Prelude: August 1967 in Belo Horizonte, MG Brazil
We are hunting for a house to rent – there is nothing unusual about that.
However, we have a few unknowns this time.
We do not know the language well.
We do not know this city.
We do not know the culture.
And we we do not have the luxury of sufficient funds to stay in the hotel long enough to get a better understanding.
Although we’ve studied about the country, the history. we are now strangers in a strange land.
The decisions we make now will influence our future, for whatever it will be.
We pray for wisdom.
It is afternoon and hot.
My husband and I are tired, thirsty and a little discouraged
We have looked at house after house. The amount we’ve set aside in our budget for housing isn’t going to stretch as far as we’d hoped.
The Realtor turns the car off the busy avenue, and we head up a rough road that turns into a sandy, dirt rutted road and stop in front of a house we immediately like.
We are about 30 plus minutes by bus from the center of town.
We look around us: this block is entirely open. Two houses on the next street. On the corner is a corner grocery store – but nothing like I’ve seen before.
Around the house are empty lots full of dusty weeds with some cans and bottles scattered.
Not too pleasant to look at, but then we looked at the house. White Stucco, a gated postage-sized lawn leading to the front door, a large gated garage. A three-level home inside, never lived in. Three bedroom, two baths, a large back yard with a pool area. WONDERFUL!!! We are ecstatic: we have found our new home! A place with space for our five children – and the 200 or more favorite books we brought. Where we can have friends in, be hospitable, and maybe be able to fill the pool in the back yard! (The Realtor warns us that we are on a well, and it may take 24 hours to fill the pool. He was wrong: the most water we ever got in it was about one foot in the deepest part; just right for our two smallest children to use as a giant wading pool.)
We didn’t know it, but the mirrors were giving us a false picture.
In Brazil, when one moves into a home where there were no previous tenants, one is accepting the challenges of faulty wiring, plumbing that does not work, learning where the insects come in and how to block them, and how much of an electrical load before the fuse box shuts down. That is only the beginning.
The only phone is in a neighbor’s home, one block away. The local butcher is a block further out on the dirt road: the beef carcasses hang in the open air with flies swarming over them. (Cooking the meat should kill all of the germs.) If I want hamburger, the butcher cuts off a piece of beef and puts it through the grinder, then wraps it in pages from a newspaper. No neat refrigerated packaging here. (In fact, in the city of 2 1/2 million there is only one small SUPER MERCADO in the center of the city. When I saw it, it reminded me of small markets when I was a child in the states.)
We live 30 minutes from the center of the city. Close by US standards. By Brazilian standards, it is the remote middle of nowhere.
In 1967, Brazil is in the aftermath of a passive rebellion which stopped a Communist take-over. We are living in a country ruled by a military junta It isn’t uncommon to have mob control by tear gas in the city. (Our eldest son was caught in one.)
We are starting on a new walk with a high learning curve which will last for years. I look at this country as my new home, where I will live until I die. So, I’d better start learning!
New Living Translation this verse becomes an undergirding in my life.
And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:29
Now, it is November 2016.
In the US, in Brazil – in fact, in the whole world – all is changing TOO rapidly. Each one of us has more to learn, and perhaps, more to LET GO OF.
We face decisions as to what are the true priorities in our lives.
This requires our ability to see beyond the mirrors surrounding us that are projecting false images, to discover what is real, solid, unchanging – what some call TRUTH.
I pray for clarity of mind for each one of us.