Friday, April 25, 2014

Settling in to Rio

Now that things have calmed down a little, I can write a bit about the last few weeks, and my first month back in Brazil – because, amazingly enough, it’s already been a month! So what’s been happening? What am I doing, after all? After two months home in Seattle, I am back in Brazil, but in Rio de Janeiro this time (last year I was in Sao Paulo).

A bit about Rio…

            Rio de Janeiro is perhaps Brazil’s most well known and tourist frequented city. Situated on the south-central western coast of the country, its metropolitan area boasts a population of some 14 million (comparable to New York City). Rio is home to an impressive array of natural beauty, including numerous beaches and coastlines, mountains, and forests. A sub-tropical climate, its average temperatures thus far seem to stay in the 80s (Fahrenheit)/high 20s/mid 30s (Celsius). I have yet to have a day where I need to wear a jacket during the day, though have had a couple of nights that, sans a blanket, I’ve worn my sweatshirt to bed. Usually I sleep with my window open to stay cool enough to sleep.

The arches of Lapa, not even a five minute walk from where I live. The Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Sebastian in the background.
            Rio de Janeiro is split up into geographic zones, consisting of north, south, east, west, and central. I live in the central zone, in the neighborhood of Lapa – minutes away from its iconic white arches. I work in two different neighborhoods (work explained in a bit more detail below), Tijuca (north zone), and mostly in Meier (north zone). There are two buses that go to Meier (one that also passes Tijuca), and it’s a short walk to the street parallel to mine to catch them both. With good traffic, it’s just 20-30 minutes to Meier – though catching rush hour in the late afternoon/early evening can delay things somewhat, more so when I catch the second option for a bus (which takes a longer route).

What am I doing, anyway?

I have two main roles here in the Anglican Diocese of Rio de Janeiro. One is part-time administrative & communication support at the Diocesan office at the Anglican Cathedral of the Redeemer in Tijuca. This is just a couple mornings and afternoon a week, and has technically yet to really begin in earnest – until recently, diocesan bishop Filadelfo Oliveira was recovering from multiple cardiac surgeries – but has recently returned to work in Rio de Janeiro, and it was so incredibly good to see him in person, and see him up and about. He has an upcoming trip to the United States, and it is likely after that (mid-May) that I will really begin my position assisting with the Diocese.

A picture with Bishop Filadelfo from July 2013.

            The other position I have is with Church of the Most Holy Trinity, a parish located in Meier. A small Anglican parish that has its roots in a mission plant from 1910, it passed through some difficult times in the mid/late 1980s to early 1990s, a time during which many members left, and the state of the building suffered greatly. Before, during and after this same timeframe, the neighborhood itself changed greatly as well, with area demographics shifting from middle class to working class. This era also saw the parish’s worship styles and attitudes shift from what had been slightly more evangelical, to charismatic, to its current more traditional Anglo-Catholic form.

Church of Most Holy Trinity, April 2014.
Being presented to the community by Rev. Eduardo Costa at my first Sunday service in March 2014 
            For more information, click here to read Holy Trinity’s parish profile in English.

            Aside from regular participation in services and community events, some of the highlights of my presence at Holy Trinity is working with Episcopaz, the parish’s human rights ministry. Rooted in our baptismal covenant to respect the dignity of every human being, Episcopaz and Holy Trinity host regular events open to the community on various topics of importance. The first one in which I participated was the weekend after I arrived, on domestic violence against women. People came together to create murals, as well as joining a panel discussion with activists and church members.

            Holy Trinity is in the process of fundraising to remodel and expand its existing property so as to better serve the community – currently it plays host to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and a weekly community lunch that is also available free of charge to area homeless. Given that Meier’s homeless populations is one of the largest in Rio, the church is hoping to respond to this need by having a parish nurse in the future, as well as space for people to take a shower, receive a haircut, donated personal items, etc…

            It’s a quick summary, and I don’t want to write too much at once, but this is essentially a glance at life in Rio de Janeiro. I feel like I’m settling in well, but it’s hard to believe it’s already been a month. I hope you all are well—drop a line sometime! Until next time! Até a próxima!

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