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In Brazil at Last

Here we are updating from Brazil! Were you starting to wonder if this would ever happen? For the last week and a half we have been doing some serious and busy settling in. God has kindly shepherded us through the days and taken care of the details, as he is so good at doing. Jeff has been thrilled to be here, Dani has adjusted with great ease and I have suffered quite a bit, yet through all the highs and lows God has been faithful and your prayers have been felt. Following you will find an account of our journey and our first days here… warning, it’s a bit long…

Fri June 18
We were ready to leave early, so we stopped by Grand Ma Ma’s house one more time to take some pictures and say goodbye. On the way in the car I prayed that God would take of from “peace to peace”. Then on to the Turner’s where we said goodbye to all there and dropped off a few things. Then on to Chick-fil-a for one last fix. Then on to the airport where we checked in all 26 of our bags with remarkable ease. They were all under our weight limit! Delta checked them all the way through to Santarem. After checking in, we sat around and visited with my parents for a bit, then they got on their way and we went through security. We were off! Our flight left at 5:20 PM. We flew to Manaus, where we had to clear passport control and customs. The staff there were so helpful. We were the last people off the plane (since we had so many carry-on’s and a toddler), but they took us straight to the front of the passport line. We felt a bit sheepish but we joked with the other folks in line saying something about pregnancy getting you privileges. Then one of the ladies stuck out her tummy trying to look pregnant and we all had a good laugh. We made it through that step easily. Then a guy helped Jeff load all our bags, while I held Dani who was still very groggy from sleeping on the flight (it was around midnight at this time). Once all our bags were loaded we went to the customs counter. Jeff said, “We are moving on a residency visa and these are all of our household items.” The customs agent looked at the visa and waved us through. So incredibly easy! Thank you Jesus!

Sat June 19
As we came out of the international terminal, we were greeted by two missionaries from Manaus, Benson & Grant. They helped us transport our baggage to the Gol check-in area and helped us talk to the agents there. Because our flight didn’t leave for another 12 hours, Gol couldn’t take our baggage yet. Benson offered to sit with the bags so all three of us could go to their house and sleep. They had a beautiful room set up for us with the AC on and everything. Jeff & Dani fell into bed immediately, while I took a refreshing, cold shower and then lay down in front of the AC unit and drifted off to a cool sleep.

We awoke in time for a delicious Brazilian breakfast of fruit, granola, cheese, juice and coffee. After which, Jeff went to the airport to relieve Benson. Dani and I visited with the missionaries and played with the dogs to Dani’s great delight. She watched some Dora the Explorer in Portuguese and played with blocks. Both of the ladies (Julie & Regina) were delightful with Dani. Soon it was time for us to join Jeff at the airport. We walked in expecting to see Jeff surrounded by our mountain of baggage. They weren’t where we had left them and so I scanned around and saw Jeff alone waving from a chair. Gol had already come and checked all of our baggage (including our larger carry-on bags, stroller & carseat)! So we waited a bit and visited with Grant until the time came to check in. We checked in with little trouble and then headed for security. They found 3 of my pocket knives in one carry-on bag! So I had to go and check that bag. Apparently Brazil takes security more seriously than Atlanta. But then we were through and waited to board. We boarded and Dani napped the whole flight.

When the plane touched down in Santarem, I leaned over and kissed Jeff. We had come home! After descending the stairs to the tarmac, we walked toward the terminal, baking in the Brazilian heat. We looked up toward the windows in the terminal and were greeted by a crowd of waving missionaries. At this point, I cried, it felt so good to be here. Then we waited for the rest of the people to clear out and piled our bags in the corner as they came around the belt. Once the baggage claim area was empty except for us we began to ferry our bags outside and load them into waiting vehicles. Better yet, we received our first hugs! Jeff & Becky, Nate & Ruth with Anna & Becca, Scott, Ken and Brent formed our welcoming committee.

We rode into town and arrived at our house! Finally (for the first time in our marriage), we have a house to call our own!  We spent some time unpacking enough for the night before enjoying dinner at Scott & Aldine Bluniers.

Sun June 20

We breakfasted on delicious food provided in our house for us and spent a delightful day unpacking boxes and settling in. I enjoyed finally being able to “nest” in preparation for this baby. We shared lunch with Kelly & Edson and then watched our first World Cup game in Brazil! Then we had dinner with Jeff & Becky and enjoyed an evening stroll along the waterfront rejoicing that Brazil had won the game!

First Week

All week long we had lunch at different missionaries’ houses. They spoiled us thoroughly and gave us time to settle in. Monday I fell all to pieces inside and it took about a week to begin to see light again. I was overwhelmed by the thought of life in Brazil. In retrospect, I think exhaustion and adjusting physically to the climate played a very big role in how down I felt. God was strong in my weakness and Jeff graciously sheltered me under his arm and picked up all my slack. Dani became a source of inspiration as I saw her adjust so rapidly. Jeff felt glad to be here, but was saddened to realize just how long it would be (probably about a year) before he would be leading teams and serving on the river.

During the week we shopped for and purchased a fridge, a stove, a washing machine, a couch and a loveseat. All for around the same price as a small island nation! We felt blessed to make good decisions and spoiled by God through all of you. The price tags were so very high, but we were free to buy good appliances and comfortable furniture thanks to your many gifts over the past year or more. So THANK YOU!

We tackled the grocery store and stocked up on cleaning supplies and groceries and learned that prices had gone up dramatically since we were here four years ago. Some things are cheaper than the states still, but others are so much more! We’re getting used to powdered milk and buying eggs in a plastic bag again. We’re loving all the fresh produce! A large part of our diet is papayas, bananas & pineapples, mmmmm.

Second week

Sunday morning I woke up feeling like I had energy, both physical & emotional, to do some things around the house. I did and boy did I feel better all around. That was my turning point. I did (and still do) have times when fears of the future crowd out my sensibilities, but for the most part my head is above the clouds. Praise the Lord! AND thank YOU for your prayers. They have made such a difference.

We began language classes this week for two hours a day Monday through Friday. Let’s just say Dani has a better grasp of English than we do of Portuguese. Please pray for our brains to pick things up quickly.

I have had my first doctors appointment and she is wonderful! Dr. Eva was recommended by the missionaries here and I was so anxious to see how we would connect. She is thorough and direct and despite our language barrier I feel close to her. I trust her (which is rather critical in a doctor). She ordered a few tests for me and Joanne (one of my fellow missionaries) drove me around town on multiple days to get them all done. Some things are so different here, for example I have to pick up my results and keep track of all my records, but when they stick a needle in your arm to draw blood it’s all the same!

So here we are, settling in and doing well. I can’t thank you enough for your prayers. I really don’t know how I would have survived without them. Keep ‘em coming! Pictures will be forthcoming! We’ve been so busy we haven’t really taken any, and right now it’s time to make dinner and be off to cell group. We miss you all, but are happy to be here serving God right where he wants us! Love, Love, Love!

2 Comments

  1. Lisa says:

    Praying. Empathizing. Thanking God. Love you!

  2. Joyce Brown says:

    Fritha, enjoyed seeing your new prescious baby ,pictures of your home, looks large! Just read your story of your trip and settling in. Really enjoyed.
    I’ve been praying for you to have a safe delivery and it seems you had just that. was home sick yesterday and read the post on facebook. Congradulations again. Donnie and I gave your mom birthday and baby money when we saw her monday. travis and Joy were here for 3 weeks, the last night we all went to eat at the farmers market. Amaia flew back to tahoe with them for a week. We had a blessed visit while they were here. Donnie and I will be flying out in Sept for the birth of our new grandbaby. Really looking forward to the trip.
    Congradulations again on your new baby, enjoy! Our little Eston is growing so fast. He is so cute. 3 months already! Time go so fast. Love you guys,Praying for you, Joyce Brown

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