25 Things I remember about Brazil

1. Taking wayyyy too long to get there - sat on the runway in H-town FOREVER and then sat again on the runway in Miami - as we watched our plane to Belo take off. Bummer. Overnight and a day in Miami - but far away from any beaches. Pure exhaustion. Thanks, AA, for finally getting us all on a flight at 11:30pm Friday night direct to Sao Paulo - what?? Then 3-4 layover in Sao Paulo before our little flight to Belo. Wow. But we made it!!!

2. Arriving in Belo Horizonte and meeting just about the most incredible people you could ever come across - biggest hearts, Miriam, Raquel, Byron, Samuel, Leandro - just to name a few of the most wonderful translators and friends you could have.

3. 1st church service outside Belo Horizonte - completely out of my element - jet-lagged to the kilt and in a foreign country and not speaking any sort of Portugese. But God can surmount any language barrier - to see the warmness & hospitality of the Brazilians - amazing.

4. 1st skit performed at that first church service - could not have gone more wrong!!! but they didn't care -they loved it!

5. Sunday morning church service where we were staying - my pastor Jim spoke through a translator. It was INCREDIBLE to hear him up there - and hear people respond to him in such a passionate way. God moved that morning. And moved me to tears. Before that service, I was completely questioning why I was there, how soon could I go home, etc etc. After that, I knew why I was there.

6. Ham & cheese sandwiches for breakfast with little mini bananas - the cutest things you will ever see - I was right at home b/c I have sandwiches for breakfast anyways, and not your normal breakfast fare of eggs/cereal/pancakes. I'm weird.

7. Rice & beans, rice & beans and more rice & beans. Enough said.

8. Talking to one of my fellow missionaries outside of the church the 1st morning and both of us looking at each in complete bewilderment - how did we get here/what do we do now/deer-in-headlights kind of thing. Feeling completely alone because everyone else was beside themselves with excitement to be there - and I can only speak for myself - but I was scared to death - and lonely and feeling completely and utterly inadequate. Had no idea what God was going to do with me down there.
8a. 6 or 7 days later, talking to that same missionary & both of us being so grateful to have been on this trip - total transformation in both of our lives. We did things we never dreamed we were capable of, all in His hands.

9. 1st time of performing skits in a park. In a park. In front of people who had no clue who we were but watched us b/c we were the crazy Americans in big Superman Jesus shirts. It was awesome. No stage fright whatsoever.

10. Driving around Belo Horizonte and then up into the hills - gorgeous!! When I managed to stay awake, it was beautiful. And sad at the same time, seeing slum upon slum upon slum.

11. First (and only bout) of sickness on about day 3 or 4 - can't remember now. Def not the most fun 6 hours of my life. Modesty at this point was completely out the window. Not that I am glad that other people got sick, but more people besides just me went down on successive days with stomach illnesses. I think there were only 2 that did not. SO IT WASN'T JUST ME. :)

12. Sleeping on a mat in a ballet studio in a slum area with the door locked/windows open in about 85 degree heat while recovering from #11. No sweating at all. That was the only scary part- being that dehydrated, that quickly.

13. First time to give testimony in Brazil - scary but awesome at the same time.

14. Driving home from an IMPACT one night after torrential rains - flooded all of the roads back - had to pull over and wait for the waters to recede. Would have been scary, but we were in a big bus so felt better about that. Got back about 11pm or midnight - and still had dinner waiting for us! Can anyone say "Rice & Beans"???

15. Eating every 5 hours. Seriously. All carbs. Thank Goodness for walking a lot of places b/c I seriously could have been waddling back to the states. But we had the sweetest and best food preparers EVER!! They were so worried about me having anything with egg in it and would specially mark my food so nothing would contaminate it.

16. My friend proudly returning from a grocery store one day with a diet coke tucked quietly in his backpack (ice cold, I might add) - this was after I had been talking obsessively about diet coke and had not had one in 4 or 5 days. Anyone who knows me - that is a record. I hit Sonic for a diet coke at least once a day if not more. And that doesn't even count for the number that I have at home in between. It's really pathetic. And boy, when I got that little present, I just leaped up and down. Small pleasures in life.

17. Me finally realizing that there was no need to blowdry my hair at night - curly/wavy and up was the way to go. What a relief! Shower and bed - and then wake up, throw on some clothes & concealor, put hair up and go ---- what?? Do people do this normally b/c I sure don't.

18. Ambien is a true god send when you are sleeping on a plastic mat in warm temperatures. You just don't care at that point. Oh, but man, I remember when we would get that rush of cool air around 2-3am and it was amazing - and cold!! Yummy!

19. Playing with the children at the orphanage - I had the opportunity to break out the ole soccer skills with all the boys - I am not sure they expected to see this little girl running around the court with them. I AM REALLY REALLY REALLY NOT GOOD AT SOCCER ANYMORE. Way uncoordinated. But they didn't care. They just thought it was fun that I tried. :)

20. Having those same kiddos perform a song for us about their home - it was amazing and drew tears.

21. Going to a church service outside Belo (one of the places my pastor had previously been) and having the most Spirit-inspired moments of my life. All I can say is God moved with me and in me and through me that evening. Incredible.

22. Eating ice cream in a parlor (and actually being allowed to do so - we weren't allowed to eat much of the food there, not knowing how it was prepared) - and it was delicious. One hour later, performing skits outside of the ice cream parlor and having to change in there. The ice cream which had smelled delicous and tasted as such before, no longer was as appetizing once you spent 2 hours in there... it's kind of like the Subway sandwich shop smell - and then it just clings. But performing and having people just watch and wait for us to finish so they could talk to us was so awesome.

23. Being invited into people's homes and having them share their lives with us - pictures of their families, their history, stories, etc. Most hospitable people I have ever met.

24. Performing our last night (after a day of mishaps) at a main plaza/square venue. Many more mishaps during those skits - mentally ill man walking around with a massive chunk of concrete in his hand threatning to throw it any of us - and many more that evening. But still, people heard our stories.

25. Leaving Brazil - never thought when we first landed that it would be so hard to do. I thought that I wouldn't be able to wait to get back on that darn plane and back to the US. But it was incredibly hard. You bond with people so quickly - especially our amazing translators - and it was hard to let go of that. Something about being unburdened & so out control of what's happening is incredibly freeing. In those 10 days, God truly worked on me to relinquish some of that death grip that I have on my life - always trying to remain in control - and I let go. Mostly :) I had my princess moments as we'll call them. But I did learn the meaning of "Let go, Let God", which before was just a really lovely sounding phrase that I would repeat and not believe or know the meaning of. I learned to listen to God when He speaks and not only just to listen, but to follow. He knows the plan. It is in His hands. We just have to move and act - and have faith. Easier said than done, yes. Easier for me done on foreign soil where I didn't have the comforts of home to fall back on or my "crutches" so to speak. No safety net. God, may the lessons that you taught me there continue to carry over here. God, would you watch over those amazing people we met? Continue to soften the hearts of even the toughest there - who seemingly have no hope. There is always hope - even in the darkest spots.

I could probably write a list of 100 things I remember/loved/or even loathed :) about Brazil - but it would probably bore my 2 readers that I have. So I will just remember and keep them in my heart. And pray that I never forget.


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