Brazil, Day 17: A Better View of the Area

Accidentally woke up too late to do any exercise this morning, and I couldn’t have run even if I wanted to. There is a couples retreat going on at the seminary, so the whole campus is all decorated and the road is kind of taped off.

Getting in there is hard enough because most of the time they don’t allow people who aren’t involved in the retreat to enter. Several years ago when Pastor Jim was president of the school, he tried to get in just to go to his office, and they wouldn’t let him! So, I can’t run there again until Monday.

I went with Pastor Jim to First Baptist Church in Juazeiro for breakfast and the morning session of the weekend leadership conference. We had egg/ham/cheese sandwiches, tapioca with coconut, yogurt, grape juice, papaya, and some other kind of melon. It was a simple yet distinctly Brazilian meal.

In the morning session Pastor Goertzen spoke from 1 Peter 5 about the qualities of pastors and leaders. I appreciated his emphasis on pastors as being stewards of the church that God gave them. He also concluded by saying that one of the most important qualities for leaders is humility, a good reminder for me.

On the way back we stopped at the apartment of the missionaries who just left on furlough. Pastor Jim is taking care of their bills and other payments while they’re gone, so we went there to pick up some bills that they just received.

The apartment is SO tall! It’s a 26-story apartment building on a hill almost off in the middle of nowhere. It’s surrounded by a neighborhood with small houses and rocky roads. Pastor Jim told me that the top of the building is the highest point in the interior of Northeast Brazil. He asked for permission for us to go to the top so I could take pictures of the surrounding cities, and we were allowed to!

So we went to the top and looked out over the valley and the surrounding mountains. There are three major cities in the valley with Cariri and Juazeiro being the two that I have visited. It was so nice to finally get a good understanding of the lay of the land.

I could see the main section of Juazeiro and how it moved in the direction of the former seminary campus, just as Pastor Jim described. He told me how the city moved toward the campus over the last half-century, but today I was really able to see and understand it. Such a great view!

About a couple blocks away from the apartment complex is a new store, kind of out on a block by itself. The store is owned by the son of a friend of the mayor, and he had the grand opening just recently. In order to make the celebration as nice as possible, the mayor sent a construction crew to pave the block around the store!

The road in front of the building and the two roads on either side leading to the store are all covered with new blacktop while rest of neighborhood roads are still red, rocky roads. Obviously, the neighbors were unhappy with this show of favoritism and complained about it. Just another example of the corrupted politics here in Brazil.

When we returned we ate a lunch of mashed potatoes and zucchini stuffed with ground beef, cheese, and tomato sauce. For dessert we had frozen pineapple cream that has been waiting for us to eat it.

In the afternoon we got ready for some more guests to join us here. Stephen Lounsbrough, his sister Sarah, his girlfriend Olivia, and Danae Oliver are coming to help with the sacred music week which begins on Monday. Danae is also staying for Aventura Brasil with me.

I tidied up my stuff a little better and made Stephen’s bed for him. Then Pastor Jim and I went up to the seminary to fill our water jugs, making it past the couples retreat police who stopped us at the gate.

This is our second time getting water, but I haven’t said anything about the water yet. Here in Brasil, you can’t drink any water unless it’s mineral water or boiled water. Virtually everything else is unsafe and will make you sick.

When they built the seminary, they dug a well 300-feet deep into a freshwater vein underground, and it is safe to drink. So all the water at the seminary and the on-campus houses are fed water from the well. They still don’t drink the water from the faucets though because the water goes from the well into a holding tank before being distributed.

However, there is a spigot directly from the well that they use to fill up their water jugs, and it doesn’t need to be cleansed any further out of that spigot. So we haul four 5-gallon jugs to the water source and bring back enough water for several days.

I was treated to another new sight today. Mrs. Leonard came out of the bathroom and asked if I’d ever seen a lizard eat a mosquito before. I told her I hadn’t, and she showed me one near the bathroom ceiling that was just about ready to pounce.

It stood there for several minutes eyeing its prey. Then all of a sudden I saw it straighten itself up on the wall, push its front two sticky legs onto the ceiling, and grab the mosquito in its mouth before the bug could fly away. It was quite fascinating to see.

For supper we had grilled cheese sandwiches and pineapple. When Mrs. Leonard was asking us what bread and cheese we wanted, she gave us two options for bread and three options for cheese. We all told her what we wanted, but when she asked Jennifer, she got an answer she wasn’t really looking for.

“I want whatever is cheapest!” Well, that’s a nice, thoughtful way to choose your food, but the difference in cost between one slice of cheese to another slice of cheese is barely noticeable. Also, the cheapest cheese in the refrigerator right now was bought on sale, so normally it’s more expensive than the other cheese.

So Jennifer’s answer was really funny at the moment, also considering she had made several other funny comments throughout the day. So Mrs. Leonard, only slightly exasperated with Jennifer’s answer, figured out which cheese was cheapest and made the sandwich.

After supper I spent some time working on my Portuguese and waiting for the arrival of the other four people. They showed up here about 10:00, and we had a good time of fellowship with them as they unloaded, ate supper, and then ate some cake with us to celebrate Danae’s birthday (which was two days ago).

Well, now we’re all settling down to sleep, so I think it’s time I called it a night! I get to preach tomorrow night!

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