As we walked through Vila Safira, we could see how the government is stepping into the community and working to improve the infrastructure by establishing roads and rebuilding faulty structures. However, this presents some unique challenges to the needy in this community. The local officials come in and give residents a very short notice that their home is going to be leveled because it doesn't meet their qualifications. Alexsandro shared his concern with us that the government is making these improvements in order to use the area for something else, displacing the poor who live there. His hope is that the local government is going to create more intentional lots and property line and give the current residents official deeds to the land where they live. This would help establish the community and give them a place to officially call their own.
Yesterday afternoon we spent time with Pastor Magioli and his family. He presented the current projects of Ministério Pão Vivo and shared his vision for the next year of the ministry. We dreamed together about the lives and communities that can be changed with the impact Christ can have on their lives. Our evening was filled with fellowship with the Magiolis and saying our goodbyes to their family since they are traveling this weekend.
Today we were able to enjoy a little sight seeing. Our day trip took us to Gramado and Canela, towns in the mountains a couple hours from Porto Alegre. We got to have a little change in scenery and got to see a different part of the state! Our adventures took us shoe shopping (a big industry in this area), to chocolate stores (also one of the highlights), to visit a 700 year old tree (just as exciting as it sounds), and on a sky tram ride to see a beautiful, mountain waterfall.
With one more day of ministry at Igreja Batista Viva ahead of us, we are so thankful for all this week has held. We've been spent emotionally and physically with all we have seen and done. Though we have been exposed to extreme poverty and dire circumstances these last several days, the truth is we are surrounded with the same hopelessness without Christ everyday in our own communities. But at home that hopelessness is shrouded in suits and ties, 401(K)s, nice cars and houses, social status, or whatever people use to try to fill the void in their hearts that leave lives just as empty as those living in the slums we've seen this week. It's a blessing to be a small part of a ministry that is making such a big difference in the lives of the people in these communities. As Pastor Magioli often says, "We can't do everything, but we do everything we can."
|Walking through the community with Pastor Alexsandro|
|Alexsandro and Bárbara with Septembrino, a resident whose home was demolished by the city.|
|We made some new friends with the kiddos in the area!|
|Alexsandro and his wife Luciane|
|We're so excited for the new building for this church in Vila Safira!|
|Our time of sharing with the Magiolis and our new pastor for the church at Vila Nova and his family.|
|Playing tourist today!|
|Canela's natural beauty|
|Gremado's downtown area, heavily influenced by the German heritage in this area|