15 September, 2015

A long time coming

Hi, everyone!

Once again, I must apologize for my absence on this blog. My computer died shortly after I got to Brazil, and it’s nearly impossible (at least for me) to update a blog on an iPhone. :) So much has happened between January and now that it will be hard to fill the gaps, but I will certainly try my best! This post, however, will mainly cover my recent time in Brasília.

To start with, I just returned from a 6 week trip back to the USA for a new visa. I did not realize it until I first arrived in Santa Maria, but my visa was only for 90 days; so, even though I was given an extension of 90 more days, I had to return to get a new visa. In just a few short weeks, I was granted a new visa with the requested time of 1 year! Overall, it was a great, albeit brief, trip home, and I loved getting to catch up with family and see how much has changed! Saying goodbye was hard (so much harder this time around!), but I am happy to be back here in Brazil.


My last Sunday at St. Philip with Maggie Stephens and Nick Street.

I returned to Santa Maria, after about 26 hours of travel, on a Wednesday night only to leave again for a youth and young adult conference in Brasília on Friday. The conference was ENUJAB 2015, which roughly translates to the national conference of youth and young adults in the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil. The last time one of these conferences was held was in 2005, so this was a huge undertaking that was desperately needed. Despite being exhausted from traveling and the language adjustment, I was really looking forward to this retreat, and I was NOT disappointed! A small group (I’m talking about 5 or 6) of clergy and lay members organized and set up the whole weekend: Friday afternoon through midday Monday including travel, programming, housing, food, and staff. This wasn’t just a small get together, either. This was an open invitation to all of the youth and young adults of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil (or IEAB: Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil). Hundreds showed up in Brasília (having registered, of course) for this event! It was incredible seeing people from all over Brazil arrive to celebrate and be a part of this!

During the weekend, we had many services, Bible studies, much singing and dancing, many outdoor events like we had on Field Days at school, a beautiful Prayer service, talks and ice breakers, a Talent Show, panels given by the Primate of the IEAB and several Bishops and priests, random jam sessions, and so much more that I can’t begin to list it all! 

In the registration application, we had to rank 10 items on a scale of 1-10 of what we would most like to learn about/do, and on a first registered, first served basis, we were assigned what our 2 offices would be. I was able to attend the Liturgical Dancing office and the Unity in Diversity office. 

The Liturgical Dancing was so great! It was about being in the moment, letting the music move you, and allowing yourself to flow in movement and spirituality. I certainly wasn’t spectacular at it, but it was very freeing and allowed me to access and enjoy a part of spirituality that isn’t usually as encouraged. I’ve heard and done many things like meditation, silent prayer, and others that are similar where you are to focus on being still and silent; however, being told to do the opposite, to move and flow, to just feel the music and the Spirit and move as the Spirit moves through you was fascinating. It was peaceful. The last half of the office, we split into 5 small groups to dance/act out one of the 9 Fruits of the Spirit. Ours was goodness.


Our last pose for Goodness in the Liturgical Dancing class.

My other office, Unity in Diversity, was held by a professor from a university in Recife, and I loved it! He engaged us and asked us, by drawing on a piece of paper, to answer what should have been a simple question: How is a young person in the IEAB? It made us stop and really think about who and how we are in the church. We talked about inclusivity and equality; how not everyone is ready to hear what that message says, but that it doesn’t mean that we should stop pushing for the equality of all in our church. It was a truly great office!

Something that was really incredible about this conference was that there were some participants from all over the world. There was 1 from Portugal, 1 from the Dominican Republic, 1 from Honduras, 5 from Ghana, a representative of Us from England, me from the USA, and a few others from different areas in Central America and Africa. Everyone was mixed in together, so it wasn’t as if it were easy to spot the people who weren’t from Brazil. It was a great mixture of cultures and nationalities, and a true testament of everyone’s faith that we were all there, together, being accepted and growing in the love of Christ. 


The group of us from outside Brazil.

If I could only take one lesson from the weekend (there were so many more than just one!), it would be that we are all equal in our differences. No one person is the same, but the beauty of our faith is that all people are equal in the eyes and love of God. In the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer, in our Baptismal Covenant, we are asked, ‘Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?’ Our response is, ‘I will, with God’s help.’ I believe that is what happened at ENUJAB 2015. We respected each other as beloved children of God, acknowledged our differences, and loved each other, with God’s help. I received an incredible welcome back to Brazil gift in that weekend! 


The official picture from our weekend. A beautiful time with beautiful people.


Thank you all for your patience, support, and love! It means the world to me! I promise another update soon!

Love,

Rachel

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a fun and fulfilling weekend. I am so happy for you and the experiences you get to have in Brazil..I hope your whole life is full of adventure and wonder! Keep the blog posts coming please!

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