Enough for now about supermarket prices, mud roads, lizards, or dead chickens laying in my sink.
I've been dealing with some real heart issues recently. I've tried to blame it on just about everything in my life that's been within pointing distance and even some things that were far away but the reality is, I've just been angry.
Our family was faced with a very serious situation that, thank the Lord, turned out okay. But nonetheless, left us all a bit shaken and skeptical on who to trust. At first, I was angry then I became sad and then back to angry again. Now that time is distancing us from the event, I've sort of become robotic with just about everything in my life.
I was still getting up in the morning, doing all the tasks that had to be done, but there was zero joy in my heart. Mike and the kids would ask if I wanted to do something or go somewhere and I really had no opinion whatsoever. I found myself diving deep into an unfamiliar depression. I was no longer spending time with God nor did I have a desire to do so.
I began turning to sin patterns that I hadn't struggled with in years. I became so surprised at how quickly my heart could go from a deep and loving relationship with God to such an empty and hollow feeling. How could things change so radically in just a few months? I began to hate just about everything occurring in my life.
I hated the way people stared at me and the kids and referred to us as the American family all the time. I hated how I had to wake up each morning to the demonstrators in the street yelling "who knows what" ABOUT "who knows what". If I'd had the courage and the right words in Portuguese, there's no telling what I could have yelled down at them. I hated the way our neighbors would never speak to us in the elevator. I hated the way our dog would scream like a dying child when we left him alone in the apartment, which most certainly was the reason the neighbors weren't smiling or speaking to us.
And to be completely frank...I'm STILL hating the fact that "like clockwork" the sun rises at 5:30 am and sets at 5:30 pm EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE YEAR. Do you know how quickly your day goes by when every drop of sunlight is gone by 5:30. SERIOUSLY!! Welcome to life at the equator, right?!?
Mike would come home from a great day of ministry and share with me how God had used Him AND ALL I COULD THINK OF was the amount of laundry I'd had to do while he was gone. I was miserable. Is this what I signed up for? Mike is out doing all these great and wonderful things for the Lord, and my biggest accomplishment was cleaning up the dog poo or getting Jayden to understand fractions. Man...surely I could do that back in the states...right?!? Probably even better. After all, I'd have a clothes dryer and a dish washer there. My hair wouldn't look like a poodle from the humidity and our clothes in the closets wouldn't smell like mildew, right?!?
I'd try so hard to suck it up but after having a couple of good days, I'd find myself right back in my little hole. Mike and the boys had a camp to go to this weekend starting on Thursday. They were to return on Easter Sunday. Part of me was really happy that I'd have four whole days to myself and another part dreading time alone where I'd most certainly come face to face with God. Imagine, as soon as the house was quiet and there was nothing to distract me,I turned around and there He was waiting. It's funny when we think God doesn't know we're mad at Him. He knows. Trust me. He knows.
I wasn't just sad and hurt and culture SHOCKED, I was REALLY mad. I was mad at Him for letting the situation happen that seemed to start all this downward spiral. I was mad that I was living in this city that we hadn't chosen. And ya know what? I WAS MAD THAT I WAS MAD!!
How great is that? Turns out HE knew and even though my sin became crystal clear in His presence, He wasn't mad at me. After I dealt with all the junk that had come between us I began to realize He hadn't gone anywhere. Once again He reminded me that He was waiting on me to turn around. I talked with Him about all the reasons I was hurt and mad and as usual, it all came back to the condition of my heart.
By Thursday night,
Michael brought home Jayden sick with an awful croup cough. The following morning he returned with Jackson. He ran a really high fever (103.5) the whole next day. JohnMark and Michael both came home Friday night feeling sick too SO UNFORTUNATELY MY QUIET WEEKEND DIDN'T TURN OUT TOO QUIET. But God was good to deal with me before I had to start being Super Mom again. I can pretty much guarantee that on Monday morning, life is gonna set back in and I'm going to have frustrations but Oh how I pray my heart is ready for what comes. Pray for me that I'll find the joy that comes from being filled with HIM. After all...NOTHING ELSE REALLY MATTERS!
Tuesday I went to find one of the nearby villages where I will be working. It was located about 40km away near the city of Aquiraz. On the way, I stopped and asked directions from many locals on the side of the road (Brazilian GPS). Normally this works, but I was not able to find the area I was looking for! I decided to continue to drive around and explore the region.
Here comes the God part of the story. After driving through the unpaved streets, I turned down toward the beach. There were little restaurants scattered everywhere. Some men darted in front of my car and waved me over as an invite to their place. This is normal so I thought I’d keep driving and ignore them but a small voice in my heart told me to stop. As I rolled down my window the men approached my truck (about 4-5 of them). I asked them for directions to the place I was looking for. As they began to explain they reached into my truck over me and grab my road maps. This caught me a little off-guard but as they tried to show me where it was, they called over another man. He was the leader of the group and quickly took over the conversation. He said he was friends with the president of the quilombo association. After telling them who I was and why I was there, they all began to share with me their beliefs as well. One of them began to explain that if I would return tomorrow at 10:30, they would go with me to the quilombo. He said that he’d call the president of this particular group that night and then he’d call me in the morning to confirm. He invited me in for a drink and some Brazilian conversation. What an experience for just taking a stab in the dark!
He called the following morning and we drove about thirty minutes to the quilombo. As he introduced me to the new president, she invited me to return to work there any time I wanted. She assured me that I’d be free to share the message of Christ in their school without any problems. She also let me know that she would be scheduling a meeting with the residents of the village to introduce me. Then I would be more welcomed and people would not fear me, as is common.
Jesus said that we should walk by faith and not by sight. I didn’t see this coming but God knew it would happen before I left the house. I learned a long time ago that if you want to do great things with God you have to get out of the boat or as was in my case, stop the car.