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Posted: 6/06/03

Members of the Hardin-Simmons University vocal ensemble Simmons Classic recently toured Brazil, where they not only performed but learned about the people and places of Brazil. Here, a guide leads them through a narrow passageway in a slum or favela in the Brazilian town of Olinda. Retired missionaries Dale and Sue Carter of Abilene traveled with the students, adding to the educational value of the experience. Students found the favelas of Olinda and Sao Paulo eye-opening.

HSU ensemble visits Brazil

ABILENE–Students from Hardin-Simmons University were well-received in Brazil on a recent tour where they performed chamber music, contemporary Christian music and jazz.

The 10-member ensemble known as Simmons Classic was led by Loyd Hawthorne, professor of church music.

Dale and Sue Carter, retired Baptist missionaries who are members of First Baptist Church in Abilene, traveled with the group and served as translators.

The group spent a week performing concerts in Saõ Paulo, Recife and the community of Olinda. They sang in English with the exception of one piece that was sung in Portuguese.

In Recife, the ensemble sang for a full audience at the Baptist Seminary. To their surprise, the composer of the piece they performed in Portuguese was in the audience and was thrilled to hear his composition.

In Sao Paulo, they performed at a fund-raiser for Oasis Ministries, a British-Brazilian Baptist organization that helps educate children and train adults for the job market.

The city of Sao Paulo was overwhelming to the West Texans, reported John Richardson of Abilene. It is the third-largest city in the world, with a population of more than 20 million. The sight of the favelas, or Brazilian slums, especially touched him, he said.

“Houses are stacked upon houses in valleys with high-rise luxury apartments looking down on them from the hilltops–a true image of the social structure in the city,” he said.

In the community of Olinda, they visited a church and the favela's church-sponsored school, where they distributed school supplies sent from a women's group at First Baptist Church of Abilene.

Michael Austin, a senior from Dumas, said because of the interaction with the Brazilian people he now realizes that “the body of Christ isn't just my home church or American denominations–it's also all the people who sat in a hot, humid, and packed-out church to worship with us as one family through Jesus Christ.”

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