Church members back from Brazil

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Brazil may be far away, but the country is in the hearts of at least a few Craig Church of God members who helped build a church there earlier this month.

Steven Smith, 17, said the experience of seeing poverty opened his eyes.

"It really made me realize how spoiled Americans are," the high school junior said. "I did not meet one bitter person down there."

Four Craig residents made the journey to the remote Northeast Xingu River in Brazil to help locals there construct a church.

The traveling group included Tom Penner and his son, Don, 17, Bill Booker and Smith.

Tom Penner and Booker had visited the area about a year ago and saw the desire locals had to build a church. Since then, Brazilians had been receiving money from local parishioners to buy materials. Brazilians had the wood cut to size and a foundation in place when the church group arrived about two weeks ago, Smith said.

They helped locals build the walls, set up trusses and install roofing. Smith said the group spent about 10 days working on the church, which the Brazilians also plan to use as a meeting hall.

Members of the group will give a presentation and slide show about their experiences Tuesday night at the Church of God.

Smith's mother, Peggy Clark, said it will be a good opportunity for people to gain a glimpse of the group's experiences.

"It's pretty exciting now that they have a church built," she said. "They have interesting stories from the jungle and about the things they ate."

Clark thinks her son's experience was greater than learning about construction.

"He was a great kid leaving, but he came back more tenderhearted -- a better person all around," she said.

Smith said he's been explaining his journey to some of his friends.

"It's an eye-opener to realize that people in the U.S. that don't have very much seem to be bitter, but in Brazil they have very little and they love every part of it," he said. "A lot of people should take the chance (to travel) if they get it."

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