Saturday, June 03, 2006

 

Edifying Words

The following are citations I´ve jotted down in my journals to reflect on and to try to live out the truth(s) they express:

“Se a saudade na distância é forte, a vontade de chegar é maior.” -O MST e a Cultura de Ademar Bogo. The above quote states, If homesickness while far away is difficult, the will to reach one´s goal/objective is greater.

“Ha pessoas que lutam um dia e são boas, há outras que lutam um ano e são melhores, há aqueles que lutam muitos anos e são muito boas, Mas há pessoas que lutam a vida toda, estas são imprescindíveis.” –Agenda The above states, There are people who fight one day and they are good, there are others who fight one year and they are better, there are those who fight many years and they are very good, but there are those who fight their entire life, these are amazing.

“temos nossas mentes e nossas mãos cheias da semente da aurora e estamos dispostos a semeá-la e a defendê-la para que dê frutos.” -Che Guevara This states, we have our minds and hands full of the seed of the sunrise and we must sow it and defend it in order that it yield fruit.

“In our time of lies and hate it seems appropriate to be reminded of the beauty of saying yes to the chaos of truth.” -Richard Flanagan, novelist

“May today there be peace within./ May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be./ May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith./ May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you…/ May you be content in knowing you are a child of God…Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance,/ praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.” -St. Theresa the Little Flower

Concerning wealth, fame, and power:
“These are not the things men really want, and man can never get enough of what he does not really want.” And, “to try to extinguish the drive for riches with money is like trying to quench a fire by pouring butterfat over it.” -From Huston Smith´s The Religions of Man (section on Hinduism), P20

“Do without attachment the work you have to do…Surrendering all action to Me…freeing yourself from longing and selfishness, fight—unperturbed by grief.” –Bhagavad Gita III: 19,30

“Truth comes as conquerer only to those who have lost the art of receiving it as friend.” –Tagore (H. Smith, 66)

Referring to God, “He shining, the sun, the moon and the stars shine after Him; by His light all is lighted…He is the Ear of the ear, the Mind of the mind, the Speech of the speech, the Life of life, and the Eye of the eye.” (Smith, 74)

“The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments; Whoever says, `I know him,` but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him. This is the way we may know that we are in union with him: whoever claims to abide in him ought to live (just) as he lived.” -1John 2:3-6

“Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother remains in the light, and there is nothing in him to cause a fall.” -1John 2:9-10

According to notes from my study Bible, Jesus describes true blessedness as “hearing the word of God and observing it.” -11:27-28 and 8:20-21

 

Mr. Toad´s Wild Ride (November, 2005)

Reflections from November Journeys:

The week following my visits to Zumbi and Gil Branco brought an unexpected visit to yet another community. Brother Rodrigo was not doing well health wise and asked me to go to the town of Monte Carmelo to deliver money to a group of small land owners from the community of Atalio participating in a micro credit project. I left via bus and delivered the money to Patrick, who was already there visiting and who would distribute the money to its recipients. It was a good experience for me to get a better understanding of how micro credit works. It was also great meeting the friends Patrick had made when he worked with the community during his time in Brasil. It was this trip that I wrote of in my email, describing the muddy roads and the tiny car we rode in swerving back and forth, barely avoiding the huge puddles and wire fences-and me not avoiding the bug that flew into my mouth, finding its way down my throat, making me feel quite the toad :).


November 2005 Reflections while riding the Bus

The following is an entry I felt fitting for what I have been feeling ever more intensely each day. During my trip to the land settlements and communities, I was reading Karl Rahner´s Encounters with Silence and hearing clearly the Truth it expresses.
“God comes to us continually, both directly and indirectly. He demands of us both work and pleasure, and wills that each should not be hindered, but rather strengthened, by the other. Thus the interior man possesses his life in both these ways, in activity and in rest. And he is whole and undivided in each of them, for he is entirely in God when he joyfully rests, and he is entirely in himself when he actively loves.
The interior man is constantly being challenged and admonished by God to renew both his rest and his work. Thus he finds justice; thus he makes his way to God with sincere love and everlasting works. He enters into God by means of the pleasure-giving tendency to eternal rest. And while he abides in God, still he goes out to all creatures in an all-embracing love, in virtue and justice. And that is the highest stage of the interior life.
Those who do not possess both rest and work in one and the same exercise have not yet attained this kind of justice. No just man can be hindered in his interior recollection, for he recollects himself as much in pleasure as in activity. He is like a double mirror, reflecting images on both sides. In the higher part of his spirit he receives God together with all His gifts; in the lower he takes in corporal images through his senses…”
-Ruysbroeck; Taken from Karl Rahner´s Encounters with Silence (50-1)

“O God…Only through You can I continue to be myself with You, when I go out of myself to be with the things of the world.”
-Karl Rahner (ibid)

 

Informal FMS Brasil Reunion (November, 2005)

The following happened before some of the previous entries, but I did not want to leave it out:

In November 2005, two of the former Franciscan Mission Service (FMS) missionaries visited Brasil. Fred and his Brasilian wife, Roseli, and Patrick made it to the house where I´m living with Brothers Rodrigo and Sergio. Together we set up the artificial Christmas tree and decorated it with lights and ornaments. Later that evening, a group of Brasilians from a land reform association (APR) that Fred and Patrick worked with came over for dinner and a celebration party. It felt good to be in the company of those who had been here before me as missionaries and those who I will be learning from as I live in Brasil. The party lasted well into the early hours of the following morning.

Later in the day, I met up with Patrick and we traveled via bus to the town, Araguari, where I met yet another former FMS missionary, Dominic, and his Brasilian wife, Ana Cristina. It was good to meet them, to get a tour of Araguari and converse about what led us to Brasil as well as various other topics. The following morning our stomachs welcomed the warm French toast and Aunt Jamaima maple syrup Patrick brought for Dominic. I enjoyed taking a tour of Dominic’s and Ana Cristina’s home, which Dominic designed and helped construct. Soon after, Patrick and I set off to catch the bus back to Uberlandia. As we waited on the side of the road, Dominic, on his bicycle, rode up to us providing us with a paper bag full of sandwiches and fruit for our travels. Patrick had asked if I would like to accompany him on his visits to the various land settlements where he worked during his 3 years. So, after a short stop in Uberlandia we would be hopping on another bus to travel to several places in the region.

As Patrick, Dominic and I waited for the bus, we saw Fred walking towards us on the sidewalk. After a good laugh, we hung out for several minutes due to the bus´ tardiness. Looking back I can’t help but think it was all part of a plan for us to have a good FMS Brasil Reunion. And good it was- There is even a picture to capture the moment. Shortly after the picture, the bus arrived and after hugs and saying so long, Patrick and I hopped on.


First Land Settlement Visits (November, 2005)
I thoroughly enjoyed and am grateful for my time visiting the settlements of Zumbi and Gil Branco. In between these I also had the pleasure of staying in Ituiutaba and meeting Tom (an Irishman), his Brasilian wife, Eliana, and their family. What a delight it was to be welcomed by them and to spend several days in such good company, sipping on Lyons tea, munching on crackers or bread and pomegrant jam (made by Patrick´s Aunt), conversing and one particular evening even reading and reciting William Butler Yeats poetry while sipping pinga (liquor made from sugar cane).

After Ituiutaba, Patrick and I made our way to the land settlement, Gil Branco, where we were welcomed by several settlers who knew Patrick. While Patrick rode on the back of Sr. Saul´s moto, I got a lift in a horse-drawn wagon. I sat between two land settlers, both older men and listened to some of their experiences of having squatted for years in the encampment before their plots were allotted. After a brief scare when the horse ran out of control towards the brush along the road, I arrived to the house where Patrick and I would stay for two nights, visiting the family Patrick had befriended during his years in Brasil. Sr. Saul and Dona Eva´s house welcomed us with much hospitality and warmth. Although their living arrangements were very modest, with a dirt floor, a couple rooms, and an outhouse, they seemed to be doing well with their land, animals and their produce. I even got a good taste of much of their produce, (manioc/yucca, chicken, papaya, corn) including coffee with milk-milk right from the cow´s utter (I asked to have my coffee the same way Dona Eva drinks hers, not expecting it to be directly from the cow into my coffee cup).
During the two days in Assentamento (Land Settlement) Gil Branco, I also met the sons of Sr. Saul and Dona Eva and their families. While at one of the son´s homes, the families decided to slaughter their piglet for lunch, in celebration of Patrick´s visit. It was truly a banquet. Despite the fact that the people we visited do not have much material goods or wealth, that did not deter them from offering so much to us. Their gestures and love towards us humbled me greatly and also encourages and challenges me to live more like them, with their offerings of love to the Lord expressed through so much generosity, warmth, hospitality towards others and their perseverance.

Monday, January 02, 2006

 

BrasilBloggin

BrasilBloggin

Friday, December 30, 2005

 

Christmas Season 2005

This Christmas season brought two more Franciscan Brothers to the home where I am living in Uberlandia in addition to the two Franciscans (one priest and one brother) who live here permanently. Brother Rodrigo is who I am here to work with on land reform issues. Father Sergio (Frei Sergio) works in the area of vocations and formation. The two brothers who recently arrived are Ivair and Fabio. They are both here as interns with Rodrigo-to accompany the families involved in land reform. The house where we live is simple, but quite comfortable, not having to struggle with lack of electricity or running water, etc. as do many of the families who I am here to work with on land reform issues.

The end of this year has been full of parties. These last few months I have been helping out at a Youth Center, teaching some English, but mainly just chatting with and getting to know the kids as well as the other staff (who are all wonderful). To wrap things up, there have been many gatherings with lots of food, drinks, music and dancing- hence my weight has increased (I recently bought a pair of shoes to run this off!)!

The week before Christmas, I helped Frei (Brother) Fabio and Rodrigo set up a nativity scene in the nearby monastery’s chapel. After collecting lots of cloth, cardboard, shrubs and vegetation, rocks, etc. and several hours of shaping and placing the materials, the nativity scene was complete and quite beautiful. I’m thankful that I was able to be present to see all that goes in to creating this holy birth scene, whose tradition Saint Francis is credited as having begun. I hope to continue this zeal for creating the Nativity Scene as it can contribute to one’s welcoming the Lord more deeply.

Christmas Eve was full of preparations for the dinner we would host after the evening’s Christmas Mass. While at Mass, there was a man who entered barefoot and with tattered clothing, extending his hand to several people as well as stroking some people’s heads and backs. He even found his way up the steps, near the altar, before being escorted out of the Church by a man who showed gentleness and a compassionate expression. The man who was asking for money was the same man who, days before, wandered into a meeting Brother Rodrigo held at the monastery, behaving the same way before Frei Sergio walked him out. Whenever something like this occurs, especially in a place known to be Christian, I always feel a bit uneasy. I become more aware of our hypocrisy and our limitations to know how best to live out the Gospel. The image of this man’s presence at Christmas Mass is quite embedded in my memory. Although I probably would have given him money if he had extended his hand towards me, I would have most of all preferred to treat him with respect and dignity. It is often difficult for an exchange of such to take place, however, especially if the person has mental problems, which this man most certainly has. In any regards, the least (or most) I could and did do was to pray for him and to pray for me and those present to truly live out God’s love for one another.

After Mass, we returned home and prepared the table for Christmas supper (Turkeys, chicken, stuffing, rice with raisins, wine, soda, passion fruit dessert, chocolate cake and ice cream). While we waited for our guests: Claudiana (The woman who runs the Youth Center that I have been helping) and her son Alan, Marta (one of the Coordinators of a youth center that Claudiana runs), her husband, and their two sons, I called my family in Florida. It was perfect timing as I spoke with my Mom and my niece Cadyn (whose 2 year old voice and words brought me laughs and tears of joy), my sister Renae (whose voice I was very happy to hear), Cadyn´s dad (and my brother) Rob, her mom Tiff, and my brother Ryan. When our guests arrived I said good night and Merry Christmas to my family and joined my Brasilian friends for prayer, the commencement to our Christmas dinner and party. We read from the book of hymns, Frei Fabio played Silent Night on the violin, we sang, we prayed the Our Father together as well as a personal blessing of those present and those not and we placed the figures of baby Jesus in the 3 Nativity Scenes Frei Rodrigo had set up in the house. After prayer, we enjoyed the delicious banquet and after eating, we accompanied Fabio and Alan´s guitar playing with song and dance. We ended the evening in prayer, Fabio again playing Silent Night and Ode to Joy on the violin and all reciting the Our Father. It was a beautiful and joyful Christmas celebration! I have especially loved the way Brasilians gather together in song and dance. The following day, Christmas Day, would bring yet another experience of this at Claudiana´s house with her family and friends. And a few days prior to Christmas was a party that included people stroking the guitar and everyone singing along. Very uplifting and a good model of rejoicing!

 

American Girl

It has been very interesting witnessing and sensing the reaction people have when I tell them I am from the United States. While in Brasilia, I was around students and people who were more politically aware. The majority of people I met were very angry at and against the U.S. government and its international policies/practices. I always felt suspect when I shared where I was from. Most Brasilians, however, after I shared that I was here to work with MST (agrarian land reform) and to work as a volunteer/Franciscan missionary on social justice related issues, were very friendly and welcoming. One evening in particular yielded an especially interesting conversation with several Brasilians concerning U.S. international policies. I shared with them how I have often sensed people’s disgust when I tell them I’m from the U.S. They responded saying that it’s not that people dislike me because I am from the U.S. or that they are disgusted, but that they are rather fascinated that an American would come to Brasil to work on social justice issues.

I have come to realize more and more that one of the reasons why I am here is to do my tiny part in relaying a different image of Americans. The image most people around the world have of Americans is worsening due to many reasons. I hope that I will be able to show another side to Americans that does not include a propensity to war and conquest, over consumption and decadence, etc, but rather a side that shows sincerity and simplicity of spirit (and simple living), but also awareness as to the unjust social structures that exist and which my government takes part in creating as well as sustaining. It’s not that the U.S. is responsible for all the world’s problems by any means. I am just more conscious of the problems we are more responsible for and the negative effects they are having on people around the world. It truly gives me much sorrow.

The other reaction I have received gives me equal sorrow. When I say I am American, many people (who are most times less educated, less politically aware) respond with “Que chiqui”, which is an expression describing something elegant or fancy. This reaction stems from the false image portrayed on Brasilian TV (Soap operas, films from/about the U.S., etc) that the U.S. has no poverty, no problems, nothing ugly. It seems as if they immediately assume that I am above them due to the country where I come from. It really makes me sad and frustrated, both images.

I have met a couple people who have shared with me that before they met me they hated Americans-and they had not even known any Americans before me. It was just what America (our government and decadent society) has done in and to the world that fed their hate/disgust. I have also heard several people comment that it is good I am here so that I can show another side of America. My heart really is sore that so many people feel these harsh feelings towards Americans and my country in general. If we do not show a different side of ourselves to the rest of the world, these odious feelings will only increase. I know there are many, many people in the U.S. who are not excessive consumers, who are sincerely concerned with the world´s poverty and injustice (including our own) and who do their part to lessen that. I only hope that my being here never worsens the attitude people have towards the U.S., but instead allows more people to imagine the many Americans who are compassionate and just and who do their part.

 

Saudade

The following was written some time in October, 2005:

Unfortunately, it has been a bit difficult for me to have the internet access to write more frequently. I am still in Brasilia, attending language school and have a little less than a month to finish my studies. The Portuguese is coming along well and I am happy with my progress—although I seem to be losing my Spanish, unfortunately. The makeup of the language program and the group of students I am studying with is excellent. The school is for foreign missionaries. There are 25 of us from 16 different countries—3 from Nigeria, 1 from the Congo, 1 from Egypt, 2 from Indonesia, 1 from India, 1 from Japan, 3 from South Korea, 2 from France, 3 from Italy, 1 from England, 2 from Poland, 1 from Ecuador, 1 from Mexico, 1 from Paraguay, 1 from the U.S. and 1 from Brasil who had lived in Italy for the last 20 years. I am the only lay missionary, all the rest are nuns, priests, brothers, or seminarians. It has been a great experience getting to know them and a blessing to be around people from all over.

The days consist of morning prayer together, breakfast, classes 8-12, lunch, presentations on Brasilian culture, free time, mass, dinner, free time. Although during the week it is more difficult to do things apart from the routine, we have weekends free to explore Brasilia. Some of my friends and I have attended several concerts at the National Theater and various other locations. Yesterday our group took a trip to a historic city 2 hours away to visit it and its waterfalls. Last week we had the opportunity to stay with Brasilian families for one week. It was a very rewarding experience and I will be visiting my family again this coming weekend.

The title of this entry, ´Saudade´ is a Portuguese word that supposedly does not have an exact equivalent in any other language. It means more or less in English, missing you. It could also be described as a type of home sickness, as saudade may be related to the Portuguese word saude, which means health. In any regards, I do miss my family and friends and familiar environs in the states. But I am also enjoying my time here and thankful for the people I am meeting and befriending as well as grateful for what I am learning.

 

Reflection on Sponsorship Process

The following entry was written in July. It is a reflection on raising funds for my mission experience in Brasil:


Over the past few weeks, sponsorship forms from family, friends and local churches supporting my lay missionary ministry in Uberlandia, Brazil have rolled in to the F.M.S. home base, Casa San Salvador. Upon receiving word of the financial commitment people are making, gratitude arises within me that is beyond words. The following, however, is an attempt at articulating the stirrings within me to which this support gives rise.
I have never been one who has liked asking for money. I think a lot (if not all) of us are like this. It seems to make one vulnerable, weak and dependent; states we usually do not value. For me, at the heart of this discomfort lies my obstinate pride to not want to owe anything to anyone. In this case, however, I do believe in the reason for asking family and friends for financial backing.
By establishing ties with people willing and able to fund one’s missionary ministry, a support system arises that goes beyond the financial. Although I had to fight against my pride, I looked forward to being connected with those taking an interest in my overseas ministry, believing that God works through people to help us lift one another up. With these ties established, I hope to share how I see God working in Brazil with those back home that carry me in prayer. And I hope that this sharing encourages their faith life, too, receiving word of God’s passion and love.
Each time I receive notice that someone is sponsoring me, my spirit leaps with encouragement, but not without a bit of fear and trembling. Along with a profound joy I am marked with an urgent sense of responsibility and accountability towards those who are a part of the web of mission (doctrinally everyone). This intertwining of joy and accountability heightens in a magnificent way when I think of and pray for those who are keeping me in their thoughts and prayers and supporting my mission work.
As I anticipate the good times and hardships that are sure to follow in Brazil, what allows me to brave the difficulties and the physical distance between me and loved ones here is God’s grace and love that binds us together in a spiritually edifying way. It has been a humbling process asking for financial support, but one that has also-and paradoxically-been uplifting. I’ve learned to become weak, to beg for funds that assist my missionary work. It is through this relinquishing of control and pride that enables me to depend on others’ help and allows me to recognize more deeply my responsibility and accountability towards everyone involved in mission (doctrinally the entire human race) and our interconnectedness.

-Rhegan Hyypio (July, 2005)

 

BrasilBloggin

BrasilBloggin

Saturday, August 20, 2005

 

Brasil Bound

After an unexpected and rather long delay, I am finally on my way to Brasil.
I know many of you probably thought I was already there. I was supposed to have arrived June 28th. Recently, however, the Brasilian government changed its Visa policies and requirements for U.S. citizens. So, the people here at F.M.S. and I have been scrambling to acquire all the new documents, running into barrier after barrier. It really was a roller coaster ride.
This entire waiting period, however, has been a fruitful one for me overall. The experience gave me more personal awareness of (what seems to me) the impossibility of voicing any indignation. I was frustrated at times and voiced that on occasion, but really sensed that I had nothing to complain about in comparison to what else is going on in the world. The main thing I’ve been reflecting on lately is that all the sad and traumatic events going on in the world still don’t necessarily allow for anyone to rise up in indignation. More and more it seems true to me that no matter what, we have nothing to complain about. We should do all we can to make things better-and never rest until they are (so this will probably go on ‘til the end of time), but in comparison to the cross-and due to the resurrection, we must bear whatever we face without any real indignation.
And supposedly, the whole delay I faced is the Brasilian government’s reaction against the U.S. policy for Latin Americans applying for U.S. Visas.
The great thing for me was that I was able to spend much more time with people I otherwise would not have been able to. This was the highlight. The home base here in D.C. has excellent people coming in and out and I am thankful and trust God wanted me here a little longer than I anticipated. Now the anticipation for Brasil is over and I only hope and pray I persevere and rejoice in all that’s to come.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

 

Coasting

After I wrote the last posting, I knew what I wanted to articulate was not complete. It usually never is for me. Maybe if I am faithful to writing in this Blog site I'll see some improvement :) Anyway, I knew and know that despite the restlessness I feel, there is a peace that is available. Sensing the restlessness has only challenged me to seek rest and peace. I always think of the Israelites in the Old Testament and how they were back and forth with their faith and trust in God. I often feel like I'm one of them, swaying in the wind. The roller coaster ride is never boring though and I am being challenged to trust and wait...

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

 

Trial Run

As I type my first BrasilBloggin posting, I am still waiting for my VISA to Brasil. I am back in Washington DC, Franciscan Mission Service's home base. It was difficult to say goodbye (for 3 years) to my family and friends, although I am hoping some (I think all is a bit unrealistic) will be able to visit. It's been an interesting 3 and a half weeks here at Casa San Salvador (the home that houses F.M.S.).

I've been trying to take the change of plans with ease and welcome the extra time to not stress so much about getting things in order before I leave. This gets more complicated the more time goes by, but I'm realizing it's just a restlessness within me that's there no matter what and no matter where I am. So, I'm reflecting on this restlessness in my restful, restless days. I'll end there for now and see how this posts. This whole Blog thing is another interesting experience. We'll see how it reveals itself to be while I'm Bloggin in Brasil. Now that the rains a running down outside, I'm going to bed-to rest.

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