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Brazilian Dialogue

Henrique's book an 'incredible discovery'

Al Gerwing works with endless fervour on such excellent projects that many of us say yes even before we know exactly what he's asking for! Recently he sought my opinion on a proposed ad for reducing the price of his latest book, the translation of Henrique's wonderful diary about living with the street people of Brazil.

That was easy except that I suggested some further articles for this column! Well, here goes for my part of the bargain!

Try thinking of some folks who really care about the Christian faith and who take seriously the passage from Matthew 25 that the only issue at the judgment scene will be whether we cared about people who were desperate for the basic necessities of life. "I was hungry, thirsty, homeless, sick, in prison," etc. Remember?

Christmas is coming. Al's book is now on sale (actually it's dangerously close to losing money, but unsold books are worse than selling them at a loss, right?), and Al is giving all the money raised to projects for street children desperately in need of help!

So how about this: Make a list of all the lucky people who get gifts from you at Christmas. Then add some extras from your list above. If there are any who don't do much reading, here's a suggestion: it's really easy to get hooked on Henrique if you just get started. Try page 108 which begins with a description of Glicerio's soup, where "the road to solidarity is by sharing." If you send the book out as a Christmas present, suggest in your Christmas greeting that they must read page 138. It's a lovely story about the street kids celebrating Christmas, including a mud cake which they "ate!"

Now let me tell you about my most "successful" Christmas gift last year.

My sister Darlene, who at the moment is provincial of the Sisters of Sion of the Middle Eastern province (yes, including Israel with all the bombs), was having a meeting in Brazil shortly after Christmas. After seeing the article in this column telling the story of my discovery of Henrique's book and the suggestion to Al Gerwing to translate it, she decided to tell me what she wanted for Christmas (sisters who are good friends can do that, right?).

So I sent a copy off to Toronto to another Sion provincial heading to that same meeting. The book was duly delivered and after the meeting Sister Darlene and several others travelled around Brazil visiting various Sion communities. In her spare time she was reading the Henrique book. And loving it.

Lo and behold when she got to Salvador (about a day's car trip south of our Maceió mission), she made an incredible discovery. Never was a Christmas gift of a little book so powerful in its connections! Enjoy the story told by Darlene herself next week.

Lawrence DeMong, OSB