As I sit on my deck in Cincinnati; on a 70 degree day in February, I am so thankful for my experience and the opportunity to serve at the Summer Camp in Brazil. Thinking back on my time there I realize many things about my life and the blessings God has given me, and this blessed nation I live in. One blessing I received while in Brazil was that of friendship. Camp was only four days, but it was packed full of activities, food, and fellowship. We learned together, played together, and spent all our time in about a quarter mile radius of each other.
With the language barrier, I wasn't sure what camp in Brazil would be like and how relationships would be built. Building relationships is one of the elements of "The Zone" and I felt the language barrier might hinder that. Upon arrival, I met several staff members who spoke some English, and they were happy to teach me some Portuguese throughout the week. Spending three meals a day together, participating in activities, and learning more about each other through various degrees of communication was, and is, a wonderful way to build relationships. For those participating in camp the ability to have a camp, and people from the United States coming over, meant so much to them. For me, it was a privilege to volunteer for the camp in Brazil; to work with the wonderful, loving, welcoming people there was something I could have never asked for.
I have learned that friendships overpower language barriers any day. Spending time with people, conversing in what ever way you can; be it drawing, writing, "sign language" or a hug, learning together is what builds true, strong friendships. In all the opportunities I've had to volunteer and help people I've never had a story end like this one.
As camp came to a close, and we finished packing up our things to begin our trip back to the United States the wonderful, beautiful children we had the opportunity to serve had something to give us. They all came together, insuring all the visitors were there, and sang "Amigos para Sempre" or "Friends Forever." Tears rolled as the children sang, and tried to hide their faces because they too were crying. They had the opportunity to make new friends, and they were sad to see us go. Hugs all around as we said our final goodbyes and everyone gathered and waved as we got into the vehicles for our return home. Friends forever we left, and friends forever we will remain. Until we meet again!