About Brazil…Some Reflections from a Life Changing Trip and the Power of Being Open

Reflecting can be hard to do. At least for me, as a person who (occasionally) spends a little too much time musing about past life lessons, processing life events presents itself as a bit of a challenge. Nonetheless, today, a brief 24 hours after returning to my home country after my three week stay in Brazil, I decided to tackle the challenge.

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Most of my Wonderful Host Family

First things first: Brazil was incredible. I can’t even begin to describe how loved I felt staying with my incredible host family which consisted of my host mother, father, two teenage daughters, a sweetheart of a grandma, and other family members such as my host-great aunt who spent at least part of her time with us. The very fact that I was able to make lasting connections with a family I only knew for two weeks speaks volumes about the nature of these wonderful people.

I also had the honor of participating in several Brazilian activities which helped me at least scratch the surface in beginning to understand their fascinating culture. I was able to converse in Portuguese – at times by myself – with several people for lengths up to 30 minutes at a time (thank you João for the transformational car rides in which you were so patient with us!). I was able to learn how to make some Brazilian food, learn a little Samba, visit old friends, practice my martial arts skills (Mr. Lepkowski, you’d be proud!), see an autopsy at USP, shadow in a hospital, ride in a speedboat under waterfalls, and so much more.

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Practicing Capoeira – A Brazilian Martial Art

However, aside from these things, I also had a bit of a rough time working through some emotional challenges that I didn’t know I was ready to handle. (Get ready for the part of the blog I am slightly uncomfortable to write).

You see, I recently learned I have a bit of a chemical imbalance in my brain. Due to this imbalance, I sometimes feel abnormally anxious and depressed for no pinpointable reason (sure, that’s a word). It often manifests itself in unpleasant physically damaging ways that I am not proud of. On this trip, I had to face this challenge head on.

I suppose many factors contributed to the fact that I had several embarrassing mental breakdowns in several different locations on this trip. But, as one of our leaders, Julie Rushik, so kindly and patiently reminded me, I don’t have to understand my emotions or know for sure where they come from. I experienced the power of being open about these uncertain emotions. Julie encouraged me to share this challenge with the group at the end of the trip, and the moment I did, I felt a burden lift off of me. This is why I decided it would be therapeutic to share with you all through the form of this blog.

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Luciano and Nanda – I was also able to reconnect with Karen!

So, in the end, I realize there is much I need to work through. I know I could feel guilty or embarrassed about what happened, but I am choosing to be thankful. I am thankful because I now have the opportunity to spend time getting to know myself better. I’m thankful because I now feel free to be more open about this with God (as if He didn’t already know), friends, and family. And I desperately hope that it helps me to help others someday.

For all the leaders, both from Roberts and Brazil, who were involved in making this trip happen, thank you so much. So much.

It was life changing in ways I never could have predicted.

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