November 1967 Is this Home ?

Voni’s ViewBH years ago I think

The morning sun is shining in a brilliant blue sky. I stand at the window, gazing at the skyline of mountains  that surround and cradle Belo Horizonte, Brazil: our new city of about 2 million.  These mountains thrust up against the skyline: no snow, more rounded than jagged.
I muse:  “Back home, these mountains would be called high hills, but here they are called mountains.  What if there were mountains high enough to have snow on them, like back home?  Now that would be something!.”  It’s obvious that I’m missing “home.”
Behind me is a good sized bedroom where my three girls sleep: ages 14, 12 and 5.  The two boys (15 and 3) have a bedroom down the hall.  Mosquito netting covers the two bunk beds and a smaller bed.  That netting was a challenge to put up properly so it would protect without falling down!  Live and learn . . . and a lot of learning is going on!
We are here!, I keep telling myself.  Five years of hard work and preparation, about a month on the Japanese passenger/freighter ship, time in São Paulo for some classes – that was interesting, the trip to Belo Horizonte, time in a hotel while looking for a place to live, then moving in, receiving the items we’d shipped, getting simple furniture for the house – like beds to sleep in (always nice!), a simple stove to cook on and a small refrigerator, etc.
moving boxes w globe
For the first time in almost two months, our group of around 40 is not together, as each family scatters out to their own homes.  Everyone else settled more in the center of the city.  We are in the suburbs about 20 minutes out by car.  Because we don’t yet have a car, the bus is our mode of transportation.  . . which is another adventure.
All the people around us speak Portuguese and stare at us as we speak English. I must remember to enter the door in the back of the bus, exiting out of the front.  No phone – that will cost US $1000 to get.  For now, we walk down a dirt street to a neighbor’s house to use their phone. Their kitchen is the gathering point for the neighborhood, for they own the only phone in close proximity.  Whenever I go there, I carry some change to pay for the call, and plan on spending at least 30 minutes to drink a cup of cafezinho (little coffee) and practice my halting Portuguese.  This is the gossip center for the neighborhood:  I’m sure they always have comments to say about this americana after I leave.
 One great service they provide:  if one of us is in town and can’t get home as planned, that person can phone our neighbor (might have to wait for the line to not be busy), and they will send one of their children to tell me.  (One time this happened that stands out in my mind: our oldest son was downtown to teach an English class,  On the 10th floor that overlooked the main avenue of the city he had a wonderful grandstand view from which to watch the ebb and flow of police using tear gas to break up a large demonstration against the government.   Obviously, our son got home late that night, and this mom was praying!)
Our kitchen has only cold water to wash the dishes (sponge with detergent, rinse in cold water.)  I wonder about the germs – and pray.  We put the water which comes from our well into a tall baked clay water filter. A couple of months later I discover that our well water is contaminated, and have to start boiling for 20 minutes all water we drink.
I look down from the second floor window where I stand, and see a concrete back yard, a pump house to get the water from our well, and a lovely pool, totally empty of water.  Not enough water to fill it.
I take another glance again at the hills, remembering the verses: I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalms 121:1
“Well, Lord, they aren’t mountains, but they are hills.. and I can look at them and talk to You.  THANK YOU!?”
One of my children calls for me with an urgency in his voice.  I turn away from the window, my time of quiet introspection ended.
I pray as I walk rapidly to the excited voices I’m hearing.  “OK God, we’re here because You brought us here.  Pleease help me and all of us. And I’m thankful for these “mountains” to remind me of You!
 It’s interesting to me that this day almost 50 years ago still remains sharp in my mind – 
I have a treasure chest full of special memories of times and places where talking with Him, helped me through the day – or days.
He is the closest relationship that I have.
Tell me, do you talk to God as you walk through your day?  
Do you have treasure troves in your heart: places where – when you think of them – you remember some of your conversations with God?  These places and times can enrich our lives ever after.


Belo Horizonte has grown since we moved there in 1967. It is now a city of about 5 million in the greater metropolitan area.  I lived there for 20 years, and it still feels like home.  The city has now grown over and outside the mountains that encircle it.


Voni's View

Life is interesting - and can be challenging. Voni shares with you her experiences

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6 thoughts on “November 1967 Is this Home ?”

  1. Looking at the pictures that you posted and reading your description of Belo brings back wonderful heartfelt memories of being in that city and in your home. You helped make that a “home” for me at a time when I was missing mine. I will always be grateful for that!

  2. Very interesting, Voni, reading about your first day in Brazil. I hope you’re going to continue the story. I enjoyed your writing style. Love you lots.

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