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Vale do Paraíba

(Uriel turned five! He had a party with his grandparents, uncle and tía — it feels so good to be surrounded by family!)

Now reporting live (meaning once in a while, really) from SJC, state of São Paulo, Brazil.

We have  officially moved more than one month ago already, and a lot has happened. It has been a whirlwind of packing (boxes & luggages), cleaning before and after, traveling, unpacking, school registration, vaccinations, transferring bank account, changing addresses, etc… I am only barely starting to catch my breath.  It was the second time in one year, and though all moves, big or small, are exhausting, this one was in a category of its own.

The house where we are now has been rented for three years. That is a relief in itself, because at least we know that we will stay here, in the same house, for the next three years. One very unsettling aspect of our lives so far had been NOT KNOWING for how long we would stay somewhere: a few months or a few years? We didn’t know. We couldn’t get too comfortable.

Another big relief has simply been to get things done that had been dragging for so long because we have been living in remote locations.

Examples:

The oven light bulb had fried when we were in Rondônia and I had not been able to find a replacement. I haven’t been able to look at my baking for MORE THAN ONE YEAR. In the grand scheme of things, it’s no big deal, I know, but still I like to have things in working order around the house. Here, I walked down the street to a small electronics shop and found what I was looking for in mere minutes. I couldn’t believe how easy it had been! In SJA (Goiás), I had to go through all the small stores of the small town for every single stupid little thing that I needed, and sometimes I wouldn’t even find it. It was exhausting.

The same miracle (?) happened with our fridge. We had bought a brand new big fridge in Rondônia that had stopped working after only 2 years . We suppose that because of the many power cuts, uneven current, and the constant heat and humidity, some electrical circuit had fried. In SJA, we called a repair guy who charged us for the visit, told us that he needed to order the defecting piece, but never showed up again. In the mean time we just used that big piece of appliance for storage… (Again, no big deal, but hey, I don’t like to live like that). Here a repair guy didn’t charge us for the visit and came back a week later with the replacement piece. And voilà! The fridge is working!

Oh, oh. And there is more!

There is a cyclovía (a BIKE PATH!!!) in our neighborhood, a real bike path, just for bikes, right in the middle of the main avenue!!!! (There is another one too, but I don’t use it as much). Did I tell you I like to bike? I love my bicycle. Unfortunately, even if (mostly) poor people use that mean of transportation all around Brazil, a lot of small towns are not paved and touring the countryside is far from pleasant on dirt roads with random speeding vehicles trying to murder you. But here, I first took my bicycle for a spin when we had just moved in. I went from my house to my in-laws taking the bike path and I couldn’t — gah — I was so00 happy! I felt exhilarated, a bit on the crazy-happy way. I wanted to smile, laugh, sing! Oh, bliss!

There is more, yes, yes, much more to tell you, but it will be for another day.

Até mais! (See you later!)

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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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