New milestone today — Tess and I bought bus passes and took a bus to a new neighborhood, wandered, witnessed an almost dog fight, and attended a Brazilian church service. This might not sound difficult, BUT we don’t know the language, were dripping sweat, had little to no idea of where we were trying to go, and no internet on our phones. Learning to live here is a process!
First, the bus — We spent about ten minutes waving and speaking in halting Portuguese, soaked through with sweat, gesturing wildly to the woman behind bullet proof glass at the station before we got our cards. Then we didn’t know which bus to take. Someone helped. Then we didn’t know where to get off. Someone helped. Then we didn’t know where to go! We just kept walking. Until someone helped. :)
But we did it! We were about half an hour late to the service, and I felt disgusting and sweaty and apologetic as we accepted the welcoming kisses from the women at the church door, but we stood and danced and cried (at least I did) through an awesome worship service.
I love going to churches in different places. Most of my “other” experience has been in the wavy heat of Mexican churches; the passionate prayers, the smell of humans crushed together, the wailing of children. I know Spanish, so it’s a little easier to follow along, but I’ve always been so attracted to the unselfconscious style people worship in outside of the pretty conservative way I was raised in the predominantly white church. I also saw this kind of abandon in the really diverse church I attended in North Carolina.
At this particular service today in Brasil, despite the prevailing language barrier, and the linguist in me freaking out over how cool it was to understand maybe 40% of what was being spoken, it was one of the few times in my life I felt moved by the Holy Spirit, to worship in a language I didn’t know, and not give a single thought to what people around me were doing or thinking.
Fittingly, during in her sermon, the pastor said “God’s language is love. That’s all you need to know.”
At least, I think that’s what she said. At one point Tess and I looked at each other and realized she could have been saying “this is the end times. the doors are locking. it is time to drink the kool aid.” And we would have been stuck nodding and huddled over the Bible in my iphone, hoping we were in the right passage.
I’m not sure how long it takes to feel settled in a new place. The last time I felt settled anywhere was . . . I honestly couldn’t say. I’m always looking forward to the next thing, the next challenge, the next accomplishment. And what does it mean to you to “live” somewhere? I have a paycheck, I’ve mastered the grocery store, know where the mall is, can tell a taxi driver where I live, have tried the local food and drink (and eat and drink way too much of it), have a loop to run on, and rise with the sun. How do we measure belonging?
After church, we stayed for lunch, then managed our way home with a ride from a friendly stranger and a triumphant bus passage. Then I spent a few hours on the beach by myself, came home, lesson planned, went on a walk and then fell asleep in the hammock facing the sunset. Then I went to move my laundry from the washer to the dryer, feeling so damn proud of myself for my super productive day…and discovered I had somehow washed my clothes with a tampon, that had disintegrated all over itself in the washing machine.
So. Sometimes I still need an adult. And it’s not all beers and skittles to live here in Brazil. It’s a mission in more ways than I realized when I signed that contract. And it feels good. Whether is a two year contract like I signed, or a lifelong contract God has in surprise for me, at the moment, even when it’s scary and so different, or strange and so far from the plans I thought I had made for myself — it’s good. Doing what you know you’re designed for is good.