Friday, October 29, 2010

"Tanto Faz"(Whatever)- You know, a variety

                                        Thanks to the efforts of a friend of mine, Nurmi, I have a new graphic for the blog. He's also a writer so you should check out his books at his website. Anyway, he was able to incorporate the colors of the Mozambique flag, map of Africa and also the most important part of the flag, the book (certainly not the AK-47). The Mozambique Government has been emphasizing education so it's important to have the book as the focus. Of course, the cross with the heart, a symbol of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart and our motto "Ametur Cor Jesu", Love be the Heart of Jesus, are also included.

Br. Nicholas Geisenberg, SC

                   At the age of 98, Br. Nick died on Friday, October 29. A true brother, he entered our community in 1932 and spent 54 years working at our schools in New Orleans. Though small in stature, Br. Nick was always the center of attention anytime he entered a room and was indeed loved by many. Please refer to the Brother Martin High School website for more details and arrangements. RIP

            Click here for the blog of the Misioneros de Guadalupe. (The blog is in Spanish, so you may need a translator. But, they do have some nice pictures and videos) These dedicated priests serve the parish and school in Amatongas. We will be working closely with these men.
            The picture on the left, taken from their blog, is the front view of the church, the best I've seen so far. The school is located just to the right of the church. Looks pretty nice.

                Finalmente (see everyone can speak a little Portuguese), I thought I would share just a few pictures from around Marilia, some unique things a little at a time. As I've said before, I walk to school everyday, so one day I took some pictures of my journey. It just seemed strange to me that there was trash all over, even hanging from the trees. Eventually, I would see the trash men coming around in their bright orange suits to pick the bags up. Just seemed strange to this stupid Americano. 
Bags to be picked up, see bags on the next tree as well.

In front of many houses there is a metal trash holder

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tower of Babel in Brasil

Brothers Angel, Lucas and Chris at 1st meeting in Lins, Brasil
First, I now have almost 30 subscribers. Thanks everyone for subscribing to this blog, the pressure is on now.

Let me see if I can set the seen for you. Br. Angel, far left, speaks Spanish, a little English and gets along pretty well in Portuguese. Br. Lucas, middle, speaks French and Portuguese, a little English and Spanish. Myself, far right, well, I think I speak English and a little Portguese. So, you can imagine what it was like at our 2nd meeting today in Marilia, Brasil.

I am starting to understand a little more each day reading and listening, but I'm having trouble speaking. As some of you may know, I am a bit quiet by nature, so I almost have to force myself to talk. It will only improve through practice.

Our meeting was difficult without interpreters this time. However, we were able to talk a little about a few details. We decided we will try and arrive in Johannesburg on Feb. 2nd or 3rd, no mom not before Feb., and then try and fly into Beira together. It looks like there's only one flight into Beira each day, at least on SAA, South Africa Airlines. Also, we decided to write a letter to the fourth member of our group, Br. Fabian, who is finishing studies in Kenya right now. We wish he could be here with us, but school comes first.

Incidentally, I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine on facebook. She commented about all of the political ads on TV and the millions of dollars being spent. BTW, it's the same here in Brasil, and possibly worse. Anyway, It seems like the ultimate waste of money, especially when you realize the people in Amatongas, where were going, feed their families on a dollar a day.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

First meeting & new pictures from Amatongas

Three of the four brothers going to Amatongas, Br. Lucas, Br. Angel and myself, met for the first time together Friday in Lins, Brasil at the Brothers community. Br. Fabian, from Zimbabwe, who is the fourth member of the group is finishing his degree work in Kenya and obviously could not be at the meeting.  Together with two of our General Councilors from Rome, Br. Gaston and Br. Denis, and Br. Jose Roberto, Provincial of Brasil, we talked about the recent visit in Amatongas by Br. Lucas and our Superior General, Br. Jose Ignatio. Some of the things we talked about were practical like what we need to do to get our visas, while others were more specific, like where we are going to live. We also found out at this meeting that the school presently operating on campus has 800 students attending classes in three sessions each day. Some classes have as many as 70 students, an interesting little piece of information. Also, some work has already begun repairing the students dorm. We will be meeting again on Tuesday here in Marilia. Below, please check out the new pictures Br. Lucas shared with us at the meeting.

New Amatongas Pictures

Thursday, October 21, 2010

World Mission Sunday 2010

This weekend we are traveling about an hour from here to meet with Br. Lucas, the brother who will be the director of the school in Amatongas, Mozambique. We will meet to discuss further details about our new work, little things like a date for arrival, visas and such. It will be good for me because there is a brother there who can translate. Hey, it's only been 3 weeks, give me a break.

Br. Lucas just returned from visiting Amatongas for two weeks with the Superior General of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, Br. Jose Ignacio Carmona. So, the information he will share will be the latest and greatest from Amatongas.

It is interesting that we will be meeting on the weekend of World Mission Sunday 2010. Please read the message from Pope Benedict XVI here, but I especially like this sentence below.

"In a multiethnic society that is experiencing increasingly disturbing forms of loneliness and indifference, Christians must learn to offer signs of hope and to become universal brethren, cultivating the great ideals that transform history and, without false illusions or useless fears, must strive to make the planet a home for all peoples."

Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States

One Day's Wages (Great Video)

I couldn't say it better myself. Just think what a group could do.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A few pictures and side note on "Pai Nosso"

Just thought I would post a few pictures since I promised earlier. I have increased my hours of classes, so I will begin by showing you a picture of my school in Marilia.

The picture on the left below is of the school, FISK. It is really a beautiful and modern building and is usually filled with young students from around the city taking English classes. There are probably a dozen or so schools like this in the area. I have learned that students take about an hour a week of English lessons in the elementary grades and two hours a week in high school. Some students and parents choose to specialize and can get more hours at these schools. The picture at right is obviously my teacher, Aline. (pronouned ah-leen-ee) She didn't want me to take this and put it online, but oh well, sorry Aline. Aline spent two years in Chicago as an Au Pair. She is a great teacher.

Below, are obviously pictures from my room. I believe this was an old school, so one floor was modified into a residence with about a dozen bed rooms. This bedroom may be the biggest I have ever had in my life, and with its own bathroom as well. The little stickers on my desk are verbs I need to learn and conjugate. Oh yes, my favorite thing about the Portuguese language, conjugating verbs and the gender thing. Just outside my window is the school playground which is usually filled with children playing from morning till night.

Finally, for now, the streets of Marilia: I have spent hours on these somewhat hilly streets and have grown in appreciation for the beautiful city. Our walk to the language school is about 15 minutes. Like most European cities, houses are closed in behind walls and gates. Sometimes you can see inside the walls and most families keep their property in perfect condition and manicured behind the walls. However, not so much on the street side, obviously quite different from what I am accustomed.

Oh yea, one side note - I thought it would be a good idea to try and memorize the "Our Father" in Portugues. I had an interesting time because I really had not spent much time repeating one phrase of the prayer over and over again. Here is what the first few lines look like in Portuguese. "Pai nosso, que estais no céu; santificado seja o vosso nome;" How often, really, do I make holy the name of God in my daily life? Pretty cool, I thought.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Nossa Senhora Aparecida (Our Lady of Aparecida)

Tuesday, October 12, we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Aparecida. I thought I would include this in my blog because it is such a huge feast day and national holiday in Brasil.
Our Lady of Aparecida is the patron saint of Brazil. She is represented by a short, dark, wooden statue of the Virgin Mary, currently housed in the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, in the town of Aparecida, São Paulo. Her feast day has been observed as a public holiday since Pope John Paul II consecrated the Basilica in 1980. The Basilica is the fourth most popular Marian shrine in the world, being able to hold up to 45,000 worshippers.

This day is also called "Childrens Day". Children receive presents from their parents and close relatives. Also, some projects are made for helping poor and homeless children around the country.

Click on the link to get the full history of the Nossa Senhora Apareceida. It's quite interesting. Here is the common prayer used for Our Lady Aparecida.

Lady Aparecida, a son of yours who belongs to you unreservedly–totus tuus–called by the mysterious plan of Providence to be the Vicar of your Son on earth, wishes to address you at this moment. He recalls with emotion, because of the brown color of this image of yours, another image of yours, the Black Virgin of Jasna Gora.
Mother of God and our Mother, protect the Church, the Pope, the bishops, the priests and all the faithful people; welcome under your protecting mantle men and women religious, families, children, young people, and their educations.
Health of the sick and Consoler of the afflicted, comfort those who are suffering in body and soul; be the light of those who are seeking Christ, the Redeemer of all; show all people that you are the Mother of our confidence.
Queen of Peace and Mirror of Justice, obtain peace for the world, ensure that Brazil and all countries may have lasting peace, that we will always live together as brothers and sisters and as children of God. Our Lady Aparecida, bless all your sons and daughters who pray and sing to you here and elsewhere.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

ecos das crianças (Echoes of the Children)

It has been one week since my arrival in Brasil and I'm sorry it has taken so long to post something. However, I will start posting more often. My wi-fi internet conncection is not the greatest, but I can come down to the brothers computer room where it's much better.

It has been a whirlwind of activity since my arrival in this beautiful country. I'll share some pictures later, but I wanted to begin with a reflection of my overall experience. First, the brothers have been incredibly hospitable. I live with 9 other brothers in a formation house with 4 postulants getting ready for the novitiate. I would be considered one of the old guys, now that's different. The house is located on the grounds of an education center for poor children. I titled the post "Echoes of the Children" because of what I hear each day outside my window. We have all experienced times when we hear large groups of children playing. The only way I can describe it is by recalling to mind that high pitched "echo" as you hear bits and pieces of conversation intermingled with screaming, laughing and balls bouncing. It seems to be even more pronounced when there are trees and walls to echo the sounds. Brasil seems to be filled with these echoes not only from children but from the sounds of the city. Certainly it comes with the territory when you have your windows open all the time. Though these echoes are distracting while trying to study and learn a new language, I am learning to soak it in, like soaking in life. Is this something we Americans have lost, because of AC, TV, and the PC?

Stay tuned for pictures coming soon. até logo