Category Archives: favela

Once again

Once again it’s been a while since I’ve shown up here. And if I’m going to be honest with myself, and with ya’ll, it’s for a variety of reasons – so here’s what they are, and what’s up with me right about now…

1 – Things have slowly been getting busier here in my neck of the woods – starting to settle in, to begin to make some connections and beginning friendships, to get a picture of what this next year might look like… It’s been good to settle in a bit, even if there’s not exactly a schedule yet.
2 – I have a job (of sorts) doing medical interpreting in Spanish, which is kind of fun, a little bit hard, and also intimidating. Many of the words I have discovered that I don’t (or didn’t) know in Spanish include: bruise, heartburn, catheter, bladder, CAT scan, tingling, disclosure, and many others. And then when you add to the fact that I want to throw Portuguese in there half the time, it makes for a stressful time.
3 – I’m still praying over what this next year will look like – ways to get involved in the community, in my church, with the poor. I don’t know yet, but am hopeful.
4 – My self-imposed hermitage is nearly over – the past few weeks I’ve been able to see a few good, close friends, and plan out several other visits. I finally have enough energy where it is exciting and I’m looking forward to spending time with many of those that I love, rather than simply seeing it as an exhausting, draining time. I’ve found life in those visits, and am grateful for them.
5 – LSAT studying is coming along. Trying to make a daily habit of it. I’m registered to take the test in less than two months, so there’s a bit of pressure in that. But I think it should turn out OK.
6 – These past few months have been a catalyst for me to start taking better care of myself – getting enough rest, not overcommitting to things, eating right (or at least better), getting some regular exercise (I’m up to about 10-12 miles a week now! a record for me!), and learning to live sustainably and take care of myself. You’d think I’d have a bit better handle on it by now, but no…
7 – Finally, there’s the tension that I’ve been struggling with each and every day – “How do I live my life in the here and now, being fully present where I’m at, while at the same time remembering and honoring those who I love who are not present – namely, my community in Brazil (and worldwide), the youth on the street, the children in the favela programs, neighbors and friends and aquaintances galore?”
I’m a very “out of sight, out of mind” type of person, and I don’t want to be in this instance. How do I live my life here in America in a way that honors and respects the global poor? How do I live a life that invites in those who are on the margins and at the periphery of society and my world here where I live now? How do I continue to reinforce the lessons I learned, but forget so easily? How do I love my neighbor and my God in this society that can be so comfortable, seductive, and shiny?
I’ve been wrestling with that. Any thoughts? Advice? Helpful comments? Constructive criticism? Bad jokes or puns?
I’m searching out opportunities here in Rockford to be involved – looking for ways to reach out to the marginalized, the orphan, the widow, the alien, the stranger, and entering into their communities and allowing them to enter into mine. Exploring how I can be a part of expanding the vision of what is possible here, and of what could happen in the future if we only dreamed big enough and had a little faith and hope…
Tonight I chatted with one of our Brazilian coworkers, and it felt so right to be thinking of, praying for, laughing with, and smiling about the stories, the victories, the good and the bad. She said “You are missed here by so many…”
And then she told this story – shortly after Michael Jackson died, one of our volunteers was helping out at the afterschool program in the favela we partnered with. She spoke with G, 7 years old, and asked him what his thoughts were on Michael’s death. G replied, “I miss him a lot. But I miss Tio Benjamin more…”
I miss you too, G. I miss you too.
Saudades…
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Filed under existential questions, favela, future, life, rio de janeiro, saudades, update, writing

36 hours down, 68 left

Whew.

Of the past 36 hours, 3 of them have been spent in my home. Despedida (good-bye party) at the Nichols on Sunday was a low key time – maybe 15 friends and ministry partners, eating snacks (delicious food by Rebecca, coffeecake by Ben), and talking about the past and future. Rebecca explained to Anna that we were having a party for me, “but it was a sad party…” yeah.

Last night at church, with a message on grace and hope. Appropriate, I thought… And then over to Jeremy’s house for one last guys night which included a rousing game of Canasta and watching most of the movie Labyrinth. (Seriously guys, we’re slacking. Whatever happened to poker nights, Rio Risk, Rambo movies, ultimate memory… My fault though, as I had final veto power over all decisions… And the company was great. I’ll miss those times.)

Digression – Some of you may have seen the movie Labyrinth. Others, like me, may have only seen snippets. For those of you who are unaware, it is… kind of hard to explain, actually. Jeremy described it as “the movie that failed in every category that the Lord of the Rings excelled in.” It is a fantasy adventure film/musical, starring David Bowie (yes, David Bowie) as King of the Goblins, co-starring lots of weird muppets from Jim Henson’s company. Frank Oz (Yoda) was even in it. Acting? Horrible. Plot? Nonsensical. Music? 80’s power ballad. Muppets? Psychedelic. Kind of a hybrid between Sesame Street, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Sound of Music, and Lord of the Rings, if you can picture it…

I wonder where the movie came from… what is the story behind it? Did David Bowie one day decide he wanted to be in a movie?

“Let’s see… I like kids. And goblins. I love goblins. In fact, I want to be King of them. Let’s sing songs too. But MY music. And I want to have a music video in the middle where I dance and throw a baby high in the air (my personal favorite). And don’t forget Animal’s crazy cousins who remove their heads and dance around the fire. I want kids who watch this to have nightmares for months after. Oh, and maybe…”

So he called his friends, (George Lucas and Jim Henson) and I guess the rest is history. I could go on, but maybe we’ll stop now and end this digression… There’s still organizing and cleaning of stuff to do around the house… ok.

End Digression.

The rest of the day – pancake breakfast, a short time of prayer (thanks guys, I really do appreciate it), running home to get stuff ready for streets, one last day of making the sandwiches, talking with the bakery lady about how I’m leaving soon, run to the entrance – wait, are those gunshots? Yes, they are. Will it be my last gunfight? maybe. Bus ride downtown, prayer in the cathedral, walking all over downtown trying to find where the youth are… No dice. I wonder where they are – I’ve been telling them that today is my last day, and we’re going to have a little despedida. I brought cake. See a few older men and women. Meet up with three or four of our friends at the final spot (the XV), and have a good conversation good-byes… But missed seeing many that I had hoped to… I’m going back down on Wed. afternoon on my own to try and search them out – we’ll see how it works… the cake is still in my backpack, waiting for the right time. Then off to buy a couple of gifts/lembranças and eat dinner (my gas canister ran out yesterday morning… so no more cooking at home for me), and home.

Now, clean, rested, and ready to work… so I’ll do that. It’s real, and happening…

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Filed under daily life, favela, good-byes, leaving, lessons learned, movies, odd, streets

Home sweet home

My first inkling that something might be wrong was when my bus took an unexpected detour. I glanced out the window to see the main road that goes by “my favela” was blockaded, and no traffic was allowed to go down it.

“What’s the matter?” people started asking.

“Oh, Jacare and Manguinhos are ‘comendo bala’ (eating bullets – not a good thing)” others answered.

What normally would have taken me five minutes to get home ended up taking me almost an hour – including the big detour, getting off the bus and walking a couple of miles (the road was still closed off, and no buses, taxis, or cars were going down it), and waiting with a crowd (my rough estimate of 800-1000 people) for the police to open up the road so we could all go home.

Finally, a few cars started going through (slowly) the police blockade, the shooting had tapered off, and the wisdom of the crowd decided that it was safe to go. Being a member of the crowd, I tagged along. Also, the more people around, the lower the odds of me being hit, right? About halfway down the dark road, we noticed that the power was completely off at the entrance to Jacare – and shots started again. Some people ran back the way we had come from. Others of us edged up against the wall. Conversations broke out between strangers as we waited for “them” to stop shooting.

“Those shots were over in Manguinhos, not Jacare. We’re fine,” said one of the older men. A number of us agreed, and as the shots died down began walking. Once you made it under the metro line, and over the train tracks, the power came back on, and we felt “safe” again. Of course, shortly after I got home, shots started again. I think, for me, the most frustrating thing is not knowing what’s going on…

It’s at times like these that I get super excited about going “home” for Christmas…

But, that wasn’t what I wanted to write about.

—–

Part 2 – A Confession and “Contemporary Christian Music”

Folks, I need to confess to you that sometimes I think bad things. I’m not the most loving of people. The following is an example of that…

Tuesdays I spend in Manguinhos, the favela across the way, at a day-center for at-risk kids. It’s a simple place, but there’s much love. Every day after a Bible lesson and snack, there’s free time to play, and the hands-down favorite is the swing that a dear friend built. (Well, she designed the original swing, and set it up. It broke after a few weeks, but version 2.0 [rope tied to mango tree branch, tied to broken off splinter-free piece of 1×4] is still going strong). The only place to really put it was in the courtyard, hanging from a mango tree. And, the only branch on the mango tree that grew in the right direction is in one of the corners of the concrete walled-off courtyard. But it’s OK, because there’s at least six feet between the swing and the wall (when it’s not actually ‘swinging’). And the kids have gotten used to cushioning themselves with their legs, so they don’t slam into the wall at high speeds.

I should mention that the wall is typical favela construction – it does it’s job, but it’s not the sturdiest of structures, and I’m usually afraid that some poor kid is going to go right through it when they yell out “I want to go HIGHER!!!”. It’s brick and mortar, but not super thick, and I don’t think there’s much rebar supporting it. But so far, the wall still stands…

Everyone loves the swing. But due to it’s precarious nature, there has been an unofficial weight limit imposed. And one of the girls – H – in particular is hefty. She’s only 8, but there were serious discussion amongst the staff if the swing would support her over a long-term period of use. She really wanted to swing though, and felt left out that all the other kids could. So I decided to test the swing and see how sturdy it really was. This involved me getting on it. Since I couldn’t really swing at all without smashing into the wall (and causing pain and damage to myself and the wall), I decided I’d try to spin around. After a couple of tries, I even got some more volunteers… By the end of the day, we had three very nearly throwing up guys, but proof (of a sort) that the swing would hold H.

Last Tuesday was the day. I found an old step-ladder (which I convinced everyone was the “cool way” to get up on swing, instead of me lifting them up, because it hangs about 3 and a half feet up in the air), which we used to get H on the swing. And I (gently) began to push her…

Growing up, my family listened to lots of CCM (Contemporary Christian Music.) Through the benefit of hindsight, I can appreciate how incredibly cheesy, melodramatic, and downright silly many of the songs were (I’m talking to you, Carman) – but at the same time, they hold a special place in my heart. Russ Taff*, David Meece, Carman, Steve Camp, Petra, Wayne Watson, Geoff Moore (and the Distance!)… Of course, mixed in with that were artists like Rich Mullins and Michael Card… For a while, I was convinced that I liked hearing them “ironically,” but I’ve come to the place where I can admit that hearing the over-blown 80’s power-pop of CCM (as I knew it then) brings a smile to my face – it just makes me happy.

Strangely, the songs come to mind at the oddest of times. And thanks to my odd memory, lyrics pop up and make the oddest of connections with daily life… That’s what happened yesterday. As I pushed H, careful to not push her too hard lest she hit the somewhat precarious wall at too high of a speed and injure herself or (my greater fear) the wall, a 4Him classic popped into my head, causing me to break into the giggles. (I’m still not sure as to what the song originally meant. And try as I might, I can’t remember anything else, and have a bit too much self-respect to google it…)

“Stop laughing Ben,” I said to myself (or rather, my “inner critic” said to myself). “Even in your thoughts, it’s not nice to make fun of people. Or laugh at them.” But it wouldn’t stop. (That’s what I get for being a 1.)

“When you send your demolition down from the skies
These walls have got to fall
I’ll be your Joshua swing it back and let me fly
I’ll ride your wrecking ball,
Ohhhh, I’ll ride your wrecking ball.”

And playing over and over in my mind was the image of poor H – riding the wrecking ball of the swingset through the neighbor’s wall, 4Him’s power chords blaring in the background as she sang along…

“…swing it back and let me fly, I’ll ride your wrecking ball…”

—–

*
Please watch the Russ Taff video. I remember getting chills hearing this on our cassette player on our long drives from Huaraz to Lima and back. It was one of my favorite songs when I was six or seven… and yes, it’s cheesy, but I still do love it… almost as much as “Wrecking Ball.”

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Filed under Amusements, ccm, christian music, favela, music, music video, police, rio de janeiro

Bad boys, bad boys, whatchagonnado…

Hey peoples. It’s been a while since I’ve shown up here – nice to see you still around… I’m sure we’ve all been busy – myself? Oh, just a couple weeks travel to Peru for our WMF staff retreat, and a bit of vacation/sight-seeing in Cuzco with the friends. But I’ve been home for a few days, and am getting back in the swing of things. My time away was so rich (for a few pictures, click here), and I am grateful to be part of such a wonderful family.

Tonight while we were out on the streets, the PMs (Policia Militar – military police) stopped by. Surprisingly, there was no harassment or even questioning (not like yesterday afternoon with the youth downtown… but that’s another story). Tonight everyone was well behaved, but it brought to mind a few incidents that happened in the weeks leading up to our departure for Peru.

A few weeks ago I was walking down the road, well outside of the favela, heading towards the nearby Metro stop. I saw ahead of me a few police-men-officers getting back into their car after searching a few young men. It looked like they were about to pull away from the curb, but one looked up at me, then leaned over and murmured something to the driver. The driver put the car in park, and they settled in to wait for me to walk the remaining twenty feet towards their car. (We’ll be right back after this brief word from our sponsor…)

(One of the skills that I have been working on here in Rio is how to properly approach a cop. There is a middle ground of noticing and eye-contact that is appropriate around the favela. If you ignore him, or fail to make any eye-contact at all, you might as well be holding up a huge sign saying “SEARCH ME PLEASE!” On the other hand, if you are too aggressive and stare at every cop who drives by, or is standing by the side of the road with their M-16 cradled in their arms, you are also drawing too much attention to yourself. There is a golden mean, and I’ve gotten pretty good at it over the years. I’ve also gotten pretty good at realizing when a police officer is going to pull you aside (or off the bus, or away from the youth) and start asking questions and searching you, your bag, your nasal cavity, etc.)

And now, back to our story…

So as I was about to pass the cop car, the passenger side officer leaned out the window and ordered me to walk over to the car.

“What are you doing up here?”

Me – ”I live here.”

”Ok. Do you have any drugs or weapons in your backpack?”

Me – ”No sir.”

”All right.” And with that, the driver put the car in gear, and they drove away. Sometimes you get the lazy ones…

A few days later, I was leaving Jacarezinho when I was stopped by the cops again. It was a Monday, and I was headed to the street with 40+ ham and cheese sandwiches in my backpack, activities, a medical bag, and a few other things (thankfully I left my guitar home that day.) The enthusiastic cop proceeded to not only search my backpack, but opened up the plastic bags full of sandwiches and went through about half of them, one by one – opening each and every sandwich to make sure I wasn’t hiding anything inside them. About halfway through, he got tired, and told me I could go…

And then, the best one – About the week before we leave for Peru, I was once again leaving Jacare (catching a pattern here?) when three cops told me to stop. Again the questions began:

Officer A – “What are you doing here?”

Me – “I live here.”

A – “What street do you live on?”

Me – “Rua Santa Luzia 28, etc.”

A – “Let’s see some ID.”

(I pull out my “protocolo”, which is what the Federal Police give you while you’re waiting for them to issue your foreigner’s ID proper. It’s a slip of paper about six inches long, with your name handwritten on it, your picture stapled on, and a stamp or two on the back. It looks like something a third grader would throw together if asked to create some kind of ID. The police are never happy when that’s all I have…)

At this point, policeman A takes it from me to look at it closer, then proceeds to give me a hard time about how it’s expired, while I patiently respond, “No, it’s not, it actually was extended until December. You can see the stamp here on the back…” A is not happy.

At the same time, B asks me “What do you have in your bag?”

(At this point I only had the medical bag, along with a few books I was taking to the street with me, so I told them).

B – “I need to see that.”

So I pull out our first aid bag, and B proceeds to tear through it, opening each and every container of ointment, hydrogen peroxide, etc. “So you do first aid on the gang members, bandits, and ‘street trash’ around here?”

Me – “Well, yes, but I don’t call them that…”

B – “Do you have a license for that?”

Me – “I took a 1st Aid course in the US, certified by the Red Cross.”

B – “Let’s see your certificate.”

Me – “I don’t have it ON me.”

B – “Why not?”

I mumble something about how I’ve never needed it before.

B – “You know, you can’t practice 1st Aid without a license.”

Incredulous, I ask, “You mean I can’t put bandaids and antibiotic cream on a kid’s scraped knee?”

B – “No. You can’t.”

I really didn’t know how to respond, so I looked at Officer B and said, “Well, I didn’t know that… Thank you for telling me.”

At this point, he found a small glass jar that I use to keep advil in. (This part is my bad…) Originally, this little jar held homemade raspberry jam that Jenna’s mom had made and sent to me a while back. So, on the top of this jar of little orange pills is a sticker that says “2006”, while on the side of the jar is another sticker saying “Red Raspberry.” Officer B asked me what it was, and I told him. However, sure that he had discovered the latest underground designer drug, he proceeded to take out a pen and paper to write down what was written there. When I realized what he was doing, I sheepishly told him “That used to hold jelly that a friend’s mom sent me,” but I’m sure he thought I was full of it.

When he finished writing it down, he shoved it back in the bag and told me I could go. Relieved, I walked away, only to realize that I hadn’t gotten my “protocolo” back from Officer A (who was now crouched down in a firing position, aiming around the corner.) So I turned around to walk back up to him and gently ask him “Excuse me, but could I have my ID back?” Before I could say anything, he glanced up and noticed me. An expression of mild disgust and exasperation crossed his face, and he pointed next to him, where I saw my ID sitting on top of the big orange city trash can. I smiled my thanks, grabbed it, and turned around to catch my bus…

Thankfully, no one said anything more about my lack of a 1st Aid certificate…

Ahh, it’s good to be home. In other news, I made a small mistake regarding money. Tonight, after buying a few last items for dinner, I realized that I was completely out of money – Brazilian money, at least – I managed to find plenty of Peruvian and American money. After a while of frantic searching in every corner of the house, I was able to round up just enough for bus fare tomorrow. That way, I avoid having to walk the 40 minutes to the ATM that doesn’t charge you a ridiculous surcharge. And I even have about 45 centavos left over.

I may try to update soon about our time in Peru. As I said, it was a rich time that left me with an overflowing heart. I may have even found my voice again. We’ll see. But for now, it’s dinner time, and then bed.

Sending love your way…

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Filed under adventures, favela, peru, police, retreat, rio de janeiro, streets

Today

So this evening I was walking home and I caught myself thinking “Man, it’s been a while since I’ve had a gun pointed at me…” Of course, the rest of the way home I was all about keeping my eyes open, sure that even thinking such thoughts was a karmic shout-out asking to have guns pointed at me, or even in my general direction. But, even with such irresponsible thoughts, I made it home with no problems. It is a funk-party night, so you’re supposed to be prepared for anything… and believe me, I was. It was almost a let down that it was such a normal night.

—–

This evening as we were leaving the streets, one of the older women who gathers cardboard to recycle appeared with several sturdy cardboard boxes that hadn’t been broken down and were filled with styrofoam. They slowly transmogrified from giant building blocks to acrobatic helpers to ammunition in an all-out box war. Imagine five young kids (ages 3-14) throwing computer monitor boxes (and anything else made of cardboard they could find) at Rich and myself (and us throwing them back) next to a mountain of trash collected from the restaurants further down the street, still teeming with people having a beer after work on a Friday night, samba groups roaming through the tables streaming out into the road… and really, who doesn’t love a box war?

—–

A friend has clued me in to a website called “Prayers and Creeds” – a site which posts daily prayers from Scripture, desert fathers, contemporary theologians, and other diverse voices… There’s some beautiful, thought-provoking words that can be found there. I also found the following prayer there – it may be one of my new favorites…

Ipsissimia Verba?

(by Muriel McNair)

You are the salt of the earth.
Gather it together in heaps lest it be polluted;
keep it in the jar.
Let society rot in its sin and be redolent in its putrefaction
the saints pristine in their whiteness shall be gathered together as a memorial pillar to me.

You are the light of the world.
Guard it carefully lest the darkness puts it out.
Build a beautiful shrine for the lamp of God
where it may be kept safe for you to admire.
Do not take it out into the storm to look for the lost:
the wind might blow it out.
Let the lost look out for themselves
– if they are lucky they will see the chinks of light through the shutters and try to come in.

You shall be my witnesses,
so witness faithfully, on Sundays, come what may, and at as many meetings as you can
give money, make long prayers, sing hymns, and listen to sound sermons.
Teach my lambs, in particular, to get their priorities right
and keep the fold nice and tidy:
then it will be easy to find you when I come back, already gathered
from the rest
and glorifying God in your holiness.

You are my body.
Treat it gently, keep it warm,
make sure it gets enough to eat and lives respectably.
Keep it out of politics of course and the crush of the common people.
Avoid confrontation with the realities of evil.
One crucifixion was enough.

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Filed under calvin and hobbes, favela, prayers, satire, streets

Friday Night Funk Parties

Well, it’s a Friday night in Jacarezinho, and I think we all know what that means… yes, it’s time for the Funk Party!!! In the spirit of Friday night funk in Jacarezinho, the weekly “baile funk” (pronounced “fún-ky), and all “music” (I use the term loosely) that happens to be funk related, I give you Mr. Bean dancing “Creu…”

Creu was the big hit about, oh, six months ago – and now it has filtered down to the level of popular consciousness that the five year olds at the children’s home we work with dance it. Yes, pretty much like Mr. Bean…

To get an idea of a typical Jacare funk party, imagine a wall of speakers 15 feet high and 60 feet long. Stick that on one side of the street in my favela. If it’s a special occasion, add another corresponding wall of speakers on the opposite side of the street. Fill the area immediately surround the speakers with giant styrofoam coolers full of beer, Red Bull (and other energy drinks – maybe a little “booty sweat?”), with naked wires running to the red tinted light bulbs dangling above them. Around 11, the sound checks start. Take the music Mr. Bean danced to, turn up your speakers on your computer as loud as they will go, and then stick them inside your ears.

When I come home later on Friday nights and have to walk the gauntlet, I am reminded of the US Army’s use of “less-lethal” sound weapons – or what I imagine them to be like… My entire chest cavity is vibrating in time with the bass flooding out of the speakers, setting up wierd resonances with my eye-balls and other soft tissue in my body, and my ear-balls (that’s for you Andrew) feel as if someone sticking sharp little wires into them (which, by the way, is something you should NEVER do – at least according to “Where there is no doctor,” possibly one of my favorite books EVER…)

Around one or two in the morning, the party gets started – thousands of people jam the street, dancing like Mr. Bean. (Well, pretty much…) As the sun comes up, the party dies down – by 6:30 or 7, when I am heading out the door on the Saturday mornings I have class, things are pretty much shutting down. The street is covered in plastic cups, broken beer bottles and crushed cans, the speakers are being taken down and loaded into a truck, and all the rich kids from the Zona Sul who have come to slum it for the night are heading out to the entrance and hopping in taxis to head home and sleep it off before stumbling to the beach later on in the day…

I don’t like funk music. It’s hyper-sexualized, devoid of melody, grating on the ears, and many of the most popular songs consist of nothing but inane, pointless lyrics. Yet the professor from my “Social Responsibility” post-grad course has been talking recently about the place of funk music in Rio de Janeiro today – the voice it provides for the marginalized and excluded of Rio – the anger it represents, and the cry “Stop ignoring me. I exist. I am here. I am valuable.” She emphasized the need for those who work among these populations to understand it, even if we don’t necessarily appreciate it. I’m learning, ever so slowly…

All this chronicles what would be going on during a “normal” Friday night. But, I’m not sure if tonight will be “rocking” or “neurotico” or maybe just “canceled.” What, you might ask, would be the reasons for canceling such an event?

Well, in part, it’s the sporadic gunfire I hear coming from further up the hill. I’m not too sure, but I feel the traffickers are a bit upset that the police raided the favela today (searching for the kidnappers of an adviser to the Vietnamese Embassy to Brazil and three Chineese tourists) and happened to find over 2 TONS of marijuana, plus unspecified (large) ammounts of cocaine. 4,000 plus pounds… (this is me shaking my head in disbelief…) The last time this happened, I remember talking with Rich about how they even transport and hide that much – picturing 100 guys walking in, each carrying a 40 pound duffel full of drugs…

Fun times around here…

In other news, the bus I was riding home tonight from the streets almost got in an accident (to be honest, a series of accidents) after a feud developed between my bus driver and the driver for a rival bus company. One cut the other off, which led to much cursing, racing around, cutting off the other bus, passengers yelling out the windows at the drivers, and general nastiness all around. But, they were all near misses…

Other highlights of the week –

Monday – Got violently ill – food poisoning? went to streets anyway, got sick at our prayer time, and decided to go home so I wouldn’t be sick and throwing up on the metro-rush-hour crowds. It was a good decision. Upon making it home, I found myself locked out of my house. The lock had broken. Again. Stupid lock.

Wednesday – Got to talk to one of my favorite people in the world – my younger sister Kaitlyn – and catch up on her life…

Friday – Trip to Magé (a horrible place – ok, I exagerate – but just a bit… – where, I just learned this evening, the worst prison in all of Rio is located, and mosquitos are the size of quarters) to take food, folks, and fun (no McD’s, though) to a friend who is off the streets and living in the country while attempting to get his life back on track… If you think of Nil, pray for him. Then, back to the city for a time of group prayer/contemplation with the community, off to the streets where we found out another friend has TB. I’m worried about him – he went to the doctor today and has meds, but it’s hard to take them with consistency on the street. Plus, drugs, thinner, glue, and smoking are all BAD things to do when you are having problems with your lungs… Maybe this will be a wake up call for Rafael… Keep him in your thoughts too…

And tomorrow, finally, I have practically nothing planned – sleep in, do laundry and clean a bit… Read a little while I drink coffee on the roof and eat the kind-of-like-doughnut things I found at the bakery across the street… And be thankful…

Be safe…

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Filed under creu, daily life, favela, funk, mr. bean, rio de janeiro, social analysis, streets, video

We saw the bat-man

Ok, not the real one. But tonight a few of us finally got our acts together and went to the cheap Monday night movie theater and watched Christian Bale run around beat people up dressed as a giant creepy bat thing… good times.

Seriously, it was good. Many people on the internets have written many things about it, so I will stop at this and say that I liked it. And I’m glad I saw it in the theater instead of buying the pirated version from my next-door neighbor. (One of the perks (?) of favela living is that options like that are available… Including having Will Smith wake you up…)

A friend dropped me off at the entrance to my favela fairly late – almost midnight – and as I walked up the alley between all the closed fruit and vegetable stands that now are full of men and women and boys and girls sleeping and smoking and sniffing and drinking, I was thinking… As I walked over the traintracks, past the guy on a motorcycle carrying his friend with a stolen car radio, I was thinking. As I passed the bars and jukeboxes and karaoke machines, and the cars parked with people buying and selling and using, I kept thinking. As I passed the church having an outdoor service next to the teenagers on motorcycles with machineguns, and greeted a neighbor who walked by on his way home from a soccer game, I was thinking… and grateful. Grateful that I live in this place – that fear is not present (at least not most of the time – which, if you ask the wonderful Liz, is because I am a perfectionist and a One on the Enneagram personality, and instead of getting afraid, I just get angry…).

And somehow mixing up in the menagerie of images and ideas and smells thoughts of fear and batman, of justice and grace, of security and wisdom, of risk and danger, of life… and I am now going to sit up on the roof and watch the stars for a while before bed… and ponder…

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Filed under batman, daily life, favela