The past few weeks I have been mentioning various missionaries in my blog post and now is the time to introduce my co-workers in this ministry. We are a team of six and represent at least four different nations. We also each represent different missionary agencies and churches but we work under the auspices of Project 242, a Brazilian evangelical mission and church in the red light district. Below is a recent picture of the team but the dog whose name is Tango is not part of the team. He just wanted to be in the picture.
I will start with the couple next me in the photo. Tim and Becky are from California and they are sent by an missionary organization called Solidarity which works mainly with the urban poor. Solidarity works mainly in the States and Tim is one of the first missionaries to be sent overseas. Tim worked in this ministry for almost seven years and Becky joined after they got married two years ago. Becky has a specific calling to work with victims of human trafficking and this coming year she plans to start a home for young female victims in the city of São Paulo.
The young lady sitting down in front of Mary is Melanie. Melanie is originally from Germany. She has been working in this ministry for six years or so. She is a missionary sent by Steiger Mission which works primarily in Europe. Melanie left her nursing career to answer this call and she is a great help in “Cracolandia” when we do first aid. She handles the complex cases and helps us look like we know what we are doing.
The young man next to Melanie is Caetano. Caetano is the only Brazilian in the team and he leads the team. He has been working in the streets for almost nine years and he is going to be a father for the first time in December. Caetano is presently in his final year of theological studies.
We work from Monday to Friday in the streets. The children are usually active after lunch and we usually go to the areas where they tend to congregate at some point during the day. For the time being we interact with the children and teens through games. Caetano and Tim are more athletic and they tend to play volleyball, soccer and sometimes badminton with the teens. I usually play checkers or some other board games and sometimes venture out to play a little badminton. Sometimes the young girls like their nails to be painted and Mary and Melanie tend to excel at this more than the guys. All these activities serve one purpose only and that is to help us to build a deeper relationship with these little ones. It provides an non-threatening environment for them to interact with us comfortably or even not interact with us if they choose to do.
We would like to evolve in our interactions with them. Playing games is helpful in breaking the ice but we need identify ways to build stronger bonds with the children and teens. We have brought some of the children for a brief excursion to different places of interest. Usually only those who feel comfortable with us are open to going on these short excursions. Each time we are with the children we discover something about them. Sometimes it is something apparently insignificant to the rest of the world but it means something to them when they share with us. One of the boys, Israel, shared with us one day that he entered a Roman Catholic Church and saw an image of Jesus in the tomb. He was quite amazed by it. It was actually one of the few times he was lucid and looked alive. Something touched his soul. I believe that we will see and understand what it meant to him eventually. We have to be patient and persevere. God has sent us as healers but those who are sick need to recognize their illness first. This takes patience. These young children are proud and they need to trust us before they can reveal their illness to us. For now, we are waiting for God to teach us and guide us so that we can become effective instruments of His healing.