Semana de Musica Sacra through Jamie’s Eyes

Helping out the ViolinistsWow! So many things have happened in the last 3 weeks, and time has FLOWN by! During the first week here in Brazil, I participated in a music week, and during the past two weeks Josh and I were at camp (which I will write about at another time).

On July 5-10, Semana de Musica Sacra (Week of Sacred Music) was held at the Seminario Batista de Cariri (where the Leonards teach). Semana de Musica Sacra is an event where people from various places in Brazil come to the seminary for a week to learn more about music, attend chapel services, fellowship, participate in the orchestra or chorale, and prepare a concert which is performed twice at the end of the music week. Various workshops are held for different topics and techniques, such as music theory, conducting, voice control, and violin playing. People of any age can participate, and children’s classes are offered so that parents with young children can participate in the week as well.

During Semana de Musica Sacra, I had the opportunities to help out with a violin workshop on one of the days, assist in the children’s program, and be a part of the orchestra as a violinist. In helping with the children, I would go to class with the kids in the afternoon and help out wherever could (which basically involved organizing the room before class started, keeping the kids in order during the lesson, and simply interacting with the children and loving them). On a couple evenings during the week, I was able to help the children prepare a song for the closing concert. Beth Wilson, the one who played a huge part in coordinating and running this event (she grew up in Brazil and her parents are missionaries, and now she lives in an apartment here next to Uncle Jim and Aunt Julie), arranged a simple song – Deus e Tao Bom (God is so Good) for the younger kids to play. Beth worked with the recorders on the song and I took the violinists to another room and worked with them on their part. I found out that the kids learned best by using “do, re, mi, fa” rather than “C, D, E, F” (actually, in Brazil they don’t teach music using letters), so it was fun figuring out and singing the sounds rather than the letters while they played. Working with the violinists was kind of a challenge since the kids understood hardly any English and I’m not fluent in Portuguese, but it was a lot of fun too. It was SO much fun interacting with the kids, and it was definitely one of my highlights during the week! The kids loved talking to me and trying to speak to me in English, and while I taught them English they helped me with Portuguese. The kids in Brazil, like everyone else here, LOVE giving hugs, which is great. 🙂

As I mentioned, I was also able to play my violin in the orchestra during the music week. Playing in orchestras is one of my favorite things to do, and being a part of an orchestra in Brazil with a group of Christians playing God-glorifying music is even more enjoyable than participating in a community orchestra. The music the orchestra played was written or arranged by 3 amazing men here in Brazil (one of the men, Pastor Kelso, was the director of the event, and another one of them participated in the orchestra during the week), and the songs were absolutely beautiful! The orchestra played 6 of the 10 songs that were performed during the concerts, and that experience is definitely something I will never forget! We performed a concert at the seminary on the Saturday night of that week and another concert on the following night at a church in Juazeiro (the city right next to Crato). It was also really neat to be able to play in the orchestra with Joshua. It was our first time playing in orchestra together, and the experience was a lot of fun and another thing that I won’t ever forget! 🙂

Four Americans at Semana de Musica SacraMy favorite thing about Brazil is the people here. The Brazilians are focused on people and relationships rather than on time and tasks, and they are willing to set aside their own time or desires in order to focus their attention on others. During Semana de Musica Sacra, I met so many people and made a lot of friends. I met a few people who speak English, and it was a huge blessing to be able to get to know them as friends and to also have their help with the language barrier. So many memories were made with the people during the music week, whether it was eating meals in the refetorio, playing together in orchestra, talking in Portu-Ingles (mixture of Portuguese and English 😉 ) during free time, singing, playing card games, taking photos, or playing volleyball together after the evening chapel service. It’s amazing how quickly friendships can be formed and developed in only one week. Everyone loved being able to get to know each other and play God-glorifying music together, and after the last concert on Sunday night, it was really hard to say goodbye. Most of us cried, knowing that the music week was over, thankful for the friendships that were made, and not knowing when or if we would see each other again on this earth. Music is such an amazing, universal language, and it is even better when it is used for God’s glory and when it is played with a group of like-minded people. While I immensely enjoyed the past three weeks, Semana de Musica is definitely the highlight of my trip so far, and I am so thankful for the opportunity God gave me to be a part of it! 🙂

Jamie’s new friends at Semana de Musica Sacra – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Here are some praises and prayer requests:

1. Semana de Musica Sacra went well, friendships were formed, seeds were planted, and God was glorified
2. The past two weeks at camp went well
3. God in His sovereignty has been working out every detail of this trip and is teaching me so much about Himself.

Prayer Requests – Please pray that:
1. I will be a help and blessing each and every day to the Leonards and to the others here in Brazil.
2. God will continue to teach and use me, and that I will have an open, receptive, and servant’s heart.
3. I will continue to understand and learn Portuguese quickly.

Thank you so much for your prayers! 🙂

Here is one of the songs that the choir sang without our accompaniment: