January has seemed like a strange month. While our friends and family in the US have been experiencing snow and ice, Brazilian schools have been closed for summer vacation. Summer started here at the end of December, and all of the schools have been closed for the month.
We have still attended our language classes, and Miriam has participated in a summer camp at her school. Over the past few days, schools have begin their semesters, people will finish taking their summer vacations, and life here will settle back more into a routine.
During the past month, Beth and I have been making more friends at our local church. Beth reached out to the pastors and asked if they could help us find some individuals we could meet with on a regular basis to practice our Portuguese. It’s easy to practice our listening comprehension because we are surrounded by the language. Expanding our conversational Portuguese is harder, and it has been a bit difficult to find people willing to practice with us. Praise be to God that our pastors have connected us to some wonderful people!
One of the first women we met at the church, Gloria, is a retired English teacher for a local school system. She quickly adopted us making sure we are aware of church events, picking us up if we need a ride, and helping us with any questions we have. Miriam LOVES her, and she usually has dinner with us one night a week. Another woman, Angela, has helped Beth line up a language partner almost every day of the week to practice with, as well as being an excellent conversation partner herself.
The director of the language school connected me to a man who loves to practice with missionaries. His name is Guilherme, and he is
a finger print expert for the Policia Federal (Federal Police). We both love food, and I have been learning so much about the local culture through him. There’s also a men’s group at
church called “Homens de Valor” (Men of Worth/Courage). I was added to their group chat though WhatsApp (a texting app that virtually everyone in Brazil uses), and several men have set up times with me to practice with them. One of them has assured me he will be picking me up for men’s events, so I don’t need to worry about how to get there. New friendships are always exciting, and we are so blessed that God has placed people in our lives to help and encourage us.
Being involved with a church family has proven to be a blessing in ways that we could not have predicted. Not only do we have a local support network for language learning, we are also making friends that can stand in as aunts and uncles for Miriam. God is blessing us with open arms in our new community. We think of home often when we attend church here. Our prayer is that people there are experiencing the same blessings of a church family as we are. How wonderful would it be if, through God’s love, YOU can be the open arms that welcome someone new into your family?