A visit to Brazil with the Jones'

A visit to Brazil with the Jones'

March 2020, Paul and Helen Jones (EI International Director) and Richard and Pam McGowan (EI Canda Director) were heading to Brazil to visit EI’s work there, when the world went into lockdown. Fast forward three years, and that trip finally happened for the Jones. Words are inadequate to fully describe the blessing it was to be with our Missão Emanuel do Brasil (MEB) missionaries, Fred and Carla Silva and Tarcísio and Jurema Porto. The Silvas and the Portos are among the very first missionaries with EI and have been with the work in Brazil since its beginning. Our deep gratitude to Fred, Carla, Tarcísio and Jurema for hosting us, for demonstrating their heart of service for Jesus as they shared with us the work of MEB in Brazil. Helen writes about the trip.

March 2020, COVID hit the world and the world went into lockdown.

Tarcísio, pastor of the 7th Presbyterian Church of Montes Claros, was visiting his son in a town 250 kms from his home. He began to pray, “Lord, how can we help those who are suffering because of this?”

Meanwhile, back in Montes Claros, Patricia, a member of his church, was praying the same thing. Two weeks later when her pastor returned home, Patricia reached out to him with that question.

Foremost in their minds were the people of Montes Claros who made their meager living through collecting recycle materials. Many poor people move to Montes Claros in search of work, some are single moms with children; all are very poor. They settle anywhere they can, setting up housekeeping on the fringes and within the city. Using bicycles or horse-drawn carts, they move through the city, collecting the recyclable materials that people are throwing away. What they find, they take to the recycle plant in exchange for a very small payment. As many as 600 families were living hand to mouth in this way.

When COVID hit, these families suddenly had no income at all. They were not allowed to move around the city. They had no way to provide for their families. Tarcísio and Patricia had been praying. What can be done? Food parcels for those in need! Tarcísio, a representative of Missão Emauel do Brasil (MEB), advocated for funds from the EI Family. Patricia had an online business selling household and personal items. She began advertising that her online products could be purchased, not with cash, but with food items. Together with Tarcísio, they designed a ‘food package’ that people could give in exchange for Patricia’s merchandise. People could purchase items from a list of foods needed and bring those in exchange for the merchandise.

The TROCA DO BEM/Goodwill Exchange was born

Within 10 days, all of Patricia’s merchandise had been exchanged for food. Together with Tarcísio, they connected with the social welfare offices responsible for the ‘recycle people’, getting lists of those in need. Food package distribution began. The 7th Presbyterian congregation became involved, donating their time to contact the families in need and taking part in the distribution of food packages. A journalist in the church sent out appeals through television broadcasts. Word spread. Doctors began exchanging services for food packages. A check-up would be worth x number of food packages. The doctor contacted the supermarket who then prepared the food packages for 7th Presbyterian Church. Restaurants offered meals for the cost of a food package. A very popular hairstylist offered a free hair appointment for 6 food packages. Dentists did dental work for food packages. A popular pizza restaurant, Villa 61, offered a large pizza and small dessert pizza in exchange for 1 food parcel. As word of the need spread, other companies got involved. Construction companies provided building materials in exchange for food packages. One food package could purchase 3 bags of cement, for instance.

Now, in March 2023, TROCA DO BEM continues to grow. There are over 600 families who have received help since the first of COVID. Over 30,000 food baskets have been distributed. There are 29 volunteers who continue to move around, visiting people in need, circulating word of needs and helping to find items being requested. Another 90 volunteers are providing assistance in whatever ways are needed. Toys are being collected, refurbished and distributed. School supplies are being provided when the school year begins. Special treats for the children are provided at holiday times like Christmas and Easter.

7th Presbyterian Church is now praying for God’s guidance as to ‘What next?” What more can be done to help these 600 families and others to be able to access a better means of livelihoods? How can they help people source educational opportunities to learn new skills? The Brazilian government does have these types of programs but the challenge is how to help people access these resources that are there for them. The church is already embarking on providing classes at the church: culinary skills, literacy, learning English, and more..

There are more stories or their trip and those they met at BushNet-Issue-1-of-2023.pdf (

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