A special surprise on a special day

Trip Start Jul 01, 2009
Trip End Jul 12, 2009

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Minas Gerais,
Saturday, July 4, 2009

Today is the 4th of July, and so it felt a little strange for some to be away from the US on our national day - but we had a special surprise in strore.  The day started out with a very relaxed bus ride of a little over an hour to Juiz de Fora, a mid-size city and our first stop in the state of Minas Gerais, where tomorrow night we will perform a benefit concert in a historic theater, our largest venue, as a benefit for the Aldeias Infantis SOS program in Brazil, a wonderful program that provides a well organized and supported group home setting for children from troubled homes.  Today, we visited that program and met with the children, first in small groups, and then all together to sing for them a couple of our songs, as requested. We aso brought along many school supplies as requested to help their program.  But what we received in return was much greater.

Because it is the 60th anniversary of this program worldwide and 20th anniversary in Juiz de Fora, the head of SOS for Brazil was there to welcome us - and when we were done singing they asked us to turn towards the center of the nine houses at the site for a "special surprise" - they started playing the "Star Spangled Baner" while they hoisted the US and Brazilian flags side by side - and then a short fireworks display began!  As we dabbed tears from our eyes and shouted Obrigado!  (Thank you) they led us to another area where they had a special dinner for us with local specialities and much talking and dancing with the children - visits from outsiders are rare here (once every 2-3 years), and our tour company, ACFEA, paid for the fireworks and dinner to celebrate a major donation they are making to SOS along with the benefit concert, which several of the children and "social mothers" will attend tomorrow.  As we left, the children followed us all the way to the bus with many hugs and kisses, dancing and singing.  It was an unforgettable and very special blessing we all received, which will be a great inspiration for tomorrow night's concert. - Tom

ps - pictures coming tomorrow morning!
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