I am a citizen of three different countries: two I chose (The Kingdom of God and Brazil,) one I was born into (the United States.)
I am a descendant of generations of people from all over Europe and the Iberian Peninsula. I am in awe of what my DNA shows, and it proves that each one of us is truly unique. No one else in the world has the same DNA. Because of my ancestors and their choices, I am now an American citizen.
Starting as a small child, my parents taught me life principles. I learned to love God and talked to Him all the time. He was the only one who knew my innermost thoughts, questions, doubts and fears.
My parents didn’t realize it, but they were teaching my brother and I a mixture of laws, culture and principles. The cultural “rules” of living on a farm in that part of the US, along with principles from God’s Kingdom were mixed in my mind – all part of one.
I grew to become an adult, married in 1950, had children, and began teaching them even as I continued learning. My life focus enlarged to include people beyond my own family and more areas outside of the Pacific Northwest, as we moved to Texas and then to Oklahoma.
I discovered that some heath and cultural rules varied, depending upon where one lives, even in the US. One of my lessons? I got undulant fever (nasty) from drinking raw milk in a farming community. I’d never heard of undulant fever, although I was raised on a farm in the state of Washington. Some big differences.
My world experiences became larger.
When we moved to Brazil in 1967, I was thrust into a language and cultural rules, totally different from what I had previously known: from how you sit at the table and place your hands, cross the street, greet others, leave a group of people, how to wash dishes in cold water, drink water only out of a tall clay filter, how to confront demons – and myriads of other unwritten rules.
I was bombarded and confused. So were our children. How could I maintain any quality of stability in our home. Unconsciously, I maintained the principles of the Kingdom of God in our home – even as we changed some of our daily habits.
The more I learned the Portuguese language, the more I became more aware of the less obvious cultural principles. My first three years in Brazil were emotionally painful and physically exhausting, as I essentially was forced to make choices, almost died from hemorrhaging as I lost a baby, and gradually learned to better understand and love the people.
Many of the outer habits changed; that was comparatively easy. The tough choices were as I examined and reviewed everything I’d learned since a child, consciously choosing my personal path based upon God’s principles. Sometimes I threw away Brazilian standards, sometimes the US standards, other times I threw away both, when neither one fit into God’s standards.
Today, 50 years later, I still must do the same almost daily. At 85, a widow living in the United States (a country I no longer recognize), what choices do I have before me? Will I follow the cultural “rules” for a widow living in the United States, or those for a widow living in Brazil, or follow what God puts before me to do? What about my attitudes? Am I living in integrity before God? Am I honestly willing to go or stay as He leads me?
One of the first major things I will do is go to Brazil where my Brazilian citizenship papers are waiting for me. Why Brazil? I’m not sure I know how to explain. I will try.
I love so many people, in the US, in Brazil, and other countries. However, (the only way I know how to describe it) God placed a special love within me for Brazil. Brazilian citizenship gives me some advantages and some responsibilities. And it places me in Brazil – not as an American – but as a Brazilian, like all those around me.
Paul said in 1 Cor 9: 22b-23
“I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in I ts blessings. “
I want to clarify that God leads each one of us: what He has me do as I follow Him is not what He will ask you to do. He has a unique purpose for each one of our lives, just as each one of us has a unique DNA. You and I each have the responsibility of going to Him to learn. If we search for Him, we will find Him. Perhaps not in the way we expected, but He is here for each one of us.
All I know? Today I know I am to walk in what He puts before me to do, to be aware of His love and concern for me.
I have become a citizen of three countries and the Kingdom of God is the country that has precedence in my life. What will the next choices be? I have no idea. I will learn as I go.
How is it with you?
Life is interesting - and can be challenging. Voni shares with you her experiences