Brazil Report from Young Adult Missionary Emma Kerr-Carpenter
Holy smudges of God's fingerprints
"It would be a lie not to acknowledge that amidst all the joy of the past six months, there have been some serious challenges and sorrow," wrote Emma Kerr-Carpenter in a recent e-mail newsletter from Project Shade and Fresh Water in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. She is a Northern California native and United Methodist Young Adult Missionary who is supported by the Federated Church of Orland, Dutch Flat, Colfax United Methodist Church, and Porterville First.
"As I am writing this I am a little past the six-month mark of being in Brazil. The time has absolutely flown by," she said. "On a week to week basis, I have filled my time helping with activities at the Project and teaching my English classes on Monday," she added.
Kerr-Carpenter says by hanging out with the kids and adolescents in her Project day-to-day, she has formed some amazing relationships. "I find myself astounded by the fierce love I have for my kids…I often find myself worrying about them, their lives, and their futures…my prayer for them every single day is that they might live a safe, happy life full of love."
In April, she helped chaperone a trip to a dance festival in the state of Sao Paolo. Their group won second place in their category.
"There have been times, especially over the last two months, where the culture shock and homesickness have hit me like a punch in the gut," she said. "There are days that I wake up and I am so sick and tired of not understanding things and having to speak Portuguese, and days where I feel so useless and I just want to go home."
Kerr-Carpenter says she has been challenged in her relationships with her kids as she learned more about their home lives with yelling, abuse, absentee parents, money problems, drug and alcohol problems, and ill equipped teen parents. "I struggle with being overwhelmed by frustration, anger sadness at the situations my kids are in," she said.
"In the middle of all of this has been God. Everyday God and the kids hug me at least four times, most days more. I have seen the Holy smudges of God's fingerprints in strange places in my life: in the way that my roommate and I have fallen into a comfortable rhythm, when my neighbors greet me in the street, when the little girls give me flowers for my hair," she said. "In my darkest moments, I have heard God's voice speak words of wisdom, truth, and comfort…I have seen God's smile on my kids' faces and heard God's giggles in the still silent morning."
"And in turn I have prayed that God has used me, to hug and smile where they are needed and to be a strength and comfort to others."
Like other United Methodist missionaries, Emma Kerr-Carpenter's service is supported through covenant relationships with local congregations. For further information on covenant relationships and how a local church can enter into one, see cnumc.org/unitedmethodistmissionaries or contact Howard Parker, the Conference Secretary of Global Ministries at firstname.lastname@example.org. For a pledge of $5 per member per month (not to exceed $2500), a local church can start a covenant relationship.