More about Living in Sao Paulo

“Time wasted is existence, time used is life.” Young

So many things come to mind about our home in Tremembe da Cantareira in Sao Paulo, some of which I’ve mentioned in another posting. Those bits and pieces fit together as in a jigsaw puzzle and make sense of the story of our lives in Sao Paulo.

When I think of the house itself with its miniscule yard I recall the Papagaio bush that is the Pointsetta though we see them here as fitting in a flower pot. This bush stood some seven feet tall proudly displaying its red flowers that were about eighteen inches across. It was a welcoming sentinel standing guard to one side of our front door and across from the narrow car path down the hill. Nobody came to our home without passing through the wrought iron gate. Here I include a interesting recollection from the 60s; all dating by boys and girls was done one on each side of such a gate. Anything beyond that and a chaperon was there keeping a keen lookout for every move.

Stepping inside you came to our living room with its parquet wood floor. I mention that for those generous cracks between the pieces of wood were the world’s best breeding grounds for fleas. If the house was closed for a week or so, on returning we had a welcoming committee so very glad to see us. Yuk! Fleas, yes fleas would jump to our legs. Fleas may not be like grasshoppers but they sure can jump–then sink in their teeth. We kept them in check by waxing the floor and mixing in kerosene with the wax. But we always had that welcoming committee.

We had a small hi-fi set in the living room and among the materials sent us by the Home Bible League was a small record with one song with words that still deeply move me. “When we have exhausted our store of endurance, When our strength has failed ‘ere the day is half done, When we’ve reached the end of our hoarded resources, Our Fathers full giving has only begun.” With our demanding mission work that often seemed 24/7, Doris and I occasionally were bone tired. I’ll always recall walking the living room listening to that song with tears in my eyes. As I look back I recall many times when we both came to the end of our “hoarded resources.” But we are where we are to-day because of the Father’s full giving.

At that time we had an A.B.Dick copier that relied on a stencil made up on our office typewriter. The type on the typewriter had to be clean to cut the stencil so an old toothbrush did the job. The stencil was then lathered with black ink to run off copies. Cutting the stencil was a slow demanding work but somehow or other the cantankerous old copier was able to spew its black ink over a person’s hands and from there who knows where. It was with that machine that Doris printed up materials for a youth program that goes on functioning to-day in most of our churches.

One day while the missionary team was meeting in our home the children that were there went out to play in our back yard. Two boys, our son Vernon and Dan Owsley who were about six or seven years old, somehow found a way to take off the gas cap of our VW van. They discovered that when they dropped small stones into the gas tank those stones made an intriguing sound sliding down the long filler pipe. We never did remove those stones and in any case the VW ran quite well stones and all. And I assume the boys learned something about science.

Only a miniscule part of our lives now come to the surface from our time in Sao Paulo; those we call memories. We can never do the math about how much of our years there have profoundly shaped the lives of each one of our family. And we know only a little of how our lives influenced others. I do recall an incident in a church we built and where we ministered. Doris and I were visiting there years after living there—perhaps her last trip to Brazil. After the service a couple of grown men came and hugged her till she was breathless. Why this joy at seeing her? Well Doris had directed the Sunday School and the youth program. Those men had then been children and involved with Doris in those programs. The days from long ago just had to be expressed in special hugs. That reunion long ago imprinted on my mind says a good bit about our time in Sao Paulo.


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