Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dunwoody United Methodist Church Teens Take Life Changing Trip to Brazil

11Alive - While many teenagers are spending their summer by the pool or at the beach, dozens of teens from Dunwoody United Methodist Church were in Brazil, working with bricks, mortar, and their hearts.

It was a journey lined with blood, sweat, and a lot of tears.

"I've just gotten so deeply passionate with the people," said teenager Margaret Heir with tears streaming down her cheeks as she prepared to leave the new friends she made while in Brazil. "I've gotten so close to God. They (the Brazilians) are just so amazing."

Seventy teenagers spent more than a week in Brazil, most of it in the mountains more than an hour from the glitzy beaches and hotels. They worked at a camp in the Brazilian countryside where local churches gather for worship services and conventions.

The chores here ranged from clearing paths through the thick sweaty jungle, to building additions to a church and cabins.

A member of Dunwoody United Methodist, 11Alive's Jerry Carnes joined the teenagers as an adult chaperone.

There were dirty jobs and even dirtier jobs that the teenagers completed with eagerness. Allison Rogg, who was covered with muck but smiling as she helped clean a pond...

Rogg described her trip as "amazing."

Through it all, the teens worked side-by-side with Brazilian counterparts. Some of them could speak broken English. The teens from Dunwoody knew maybe a word or two of Portuguese, the language of Brazil.

That didn't stop the teens from growing close. They found new ways to communicate. The Brazilians taught the Americans how to play soccer, while the Americans showed their new friends how to throw a football.

Often, the teens communicated with a hug. Lifelong friendships were formed.

"We love you," said Brazilian Alenildo Ferrira. "You mean so much to us. You're in our heart."

When the mission work was complete, the teenagers had to say goodbye to the people they'd known only a few days. There were hugs and eyes welling with sorrow. It was as if the teenagers from Dunwoody were saying good-bye to a dear member of the family.

"Friendships have formed and it's just one of the things where the spirit has moved us," said Brittany Sanders of Dunwoody United Methodist. "It's emotional.

"It's going to be an experience they're not going to forget," said Sanders. "I hope they don't forget it."

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