Brasilia

We've been in Brasilia, Brazil for thirteen days, but it feels like a lifetime. The people here are beyond- - loving, generous, and man-oh-man can they cook! I know I've already made forever friends here. It's like there was this Brazil-shaped little part of me that was waiting to be filled in. 

 It's hard for me to put into words all that has happened these last two months.
We fed and hung out with the homeless. Spent time in the slums. Explored the garbage dump. Walked through Congress. Ate. Received countless hugs from strangers. Ate more. Taught a photo class. Shared stories about God. Laughed and prayed with prostitutes. Met a family of monkeys. Ate acai. Learned (um pouco) Portuguese. Barely slept. Spoke in front of several congregations. Told people they have stories worth telling/ they're loved/beautiful/forgiven/free. Also I cried a lot and drank the best coffee I've ever ever ever tasted. 

The first week, we visited slums outside of the capital city of Brasilia. We partnered with a local church, who has built a child care/learning facility in the heart of one of these communities. They invited us to spend time with them, and showed us where they were breaking ground for a small library just feet from where these photos were taken. Some of the photos we took that day will be displayed in the library. One of our goals was to capture joyful moments in this neighborhood.

A young family came out into the street to see what the commotion was about. There was a power line being repaired, several cops escorting the repairman, and us (a gaggle of photographers playing with kiddos).

A young family came out into the street to see what the commotion was about. There was a power line being repaired, several cops escorting the repairman, and us (a gaggle of photographers playing with kiddos).

Stray dogs lined the streets. There was a litter of puppies that had escaped, and we got to play with them until the owner found out.

Stray dogs lined the streets. There was a litter of puppies that had escaped, and we got to play with them until the owner found out.

This little girl couldn't get enough of us. She loved to be held, and clung to someone in our group for the entire time we were in her neighborhood. 

This little girl couldn't get enough of us. She loved to be held, and clung to someone in our group for the entire time we were in her neighborhood. 

From there, we visited the local garbage dump, where many of the residents of the surrounding slums work. The workers make the equivalent of $80 U.S per month. It's very difficult to get into this area... God has been opening doors for us this entire trip.

Horses and carts are sometimes used to transport trash. This one was so sweet, and enjoying an afternoon rest.

Horses and carts are sometimes used to transport trash. This one was so sweet, and enjoying an afternoon rest.

Water break. It gets unbelievably hot up here, but because of the work and the sun, layers are pretty necessary.

Water break. It gets unbelievably hot up here, but because of the work and the sun, layers are pretty necessary.

These two women cook for all the workers. They were so funny to talk with, and kept striking poses for me. Their laughter was the best part of that day for me.

These two women cook for all the workers. They were so funny to talk with, and kept striking poses for me. Their laughter was the best part of that day for me.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Our time here has been so full, just bursting at the seams.

In two weeks I feel like the deepest parts of me have been transformed, and that I've left bits of my heart with people all over this city. With the girl in the slum who dreams of moving to America and being a photographer. With the prostitute who's a mother, and can't find a job that would allow time with her son + pay the bills. With the stray dogs lining the streets. With all the residents of this capital city and it's stark social contrasts and injustices. In the midst of all of this, the joy that the people here exude looks extra beautiful. I'm trying to learn from them. 

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We leave tomorrow for the Amazon Rainforest! I'm excited, but don't feel ready to leave this place quite yet. Internet here has been a struggle, and we will have access only once a week from here on out. 
Please pray for us in this next step. For safety, discernment, unity, and that we have enough bug spray ( :