Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving / Rio Round 2

I think I have finished with James’ art and that is a relief and I’m able to relax for the last week and a half of my stay here in Brazil. It’s difficult to realize that five months is almost over, which at the beginning was almost daunting. I’m in a weird in-between stage right now. Feeling a little anxious to get home, I also don’t want to waste my last days in Brazil feeling homesick. Steve tells me that I need to relish Brazil while I’m here because, now that he is home, he misses Brazil.

I have heard the legends of the Padley Thanksgiving celebration and I have eagerly awaited for this day to come. A little sad that I can’t spend Thanksgiving with my own family, however I know that this feast is not one to be missed (sorry guys). The meal took a full 2 days to prepare for, and not for just one person. Five women labored in the kitchen working to make this meal, possibly the biggest holiday for the Padleys. The meal included boneless chicken filled with stuffing (Flans’ work of art), leg of lamb, mashed potatoes, and of course, turkey. The main course (dessert) was made up of 20 pies. The varieties: pumpkin, apple, coconut, pineapple, peanut-butter chocolate, mint chocolate, two kinds of cheesecake, lemon meringue, etc. Everyone talked and had communion with one another until late into the night. When everyone had gone to their own homes to digest some more, something happened that left the night on a sour note that I won’t describe here. Though it was a great night full of fun and joy, we have to remember that people are suffering. Maybe they are next door or maybe they are across the world being persecuted for their faith or whatever the case, we have a responsibility not to forget them even though we are celebrating.

James, Sagares, and I are in Rio de Janeiro enjoying the company of Andrea and Nedson and their house church for a few days. We were going to spend time with Edson and his family but there is a viral sickness that both his son and spouse are afflicted with. I love watching the physical changes in the landscape when you pass from the state of Minas to Rio. The mountains go from smooth transitions and rolling hills to rocky, lumpy, loaf shapes. The rain comes down in torrents. Huge volumes of water cascade down the rocks and look more like liquid silver running down because of the illuminated cloudy sky. Around every corner there is another marvelous waterfall waiting. Like last time, we are treated like royalty though we are undeserving of such hospitality. We went to the beach and I saw the biggest waves I’ve seen in my life, though that is not saying much. I learned how to body surf and catch waves, which one of the greatest feelings in the world. The Beach Boys would agree. The next day I was able to skate at the skatepark by the beach for a couple of much needed quality time with my skateboard. Jonatan taught me some soccer moves and precious Carol played card games with me. Jonatan is the most impressive twelve-year-old I know. He studies the Bible and spends time with God every day, writing down in his notebook the things that God is saying to him. He is already praying for his future wife. He is light-years ahead in his walk than I was when I was twelve, which is extremely encouraging.

Psalms 127 says “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city the watchmen stand guard in vain” but I want to take it a step further which has changed my life significantly. A life not lived for the Lord is a life lived in vain. A day not lived for the Lord is a day lived in vain. For if it is not for him, we only look to gain for our own needs. Something we try with relying on our own power will fail. David and Joshua always had to consult the Lord before a battle and ask if the enemy would be given into Israel’s hands. Whenever they did not consult the Lord they would end up fleeing and many Israelites would die. We are helpless without the Lord. We cannot even change ourselves without him. Many lyrics in rock songs sing about how “I’ll never change.” It’s not that they haven’t tried to change, but they find it impossible to, and it is. If we try to change through our own power, we just end up suppressing our problems and they will inevitably come out ... and not quietly. All of our efforts are in vain, but the Lord makes it possible though not always in the way we would like. Maybe we need healing, spiritual, mental, or physical, although we forget that Jesus is the great healer and all we have to do is ask. Solomon asked for wisdom and received it in copious amounts. Jesus healed lepers, the blind, and the lame and we think he can’t heal our addictions or our insecurities?

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