Today is our last day. There are last minute details to finish up in the salon and then we are going to church. Our school was held in the church we have attended every Sunday. The church gave us 4 rooms to hold all over our classes in for the duration of the course and we are so grateful to them for it.
The service was wonderful. Pastor Ronaldo and the girls had so many surprises planned for us. First, Ronaldo gave a blessing for our safety in traveling home and thanks for us coming to the community to offer this program to the women. Raquel then spoke and gave her thanks to us along with all of our girls. Four of them got up to give their personal testimonies of how the program has helped them. Our student who is illiterate was so honest and talked about the difficulties she has faced through out her life. She talked openly about being intimidated and wanting to quit, but she stayed strong and finished the course. Also, she is the only one to get 100% on all her exams! I couldn’t be more proud of her.
The other girls asked us to the front of the church to give us all gifts. We were so overwhelmed. Raquel continued to tell each of us why we were so important to them. As she spoke, all our girls came up and gathered around us in support. To Jessica, she spoke to her about not being afraid to share her feelings and that it’s ok to cry. To Melissa, she told her that God gave her a beautiful singing voice to help those open up about their lives. To Maria, she told her she could see her heart for the girls even though she had only been there a short time. To me, she said because of my testimony I showed strength and compassion to the girls. To Whitney, she spoke of her vision for The Trade and her desire to help women in need.
After all of Raquel’s encouraging words, Pastor Ronaldo asked us all to come forward for a special time of prayer and anointing. As he prayed for us, the pastors anointed each of us and the congregation stood in prayer. Our girls had a special song prepared for us, too. There were a lot of tears, but they got through it.
Melissa was asked to sing one last time in church. She and our good friend Clayton, who sings in the choir, sang Halleluiah. Melissa sang the first verse in English and Clayton sang the second verse in Portuguese and they sang the choruses together. It was so beautiful. I will take full credit for this, as it was totally my idea!
It was an incredible service. After, we went back to our classroom with all the girls to say good-bye. Melissa wrote a song for one of our girls (and me!) very appropriately entitled ‘Redeemed’. The whole song is in English, but the girls all felt the hope and confidence from the words she sang. There is a little piece of each of them in the song.
We had our tearful and sad good-byes, or better yet, our “see you laters” and we had to be on our way to the airport. This would be the ninth time to attempt to retrieve my third suitcase. I saw the same man who helped me every other time I went to the stinking airport. Again, no luck. Looks like Brazil, also known as the women in Customs, will keep my last suitcase along with all the tools I brought for the girls to have in the salon.
I will see you soon…..
Cada um de vocês me ensinou muitas coisas. Sou eternamente grato a você. Nunca esquecerei o tempo que temos compartilhado e as memórias que fizemos.
Eu te amo com todo meu coração.