How I Ended Up At Church on a Wednesday Night… in Rio

This post could very well be titled “Musings on Living Like a Local” but I think going to church while visiting Rio adds some WTF value, no?

I’d been in Rio for over a week. And thanks to Couchsurfing, I felt like I lived there! For most of my trip I stayed with a new friend, Aline, at her apartment in Botafogo and thanks to her I’d been doing things in Rio I absolutely never thought I would do while on vacation. Not extremely crazy things though. Quite the contrary – very regular things. Add in some sight-seeing here or there and I really got the hang of Rio. Like I could give someone directions or tell when my taxi driver was taking the “long” way. Here are some of those “regular” things that really made my trip memorable:

I caught at least one bus every single day. And I’m telling you, catching the bus in Rio is no easy feat. I swear to Jesus catching the bus is like hailing a cab as a black man in Manhattan. Just because it is a “bus stop” does not mean the bus stops. No, when you see your bus coming you have to practically stand in the street and flag it down – and then hope the driver stops. And you’re lucky if he stops all the way. The minute you put your foot on the first step you better hold on for deal life – because he is taking off! And the same thing for getting off the bus. I saw one too many people jump off of a slow-moving bus. Anyway, catching the bus without any Portuguese skills was a real achievement, especially when you add the fact that I actually reached my desired destinations. No need to clap for me, I rewarded myself with some churrasco’d carne pretty frequently.

The juice guy knew my order. It only took a couple days, but I acquired a favorite juice bar in Ipanema. First of all, there are approximately 79,453 juice stands – in Ipanema alone. So to find a favorite, again, was no easy feat. I’m addicted to the abacaxi (pineapple) juice in Rio. Actually, I’m addicted to all juices when they aren’t processed and I can watch you make them straight from the fruit. But nonetheless, every day on my way to Portuguese class I’d get abacaxi juice. And then during the break I’d get another abacaxi juice and some pao de queijo (“best cheesy bread things you’ve ever tasted” is an understated desription). Every single day. By the 4th or 5th day he was either happy to see me come again or was just tired of hearing my busted Portuguese. I’m gonna go with the former – but either way he was picking out a pineapple before I even had to say a word!

I went to church. I’d just gotten back to Aline’s crib. One of her friends was there to meet me. So we’re sitting there chillin out and escaping the quick rain shower when Aline calls and tells us to meet her at church. Ummm what? I’m on vacation. (Lord, please forgive me and my ignorance – ha!) After I tried to tell Aline that wouldn’t make sense because 1)again, I’m on vacation and 2)the service is in Portuguese!, I realized that it actually might be an enlightening experience. It’s yet another way to immerse myself in the culture of Rio and really see how they live. Really shake off that tourist aura, you know. But I’m gonna tell you one thing – besides the Portuguese and the songs with the Latin beat (yes, they were slick samba-ing at church) – there were moments when I felt just like I was at a Pentecostal church in Alabama. Alleluia! Even though I couldn’t understand all of the words, I could really feel God’s presence and understand the Brazilians’ praise. Eye-opening experience about the world of believers. It helped that I already knew what some of those verses were in English. I kinda knew what the message was about. Oh and another thing that I loved about Brazilian churches, a lot of them had a garage door opening so that the service could be heard on the street and people could just walk right on in – or not and still get the Word. It really makes me want to go to the worship services of other areas where I’m visiting. So next up, London. I’ll be praising the Lord all proper and such (stereotypes are bad). Get excited!

Couchsurfing is really helping me experience life as a local in new cities. It’s probably the best part of the organization (even better than getting a free couch I’d say).

How do you know you’re living la vida local when you’re far from home?

I wasn’t at this service. But peep this little girl. You don’t know what she’s saying but you know she’s on FIYA for Christ.

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9 thoughts on “How I Ended Up At Church on a Wednesday Night… in Rio

  1. I LOVE this blog post!! Never seen your blog before but loving it! I could relate to a lot of what you’re saying since I spent 2 months in a different country and did a lot of the same things. This post may have inspired me to write a new post.

  2. Loving this post D! It has never crossed my little mind to go to church while out of the country! And this daily juice bit had me in tears laughin, I am sure he was happy that you were a satisfied customers esp since there was plenty of choices!

  3. “Samb-ing at chruch”. Haha I love it! I always felt the same way that you did about church on vacation. It sounds horrible now that I’m thinking about it! Now I’m inspired to go to church while abroad.

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