Brazil is a country of many different races and ethnicities, with a very social, warm, and relaxed culture. The predominant religion in Brazil is officially Catholicism, however there are many occult religions that are prevalent. There is also growing movement of hyperpentacostal prosperity gospels that take advantage of the people through emotionalism and empty promises of material blessing in exchange for financial giving.
For more a more in-depth overview on Brazilian history, culture, religion, geography and socio-political issues, be sure to check out this great excerpt found at www.everyculture.com/Bo-Co/Brazil.html.
Perceptions Americans have about Brazil:
“Carnaval is wonderful.” Carnaval is a huge week-long event in Brazil. Most cities, big and small, go all out for the parades and festivities. Sadly, Carnaval is a time when many people in the country ‘let loose’, but often in detrimental ways. In the challenged communities we work in, it is really difficult for those seeking to follow Christ as this week, more than most, they are encouraged by their friends and families to give themselves over to immorality and drunkenness.
“Brazil is a giant rain forest.” In fact, there is such a shortage of trees and green areas in the city of Sao Paulo that even the most moderate rain storm can cause deadly flash floods because the water has nowhere to sink into.
Developing country = lack of technology. Actually, even many impoverished families have televisions and smartphones yet still go hungry. This doesn’t mean that they have money, but rather that they will go into great debt for immediate relief and for status among their peers.
“People are lazy and don’t care about being on time.” While it’s true that Brazilians are not typically the most punctual of people, it is not a result of laziness; rather, it is part of the easy going way of life that is cherished by South American cultures. We encourage visitors to embrace the freedom and laid back mindset as a refreshing experience in low-stress living.
Perceptions Brazilians have about Americans:
Everything in America is like what you see in movies/”Americans are all rich.” It makes sense; these are the only images of America that the average person is presented with. Similar to why many Americans perceive Brazil to be all Carnaval and rain forests. Also, tourism is a major industry in Brazil. While we (Americans) know that a movie is just a movie and that vacationers often have to save up for their vacations, the American lifestyle as portrayed to the Brazilian people by Hollywood and tourists is that of wealth unimaginable to most of the people we work with.
*Brazilians are very sensitive to how they and their country are perceived by foreigners. So when Americans walk around in large groups speaking English loudly in their neighborhoods or in front of them, it’s assumed that the Americans are talking bad about them. Especially in the favelas.
Dress code for mission work:
We ask that all visitors please use wisdom in their dress habits. We stress modesty to the people that we minister to and would appreciate it if visitors would do the same. Additionally, please keep in mind that there is inadequate sanitation in the areas we minister to, and wearing shoes or clothing that exposes your skin to the sewage that often runs in the street is not advisable. Jeans or long pants, T-shirts, and tennis shoes are best for use in the favelas. Within the context of Brazilian Christian culture, we try to set an appropriate example for others to follow by not encouraging the use of bikinis/speedos, short shorts/skirts, and skimpy tops and ask that all visitors NOT use shorts that are shorter than an inch or two above the knee.