I am in complete denial that I am writing this…but somehow, I only have 10 days left in Brazil. These last few weeks have been really difficult for me. Like, really difficult. I’m pretty sure I have cried more in these last couple weeks than I have in my entire life. Emotions are truly running high. How do you say goodbye to a country that has shaped your views on the world? How do you say goodbye to people that have formed such an integral part of your story? How do you say goodbye to a church that has welcomed you as one of their own?
Why is there even the word “good” in “goodbye” anyway? There is nothing good about leaving people you love, leaving a place you love. Well I guess, the ‘good’ is that I get to go back home and see other people that I love, and return to another place that I truly love.
My head is a mess because thinking about leaving Brazil brings me to tears every single time without fail. Yet, thinking about going back home and being able to give my family the biggest hugs they have ever had and just shower them with all the love and affection they have missed out on this last year makes my heart so happy. It’s just so hard that going home means I have to finish this chapter of my story.
What a fantastic chapter it has been. Brazil has blessed me abundantly and this experience has helped shape me into the person that I know God is creating me to be.
Since my last update, I have been insanely busy! I have a heap of stories which I would love to document, but since I’m so close to the end of my time here, I think I might have to keep the majority of them until I get home. I would like to write about one night that truly gave me a reality shock as to what life is really like for the children I work with.
Last week, eleven teenage girls from the church plant where I work stayed at my house for a sleepover.
It. Was. Complete. Chaos.
These girls all live in the neighbouring comunidade/favela, and the living conditions that they are coming from are horrifying, and the situations they face every single day are heart-breaking. It was so nice to have all of them over at our house to have fun. To just let them be kids.
We ended up playing a game called ‘Gato-mia’, which I am still confused by to this day. It is kind of like hide-and-seek, only all the lights are off, and if you find someone you have to touch them and then said person says meow, it is then your job to guess who said meow, and if you guess, the game is over and everyone starts again. I was beyond confused and did my best to stay out of the way so I wouldn’t get caught, however during one of the rounds, I found one of the ‘teenagers’ (a 10-year old girl) shaking with fear. I asked her what was wrong and she told me she was really afraid of the dark, so I took her to the living room and sat her on my knee and gave her one of my special ‘Katelin cuddles’. After about 10 minutes or so, the game was over and someone turned the lights on and I realised that my t-shirt was soaking wet with her tears because she was literally sobbing in my arms.
Shortly after, she got up to go to the bathroom and I followed her so that I could have a word with her when she was finished. I sat her down in the office and asked her why she was so scared of the dark. She told me that in the dark she starts to think of things, and so I asked her what she thought of. She told me that she thinks about ‘those men’ coming to her house to kill her family. Now in my innocence, I thought, she is just like any other child that simply suffers from bad nightmares. However, upon talking about this to my Pastor, he informed me that her dad was assassinated in front of her. No child should have to see their family being killed, but unfortunately that seems to be the ‘norm’ for these children.
After I had a chat with the little girl, she calmed down and returned to the group, but shortly after that, I started to fade and decided to head to bed (only lasted until 2:30am but in fairness, I had been at a conference the entire week before). However, I got an absolute shock when I woke up at 7am to find the little girl IN MY BED SLEEPING BESIDE ME. I didn’t know what to do because all the UK child protection policies were running through my head and I was thinking I was going to end up in jail, but all of the panic must have taken its toll on me, because next thing I knew, it was 9:30am and the girl was STILL SLEEPING IN MY BED BESIDE ME.
I got myself ready, and then woke her up and she quickly scurried out of the room like a little mouse. Patricia (one of the other volunteers at the project) had a word with the little girl to ask her why she had slept in my bed, and told her that she needed to ask my permission before doing something like that. The girl told Patricia that she wanted to sleep beside me, because when she is near me, she doesn’t feel scared. That when she is with me, she feels safe and even when its dark, she can see a light inside me which makes her fear disappear. I was SPEECHLESS. A 10-year old girl can see the light of Christ shining through me.
I don’t know why I’ve been called here to Brazil. I trust that God has a plan in this and that he will begin to reveal this plan to me in His time. What I do know is that I am here to show love to people that really need it. To share this abundance of love that God pours over me with others, because this love isn’t for me to keep. I am here to comfort children that are traumatised. To wipe the tears of the child who is crying in my arms week after week because she just wants to go to heaven and see her family members that have passed away. To play. To smile. To laugh. To learn how to love, and to be loved.
Have I made an impact on Brazil? Probably not a massive impact no.
Is there still corruption? Yes.
Are there still children and adults that are suffering abuse? Yes.
Are there still people dying every day as a result of violence? Yes.
But are there now kids who understand that there is a God out there that loves them? ABSOLUTELY.
Has Brazil changed me? More than you will ever know.
This desire that I have had in my heart my entire life just to be loved and accepted is gone, because I now understand and truly believe in my heart that I am already loved more than anyone ever could by the creator of this world.
What does the future look like? I don’t know. Life is like doing a jigsaw without the box to help. The best place to begin a jigsaw is to have the solution, normally the picture on the cover of the box. It gives you an idea of what all the pieces are meant to look like when completed. However, God doesn’t give us the box. He doesn’t give us the solution or the outcome. Every piece of the puzzle represents every little adventure, every lesson learned, every tear, every smile. To us, the jigsaw looks a mess and we can’t make sense of what it’s supposed to be, but God has the solution and sees it coming together. God isn’t going to give us the answer, he wants us to have FAITH. He knows that we couldn’t handle seeing His bigger picture for our lives at this point, and that is why he reveals it slowly. Piece by piece.
I know every adventure is another piece of the jigsaw, and that ultimately God’s vision for my life will become clear, but at this point I am more than satisfied in knowing that God has a plan for my life. I don’t know what the plan entails, or where in the world it will take me, but one thing that I am certain of, is that God has my life in His hands and that His plans are greater than any I would ever have for my life.
“When You don't move the mountains
I'm needing You to move
When You don't part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don't give the answers
As I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You”