Brazil, Day 18: A Day of Firsts9 min read

Woke up this morning to Stephen’s alarm clock at 7:30, and I finally got up around 8:10 or so. We had pancakes with mango butter, guava jam, and apple butter for breakfast, and we also had some fresh-squeezed orange juice. By the way, the oranges here are green, so that’s different for me.

For Sunday School we just went to the church down the street- Ebenezer Baptist Church- for the first time. The church is about 12 years old, but it was organized just last year and constructed a building on property right across the street from the seminary.

They built a U-shaped building divided into eight classrooms, and they hold their large services in the open space in the middle of the three sides. Sunday School is held in the classrooms and the large evening service is held outside. Unfortunately, I forgot my memory card for my camera, so I have no pictures.

Missionary Mark Wilson taught our class, and his text was Proverbs 3:1-6. When he discussed the concept of binding the law around our necks and writing it upon the tables of our hearts, he asked one of the women why she wears a necklace. His point was that women wear those things to adorn themselves, and we should likewise adorn ourselves with Scripture.

In the same way women also use makeup to beautify themselves. But makeup cannot make a person beautiful the way Scripture can, so although makeup is not bad, Scripture is more important. Godly character is what makes a person truly beautiful. Adorning ourselves with Scripture is the most attractive thing to God.

After Sunday School we drove up into the nearby neighborhood to see where most of the church members live. There are other churches within only a couple miles of the area, but the churches are neighborhood-based since most people walk to church.

For lunch we went to a local restaurant started by some Christians. They are one of the few restaurants that chooses not to serve alcohol, and yet they are one of the most popular restaurants in the area. They serve food typical of the native people from interior Brazil, so there are a number of weird things too.

The restaurant itself is under a huge thatch roof with mud and stick walls, and the food is all cooked over a wood fire, making it more authentic. Customers walk through the line, filling their plates with whatever food they want, just as you would do at a buffet. Then you pay for the food based on how much it weighs, at R$ 24 per kilogram.

For the amount of food you can get, its actually much less expensive than you would pay at a restaurant in America for the same thing! I got sausage, pork, chicken, rice, manioc root with sun-dried beef, lamb, fried cheese, butter cheese, and some salsa-type relish stuff.

I shied away from the goat stomach stuffed with other innards and the fried goat intestines, but I finally decided to take a bite of the latter after Jennifer coaxed me into it. It was just like dry, salty macaroni I guess. It wasn’t bad at all- just weird. So that was the first time I think I’ve ever done that.

Okay. Sad day. I drank a glass of pop for the first time in 3 1/2 years. The last time I had it was December of 2009. Previously I had gone 1 year and 5 months without pop, and I decided to try to go longer than that this next time. Well, I accomplished that goal, but I was hoping to go a full four years.

Well, that will have to wait because there are some flavors of pop in Brazil that I cannot have anywhere else, so the streak had to end. I drank cashew-flavored pop, and it was SO good! I was told the other day that Brazil even has regional flavors of it, so in some parts of the country it’s not the same as it is here.

For dessert we also had some dill tea, coconut bar things, and rapadura. Rapadura is sugar cane sugar that is cooked down, making a harder, condensed sugar. It’s really good and reminds me of the stories my parents tell me of when I sucked on sugar cane as a baby in the Philippines. To read more about what rapadura is, go to this webpage:

Oh, I also saved someone’s life at lunch! I was sitting there talking and eating (no, I wasn’t chewing with my mouth open) when all of a sudden, a hand grabbed my shoulder really hard. I looked, and a guy had tripped over the leg of the table next to us. To keep himself from falling on the hard floor and dying, he grabbed onto me as he fell. It was really funny for all of us at the table.

We came back to the house and watched the second half of the Confederation Cup third place game between Uruguay and Italy. It was a hard-fought battle and lots of fun to watch, but I had to leave before the game ended. It was tied 2-2 after two overtimes, and I later found out (to my dismay), that Italy won in a shootout.

Well, the reason I had to leave was because I preached tonight in a church that is over an hour away. At 3:45 I left with Felipe, the seminary student whose English class I attended over a week ago and whose son was just born three days ago. He leads the church at Brejo Santo, a city of 60,000 which is literally translated as “Holy Swamp”.

Felipe is not the pastor there, but he goes there every Sunday to teach Sunday School and preach, and he leads the church in other aspects. Well, it was nice for me to have another preaching opportunity and to visit another church, and it was nice for him to not have to prepare a message as he takes care of his wife and child who just came home yesterday.

Less than five minutes down the road, a car beside us stopped us and indicated that our back, passenger-side tire was flat. Sure enough, it was flatter than Nebraska, and so we pulled off to the side to change it. It’s not often a change a tire in my Sunday clothes on a hot afternoon in the Brazilian desert. But we got it done in about 15 minutes and we were back on the road.

We arrived as the service was starting, so we quick washed our hands and took a seat. They sang a couple songs as a congregation and then it was our turn! Felipe told them about the birth of his child and then he introduced me and called me up to preach.

I gave the same message from 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that I gave last week at the other church. Last time Brasil had a soccer game right before the service, so my use of soccer to illustrate my entire message tied in well with the game that day. Well, today Brasil was playing a game after the service, so the illustration fit the occasion again.

I wasn’t sure, but I suspected that it was Felipe’s first time translating for a speaker, and he told me later that it was. What an honor! Even though I didn’t know for sure, I still kept my English as simple as possible and I’m assuming he did a good job.

The congregation was encouraging by the way they responded non-verbally as I preached, and afterward they all shook my hand and thanked me with smiles. Some of them even knew enough English to thank me in English. They were so friendly! After shaking my hand, they all went outside to see pictures of the newborn. 🙂

So this afternoon I visited the Holy Swamp for the first time; I preached at First Regular Baptist Church in the Holy Swamp for the first time; Felipe translated for a preacher for the first time; and I changed a tire in Sunday attire on a hot Brazilian afternoon in the desert for the first time. On the way back we talked about First Baptist in Brejo Santo, church in Brazil vs. church in America, and Felipe’s conversion. It was a great time!

We returned to the house just as the Leonard’s and Danae returned from church, and we all went into the house to watch the second half of the Brazil futebol game while enjoying popcorn and some tortillas with cheese and meat. Brazil was playing Spain, the reigning World Cup champion, in the Confederation Cup Championship here in Brazil.

By halftime Brasil was already winning 2-0, and only a few minutes into the second half we watched them score a third goal. Pastor Jim and I immediately ran outside to set off a couple fireworks along with Brazilians all over the country. Later in the game when Spain missed a penalty kick, Pastor Jim went outside to shoot off another firecracker.

Neither team scored again the rest of the match, but Brasil controlled rest of the game, and we just sat there mesmerized by the amazing game we love- futebol. It was the first time Spain has lost a match in three years! Once the game ended, we went outside to set off some more fireworks and to light a large bonfire on the property back behind the house. What a treat to enjoy all these soccer celebrations!

First time watching Brasil win a championship, first time shooting fireworks…oh, and the first time I learned that Pele, the most famous Brazilian soccer player of all-time, was declared a national treasure by the president of Brazil! Did you know that?

The president didn’t want him to leave to play soccer somewhere else in the world, so in 1961 he declared him a national treasure, legally forbidding him from leaving the country. He was only 20 at the time! You can read more here:é-39221

Well, there’s a random fact for the day. Tomorrow is the first day of the music conference at the seminary, so I’m excited for that! We begin with preparations at 8am and the week of music will end next Sunday. It’s going to be another great week of ministry here in Brasil! For now, it’s off to bed for me!

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