OK...normally I struggle with posting a blog once a week so I don't know what to say about all these blogposts lately! Bear with me...
This morning in my portuguese class I, quite literally, had a breakdown. Call it a culmination of MANY, MANY things all piled up together! I'm one of those (I LIKE TO THINK) tough girls that doesn't cry very often. I pride myself in being the strong one that always has the "spiritual" answers for those that are freaking out. I hate letting people see my "cry face" which involves red hives breaking out all over. Seriously, I look like a baboon when I cry! The problem with this idea is that after being bottled up, frustrations can explode and flow out in the most inopportune times.
Like today in the third and final class of my day. I knew it was coming before the class started. (the class only consisted of Me, Mike & poor poor Simone but still.) I walked outside for a minute and put my face towards the sun hoping it would "ABSORB" what was about to come pouring out but unfortunately at the first attempt to speak in class, I began heaving. I haven't cried like that in forever and unfortunately our teacher, Simone had to endure this embarrassing moment with me. She was great but I'm sure it's quite odd when all of a sudden a student covers their face and they began sobbing and shaking. Bless her heart!
So many things have been being bottled up lately. Not sure if it was something specific or the combination of everything. I thought I was doing great with all the madness but apparently with the kids going through their homesickness, trying to speak in a foreign language ALL the time, my family back home having some REALLY unfair heartbreaks that I can't do ANYTHING about AND not getting enough sleep lately due to the annoying and EVIL mosquitoes, I was at my breaking point. Who knew trying to decide which tense to use with subjunctive verbs could be the straw that broke the camel's back!
I'm better now and about to sit down to some more portuguese homework but MAN...today was CRAPPY! I'm working on getting out of this funk and find it ironic that this day followed yesterday with Matheus but that's how it works sometimes, huh!?! Those victorious mountain top moments can't last forever and if they did, we'd never grow or move! So I'll take it and learn. As glad as I am that this day is almost over, I'm guessing sweet Simone was even MORE GLAD when her uncomfortable and quite awkward class was over today! ha
Last night, Michael and I had dinner with a sweet young couple. WOW...that is so weird to say cause it wasn't too long ago that WE were the YOUNG couple. (sorry...getting off subject)
Anyway, Michael met him several months ago buying a roast at the store. His name is Matheus (not to be confused with the Matheus we met by spilling a Fanta!) and he is the butcher at our local mercearia. Mike has become a connoisseur when it comes to ordering meat here. There are so many great cuts of beef in Brazil and MIKE loves to eat meat. (rambling again...sorry)
Mike and Matheus have gotten really close over the last few months. They went out one night several weeks ago and I remember Michael coming home saying the conversation was tough because he talked so fast and in slang alot. Mike seemed discouraged but yet they continued forging a friendship over the meat counter!
SO...last night they planned a dinner including his girlfriend and me. As we walked into the restaurant, it was that typical wierdness that happens when you don't know someone well but are sat in front of them for several hours with the ever present LANGUAGE difficulties. Very happy to say that we sat and talked and talked and talked for several hours. At some point, Matheus began talking about his frustrations with church. It was odd cause neither Mike or I had mentioned anything spiritual in our conversation up to that point.
He explained how one church, in particular, that his mom had attended made rules concerning tithing and gave people bad marks for not tithing. (crazy huh) It was really cool though cause we were able to go straight into how keeping our eyes on "the church" (which in his eyes was a bunch of people that made rules and acted better than everyone else) will always make us CRAZY! We talked of how many churches are made up of people that have NEVER known the Truth about Christ and don't have a relationship with HIM at all. Their lives consist of hanging out at the local club each weekend with people they know and label it a church! (I will refrain from going off on this subject right now cause this post is about Matheus)
It was really quite neat cause we were able to share how, we too, have to keep our eyes OFF of PEOPLE and ON JESUS. We talked about how God doesn't want 10% of our lives or 10% of our money but that HE want ALL our lives. (I'm not speaking hypothetically here...HE REALLY WANTS ALL OUR LIVES=100%)
Mike used several stories that we had learned in our narratives class and I just sat there with my chin on the ground as portuguese Words poured out of his mouth! (God had to have taken over his normal misconjugated verbs cause he was actually making sense) HA They both sat there and listened to EVERYTHING and shared from their hearts as well. His girlfriend was teared up through most of the conversation and it seemed she was understanding it all. We ended by encouraging him to take his doubts straight to God. We told him to talk to HIM about all these things and ask God to show himself in their lives.
Matheus explained how he was interested in what we had to say because he knew we were Christians (missionaries in fact) but he couldn't believe we hadn't invited him to "church" or that we weren't trying to "fix" his life. Mike had simply made a friend and Matheus had seen something very different in his life.
Pray for Matheus as he seeks God's face through all this. Pray for his girlfriend who seems to have a good understanding of all we talked about and even shared she had given her life to Christ 4 years ago. Pray that God shows Himself to Matheus in BIG ways.
Six months ago, a new work began in a suburb of Ribeirao Preto. One of our language teachers started a Bible Study for non-believers with the hope of becoming a new church plant. Take a look at what God is doing...
Hard to believe but my baby was born 8 years ago today!!! We celebrated yesterday, by traveling about 3 and a half hours to enjoy Hopi Hari. Check out their website! It's a really neat park and we felt like we were in the United States. There was even an Applebees across the road so our day was PERFECT! Jayden's wish this year was to decorate his own cake! He did an awesome job but we all fell into a diabetic coma, for a bit, after partaking it! :)
Jayden opened presents from folks all over. He had several cards and emails from people who pray for us and go to churches that support us! He received gifts from lots of family that he enjoyed playing with all day as well! THANKS GUYS...we love that ya'll remember us!
He's also sporting a new punching bag with boxing gloves. Are we crazy, or what!?!
The boys have been really blessed this year by having one of the kindest, most generous men to be the guard/greeter at their school!!! His name is Jilmal and we've come to love him dearly. He greets the boys every morning with the biggest grin and has remembered their names since day one. We had the honor of meeting his family Sunday afternoon and eating dinner with them. They took us to a great restaurant and then we went to their house for a little while to have coffee. What a blessing to meet this family and be able to call them lifetime friends!
Last night was hard. In 15 days we'll have lived here for 9 months and for 9 months, not one member of our family has spoken the "I want to go home" phrase. Well, up until last night. Two of our three guys were feeling some major home-sickness and uttered the inevitable.
Personally, I think that it is remarkable when you consider all the changes they've endured and the amount of time we've lived here!
Rough part is...all we could do was listen and hug in between sobs. When you remind them that we'll go back to visit in 2 years, they just don't get too gung-ho excited, ya know?!? Jayden shared how he REALLY hates our apartment and repeatedly used the phrase, "I miss America!" He didn't think it was funny when we informed him that he was, in fact, STILL in America. He said he wanted his old room and his yard to play in.
So, because of our need to remind the lil' guys why we are here, my heart was reminded as well. Sometimes in order to move forward you have to let yourself mourn what was lost. For us, it wasn't just our home, cars, and STUFF...it was also the routines, habits, fast-food, and existence that we had come to know and love. Many people have shared that when we leave Brazil to visit our family back home on stateside, we'll miss this new life we've grown accustomed to and will want to return QUICKLY. I know that in my head but my mouth didn't communicate it very well to the boys last night.
I love this country with a huge chunk of my heart and I don't doubt that soon, I'll be able to say, with my WHOLE heart. I know the Quilombola people need Jesus desperately but just for today it would be really nice to eat some Mexican food and watch the boys playing with their friends in the yard.