We've spent this first week getting acquainted with the layout of the city, meeting the people, and getting into somewhat of a routine. A lot of time is spent forming relationships with the people who live here. Several mornings and afternoons we took time to visit the residents at their homes to talk with them, pray for them and personally invite them to the church services. So many of the citizens of Sumé are Catholics and for them the word "evangelical" automatically causes them to close their ears, so we have to be careful about the way we approach them. Here's the beautiful, large, local Catholic Church in Sumé:
We are living inside the Presbyterian church that we are helping during this time. It's a four bedroom house in which another missionary, Adenice, lives as well. She has been working with the church for one year and has such a heart for the people of this lovely town. The church services are held in the garage of this house. Judging from this past week, there aren't many people who attend the services on Sunday evening and Wednesday night, but there are quite a few children that attend the Sunday School which is held on Sunday morning. Adenice has said that from her experience she believes that the way to reach these people is through the children. Because of the strong roots of the type of Catholicsm that exists here in Brazil, many of the older people have such hard hearts for any new-to-them ideas, but the children are full of questions and eager to listen.
We are also drawn to children, and have already started forming friendships with the children we've encountered. It didn't take long for the children in this town to discover that there was a large family from the United States living here, and they've been visiting us at the house ever since. There is also a Central Park nearby, just a couple blocks from the house, and a lot of the children and youth from the town congregate there at night. We've gone there several times, using various games and magic tricks to draw the attention of the kids, then playing with the children and inviting them and their families to church.
It's amazing to see so many young children awake, running around the park at 9-10 at night. I had a little girl ask me why we were leaving at 9 pm and I told her that the children needed to go to bed. She responded that it was early and that for her 11 was still early.
We're excited to see what this next week will bring, and pray that God will continue to give us direction regarding how to reach the families in Sumé.