By Rob Barnett
It was a privilege for Roz, my wife, and I to spend three months with the girls and staff at ReVive International.
The ReVive house is a special place because of what is going on there. The girls are generally so happy that it is easy to forget their troubled backgrounds that brought them to the house.
It would be misleading for me to paint a picture of perfect harmony, which is unrealistic for any organistation involving people. Like the saying goes, ‘if you find the perfect church, don’t join it – you’ll spoil it’.
However, Roz and I experienced a household of laughter, fun and many friendships. We were made to feel welcome there despite the language barrier that we did our best to overcome by learning some Portuguese, spending our first month in Olinda at a local language school.
At the house, whether just ‘hanging out’ with the girls or doing crafts or games with them, it was fantastic to get to know some special people who have so much potential.
The special people at ReVive are not just the girls, but the staff too. The staff also have lots of laughter, fun and friendships, something again obvious around the house.
Collectively, the girls and staff make one big family. Roz and I saw this most clearly at the Christmas party where laughter, fun and friendships dominated the evening.
It was wonderful that all the girls were able to spend Christmas and New Year with family or friends, but nice to have most of the girls around the house throughout January for the rest of the summer holidays.
Whereas the house is often hectic during term time with different girls going to and from school at various times throughout the day, the holidays allowed more quality time together.
So when Roz ran an art or craft activity, or when she and I oversaw outdoor games for the girls, there was a togetherness that encouraged everyone to be involved. For activities that were voluntary, it was rewarding to see the girls engage in them.
Not that every day of the holidays was spent at the house. Far from it. There were trips to the beach, parks, and a shopping mall among others to give the girls variety.
Variety was happily available to Roz and I too. She liked painting nails on ‘salon day’ each Saturday while I enjoyed helping to maintain the yard and run ReVive’s Twitter account.
Friday night outreach to those on the streets of Olinda and informal Sunday morning church services at ReVive, each happening fortnightly, gave further variety to our roles. In our last month running a short Thursday evening devotional, looking at 1 Corinthians 13, added to that.
While we are sad that it was just three months in the end we spent with ReVive, and not our intended six, Roz and I are hugely grateful for the opportunities we had.
More than that, the friendships we forged made our decision to return home early an exceptionally difficult one.
More than anything, we are glad to have so many happy memories of our time at ReVive.