Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Kids!

SMC Amazon 2014: Day 5 

For all of the SMC Amazon vets out there, here’s news you’ve been waiting to hear:  we finally saw the kids again!!!  Our beloved friend Josialda set up a plan to get the neighborhood kids to come out and join us on the beach we used for programs in 2009 and 2010.  At first, only a few kids showed up, but as we started to play soccer, Frisbee and taco (a local game), the sound of squealing laughter from the beach drew out lots of others.  Many of them were familiar from our prior trips and those familiar ones had lots of questions about the SMC folks that they have known and loved for several years now.   We played, sang songs, ate bananas, drew pictures, and taught a little English to all of the kids who came.  We shared our Clif bars and bought some local bananas and generally had a warm and wonderful lovefest. 

In fact, we prepared for our lovefest by reading inspirational letters from our good friends in Shawny’s sister’s sixth grade class at Happy Hollow Elementary in West Lafayette, IN.  We’re sure they didn’t expect to have penpals in California and now they have penpals in the Brazilian Amazon!  Their letters were our morning wakeup.  We appreciated the art that some of them included on their letters and we especially appreciated the inspirational quotes that they wrote out on each one.  Some letters had several inspirational quotes, all of which actually worked to inspire us!  We know that there are third graders in Hanover, IN, at Southwestern Elementary School who are also watching (Shawny has another sister who is a teacher) along with DIRT team veteran Jenn Steele’s 4th graders in Pittsburg, CA.  Hello to all of our elementary school friends!

After hanging out with the kids for awhile, we headed over to the home of another long-time friend of SMC Amazon: Dona Maria, the housemother at our old place of residence at the local university.  Louro and Dona Maria cooked us an excellent lunch and we sat in 20 chairs that pretty much filled up her entire home. 

We had planned to go to the beach this afternoon but spitty rain made that plan seem like a bad one.  A much better one was to get ourselves home and take naps!  What luxury! 

Our naps contributed to our missing the bus to make it to church in time for mass but we decided to go into town anyway and see what was going on.  We heard through the grapevine that a samba school would be practicing in a nearby neighborhood so we decided to go take it in.

A samba school is not a school in any traditional sense.  It is more like a really, really fun rehearsal for a big performance that is a few weeks away.  In this case, the big performance is Carnaval, the enormous Mardi Gras-like party that overtakes the whole country.  All over Brazil, different collections of people spend months to rehearse for live street performances that sometimes happen atop moving trucks. 

For this event, no trucks were involved and a band was practicing on a stage in a small plaza in a neighborhood not far from the city center.  Their music was designed to get people dancing and it definitely worked on all of us.  We got there just as the performance was beginning and took over the dance floor (well, street).  The people from the nearby neighborhood that had gathered for the concert got right out there with us, sometimes celebrating us (“Yay!  Cah-lee-FOHR-nyuh!”), sometimes teaching us how to dance properly (“Use your feet! Move them!”).

Needless to say, we had a blast.  Dancing samba (ish) in the streets of Brazil is a lifelong dream for some of us; today our dreams came true.  Despite our dancing night, we got home early enough to get pretty decent sleep.  Not everyone got decent sleep, of course, because it’s hard to turn off your brain when you’ve been immersed in a samba school rehearsal.  And we were hungry too . . .

Josy is teaching us how to play Brasilian games and sing Brasilian tunes with the children.

Playing soccer with the kids was such a blast. Henrique is quite the personality!

The boys were eager to show off the fish they caught during a break from soccer.

Taking a break from dodge ball.

These two rascals clicked right off the bat and played in the sand all morning.
Pedro Gustavo gives Kaylia a hug goodbye as the group leaves for lunch.

 Playing Serra Serra with the kids in the boathouse.

 Leaving DonnaMaria’s house after a delicious lunch.

 Coloring with the kids on the steps.

 Henry and the fish he just caught in the river.

Nate and DonnaMaria; She said that he reminded her of home.

 Jaclyn sacrifices her body for the good of the team while
playing a friendly game of soccer with the kids.

Jesse introduces us to Josie’s father, as he explains how grateful he is
for the program’s dedication to their community.

It’s off to races for Kaylia and the children during the first round of soccer.

 First time we met some children from Josy’s neighborhood. We played soccer with them
and you can tell from this picture that the kids got really comfortable with us,
they started to want to wear our caps.

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