Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Problem with "Y"......

In the past week and a half, we have been blessed to welcome two new missionaries, Gabriella from Illinois and Edouard from France!  They have both already spent some time in Salvador before, and have a better grasp on the language than Faith and I who are still responding to everything with “thank you” or “Good afternoon” regardless of context.  They have been great additions to the team and are already bringing great new ideas to our ministries with the kids. 
Getting owned by the locals in football
 This morning the four of us and Br. Francis Therese, instead of our usual Portuguese lesson, played Portuguese Scrabble.  All was going great until my partner, Edouard and I discovered there aren't any words which start with Y........

On our day off, Faith and I and our new friend Gabriel (who is from Salvador and speaks excellent English), visited Barra beach.  It was about a 20 minute walk through Pelorinho, the historic district, and a 10 minute bus ride from the Convent. Barra is located at the mouth of the Bay of all Saints or Baía de Todos os Santos, and was the site of Bahia’s first European settlement, guarded by a small white colonial fort and a lighthouse.  The beach was filled with locals and vendors selling jewelry and mysterious looked foods and the water was very pleasant.
Scenic views over the Bay from Pelorinho

Historic fort overlooking Barra Beach
 As a missionary, it can be uncomfortable to express the “fun” things you are doing to family and friends……I mean, we’re here to help others, not have a good time! However I think it is important to learn about the culture, the history, and the things that make a place unique and special in order to learn about the people and appreciate the experience fully.  I think the secret is to search for Christ in both the “fun” times and the not-so-fun times, always keeping our objective of serving others through Christ always.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

An Interesting Day with Handel

Father Francis and Faith on their way to the favela 

 Hello from sunny Salvador! Katie and I have only been at the convent for seventeen days and already we feel as if we are a part of the community.  Each day we grow more comfortable and peaceful in our new vocation as missionaries. From teaching music, dancing, and art to restoring the convent and preparing the bakery, there is always work to be done. Everyone works with a smile on their face and it is clear that even the smallest task, if done for the honor and glory of Christ, is an enjoyable event.
Katie, Faith and Brother Francis enjoying a beautiful day! 

This week Katie and I had a wonderful time exploring different ways we could teach the children art.  On Wednesday we attempted to make “eggs” out of yarn. The goal was to have the children dip yarn into water mixed with glue and then wrap the yarn around a balloon until the balloon is covered. In the morning the eggs would be dry and perfect and the world would be a more magnificent place. The children would lift me on their shoulders praising my teaching abilities, and I would magically be able to speak fluent Portuguese.  Dreams however seldom correlate with reality. Within five minutes the project was proving to be challenging. Children were screaming, Brother Francis was playing Handel on the radio and glue and yarn was everywhere but on the balloons. Needless to say, when we returned in the morning the dry “yarn eggs” looked more Picasso than Michelangelo.  Katie and I learned two important lessons, “If the children are happy, all is well,” and “never under any circumstances attempt a craft project which mixes glue and five year olds.”
The children during their lesson 
Leo and Carlos having fun during their lesson 

Our yarn eggs :] 

My craft on Wednesday had gone differently than planned, but I returned Friday armed with a well organized lesson plan, and more importantly, no glue. I realized in order for the children to recognize their full potential it was important to first show them the basic building blocks of drawing and art. So, with the assistance of our wonderful friend Vicente, we sat the children down and explained the more basic aspects of art, building one concept on top of the other. By the end of the class, the children had learned how to properly hold the pencil for drawing and shading, how to use to curve of the wrist for drawing a more smooth curve on the paper, and the basics of edging and shading. Next week I will bring in fruit and basic three dimensional shapes and explore the use of shading to add volume to an image.  And who knows, if they’re good, maybe they can use glue again in year or two. Maybe…  
Katie, Faith, Edouard and Gabriel after a successful lesson 

As always you will stay in our prayers and please keep us in yours! God Bless! 

- Faith

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Musical Week

Bom dia! Our Portuguese lessons with Br. Francis Therese every morning have been going well, though we still can only communicate basic phrases.  At least we are getting more polite!  It has been a very busy and musical week here for us.  From the very festive (loud) concert outside our convent walls last night, to radios blaring all around the city it seems music is an important part of the culture.  This past week, Faith and I joined Brother Francis Therese at a Baroque choir.  The choir meets every Monday evening at the lovely home of a German priest, Fr. Hans Bönisch, to sing sacred music.  They were in desperate need of altos, so Faith and I were heartily welcomed to join.
Here is a link to the choir webpage:

Also this week we began our music/dance class in the Mary Magdalene house in the favela for the children where we will meet two or three times a week.  Faith and I were able to teach them the Virginia Reel, an old American folk dance with some peppy Irish music to keep the beat.  The children, ages 5-10 absolutely loved it and not surprisingly were able to keep up with the quick tempo.  (Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures since I was busy having so much fun with them.)  After dance, Br. Francis Therese gathered them around and gave a small lesson in music theory.  This week they began to learn the scales of do, re, mi, etc. 

Yesterday Faith and I began our arts and crafts class with the children of the same age group.  We provided paint, paper, brushes, and asked them to paint something they were grateful for. Some drew their families, their homes, and there was a general theme of rainbows.  Next class they will be able to take their works of art home.

Faith and I have also been able to partake in the ministries of Holy Hour and Sunday mass at the Church in the favela once a week.  Both are open to the whole community and provide a wonderful opportunity to meet the people of the neighborhood.  We have been welcomed by the people of the parish with open arms and even received a special blessing on Sunday from Brother.  It has been a blessing to be able to use our talents to take part in the community here and we look forward to getting to know more people!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Katie and Faith's First Day

Katie on left, Faith on right 
I was checking Facebook and Gmail one afternoon in the last semester of College, when I received an email entitled “Missionaries Needed”, now five months later I am a Missionary living in a convent in Brazil, thus proving my theory that life really can be like a movie.  Olá! I hope this blog post finds you well! “Olá” means “Hello” in Portuguese.  It's okay if you are just learning that, I am also. I honestly know the “um pouco”-est of this new language but recent circumstances have made me realize that I should probably learn some Portuguese.
 My fellow missionary and classmate Katie and I met in Miami at 11:30 pm and landed in Salvador at 8 am. Katie and I used each other as pillows and were able to arrive in South America well rested and ready for the adventure God had laid out before us. We were warmly welcomed by Brother Francis Therese, and within minutes were talking and laughing about the work to do in the months ahead.
                Rustic and full of love, the convent quickly made Katie and I feel right at home. The walls are worn yet charming and the overall sense of quiet and tranquility calmly convey Christ’s presence.  Midday prayer was chanted in French by the Brothers in the chapel, which is a breathtaking display of eighteenth century Baroque architecture. We then sat down as a community for a delicious lunch and then taken for an exciting tour of our new city.
Getting ready for a beautiful new day!

                The night ended with the chanting of Vespers, celebration of the Mass, and the exposition of the most Holy Eucharist. Sitting in the presence of my Creator I felt calmly reassured that He was calling me to this mission. This morning Brother Francis took Katie and I to a Catholic community center which has a holistic approach to aiding the people of the neighborhood through a synthesis of art, music and culture. We then visited a children’s cancer ward, and hope to be able to volunteer at both locations.

I am overjoyed at this wonderful opportunity to spread Christ’s message and pray that I will be able to show the people I encounter even a glimpse of the infinite love God has for his children. Please keep us and our mission in your prayers and know that you will be in ours! Praise God!  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bakery Roof!

Before we can get the bakery running, we've got to get a non-leaky roof in place!  This morning we finished putting into place the new roof.

Here are the rafters where the old roof tiles were.  They were old, and water was still finding its way through and landing on the machines, so we put up some new material that will keep the water out!

Once the new roof is fitted, we put screws in to keep it in place.

Here is a pictures of the last section of old tiles before I removed them this morning.

Here is a shot of Adrian and Edouard carefully carrying off the old tiles to the storage area - maybe we'll use them for an arts and crafts project with the kids in the future!

We hope to get the bakery cleaned up soon now that roof is in place.  We should already be able to start experimenting with the machines again after Carnaval!

Keep us in your prayers!
The Brothers and Missionaries in Salvador da Bahia

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Music Class!

Much has happened since our last post: Leo has returned to the USA and moved to Austin, Texas.  We are very happy for him as he has already found work and a place to live - thanks be to God!  After Christmas and New Year's the Brothers adopted a more peaceful rhythm so as to be rested and renewed for the new year.  Our two current missionaries, Adrien and Edouard, have returned from their break as well and are itching to serve in new ways.  In just a few days we plan to start repairing the roof over the bakery where Adrien will be moving forward with setting up a bakery program for the young people from Alto.  Edouard is very happy to be back spending time with the kids and in prayer with the community.  He is going to start teaching computer skills to a few of the young people who have shown interest.

I'm very grateful for Edourad's expertise in technology, he was able to make a little video of the music class we started a couple of weeks ago for the kids.  Tuesday and Thursday afternoons I teach an introduction to music to a group of about 12 kids: we learn how to read rhythms and notes, listen to pieces to try to identify what instruments are being used, what kind of voices are singing, etc.  We also play rhythm games and have started learning some songs.  Here's the video:

I started this music class because we are still eagerly awaiting the arrival of Gabriela - a missionary from the USA who has been trying to get her visa for almost six months now.  Please pray that this situation gets resolved quickly!  We also have a couple who are interested in coming to live and serve as missionaries in the Mary Magdalene house - they are also in need of prayers so that their visas and paperwork are accepted.

God continues to bless us - may He continue to bless you!
Br. Francis Therese

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Special Guests

Hello Folks,

This past early December we had some special guests from the USA enter the community of Alto de Esperanca. They were welcomed with arms wide open. we had prepared a special welcoming for them, Showed them the work that had been done, and invited them to see the different houses. It was a very special day for all the folks.

 Meals were also made by our very own cook Dona Consa!

 little catholic girls smiling.

Big Catholic man smiling. Even though they didnt know how to speak to each other they both can express the joy in the lord the same.

 Americans can be a little shy.
But Brazilians have a way of making you feel at home, making you feel like "Family."
 I got to translate, and Fabio was able to speak English!

 Brother Francis showing these folks the work in progress at the Mary Magdalene house in Alto.
 Birds eye view of the community.

 I think when they saw how big the Favela was they were in a bit shocked.

It was really special to see people from different cultures share one faith. It was a good day. To be honest I really thought these folks were going to have a little bit of a culture shock but everyone got along just great. 

The community of Alto de Esperanca made different Brazilian food so they could sample. To see people from different cultures, different worlds able to communicate without languages, a simple smile was beautiful. J