Habitat Brazil 2011
Information about the 2011 team of First Mennonite Church members that served with Habitat for Humanity in Brazil.
November 15, 2011
Anita and I will be heading to Rio de Janeiro tomorrow morning and will be on a flight back to the U.S. very late tomorrow evening....arriving in Omaha Thursday morning. We may hang on the beach in Rio for a bit during the day.
The bed and breakfast we are staying at is wonderful and the 2 other couples staying here with 4 of us from our Habit team have been really nice too. One young couple is from a Church of God in Christ Mennonite Church, Heston, KS. The other couple is from England.
This has been an incredible journey for us. I hope you all enjoyed the bits of sharing we sent you. We have TONS of photos that we would love to share too. After I get back I will try to post them on the web so that you can view them.
We all hope you get a chance to experience life in a different country or area than where you live, and learn to know and appreciate the differences in God´s people around the world and in His creation.
With Blessings of Peace from Iguassu Falls, Brazil,
November 13-14, 2011
Our Habitat team has officially ended. We spent most of Sunday at a grand park in downtown Sao Paulo. We imagine that it is like Central Park in NY City..... lots of people walking, biking, playing, sitting around enjoying the park. There is a Museum of Modern Art and a Museum of Contemporary Art in the Park. The exhibit in the Museum of Contemporary Art had an exhibition of artists from...... North America - okay so we had to go to South America to see our North American Artists. Anyway.... some of the art was good, fun and interesting..... the rest was not so good. However, while in the park we got to see many birds and enjoy the green space, the trees, the plants, the people and lots of walking.
We got up at 4:00am Mon. morning to get to the airport and fly to our next destinations. Jim flew back to the Recife area in Northeast Brazil where he will spend the rest of this week and be back in Omaha next Sunday. Carol and Anita flew to Iguassu Falls, which is on the border of Brazil and Argentina. 5 other members of our Habitat team also went to Iguassu Falls and most of us are staying at the same bed & breakfast so we are sight seeing together. On Monday we went to the Brazil park side of the falls. The falls are AMAZING!!!!! Lots bigger than Niagara Falls in NY. We walked up and down through the woods near the falls and could see the falls from many angles on our walk. As we got closer we felt the spray and saw birds actually flying into the falls to their nests behind the falls - truly an unbelievable sight. THe power and force and loudness of the falls filled our senses.
Bird watching was a great thing but also seeing butterflies and getting photos of them was also a great thing. We went to a bird park also. The birds there were in cages or under netting walkways. we got to see Toucans up close and personal so much so that we could stand next to them and take pictures.
Today, Tuesday, we went to the Argetina side of the falls. That was also very nice too. We walked over metal bridges for a mile or so over the waters that were kinda like the Platte River only HUGER!!! Along the way we saw lots of interesting birds and even a turtle in the water. We took a boat ride down part of the river but did not go over the falls - (yea) :)
Some of our team friends went in a boat that actually went under the falls and they got soaked.
We had a great two days.
Carol and Anita
November 13, 2011
On Sunday Nov. 13th, after spending the afternoon at the park in Sao Paulo, we
taxied to an Evangelical Mennonite Church to worship with them. We looked them
up before our trip to Brazil. There is one other Mennonite Church in the Sao
Paulo area but the Evangelical Mennonite Church was closest to where we were.
Church services are held in the evenings. It was rainy out. We were warmly
greeted by the pastor and a young man who could speak some English. There were
about 50 people there. Much like our church in Lincoln, there were many
families with young children.
It was a blessing to attend worship together with our sisters and brothers in Christ in Sao Paulo.
November 11 & 12, 2011
More from Brazil:
Yesterday we worked in the favela till 1:00pm. Jim helped install windows and made a window opening bigger. Anita and Carol helped bucket sand and rocks up to a 2nd story to make cement.......then we had to `be flexible` and wait for more supplies so we had a tour of some of the Habitat projects to see how much work was getting done. We have done a lot of work and have helped these families in a big way. Thanks to all of you for your support of us as we make a difference in the lives of others.
We also met a family who is on the list to get volunteer help from Habitat soon. Seven of them live in a tiny 2 room dilapidated home. They have lived there for 7 years and live on 560 reals (about $350) per month. I know they will be blessed so much to have a decent home.
Towards the end of the morning, more sand and bricks were delivered to the street and many of the team formed a bucket brigade about 200 feet from the street down the alley to the home and up the stairs to the second floor. It's quite something to be part of a bucket brigade. We were a well-oiled machine and the brick layer had to tell us to slow down sometimes. It was supposed to rain, and if it did rain we would not have been able to do any of this work so we were glad it didn't rain so that we could get as much work done as possible.
After lunch at the NGO we went back into the favela. Some of the NGO kids drummed their way down the main access street to the favela and then drummed and danced for us. They made drums of whatever materials worked as drums, like water barrels. The boys drummed and the girls danced. The girls clapped tin cans together to add to the rhythm. The families made yummy cakes for us and we drank soda. Photos were taken, good-byes said and hugs given. A few tears were shed.
The team ate supper together at one of the restaurants in Embu, the town where our hotel was.
Saturday Nov. 12th - we went to Guarani tribe of indigenous people. what a treat! they are in charge of a project to reforest the rainforest in that area and have a nursery for trees and bushes. The people showed us their homes, and the boys fished with their hands and nets in the reservoir. the kids were quite fun. a group sang for us with some men; boys playing drums, guitar and violin. it was wonderful. we bought some of the necklaces and other things they made.
Tchau for now!
Jim, Carol and Anita
November 11, 2011
We finished our
final day of work here by moving debris out of a house (bucket brigade) and
moving sand and bricks into a house. Carol and I worked with the group that did
that unskilled labor, while Jim put in a window or two in a house on which we'd
done some demolition. Demolition was fun. A co-demolisher said to pick up the
sledgehammer and think of someone you don't like as you whale away on the wall.
I don't think there's anyone I dislike quite as much as that.
November 8, 2011
Boa Noite (Good Evening),
We met the other 21 people on our team....a good group of people ranging in age from 20ish to 70ish. Spent Sunday afternoon at the art market in Embu (which is also where our hotel is). What a fun place, almost like a fair only nicer. saw lots of great arts, jewelry, trinkets, music everywhere.
On Monday we were bussed to the favela where we are working. The homes are built close together on a hillside with walkways that go up and down and around. We broke into 4 or 5 teams to work on different homes. Jim, Carol and Anita have been working together. We cleared out a backyard that´s about 500 sq. ft. and then dug the trenches for the footings to build a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. The home that the brother and sister are living in now is about the same size but is not built on a foundation so they will tear down the house that they are living in now when the new one is built. We did lots and lots of digging and there had been a lot of garbage dumped in that area so we dug through a lot of garbage.
Today we also worked another home. We demolished a wall that needs to be a door. Lots of pounding. We wear hard hats, goggles and masks.
Gotta go to meet the team for supper.
Carol, Jim and Anita
November 8, 2011
I know that Carol has been sending messages, but I thought I'd chime in with some things I've been sending to my family. You've heard some of it already, but oh well.
We spent the day at the botanical gardens and saw wonderful sights, like trees that have bowling-ball sized things growing out of them all the way up and down the tree. We saw a pair of pygmy marmosets and I remembered Lincoln children's zoo and how the stuffed-animal Wild Thing fascinated the marmosets there. Yesterday we went to the famous Christ the Redeemer statue and saw it in all of its overwhelmingness and weirdness. Helicopters and hang liders flew by on occasion. We also saw coatis, which were acting and looking very like raccoons. The birds, as you can imagine, are colorful and tropical. I've identified about twenty so far, including the Magnificent Frigate Bird and the Violaceous Euphonia, both of which are as good as their names.
Tomorrow early we fly to Sao Paulo and meet the other twenty members of the Habitat team. I'm not sure what to expect other than the unexpected.
Everyone is really good-humored and works and rests as necessary. We are ages 21 to 70.
This afternoon we worked at demolition. Demolished part of a wall to put in a door. We build, we take down. We end up tired, but I'm not really sore, so all is good.
Hope all is well there. All the best,
November 5, 2011
Greetings from Rio!
Spent most of the day at the beautiful Botanical Gardens in Rio de Janeiro. Took hundreds of pictures - hard to believe, I know! Anita was in bird heaven and identified about 20 new birds while Carol tried to get good photos of them and sometimes was successful thanks to a good camera with 18x zoom. Jim took bird description notes for Anita so we made quite a team.
We saw a couple of baby marmosets in the trees. The gardens had hundreds of acres of trees from around the world. Lots of huge trees. Some of the palm trees were very tall and thin but I think they must have been 100 feet high! There were lots of bromeliads and orchids....used up one battery with all the photos Carol took.
When we got back to the hotel we went to the beach and drank the water from coconuts - nice and refreshing. It was kind of cool out and the sign by the ocean said "Danger Current - no swimming" we just got our feet wet and sat/laid on the beach for awhile enjoying the salt spray in the air. The waves were more violent than when we were there on Thursday. There was also lots more people on the beach since it was Saturday. Salesmen came by all the time selling stuff from cotton candy to t-shirts to water and pop.
Shopped for shoes, then ate at a another kilo restaurant. Early tomorrow we fly to Sao Paulo and meet up with our Habitat team.
Wishing you all coconut and mangoes!
Carol, Jim and Anita
November 4, 2011
We´re in Rio de Janeiro. The weather is wonderful 60´s and 70´s,
sunshine. Yesterday after our 13 hr flight trip from Omaha to Rio, we spent the
afternoon relaxing on Copacabana beach. The ocean is very cold. We gathered
small seashells and enjoyed the sun and ocean breeze. Today we went downtown
and saw some very old buildings - the National Library, the Municipal Theatre
with shiny gold trim. We spent at least an hour trying to find the right bus to
take to the Christ Statue. Got hungry so we ate before actually finding the
right bus. Went up the mountain on a very winding, hair pin turn road. Had a
bunch of steps to climb up at the end. The sun was shining on the back of the statue which made for great photos and what awesome views from all sides of the
city of Rio de Janeiro! Anita was in heaven, finding many birds she had never
seen before, especially the violaceous euphonia! and we also saw some small
animals called coati (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coati).
We had awesome fresh made juice from mangoes, pineapple and passion fruit. It
was sooooo good!
Tchau for now!
First Mennonite Church, 7300 Holdrege, Lincoln, NE 68505 (402)467-1526