Thursday, July 4, 2013


On an hour long train ride back home last week, I was offered five distinct "once in a lifetime" opportunities to purchase cd's, a refillable ink pen, an led bouncy ball and an assortment of candy bars by various vendors toting microphones and portable speakers. As the peddlers hawked their items, I noticed that most of the seasoned commuters did not even look up, their eyes fixed in a trance on the empty space before them. The vendors scanned the train for some trace of eye contact. The scene went well beyond rejection. Rejection is when the girl you ask out refuses and fumbles for an excuse. This was more like asking a girl out, only to be rebuffed by the question, "I'm sorry, but what's your name?" It was painful to observe, but the zeal of these merchants did not flag. I don't believe I would have appreciated the scene had it not been for the meeting from which I was returning.

At 7:30 in the morning, this is what I experienced. (You only need to watch the first minute.)

It's a training course called "Manufacturing Entrepreneurs", focused on equipping mostly impoverished individuals interested in starting their own businesses. The course focuses on imparting basic sales principles. Each day, approximately 30 to 40 individuals meet in order to review the guiding principles, role play, share their difficulties and promote personal success stories. The atmosphere is electric, and the coffee is not even served until the end of the meeting. During one activity, I was positioned a couple feet in front of a wall, with my back towards it, and asked to place my finger as low on the wall as possible by bending backwards. I was then asked to repeat the activity with my eyes shut. The purpose was to demonstrate the way our vision can actually limit us. However, I think the reality of a thirty-seven year old back was my true limitation, as the two marks fell at about the same spot. The group facilitator pushed right through the botched example and landed his point. The hour and a half meeting surged forward amidst the varied activities, with the group shouting in unison their mantra "MORE ENTHUSIASM! MORE ENERGY! GO!" whenever the opportunity presented itself. At the conclusion of the meeting, each individual was given a bag full of hand-held, battery operated massagers and told to hit the streets. They left with a sense of mission and, more importantly, a sense of belonging.

This group reminded me of why Sombra Road is here in Brasil. Our goal is not merely changed lives; it's changed communities. We want to help kids learn to contribute, participate and receive in the context of committed relationships. We've experienced that in this house and our goal is to invite more people to walk beside us, independent of whether they come to live with us or not. I'm thankful for the communities in which I've participated that have helped me see that. My prayer is that you are able to participate in the same.   

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