Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Weekend in Sight...

I'm packing my bags and giving gleeful shouts that this rusty, infected, murky stuff that comes out of my pipes for about five minutes a day will be the farthest thing from my mind until Sunday...
...because we're going away for the weekend! To a pousada, where they'll have running water that you can even brush your teeth with and that hopefully won't make my skin feel like it's crawling with pollutants...

My landlady is getting nervous. I think she senses my irritation and great, unleashed desire to move. It's all I can do to hold my tongue and not say anything. I need this place as storage for all my stuff while I'm gone!

This weekend will include:

no funk parties
time with God (on the beach)
clean showers
worship in Portuguese
devotions in Portuguese
dreams in Portuguese...


And this is all good, because next week will most probably be trying. I have an appointment on Wednesday to interview for the school I'm interested in attending. I've got to make a decision soon! While that is a little nerve-wracking, it's not the trying part.

This is. We found out on Monday that three of our friends from the streets were arrested for assault. It's a murky story, but in any case, they WERE assaulting this someone, whether it was for money or his cellphone or just to be plain mean. We're going to try to visit them in the next week or two. I have never been inside a Brazilian prison. I hoped to never have to go, and not just because of the humiliation women must go through, a strip search and squat over a mirror (according to other ladies that have gone to visit husbands or friends). Brazilian prisons are notoriously awful. The boys were beaten up pretty severely before they were taken away; I can't imagine what they're going to look like. We'll have to bring them food, because, well, if we don't, who will? And probably toiletries. I'm most upset with B- for his part in this. Just the other week, he'd gone to church with Rich. He was dreaming big. He was fulfilling his probation without incident. He's the sort of kid who helps old ladies down stairs and watches out for the blind in the middle of a crowd, because if he doesn't help them, who will? He learned some sign language to communicate with the deaf boy that hangs around with the street kids. And yet. And yet. He'd gang up on a guy with Thug Number One and Thug Number Two because the man appeared gay. It's beyond me.

I expect disappointment in the work that I do. I know all the statistics, I know what I'm up against, and I do it because I love Jesus and I know he loves these kids. Knowing that was enough to give me love for them...and now it's deeply ingrained. But just when I let the barriers down, when I get to know a different group of kids, when I start investing in someone and caring about their future...something happens like this. Disappointment doesn't even begin to express what I feel, what I'm sure some of the other street workers are feeling right now.

There are obvious spiritual parallels; I'm sure God has this on a daily basis with me, this high-expectations-shattered-in-a-moment experience. But it cuts deeply when it's in the flesh. Thankfully, these wounds are only deep enough to push me forward, to say "I love you enough to keep wanting your best," and go into that prison (if they'll let me), to give a hug to a seriously screwed up young man and put a little food in his stomach and let him know that we're disappointed but unfazedly NOT GOING ANYWHERE. He's stuck with us!

Even so. It's going to be an interesting couple of weeks. This HAD to happen just when I'm in my last few weeks before heading back to the States, didn't it?


Anonymous said...

Jenna, I'm a law professor, a Christian, bringing a group of US law students to Rio to study inequality. Would you be willing to speak with us?


Ellen said...

I know how you feel. I cried to hard yesterday, praying for a friend who is trying to leave the gang life and selling drugs- but getting a legit job seems impossible and it looks better to go back to his former life, because atleast that is living. he's come so far, please dont go back to that! or my friend i am meeting with this afternoon- over a year free of crack, but she cant seem to stop working the streets, and i am struggling to understand the pull. perhaps she has no idea of what her worth is and thinks she deserves no better. i have to keep telling myself it's not my responsibility to change people and that God loves them more than me. Despite that, I still wanted to pray this morning that God will over-ride certain people's free will and force them to live a life that is better for them. i hope you get your jail visit. im off to a youth correctional center right now.

jungleman said...

Hi Jenna,

Great blog!

Would you please help a 6th grade class in Ohio, USA, that wants to learn about folks living in South America?

As you live in Brazil, the kids would love you to participate in the discussion!

Or could you contact people that you know who would participate? Especially if you know of teachers, etc. who would participate that would be great. They don't have to be Brazilian, but that would be good too. Or if you know people who would pass the word along.

The URL for the discussion is here:

The board is moderated and log-in only so safe for kids. The discussion itself will be moderated by the teacher.


Roger Harris
Jungle Photos: Inspiration, Education, Conservation

Ali la Loca said...

Oh, amiga...

I'm so sorry that this is happening, for the boys, for you, for your colleagues. But mostly I'm sorry about the general context, the situation these kids confront daily that leads them to violence and poor choices.

Keep doing your work. You are incredibly strong, and I know you are on a great path. These kids may disappoint you over and over, but there will be incredible silver linings. I know I don't have to tell you this. But sometimes it's good to have a reminder.

Good luck with the prison visit if you go. Don't wear red (CV colors) but you are likely much more savvy on all this than I am.

I'm sorry I will be missing you on my way back...

Boa sorte!!!