Many things have happened since my last entry. We got our missionary visa. This started a chain of events. We bought our plane tickets on the very same day. We frantically stuffed all our worldly possessions into four bags. Suddenly we realized that there was a lot of things to do before we left. We were exhausted by the time we got onto the plane for São Paulo. We arrived here early Wednesday and were warmly received by two missionaries. It took us a while to get our temporary lodgings due to the heavy traffic. However, we did not mind it. This is our home now. We have been praying to be here for months and it has been in our minds to return to São Paulo for years. Pollution, traffic and crime is not going to bring us down. Still, it was sobering journey home. This is now our home.
Everything seems familiar but at the same time different.
We need to reacquaint ourselves. It was a strange feeling that we are going to be novice in a ministry which we were once leaders. The children that we once knew in the streets would be in their thirties. The street culture has changed but the problems remain the same. The children are in the streets because they have given up hope. However, now they take solace in crack cocaine and violence. Our fellow missionaries tell us that it has become harder to build relationships with them because they are high on drugs most of the time and when they are off the effects of drugs, they are robbing or begging to get more money for their next fix.
We had a meeting with the missionary team. We are working in partnership with a missionary organization called Project 242. The mission is Brazilian but our team of six has only one Brazilian member. Four are from the States (including myself even though I am Singaporean/American) and one missionary is from Germany. Our challenge as a team is to find ways to build relationships with these children. Unfortunately it is the very thing that these children are running away from because they are afraid to love and be loved.
Some of the team members are going to focus on visiting teens who are in the local reformatory. Some are considering visiting those who are formerly from the streets and are able to return to their families in the slums. Mary and I have decided that we want to focus on working in the streets directly for one primary reason. We need to know the children in their context and the children need to know us. Most importantly, we want to discover what God is doing in the streets of São Paulo so that we can participate in His work.
The team has agreed to create sacred spaces in the areas where the children hang out and use drugs. We plan to do this by setting aside certain areas in the streets as a places of prayer before we start our activities with the children. We also would close our time in prayer in the same exact location. In this way, we are symbolically consecrating spaces that are usually associated with drugs and violence. Most importantly, it would help us to look at these places with different sets of eyes.
The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness. (Luke 11:34)
This is our first step as a new team. The team has been working together for years now without us but our presence has changed the dynamics of this ministry. Together we are starting a new ministry.
Monday will be our first day in the streets. I will share our first impressions with you. Please be praying with us.