We are back in Brazil! It’s strange how familiar everything is, this time. The graceful lines of the açai trees (a tall, slender type of palm), the mysterious majesty of the buritis (a shaggy-headed type of palm), the stars of the southern sky, and even the cement curb of the empty lot across the street from the mission’s guest house all seem to welcome me back. I had wondered if it would all feel foreign all over again. It doesn’t. Portuguese isn’t flowing out of my head quite as spontaneously as it was a year ago, but I trust it will be, soon. I can sit around a table with Brazilian friends and laugh as hard as they do at their jokes, because I understand them (most of them), or ask a coworker how she is feeling in her place of ministry and understand when she shares her heart. I don’t feel baffled or overwhelmed when I walk into the grocery store, or wonder how I’m going to cook for my family. I already know what’s there and how to prepare it.
In a lot of ways, this second landing in Brazil is off to an easier start than the first. At the same time, there are a lot of things to get used to again, and I know we will face new challenges this time around, as well as old.
Right now I’m trying to re-teach the kids NOT to throw their toilet paper in the toilet! I’m trying to re-teach myself to step into that freezing cold shower and be content. (“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me” applies to the small things as well as the big!)
A few aspects of this second “start” are actually harder than last time. The kids are older now, and understand what (and whom!) we are leaving behind in the States. Even I understand better this time what we left behind and what we’ve come back to. I have to keep in mind WHY we are doing this and by WHOM and for WHOM. Otherwise I would turn around and run.
These first few days in country are just our initial re-introduction to Brazil. We haven’t really rolled up our sleeves and gotten back to work, yet. We haven’t even gotten back to our place of ministry, yet, or back to the actual people we came to reach. I guess the real re-adaptation starts there.
I’m preparing my heart to go back into the villages, and see the frail old people a year older without Jesus, and the women my age a year more broken than they were when I saw them last, and the children still lost and being led astray, and I know that I will still not be able to understand what they are saying, or offer any words of help or comfort, or tell them about their Creator, the Savior, until I learn their language. And for me, learning one more language while being a wife and homeschool mom still looms ahead as a huge and unconquerable challenge – unconquerable by me, that is. But God gives the victory.
On the airplane (one of the airplanes) on the way here I was reading Psalm 44. “O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old:”…
We’ve all heard stories of God’s salvation in other times and other places. How we long to see Him do that again. How I long to see God step in and DO things here, too. How I long to see him break through to this people’s hearts with His grace and glory, as he has broken through to hearts and cultures and people groups all over the world. When you read missionary stories or revival stories or any of God’s salvation stories, do you ever wonder, “How did those things happen? Can that ever happen here and now?”
One thing I know. He didn’t work through the old-time heroes of the faith because they were so great. They weren’t superheroes. “…for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them.” God’s right hand gave them the victory. God’s arm worked the victory. The light of his face won the victory. God did it, because he delighted in them.
One of the refreshing things about this year in the States has been being reminded continually who we are, or should I say WHOSE we are. As disciples of Jesus, we have been called and chosen to do a task. Because we are in Christ, the Father delights in us and delights to work through us. In this confidence we move ahead to do the undoable. Not because we are equal to the task. But because our God is. We boast boldly in Him because we know Who He is. And by faith we know that the light of His face is on us.
“For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me.” …but “In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever.”