With its beautiful public gardens, European feel, relatively low crime and economic prosperity, Curitiba is the Brazilian gem you’ve probably never heard of.
Founded by Italian, German, Polish and Ukrainian immigrants, the city of nearly 2 million may not be exactly what you’d expect if you went to Brazil. But then again, Leonardo Prade might not be what you’d expect when you meet a Brazilian. A product of Curitiba, Leo is softly spoken with an easy smile. But behind the charm, Leo is on a very serious mission.
“My story starts with a beautiful Brazilian woman named Adriana,” says Leo as he grins. Like Leo, Adriana is from Curitiba. One day they met on the internet, and aided by an introduction from his cousin who knew her, Leo was able to connect with Adriana in person. “My life would never be the same,” Leo says. At the time Leo had moved six hours away to Sao Paulo and was doing motion graphics for Novo Tempo, Hope Channel New Zealand’s sister station in Brazil. “I fell head over heels in love with Adriana, and so I’d drive the six hours back and forth as often as I could,” Leo explains still smiling. “In 2017 I said to myself, that’s enough of being apart. We love each other. It’s time to get married!”
How’s that worked out for Leo?
“Incredible! Adriana is so kind. And she loves to cook— all kinds of things, cakes, everything. Can you imagine how lucky I am?” But there’s something even deeper that Adriana and Leo share—a genuine desire to serve God. When he was approached about moving to New Zealand to do the motion graphics for Hope Channel New Zealand, he reflects “I felt it was God calling us.”
That’s why, only a year after getting married, Adriana and Leo were sitting on a plane bound for Napier, New Zealand. “I’d never been out of South America, I didn’t speak English, I really didn’t know what I was in for,” Leo laughs. “We arrived without knowing what to expect and everything felt so completely new to us—the people, the food, the landscape, everything. Now that we’ve settled in, we love it here. New Zealand is everything we hoped it would be, and so much more. And I love working with Andrew and Julia Ross here in Napier and the rest of the Hope Channel New Zealand team up in Auckland.”
So why did God call Leo all the way from Curitiba to Napier? “New Zealand is a wealthy country. It’s a beautiful country. It’s a very modern country. But somewhere in all that it has, it’s missing something. It’s missing its Christian soul. There’s a real need for the gospel to heal families, communities and our country. I am so thankful that I can be the hands of Christ in New Zealand, bringing His love to many people who have forgotten about Him.”
Adriana, who worked in business in Brazil, has a dream of taking her exceptional baking skills and doing something professionally with them. She also has a real passion for the work of ADRA because she believes the work of God is about helping others. Maybe one day her two passions will combine in an amazing way.
“I miss my family, my dog and my country, in that order,” laughs Leo. “It isn’t easy to be so far away from them. But God has called us to New Zealand, and we are thankful every day for the opportunity He has given us to serve Him by serving you through Hope Channel New Zealand.”
James Standish writes for Hope Channel New Zealand.