How does one sum up the past week our team just experienced? How does one pick the best headline to encompass the journey we just went through?
Today is our last day in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. Yes, Brasil and not Brazil. The people of Brasil spell it with an “S” and we want to understand and learn as much as we can from our new friends. So Brasil it is!
This morning we loaded up the bus at 8:00 am, ate breakfast and had one last debriefing before we left the hotel. Sharon spoke words of wisdom, love, and gratitude for our team’s open hearts, transparency, and endless love they poured out onto the kids of Rio. Our team gifted Betty, or “Betchi” as the people of Rio call her, with a special token of their appreciation to remember their first trip to Rio. Our team shared tears and hugs and headed for the bus.
We had a few last treats before leaving Rio. On the list were visiting the Christ the Redeemer statue (Cristo Redentor), lunch at a Brazilian steakhouse, and lastly a trip up to Sugar Loaf. The team was in speechless awe once reaching the top of the mountain where the statue stood tall. Though many other tourists were there to see it, at times it seemed like it was just you and the Lord up on that hill together. It was a beautiful sight.
Lunch was delicious at the steakhouse with endless filets, sirloin, lamb, duck, ribs- you name it. A feast for a king! Pastor Douglas, Rosa, and their daughter, Rebecca, joined us at the end of lunch and we said our final ‘see you later’ to them. Such a heartfelt time with this God fearing family. We will forever keep them in our prayers.
Our last trip for this journey was to Sugar Loaf, Pao de Asucar. We hopped on a – trolley cart/tram-similar to a ski lift and took two trips up to the highest point of the mountains. What an incredible view of where we had served this past week. We saw our hotel, the beach across from where we stayed, the Christ statue, the area of Sharon’s old home, and many other familiar places. It was a beautiful view and no photo can do it justice.
Before wrapping up the day, we asked our team what the Christ the Redeemer statue meant to them – what does it make them think about?
Sally McCabe – “Once I look back on the pictures I took that were so clear and breathtaking and perfect really, it makes me reflect on every memory from this trip. When I was at the statue, I was thinking this is such a perfect way to end such an awesome journey with my team. Such great people and memories here that we will be leaving behind. I think that’s the one symbol that’s going to remind me of what we did here.”
Frankie Joubran – “It’s so real. It’s Rio. It’s hope. It’s the one thing that keeps the people of Rio going. Waking up and seeing that everyday was an incredible reminder that Christ is always there. He’s everywhere – He’s such a big God. It puts in perspective how big Christ is in our life.”
Natalie Cohlmeyer – “It represents everything of our faith. When you go up there, it’s amazing. It shows you that God is real.”
Paris Lawson – “To me, the Christ the Redeemer statue represents how He’s always looking over us. Anywhere you go in Rio, you can always see it. That’s so accurate about how God is. He’s everywhere. He always sees us no matter how small we think we are, where we are in the world. He always sees us and hears us and He cares about us. His arms are outstretched, ya know. He wants you there.”
Coach Cameron Newbauer – “To me, it represents the beauty of Christ. He’s always there overseeing, protecting.. That’s what is great about seeing it here in Rio, Brazil. You can see it from so many different places as a reminder He’s there- He’ll never leave us or forsake us. He’s always watching over us.”