Saturday, May 24, 2014

Oi again from Brazil,

I am sorry for the delay since the last time that I was able to make a post, but we have been really busy and it has been hard to find the time at night to be able to sit down and write out a complete update. 

Since I last posted, we have been able to spend a lot more time on the UFG campus. It has been both extremely taxing and also really rewarding. Between spending time out in the "winter" sun (with temperatures of approximately 86 degrees during the day) and attempting to improve my Portuguese, I have been finding myself wiped out by the time 9 o' clock or so rolls around each night. It is really cool, though, because the campus works in a much different way than we initially would have expected. Most of the time, there are about an average of 40 students within each major for each class or grade level. This is pretty insane considering that for some of the majors, which they refer to as courses, have up to 5000 students that apply for them. This mostly applies to the "top three" most difficult and technical courses, which according to them are medicine, engineering, (and then the third one always seems to be the major of the specific student that we are talking sometimes dentistry, sometimes pharmacy, sometimes physical sciences, etc.). Then, sometimes only about 50% of the people graduate from the hardest courses, so it definitely works quite a bit differently than our university system in the United States. Also, after high school, there process for applying to a university is to take an exam for the course that they wish to study in. If they pass, then the federal government pays for their entire schooling. If they do not, then they can try again or study to take the exam for a different course. It typically takes someone about two years to study for the exam, so it is not uncommon for many of the freshman students to be 19, 20, or 21 years old. For those who changed majors in college, this means that you would have had to study for an entirely different exam to see if you could change even if you were already in the university.Most of the classes for each course hang out with one another, so it has made it very easy for us to get to know large groups of people once we are able to stumble upon one or two students from a specific course and class. For the most part, we have been able to very heavily connect with students from the following courses: agronomy, odontology (dentistry), and biology. We are still trying to meet many people, though, so we are not trying to limit our time to the students that we have already met.

We had our first "group discussion" night this week on Wednesday night. The Brazilian staff members were hopeful that about 40 students would show up given that we were offering free dinner and we had about 25 students show up to a barbeque that we had the first weekend that we were here. Well, either Brazilians aren't that wild about free food or maybe spaghetti specifically or Wednesdays are a busy night because we had 8 students show up. (This meant that our team had the privilege of having leftover spaghetti for the next two nights given that we had made enough for an Italian family reunion.) To be honest, this is still an encouragement to me because the fact that we had interest in an event that we advertised as having conversation pertaining to life's deeper questions is something that I would have expected to scare many students away. Everyone who came, though, was very interested in expressing their opinion on what our purpose is in life and contemplating what specifically drove each one of them. One student that showed up is named Artur. (We all call him Arthur). He speaks English extremely well, and he has been spending a lot of time with us. I was able to speak with him a little bit last night after he took us to his favorite Acai place downtown, and he was very open about his family and personal life. He said that he was not very religious when asked, so please be praying that the Lord would be working in Him according to His will. 

P.S. Acia is a very popular sweet treat here. It is pronounced Ah-sigh-ee, not uh-chi like we say in the United States. It is a dark purple color and is often eaten with granola and many other fruits. It is delicious and it is what Michael Blanchard can be seen eating and smearing on his face in the video below. 

Speaking of the video below, it is something that I threw together for us to send to Belo Horizante to invite any students in the ministry there to join us for an investigative retreat coming up in two weeks. This retreat will most likely be the first time that we will be able to connect a lot of the dots from the conversations we will be having at our group discussion dinners. Pray that the students who are able to com from both Belo and also from here in Goiania will be open and receptive of considering and exploring Jesus Christ and God.

Lastly for this update, here are some pictures of the house that I am staying in for this summer/winter (depending on how you want to look at it). Thank you again to all of my supporters that made paying the rent and spending time with the students on campus daily possible. 

This is a picture of my bedroom. My roommate is Hunter Treglown. If you are thinking that it looks small, then I will tell you that the space of the picture is about exactly what it looks like. 

Here is the other guys' room. Michael was in here doing some blogging when I took the picture. He is staying with Wellinton (a Brazilian Campus Outreach staff member) and Josh Crouse. There room is slightly bigger than mine, but they have three people in there, so I am thinking that Hunter and I actually end up having more space than they do.

This is our front patio area. It is enclosed by a complete gate system that only allows people to come in when we open it. We typically have a hammock or two hanging in here, and at night we park the two cars that we are renting in the spaces to the right and left of this area. 

This is the main hallway area that you walk into through the door you saw in the above picture of the front patio. Ruthie's toys are strewn about. She is the one year old little girl of Jeremy and Jordan Moore, who are leading the trip.

This is the dish washing area. It contains two big fridges, and we often have meetings in here in the morning.

This is the back hangout area. We have about 6 or 7 lines that we hang our clothes on to dry after we have them washed. Kickin' it old school baby. This area is open to the outside. Many a student has thought to try and get on the roof in our short stay here so far, and none have prevailed given that the materials are not as strong as one might hope.There are also many tables here that we eat at.

This is the right side of the same area that was pictured above. For bigger parties and eventually for world cup games, there is a wall area that we hang a bed sheet on and use to project games. The two girls' rooms are in the back of this room, and each of them has its own bathroom. Hopefully this gives you an idea of our living space!

Thank you for all the prayers. I hope that everyone's summer's have gotten off to a great start. Have a fun and safe Memorial Day weekend.

In Christ,

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