This past weekend I went to a missions conference in Ivoti. The conference was the 4th South Brazil Missions Conference which was hosted by my church in Ivoti. The conference was Friday night, All day Saturday and Sunday night.
The primary speaker was Gerardo Gustavo Lopez and he is a missionary in the Patagonia region of Argentina. Listening to him was very difficult. He spoke Spanish and read from the Spanish bible while he was preaching. I was surprised at how many people told me that they had difficulty understanding him preaching. I found that if I really concentrated hard that I could somewhat understand him but it absolutely wiped me out to listen to him.
Saturday I am glad that I skipped the morning session because I ended up being at the conference for over 9.5+ hours straight before I left early. I found that my brain had just shut down so I left before he preached Saturday night. On a side note I am thankful that I can now go 9+ hours talking and listening to Portuguese now, maybe one day I will be comfortable enough to talk for 12 plus hours without getting exhausted.
One of the interesting things about missionaries down here in Brazil is that they often will not ask directly for support. Instead they will offer to have you purchase goods from them which will allow them to take a percentage of proceeds and apply it to the missions trip. Two of the girls from the church in Ivoti were selling truffles to help them go on a missions trip to the amazon next summer. I had to purchase a few of these truffles to help support their efforts.
There was an American missions team from a church in Michigan who came down to help with the conference. They performed skits, shared their testimonies, taught the children, and sang songs for us. It was great to have them down helping out with this conference. It was also the first time that I found myself doing some simple translating for them while we were talking before one of the sessions. It was very cool to be able to do some simple translation.
This conference had people from may local churches at the conference. When I looked around the conference it was very interesting to see that the churches grouped together when we sat for lunch or during the different sessions. I am thankful for the time that I could sit next to my friends and commiserate on not being able to understand the guest speaker.
At the end of the conference they presented gifts to the guest speakers and the missionary team. It was something new for me to see as I normally thought that those type of gifts were given in private after the conference and not during the closing session. I think that it is pretty important to receive public recognition for many things here in Brazil. This presentation reminded me of that cultural difference.