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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Brazil Mission Trip

Next week I'm headed to the Instituto Central do Povo (People's Central Institute in English) with a group of 12 volunteers from my church. Known as ICP, the institute was founded in 1906 by an American Methodist missionary, so they are now celebrating 104 years of service to the residents of Rio de Janeiro's oldest hillside slum.

The phograph to the left shows you some of the buildings of ICP -- the arched windows on the right are the church. You can see the hillside community in the background. This is actually the oldest hillside slum (known as a favela) in Rio.

ICP is a pretty large complex with at least six or seven main buildings, which are all fairly old. So, there is usually a ton of work for us to do -- painting, cleaning and just generally fixing things up.

Here are Elyse and Ellen working away during our 2007 trip.

One of the highlights of the trip is our host, Marion Way. He is a retired Methodist missionary who has been at ICP since the 1950s. Marion is more like Jesus than anyone I have ever encountered.

He is patient, gentle and soft-spoken, and his capacity to forgive and give people second chances seems boundless.

To meet Marion and experience his grace-filled spirit is one of the highlights of the trip.

ICP started the first kindergarten in Rio, and the preschool and daycare now serve about 350 kids, ages 6 months to 7 years. Many of the children's parents have to commute to other parts of the city to work, so they drop off their kids early in the morning and pick them up late in the evening.
In 2006, with help from the building renovations completed by the youth team from Myers Park, ICP started a tutoring program for elementary-aged students. In Brazil, students go to school for only half a day, so ICP felt there was a real need for remedial tutoring to help keep kids on grade level -- and to save them from having too much time around the temptations that often exist in the slums.

I first went to ICP with a group from First United Methodist Church in Dothan, Alabama in 1999. It stole my heart, and I returned as a volunteer in 2002 for three months -- with gracious assistance from church, friends and family. When I arrived at Myers Park UMC, there was already a strong world missions program in place, with opportunity to add new sites. I am forever grateful to Rev. Joe Hamby for agreeing to take our youth to Rio in 2006. Since then, we have taken one or more groups from the church every summer -- this marks the fifth year.

Can't wait to see these smiling little faces again!
 

1 comment:

Mindy Da Silva said...

In case you haven't heard, Marion Way passed away on Sunday 5-12-2013. Your blog about your trip to ICP describes him perfectly. He will be greatly missed. He will be cremated in Brazil. There will be a memorial in SC at a later date. Blessings to you,

Mindy da Silva