May 21, 2005 Today we went downtown with the Quirey’s and the Parker’s. It was good to go to the older part of town. The views of the All Saints Bay are simply unbelievable. We really do live in a beautiful part of the world. The ocean in the bay always seems to calm like glass. It is also fun to go up and down the elevator Lacerdo that allows us to go from the one part of the city to the other. It costs 5 cents for 2 people to ride the elevator. They sure do know how to pack the people in there. We had a fun day just walking around and acting like tourists for a few hours. The Brazilians sure did treat us like tourists. We were able to go see some of the traditional artwork that is for sale. One thing that the people do is go to tourists and give out ribbons that say the church of the Bom Fim, the most famous Catholic Church in town. We have since learned why it is so important for the people to give out these ribbons because they really don’t seem to ask for anything in return. Some of the other Christians helped us to understand that this is an excellent example of the syncretism of the Catholic Church with the African religions brought over by the slaves. Theribbon to them is a blessing from the saint of the church, Mary, but really represents Iemanja, the spiritist mother of the sea, and the goddess of the orixas or spiritist gods. So we were told that we should not except these blessings because they are not from God. I asked the Christians what they say when they are offered one of these spiritist blessings, and they said just tell them that you are a Christian. So I decided to try this, admittedly partly to keep people from hounding me all the time about taking a ribbon. I was astonished at the response. The people really stopped in their tracks and understood immediately the difference and worldviews and faiths that we have. What an experience. So now the challenge for the future will be to come up with quick responses to help these people see the reality of the true God and the freedom that comes in having a relationship with Him. Praise God for His revelation in His word that allows us to know Him and the freedom from fear of other gods.