Monday, October 8, 2007

When in Rome...

Due to a serious lack of internet access as of late, my blogging has been scarce. I wrote the following on Saturday. Enjoy...

Just because the man who sells you your dining table out of his used furniture shop is not wearing shoes, or a shirt for that matter, does not mean that his product will be inferior. In fact, as my experience has gone, he will cut you a great deal, deliver on the day he promised, cover the seats in new material and polish the wood. No matter that his 3 year old daughter is running around nude during the business deal. No matter at all.

When in Brasil, do as the Brasilians do. This means don’t flush your toilet paper (and take out the trash every day.) This means don’t speak in complete words, but abbreviate where you can and learn that a simple "ta" actually means “esta bom,” or “OK.” This means each morning wake up and go across the street to your friendly neighborhood bakery to buy fresh bread for breakfast. This means don’t go barefoot in your own house. This means only wear a seatbelt if you’re riding in the front of a car, because in the back seat “you don’t need it.” Consequently, this also means grow accustomed to the feeling of “I just might die right now” during heavy traffic. This means wherever two or more Brasilians are gathered in the same place, be prepared to have a great time. This means don’t be satisfied with a simple handshake as a greeting, but be accustomed to a kissy kissy on both cheeks.

I am absolutely loving my reading sessions with my readers. They come from all walks of life and, consequently, give me lots of things to think about and talk about. Some of them are Christians already but worship with different congregations, and often as we read the text from Luke they have insights I have never considered before. They encourage my faith. Some call themselves “believers,” but aren’t too familiar with the stories from Luke and have never really taken the time to study the life of Jesus and examine His words. Seeing the text for the first time, they often have insights I have never considered before, and they encourage my faith. Some are adamantly non-Christian, and make it very clear to me that they are only interested in our sessions to practice their English. Fair enough, I say. That’s allowed. But we still read the text, as it is the material for our lessons and the guide for our conversations, and as skeptics, they still have insights I have never considered before.

They encourage my faith. So really, it's all win-win for me, which is nice, but I have watched several of them beginning to want to apply what we read to their own lives. I will ask them a simple question, like, "So, what do you think God wants to teach you from this story?" (legitimately, I really want to know what they think. These aren't "I have the right answer, hope you can guess it" questions,) and they will really spend some time in thought and produce beautiful, personal answers. It's amazing to watch.

In all honesty, last week was a trying week, the hardest I’ve had since being here. Tuesday marked exactly one month since my arrival, and I think the reality of actually living in Brasil began to hit me. Not that I’m sad to be here, I’m not, but I think any time you move to a new place, foreign or domestic, you have a short honeymoon phase of excitement and then there’s a period that follows where reality begins to settle in. Reality is perfectly fine and normal, but compared to the first weeks of honeymooning, it sure does pale in comparison. It’s frustrating to still be struggling with the language, it’s frustrating to have to rely on other people to get things done. But by the same token, I am so thankful to already know as much Portuguese as I do. I am so thankful to have the Signorettis and Bragas here for, literally, anything I need. I can and have relied on them for so much, and they are still willing to do more.

I debated whether or not to confess this to my little blogging community, but then decided that I wanted to be honest. I wanted you to know that although I do love it here in Natal, and have not for one second ever regretted my choice to come here, it’s not all smiles and rainbows every single day. Some days it’s misused words, some days it’s tears, and some days it’s falling asleep with such a big smile on my face and not enough words to thank God for bringing me here. Please keep me and the work I am doing in your prayers. It becomes more and more obvious to me every day how essential your prayers and my prayers are to my job and for me. So, thanks. Until next time...which I really can't predict...tchau!!

1 comment:

Melanie said...

Hey Cris! I'm talking to you on google chat right now. Just wanted to tell you that I'm praying for you! I'm sure it's hard being there alone but I bet it will be the best experience in your life! Love you!