I am absolutely in love with Brazil! The culture, the people, the food, everything.
I also can’t complain about living on an island for these next few months for my study abroad and missions program.
The city of Floripa is beautiful! I spend most of my days in the downtown area because that is where the university campus is located. There are people everywhere constantly and a definite hussle atmosphere. You get a little bit outside the main downtown area and things slow down a little bit, but Floripa is definitely an active city.
With 40 something beaches on the island alone, I still feel like I haven’t seen that much in my past couple of weeks of being here. I have been to the beach a couple of times and it is beautiful. The weather is WARM, so of course the ocean feels great. And I think this is my first time actually swimming in the Atlantic Ocean!
Since I grew up in San Diego, I am definitely a beach girl. But living in Oregon these past few years has deprived me of some good solid beach time. So these next for months, I will thoroughly enjoy getting lots of sun.
Over the past two weeks, I have seen the wealthier side of Floripa. The majority of the city is pretty safe and has higher living standards. The island draws a lot of tourism so the city is well kept and highly developed. Most of the time I don’t feel like I am living in a third world country.
This past Monday, all that changed. I saw a whole different side of the city.
I went with my Veritas Mission Mentor and the other missionaries I am working with to a hill where many poor and impoverished families live. We walked around the neighborhood interacting with and inviting the kids to a kids club at the church. I did not take pictures because of the risk of calling attention to myself or getting my camera stolen.
I couldn’t believe the conditions that they live in every day.
They walk up and down this huge, steep dirt hill several times a day. They carry groceries, walk to school and work—and each trip they have to climb this hill in super hot weather too. Their living standards are very low. And it broke my heart to see this community pushed off to the side of this wealthy city where it seems that no one cares or wants to interact with them.
Brazilian culture, I’m learning, is defined by class and each class does not interact with one another except for possibly being employed by a higher class. It is devastating to see how the lower class gets pushed to the margins of the city. They are forgotten about, rejected, unloved.
This is a city that needs prayer. Needs Jesus. Needs to be loved.
Charlotte Gray is a California girl with a heart for the Pacific Northwest now living in Brazil. She’s a junior Organizational Communication major with a minor in Global Business at George Fox University in Oregon. With dreams and aspirations to do big things, she is studying abroad and serving through missions in Florianopolis, Brazil with Veritas Christian Study Abroad. She plans to travel all around, meet amazing people, and try things totally out of her comfort zone—and hopefully pick up some Portuguese on the way too. She loves adventures, coffee, and all things gray.