Oi, bom dia from Brazil! (Hello, good morning!)
After leaving at 10:10 pm two nights ago (Tuesday, May 13), the team and I safely and sleepily arrived in Goiânia yesterday (Wednesday, May 14) at about 3:20 pm local time. Most of the students on the team are more than likely suffering from a self-induced "free movie marathon" sleepiness more so than from a lack of time to sleep. We are an hour ahead of the time in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., so communications seem like they are going to be a lot more reasonable than one might have imagined for being over 4,500 miles away from home.
First of all, I would like to take the time to thank absolutely all of my partners and supporters for this trip. It honestly would not have been possible without every last one of you for me to be here in Goiânia right now, and also it would not be possible for me to have the sense of excitement and peace that I have going into this trip. I can promise you that all of your prayerful and financial contributions are held in high regard by me, and I will be giving thanks to God for them as the "summer" continues on down here and I explore a new culture, make relationships with local neighbors and students, and get to experience things that I otherwise never would have gotten to experience. (I put summer in quotations because it is technically autumn down here and by the time that we leave it will be winter. However, it will most likely never rain while we are here and it will also probably not drop below a high of 80 degrees). So (while it doesn't do the gratitude that I feel for everything complete justice), thank you! Or in Portuguese, Obrigado!
As for an update as to what my experiences have been since I have embarked on my trek to Goiânia, here is a quick summation of all that I can remember. Upon getting on the plane, I found that I was sitting next to a Brazilian from São Paulo named Caio (Kai-Oh). He was on the flight back home from Canada, where he had spent the last five and a half months learning English. I jokingly told him that he missed a lot of land in between Brazil and Canada that could have provided him with plenty of opportunity to learn English, but he said that Canada was beautiful and that he hopes to visit America when his English is better. Anyways, he began to tell me that a large amount of Brazilians that have finished high school and that are pursuing higher education or better jobs will take 3-6 months somewhere to learn English. This is because they are beginning to offer higher salaries and "better" positions than if you did not know any English. This was interesting to me because I had been told before coming that the Brazilian workforce did not cater to the language of outside business, but I suppose that the tourism expected from both the World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics may be having an impact on that mentality. Anyways, it was my first opportunity to discuss why I was coming to Brazil. As a quick note, Goiânia is not the sexiest of places when it comes to "ritzy" accommodations or a flashy lifestyle or for beaches or parties that sometimes are associated with the larger cities of Brazil, so it is an easy way to lead into why the team and I have come here specifically. I told Caio that we were here as a cultural exchange at the Universidade Federal de Goiás (UFG), but that we were also partnering with Igreja Luz (or the Church of Light) and here to talk about the Bible with people. He laughed at this because only ten minutes earlier he had been describing the women and beer of Brazil, so he thought that it was funny now to know my reason for travel. I told him that I am thankful that he talked with me about whatever he had because as Christians it is not about us saying "no" to everything, but rather saying yes in a way that glorifies God. I am thankful for this conversation and this meeting with Caio.
We had a layover in São Paulo and then flew on to Goiânia. When we arrived in Goiânia, there were many people from the church there to pick us up and take us to our residence for the summer. However, the first two members from my team that walked through the doors, Kelsey and Hunter, did not understand that they were asking them if they were with Campus Outreach, so they continued walking. The people from the church were very confused since they were with our group and we were among a very small group of white people on the flight. It eventually was sorted out and they had a guitar player and sang a song welcoming us. It was quite the entrance, and we got an immediate taste for the relational culture that Brazil is known to possess. The pastor from the church drove Hunter and me from the airport, and there were two funny things about this. One, we were extremely thankful that everyone just called him "Pastor" because his name was extremely long and will be the ultimate litmus test for if we pick up Portuguese or not this summer. Secondly, he taught us that stop signs were only suggestions and that driving crazy in Goiânia was the only way to survive. Good to know given that I am supposed to be one of the drivers for our team this summer...
I will try to update with some pictures soon of the house that will do it better justice than my descriptions would! Until then, thank you for the prayers and enjoy whatever it is that God has for you at this time!