Vila Rica

Esperar

My husband serves two small churches (and its members) which are both missions of the bigger church next door, the one responsible for our housing and his salary. On Saturday afternoon, he conduct services in some sort of “community room” of a neighborhood that is actually way out in the countryside. It might be in the same municipality, but I don’t see how that it qualifies as a neighborhood. There are power lines but no running water. Their water comes from their own well (they drink it, though I’m not sure they should — the color is questionable).

To get there you need to drive dirt roads, real dusty (or muddy) roads among papaya plantations, sugar canes, mandioca (cassava, manioc), and cows fields. The building is a very simple wooden thing (serves as a school room during the week too, I believe). Nobody thought about planting some shades around and it gets pretty toasty inside, especially in the middle of the afternoon when there is no wind. Very easy to fall to fall asleep during classes or, in our case, the sermon (and I must clarify that my husband says pretty interesting stuff, so that won’t be my reason to fall asleep, eh!). Thankfully the benches are hard (very uncomfortable!), and it’s on top of a hill so the view is pretty!

On Sunday morning, D serves the other small church which is in another neighborhood closer to the city center. It’s all paved roads to get there… until the actual street where the church building is being built.

D has finally announced that he declined the calls from the churches in Rio Grande do Sul and Bahia.

The past 6-weeks have been difficult for him. Though he wasn’t stressed or worried, he has been very sick. First with the same virus that got to the children and I with flu-like symptoms. It sounds benign enough, but over here those can be brutal. He was coughing so much that he has not been able to sleep for 3-4 days. He’s had a complete voice loss and consequently had to cancel the Saturday and Sunday services one week-end, and the radio program twice. He slowly started getting better, but it seems that now he caught some sort of stomach-flu.

All this while trying to decide upon our next move.

The choice was between a good and certain move (to Santiago, RS — the South but still a small town, twice smaller than here!), and waiting some more for a better but still unsure move (to SJC, SP — a bigger city). The congregation there is finally in the process of calling a new pastor, but the process is long and windy. So it’s still waiting game.

Where we live now

The houses across the street from us.

For some time now I’ve been thinking of taking more pictures of my surroundings. It is not a secret that I am not in love with this town. It’s too hot, it’s too loud. I feel sick half of the time, I feel tired the other half… But in a matter of weeks (or months) we will be living somewhere else. It will be good, therapeutic even, to remember what we have left behind in “the North”. As a pastor, my husband is provided lodgings for him and his family by the church which calls him. Churches that don’t have a house for the pastor are required to add an extra “living allowance” to his salary to cover for rent. In this case, the church property here is big and includes three houses around the church building. On one side there is a large house where lives the other pastor with his family, on the other side are two more smaller houses. One of them was rented out when we arrived, so we were dumped placed in the one in the street corner.

The house in the street corner.

Three bedroom, plus one office (for the pastor), two bathrooms, a large living-dining room, a kitchen and a despensa (utility room). All this sounds good, right? Then reality kicks in.

The front of the half destroyed house.

When we arrive, we realise that half the house has been destroyed, there is therefore no garage for the car or no space for storing the bikes (the utility room is an improvised narrow corridor at the back of the house). D has to park the car in the church parking lot and our bikes go in the small office. Daily frustrations. The roof is leaking in the living room and the kitchen. Inside puddles every day during the rainy season.

A crude wooden fence has quickly been built before our arrival on the side of the house. It’s quickly growing funny looking mushrooms and… Well, it’s ugly and plain depressing.

(I wanted to find a picture to show the ugliness of the fence, but instead I found a video with a magnificent trio — and the unfamous side of the house).

Oh, how I hated that house! The church assembly had the vague idea of building something in the vacant space between the two houses, but now three years later and still nothing has been decided.

View of the back of the house from the church parking lot (aka. the playground).

We have since moved to the other house, the one that was rented out.

The “new” house is smaller, but better. The three boys need to share a bedroom, but we can fit the bikes in the despensa and the car in the “garage” (over here houses have a carport, rather than a garage). Not being in the street corner is also a big improvement for our privacy and the noise level.

Where we live now.

Ah, the noise level. I haven’t mentioned it? No? How could I not? As you might imagine, Brazilians are a noisy bunch. They like to party! Share the noise joy with everyone! No matter if it’s a holiday or a birthday! Very early morning or very late at night! I used to think that I wouldn’t mind and fit perfectly, but… Do you see where this is going?

We have average temperatures above 30°C / 90F everyday, all year. This guy, with his long sleeves and helmet, must be melting and swimming in his own sweat , don’t you think? I think too. But, hey, no sun burns!

I woke up suddenly many times at 3AM (yes, three-o-clock in the morning!) because an *sshole passed in front of the house with VERY LOUD music in his car (even if our bedroom is in the back of the house!). Understand that everyone sleeps (or not) with the windows open all the time, while most cars have their windows closed to keep the air conditioning in. The loudspeakers in the said cars are huge, HUGE. The kind that shake the car, the walls of the houses and everything in between… Then, there is also the matter of the advertising trucks, cars and motorcycles (again with very loud LOUDSPEAKERS) that pass all around town, and obviously right in front of the house too, every day except most week-ends. I have vowed not to enter any of the shops that use such invasive advertising, and I’m not alone. Even if those are the larger stores in town and I am badly in need of new shoes.

Hopefully this is the first of a couple more posts about this town of Rondônia. The beginning of the end of where we’ve lived for almost three years. Where I have sleepwalked most days, but failed to soundly sleep for at least half of it (Not for lack of trying). ;) Next time I’ll show you where the boys go to school. Then the one and only public park of this town! Oh, the excitement! Fasten your seat belts!

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Rebondissements

After writing my last post, last week, D received an email from a certain “Paz” (Peace) Lutheran Church informing him that they were sending him a Call. “Paz” is the name of the congregation in Rio Grande do Sul. He was a bit confused because he had just communicated with one of the person responsible over there. He was about to reply in the lines of “yes, thank you, I was already aware of it”, when he realizes that this email is not from the first congregation, but from another one -with the same name- in the South of Bahia (North East of Brazil) !

In the same breath, he has a chat with his parents over Skype, and they tell him that the pastor of their home church in SJC (state of São Paulo) is finally retiring. We were not expecting it anymore. It seems there will be another Call from them very soon as well! So, after many months of waiting for an “exit”, many prayers, supplications and despair (!), he receives not only one or two, but THREE Calls at once! Unbelievable!

In our most delirious moments, we imagined that something like this would happen, but never really thought it could actually become reality… There is Someone (ô God Almighty) that has sense of humor up there! ;)

Where will be our next destination? Rio Grande do Sul, São Paulo or Bahia?

Après avoir terminé mon dernier post, la semaine passée, D reçoit un email de la congrégation “Paz” (paix) qui lui annonce qu’ils lui envoient un appel. “Paz” est le nom de la congrégation de Rio Grande Do Sul. Il était un peu confu puisqu’il venait de communiquer avec une des personnes responsable là-bas. Alors qu’il s’apprétait à répondre que “oui, oui, merci, je suis déjà au courant”, il réalise que cet appel n’est pas de la première congrégation avec qui il était en contact, mais d’une AUTRE congrégation du même nom qui se trouve au sud de Bahia (région Nord-Est du Brésil) !

Dans la même foulée, il discute avec ses parents sur Skype, et ils lui apprennent que le pasteur de leur congrégation à SJC (région de São Paulo) va finalement prendre la retraite. On n’y croyait même plus. Il semblerait que d’ici peu il y aura un troisième appel ! Donc après avoir attendu (et prié, et supplié, et desespéré !) des mois et des mois pour qu’une opportunité “de sortie” se présente, voilà qu’il reçoit non seulement un, ni deux, mais TROIS appels d’un coup !

Dans nos instants de délires, on s’imaginait qu’une chose pareille pouvait arriver sans vraiment y croire. Il y a vraiment quelqu’Un (ô Dieu Tout-Puissant) avec un sens de l’humour là-haut! ;) Donc, où sera notre prochaine destination ? Rio Grande do Sul, São Paulo ou Bahia ?

Suspens et boule de gomme.