Friday, August 21, 2009

Lost in Translation (Jeremy)

There is a game that our kids like to play called bafo (translation breath). Each player throws in these special superhero cards, which are gathered into a deck and placed face down. Then, the kids take turns slapping the deck in order to flip over as many cards possible. The cards that are flipped become his. Among kids in the favela, a large stack of cards is somewhat of a status symbol. As I was climbing the hill the other morning, I passed Ueverson, a twelve year old student from our Friday afternoon soccer class, walking with a friend to school. I noticed the 20 or so cards that he carried in his hand - a respectable amount.

“Looks like you’re good at that game,” said I, pointing down to his stack of cards.

He looked back at me with the wrinkled eyebrow of confusion that I have seen all too often here in Brazil. I should have cut my losses in this conversation and moved quickly to goodbye. Instead, I pursued.

“You know who else is good at that game?” I asked, remembering the kid from his class that needed two hands to carry his spoils.

“Jesus?” he timidly replied.

“I was thinking Carlos Eduardo, but I guess that works too. Well, I’ll talk to you later on this afternoon.” I consoled myself with the thought that at least he was getting something from our class.

In all seriousness, Ueverson is an impressive kid. Besides a knack for scoring goals on Jason, he is marked by a sincerity that is rare among our group. He tells it how he sees it. That is why when he got baptized two weeks ago, I was really touched. He made a commitment based on understanding, not merely out of compulsion or emotion. God has saved him, and I ask that you would come alongside of us in praying for the first steps of His relationship with God.

Later that Friday afternoon, I did revisit the conversation that we had had regarding the cards. I tried to clarify my question from that morning.

“Ohh,” he responded with a look of enlightenment. “I thought you were asking me who was the best soccer player.”

“And you answered Jesus?!?”

“Yeah,” he replied.

Suddenly, I was the one giving the confused eyebrow look.

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