This summer I had the opportunity to spend a month in Recife, Brazil in a Latin Link team. Our supervisors and translators were Emma and Hannah, who are on placement there for two years.
Recife has a contrast of rich and poor and some areas have projects set up for very poor families run by churches and the NGO Compassion. Our work was to run three camps for children from the slums to provide fun activities, sports and devotional times. Some of the teenagers come from backgrounds of violence, crime and drug abuse so the camps aim to provide enjoyment and to challenge them with the gospel.
On arrival, we learned that arrangements had fallen through but plans were made for us to work with projects in different locations each week.
We worked at a project in Barra, helping run a holiday Bible club for where we organised the games, crafts and Bible stories.
The original planned camp happened with 60 children; an action packed week of sports, fun games and devotions. Donations of money and food enabled this camp to take place and it was great to see everyone working together, with cooking, helping with the dormitories and we all had fun, despite the very basic amenities.The carbohydrate overload for every meal or the 50 mosquito bites on one arm will be memorable but I enjoyed learning some Portuguese, seeing the children having fun and hearing that some of the boys gave their lives to Christ following this week.
Our next destination was a tourist beach town.The beautiful vibrant beach and town centre contrasted with a large favela of great poverty near the church where we stayed. We invited local children to a Bible club and with only Emma as our translator, we were amazed when 80 children turned up on day one.This exhausting week was full of surprises but worthwhile as our eyes were opened to the need in this area. Many of the children came from tough backgrounds and providing this time for them to play and enjoy themselves can hopefully be followed up by the church.
This was a camp run by Bible Centred Ministries where people aged 16+ with varied beliefs came for English teaching and were presented with the gospel. Most campers could afford an enjoyable week away from work, so meeting Brazilians who were rich was very different from previous weeks.This contrast brought to light the importance of the gospel for all people whether rich or poor. Communication was easier as their English was very good, enabling us to build relationships and have discussions in devotion times. It was encouraging to see 3 people turn to Christ and they now continue to attend weekly discipleship groups with Hannah. I really enjoyed being able to experience the culture, meeting the people both on the team and those in Brazil, learning to depend on God and see more of how He is working globally.