Psalm 33:3-5, 10-11 Sing a new song of praise to the Lord; play skillfully on the harp and sing with joy. For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does. He loves whatever is just and good . . . The Lord frustrates the plans of the nations and thwarts all their schemes. But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken.
June 19. It’s my brother Steve’s birthday.
It’s Juneteenth, perhaps more remarked this year than it usually is: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/18/opinion/juneteenth-slavery-freedom.html?campaign_id=2&emc=edit_th_20200619&instance_id=19488&nl=todaysheadlines®i_id=60957928&segment_id=31311&user_id=4c581b5e2a85dc7aee8f698dd30213e0
Two years ago today, Antwon Rose was killed: https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/19/antwon-rose-juneteenth-shooting-anniversary-protest/
As well, this particular June 19 marks thirty years since our family first landed in São Paulo, Brazil, joining a mission team with deep, long, and broad experience, benefitting from the platform for ministry they had already built in this huge country. We first felt God directing us to Brazil in 1984. It took six years before we felt confident Karis would be well enough to go. Dave and I were scared, sometimes, when we couldn’t find medical help for her. But she adored her adopted home, and wouldn’t have traded growing up there for anything.
Our children were two, five, seven and eight. The three girls had chickenpox, caught from their brother two weeks before. I made them wear long sleeves and pants, hoping not to be turned back by immigration authorities for bringing disease into their country. And hoping chickenpox blisters wouldn’t be our new team’s first impression of our family!
One team member, a single woman, had courageously offered to let us stay in her apartment while she was away for a few months, until we found our own housing—a ninth floor apartment considered large by Brazilian standards but small for us, used to a spacious home in Port Huron, Michigan. Our children repaid our host’s kindness by coloring all over her bedroom walls. I guess their coloring books had gotten boring.
Memories flood my mind, both of difficulties and of the amazing kindness of Brazilian people who befriended us, taught us culture and language, and loved our children.
This morning, I received an email that seems a gift to celebrate this thirty-year anniversary: an offer from a Brazilian publisher to take on the Karis, All I See Is Grace project in Portuguese. As I think about how we can help with marketing and distribution, my heart warms with the blessing of dear friends all over this great country, our second home, profoundly shaping the soul of our family still. We celebrate this deep connection every time we speak Portuguese to our grandson, every time we write emails or talk by Skype or Zoom to one of our Beloveds in Brazil. Not just our family, but Dave and I too, in significant ways, grew up during the twenty years we were privileged to live there.
Our daughter Valerie majored in Italian in college and presented herself during her year in Italy as Brazilian, not American. “English is my head language,” she told us. “But Portuguese is my heart language. And Italian? It’s dessert.” Sing with joy. For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does.