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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Survey Trip to Sao Luis

Sao Luis (Saint Louis) is on the North East coast of Brasil. It's a large city of about one million inhabitants.

I had the opportunity to travel along with our pastor Ivanildo and a member of our church Jackiline to this city last weekend.  We travelled by train for sixteen hours on the way there and thirteen on the way back through small towns where for some, the passing train is a source of income as they sell the passengers food and cold drinks through the windows of the hot dusty train.  Some of the local dogs find it quite lucrative as well.

One of the main focuses of the mission is to spread out to new areas, to plant new churches and see more lives transformed.  Sao Luis is on our horizon as a possible new place to do this.

One of the small villages we passed through

Jackiline is from Sao Luis and as we walked the sunny and hilly streets of Sao Luis it was clear that she is well connected.  It's important to start somewhere that you already have relationships.  

Ivanildo & Jackiline
World Cup Fever
Sao Luis seems to have three faces.  The face where Jackiline and her friends and family live looks a bit like Marabá.  The other side is has tall apartment buildings, restaurants and office buildings.  As they say here in Brazil it's 'chici chici' or what we would call 'ritzy' looking. The central part of the city is the historical part with old tiled buildings and a colonial feel to it.

We stayed with a young family and their three boys, Joao Lucas, Joao Philipe and Joao Pedro, who wanted to sneak into my suitcase and come back to Marabá with us.  I would have gladly taken him, he was adorable! 
Joao Philipe, Joao Pedro & Joao Lucas

We visited with one of Jackiline's friends in her apartment above a store.  Her husband and adorable little girl were resting from the days intense heat in a hammock or rede (pronounced hedgie) swinging above the bed.  Jackiline explained to her why we were visiting Sao Luis and it was clear by her reaction, although I couldn't understand her words, that she had some strong opinions about the church.  The part of the conversation I did understand was that in the past she has felt very judged, for her clothing or her life, when at church.  She was visibly agitated.

Ivanildo & I 
Ivanildo (who thankfully speaks clearly and slowly) explained that our church, the Vineyard, isn't about religion.  It's about relationship with Jesus, and that the Bible clearly says it's not our job to judge.  He also explained the second most important commandment in the Bible aside from loving our God with everything we have, is to love others and that God doesn't care about your clothes he cares about your heart.  We believe that it's important not to get your life in order and then give your heart to the Lord, but to give Him your heart and then let him transform you.

We've been fortunate enough to see this happen many time in our own lives and in the lives of others.

There are lots of churches in Brazil, people here are no stranger to religion.  What we want to introduce to people is the very personal, very real, relationship with a living God.  A God who loves us far beyond our clothes, has the power to heal wounds so deep they physically hurt, and who has a plan for our lives bigger and better than we could imagine.

The plan is to visit Sao Luis with a team monthly, developing a small group there and possibly using Alpha has the spring board.  These are early days and first steps towards something new.  It's exciting to be a part of it!
A View of The 'chici' part of Sao Luis and the Ocean

Futebol (a.k.a soccer)

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