Canadian Parents in Brazil

I offer an up-to-date observation: “The rebellious battles of yesterday were against the gods—now they are against reason.” Anon

Most of us would raise our children differently if we could take all the wisdom of our years and rewind time to apply them to those days long past. Doris no doubt was wiser than I but I wonder at times if our children were a thought added on to the incessant work demands of missionary work. Yet because we lived in a couple of other countries I am sure those experiences gave them the ability to adapt and be leaders in the lives they now live. ‘Nuff said about that.

When we lived in the interior of the State of São Paulo and our son was going on four, I figured that every boy needed a wagon. I suppose the reason was that I recall hauling a wagon around the yard when I was small. I couldn’t buy him one in Brazil—in fact at that time I never saw one in a store. In any case money was too scarce for toys. So somewhere I found the wood and wheels, had some welding done at a shop and violá, there was the wagon. I painted it up red but I don’t recall just how much he used it—perhaps my memory is not up to maintaining pictures sharp for such a long time. In any case within the year we were transferred back to Canada. That is another story of suitcases and making do without a place that was really our own. That makes me wonder how secure our children felt during that time.

Anyway during that period of the “wagon” our daughter Monica was old enough so that she picked up Portuguese and made friends with other children around the village. Neves Paulista was a sleepy little place and we never worried if she ate lunch some place and arrived home a half day later. I’ve mentioned this once but bears repeating–some un-dressed Barbie dolls came from the U.S. and she learned to make clothes on our sewing machine. She was not yet five and it was with scant directions from Doris, but she made up paper patterns, cut the cloth and sewed it all up.

A little less than ten years later we were reassigned to Haiti so there was no option but to sell everything we owned in Brazil except the clothes we needed to travel. We used that money to buy tickets for our family to visit Europe with a hop on over to Egypt for a longer stay. Why Egypt? Well some of my family were missionaries there—Velma my sister, Norman Cooke her husband and their children.

We arrived in Lisbon the middle of February, a time when the cold would turn off any tourists. Monica had been given a warm coat in Brazil but we had to buy an overcoat for Vernon in Lisbon, Portugal. Then on to Madrid, Spain for a few days. At the pensão we found dinners were served from eight or later—but they made an early exception for our children. With our Portuguese we did fairly well being understood by the Spaniards. Then we travelled by train North to Hendaya to catch another train to Marseille, France; then a day or so later to Rome. It was cold In Hendaya and windy! The problem: we had to wait a number of hours on the open train platform without even a windbreak. If our children remember that experience they must wonder about our parenting and ability to make plans.

When we talked of visiting Rome our children made it clear they wanted to see the Catacombs. The reason might have been that the Catacombs had come up in conversations or in a church somewhere. So we descended into the eerie dwelling places the early Christians dug for themselves when persecuted in Rome. Of interest too was the Appian Way so we found a vehicle to take us out to the place where Peter’s footsteps are supposedly visibly imprinted in the stones. It was there that the Christ is thought to have confronted Peter and asked, “Quo Vadis?” Peter then returned to Rome to be crucified.

We flew from Rome to Cairo but we did not have our family at the airport to meet us. Why? We were a week later than planned and quick communications did not then exist. It had happened that I came down with appendicitis in Rio the day we were to fly out to Europe and the following morning had surgery.  When I think of that delay I earnestly thank God I did not have the attack somewhere on our travels through Europe or perhaps on that cold forsaken train platform in Hendaya. Landing at the Cairo airport, we had no idea how to get from there up to Assiut. But our family had arranged for friends to meet the plane from Rome every day till we arrived. They got us safe on a train to Assiut and finally, yes finally we arrived at the mission residence.

The reason I mention some highlights of that trip is that we dragged our children from South America to Europe and then to Africa. Then from Egypt we touched down in the Holy Land for a few days; following an overnight in Lebanon we travelled across Europe and finally back to Canada. As I look back with the perspective of my eighty-five years I wonder if all those experiences of our children had tagging along with us was an education in successful living. Or something else? If it was something else they have done well to conquer it all and do O.K. in life.

 

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One thought on “Canadian Parents in Brazil

  1. David N.

    What wonderful travels to look back upon! I wondered about how expenses were paid when you had your surgery. I’m sure your children have both fond memories and stories to tell about travelling with missionary parents!

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