Brazil Missions Trip Recap

We had a great trip to Brazil and we have so many people to thank and so much for which to be thankful. Here is a link to our pictures (623 to be exact):
Below is a day by day review of our trip…if you get some to look at the pics or read the itinerary we certainly thank you in advance. Also, it would be great for you to join us by offering prayers for the missionaries to be encouraged and the Gospel to continue to advance in Brazil.
God Bless!
Dennis, Todd, Troy, Fred and Braxxtin
Brazil – Day 1 Arrival: Left KC at 7:10pm Sunday – arrived in Porta Aelgre (roll the R) at 3:00pm today. Went to wrestling practice, dropped off luggage and then visited some new friends for an authentic Brazilian dinner…beans, rice, chicken, pork, noodles, veggies, rice pudding and Tapioca pudding for dessert :). Oh and we all were able to sip some authentic “Green Tea” which woke us all up. Hey Kansas drivers you guys are all right…these Brazilians are crazy…seriously. Oh, one last shout out to the dog who met one of those drivers head on…R.I.P. Seriously, please pray for us as we have a full day planned with service projects, wrestling practice and more visits with the locals.
Brazil – Day 2 Digging in: Tonight in our devotions we were again reminded of God’s provision in bringing us to Brazil. Our devotion said “we should not be surprised when God goes above and beyond all that we would ask or dream.” It was pretty amazing to reflect on the stories we have heard from Missionary Tom Latham. We have been so blessed just to be here and experience so much already.
We woke up this morning to a big breakfast of oatmeal, fruit, bread, coffee and juice. We took off for the church for a work project. We were able to paint at the church building while Braxxtin took a trip to the doctor with the missionary (he won’t be getting out of work tomorrow =)). Then it was time for a HUGE lunch which Braxxtin has simply described as “wonderful.”
We spent time planning the afternoon practice and then it was time to head over to the school for wrestling. There were a lot of kids and we had a lot of fun on the mat. Almost as much fun as we have had attempting to learn the Portuguese language. Then it was time to head home starting with 16 people in the van dropping them off, dodging dogs and angry motorists.
Then it was time for dinner with more guests and more great food. After eating, we loaded up in the van armed with Gospel tracts and church invitations to distribute in the city. A few more guests when we arrived back at HQ, some skype time, ping pong and devotions. All in all it was another great day.
Brazil – Day 3 Project Day: Worked on raking leaves, splitting wood, weed eating, vehicle maintenance and eating…A LOT!
The missionary and Dad Campbell had a great visit with one of the wrestling families who are coming to the tournament on Saturday and possibly church on Sunday. In addition, both of them were bitten by the dog…probably earned a bonus crown for that one =).
We had more great wrestling practices today with several more new wrestlers and then went over to another families home for dinner…incredible food once again.
The missionary is also taking time to teach us so each night we have a class for 30-45 minutes. Tomorrow morning we leave early and head up to the mountains.
Brazil – Day 4 Mountains: Woke up early for a two hour trip up into the mountains. Stopped by the Black Forest and hiked around the lake. There is a quaint city nestled up in the mountains Gramado which is where we spent most of our time. We went to the Gondola, saw the waterfall and rode a zip line. Then it was time for the chocolate factory and then off to lunch where we experienced Brazilian fondue at its best. AMAZING!!!  Then we walked around the city and toured a famous Catholic church with life size sculptures of each of the disciples.
Then we bought some souvenirs and more chocolate. We were able to distribute tracts at each stop along the way thanks to Dad who is a tract distribution superhero. Then it was time to head down the mountain with a stop in the slums on the way home. The poverty is heartbreaking and there is a clear need for the Gospel.
We ended the day with a church service. The people are so gracious. They began by washing our feet (new experience…check that off the bucket list). We were each able to share a testimony through an interpreter which was pretty awesome as well. We closed out the service with a time of prayer and testimonies. It was a great reminder that no matter the differences in culture, language and experiences, Jesus is the only answer for the questions of life.
Brazil – Day 5 Brazilian Jujitsu Club: We started today with homemade Churros for breakfast. Then it was time to finish up some work projects and set up for the wrestling tournament. We were invited to teach wrestling at a Jujitsu club where we were able to meet many new friends. Most of the guys at the club are business men who use their lunch break to train. This is a key entry point for the Gospel. At the end we all circled up to pray and several of the guys shared that was their favorite part of the day.
Then we went over to the public school to teach two more sessions. After that we went off for dinner at the home of the assistant pastor. We had group devotions, prayed for the tournament and went to bed.
Brazil – Day 6 Tournament Day: Early this morning we took off for downtown Porta Alegre to do some shopping, sightseeing and distribute tracts. It was a great time walking in the city market and seeing all the street vendors and finding some pretty awesome souvenirs.
This afternoon we held the wrestling tournament for all the kids that we have been working with all week. Fred and Todd were the referees, Troy did the photography, Dennis shared the Gospel with the group and Braxxtin wrestled four times and won each match.
After the tournament we took a much needed break and then got ready for dinner. This evening we ate the poorest house yet. The house was very tiny with wide cracks in the floor and the walls. A single mom/grandmother is raising three growing boys in very difficult conditions. Six years ago she accepted Christ and He has totally changed her life. We closed out the meal by singing Amazing Grace and tears were streaming down her face. This experience is impossible to describe, but it has helped each of us to appreciate God’s grace even more. After this we came back to HQ and were able to have a final teaching session from the missionary and then share all that God has taught us on this trip.
Brazil – Day  7 Sunday/Departure  Day:  Troy left earlier in the morning to go to a prison ministry with the missionaries son, Shane.   Todd, Fred and Braxxtin packed for their departure and then loaded up to have breakfast with the family that helped to transport us around all week.  We ate manioc root cooked a couple of different ways and had fresh squeezed tangerine juice from their  tree.  After some pictures with the family, we all loaded up for the airport since they wanted to see us off.  On the way to the airport, we enjoyed some more time trying to communicate and learn words as well as sing some songs.  We enjoyed a time of prayer and hugs before leaving.  We were impacted in a great way on this trip and hope that God allows us to see some of these dear Christian friends again.
We arrived in Sao Paulo and had a 7 hour layover and had been told on the flight that we should not go downtown since traffic was so unpredictable.  One of the Brazilians that we met called this city the concrete jungle.   It is a city of 26 million and we had difficulty finding anyone in the airport that could speak English.  We did not want to take a chance on a taxi or bus so we opted for taking a walk to a nearby neighborhood.  Not sure if this was the wisest choice, but it was definitely interesting.  Three white guys with backpacks and cameras walking in the ghetto of Sao Paulo.  I’ll let our pictures and video clips tell the rest.  J  We did make it back safely for our flight back to the states. 
Troy was able to spend time with Shane Latham who has a prison ministry among some of the worst criminals in the state. It is maximum security and each prisoner poses a significant threat. I was able to participate with two groups of prisoners. This experience was a highlight of the trip for me.
Brazil – Day 8 Mission Almost Completed:  We (Todd, Fred and Braxxtin) had an uncomfortable, but safe 10 hour flight from Sao Paulo to Newark.  Our flight was delayed in Newark a couple of hours due to a storm, but we made it back safely.  While we were very glad to be home and see our families, we do miss the friends that we made in Brazil.  God used this trip in our lives and we hope we encouraged the missionaries and many of the Brazilians that we met.
Meanwhile back in Brazil, Dad and Troy were able to be with Tom Latham and share the gospel with a neighbor to the church. He was very open to Christ, his name is Johnny if you would like to pray for him by name. We went from there to the Jujitsu club and had a great time with the guys. Then it was on to the kids wrestling practice and back home just in time for a ride on the Harley before dark. We ended the night with a bonfire (yes, Braxxtin a bonfire :)).
Brazil – Day 9 Sao Paulo: After a nice breakfast and several “goodbyes” we loaded up for the airport. We landed in Sao Paulo in time for a 10 hour layover. Dave Huffman who is a friend from college and a missionary in Sao Paulo, and his daughter Christina picked us up for a tour of the city. It was awesome! It was really a lot of fun to see Dave after 15 years and it was great to hear about their work in the city. God has blessed them as a family as well as their ministry.
We parked and took the subway downtown Sao Paulo that has a population of 26 million. I could literally feel the energy when we were walking downtown. We ate at an authentic Brazilian steakhouse, looked at the city from the top of a building, toured a catholic church and spent time walking down market street. After being totally amazed at the skills of the motorbikes weaving through traffic at ridiculous speeds, we made it back to the airport in plenty of time for a long and uncomfortable overnight flight back to the US. It was a great trip, and it was GREAT to be home and see the family. They were amazing to allow us all to take the time for this trip. God is good!


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