Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Being Productive (More or Less)

Today was a more relaxed day—at least for me. Steve had a session this morning with faculty and administrators of the local schools. It is an amazing thing that they cooperate so well. In too many regions, theological schools see themselves as being in competition rather than all working for the same goal of preparing workers for the kingdom of God.

While Steve was out, I worked on a chapter of my own book, Black Mountain, before turning to an editing job I have been doing. It felt good to be productive. A woman came by who works for a local publisher. She wanted to record a couple interviews with Steve to promote a book in which he has a chapter. When she learned that I write fiction, she wanted to know more and talk about the possibility of translating and adapting some of my books for a Brazilian audience. We’ll see if anything comes of it. She also made me a present of her mother’s memoir of growing up in the interior of the province. It sounds much like my mother-in-law’s book of memories, only obviously, from a totally different culture. I look forward to reading it.

Steve went this evening to speak at a seminary an hour and a half away. I didn’t think I needed the time sitting in the car. I HAVE heard him speak before and on these topics. Tomorrow we are going to Recife to visit our Portuguese language tutor from almost forty years ago so I WILL get a chance to see the countryside.

I realized I hadn’t shown you the dining hall here at Betel. The food is simple, mainly meat and starch whether rice, sweet potatoes, manioc, bread or some combination. Tonight there was a thick soup and choice of stewed chicken or stewed ribs with rice and/or sweet potatoes. Lettuce leaves and minced tomato and onions were available, but the only dressing is olive oil. Tomorrow night we have plans to go to a restaurant that specializes in local dishes.

Students begin lining up for supper

The kitchen with the ladies who so graciously boil water a cople times per day for me to make tea in my thermal mug.
This is coffee country, not tea.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Where the Sun Rises First in the Americas

Steve taught for two and a half hours this morning. It was supposed to be just seminary leadership from the various schools that were here last night, but the Betel Brazileiro students were so enthusiastic about what they heard last night that they asked to be excused from their regular classes to come. It was a good and enthusiastic group; Steve loves teaching with such a receptive audience.

I worked in the room sitting directly in front of the fan. I took a bit of a walk to explore the campus. We are staying on a suite in the left here where the car is parked. We have a tiny sitting room, a kitchenette, a much larger bedroom and bathroom. This evening I heard a baby crying at the other end of the building, which made me think this might be married student housing. The dining hall is on the left. The ceiling is high and open under the eaves to let out the heat.

 The library is tiny by US standards, but reminds me of what we first had in Campo Grande or in Mozambique.

It's the best place to get Internet access, so here I sit. Not bad in the evening, but pretty hot during the day.

After lunch Pastor Ildemar took us out to see the city. Well, it was for me to see the city; Steve has been here before. Several points stick out into the water with beautiful beaches in between. The point you see here is Cabo Branco (White Cape), the eastern-most point of South America. Beyond is the Atlantic all the way to Africa.

We couldn’t drive out to the point due to erosion that is undermining the road although we could get near enough to take this picture looking back at the city. The tide is in or the beach would be much wider.

The tip of the point is also eroding, which I suppose means that the Americas do not extend as far east as they once did. We parked and walked out. The old wall has collapsed, and we were not allowed near enough to look down although you can see the sand cliff in the background.

Ildemar took us by a very modern event center and museum out on Cabo Branco.

We loved this 6x9 meter painting of the history of the city where the sun rises first in the Americas. You see some of the indigenous peoples to the left and then various hstorical personages, including famous authors, in a setting of the oldest buildings of the city. The Atlantic (with Cabo Branco) is to the left, the Pernumbuco River to the right.

And of course, we stopped for ice cream on the beach before returning to the school. They had some unique flavors. Steve had carmelized banana; I had brigadeiro, a Brazilian sweet--chocolate made with sweetened condensed milk rolled in chocolate pieces. I could try to tell you they weren't very good, but I would be lying.

Monday, October 16, 2017

On to João Pessoa

It was easier to say farewell to Queila and Vicente since we convinced them to look seriously at the possibility of a visit to the US in the coming year. But after Queila left for work we realized we had failed to get a picture of the four of us together or even of them with their son Natan. Too much chatter and too much time watching football or eating pão de queijo.

We caught a mid-day plane to João Pessoa on the eastern-most tip of the Americas. Steve has been here many times before and enjoys the people involved in theological education in the region. For me it is the first visit. We could see some tall buildings down at the shore as we landed, but the city is much smaller than Rio. The seminary, Betel Brasileiro, is inland, close to the airport, so we haven’t gotten into the city center yet. Tomorrow I’ll have to get some pictures around here. It is very simple, reminding me of Mozambique in the old days. They had saved lunch for us even though it was three inthe afternoon, and it was delicious--spaghetti and chicken with Brazilian seasonings or ground beef, salad.

Several schools came together tonight to hear Steve speak on challenges in theological education in Brazil today. Judging by the reaction of students and faculty, he hit some nerves. We'll see how many come back tomorrow.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday in Tijuca

It cooled off considerably last evening from the hundred degrees we had during the day. Nice for sleeping. When we woke this morning, it was raining. That meant less traffic headed for the beach when we headed to church at A Communidade Presbyteriana de Barra de Tijuca. It's a small building in a residential neighborhood.

People were friendly. Worship was lively with tunes I recognized from English. Actually, I found that disappointing; we need our friend Marcus Rodrigues writing more Brazilian praise music. But the preaching was good. Vicente, a once-and-future pastor, meets regularly in an accountability group with these and other pastors from the area and beyond.

I regretted as we left the crowded cafe where we lunched that I hadn't taken a picture of the table loaded with rice, farofa, French fries and grilled meat. Afterwards, it was home to naps and football American-style with Brazilian commentators--Vikings vs. Packers--the ultimate conflict of our home territory.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Old Friends in Rio

Queila entered our lives when she was thirteen. (Somewhere I have a great picture of her and our neighbor striking fashion model poses.) She entered our home the week Erika was born, just before Queila's fourteenth birthday, and has been part of our family ever since. Her dad was a pastor in an interior town, and she came to live with us in Campo Grande to attend a better school. Two-year-old Katie had trouble accepting that Queila really had another family. Eventually, she came to Cambridge to live with Steve's parents and finish high school there. She married Vicente in college and their son Natan is in grad school.

They live in an apartment in Zona Norte, but we drove to the chique Zona Sul, where the beaches are.  There we climbed to the Monastery of St. Benedict.

The inside is covered with gold in the manner of seventieth and eighteenth century churches. This is not just a mueum; Mass will be sung tomorrow at 10.

I love green spaces in the midst of big cities. When she worked in this area, Queila used to bring her lunch to the garden in front of the church and listen to the music while she ate.

Our next stop was the Olympic Plaza, which Queila and Vicente say was always full during the Olympics. They were full of stories of the excitement of being part of the crowd and getting to see some incredible Para-Olympic events in person. Sadly, a lot of that enthusiasm in the city of Rio has disapated as life returns to violent crime and corruption. You can see the Monastery of Saint Benedict in the background of this Museum of Tomorrow. Those "ribs"are solar panels and can be repositioned to best catch the sun.

Afterwards we took the elevator to the top of the newly expanded Museu de Arte do Rio where we could sit in the shade under a concrete "wave" with a great breeze and talk. We had a wonderful view of the Olympic Plaza. In this panorama shot you can see the Museum of Tomorrow in the center with the Niteroi Bridge beyond, the naval port and the monastery to the right.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Farewell to Dear Friends

I was reading my Bible app in this wonderful swing this morning when Rosalee asked if I wanted my picture taken. 

 It is their “quintal”(back yard) that I will miss the most of their house.

This little birds make a racket to draw attention if the pan for their bath is empty.

We went for a drive to see more of the beautiful countryside of Espirito Santo. “Agritourismo” is a big thing here—farms, many of them organic, designed to attract tourists, selling things like these incredibly sweet strawberries.

Or this pasta colored with beets, wine, spinach, or coffee.

The Carnielli farm specializes in the Italian foods of the early immigrants to the area.

This weekend is the Polenta Festival. Note the stuffed mascot.

Coming from Italy in 1888, the Carnielli family has worked this land since 1921. They grow coffee and produce cheeses and jerked pork loin, although calling it “jerked pork” sounds really course compared to the gourmet food that it is. They gave out lots of free samples and complimentary cafézinho (demitasses of strong Brazilian coffee). We tasted the three-month-old cheese (Steve remembers mozzarella, I remember Provolone) and the two-and-a-half-year-old version. The difference was tremendous. (I refrained from telling them that Burnett Dairy does a five-year-old Cheddar.)

We met Eunice and Marcus for lunch at a restaurant across the road from a waterfall. Not as much water was falling as usual due to the draught, but it was still a lovely place. At the end of lunch, it was hard to say good-by. Who knows when we will be together again? Old friends are the best to my mind. You share so many memories and don’t have to explain. David dreams of seeing snow someday. I promised him that if he works hard on English, we will find him a family to stay with in Webster as an exchange student so he can spend a whole winter with snow!