The encounter with Jesus changed our life.” “An encounter with God. I had never had an experience like this before.” “I want to live the art of loving with you. . .” These are some of the impressions that were gathered by youths and families before returning home after ten intense days in the Amazon. Amid local situations of suffering, living among the indigenous people who are scattered throughout this forest, many rediscovered hope for the future. We share some of the fruits of these six years of evangelization:
Amazon Project is the name that was given to this experience that is taking place in a region that covers more than fifty percent of Brazil and includes nine states: Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, and Tocantins. In 2011 it was taking place for the sixth time.
Beginnings. There had been a progressive diminishing of faithful and a growth among the sects. This was also due to the scarcity of priests and the difficulty of reaching various centres of the region. The Amazon Project was meant to be an answer to the appeal that the bishops of Brazil made to various groups in the Catholic Church that they would each contribute according to their own charism to a vast and permanent action of evangelization.
Each year ten vacation days are dedicated to this project. Since 2005 people from various sectors of the Focolare Movement (focolarini, families, youths) have joined in. They come from several regions in Brazil and travel for as long as sixty hours in buses or five hours by plane, more than twenty-four hours by boat, all at their own expense.
“We went to give, but what we have received is much more.” This is the common expression. Through their efforts, some 26,000 people have been personally contacted during these years. This year there were 4,700 and half of them were youths, in three cities: Abaetetuba and Bragança (state of Pará) and Barreirinha (state of Amazonas ).
The Cube of Love is a most useful tool. The Cube of Love is a game invented by Chiara Lubich that is meant to help children in living the art of loving, the heart of the Gospel message. A cube was donated to some 1500 children. Fifty-four teachers and principals of five schools in Barreirinha took a course on using this pedagogical tool. One hundred and fifty families from two poor quarters and sixty couples also took part in the course. Very touching was the visit to a prison, where – during the dialogue with the prisoners – they were presented with the Art of Loving. Personal relationships are the first priority, which bring conversions to the Gospel. The appointment for 2012 is 14-22 July.