At this time, August 2005, the health system in Rio is the worst it has been in all the 37 years I have been here. The financial corruption is at its worst. What directly affects us is that monies destined for the public health programs (such as ours) has been diverted to pay for the construction expenses for the Pan American Olympics to be held in Rio in 2007. Thus we have had little medicines sent to our shantytown clinic for over a year now. We announced this in church and in community meetings as well as at the clinic.
Translation from Portuguese.
"It is incredible how we can live so close to poverty and not have the faintest idea what it is really like (to live this way). And worse, we think we know all about it! At the least, I thought I understood something (about poverty) but now (after this visit to the Canal do Anil shanty town clinic), I know I didn’t have the slightest idea what real poverty was all about. Not until I entered those homes, those tiny, crowded cubiculos, where a wall of unfinished brick was a luxury! Children playing in the midst of garbage, between puddles and holes filled with dirty rainwater, and rats.
The image will remain burned onto my retina for the rest of my life, a scar that never heals. I stared poverty right in the face and it leapt up like a ferocious Great Dane to knock me over with its powerful paws. This July I was working in a small clinic located in San Martin Sacatepéquez with a group from California. It was the second year I have worked with this group and the familiarity made the working part easier even while the situation came close to crushing my spirit. We worked with three villages during the 4 days I was at the clinic, San Martin Sacatepéquez itself, Nuevo Concepción, and San Jose Mas Allá. I want to tell you a short story of one experience during that week.Read more
Viviana Muñoz and her husband moved to Talca a little over a year ago when he was sent to become the new pastor of the church here. The congregation, a little over twenty years old, was in need of healing and embracing a new vision.Read more
I’m sure that I am not the first person to write about the connection between hip-hop and faith. Of course, I’d like to think that I am the first Southside Chicago bred white-boy who connected the dots and found the roots of my faith written into the rhythmically crafted lyrics, but I’m almost positive that I’m not. Whatever the case I just had to write about how hip-hop has affected my faith. If nothing else I hope that the title of this article caught your attention and sparked your curiosity. “Faith and Hip-Hop?” you say, “How do those two go together?” Let’s have a look shall we. Here is part 1 of my series on faith and hip-hop.Read more
It was my first real staff meeting with the team I had been working with. I was excited to see everyone come together and nervous that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the language. Our director began with devotion and a lengthy review of her recent travels. About an hour into the meeting, we took a short break and Benjamin, sitting near me reached for the phone to check on his family at home.Read more
Last Thursday, April 28, Amnesty International was invited by an ecological activist to visit the community of Tocones in Loiza. Historically, Loiza have been a settlement of afro-descendants in Puerto Rico. Tocones is located in one of the best coastal areas in the metropolitan area. From the main road you cannot notice that there is a community there.Read more
Because the theology of the Evangelical and Reformed Church was so different from ours, we have struggled with church and Sunday School attendance, especially for our children. We finally decided on a compromise position where we will attend church, but will “home school” our children in Sunday School. We were provided a copy of the Seasons of the Spirit curriculum from our home church in Belmond and have begun.Read more
It has taken me a few days to realize that May has already started to pass me by. April was another month bursting with activity, travel, and thought. Once more, if I tried to tell all the stories from this last month I would lose half my readers after the first page so I will focus on one small influential event from April. This reflection is an invitation to come with me to a place where hope will never die, a place easy to romanticize but that also makes sure to “keep it real” and not forget the suffering of the past.Read more