It's the little things in life that really make me smile. Like ground black pepper from the States. Taco sauce (little packets and a BIG bottle of it). Sleepytime tea. Lavender satchels. Curling spray for my unruly hair. Stickers and erasers for my students. Pajamas made with love from my mama. A sweet new Tim Horton's mug all the way from Canada. And precious encouraging notes from a friend.
Yes, folks....my Christmas presents have arrived. Doesn't matter that it is almost the end of January...it was Christmas in my home this past week! Two packages within three days. I was one happy camper. And a new computer was delivered to my office yesterday! The blessings are pouring in.
All of these tokens brought a smile to my face...but even more so were the smiles of the students when I got back to work this past Monday. It's been a wonderful week back getting back into the swing of things. The kids seem excited, the teachers are excited...it's like the freshness of a new school year all over again! I suppose that happens when you have a month off for Christmas. Yes, you read that correctly. A month off! And it was an interesting month to say the least.
Both of my roommates left for the states which left me with an apartment all by myself! It had its positively glorious moments, and it's horrible ones as well. I had quite a few ugly cries during the first week (with it being Christmas and all)....just simply missing family and friends. But thankfully, a family here would not let me sit at home for Christmas all by myself and they came and kidnapped me on Christmas Eve and I stayed over at their house that evening and all of the next day. It definitely helped cheer me up watching their three kiddos and the excitement they exuberated during the holiday! And hey...we even decorated Christmas cookies...and had a southern-style Christmas dinner! :)
After Christmas I then had about a week to myself. I had great anticipation of making my way around my little neighborhood and had a great to-do list of things I wanted to try. Needless to say...none of it happened. I sat in my apartment and watched movies and Netflix, and read books most of the time. I just simply enjoyed being able to stay in my PJs without anyone having to see me. I was simply storing up my introvert time and enjoying every minute of it. I did spend New Year's Eve with quite a few people from BIS and was able to go and watch fireworks by the JK Bridge.
January 3rd. Now that was what I was waiting for. Rio de Janeiro! Yep. I traveled (flew) with the same family I had stayed with at Christmas to Rio for an entire week. I soaked up the sun, the beach, the hot hot air, the sand, jellyfish, crab, the Redeemer Statue, more sun and beach, glorious sunsets, sound of the waves, and good books. It was a beautiful vacation with an awesome family. They even let me devour three books in just a couple of days (Divergent series....check it out!). My favorite time of the day was dusk as I would sit on our balcony (did I mention that our hotel was right on the beach?) and just watch the waves as the sun died down and Rio came to life. And....I even visited a Starbucks, and bought way too may "Brasil" mugs from there, and ate at Applebee's! For a little bit, I almost forgot about my language issues...since Rio is touristy, people speak broken English...matching my broken Portuguese!
Reality hit when I arrived back in Brasilia and prepared for my roommates to arrive home. I slipped off to work the day before they arrived and along my walk was stopped by a lady asking directions...and I had no idea what she was saying. Then when I stopped in "our" bakery, the guy asked about my "amigas" (hey, I understood that!). And I did my best to tell him that they were on their way back to Brazil, but the conversation ended with both of us shrugging our shoulders, smiling and having no idea what was being said! Then.....the lady at the counter tried talking to me and again...I was lost. Yep. Back to reality. And this simply made me realize just how much I want to try to learn the language so I can communicate more!
Once the roomies arrived (on the same flight), the apartment was buzzing with life again as I was able to hear stories from the States, as well as receive goodies from them! Bless them...they brought Oreo's, Reese's Pieces, hair stuff, and macaroni and cheese!!! We were not able to enjoy the apartment for long as we were headed out to a staff retreat in Pirenopolis. Yes...a staff retreat. With everyone! For three days! I was thinking how this would all look and was pleasantly surprised at how smooth it went. I kept thinking what it would be like to put all of an American school staff together like that for three days....yea...my imagination made up some pretty crazy stories! But with the staff here at BIS, it was a time of prayer, encouragement, vulnerability and honesty so that we can come back refreshed and ready for the second half of the year. Along with our time spent at the retreat, we did venture out to the town of Pirenopolis for dinner one night. Beautiful little town! And...here's a first....saw a Wandering Brazilian Spider. ...and I hope to never see one again!
And now that brings you up to date. I still struggle, still have my moments of difficulty, but if there is anything that I have learned recently (especially during my time alone at Christmas), is that God is always there. He is at work. He is orchestrating even the painful times for His glory. Things are looking up, my walk with Him is deeper than I ever imagined, and I am excited to finish the race out here in Brazil with His help. I am even looking at taking a Portuguese class so that I can do more than order food (which is a HUGE accomplishment!). But I would like to be able to actually converse with the bakery guy, the people at the Brazilian church I visited (and want to visit again), or even the taxi driver. But it is one step at a time. One step in the direction that God leads. Because wherever He leads, is where I want to be.
Blessings my friends!