“NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” no matter that we weren’t home yet and were still in somebody else’s house with no privacy, Cali had just realized that Lais and Leticia were not coming back to Manaus with us, and she was going to yell. And cry. And scream. And wail. For awhile.
“I left all my friends in Wisconsin! all of them! And we’re never going back” (“never” and “always” are words she uses when she’s despairing and doesn’t even want to see the light of day) “Never! and now Lais and Leticia are leaving to! And I don’t have anyone! I don’t have any friends!” She wailed some more.
I was pretty much at a loss for words…Cali often leaves me at a loss for wisdom and calling to God like Moses (except he had a few million and we only have 3) “what I am supposed to do with the people you gave me, Lord? This was your idea to bring them out here, right?”
The next day we got on the plane back to Manaus. We got home late, and there was no food in our house except a little chocolate and some oatmeal, so Jevon went out to find food while I putted around putting things away. Isaiah slept, and Karina played happily in her familiar room, reunited with her toys. Where was Cali? I saw a silent shadow out on the dark veranda and stopped to look at her. She sat down on the rocking chair with her head bowed, silent. “Cali? Are you sad?”
“yes. I’m sad right now Mom. And I’m scared. I’m just really scared. I’m scared that it will be too long before I ever see Lais and Leticia again. And I’m scared that Marilyn won’t be there anymore when I get back. And I’m scared that the Halverson kids will all get stung by bees in the play house.” ?????what????? where does she come up with these fears?
Well it is dead of winter in Wisconsin, so I assured her she didn’t need to be worrying about all five Halverson kids being stung by bees. But I figured that wasn’t really the point. So I sat down in the rocking chair and she sat in my lap, and I tried to convince her to talk to God about the way she feels.
“I can’t, Mom. You just pray for me. I can’t.”
She never prays when she’s sad or mad or scared. “why?”
“I can’t. I’m too scared and sad.”
So I talked about David for awhile, who always told God exactly how he felt and even wrote songs about his anger or sadness, but he always finished up his song by singing “but I trust you, God, and I’m waiting to see what you will do.” (paraphrased, of course). And finally I just prayed for her.
Jevon came back with some pasteis for supper and we sat down to eat. He asked Cali to pray, and I thought she would say no. But suddenly, much to my surprise, she was squeaking out the words with a tremor in her voice “God please keep Lais and Leticia safe, and please help Marilyn to still be here when I get back, and please help the Halversons not to get stung by bees, and please help me not to be alone,”
I looked up at Jevon; he looked puzzled and slightly disturbed (especially about the irrational bee part), but I was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO happy! what a huge victory! she actually talked to God when she was sad and scared!
That night as I tucked her in I prayed that God would give her friends here in Manaus and that she wouldn’t be lonely.
The truth is, Jevon and I had our own questions…having left behind the ones who took us most thoroughly under their wings when we got here…now what? Manaus looked alot different without them. We still had friends…Rachel, the Ottos, my language helper Marcia, and all the people at the mission…but what Brazilians lived close by now? Who would have time in their full lives to be our friends and teach us outside of class? Without friends to converse with, practice language with, and do life with, we can’t do much real life learning and growing in language and culture.
Well the next day, we were all little tired from traveling, staying up late for Christmas and New Year’s, and traveling some more. So we were just feeding the kids an early-ish supper with an early-ish bedtime in mind (as in the normal bedtime they used to have, once upon a time).
Then the phone rang.
Sometimes God sends answers…really fast.
Next I knew we were over at Franci’s and Marcio’s house, having a second supper. And playing cards with the adults while the kids watched movies in Portugese. Turns out playing President/Scum is a great way to practice verb forms – actor persons and tense: (I pass. Did you pass? I passed. Did he pass? He passed. Are you going to pass? I am going to pass.) Cali started out really sullen when we got there, (she’s as scared of new people as she is attached to old people) but next thing we knew she was being scolded for exuberantly pillow fighting with Franci’s little boy. “olhe” Franci whispered to me, “Dânica, God is answering your prayers!” Cali was even laughing.
My time clock must have been messed up from all the late nights and travel, because next thing I knew Marcio was letting us know that whenever we were ready, he would be happy to give us a ride home, but that there was no hurry. It was almost midnight.
The very next night was Tuesday night meeting, when all the missionaries in Manaus get together and worship and share. Usually Jevon and I take turns staying home and putting Isaiah to bed while the other one goes, but why bother? we had been on a late night schedule so long, what was one more night? So we all went. And all the Manaus missionaries greeted us like long-lost friends and started up conversations. Meanwhile, Cali and Karina were running around with other kids…
Best of all: that night after Cali got a bath to wash all the happy Tuesday night sweat off of her head, I was kissing her goodnight. “Cali, I’m so glad God answered our prayers that you would have people to be with.”
I half…no, three-fourths, expected her to contradict me and reassure me that she was still very lonely and sad…but instead she sighed and rolled over on her pillow.
“yeah” she said contentedly, “Now I know that I won’t be alone. At first I didn’t know that; I thought I would just be all alone. But there’s Jonatas, Nicolas, Elena-Julia…and just lots of people. There’s just lots of people.”
Thank you, God. Now she knows. And I know, too. You will provide.