Saturday, April 26, 2008

Hello and Farewell

On Tuesday this week Rick and Heather Neufeld arrived for their 4 months of language learning in Brazil. After a few stops in Curitiba, the capital, for a bit of shopping and some supper, we took them to the little wooden house that will be their home for the next while. Despite the fact that it's rather small and has no special features, they seemed quite happy with it and thankful to have a place with dividing walls for a change (from the garage they moved out of).

One of our main priorities this week was help Rick and Heather settle in and and get plugged in to their new surroundings and the mission. Among many other things, they've learned how to get from their little house to the mission, the grocery store, the drug store, the pizza place etc. (and not necessarily in that order). Official Portuguese lessons start next week, but they've picked some up already.

Today we attended the mission's annual general meeting and met with the Brazilian gentleman who does translation work for our leadership training materials. Tomorrow is our last day, which is hard to believe! We're going to try to fit in a church service, lunch with friends, a bus trip to Curitiba's "feirinha" (a fun learning experience for Rick and Heather...and us :)), and last but not least, packing our suitcases! I'll be sad to leave Brazil and the people here but happy at the same time to go home. Home Jones! (One of those sayings that's been in our family a long, long time.)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Brazilian thing to do

Whenever we come to Brazil I meet a lot of people who have known my parents for years and years. A few of them remember me from my teen years and usually I remember them too. It’s nice to come back “home” and find old friends and family members—Brazilian family that is—since my parents took in and cared for abandoned and needy children for many years. Most of the children who came to us stayed in the orphanage, but some stayed in our home and wove their way into our hearts and lives as well as into my drawers and my private stash of Wriggley’s Spearmint gum! Many of these kids who grew up in the orphanage still live nearby: now married with families of their own. Their children are the Brazilian grandchildren my parents boast about. And me, well, I’m a long-lost auntie to them who they really don’t know that well, but they always hug me and kiss my cheek anyway when I’m around. It’s the Brazilian thing to do.

(Dad and Mom with some of their Brazilian family.)
This week I met a number of people for the first time who have been closely connected to my parents for many years and whose lives have somehow been impacted by the work in this community. The usual response to our introduction is, “Oh, you’re in Mozambique? How wonderful! And don’t you look just like your mom!” This is followed by “You know, your parents are like my own parents too” or “Take good care of these people, they’re very special” and so on. Everywhere we go in this little town of Itaperucu, there are people who at some point were helped by or served the mission, and when they see us they rush over to greet mom or dad and give them their latest family news and so on. There’s no hurry to move on. That’s how my trip to town with mom this Saturday went: greeting, meeting, talking—connecting in general—that's also the Brazilian thing to do.
(Mom with Elizete: one of the many women who attended sewing and literacy classes at the mission.)

(Kids in the lunch room at the Mt. Horeb mission school.)

Next week is our last week here, and it will likely be our busiest week as well. On Wednesday Rick and Heather (new SAM missionaries on their way to Mozambique) arrive from Canada to begin their 4 month stint of Portuguese language immersion. We’ll show them important places like banks and grocery stores, wonderful people, and the Brazilian way of doing things :).

On Saturday we will attend Mt. Horeb’s annual general meeting, and on Monday, the 28th, we head back to Africa with my dad. He will spend the next 2 months with us in Mozambique lending his expertise to just about every aspect of the work there. Mom and Lucas (yet another of their Brazilian kids) head from here straight to Canada. In the next week or so however, I’m sure there will be plenty more people to greet, meet and talk to!

Random traffic jam in Curitiba last week that we got caught in.

Monday, April 14, 2008


I guess it's the busyness of travel and the many kilometres between Africa and Brazil that have made last week feel like last year. We’re thankful for hassle-free, safe travels both for ourselves and for our luggage :). We arrived in Curitiba at 7:30 p.m. Brazil time—half past midnight our time--and since the meal we got on the plane was a wimpy one, we stopped at the “Boi Dourado” Churrascaria for some “real” food on the way to the Mt. Horeb mission! (A Churrascaria is rather like B-B-Q heaven. There’s a buffet with endless bowls of delightful salads and hot dishes, then spits of meat are brought to you at your table, hot off the coals, one fine cut after the other until you’re quite sure you can’t fit another bite in. Then they offer you some more!) (Top 2 photos: patterned beach sidewalks in Guaratuba, Parana)

Old family friends offered us the use of their home by the beach for a few days of R & R before we leapt headlong into the work that awaited us here. We strolled along beaches, dipped in the pool, ate great seafood prepared by Jose (our attentive host)

and admired once again the incredible variety in every aspect of life in Brazil from plant life to the people here. (This amazing specimen is from the banana plant family...I think)

Nicest of all, however, was to have a bit of family time away from the rush of city and mission life to catch up on personal news and mission business. And now that we’re over jet-lag and have caught up on sleep a bit, it’s time to get back to work.

(My mom and I: the Bobsy twin look was purely accidental.)

We left our perfect setting on the beach yesterday and came to Curitiba to share about Mt. Horeb’s work with a church cell group as well as to visit long-time friends (dentists) who worked with Mt. Horeb for several years. We are constantly encouraged by the enthusiasm these people show for the needs right here closest to them. Their insight into the developmental needs of poor people makes their input invaluable to us in our work.

Today we return to Mt. Horeb and a fairly busy schedule of meetings as well as continuing to seek and share information helpful to the work both in Brazil and Mozambique. And if we’re lucky, there may just be at least one more trip to the Churrascaria as well!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Saying good bye again

(Sunset at beach by Bique's, Beira, Moz.)

On Wednesday last week the nursing students from USASK said farewell to the mission staff, finished up some final packing and piled into the mission van with Dwight and I to head to Beira to the airport. I didn’t hear the singing I had predicted (a blog entry or two ago), so everyone was either tired or in a reflective mood—or both. They spent a great month with us on the mission and their departure was certainly not the highlight for anyone. But, it was time to move on nonetheless.
We went to Beira the day before their flight so they could have a bit of curio shopping time.
We found a nice place to stay that was a stone’s throw from the beach as well, so some beach time for them was a bonus. While they frolicked in the waves Dwight and I vegged (aka: napped) in our room. It’s an age thing I guess
Once we had said our goodbyes at the Beira airport, we headed home to pack for our own trip the following day (to South Africa then to Brazil). We had quite a bit of packing and organizing of things that will need follow-up in our absence, and not terribly much time to do it in! But we managed. Among other ongoing activities, the bricklayers will continue to put up walls at our house, follow-up immunization days were scheduled for the mission school children, and Unique Christmas gift distribution will take place as soon as the purchasing and transportation of the animals is complete. There really is never a dull moment!
We arrived at the Mercy Air base in Whiteriver on Friday and had a chance for some quality time with our Mercy Air family and other missionaries also on their way through from point A to point B. On Saturday morning we headed to Johannesburg where we’ll be until Tuesday when our flight for Brazil leaves. Today (Sunday) we’ve had a pleasantly quiet day and our plan is for more of that tomorrow as well. This is a picture of us at the breakfast table this morning. We were last one’s there :).

And here are a few little friends, Figaro (left) and Carmen, that we met while here. Figaro is rather strange looking with his crooked tail, ear that likes to flip backwards and pointy head which you can’t see that well in the picture. They’re very friendly and REALLY like us most when we’re eating. Hmm.
With that I’ll close for this time. Next blog entry: Brazil!