Brazilian Adventures

Sitting on the other side of an adventure like no other I’ve had. My body and mind are tired, but I’m on the upswing, and I find myself reflecting on all that has happened. I’m not even sure I have the words. There are so many levels to what I am feeling.

A couple of months ago, we got an email from Mark Nelson, inviting us to join him and a small team of people from Kensington on a trip to Brazil. It would involve teaching, drama, music, and building relationships with people at churches in Brazil. Such an honor to be included on a trip like this. I really didn’t fully understand what the trip was about and would only really get it once we were here.

A few short weeks later, plans were in full swing. Passports, Visas, photos, team meetings to plan what God was asking us to share once we got here, learning about the culture. So much unknown – it was exciting and intimidating all at the same time. Our kids would stay with Nana and Pop – they would enjoy their last week of summer vacation with them, experiencing their own blessings that will be memories the rest of their lives.

The time came, and our flight left for Brazil. It will be so hard to put into words all we have experienced here! I will go obsessive-compulsive crazy unless I just make a list. So here we go. Memories, Learnings, and other Amazing Notes!

Arrival in Sao Paulo airport
Travel by bus to the Matiz Hotel, where we stayed for most of our trip
Stopping at a “rest area” – feeling totally out of place, wondering how to say “bathroom” in Portuguese
Meeting instantly friendly, hospitable people
Small time of rest before dinner together
Attending the Church Planters’ Conference, meeting with pastors from all over Brazil to learn about Reflection and Passion
Headsets with English interpreters
Great joy and laughter and welcoming smiles from the worship team and leadership team
Hearing Ryan called “Jesus” and seeing him engage with new friends with joy
Hanging out in the speakers’ room, meeting new pastors from Brazil and the US
Tommy, Michael, the hospitality ladies, Cool shirts for each of the speakers to wear onstage
Learning to sing along in Portuguese, which probably sounded nothing like it was supposed to
Eating new foods – Brazilian breads, pastries, fruits, juice – always food, always something new to try
Nespresso – learning about tiny cups of espresso
Wondering if we’d ever get a “real” cup of coffee again
Figuring out that a little espresso becomes more than enough over time
Split-second thoughts that maybe bigger is not better – thanks America! 🙂
Watching our team interact with new friends
Listening to Mike and Danny play music with amazing Brazilian musicians
Hearing Mark and Steve talk about vision and mission for church planting
Seeing onetimeblind videos at the conference
Marveling at the power of Jesus to use the ministry He gave us in faraway places
Feeling a rightness in my spirit that God is moving and He’s chosen us to be part of it
Watching Steve be totally into his volunteer rap
Watching the conference volunteers go all out in every area
“Obridagado, Mr. Roboto”
Meeting Tati and Felipe and Sonia and Ricardo and the musicians and Tommy and many, many other fascinating people
Eating meals together in beautiful homes
Experiencing the hammock restaurant, ordering meals totally based on someone else’s recommendation
Guarana
Hammocks decorating restaurants and homes
Learning to converse in Portuguese
Engaging in a new culture without reserve
Frozen acai with granola and bananas
Crazy roads that seems to go in circles
Conserving energy in hotel rooms – needing a key to turn on the lights
Small nosebleeds every so often, drinking extra water
Carrying around a super huge bottle of water
Laughing because Tati says that’s weird
Loving that God instantly bonds people together
Feeling a kindred-ness with the women of Brazil
Meeting girls who sweet and funny and boy crazy
Pizzerias with pizza that is delicia and unique and perfect
Alphaville and gated communities
Eating our big meal of the day at lunch
Farofa, pizza with buffalo cheese, dessert at every meal
Outdoor kitchens and brick ovens
Creating festive, hospitable atmospheres in homes that feel so comfortable as a visitor
Learning to let go of self-consciousness and embrace the new
Learning to let down my guard and talk to people who speak little to no English
Surprise birthday parties, festive songs, complete joy
Giving the first piece of cake to someone of my choice, a Brazilian tradition
Seeing pure generosity when guitars and cahones are given away without a second thought
Experiencing messages through translators, giving talks with translators helping
Teaching a drama class and loving it!
Loving the idea of breaking ideas down to convey them simply
Hearing “Mr. Know-it-All” in Portuguese
Understanding the hunger of the Brazilian churches to embrace drama
Wondering how I ever became someone God would use onstage
Thanking God for Ryan and his confidence and faith and genuineness and knowledge
Loving to minister with my husband
Laughter and joy and “Legal!”
Remembering that people everywhere love it when you connect to them personally
Tying in present moments to ministry onstage – and helping people feel loved
Serving together, on equal footing, understanding that we all are unique and have much to offer
Working on Christmas with Renee and Nancy
Loving the girl-power that came when they got to Campinas
Hearing about the powerful work and promising future in Racife
More food. More laughter. More fun.
Young boys who make rainbow loom bracelets for my kids
Meeting for a service in a gym with a boxing ring
Speaking Spanish to a Portuguese audience while Ryan lifts up my dress to fix my mic (thankful for leggings!)
Getting a nosebleed onstage
More surprise birthday fun
Sweet earrings from Sonia and Cebele
Talking about real stuff and understanding women everywhere share universal struggles
Tons of new Facebook friends to keep in touch with
Loving Brazil and loving the future possibilities
Feeling sad to go home but ready to see my kids

All of these are memories and joys and learnings. And just when I thought it was over, I woke up the next morning with an uncontrollable nosebleed. I’d had them periodically over the week, mostly due to the dry air. Not long before our trip, I had a sinus surgery that was a fairly minor procedure. I’d had some minor nosebleeds through the week, but from Wednesday until Sunday, I hadn’t had any – mostly, I think, due to God’s faithfulness in answering the prayers of many of my girlfriends! Sunday night, I had another one. And then, when I woke up Monday morning at 5:30am, it came in full force. We ended up at the hospital, in the ER, and undergoing another surgery that kept us in Brazil for another week. It was definitely scary, and I had many obstacles, but the week was such a blessing that I can’t imagine it any other way. I’m thankful for God’s healing and provision and blessings in the midst of struggle. The team went home on Monday, and Ryan and I stayed. So many more memories that my list-loving self has!

Out-of-control nosebleed
Waking Ryan and trying not to freak him out
Getting a little freaked out cuz the bleeding wouldn’t stop
Wondering what was going on
Filling a trashcan with blood, vomiting blood, feeling weak
Calling doctors in Michigan, calling Ricardo, knowing something wasn’t right
Realizing we were headed to the ER, in Brazil, to a very unfamiliar environment
Feeling scared and out of breath and thankful to have Ryan in charge
Riding in the car to the hospital
Feeling thankful for Ricardo
Hearing that Agrecio was coming
Learning he’s the top ENT in Brazil
Hating the feeling of bleeding for 4 hours
Hearing the voice of Tati going to bat for us with the nurses
Feeling such relief that an ER doctor came
Hating that the doctor came and wondering how I could still be bleeding
Passing out on the ER bed, having a panic attack
Agrecio coming to the hospital
Seeing him face to face with me, hearing “This is very scary, but it is not dangerous.”
Feeling peace that he was there
Heading to surgery, wheeling down a hall with other surgical rooms, wondering what was happening
Feeling the drugs kick in
Waking up in another room, recovering from surgery
Learning I’d lost a lot of blood
Learning my hemoglobin was at 8, which was severely low
Thankful I was done bleeding
Thankful for drugs
Thankful for Ryan and Agrecio and Tati and Sonia and Ricardo and Carol
Feeling loopy and talking without any comprehension of what I was saying
Hearing Ricardo and Sonia praying over us in Portuguese
Feeling the love of Jesus through his people
Amazed at the women who stayed all day, every day to translate and care for me and love on us
Visitors who brought chocolates and flowers
Tulio, Eugene, calls from Jess and Emilee and Mom and the kids
Asking for pain meds in the night, only to have my temperature taken over and over
Learning how to say “dor de cabesa” so I could ask for pain meds in the night
Sleeping forever
Hearing Sonia laugh softly and soothe my fears and smooth my hair
Hearing Tati laughing and caring and loving
Wondering how our new friends could be so selfless
Wanting to be more like our new friends
Going back to the OR to have the packing removed
Wanting more drugs
Riding in wheelchairs
Going home, finally, to stay with Ricardo and Sonia
Loving the peace and beauty of their house
Meals on beautiful trays with delicious food
Gorgeous water pitchers and a peaceful room to sleep in
Trusting Ryan to take care of everything
Feeling so loved
Feeling so weak
Passing out in Ryan’s arms
Realizing recovery was going to be long
Making small strides every day, relaxing downstairs
Talking to the kiddos on FaceTime
Feeling so thankful for mom and dad and friends at home
Knowing our kids were starting school and doing well and in such good care
Sleeping more
Loving Emilee the dog
Loving the generosity of Sonia and Ricardo and Levi and Tati and Carol
Desserts, espressos, iron-building foods
Sitting outside
Learning so much more about Brazilian culture
Reflecting on love and hospitality and the church
Visiting Agrecio at his high-class office
Feeling thankful that this man had started going to Chacara Primavera just a few months ago
Praying that God would move mightily in his life
Feeling totally humbled that he gave his services for free
Eating delicious meals and resting in hammocks
Lunch with Dan and Christine and their family
Pizza and movie night with Tati (and Rodrigo on FaceTime!)
Eating more frozen acai
Reading
Wheeling around the mall in a wheelchair with Carol and Eduardo
Wondering how there could be so many people in one place
Feeling exhausted but thankful
Looking at photo books of beautiful trips
Eating with Ricardo’s parents and family
Laughing with joy
Healing enough to get a flight to America
Feeling so grateful for our time with our new Brazilian family
Loving that we will be forever connected
Saying goodbye with the hope that we’ll see each other soon
Feeling that goodbyes are hard
Feeling forever changed
Feeling loved and blessed
Riding to the airport with John
Learning more about the culture
God providing a free upgrade to first class
Arriving safely home
Seeing our kiddos and family and friends
Feeling thankful for my mama and daddy
Feeling thankful for our friends and family
Feeling thankful for meals that have been coming every day
Learning to receive God’s blessings
Resting and sleeping and resting and trying to do more each day
Feeling thankful for Ryan, for his steadiness and love and for him giving up an amazing trip to Canada to stay with me
Wondering how these words could ever describe the love I have in my heart

So many things. So many blessings. So many memories. And it’s still going on. I will be forever changed by all that has happened. I am happy to think of what’s happened, and I’m excited to know it’s not done yet. God has quite literally shown Ryan and me what His kingdom on earth looks like. I pray that we will be faithful to join Him in the moments to come.