It is difficult to express in words the happenings of Brazilian Great Banquets 3 and 4. If I were to use one word to summarize the two weeks we spent in Brazil, that word would be joyful. This joyful experience started with the ZPC team—we bonded and worked together very well. One team member described our team as one of “cooperation, flexibility, joy, laughter, grace, and forgiveness.” Another team member said, “We started out as a ZPC Great Banquet team and became a loving family.”
From the beginning everything occurred without a hitch. We were welcomed to Rio Preto by two Brazilian team members. I took one look at our transportation and thought there was no way we would get six of us, all of our luggage, and two drivers into those vehicles. I was wrong. And that is how the whole two weeks went. Certainly there were questions, but in general everything went as it was supposed to go.
Our ZPC crew helped in two areas, Agape and Kitchen. For those of you who are not familiar with the Great Banquet, the Agape team is a small group of team members who make sure all of the facilities, equipment, and supplies are ready and in place at the right time. Our experience was that the Brazilian Agape teams for the two Banquets were prepared, organized, and displayed an amazing attitude of servanthood. It was easy to see that they loved Jesus, each other, and all the people for whom they were sacrificing and serving. The same could be said of the Kitchen team. The meals were very good and always on time. All of the team members for both Banquets displayed a sense of purpose and were so joyful about their work, pouring their love into making special meals for the participants. One woman said she had never prepared meals for more than four people, but that didn’t stop her from working with others to prepare meals for 50-60. Their salads were a great example of just how special the meals they served were. They didn’t just throw together some greens with a dressing. Their salads were almost works of art with many ingredients—an outward display of their genuine pleasure to be serving at the Great Banquet.
A third group of volunteers was made up of people who had participated in previous Great Banquets as guests. Given that many previous participants were serving on the teams, it was amazing how many people came to lend a hand. They also showed a joyful attitude about serving, and we never lacked for sufficient help.
Since the Great Banquet team was 100 percent Brazilian, we Americans only had a few opportunities to observe the participants. When we did interact during meals, they were laughing and enjoying themselves. A few comments we heard reinforced the feeling that the participants really enjoyed the whole experience and that for some it may have been life changing.
One final comment about the leadership of the Brazilian Great Banquet: Every single leader expressed the desire to see the Great Banquet grow not only in Rio Preto, but also in other cities in Brazil. They are also committed to maintaining the principles and procedures of the Great Banquet. It’s hard to imagine that the Brazilian Great Banquet could be in better hands.
God was definitely there during both Banquets and with the leadership. Those of us from ZPC experienced love from all the people with whom we worked and served. We received more hugs in two weeks than many people will receive in years. All of us left feeling totally blessed by the experience and with the desire to return sometime in the future.