Adventure in Brazil - With Friends Like These

If I could only use one word to describe the people I’ve met in Brazil, it would be passionate. They celebrate joy in life regardless of their circumstances.  I’ve been told that I’ll never fully understand what my visit means to the people involved in the project.  I’m already convinced of that truth.  After the first day of painting, I addressed the group, in English which most of them did not understand, and told them how much I appreciated their work.  It was such an amazing and fun day.  And, it truly was one of the easiest mural days I’d ever had.  I learned later that one person needed to leave the room because my words – even through a translator - brought her to tears.  And, it appears, my blog entries have the same effect on the local population.  Like I said, passionate.

Now, I want to tell you one thing that I really hate.  I cannot understand why some people shake hands without ever really gripping the other person’s hand.  I want a firm handshake.  I want to know there has been human contact.  I want to feel like I have been welcomed.  Do not give me a limp wrist without a trace of sincerity.

It’s my observation that Brazilians feel the same way about hugging.
There are no half-hearted, side shoulder to side shoulder hugs in Barbosa Ferraz.  When you hug in Brazil, it is full body hugging like you mean it.  And, when you are at a gathering among friends, everyone hugs everyone else at one point in time – and maybe a lot more than once.  A hug in Brazil lets you know that you are appreciated, enjoyed, loved, and it hurts to say goodbye. And, if you happen to get hugged by a guy the size of an NFL linebacker, expect to have the air squeezed out of your lungs.  I tell you this from first-hand experience.

We all know that actions speak louder than words, but words are so very powerful as well.  I’ve told you that the Brazilians have welcomed me.  I’ve felt it. But, I think the best way you can experience it is through the words they have shared with me.

So, here goes a sampling (and thank goodness for Google Translate):

Geremias - One day I send you one e-mail.  Today, I sure, I have a big friend in USA.

Gabriel - Mission Given ... Mission Fulfilled!!!  It's official!  Phillip Martin is in Brazil!!! (Gabriel met me at the airport and the word spread like a Brazilian internet wildfire.)

Ana - It's a pleasure to have you in our country.  I'm sure you'll have an awesome experience with Geremias, Lillah, and the whole JAA family as your hosts!  (JAA is youth group like Future Farmers of America.)  Enjoy your stay; we're very happy to receive you here!

Jeferson - If you depend on us, Phillip Martin, with all respect and without demeaning the other countries, Brazil will be unique, and wait because it is just beginning. Many surprises come, trips, new friends will appear, and new challenges, our parents and friends have much to show you still.  This is our country, our culture, our people, only reinforced the pleasure is all ours to be receiving you in our country in our city.  Good night, tomorrow has more ....

Vini-Amor - Oh my God!  Thank you very much for the honor ... Phillip Martin, I think I speak for everyone when I say ... Very Very Very Thank you ... You are giving us a simply inexplicable moment in our lives ... In the lives of JAA's and ex-JAA's ... I only have to Thank you so much!

Like I said ... We just thank you for providing us with this wonderful emotion ... thank you so much ... You made and it still makes a difference in our lives.

Wenderly – Welcome, Welcome, Philippe Martin!  May Brazil provide you with beautiful stories and unforgettable memories.

Felipe - Welcome to Brazil Phillip Martin.  I guarantee you will like Brazil and will win many friends and free hugs.

Guilherme – I hope that in this period of visit to Brazil you can be infected with the energy of JAA!  Big hug

Carla - Welcome Phillip!!! I hope you are enjoying our country, some people say that we Brazilians are a welcoming people, but wait only to see on November 26 (the day of the mural dedication).  You will realize that our emotion and energy are literally unique  …

Talita -  Welcome to Brazil, Phillip Martin.  I barely can't wait to meet you on November 26th, and I can guarantee you that will be a very emotional day, impossible to forget.  It will be an honor to have you a part of something so special.  I really hope you enjoy every single moment.  See you at "A Gincana"!

Alessa - I loved meeting you, Phillip Martin!  It was a special moment that I will keep forever in my heart!  And that this is the first moment of many.  Thank you.

Tatiani -  Phillip, welcome.  It is a privilege to have you here in Brazil.  I hope this trip is unforgettable for you, just as this is your visit for us.  Thank you!!  See you in Barbosa Ferraz.  Hugs.

Lucas - It is a great pleasure to have your presence here with us, to enjoy all our hospitality and our admiration.  Be very welcome, Phillip!!!  Thank you so much!

Bino - Thank you for this unique experience.  You make me live a dream ... Thank you, my friend.

Jean - It was a pleasure to have met you and to have participated in your first mural in Brazil. Thank you and Geremias for the opportunity.  You are an incredible person, cheerful, learned a lot with you, and can be sure that you have become a very special person.  For all of us, come back to Brazil, a big hug!

Okay, I guess you get the idea.  It has been simply an amazing welcome.  When you start the quote, “With friends like these,” everyone in the United States knows it ends with the question, “who needs enemies?”  I have to modify that quotation for my trip to Brazil.  “With friends like these, who wants to return to Brazil over and over?”

That would be me.