Most of our mission team is still up playing cards; the group has settled into a great groove. Our group of 12 is a nice mix of ages from 20s to 60s.
Officially, our work project is to prepare several rooms and bathrooms for the arrival of 72 youth from Dunwoody UMC near Atlanta on Saturday. (That group is spending most of its stay working at the camp, but they will spend a few days touring the sites in Rio and sleeping here.) We are painting, spackling, sanding walls and assembling bunk beds. The hospitality center has been renovated and expanded, and this is the final stage. Those who have been here in prior years will appreciate the additional space, including plenty of bathrooms.
Our unofficial job -- and the more important one, in my opinion -- is to play soccer, tickle tummies, chase toddlers and give as much love and care as we can to the students and staff of this special place. Our host Marion always tells us they appreciate our energy and enthusiasm as much as any money that we send or any work that we do.
As usual, they are feeding us entirely too much delicious Brazilian food. After a variation of beef enchiladas for lunch, birthday cake for snack and chicken stroganoff for dinner (with a strawberry tiramisu-type dessert), Eliete baked a cake for an evening snack. It was warm from the oven and worth every calorie. Did I mention we had cookies, fruit, cake and fresh bread with ham, cheddar cheese, cream cheese and Nutella for breakfast? It's like spending the night at Paula Deen's house.
The overeating and lack of exercise started to get to me, though, and this morning I ran up the steep driveway a few times, made some laps around the soccer court and climbed the many sets of stairs. I even did some "suicides" on the court and wished Coach Morris were here to see me (I used to get out of PE in middle school by offering to tidy up the coaches' office). Exercising outside at ICP is a bit like swimming in a bathtub, and I think I looked pretty odd to some of the parents arriving to drop off their kids. However, some of the moms also looked a little odd to me in their jackets, scarves and gloves! It was a chilly winter morning in Rio -- about 68 degrees. Pretty cute to see the kiddos in their winter hats.
After my exercise, we were invited to partake in the 9:30 aerobics class downstairs. Three of us accepted. Oh, my. This was honestly the most fun I've ever had in group exercise. Not sure what I enjoyed most: the hip gyrations (great for your core!) or the broomsticks we used for situps. It was like a combination of zumba and pole dancing, and most of the other ladies were in their 60s. Dr. Howell arrived from the airport in the middle of the class, but we couldn't get him to join in. I can't wait to do it again on Thursday!
The other moment of hilarity today was watching the three-year-old son of our van driver wiggle his fannie and sing the "la la ooh la la" part of Lady Gaga's Bad Romance. Grace keeps playing it for him on her computer -- that is, when we're not replaying the pastor's extremely entertaining dance moves from the charismatic Sunday night church service. James and Kevin have both been told they need to step it up in the pulpit.
We really are getting some great work done but are having a wonderful time every step of the way.