Just five Saturdays ago, I was in São Paulo, with my sister, other family members, and a bevy of bridesmaids. We spent the day in a fancy beauty parlor, getting our hair and nails done, talking, laughing, and preparing for my sister’s wedding. What a lovely celebration of marriage, a gift created by God, as Camila and Caio began their life together, and their dream of building another Christian family for the glory of God.
By midafternoon that Saturday, I was dressed better than I have ever been dressed in my entire life.
And you know what? I wouldn’t have missed that special family event for the whole world. So many memories, that we would remember for a lifetime even without the thousand lovely photos that are a treasure in themselves.
What a joy to be there with my parents and brothers, to celebrate together that the Lord was giving our sister the precious gift of a godly husband who loves her and committed the rest of his life to her.
Today I laugh as I look at the pictures and wonder if these moments really took place only 5 weeks ago? And is that well-dressed girl with sparkly nails really me? And is this the same life, or some fairy tale?
Today, November 24th, was a rather different kind of Saturday, you see. I had the privilege of being with village friends for one of their normal-routine-life events, the first Brasil nut harvesting expedition of the season, spending the day not in a fancy beauty parlor, but in the beautiful Amazon jungle.
If one looks very closely, there were a few common denominators between that Saturday and today…conversations and laughter and photos, but that’s about it. No delicious dinner and pretty clothes and fancy decorations in the jungle today, just like there were no wild pigs, creek-crossing on logs, or fire ants to bite us at the venue where Camila’s wedding was held.
By mid-afternoon today, I was sweaty and dirty and bug-bitten. There are two photos to prove this fact, since my selfie abilities have not advanced to the point where I can capture face and pants in the same photo, and no brothers were around to act as photographer.
The part of the shirt that can’t be seen is covered with sticky juice, a result of the many tremendously delicious mangos we gobbled on our way back into the village. Who needs ice cream or peanut butter pies when you have free all-you-can-eat mangos? I must be the messiest grownup mango-eater of all time, though. That’s one of the many reasons I can identify with children so easily.
Despite the lack of pretty clothes and jewelry, my smile this afternoon is the same as it was five Saturday afternoons ago. You know why? Because today, I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. This place, doing life with these friends, learning this language.
Once again, gratitude drips from my heart like juice dripping from a mango, but without the stickiness. Surely I am the most blessed woman on the face of the earth. How many people get to glide “magically”, not just from one random world to another, but between these three worlds – Lewis County – São Paulo – Pawanẽwa, specifically? How many people can say and feel that they “belong” (in the measure that any follower of Jesus can belong to any world this side of Heaven) to these three amazing communities? Only one person has this unique honor. And that person is me! Craziness. Overflowing delight.
It’s impossible to express how deeply I love each of these communities, which are so different one from the other that they truly seem like unique worlds. My Saviour and best Friend is the One who placed me in the first one, then led me step by step to the others. Whether riding through São Paulo traffic, walking jungle trails, dancing in circles, or driving down Lewis County roads, I’ll continue to go with Jesus, saying “Yes, Lord,” no matter where He, my greatest Adventure leads.
Were it not for Jesus’ great love and compelling call, I never would have left that first world for an unknown city, because I love my family and church and community so much. But after living in Sao Paulo for a few short months, I couldn’t imagine life without my Brasilian family and church and community.
Were it not for Jesus’ great love for people groups who still don’t have God’s Word in their languages, I never would have left Sao Paulo to come to the unknown of the Amazon jungle, because I loved that second world so dearly. But now, here I am, slowly but surely becoming part of a third world which I have also grown to love.
Now this is starting to sound like I’m about to leave this third world behind and go on some new adventure with Jesus, but that is not the plan at this point. For the foreseeable future, I’m here to stay, except for brief visits to two other worlds, of course. Who knew missionaries had superpowers? Now if I could only have the superpower of speaking any language fluently on demand…that would be the coolest!