Lipscomb sophomore volleyball player Lauren Ford writes a blog on the final day of a 10-day mission trip in Brazil.
BY LAUREN FORD
Tonight is the last sleeping night in Brazil. It seems crazy to say because it feels like the days are so long here and we have always had so much ahead of us each day. Looking forward now, all we have is Saturday left and then we are off to the airport for another long flight.
Friday morning was different than any other day we have had here in Rio. There were clouds and it was pouring down rain, a very drastic change from the sunny and highs in the 80s that we had become accustomed to. We left fairly early from our hotel and headed off to see Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer statue.
When we arrived at a touristy train station we were disappointed to see that there really is no hope of sunshine for this morning and we scramble off the bus into the station. We took a short train ride up the mountain. Most of us were amazed at the bright colors of the foliage around us as we traversed the mountainside.
At the top of the mountain we walked off of the train and into, literally, a cloud. Before we knew it we were soaked to the bone from the rain. The elevators were out of service so we went to the 200 stairs and started our ascent. Puddle after puddle we tried to avoid on the way up, naively thinking it would make a difference.
Finally we reached the top and the first thing Dot says is that she is disappointed his feet don’t show. She had planned to do a handstand against Jesus’ big toe. Looking up at the statue we couldn’t quite make out the upper parts of his arms and his head but the outline was still significant. It made a lot of us consider the true wonder of God and not just the magnificent stone work before us.
Normally from the top of this mountain we would have seen a grand panorama of Rio laid out before us. Today, all we could see was white. It was a completely new way to look at things. As Jordan later pointed out, because there was no view, we were not distracted by worldly things but could truly take in the grandeur of the Christ statue and the fellowship we had with one another.
We tried not to stay in the cloud too long so we hiked back down, now very content with our accomplishment of being at one of the “Seven Wonders of the World”.
Shannon and Brittnay started having a splash contest in the puddles we previously tried to avoid. Back at the station we were quickly informed that the power was out and we would have to take a van back down the mountain. We returned to the hotel and had lunch at a close restaurant then we were off again for the afternoon adventure.
The team arrived at the Fluminense mansion (really like a country club) and after a bit of waiting we were offered a tour of their history and trophy rooms. It was incredible to see how far back this sports club went. They had medals from early Olympics in the 20s and 30s and trophies so big you could only imagine.
The Fluminense Club is the most prominent club in Rio. They have tons of activities and teams for young adults and kids to participate in. A few of the sports and facilities we saw were swimming, diving, water polo, tumbling, gymnastics, tennis, basketball, volleyball, and of course, soccer.
We were there to play volleyball against their U21 team. At first they led us to this outdoor/indoor court with concrete floors and a low, saggy net. We all were fairly confused.
As it turns out, we just had to wait for a recreational game of basketball to get over with first and then we had the gym floor. This was definitely the most unique place I have ever played in. It was much like a gym in the states but looked old with wider pieces of dark wood making up the court. The architecture around it was very unique and quite the opposite of modern.
We got the game started and just played three sets for fun. Brandon got a little intense but we were all thrilled with just the idea of playing a match in Brazil.
After the game we asked the Fluminense team if they wanted to trade jerseys and most of them said yes. A few asked for more than our jerseys (our purple shoes from this year were a very popular item).
It was a neat experience to get to socialize with the players for a bit afterward and find out a little about their lives. Volleyball within the club is underappreciated, as soccer is the sport that gets all of the publicity.
Our cheering section was composed of Jefferson and some friends and also Mary and two of her friends, stayed with us after the game to share in a dinner from a poolside café.
These relationships we have formed with both of their churches means so much to us. Jefferson’s group cheered for us so loudly at the game, louder than most of the Lipscomb students at home even.
Their attempt at doing the wave in the stands was excellent of course. Mary and her friends barely made it to the extreme end of the game after being on a bus for three-and-a-half hours. Their commitment to be there for us really put us in awe. We had only met them once on Wednesday and they found enough reason to come to our game in the thought that they said they would be there. It was just incredible to us.
Overall this day was just another day in paradise that helped remind us why we are here and let us see the great fellowship we have been able to create on our journey.