Third Year {Our Normal}

Three years ago today our family of 5 packed 15 bags, and moved our life to Brazil. 1095 days ago (but we still remember it like it was yesterday). We’ve felt alot of feels in those days. But one thing we’ve never felt is alone. Because, this. Sometimes still can’t believe we’re here! AND no doubt we couldn’t be without all those journeying with us… despite the distance. We appreciate you all, more than words can say.

First year. I wrote New Normal, about the little things that have made their imprint on our thinking and our ways. 
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Second year. Some things became even More Normalas we continued to figure out what life looks like in this country.
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Third year. The longer we’re here, the more we adapt and adopt parts of this culture and that, finding what is Our Normal.
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You were expecting the ol’ Brasil cup, right?
Another one bites the dust. Literally, broke on the dusty tile floor.
But this mug… I’ve had it for 20 years! That’s longer than I’ve known my husband!!
(For a missionary, it’s pretty much a miracle to have anything that long 🙂 )
And the red lipstick?
Well….. I decided it wasn’t my thing. There are some ways I will never adapt… like red lipstick. {Even though a student offered to watch our kids so Andy and I could go on a date, then gave me her red lipstick to wear, so I could look more “gata” (cat).}

You’d think we’d be running out of things to write, wouldn’t you??
It took awhile to think what to list that hasn’t been posted before.
* Then I asked my child if he needs a tissue, and when I handed him a roll of toilet paper (not thinking anything about it), Andy looked at me and smiled. Then it started to come to me…

I don’t realize how much we’ve changed until
* I cover my baked goods with a towel rather than plastic wrap. It’s what we do in a land where “plastic wrap” melts to itself in the heat and is SO irritating to try to pull apart.
* Our favorite date activity has become driving around town, taking pictures of VW bugs; capturing not only the car, but the culture.
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* Just take out the gnat that landed in your nightly tea and keep drinking.
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* Our weekly fresh banana delivery!
* When you drive by the hospital and see a toucan, stop to take a selfie with a toucan!
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* The banks in our area went on strike for a few months. Not sure how this works– the workers would sit behind locked doors and they wouldn’t stock the ATM’s (demanding a raise), but they would still set out coffee and cookies for their customers.
* It has become totally normal for people to just stop by; to drop whatever we’re doing and put on the coffee.
* We’re not surprised when there’s a pile of bugs under the Christmas tree (that were attracted to the light). In fact, we start to appreciate the phenomenon (my hubby wrote about it here).
* My grocery lists are a mess of languages – some things are just funner to say in portuguese, for example “pipoca” /pee.paw.kuh/ (popcorn).

You never realize how “MK” your kids are until
* your son goes to call his friend for his birthday and can’t remember how to sing “Happy Birthday” in english.
* OR, your child goes to school in the States for the first time in 2 years and doesn’t know his ABC’s. {He is fluent in portuguese, but somehow I forgot to teach him the ABC song.}
* MK ping-pong (2 with rackets, 1 as the net).
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* Your son now makes his own fishing poles with bamboo he cuts down with a machete.
* And shows up at the kitchen window with critters like this.
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* Haircut bribes look different these days: fresh coconut water.
* Pictures on their ipods look like this:
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* When a storm rolls in and doesn’t take our electric out, our kids are actually bummed! So much so that sometimes we turn off the lights and eat by candlelight anyway.
* {filling out a crossword puzzle} Jude says, “A crunchy fruit that’s red…..hmmm, all I can think of is pitanga!” {the answer was apple:)

Our kids have grown up so much these last 3 years— learned a new language, earned new freedoms, made so many memories, created their own nostalgia right here in Brazil.
* They camp on their own (even though it’s basically in our backyard, they still have seriemas trying to sneak into their tent).
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* They head to the creek for an afternoon of fishing.
* We can leave them with a big bowl of popcorn and a movie while we run to town.
* Some nights we have to call them home from “hide and seek” at 11:30 so we can go to bed!
* They appreciate the humor of  things like “Star Wabs” or “Wood Box” or #ricefordays.
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I’ve also had a bit of growing up to do myself. This is where…
* I have come to appreciate simplicity. Many days I can’t remember when the last time I went to town was. Some weekends our only expense is going out for popsicles. And I love that.
* “Stop, it’s hammock time” (to the tune of MC Hammer) has become a daily ritual–keeps me sane.
* “I need Thee every hour” is on repeat in my mind.
* the Lord is teaching me that we can’t truly know the fullness of God until we have empty spaces for Him to fill.
* Living on a dirt road with 3 boys has stretched me uh-lot, and I am learning to be at peace, even with so. much. mud.
* The Lord has been faithful to help me stand up to the bully known as fear, over and over again. Do not be afraid…for the Lord will be your confidence” {Proverbs 3:25-26}.
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* Peer pressure kicked in and I find myself doing things like painting my toenails.
* OR, ironing my kids’ shirts. T-shirts! (Which I used to mock, by the way, until our kids were the only ones without ironed t-shirts.)
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* I’ve had to buy fabric… not by the yard… not by the meter… by the KILO! #notJoannfabrics

Three years. We’ve learned alot.
We came to Brazil to teach, but these dear people keep teaching us!
There are phrases they say that will forever ring in my mind, such as,
“It’s so much work to be happy!”
{Meaning– do we really need all this to be happy, or could we be truly happy without so many comforts? Hmmm…}

Don’t get me wrong. I mess up and lose perspective and need put in my place. Regularly.
We still get frustrated and discouraged by this culture.
 I could write a whole ‘nother post about things that get under my skin (like, ticks), and I can’t stand it! But. This is where we live. So, we’re gonna embrace the quirky and learn to make the most of it!

Day by day, year after year, this is my prayer– may we live fully and love deeply and shine brightly for His glory, wherever we are, even if it all sounds a little crazy. 😉

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