Saturday, September 28, 2013

Week One: First Impressions

 Stepping off the plane after traveling for 20 hours, I know that I'm not in Kansas-Missouri-Montana anymore.  First off, I cannot understand anyone.  Second, I can barely read the signs around me.  Third, um...where's the AC in this airport?  Quick someone hand me a fan!!!  I won't even mention the bathroom trip experience before gathering my luggage!

After my relatively smooth trip through customs (thank you English speaking woman!), I finally made it to the luggage area where I secured TWO carts for my five pieces of luggage (hey, a girls gotta pack not only for clothes, but for teaching as well!).  And yes...all my luggage made it safely to Brasilia.  Moving around with two carts was probably very entertaining for all witnessing, but my many games of Mario Cart paid off and I made it out and was greeted by some Brasilia International School (otherwise known as BIS) staff members and my new roommate.  :)  They promptly took my carts from me and ushered me over to a table with café com leite and pão de queijo (cheese bread).

After getting to know my new friends and support system, we departed the airport for the drive to my new apartment.  Driving in Brasil brought back memories of the driving in Kosova!  Hold on to that handle and wear your seatbelt...Mario Cart has nothing on driving in Brasil!!!!

 The apartment that was secured for Erin and I (secured literally the day before I arrived...that's a whole other story for another day!), is a beautiful 3 bedroom, 3 bath apartment on the 6th floor (top floor), and is about a half-hour walk to school/work.

 Seeing as how I had been waiting for this adventure for 2 1/2 months, it did not take me long to unpack and settle in, take an hour long nap and then hit the town with some of the girls.  An American night in Brasil - we went to the theater and watched O Ataque (White House Down) in English with Portuguese subtitles, and had good ol' American-Brazilian style McDonald's.  A pretty full day considering I stepped foot on Brasil soil at 7 that morning...and had been up since 6 the morning before.
On Sunday I attended the International Baptist Church which is the only English speaking church in Brasilia, and one in which the majority of the staff at BIS attends along with a few students and their families.  Church was followed by lunch at a buffet place where you pay for the weight of the plate you create (hey that rhymed!).  I will admit, I am trying new foods and for the most part I have enjoyed everything.  Lunch was followed by a test run of our walk from home to school and then a quick trip to the market by our house.  Quite a selection of produce and I am excited to try out some new foods!

Monday brought on my first day at a new job.  Everyone was very welcoming and excited to finally have me join them.  I spent the day just getting to know the routines and reading student files.  Nothing too exciting there.

The rest of the week followed with getting to know the kiddos and the staff, observing the students I would be working with, gathering resources and organizing how I wanted to create this special education program so that the needs of each child could best be met.  I've never had to create something like this from scratch and it is both exciting and exhausting!  Hello 7pm bedtime each night!  But...somehow with God's grace, I've got the kindergartners and first graders up and running starting on Monday! 
The most amazing thing about all of this is that I am meeting kids from all over the world!  AND....I have the freedom to share God's Truth with them.  I cannot even begin to explain the deep joy this brings to me!!!

It's hard to believe I've only been here for a the same time, I am fully aware of it.  Especially when it comes to the language.  I find that is my biggest frustration with myself.  I want to know more and be able to order things for myself, and simply have a conversation with our neighbor!  I shocked my roommate when on my 3rd or 4th day here, I walked right up to the bread counter and attempted to order 4 pão de queijo.  The lady at the counter was very kind in attempting to understand my butchering of her language and I did walk away with what I asked for.  I suppose if you want something bad enough, you are not afraid to look like a fool!

But then...isn't that what living for Christ all about?  Dying to myself and living for Him...even if it makes me look a bit strange?
"If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it.  But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it."
~Mark 8:35
So for me right now, if I am to truly lose my pride and selfishness, I need to begin to attempt this language (no matter how much I may butcher it...I have a bit a lot of perfectionism in me), so that when people ask why an American is in their country, I can tell them about His work in and through me.

But baby steps is after all only week one.  So let's master simple greetings to begin with:

·         Good Morning:  Bom dia!

·         Everything well (used as a question & answer, depending on intonation):  Tudo bem

·         You:  Você

·         Thank you:  Obrigada

Until next time where I am sure to have some stories of my mistakes in attempting Portuguese....
 Até Mais!

~Verão (Summer)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Brazil or Bust?

So this whole God-timing thing....very very difficult to walk through. I love the story when all is said and done....but the creation of it all...well, it just stinks.

My visa and passport should have arrived today, and as of right now (9:51pm to be exact), there is not even a record that the USPS has even received it!

This isn't the first time I've encountered complications in the process.  First, the visa took a bit extra time being cleared with the Ministry of Labor in Brazil. Then when my aunt went to the Consulate to finish up the application stateside (oh yea it had to be done in person...not by mail), there was a hold up with a document and that had to be sent back to me and another appointment scheduled. And then, when that appointment came, instead of the normal five day processing was going to be two weeks.  And here we are. My aunt went back to the Consulate yesterday to pick up the visa and passport and thankfully there were no complications! But now....where is said envelope that should have arrived today?

So when do you throw in the towel and give it all up? When is enough, enough?

But then I look to solice in all of this....and I'm reminded of Abraham and Isaac. God waited until the very last moment when Abraham had raised the knife towards his bound son laying upon the altar.  That last moment when the sun gleamed off the sharp edge of the knife. Then and only then did God step in and prevent Abraham from sacrificing the promise He gave him. And somehow through it all, Abraham still had faith. He believed that God could raise Isaac from the dead, if He so chose to. Abraham trusted and believed God at His Word. It may not have made any sense, it may have grieved him deeply, but he still made that choice to trust. To have faith.

Honestly, I'm not so sure I have that same faith right now.  I'm weak. I'm scared. I'm hurting. And for the first time, I feel defeated. But instead of dwelling on this, I must find the strength to stand strong in God no matter the circumstances. To chose faith instead of defeat. To trust the outcome, no matter what it is. To know that God is after character and after my heart...not my agenda.  But the process still stinks...just sayin'.