As we arrived to Negros, I certainly sensed the darkness. It is weird, because most places have this sense of morals- right and wrong. Where there is some structure and discipline. Out of all the poverty I have seen so far, none is like this. Economically it is worse than a ghetto in the US, and socially equal. Children were timid and scared of us, but angry and hostile toward each other. The adults (for the most part) liked to stare. A stare of, "you are an american in my land and i have the right to stare at you because you are weird..." is what we have experienced- maybe even some hostility as well from guys our age- but nothing like here. It was more uncomfortable. And the only thing that we could sense was an oppression. An oppression of laziness, no education, lack of abilities, no motivation, lack of anything healthy- people, relationships-you name it. Just all around it was depressed and dark. Just no hope, no advancement, no joy no nothing! There is hope. We went the school, and after a few songs, Marconi straight up asked the kids if they wanted Jesus in their hearts. The entire classroom raised their hands. He rephrased his question, making sure they understood what that meant, and asked them to stand and say "I do." :) They stood and said I do:) Now, of course nobody knows except for God who is legitimate, but it was a movement! We played soccer with the kids- a big group in fact, but it was not our typical experience when a legion of kids run up screaming foreign languages and pulling on your leg hair. One boy had a ball, and i asked to play. He stared at me petrified, along with the other five or so. After some encouragement, it got to where we could pass it, from me to andrew to that boy. In five minutes the five were playing, but still petrified. After ten or so, things were loosened up and there was a futbol war happening in Negros. Not a game, but 20 boys, everyman for himself. Again, this darkness was here. They would hit each other; find the weak one and push him, make him cry, then laugh. Of course he had to protect himself, and this would cause more fights. WIth the girls too, every person for themselves under 12 in Negros.
There is hope. After lounging in our hammocks over-looking the gorgeous desert valley we went back into town to play the movie, "Facing your Giants." This movie is kinda cheesy, but it was good! It is extremely effective for this region- Brazil. The huge crowd (probably the entire population of Negros) stood around and slowly filtered out. The little boys ran around kicking dirt up and acting like they were motorcycles. But two women accepted Christ after that movie. Now there is three christian adults or so, and, from what we know, a multitude (20) of kids. It is wierd, because how in the world could anybody live that way. You have no hope of advancing, of learning, stimulation, growth, joy or even satisfaction in your life. No minimal anything. It is just dark, and they have nothing. Our need for God is made apparent when we have nothing. What in the world could ever get this place going? The government? No. they've been trying for far too long. This place is forgotten and left behind. Descendants of slaves. How could they get through? And it is funny, because they didn't even seem to understand the idea that there was a God who loved them. This saying has seem to become hackneyed to most in the US, but it was refreshing to those who had nothing. When the women wanted that love in their life, Gods power in their life, it was different in Negros. Our Host, Marconi, Andrew, Christian, the ladies, and a few others sat in the dirt. We formed a semi-circle on the dirt road, while Christian played his guitar. We all sat singing, in all different languages, and clapping to whatever beat we made up. It was not uniform, but uniquely beautiful. This small group sat under the cool, Brasillian, moonlit desert and clapped at random times and sang whatever we felt while Chrstian was strumming. This is a beauty I have only found in God. It was dark outside, but it seemed as if it were so much lighter than before. The ladies would actually speak to us after that, and hug us. I always come to this place of "lack of ability" to communicate and it is because what happened in Negros was so much bigger than what i have words for. That probably sounds pretty cheesy:) its true though. We headed back home to our brick house located at the edge of a hill, over-looking the valley. This used to be a fruitful river which provided for everyone, but is now dried up and suffering crops lie dried in the sun. We all layed outside in our hammocks, swinging in the breeze. Our host made us coffee, real coffee. It was black and there was nothing sweet to it:) Mmmm... black coffee. I will be the first to say, black coffee has never tasted so good.
"The Lord is my Shepherd; I have all that I need."
The Bible, Psalm 23:1