Although my family no longer lives in the Amazon, we do still live in Brazil, just a little further south in an area called the Catarina Mountains. We traded the jungle for the country and it’s an area of Brazil where we get to experience all four seasons during the year. They are reversed from those of you who live in the Northern Hemisphere however. For example, when Christmas rolls around, we are not looking forward to hot chocolate and fireplaces, we are opening windows and turning on fans because it is Summer. And during the month of June you can find us huddled around a wood burning stove roasting pine nuts and trying to stay warm because it is the dead of winter.
(Pic above) View from behind my house
(Pics below) Our house that my husband and son built where we currently reside.
We love ministering in this new area. It has been hard work of course, each new area is, but we have enjoyed learning the culture and customs from this part of Brazil because they differ from the Amazon quite a bit.
One of the main differences is their accent. Out in the countryside where we live, most people are farmers. They have such a different accent that I thought maybe they were speaking a different dialect when I first moved there. Over time our ears have become accustomed to the new sound and vocabulary. But even with that, every now and then we will pick up someone walking along our dirt road and give them a lift to their farm and we will get to talking. When they get out of the car I will often look at Mark and we will both shrug our shoulders because we didn’t understand half of what they had said. We have had to really listen and ask people to repeat themselves to the point of embarrassment.
(Me and one of my neighbors who lives on a farm across the dirt road)
Not only is the language different, but the food is different. This part of Brazil has a heavy European influence and there are many German and Italian families as well as Russian and Japanese. Therfore, the cuisine is subsequently impacted. The past seven years have been a veritable feast for us as we have been introduced to so many different flavors and ways of preparing dishes.
(Pic above – Paçoca de Pinhão)
A dish made from ground pork, beef, bacon and cooked ground pine nuts served with Brazilian white rice.
(Pic below – Torta Fria)
Which literally translated means “Cold Pie”, but it is a dish comprised of layers of bread (sans crust) separated by (and this can run the gamut) some sort of salad or patê. Could be chicken, tuna, sardines, vegetable, ham or olives. Then the entire concoction is “frosted”with mayonnaise and then decorated as seen below. I know it may sound odd, but trust me, when you eat a messy slice of this recipe that has been prepared by a skilled cook, you will ask for seconds.
Learning new things like the language and food was made a lot easier by having helpful friends along the way. My friends in Lages (our city) are some of the truest friends I have. They have loved on me, taught me, cried with me and laughed with me. It has made the transition to a new part of the world so much easier.
(If you can’t tell, I am the blonde in the middle with the green apron)
These ladies and I have cooked many meals together. We have also sat at the hospital with each other, buried loved ones together, shared birthdays, anniversaries and graduations. All of these things formed a bond between us that cannot be easily severed. The moments we have shared have never been a wasted effort. It has helped me grow as a cook, a mother, a friend, a missionary, and a human being.
Someone taking the time to love us and be patient with us can have a powerful, positive and lasting effect. Wouldn’t you agree?
This makes me think of two things:
- I want to always be available to God for Him to use me to love on one of His creations.
The people we meet are not always going to be from our church, our background, or our lifestyle. (Unless you live in some kind of cult) So exclusion can’t be our motto to keep ourselves “unspotted from the world” (James 1:27)
I am so tired of seeing Christians exclude people. It grieves me. It shows a lack of simple understanding of God’s Word. James 1:27 is explaining what pure religion is and it isn’t exclusion, it is caring for people in this world no matter what state they are in! The unspotted part is simple: don’t participate in sin! We are to walk, live, and pass through this world but not be implicated in the sins of it.
There was no reason for my now friends to love me and help me when I arrived in their city. They just did. They saw me struggling at a store or stammering out a phrase in Portuguese and they simply offered to come alongside and help me. They invited me to their homes, introduced me to their families, took me around the city and showed me where to find good deals. One of them figured out I was getting over charged for ground beef because the butcher heard my accent and knew I didn’t know how to ask for it the way the locals did. She taught me a simple phrase to make sure I got what I asked for.
All the little things added up and the kindnesses they showed me led to trust. And trust is invaluable.
These ladies didn’t run away scared of me because I was different. They just made themselves available and showed themselves friendly.
I want to be available to God for Him to use me in the same manner with anyone He wants. I haven’t always succeeded in this area, but I aim to be surrendered to changing nonetheless.
- I am thankful for the influence of God and His Word in my life.
My friends have helped me learn language and culture, but God has helped me learn of Him. He has been the greatest example of patience and friendship I have ever experienced.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Matthew 11:29
Jesus showed me love and compassion when I deserved neither. He offered His goodness to me when I was in my sins. He offers His rest to me because He knows the weariness sin and battle bring. And you know something? That kindness brought about trust. I know I can trust Him.
Look at how He describes Himself: Meek and lowly in heart.
Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, didn’t even toot His own horn.
When we dwell in Him and learn of Him, it won’t make us pompous, it will make us humble.
You and I are flawed because of sin. If you are saved, then you are cloaked by His righteousness, but until we get to Heaven and are changed, we have to deal with our flesh. Why don’t we recognize the battle and learn of Christ to be humble and kind and compassionate to others? By doing so, we aren’t setting ourselves up in order to show someone what they need to attain to, or excluding anyone, but rather we are stepping out of the way and pointing them at Christ, the Perfect Friend.
Until Next Time, Lord willing,
READ THE BIBLE THROUGH WITH ME IN 36 WEEKS!
Today’s reading: Exodus 38 / I Kings 17-18 / Psalm 54 / Hebrews 2