I just got back from a three-week trip to Brasilia, Brazil. I traveled with Impact 360 as my class went on a cultural immersion experience to Brazil and South Africa. Half of my course went to Soth Africa, and the other half went to Brazil.
Throughout the fall semester, all 85 students take a course called “Gods Heart For The Nations.” This course prepares our hearts for kingdom work outside of the United States. It is a course that opens our eyes up to the Global Church. We are exposed to different cultures and how God’s name is proclaimed worldwide. We then closed out the fall semester with a three-week immersive experience.
Three teams traveled to Brazil, where our Lifeshape partners welcomed us. Lifeshape hosted a three-day conference and planned excursions, projects, and an overnight camp. We were welcomed to Brazil with a hike where we swam in fresh springs and waterfalls. We experienced a day of rest as we enjoyed God’s creation. Each impact team is then introduced to a life-shape team that would plan the projects and excursions that each group went on. My team, called Awake, worked on three different projects. We worked with a ministry called Cristolandia. This ministry Is for men and women addicted to drugs. Their motto written on bright yellow T-shirts reads, “Jesus Transforms.” This is a testament to the ministry as I genuinely see a life that has been transformed on these men’s faces. This transformation is only possible through the work of Jesus Christ. We were introduced to the ministry’s mission, shared a meal, heard testimonies, and ended the day with our leader getting a haircut. These men were learning different trades and getting school credits to go out into the world and make a living. Our team painted a wall the following day and enjoyed playing soccer with some of the men. This being our first project in Brazil, I was fully prepared to serve and let God use me. To my surprise, God just showed me His heart in these men recovering from addictions. I wasn’t in Brazil to serve; I was there to see the Gospel in another country. God’s heart is beyond our backyards.
The following night we traveled to the poorer side of town, where we walked along the streets and prayed for those struggling with drug addictions. We walked with missionaries of the ministry who go to recruit people off the streets. We sang songs for individuals and prayed for them.
Our second project was at a special needs center called Apae. We put in hard work for two full days as we cleaned out a greenhouse garden and painted a classroom and hallway. We closed the month, working the life-shape camp called “canceled.” We had guest speakers speak on not being ashamed of The Gospel. They encouraged these young teens to walk not according to the flesh but according to the spirit. I had the opportunity to be a camp counselor, but I struggled because I didn’t speak the same language as these 12-year-old girls. Despite the language barrier, I learned that just being around the girls and sharing a laugh with them was enough.
In the middle of our late-night talks, one girl would translate for me what the girls were saying. They were eager to learn and would ask me about some of my favorite things. We would have small awkward conversations that ended with us shrugging our shoulders and laughing. I realized the importance of body language and that you can still connect with someone despite language barriers.
We can learn from different cultures. Brazilians have a huge heart for hospitality and celebration. Birthdays and other celebrations are always fun and filled with food and music. I came back home with a greater love for food. I fell in love with Brazilian chocolate, Acai bowls, and rice and beans for lunch and dinner daily. I brought home an excitement to share a little of this culture as I started baking Brazilian carrot cake for my family. Impact 360 culture encourages a discipline of celebration, and I understand why now. Life can be challenging, but the Lord is always good and worth celebrating.