Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Water Party!

We are getting desperate for snow, and have taken to even defrosting the refrigerator 
With rumors flying around from the United States about an impending blizzard, Faith and I are enjoying what sun and warmth we can get in our last month!

Chilly snapshots from Pennsylvania! 

 This week we continued our English lessons at the Irma Dulce center working on basic phrases such as “I am happy, sad, hot, cold, tired” and most importantly, “hungry”.  On Wednesday mornings we now participate in a clay/mosaics class and are able to practice Portuguese while meeting people from the Santo Antonio community.  Unfortunately I didn’t snap a photo of our clay creations, but it was probably for the best since my hands were by default covered in clay.
The Irma Dulce Center

Beautiful mass at Santo Antonio

This morning Br. Francis Therese co-celebrated mass at the local parish of Santo Antonio in honor of Irma Dulce.  Many of the co-ordinators and students from the Irma Dulce center were there to celebrate with us a lovely mass.

Speaking of the heat , last Friday we threw a “water party” for the children of alto which consisted of hosing down 20+ kids down with cold water with lots of jumping, screaming, and playing of soccer.  

Best wishes from us in Brazil and were hoping you stay warm wherever you are!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Beautiful Week!

I finally get to make use of dancing skills  

Hello and God Bless from beautiful Salvador Brazil! The weather isn’t the only thing heating up over here! Classes are back in full swing with a few new fun additions! Classes at Alto are going very well and the children seem more receptive than ever. This week Gabi and I practiced a new dance with the children and they all enjoyed it very much.

Gabi leading the children in dance class

During class two of our students started to get in a fight. One of the little girls made another cry and tensions were rising. Our talented teacher Luciana however intervened and did a wonderful job of making the girls confront their problems and dealing with them through having a healthy conversation. The girls seemed happy to learn a healthier way of dealing with conflict and by the end of the class were getting along better than ever.
Luciana speaking with two students

In addition to Alto we are also starting to have a strong presence at the Irma Dulce House. Adult English classes are in full swing on Thursday and Saturday mornings. The students are very happy to have us and we are excited to be part of the community. We are also taking some of the classes offered at Irma House to help build a strong relationship with the teachers and students. This week we attended an arts and crafts class and learned about the history Carnival. Working with the adults in the community is giving us a better understanding of the mindset of the children we work with.
Faith, Katie, Gabi, and Geraldine our new student 

The missionaries and I are all very comfortable and happy here. Our relationships with each other and the Brothers have never been stronger. All of the tasks we have accomplished and the time of prayer we have shared have truly bonded us. Please continue to read and keep us in your prayers! You are always in ours!

-Faith Leopold 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Happenings of our Missionary Lives

 This week the girls and I gave our first English class to adults at the Irma Dulce center. There were about 15-20 students in an hour and half class. We are very excited to see how well the students responded to our teaching methods and that they are so willing to have fun while learning! 

These are our new t-shirts we were given this week to volunteer in their activities and to teach. The volunteers are called Anjos de Irma Dulce translates to the Angles of Irma Dulce.

We even made it to the Irma Dulce's facebook page! Announcing our English classes!

This is the Irma Dulce image on the back of our volunteer t-shirts. 
Now we are officially part of the team!

This past week we had the opportunity to work in different little projects. One of them was hosting a baby shower for one of the soon-to-be-mom of the favela we work at. We decorated a table with her with treats and presents for her new baby boy that is due in a month. Parabens! Congratulations!

Part of putting away Christmas was to restore our outdoor nativity scene for next year. Faith and Katie were in charge of that project. 
Here we have a few of the pieces already finished.

The girls came to the conclusion that painting is a very therapeutic experience. Sitting down and pretending to be an artist is a lot more fun than one would expect :)

We welcomed back Br. Francis Therese after spending the last month in the U.S. with a splendid dinner with friends.

And finally funny pictures of the week:

Our convents handyman, Senhor Joao, and our new guest from South Korea having a couple laughs with Faith during breakfast.

And our beloved Br. Patrick doing his favorite trick: 
balancing anything and everything imaginable on his head. 

Peace out my fellow viewers,
until next time on St. John Missions in Brazil!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Feliz Ano Novo do Brazil!

Feliz ano novo from the community of St. John!  It was such a blessing to ring in the new year surrounded by friends in Brazil.  New years eve we had a special Mass which was well attended by the community of Santo Antonio and a few familiar faces from Alto.  Mass was followed by a beautiful adoration.  It was such a beautiful and prayerful way to ring in a fresh year. The evening was ended with music, dancing, food, and fellowship downstairs.

Fireworks over the bay seen from Santo Antonio 

Archbishop Murilo of the Archdiocese of Salvador 
This week a special Mass was held on the futebol court in Alto, and was celebrated with the bishop of Brazil  and our own priests of the community of St. John.  The Mass was one imploring peace for the community of Alto in particular and the entire city of Salvador.

Two of the recent first communicants carrying up the gifts.

 In the spirit of imploring peace, this Sunday the missionaries and about 60 parishioners at Alto  in Alto walked around 10 km to the basilica of Bomfim.  With our matching tshirts and a large van carrying some of the oldest and youngest parishioners and a large speaker hooked directly into an acoustic guitar, we sang, danced, and walked out way to the famous pilgrimage site.  We were rewarded with a beautiful and charismatic Mass with the sun setting over the city.

On our way down to the Bay while the boys carry the Shrine to Mary

Posing for a group photo with Irma Dulce
Standing room only in Mass

A little history on the Church of Bomfim. . . It was constructed in the 18th century on the Itapagipe Peninsula on the highest peak.  The church was commissioned by a rich Portuguese noble in Thanksgiving to Our Lady for a safe voyage through a massive storm. Nosso Senhor do Bomfim (Our Lord of Good End) is a large pilgrimage site in Brazil, especially the Bahia region, having been the site of numerous miracles of healing.

Last but certainly not least in my book, my parents came to visit for the week.  They stayed nearby which enabled me to show them around and experience Salvador as a tourist.  Here are some of the beautiful pictures my Mom snapped on our outings.

My family reunited for a week!

Traditional Capoeira Dance

How blessed we are for our loved ones!

I hope you all had a happy and blessed New Year and we are keeping you in our prayers here :)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Very Happy Christmas

Greetings and Feliz Natal from the Alto Mission! I hope you are enjoying the Christmas season and as always our prayers are with you. I am happy to say that this was the most beautiful Christmas I have experienced thus far. Brother Francis  Therese has been in America for the past week and a half, and we all miss him.
Katie and Gabi and I spend a few days preparing the convent for the birth of our Lord. A Christmas tree, twinkle lights, a fake fireplace and plenty of paper snowflakes made the place feel just like home. On Christmas Eve, Katie Gabi and I sang in the choir at the Cathedral. It went very well and sounded beautiful. We started Christmas with mass, and then shared a lovely lunch with the Brothers and a few Oblates. We then went to Alto and let the most needy families know that we had food baskets waiting for them in the Church. They were overjoyed, especially the children.  The baskets contained rice, sugar, flour, salt, crackers, and canned fish. The looks on peoples faces when we told them we had food for them was breathtaking. They were so happy to see us, and to share a greeting of “Feliz Natal” (Merry Christmas in Portuguese). One little girl hugged me for about five minutes, and it was really beautiful. We then headed home and had adoration. After adoration the girls did our best to make the dining room look beautiful with candles and twinkle lights. We surprised the Brothers with nice meats and French cheeses.  We went around the table discussing why today was nice for us, and then ended the night with an hour of Christmas Caroling. It was the perfect evening. I apologize for the lack of pictures of Alto. Many of the people living there find it offensive if we take pictures because they feel as if we are trying to broadcast their state in life. I hope you enjoy the blog and pictures and please remember to keep us in your prayers. You are in ours! God Bless!
Gabi, Faith and Katie before singing in the choir at the Cathedral 

The Cathedral Sacristy 

A little bit of North America 

Christmas Dinner! 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Au Revoir, Edouard!

Tragedy struck the mission this week as we bid farewell to our dear friend and fellow missionary, Edouard.  He returned to France this past Thursday , after a lovely “Bon Voyage” party in the Mary Magdalene House in Alto.  

Many of our students, their parents, and people from the community came to wish him off.  His presence, hard work, and his beautiful decorations for adoration will be greatly missed L

This week, we were able to celebrate the advent of the birth of Christ this Gaudate Sunday by seeing some of our dear friends from choir perform a selection of pieces by Beethoven including his “Ode to Joy”.  

It was a fun night for us missionaries all together!

Kara, Gabriel, and Kevin after the concert
Lunch with the Oblates

Please keep us in your prayers this Advent season!