Admittedly, I should have studied more Portuguese before I got to Brazil. I could have listened to my Duolingo notifications (email and text!) that reminded me to study each day. But, I did not. Coming in to Brazil, I knew how to say “hello!” (oi!), “nice to meet you” (Muito prazer), and “thank you” (Obrigada), amongst a few other things that I forgot among the excitement of arriving in a new country. I quickly learned how to say, “I don’t speak Portuguese” (Eu no falo Portugues), and I don’t understand (Eu Nao Entendo).
Up until today, I thought that my inability to speak the language created a barrier. If I couldn’t talk to another person, then we couldn’t connect. But, I could not have been more wrong. Today, I learned that the language of love reigns over all. It is with love that we were created and with love that we should walk this Earth. Love connects us all in a way that nothing else can do.
Today, a group of 10 of us went to A Casa do Jardim, an after-school program for children facing extreme poverty. One of the directors of the facility told us that many of the kids come from homes of all kinds of violence and are often abused- in addition to not having access to the necessary means to live. But, despite their circumstances, these were some of the most joyful children I have ever met. They have nothing, yet give everything. They asked nothing of us but our love and affection, which we had so much of to give.
Despite our group speaking very little Portuguese and the kids not knowing English, we connected. We stumbled through translations, acted out words we were trying to say, and drew pictures. But, even with our mistakes, we loved each other because love has no boundaries. Love does not discriminate. Love does not judge. Love is a language.
After only a few hours without these children, my heart aches for them. It aches for them to have love at home. It aches for them to have a hot meal waiting for them. It aches for them to have opportunities. It aches because I love them. Because I want them to know that God loves them.
So, I pray for them. I pray that they know how special they are. I pray that they can be strong, that they can overcome. I pray that they know they are loved by so many, including their Creator.
Today, I learned that love doesn’t require me to speak Portuguese. Love doesn’t need me to conjugate verbs or use correct grammar. Love just requires me to come as I am. Although I thought we were going to A Casa do Jardim to teach the children, they taught me so much. They taught me to love. I have learned to walk in love and to show it, to not hide in my comfort zone, and to step out into the world and embrace it.
Com amor (with love),