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Café Colonial

The church here is small and needs the help of the church district to pay for the pastor’s salary. Unfortunately even with that help they are in deficit every month, so to help raise funds they organized their first Café Colonial, some sort of tea party, Southern Brazilian style (most Lutherans in Brazil have some German origins via the South of Brazil).

In the week preceding the event many women (and some men) spent many days at a friend’s house preparing the dough for pão de queijo (cheese bread), and baking and decorating bolachas (cookies). D took upon himself to repaint the outside of the church. The building had been in need of a fresh coat of pain for a while now, but nobody took care of it. So now, with this public event coming up, it was an extra reason to just do it. The day before, the women were all in their own kitchen cooking and baking some more, while the men were coming and going here at the church, setting up the kitchen, the fridges, coolers, tables, chairs and two big tents. The café was planed to start on Sunday afternoon, but in the morning of the same day we were all up early doing some last minute preparations; decorating the tables, blowing up balloons, printing some bathroom signs (me).

The event was a success. The turn out was good, with a couple of visitors (extended family of church members) from outside of town and many locals who had never come to our church before, notably the mayor and hopeful candidates (there are municipal elections coming up), and of course the Catholic priest (we showed up at one of their party in June, so I suppose he considered it politeness to show  up at ours — or maybe that the way things are done in small town, who knows). There was way too much food (but at least there was no lack-of), and most importantly for the church finances the profits exceeded the expenses. They will be able to pay their part of the pastor’s salary until the end of the year…

Amidst all this, something else happened.

D received a Call to be pastor in his hometown of SJC!!! Aaah! Yes, we were certainly not expecting that anymore! First, of course , we couldn’t announce it to the congregation right away, right when they were in the midst of all the preparation for the Café Colonial.

When we first learned the news, we were shocked. It didn’t compute very well. I mean, we had dreamed, hoped and prayed for it since before coming to Brazil. We thought it was finally going to happen last year when the pastor had retired, but then how sad and disillusioned we had been when they called someone else. Well, apparently their new pastor didn’t stay very long, less than one year, before accepting another Call himself.

Now that it has started to sink in a little bit, we are very happy and excited about it.

D has accepted the Call.

We will be moving soon… How soon we don’t know yet as we have to see about housing arrangements (the church there does not own a house for the pastor). We hope to buy our own eventually but we will probably need to rent in the meantime. Then there is the matter of the moving truck and the packing… Oh, the joys of (re)packing!

The irony is that not so many days ago I was laughing with hubby saying that now that we had received the last piece of furniture (a sofa) and I was finally hanging pictures on the walls, it was probably time to move again!

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As provas

I have been writing and editing this post for so many days now that it’s starting to stale!

The children should usually be in school from 7am to 11am every morning, I say usually when I actually don’t really know what usually means here; there is always something or other to change that. For example, last week I saw a sign at the entrance of the school to ask parents of the afternoon shift to pick up their kids half an hour earlier than usual “because of the heat“. The heat! I don’t see how finishing classes half an hour earlier is going to change anything because the worst of the heat is early afternoon (around four is actually starting to get better), but I discarded the info since it didn’t concern me. However this week, there was a little note on the kids’ agenda informing parents that we should pick them up one hour earlier, everyday of the whole week, because they will have provinhas (little exams)… Please, can someone explain to me on which planet do preschools need the kids to have LESS hours of school in order to give them exams? I can’t even begin to understand. We must be living  on a parallel dimension.

The weather has indeed been very hot and dry. So dry that we all wake up coughing. The kids complain about their throat and nose. In Canada I would probably have bought a humidifier at the Walmart without a second thought, but here in a small town in Brazil, even if humidifiers do exist they are hard to find. One has to do many little stores around town and ask for it. Sometimes you are lucky, sometimes you have to wait for weeks for the next shipment. It’s a lot of work to spend money! Chatting with friends I have been told to leave a humid towel at the head of the bed before sleep. It did seem to help! Also, the damp towel was amazingly totally dry the next morning. Dry, dry, dry. I’m telling you.

Then, suddenly, it rained!


EDIT: To add to the endless list of school related complaints (sorry, I need to vent!). The following week, I was told on Monday that my kids wouldn’t have classes for the rest of the week because the results of their exams were satisfying. In other words, they were penalized for passing their exams. I am not complaining that the teachers take time apart for the students that need extra attention, but surely there is a way to deal with advanced students (not that my kids are particularly advanced, they simply know their letters and numbers, I think that the rest of the kids must be particularly behind) and keep them studying some more while doing catch up with the tardies, no?


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Adios, Abuela

As I might have told you, my mother and all her side of the family live in Argentina. I was born there but we moved out of the country when my brother was only a couple months old. I was not even two years old. Growing up we did not visit regularly. Some long-distance families keep visiting every year, back and forth between their native and adoptive countries, but we didn’t. It just happened randomly, Abuela (grandma, in Spanish) would come spend a couple of months in France one year (I believe my dad paid her plane ticket), then some years later my mom, brother and I went to spend a couple of months in Argentina.

The last time I visited Abuela and Argentina, I was twenty years old. That was 15 years and a half ago. I had not seen my grandmother in many years (six or seven years prior). Since I was learning to dance tango in Montreal and had some money saved in my bank account (I was a very frugal student), all the reasons were there for a visit. I paid my own plane ticket to spend Christmas, my birthday and the New Year with Abuela, my aunts, uncle, cousins, all that side of the family (family and familiar), that I so seldom see. Three glorious weeks filled with warmth, family, fun and humidity (summers in Buenos Aires are unbearably hot and humid). At the end of my stay I remember telling l’Abuela that I wouldn’t wait another seven more years to come back. I would visit again in two years time at the latest. It wasn’t really a promise, but that was my plan.

However, a whirlwind called LIFE happened: I got married, my parents divorced, my mother moved back to Buenos Aires herself (she has lived in her current apartment for the past 10 years, but beside the pictures, I didn’t know her place). First, hubby and I didn’t have money at all, then when we did have a bit of it, we finally traveled to Brazil one year, to France the other, Argentina was next on the list, but… then the twins were born! Closely followed by the move number one, two, another baby, three, four… Sigh. You get the picture.

A couple of weeks ago, instead of our weekly Skype chat with my mother, I found an email informing me that Abuela was in the hospital. At the age of ninety-three, she was dying. I cried so much the following two days that I lost track of time. She was the only grandparent that I had known. It seemed logical, yet unreal, that she was going. It was time. Same Time that passes by flying, or Time that stands still, now Time was a finality. D asked me if I wanted to go. He could take care of the kids while I went to spend a few days with my mother. After all these years, it seemed that the opportunity had arisen. I don’t know if I would get there on time, but I thought I should try to see Abuela one last time.

And so, leaving my husband and children behind for the first time of our lives, I flew from Brasilia to São Paulo to Buenos Aires, on a Saturday, and hugged my mother very early on a Sunday morning. I had not seen her since the twins were babies, in Saskatchewan, five years ago.

Very early the following day, we took the train to the suburbs to visit the clinic.

Abuela was paralyzed and couldn’t speak, but when I arrived she moved her eyes and tried to lift her shoulder. I stayed many hours at her bedside. I prayed. I sang hymns. I held her hand. It was peaceful. In the afternoon she seemed to be sleeping.

The following morning my mother and I went to see the house where I have my earliest memories. They will most likely sell it. At noon, we were just out of the house on our way to the clinic, when we received the call from my aunts that l’Abuela had passed away.

It was a sad vacation, but a happy one too. Everyone was telling me that she had been waiting for me. I don‘t know if that should be any comfort, but I am so thankful that I was given the chance to be one last time with her.

Bittersweet memories.

La casa de l’abuela.