Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Brazil Sponsor Tour 2012: Part 2, Ariving in Fortaleza

Where we last left off I was beginning my adventure on an airplane to Chicago; following that, an airplane to Miami. The story continues in Miami where I happened to meet up with Becca, my trip leader in a line to get my ticket and she helped me get my ticket, get through security, and meet up with the group. As our group slowly trickled into our terminal from their connecting flights we swapped stories and information about ourselves before boarding our overnight flight to Rio de Janeiro. (A quick note about TAM Airlines - um, they rule. We got free meals and they weren't too bad). From Rio de Janerio we flew north to Fortaleza.

Our hotel was about a twenty minute bus ride from the airport and I experienced my first glimpses of real, extreme poverty. Ramshackle homes were built into the ditches right next to the highway. I caught glimpses of families going about their daily lives and I thought about how awful it would be to have to live that way.Those homes are undoubtedly noisy, smelly, and dirty, not to mention exceptionally unsafe.

After checking into our hotel and settling in, we ate and got ready to check out the Fortaleza sunset and attend church.
To put it simply, Fortaleza is beautiful.

After we had our fill of the sunset, pier, and beach, we moved to a different area of the city to attend the Sunday night church service. This church is one of the church partners for a Compassion project. Children in the project and their families are encouraged to attend this church as well as others in the community. It is gated and locked to keep worshipers safe inside, especially after dark.
The service went on for several hours and was incredible to experience. Translators helped throughout so we knew what was going on. The pastor blessed our group and thanked us for coming as did the rest of the congregation. There was a blessing of a baby into the church (they do not baptize until the children are older), and there was a lot of loud, proud singing from all of the church members.

That was one thing that really impressed me about the church was that you could really feel God's presence there. The congregation was into the service, sang loud without fear, and responded to the pastor's words. The women of the church, the youth, and the children all sang songs for us which was very cool. Here are the children, many of whom are enrolled in a Compassion project and have sponsors. Notice the woman in the lavender dress on the left guiding them. She was a member of a Compassion project herself and was able to be enrolled in the Leadership Development Program. She received a degree in education and now works in the project she grew up in. (Just one of the many examples of how Compassion works, changes peoples lives, and empowers people to change other lives).
Following the service we took pictures, shook hands, and greeted members of the church. Even with the language barrier it was easy to tell how excited and thankful they were for our sponsorships and arrival in their country. I went to bed that night elated, not quite believing that I was actually in Brazil and finally, really doing this.

As always, please consider sponsoring a child for your own!

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