Today brought many goodbyes… a lot of “tchau” (this means goodbye in Portuguese).
Today was the last day of ministry for the team and the last day of visiting schools and neighborhoods. We made so many connections and relationships with the children and the interpreters that it made saying goodbye so very difficult.
Although today brought with it much ssadness in leaving, it also turned out to be one of the best days we had here. So many people shared their story for the children, even some on the team who don’t necessarily talk much. God’s presence was so evidently felt among everyone in each school that we visited. One of those people who shared their stories was incoming freshman Macie Culbertson. She said:
“Today I talked about my faith and God for the first time to others. I felt very nervous and emotional because I wasn’t sure what to say, but my teammates kept encouraging me and I shared some of me story with one of the classes. I am so overwhelmed with all the love that these kids have to give, and it’s such a beautiful thing to see them wanting to accept Jesus in their heart.”
In the first school we visited today, THERE WAS A BASKETBALL COURT! A game of 5-on-5 broke out between the Belmont players and some of the students at the school and it was amazing to watch. After the game, each player from the school was given a Belmont t-shirt for participating.
Afterwards, we went back to the same one room school house that we visited yesterday and there were even more kids there today than there were yesterday. Everyone played soccer, took pictures, played music, and even played a little volleyball.
There are no words I could possible write to explain the emotions after this ministry. This team had the ability to see and experience things that nobody outside of the communities could experience and yet, there they were, playing with kids, spreading joy, and radiating Jesus for the entire community to see. This team came to Rio to try to make a positive impact on these kids lives, and while doing so, the kids changes the team’s life.
Each person on this trip is leaving a different person than when they came. There has been so much growth, so many tears, and endless realizations about who God is and furthermore, who we are. These people and this city have done so much more for this team than we could ever do to them, and because of that this team is eternally grateful for this trip.