Explore Church Travels to Brazil – Day 7

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Explore Church in Missoula recently went on a mission trip to Brazil. Follow them on their journey as we post journal entries that were written by a member of their team. You can find previous entries at www.mtsbc.org.

Day 7

There are those who talk about doing, and those who do. Similarly, there are those who talk about working, and there are those who work. I can always tell how much work we accomplished and how hard we worked each day based on the length of my blog posts. The harder and longer the work, the shorter the blog posts are. 

 There is a verse in Ecclesiastes that says something along the lines of, the poor man sleeps well because of his hard labor. I can attest to the accuracy of this statement. The comfort of the ground, air mattress, hammock, or thin, thread-bare single mattress increases exponentially as the intensity and duration of your labor increases.

On previous mission trips, such as home building in Peru and working on a bathroom in Honduras, I am always in awe of the strength, ingenuity, and endurance of the local people as I work alongside them. The pace and relentlessness of their work is overwhelming, but the quality that outshines all the rest is their joy in their labor. Singing, smiling, jokes, and stories abound. It is a priceless lesson seldom, if ever, found in the States to work alongside someone who enjoys working hard manual labor, all day, in the blazing sun. It is humbling to say the least. Brazil did not disappoint in this area. We cranked out some productive hours.  

The keys to volunteer building are flexibility and creativity. Being ready and willing to build anything, out of anything. Day one of building, including starting a fence to keep intoxicated individuals from the three bars surrounding the Buffalo House out of their yard in order to provide a safe place for the countless local children to play. We set posts in hand dug holes, mixed concrete by hand to pour around the posts, cut and drilled pickets, nailed the pickets onto upper and lower cross members, notched the existing structure for roof joists to create an outdoor classroom, set roof joists, completed 60% of the metal roof for the outdoor classroom, and used all-thread to tie the roof joists to the building. I wanted to attempt a full day of work in 100 degrees Fahrenheit with 100% humidity. We almost made it, but quit at 4:30.  

We swam, bathed, and did our laundry (on our bodies) in the Rio Negro. Its water black from the tannins in the tree leaves, like a super strong brew of tea. It made the water an excellent hiding place and a local boy started a game of underwater tag with us. It was impossible to see or catch him. Laughs were had all around. Entertainment is easy to make when no other options are available, and the language of play is universal. 

Our big workday required a big meal. We went to the local pizza joint to partake in the surprisingly good and unique Brazilian pizza. Hamburger and French fry pizza, desert pizza with chocolate and candy, classic pepperoni, and fresh basil from the onsite herb garden, all on hand tossed crust. The highlight, for me, of all international travel is the local food and the fusions they make with western cuisine. It is worth going anywhere new for the food alone. And the food locals prepare and eat themselves tells you volumes about their culture, climate, and sustainable practices. The time and labor to make one cup of Acai is immense. They harvest and prepare the berries as a community with pride.

The value and celebration of their local food sources is inspiring. We can all learn a thing or two about loving our local produce and cuisine from people in the humblest circumstances.

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