Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: OVERSEAS VACATION (08/13/15)
- TITLE: The Crowning Jewel
By Pat Small
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“I can get you standby tickets,” our friend Lance offered. When he told us that we might be able to upgrade them to first class for a small fee, indecision vanished, and we were on our way to Brazil to spend six months; a sort of working vacation. We had been missionaries there for seventeen years, and now planned to assist in a small church.
Tamario, who had lived with us for over a year as a young teen, now assumed a parental role. We believed six months was too long to inflict ourselves on anyone so he found us a house and helped shop for used furniture and appliances. His wife and her family loaned pots and pans, linens and a pressure cooker, an indispensable item in a Brazilian kitchen.
The house was being remodeled and, of course, was not ready when promised, so we spent three weeks with him and his lovely family. They had been invited to stay at a friend’s beach house for a week. We tagged along. Many hours were spent on the veranda, swinging lazily in hammocks and chatting, lulled by the warm, salty breeze. Sometimes the guitars came out for enthusiastic sing-alongs.
On New Year’s Eve, we climbed the sand dunes behind the house (two steps forward, one sliding back), but we reached the top, and what a view! While we waited for the fireworks to begin, we shared testimonies, prayers and songs. From our vantage point, we were able to see at least three different displays.
During Carnaval week (similar to Mardi Gras), believers want to get as far away from the debauchery as possible. We spent it with three families (eleven of us) at their lake house. Calling it a house is a stretch. It was two rooms and a bath. Being seniors, we were awarded the bedroom where there was a twin bed and a hammock. The downside was that everyone had to go through our room to reach the bathroom. The others slept in the all purpose room, the open porch and a tent. It made Motel 6 seem like 5 star lodging. Most importantly, love flowed around us like the breeze that tickled the palms.
The major part of our stay was spent in the little rented house, and assisting in the church of a young man we had first known as a teen drug addict. God had privileged us with helping him overcome the addiction and come to the Lord. He and his sweet bride were now pastoring a small church.
And I cannot forget Heloisa, a twenty-one year old neighbor who had been assaulted. She was so traumatized that she refused to eat, drink, or get out of bed for days. The Lord allowed me to lead her to Him, and become her friend. An older gentleman became a new brother in Christ. Drunks and drug addicts became part of our inner circle, some reformed and others working towards it.
A miserable case of the flu afflicted me at one point. A hot pot of freshly made chicken soup was brought to my door. “For you sister. I hope you feel well soon.” Another brought honey and lemons for my cough. And yet another brought a fruit to make a healing tea. A neighbor visited the government health clinic across the street, and demanded that they make time to see me because “She’s a foreigner and doesn’t know how the system works”.
Then there was Phillip. This seventeen year old young man lived with his mother, step-father and their little girl. He was basically insignificant, lonely and lacking in self-esteem. Since he loved English and studied it assiduously, it was easy to get close to him.
The day that we finally had to say goodbye, there was loud clapping at the front gate. It was Phillip. “I’ve come to help you pack,” he claimed, as he slipped a letter in my hand. When I read it later, it became the crowning jewel of our vacation. “You are my second parents. I love you so much. I miss you already.” Those were some of the precious words he labored over in English.
Heloisa also came and spent several hours that day. She barely said ten words, but her presence spoke volumes.
Not a typical vacation, perhaps, but a more blessed and meaningful one I cannot imagine. I wish we could do it again.
I have a passport and visa; will travel for food.
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