Saturday, June 2, 2012

Building a Foundation in Community

It's hard to believe we already spent 2 full days in Rio.

Today was our day to sleep in. We got up a little later and then took the bus up the coast. Our first stop was a store called "Extra," in American equivalent: Super Walmart. (My mom always jokes we can't go anywhere without going to Walmart and apparently Rio is no different!)

As a graphic designer, I've always thought grocery packaging is over the top and gawdy, but today, I've never been more appreciative of the pictures of the food on the label. It's weird being somewhere and having no idea whether what you're buying is, one, what you really want or, two, if it's the best brand. Some things look familiar, Lipton's Tea, Nestle, and Tony the Tiger, but the labeling is completely different.

For lunch, we went to a place that had a large, all you can eat, buffet. They had everything: beans and rice (which is really big here), meat, vegetables, fruit, and sushi. I think everyone's favorite, though, was the desert pizzas: chocolate pizza, pineapple pizza, caramel pizza, and banana pizza.

Someone asked me today what I thought about the food. The weird part is it's not that much different than what we eat in the States. There are a lot of rice and beans and a lot of fruit. But, it just tastes different.

After lunch, we went to the beach for a photo opp. The water and the sand aren't too terribly different than the east coast beaches I've visited: coarse sand and green and blue water. But, I think it's the landscaping, with the hills and mountains, that make it gorgeous here.

We finished out the day, at hippie fair. Vendors come and set up their tents and sell all kinds of stuff: artwork, jewlery, shirts, and figurines. When you buy something, you're expected to haggle. Several team members have made it a game over the years to see who can walk away with the best deal.

Money, here, is called reals (pronounced hey-yas). 2 reals are equivalent to 1 dollar. When we're bargaining, you have to make sure you're talking about reals and then do the math in your head to figure out if it's a good deal or not.

I think one of my favorite parts about the fair was following people that have come to Rio before. Not only were they good at negotiating, but a few of them recognized vendors from previous years.I watched as team members gave vendors they knew gifts. Their sweet Brazilian faces would light up. "You brought this to me all the way from Tennessee?" "Yes." Such a "small" gesture meant everything to them.

I reflect back on today, and I think about you, the reader. Didn't you say you were doing medical missions? Yes! And tomorrow, we'll be visiting the church in Rio for the first time. We'll have the opportunity to worship alongside the people we'll be serving with the rest of the week. --even though I know the last 2 days have been restful and touristy, I know that we're laying the foundation for the good things to come.

Two months ago, I had never met some of my teammates. Already, God is bonding us, uniting us, allowing us to share our hearts and our lives with each other. What a priviledge and an honor that is!


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