I learned something important today! I want to share what happened and see what you think.

As many of you know, I’ve been working with people in Natal, and an outstanding lawyer in Brasilia, Brazil, for about four years to acquire my Brazilian citizenship. (Someone tonight asked me “why do I want it?” You can read the response to that question by clicking on the link at the end of this post.)

Back to the lesson I learned? Around the time of Joe’s death in February, I receive a note from the lawyer saying my citizenship Is being published in a journal from the Brazilian government and she included a picture of some names (my name was there!) I remember how happy I was that the process was going ahead…in fact, I said something about it on Facebook.

The pressures and confusion of grief and the need to move immediately (almost all income stopped at the time of Joe’s death,) swallow my brain and thinking process. I am like a stranger going through motions, aware of what is around me, but numb. (I’m getting better, but I never know for sure when the tears will come.)

I want to make plans to go to another daughter’s home in Georgia to spend some time there and continue working on details so I can proceed on to Brazil. I begin to be concerned. Will there be a time limit for me to get to Natal to finish the citizenship process? How much time to I have Do I need to be in Brazil by a certain date? A good friend in Natal tells me “ no, the papers are waiting for you.” But I continue to worry. Finally, I remember another friend who had worked with immigration in Natal for many years. I send an email, asking him for details.

The following day I receive an email that has me jumping with joy. He lists what has happened (with document references), my time limit (February of 2018) with an explanation, and a copy of an official document stating what I need to do when I get to Natal, dated May 19th

As I read the email with all the details, for the first time I totally realize that the Brazilian government has given me the citizenship statues: I AM BRAZILIAN AND AMERICAN!






So, what is the lesson I learned?

The first notification, I did not understand what it meant for my name to be published in that official government paper. Because I did not ask for clarification, I misunderstood what was happening. So I lived with uncertainty for another three months until I finally asked.

Is that understandable? Yes. Is that foolish? Yes. I was given my answer in February but I unconsciously chose doubt rather than clarity.

My question: How many times do we do this in our lives? How often does it happen when we are studying God’s Word? Too often we take words we think we understand, such as “salvation”, repentance”, “Christ died for our sins”, God created the universe”, ‘the Kingdom of God”; the list of words continues. We don’t understand the depth of the meaning and, instead of security in our relationship with God, we don’t have certainty that we are citizens in His Kingdom.

The words are on the paper, written out so we can read and understand.
Was I negligent in my way of looking at the info sent to me? The answer is YES.
Was I foolish? Yes.

if we don’t have the understanding, then let us ask.

I need to apologize to my lawyer for not asking for clarification… Fortunately, I can.

But I lived with doubt – and it wasn’t her lack of communication. It was my responsibility to make sure I understood.

Maybe we all need to ask for more clarification, as we look at the words that are on the paper?

What do you think?

– Voni

Why am I returning to Natal, Brazil?


Belo Horizonte, MG  Brazil

I am in the kitchen with two neighbor girls who came over to help and we are cleaning up after lunch. The kitchen is “sticky-warm;” which means my clothes keep clinging to my body.  I am eager to get outside again. It’s a sunny day with a refreshing breeze – much nicer outside than in the warm kitchen

Today is CLOTHES WASING DAY. My trusty wringer washing machine is outside beside the two cement tanks, full of water. I respect this machine’s wringer; making sure my fingers don’t go into it along with the clothes.I have a long extension cord hooked to it, and there are different piles of clothing scattered on the cement.  The clothes lines have tree limbs to hold them upright so the clean clothes won’t drag on the ground while they are drying.

Our two-story house is full of sound and people.  My husband and I, four of our children (ages 21 to 12), and Rodrigo and Xuxu are all at home today. Lunch around our big circular table outside was noisy and entertaining with the eight of us, plus two unexpected guests for lunch: one a hungry young pastor who “just happened to be driving by our home at lunchtime;” the other a young woman from the YWAM base down the road. By pulling our chairs closer and our elbows in, we managed to all have a plate on the table. I had laughed a lot – one can’t help but laugh when surrounded with such a group.

But now, I am tired and there are still more clothes to wash.  I look longingly at my hammock hanging under the shade of the jabuticaba trees, and wonder how long it will take to finish washing those piles of clothes. Suddenly I am aware the two young women in the kitchen are looking at me, waiting for an answer.  I pull my mind back to the kitchen as I say: “I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you – what did you say?”

The older one speaks up.
“Dona Voni, are you aware of what is happening to the food here in this house?”

Her face is serious and perplexed. She has my full attention, as I wonder what calamity is going on?

“No. What has been happening?”

Now they both begin talking at once.
“We help you fix a meal…” “and we put all the food on the table….”

I interrupt. “What?  You’re supposed to keep food back here in the kitchen for yourselves!” They catch a breath.

“Yes, but so many extra people always come …” “and we’re afraid there won’t be enough food …” “so we put it all on.”
“But listen, Dona Voni, let us tell you what happens…”
I am quiet, listening.  Something important is going on.
They now speak slowly and deliberately.

“Every time we put the food on the table for a meal, it does not matter how many people are here, there is always plenty of food left for us.”
They remain quiet, waiting for that to circulate in my mind and register.

rice beans more

I look at them in astonishment!
God is stretching the food!  There is no other answer.

As I stand in the sticky-warm kitchen with them, I remember just a few nights earlier when – standing where I am standing now – I told God I would hold no food back when we had meals and guests… but He would have to take care of the food.
He was doing exactly that!

The girls see the look on my face, tell me to go to the hammock and they will finish washing the clothes.

I obey. I’m in shock. As I lay in the hammock, looking at the leaves shimmering in the breeze, I have a long and very serious conversation with God, full of wonder and marvel.

He really is caring for us! 

 He continued to stretch our food for almost two years, while we had no income we could depend upon. We never went hungry. The food was simple – rarely any meat – but good. He cared for everyone who came into our home to visit or to stay. The money always came in to pay the bills – many times at the last moment.


How and when He stopped stretching the food is another story; I was very aware of it when He did it.  (That is for another time.)

May each one of us be aware that the Lord God is always the same: yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8  As He cared for the Hebrews, He cares for us. 

And so He is with you.  Are you aware of those times?

  • Voni 

He also told us that if we follow the Lord, we will go through times of suffering. But He will be walking with us.