Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rio, Day 2

August 21, 2008

A lot of early morning and expensive taxi-ing took us to a bus station and a bus to Petropolis and the district of Araras (one of three in the municipality). We saw none of the beautiful palaces, art, architecture and summer homes that are in the area. We did visit Boystown, a residential program for troubled boys who have been referred by the municipal courts. The ministry has been in existence for over 50 years and is about to be closed by the diocese. With 14 boys (there have been as many as 40) the cost per boy can be as much as $1500 with only about $100 per boy per month coming form the municipality. They have been staging ‘telethons’ but that is not longer providing enough to keep the doors open. Next door is an attractive Anglican preschool and down the hill an impressive Anglican school that is viable largely because the municipality pays for the teacher s and an allowance for each of the 1200 or so students. The ‘plan’ (more of a wish or hope, I suspect) is to turn the property of Boystown into a crèche or infant daycare center. We could perhaps fund (or even carry out) some construction, painting and the like and find ways to relate to the people of this ministry. However the school chapel has been converted to office space, the congregation is really a ‘house church’ of three couples and the pastor who is about to begin will live in Rio and have additional responsibilities there. It is not a recipe for successful congregation building and so it is unclear with whom we might relate. I confess that I did not sense the ‘aha’ by which the Holy Spirit prompts us to say ‘this is it and we must respond’. Another way to put that is that I couldn’t imagine us getting excited or challenged by this work enough to make sense of doing it in Brazil.

Over dinner Richard and I mused on whether the relationship might no tbe one of regular intercession and occasional church travel, --not mission or pilgrimage exactly—more a ‘meet some friends while you are on holiday in Rio’ type of relationship. We also imagined formalizing a four or six week ‘course’ at All Saints’ for clergy or laity who want to see how we do stewardship and evangelism, financial reporting and mission planning, community building, and the like. That has the potential to be a real service and we might well wind up following or ‘relating’ to the ministries of those who spend time with us rather as we did with Emmanuel Bwatta in 2002. We could ofer respite and traiing, perhaps even offering this for two or three people from different companion relationships at the same time.

I and we are certainly not without hope. But we keep asking why the Diocese of Atlanta and All Saints’’ are in this relationship. What can it mean? Where is God calling us to act?

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