I’m the son of a pastor. My father accepted Jesus about forty years ago. After him my sister accepted Jesus, my mother accepted him, then I came to accept him in 1987, so in 2017 I’ll have been 30 years in evangelism. I’ve been a minister of evangelism for 25 of those years; I became a minister to attain a better spiritual structure and to be able to teach others, because our obligation is to always teach others better. I believe in the word of God, that it’s God’s will that everyone be blessed and that by helping others we move ourselves forward. For all the crises that we’re living through in Brazil, with all the problems that the poor endure, I don’t feel like I’m part of these crises. To the contrary I feel outside of them because I have my earnings and it’s enough to live, to survive.
I worked a period of 15 years with carteira assinada.* I worked in Botafogo, at Shell, at Petrobras, as a cashier, as a general auxiliary, as a painter’s assistant, as an office boy. And now I work autonomously selling clothing and toys. I buy from large stores in Duque de Caxias at the resale price and sell the items around here, in all of Maré and in Bonsucesso. The most popular items I sell are langerie and shirts, mostly generic soccer jerseys. For next year I have the goal of investing more. If I sell 40 items together now, for next year I want to sell 60 or 70. If I’m selling 20 to 30 soccer jerseys, for next year I want to sell 50 to 60. When I invest more there’s more profit.
God gave me an ability, a perception to know how to sell these things. I have a book with all of my clients – their names, the date they’re going to pay. I give them from the seventh to the tenth day of the month. At times there are people who don’t pay and I end up letting it slide; I leave the clothing as a present for them. Each month I make two minimum salaries,** and with that money, as my father always said, I go floating my boat. I have my house, my rice and beans, money to leave and return home, to take care of my wife, my daughter, my family, and still some left over to help people when they’re in need. I’ll help someone buy bread; I’ll pay the bus fare for a group of children or adolescents so they can go out and have a good time; I’ll contribute to my church’s raffles with clothes and other things, for families and their children. I get immense pleasure from that, an immense happiness in helping these people.
On May 6, 2006, I had an accident in Ilha do Governador. A motorcycle knocked me over, and a car ran over me and left me 14 days in a coma. My shoulder bone came out of place and broke completely, and I have eight screws in my foot and two plates. I didn’t have health insurance; I was in a public hospital one month and two days, from May 6 to June 8. There, God cared for me through the doctors. I stopped working for a while because of my health situation, and that’s when I decided to work autonomously, to start selling clothing and toys to help my earnings, to be able to survive. And thanks to God I’m still alive and talking with you, telling you who I am: a worker, a vendor; a person who’s faithful, offering, tolerant, helpful, who has a good heart. When I help I believe that I have only to gain, I have only to prosper in the best way possible.
I don’t live in Maré anymore. I live in the Baixada Fluminense; to get here it’s an hour and a half by bus. I lived here 42 years, and I’ve been living outside for five years. I’m remarried and happier now, thanks to God. The Baixada is a place at least where I feel happy, where I know everyone; there’s the same good manners that you have here: bom dia, boa tarde, boa noite. My father always taught me that the one who makes the place he lives is the resident himself. If he’s respectful, polite, sincere, everything will be fine; he will have a good life.
Even though I’m not living in Maré anymore, I come here every day to sell, and aside from that I have my church, the Assembly of God of Bonsucesso, where I’m part of the ministry. My mother-in-law and my wife live in the Baixada; my daughter recently married and lives in Tijuca. My father and mother still live here; they’ve been here for about 54 or 55 years. My father is 85 and my mom is almost 80, and they’ve been married for 60 years. It’s a whole history together, a whole life. This place was all shanties, wooden shanties, and over the years that wood gave way to these mountains of homes that you see here today. My happiness has always been here. My church, my father, my mother, my friends – that’s where my life is; that’s what I live for.
I’m grateful to God for having an excellent family: a good father and a good mother, who taught me the right way to lead my life, how to be a good father and a good son. Who knows – maybe I’ll be a grandfather one day, and if that day comes I believe that I’ll be a good grandfather too. Because a good son is a good father; a good father is a good grandfather; a good grandfather is a good great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather. My father is already a great-great-grandfather; we have five living generations in the family already. All of this is to say: with these words that I’m telling you, they’re going out for the world to see, for the world to hear, so let them bring light to others that teaches them and stimulates them to be a good son. Of course, it all depends on your love of God. The love of God is the principal wisdom, and it’s said to love your father and mother to prolong your years on earth. We love our fathers, we love our mothers, and by respecting and obeying them, by being polite, we accept the principle that we were created for them, and that this life is a blessed life and a victorious one.
* Working officially, as opposed to on the informal market.
** About $500 USD.