“A person shows what he is by what he does with what he has.” Anon
Glimpses Of Our Homes In Brazil–continued
About the end of 1957 we moved to the village of Neves Paulista way out in the midst of coffee fields where some of those farms had a million coffee bushes. What was to become our home was purchased by the mission because of the hall on the street. But I saw the rooms behind could be changed and space added on to meet our needs—more or less—and to be our home. We moved into this two bedroom apartment when the kitchen had little in it except bare walls. After that experience Doris vowed never again to move into a house anywhere until it was finished—and I heartily agree to this reasonable idea. At the time she accepted what we had to live in for the church planting there needed our help. She, with our two young children, moved in with our meagre furniture all with good natured aplomb.
We built to one side of the house a carport that served as a roost for our parrot. The parrot was mostly green with a bit of yellow but not a big bird. However when it called at daybreak I am sure it woke our neighbours but in any case it got us up and going. It repeated what it heard most often–that was us calling our daughter Monica. Only that bird seemed to have a built-in PA system. It called M-O-N-I-C-A again and again! The parrot met a bitter end when a cat got it while we were on furlough in Canada. The lady who was keeping it for us felt so badly. Were her tears for us or the parrot? O.K. it was for both I am sure. During our second term in Brazil we had a Macaw—lovely iridescent blue and yellow. At the present time, those birds are protected but I am told there is still a black market for them.
Generally we had a maid to help with the housework for both of us were busy with services in Neves, two other cities and on the coffee farms. The first was an older lady who stayed in a small building in our yard. I recall her son Nabor, who was in his mid-twenties, had a terrible stroke I suppose from carrying those sixty kilo sacks of coffee on his head. Our next maid was a girl from a farm nearby and since she was trustworthy I recall Monica going with her to visit in her home. Even as a small child Monica adapted quickly to Portuguese and the area culture. In any case that was pretty well all our children knew. They say a child will choose to learn Portuguese over English for English is more difficult. Oh yes, our children understood English and if we wanted to be sure they got the idea, why we then used Portuguese. There is much to tell you of our life in that home but we move on.
While in Neves the mission requested we take our furlough so we packed up for Canada. After that year I picked up our stuff that had been stored in Neves. But the roofing tiles had leaked in the shed so not much was salvageable. But that was no great loss for some of what we owned I had put together out of the rough lumber from boxes that we had used. Before we had returned to Brazil, the mission group there decided we should go to Rio to plant a church. Our home there was a two story with a full basement—a nice home with marble steps up to our bedrooms. Those steps bring back memories. We naively trusted in a girl that was looking to work as a maid but after a while we found out that she was nasty with our children. Doris and I recall coming home and finding Vernon sitting sadly on the top step of those stairs holding his head in his hands with his elbows on his knees. He was waiting so anxiously for us to return to free him from his fears of this maid. It was there that Vernon and Doris both came down with hepatitis—that story I’ve already posted in some detail.
In my mind’s eye I see so clearly our front room of our home in Méier, Rio, with a friend Noble C. lying on the couch. It was a Sunday morning and he was sick with food poisoning. We had known him from the interior and he had come to preach at our rented hall during Sunday services. As a good host I had taken him to a nice Chinese restaurant the day before in the Copacabana section of Rio. I gather that meal was not their finest for we both were sick. But I was able to navigate that day but without my friend and his accordion. On a better note I see Monica practicing her piano lessons in our living room. Yes, there were good times for our family in Rio for the city was and still is the most beautiful city ever. Those many wonderful beaches make Rio known world-wide. We often frequented some of those quiet isolated beaches that are now becoming widely known. Yes, missionary work is tough.
After a couple of years or so in Rio we were called back to São Paulo. Our home was in a section a half hour from the rural area where some of the missionaries lived and worked at the seminary. Monica needed bedroom furniture so we did what? Well we ordering it made locally with skilled marcineiros—carpenters. The pieces were lovely and well made but all was left behind when we returned to Canada to be posted to Haiti. We sold most everything and that was a bit sad, but the nice part was–with that cash we bought tickets for our family to visit parts of Europe, my sister Velma and her family in Egypt and some of the Holy Land. I must not forget the teenager Marlene that we took into our home during a difficult time in her young teen years. Yes, she helped us too though we accepted her as a daughter. She had a talent for music and she’d practice Monica’s piano lessons and learn them. Years later she became a lay minister and one of the organists at a big Baptist church in the interior of the State. Isn’t it interesting how small streams become huge rivers?
When we shut the door for the last time on that São Paulo home we entered a new life for we were transferred to Haiti. That is a strange story in many ways but I will not post anything at this time about our lives there. These postings will continue about Brazil with a number of re-posts that most readers have not seen. A Brazilian couple, who were almost like family, dropped by this Sunday past and our conversations with them might strike fire for some new postings. We’ll see.