home, surrounded by another language and immersed in a different culture, we all praised the same God. We all praised the same name in which our salvation is found. Our team will never forget that feeling of singing with hands raised next to our new friends in their native tongue. It truly was a unique and powerful experience to worship together, shouting the name of Jesus and giving Him glory in two different languages.

We then had the opportunity to partner with our first local church, Família do Amor. We were blessed to hear Pastor João Paulo speak about the importance of self-reflection and how vital it is to the process of becoming more like Christ. We then participated in an outreach program the church puts on every year. Team Verde set out to clean and restore the streets near the church, picking up trash and painting the sidewalks. Although the work was not easy, everyone remained joyful through the different challenges we faced throughout the day.

The vision behind this project was an act in obedience to the calling God has placed on every one of our lives in its most basic form–to serve alongside one another as the body of Christ, showing His love in the surrounding communities.

We were blessed to have been given the opportunity to serve and further the Kingdom of God this week. In Matthew 16:19, Jesus tells His disciples “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Just imagine what it would look like if the people of God decided to step out in faith and obedience, releasing the kingdom of heaven with every step. Imagine what a generation of people surrendered to God’s call on their life, living for more than just worldly pleasure, could do for the Kingdom. In our short time here, we have only received a small taste of the purpose and satisfaction that is found in this type of service. Not only this, but we were blessed by the family of God we have experienced here in Brazil. It was both a sweet and powerful first week in Brazil. Taking part in God’s global mission is both inspiring and motivating us to take action in our own communities and reach people through service back home.