May 25, 2004
Rio Das Pedras - Day One
Eric, a Southern Baptist missionary (pictured in the yellow shirt), who lives in Rio Das Pedras classifies the 90,000 people in this area into three categories: the working poor who live in small terra cotta block homes, the poor who live in the wooden shacks that surround the working poor, and the desparately poor who live on the street or in flimsy temporary structures on the perimeter of town. Utilities are a mix of home remedy connections that sometimes include coat hangars as part of electrical tie-ins. Municipal water is scarce and unevenly distributed within the community. The street is a combination of muddy path, open sewer, and marginally covered sewage trench. Many of the 'streets' in the favela (slum) are not much wider than an American's outstretched arms.
Images on television do not adequately describe the living conditions, the smell, the near claustrophobic closeness of the spaces in Rio Das Pedras. According to Eric, the good news is that the drug cartels have been kept at bay and that the crime rate is very low in the area. For those who live here, there is no distinction in class, color, ethinic origin, or social status...they are all in the same boat and are doing their best. From what we witnessed, even the crudest of homes were clean and neat on the inside. The children are clothed and clean as possible.
If I were to tell you how many children showed up in the town square for this, our first, day in Rio Das Pedras, you would not believe me. The children were responsive to the basketball drills as well as the message that our team communicated. Barefooted (or wearing flip flops), these kids had a great time. No one complained. It was hot.. the paved court was very hot. After 6 hours of action on the court, the team left Rio Das Pedras having 'left it all on the court.'
If you do not already know that Betty Wiseman is a saint, then this is news. If you know even a small part of what Belmont's sports evangelism team knows, then this story is just another chapter in Betty's Christian Journey. If I wanted to show you what unconditional love looks like it would be a hundred more images just like these where Betty engaged the people of this town.
By demonstrating her affection for the children of Rio Das Pedras, Betty was able to connect, time and time again with the parents of these children to share God's love. In this brief post, I will not go further with this story...but here are questions that you should ask Betty the next time you see her:
Ask about the closet sized seemstress shop that she and Debbie visited...three women working on old Singer machines in hot, cramped quarters. Ask her about playing with kids on top of a play structure and the smiles that appeared on faces of children and parents alike. Ask her about an interrupted lunch break where a mom, hearing of Betty from another mom, asked for her by name to talk to. Ask Betty about how the love of these kids has rubbed off on the entire team...she will have pictures and video soon, you can see for yourself.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at May 25, 2004 06:01 AM
Wow!! I am sure this trip has touched each and every one of you in different ways. Just reading the journal reminds me of how lucky I am to live the life I live. I miss you guys and I am praying for you. I am glad your trips is going so well.
Posted by: Kacy Van Atta at May 25, 2004 08:46 AM
Way to go team! Not surprised at all to read of the way Betty and her teams penetrate into the hearts of people everywhere to share the Good News.
Posted by: Clara Huff at May 26, 2004 10:29 PM