This summer a group of college students headed to Goiânia, Brazil to work with children at our Learning Centers and help host an overnight camp for them. MiKayla S., from University of Mary, shares her experience with the kids on the blog today.
To describe everything that God taught me, showed me and opened my eyes to over the 10 days we spent in Goiânia, Brazil is extremely difficult. Every single day, I was exposed to new situations and people that have changed my heart. Above everything, through the wonderful people and children we spent time with, I learned how to love. Not just being nice to people because it’s the right thing to do, but to love unconditionally and intentionally, just as Jesus loves us.
From the moment we stepped foot onto the ground of Goiânia, we were treated so kindly and with such great hospitality. And by people whom we had never met or even seen before. The love of the people there was incredible and overwhelming. Then there are the workers at Projeto Amar Learning Center. The love that they have for the children is amazing, to say the least. They give up their time to better the lives of children that live in tough situations at home. I truly believe God has sent each one of them to Projeto Amar for a specific purpose and that they will reap the benefits of their incredible sacrifice for those kids. And the crazy thing is, they do it simply in love. They do it because they care. They care about each and every child that walks through the doors of Projeto Amar and for the kids that they have not met yet. These people are investing everything that they have to provide and to be there for these wonderful children. Through their selflessness, they are intentionally spreading the love of God to children who truly need it. I look up to each and every one of these people at Projeto Amar and admire how they are choosing to love in action, and not just simply talk about it.
I could go on for days about the children we spent time with. It would have been really difficult to have gotten to know and build a relationship with each and every child we were surrounded by, but even so, they all have touched my life and have changed my heart. One thing that totally blew my mind was how immensely grateful they all were that we were there. We Americans didn’t need to come over to these kids’ country and bring tons of money or gifts. Our presence alone brought them so much joy and excitement.
One memory I always think back upon is from the last day of camp for the kids. It was so bittersweet. It was so fulfilling seeing how joyful and happy the kids were, but it was also sad because it was our last time seeing them and spending time with them all. We were sitting in the seats in the chapel and were told that without our team coming to Goiânia and raising the support that we did, they would not have had enough money to fund the camp at all. One little boy, Keven, grabbed my hand, kissed it, and whispered in my ear, “Obrigada,” which means “thank you.” I was so overwhelmed by the love of God and how He purposely and intentionally used us to bless these kids. They constantly wanted to be hugged, have their hands be held or to just simply want to talk to you. They just wanted to spend time with us. That alone gave me a serious heart check. How many times in my own life am I willing to lay down my busy plans and desires to reach out to someone else and simply just spend time with them? These children were so young and yet so strong. They are so loving and have so much power to change people’s lives, just by being who they are and letting loose what God has given them on the inside.
My life is better by knowing them. God truly broke my heart for what breaks His in Goiânia. It was so difficult and heart wrenching to see first hand how young children live and what they are so in need for. The power of love was so evident and apparent in these kids. My heart breaks for every one of them and the situations they go through day to day. Through this, I have learned to truly let go of my own will to have to understand and be in control of everything. He has a specific plan and purpose for every single one of those kids.
It is hard not to dwell on what they go through, like whether they will have enough to eat or whether they will experience or witness violence or drug use. But I am empowered because I know God is powerful and well able to work and restore in their lives. This trip to Brazil put 1 Corinthians 13 on my heart and amplified it to reality. Those 10 days have challenged me to truly start loving people. These kids knew nothing about us and didn’t even speak the same language as us, but chose to love us anyway. This is what love is. Jesus knows every detail in our lives, every sin, every insecurity, every bad thought. But He chooses to love us anyway. To love is a decision that we need to make every single day. I want to love like Jesus loves. And now I can say from this trip, I want to love like the children of Goiânia.