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Monday, March 29, 2010

Brazil

(Note: Yes, I wore a hat every single day. No blow-dryer. No CHI. A hat was as essential as sunscreen.)

I saw a quote once that said something like (this is very Angela-ized), A writer often does not know what he thinks of a subject until he reads what he has written about it. I am hoping that is true. Four days after returning home from Brazil, I feel as if I can’t fully wrap my head around the experience. The things I saw. The people I met. The lives I saw changed forever. The lives that I did not see changed forever. It all seems surreal… like a dream that never really happened. But it did.

I wish I could somehow paint a perfect picture of it all for others to understand. I am not even an average descriptive writer, but even if I were, I don’t think there are words to describe the look on the faces of the Brazilian people as we spoke with them and told them, some for the very first time, about what Jesus did for them. I can’t explain what it looked like to see hard eyes go soft in an instant, fill with tears, and beg for more of what we were saying. I can’t tell you accurately enough how it felt to hold a stranger’s hand and listen to them pray a prayer (in a language I couldn’t understand) that saved them. SAVED them. I can’t describe to you the power that consumed a tiny little room in a tiny little house in a tiny little community as a 70-something year old woman prayed to ask Jesus into her heart after a lifetime of believing no one can ever know where they will spend eternity. I can’t describe it, but I so want to. I so want everyone to feel what I was able to feel in Brazil last week.

I went there feeling completely inadequate. I left there feeling completely inadequate. But it didn’t matter. Because it wasn’t me. It wasn’t Matt or the students or sponsors. It was all God. He took a bunch of nervous Americans and just took over. That’s the only way I know to describe it. He took over amazingly and miraculously.

There are so many moments that stand out to me. Some that make me happy. Some that make me sad. I’ll try to share just a few.

Matt led an old woman to the Lord, and before we left, she sent us to another house where a young man lived who, in her words, “needed Jesus.” We found his house, and he also accepted Jesus. The man’s father did not believe salvation could possibly be a free gift and protested what we were saying… loudly. After we said goodbye, he began yelling at us in Portuguese from his doorway. I’ll be honest. I wanted to run. But our translator explained he wanted us to wait and drink with him. I was thinking, “Drink what?" Then the man came out of the house, and the first thing I saw was a very large machete. Again, I wanted to run. But then I noticed he was also carrying several coconuts. He proceeded to cut off the tops and hand them to us to drink. We spent the next several minutes with him in his yard, laughing and drinking.

On one of the days I went door-to-door, I met a young woman named Kathleen. She was beautiful, as are most of the Brazilian women. To be honest, I shouldn’t even have been talking to her. We were about to leave, and she came walking down the street out of nowhere. We stood and talked to her for a long time, and she explained to us that she believed all we told her about the story of Jesus and what He did for her, but she was too afraid to make a commitment to Him. I almost could not make myself walk away because I knew she wanted Him so badly. I told her that I knew she was going to make the decision very soon, and that I would love to pray with her when she did. The next day, my dear Brazilian friend, Suemmey, told me that she ran into a girl named Kathleen who was looking for me. I never saw her again.

On the last day to be with the people in the community, I noticed Suemmey talking with a group of 3 Brazilian women. I walked over not knowing what I was in for. The women were all very young, very pretty, and very happy with the way they were living their life. Suemmey is awesome at presenting the gospel, but when I walked up, I could tell she wanted me to try to help. Together, we led one of the women to the Lord, and another was so close. So close. And then, it began to rain. And rain. Buckets of rain. Everyone (and I mean everyone) got on the bus, but Suemmey and I stood there, getting completely soaked, talking to the women. Finally Matt ran over and draped a poncho over me to try to keep the camera from dying, but I didn’t care if it did. The sad news is that the woman could not say 'yes', but I was able to pray with her (with the help of Suemmey’s awesome translating skills), and I am believing she will find Him soon.

I will post some pictures very soon. There are so many I would like to share but already feel I am inundating everyone with Brazil information. But that’s ok. I don’t want to forget. It is an experience that has imprinted my life… that has hopefully changed my life. When I take a step back and look over my shoulder at the past several months, I truly stand amazed at His faithfulness… at all the times I didn’t think He was there, but not only was He there, He was holding me. Through pain and doubt and confusion, He has always been right here, helping, molding, whispering to me. I love the line in the song that says, "I may not see in front of me, but I can see for miles when I look over my shoulder. Lord, it's clear, you brought me here, so faithful every step of the way." It's not a path that was on my map, but it has always been on His.

3 comments:

Leslie said...

Ok, I have always wanted to go on a mission trip but now I REALLY want to go! I have always used the excuse, when my kids get a little older, but you have definitely inspired me. Not only to go but be ok with leaving my babies! Such touching stories! I can't wait to see pictures.

Aimee Bryan said...

You are such a beautiful person, inside and out! I am so glad that you went and represented God in such a loving way! Can't wait to hear more.

The Lasiter Pack said...

Angela,
Tears are pouring down my face but I must "get it together" for a conference call. I though have a desire to read this over and over again to let it all soak in. I know my trips sometimes have moments or even days that I've never been able to put into words or even tell people about because it is so "internal". You've blessed me by sharing - thank you for that. Thank you for going and representing Christians and standing for our Father like you did. You are a brave soul - always have been and I am so thankful for you. I'm sorry you were not able to spend as much time with Kathleen, but I feel like you left her with what she needed and I hope you meet her again.

Jeremy and I have both struggled with wanting to go on our mission trips - always waiting for the right time, no deployments, Haley being old enough but I think it has come down for me - fear. And I know where the fear comes from and will beat it. I thank God for how He uses me everyday and I pray for more confidence and an opportunity.

Again, thank you, Angela~

Angela