Friday, December 26, 2008

Brazil Mission Trip 2009

I am super-excited about photography for the upcoming year! One reason I am excited is that I have the opportunity to return to Rio Branco, Brazil with my church for a mission trip through a great organization called Christian Missions Unlimited (CMU). This will be my fourth time to Brazil with this wonderful organization, and my third time back to the city of Rio Branco. Our mission while in Brazil to build a physical church building for a congregation that is meeting either in each other's homes or in outdoor pavillions, but who do not have the resources themselves to build a physical church in which to fellowship. During the few days we are physically building the church with bricks and masa (cement), we are able to form special relationships with the adults and children in the area. Words can't express how blessed you are by a experience like this... Every time I go, it feels like I've been able to take away so much more than I can physically and spiritually give. The people we meet are generally very poor materially, yet they have so much to offer to those they come in contact with.

The church we built in 2005, Igreja Batista Morada do Sol.
Click here to see a link to a YouTube video from a special service there.
God has blessed me with some very special relationships with Brazilian friends, and they are people who I will never forget. I was so impacted after my first time to Brazil that I came home and immediately started taking Portuguese lessons (the native language of Brazil) so that I could communicate more effectively with the people of Brazil my next time around... Being able to speak the language actually impacted me more than I knew it could. One of the special people I met in Brazil in 2005 was a 12-year-old named Junior. We bonded pretty instantly and he lived close enough to the church we were building that I was able to go to his house and meet his family and his beloved poodle, Leon. Since he was one of my favorite new people, I took a lot of pictures of him during our short time together. We continued to write each other letters during the 11 months before I was able to return again in 2006.

Four weeks prior to my return to Rio Branco in 2006, I received word from another Brazilian friend via the internet that Junior had been in an accident. He was riding his bicycle one day and was hit by a car and had severe head trauma. A few days later, I found out that Junior had passed away from his injuries. I was heartbroken. Prior to his accident, I was looking forward to being able to see him again and to give him a hug and to give him some new presents from the United States. Instead, I was blessed enough to be able to see his family again and surprise his mother at her house. I explained to her that I could speak and understand Portuguese now, and she immediately started sobbing and going into details about what had happened. Even though I couldn't fully understand everything she said, it was obvious that she was hurting and was in a deep state of grief. I gave her a gift while I was there--a photo album of the pictures I had taken of Junior. As her eyes filled with tears once again, she went to another room and returned with a white envelope. She explained that she found the envelope, which contained a letter and some gifts that Junior had intended to send me but had never mailed. As I walked back to meet up with our group again, I was amazed at how God was able to use such a little guy to make an impact in my life. Every year now when I return to Brazil, I am thinking of my buddy, Junior... and knowing that those of us who are going to Brazil with CMU have the same opportunity to impact someone else's life... for the better... for helping them understand through our words and actions that there is a God who loves them and can give them peace and hope and fill them with a joy that they may not yet be able to comprehend.

*Just a second while I dry my eyes...* Okay.. Now onto what I am so excited about. I have been blessed by friends and family in the past for helping support me financially for the mission efforts I have been on. I am excited to say that the first $2600 I make from my photography in 2009 will pay for my entire mission trip to Brazil this year. I am excited about it simply because I'll be using the talents that God has given me to be able to give back to Him in this way... and that thrills me more than I can explain! So if you know of anyone needing some pictures that wants to donate to a good cause, send them my way!

Here are just a few of my favorite photos from my past mission trips to Rio Branco and Fortaleza, Brazil during 2005, 2006, and 2007.

One of my favorite pictures of me and this adorable little boy...

My good friend, Daniel, and me at the dedication service...

1 comment:

  1. love the pictures! my husband and I are moving to Fortaleza in a few more weeks this is very encouraging!