Hard Work Indeed

“Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.” C.S. Lewis

The Brazilian saying tells a story: “If you don’t have a dog, you hunt with a cat.”Some types of work differ from country to country but it gets done. That was especially true in the fifties and sixties when were in Brazil. We each adapt our work to fit our time and place in the world.

This lady from somewhere in the interior near where we lived made lace using what we might call bobbins. She rolled thread up on little sticks and tossed them back and forth on a pattern set by pins to form something beautiful. We might refer to this work as tatting but that requires a shuttle. Perhaps one of my Brazilian friends will put the right word to this work.

Making lumber out of logs with nothing more than a big saw and lots of muscle no doubt happened in the interior of Brazil in days past. These men worked in Paraguay not far from the border with Brazil, an area where a saw mills was not available.  I’ve always wondered if the two men flipped a coin to see who would get the dusty job of pulling the saw underneath the log. Talk about hard work!

Property lot lines were clearly set down wherever we lived in Brazil. That line was evident when a mason went to work using rough burned bricks to lay them in mortar. That mortar was red and nothing more than the soil made into what I knew as just plain mud, red mud. Yet when dry it held the bricks though the plaster over the bricks generally had lime added. It seems incredible but I knew a bricklayer that would lay up to 5,000 bricks a day. Of course it was a long day and it took two men to keep him supplied.                        Now a strange story that includes a wall, the wall between ourselves and a German neighbour –that was when we lived in the city of São Paulo. We assumed this couple was among the many that fled Germany after WWII. We never saw them and the vicious dog they had told the story. We repeatedly warned our son Vernon who was about seven, to never climb that wall. But one day he did just that. As he surveyed the world somehow that dog jumped about six feet to tear a piece out of his upper arm. God had sent his angels to work overtime for if the dog had dragged Vernon down into its yard, he would have been killed.

My beautiful picture

This picture shows the inside part of a plant with its fiber being bleached and dried in the sun before going to market. We used this plant as a washcloth or a scrub brush when taking a shower—mind you we took lots of showers when the days were hot. But we did use what everyone did, that is, the center fibres out of what looked like a long oversized cucumber. Their word for it is bucha and it worked quite well with sabonete, soap added. A lot of farm work was involved in providing a bucha  for our shower.

These carpenters were putting together the frame for a roof though that frame and roof were distinctly different from what we know here. Red tiles would later cover the roof, each one made with little lips that would catch on to the strapping and then stay in place. The spacing for the tiles and their weight required a different framework than here in Canada. In Brazil there was no plywood sheeting that the carpenters could rest on or use for safety. I suppose they get used to being stretched out over open spaces—though I can imagine accidents happening.

Missionary work?  We knew about that; it is more than preaching or giving a hand to the poor. This sign tells everyone that we’d be holding services in this rented hall with the purpose of people finding hope for this life and eternity. I’ve forgotten the location of this hall; but it was in one of four towns or villages where we attempted to plant churches in the interior.

These words from an old hymn gives us advice similar to those of Jesus when He commanded us to lay up treasures in heaven. “Work for the night is coming, Work thro’ the sunny noon; Fill brightest hours with labor, Rest comes sure and soon; Give every flying minute, Something to keep in store; Work for the night is coming, when man works no more.”





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