none live for themselves

a glimpse into the mind a lazy dreamer

O Deus é bom! God is good!

Posted by Jonathan Chant on 16:16, July 22, 2006

Just a short disclaimer before I start this post: this is going to be super long. So be prepared to be reading for a while if you you’re going to read this. If you don’t feel like reading through all this, you can just browse through the photos and read the important stuff in the last 5, 6 paragraphs. You have been warned. ;)

Well, it’s been 3 days since I’ve gotten back from Brazil. I’m not really much darker (if at all), a little tired (but catching up on rest), but definitely still amazed at the great things that happened during the trip. I can’t say that it’s been a life changing experience where I will be taking whole new outlook on life and be heading in a new direction with God, but I do think I have learned a few things and maybe just changed slightly. First, recap and pictures!

8 of us (Caspian, Teresa, Kathy, Ling Chee, Teresa, Luisa, Chris, and I) headed out on Air Canada flight 90 late at night on July 8 for São Paulo. It was a pretty uneventful flight, but it was fun to be a witness to Ling’s and Kathy’s first time on an airplane. The food was pretty good too. I don’t know why people don’t like airplane food, I’ve always thought it’s pretty good.

The team at Pearson before our flight

After a 10 hour flight, we got into São Paulo the next morning (Sunday) around 10 am local time (Sao Paulo is only an hour ahead of us). There we were greeted by “Fan Goh” and proceeded to stuff our luggage into his church’s van to head to Cabo Verde church. We met up with our other team members, the Loh siblings (Nat, Karissa, & Justina) there and joined in the youth service there. We met a lot of the youth plus Vincent and Rebecca, the adults who we would be working with at the camp. A great time there as we sang Portuguese worship songs (we even did “I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever in Portuguese”) and all shared with the youth why were in Brazil or our testimony. Many of the youth there spoke English, so there were no problems in communicating. We had our first taste of Brazilian food here! mmmm…feijão (beans). This was also the first time we encountered the Brazilian way of greeting people: with hugs and kisses! Quite different to the grunts and simple hellos here in Canada.

The whole team reunited at Cabo Verde

After some pictures, we then proceeded to head to what eventually became our home for the next 3 days: the church in São José dos Campos. São José is about an hour outside São Paulo, so it took us a bit of time to get there. But that was perfect for most of us as we were tired from the flight. I believe most of us slept most of the way (I was in a different car than the rest of the team with Nat & Ling) but I know Ling was sleeping the whole way. Her head kept bobbing from side to side and a couple of times hit my shoulder pretty hard. I’m surprised she didn’t wake up. It was all pretty amusing. :)

When we got to the church, we met even more youth that we’d be going to the English camp with. More hugs and kisses all around! We joined their youth service where we worshiped some more in Portuguese and some of us shared our testimonies. Props to everyone who shared in Cantonese! After the service, it was time for more Brazilian food! More beans and rice! But not just any beans, feijoada, a black bean stew. mmmm…soo good! The church made so much of this, we ended up having it practically every meal till Tuesday. No complaints from me! We did some grocery shopping that night for the next few days that night at the local 24 hour supermarket. It’s also where I got my Brazilian Havaianas flip-flops and we got our week’s supply of guaraná, the Brazilian soft drink.

Justina and I sampling the Brazilian cuisine

The Teresas playing with twins Thomas and Nathan

The next few days before camp started on Wednesday, we did some last minute preparations and went over everything with the youth leaders at the church. It was great getting to know a lot of the youth. We also got to do some shopping and went out for dinner a couple of times. On Tuesday we went to some of the shops in downtown São José with some of the youth. I gotta admit, not exactly the most exciting time for me. Everyone except for me and the Loh siblings bought so many flip-flops. I think they ended up buying something like 30 pairs. Insane! After that, we went to an all you can eat pizza place with the Brazilians. Wow, that was good. I was sitting with Jeanine, Fan Goh’s daughter, and even though she didn’t know much English and I not much Portuguese, we had a great time trying out all the different kinds of pizza and both found out how much we both love the banana pizza.

Kathy & Justina modeling their friendship coconut rings

Caspian figuring who owes whom how much amongst the 30 flip-flops

mmm…banana and chocolate pizza

Yushi (one of the youth leaders) showing his feminine side

The main part of the trip, English camp, started the next day on Wednesday. We all boarded a coach bus to head to the camp site. But before that, we had lunch, complete with beans, rice, meat and a new Brazilian treat: assai (a-sigh-eee), a delicious Brazilian fruit smoothie kind of drink. No one from Canada really liked it all that much, but I loved it! It took us about an hour to get the the camp site, but when we got there, it was gorgeous!!! I had seen some pictures of it before the trip, but seeing it first hand was amazing. It was more like a resort than a camp site. It had a dining building, meeting hall, separate dorms for guys and girls, a pool, a football (real football, not American football sillies) field, an outside BBQ hut, and a beach volleyball court. We unpacked, set up and started what would be some of the best days in my life.

The beautiful site of English camp

Over the course of the next 3, 4 days, we helped run the English camp. The theme of the camp was “Don’t Waste Your Life” base on the book by John Piper. All the preparation that we had been doing over the last 4 months was finally being used. Each day was packed with all sorts of activities: gymnastics (learning new dance moves to wake us up), devos, musical worship, large group sessions, games, meals, English classes, small group time, testimonies and more.

Each of us from the Canadian team helped lead devos in small groups each morning which was quite an experience for me. They went kind of slow because of the translation that needed to be done, but the most challenging thing for me was the size and age of my group. While most groups were at most 6, 7 people, my group ended up being 12 people. I guess it was because we had 2 other Brazilian leaders in my group, but it was still quite large. Not only that, but the age was very young, I had many 10 year olds and even a 7 year old. This was bit a of a challenge for me as we had designed the devos for teenagers in high school and they were quite deep. I did my best to simplify the devos but also not to dumb it down or for it to lose its meaning and purpose. With that said, I was amazed at the way many of then responded to the devos. Many great answers were to given to some of my questions and one morning, one of the 10 year olds, Steven, opened up the devo time in prayer! Speaking of being amazed by the youth, one of the campers, Julia, who is only 12, shared her testimony in front of everyone! Now, when I was 10 and 12, I would have never dreamed of praying out loud nor would I have shared in front of 50 other people that included my friends and peers. I was so touched by their willingness and openness to share with all of us. Best part of camp was when there was an alter call on Friday night and 3 people came to Christ for the first time! Hallelujah!

There was a lot other fun stuff that happened too. One of the highlights was the game we did with the campers on Friday. We had designed a six station circuit course where each team would receive points depending on how much they could do in 5 minutes at each station. Some of the stations were torturous. For example, at one station, each team member would go one at time and first bob for an apple (thus getting their face wet), then fish a small Worther’s candy out of a plate full of flour with their mouths (thoroughly coating their face with flour) and then take 5 huge bites out of a watermelon. It was hilarious! Another highlight was the Canada-Brazil football matches we had on the last day of camp (Saturday). In the first match, we managed to hold the youth to a 0-0 draw! Woohoo! We were pretty proud of ourselves. But then in the second game, we got slaughtered 3-0 (keep in mind these games were only 15 minutes long, so if we had gone full time, it probably would have been like 18-0). So many more stories and things to say, but I’ll save that for telling you guys face to face.

Phe getting his bandana put on during team flag making time on the first night

Kelly sharing her testimony

The campers lining up for a game on the football field

The results of the watermelon station during the circuit game :)

Geoffry coming out from the water drinking station during the circuit game

Kathy, Teresa, & Luisa posing with the snazzy new hats we received from the Brazilians

English Camp 2006: Don’t Waste Your Life

Ling chilling on a swing

Overall, camp was a huge success. The weather was wonderful, it was loads of fun, and most importantly, God was experienced. Along with the 3 campers that came to Christ, many other Christians seemed to have renewed their passion for Him. It was an unbelievable 4 days that I’ll never forget.

During the last 3 days, the Canadian team got some time to ourselves. We did some more shopping, had some churrasco (Brazilian BBQ), and got to spend a night at the camp’s speaker’s (Pastor Hsiang) missionary place. Shopping on Sunday was really cool. We went to an outdoor market in São Paulo where they had all sorts of cool Brazilian jewelry, stone carvings, clothes, wood carvings and other knick-knacks. It really was a true Brazilian experience. Then for supper, we went to a churrascaria with the speaker and his family where they bring huge skewers of BBQ’d meat to your table and cut it right there for you. They even let us go in the kitchen to see how the cook the meat and go to take some pictures.

Yours truly carving some meat

That night, we went to the speaker’s missionary place to spend the night. It’s a really cool place in the southern part of the greater São Paulo area. The speaker and his wife had a dream a few years back to create this place in Brazil that would train missionaries in Brazil to go out, house missionaries (like me and the team) that would come to Brazil and just be a place for him, his family and staff to serve missionaries. Well, that dream has come to life and it was really cool to be able to spend time with him and his family and to hear of all the things God has been doing with their ministry. God’s kingdom truly is all over the world.

God’s glorious creation on Monday morning at Pastor Hsiang’s missionary site

Pastor Hsiang and his son Caleb at the fishing pond at the missionary site

On the Monday afternoon, we went to downton São Paulo to do yet some more shopping but I can’t say I enjoyed this part all that much either. We basically spent the whole afternoon in a 4 story mall full of “fan ban” stores. Only thing was, it was basically the same ten, 30 square foot stores over and over again, selling fake shoes, jerseys and clothes. Justina, Kathy, & I got a little bored of this so we went out on the street and had some cheese bread and fresh pineapple. mmm…that was so much better than walking around the stores. When we got back to São Jose that night, we just chilled with the youth, talking and playing some simple, fun games that the Brazilians taught us. The youth also gave us sooo many parting gifts. I couldn’t believe how many personalized cards, notes, and bookmarks I received from them. It was really tugged at my heart.

The unbelievable outpouring of love from the youth

Tuesday was a sad day: the day we left Brazil. After being in Brazil for a week and a half and building up friendships and bonds that we’ll never forget, it was a tearful goodbye at the airport. It sucked saying goodbye, but I was also kind of looking forward to being home again. It was really cool how so many of the youth came to the airport to see us off. Their hearts for God, each other, and us is something I’ll always remember.

Ling and Teresa with their unique “using the telephone” pose

Ling and Jeanine saying goodbye at the airport

So that was the trip. So what did I learn? Well, like I mentioned in my previous post, I learned just how strong the bond and unity we have in Christ.

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Also, I learned what it exactly means to love one another. The way the Brazilians welcomed us, let us stay in the homes and church, gave us small tokens of appreciation, just the way they plained loved us so much even though they hardly knew us at first. It was amazing. Truely a huge blessing from God to experience His love through them.

I also learned that Toronto may be where God is calling me to stay. As great as it was in Brazil, I found myself missing Toronto. And even though I’ve told a lot people that I would prefer to settle down in a small city/town and that Toronto would be one the last places I’d live, I finding myself having a heart for Toronto more and more. Kind of cool how God can change your heart. Lastly, I did learn something about myself totally unrelated to the trip that I won’t share right now. Kind of personal and not ready to share yet, maybe sometime in the future.

One last thing, two friends told me two things directly before and after the trip that have lingered with me: “change the world” and “You’re really flexible, you’re really good for missions.” hmmmm…interesting. Change the world, eh? Well, I don’t know if I or the team changed the world, but I do think some people were touched by God through us down in Brazil (just as we were touched by them). Don’t know if I’ll ever change the world, but that’s definitely a nice goal to have. About my flexibility, I guess I am pretty flexible, going with the flow of things, never letting anything really faze me, I guess those are things needed to do missions. Who knows, maybe God will call me to some sort of longer term missions sometime in the future. I hope I’ll be open enough to hear the call.

Whew! Wow, that was like a novel. If you read through all this, kudos to you for sticking it through. Just want to thank everyone again who supported me and the team in prayer.

Jonathan, out.


One Response to “O Deus é bom! God is good!”

  1. paul said

    hey fellow jazz dude!

    hahaha i’ll read the rest soon…this is a long one. I didnt’ know you knew Jen Leung! oh yeah…UT…haha…we were fellow HCAC’ers a while ago. say hi for me…when you see her…


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