When I think on My Brazilian Summer, from January to now, I smile because it makes me realize how much I really appreciate the people that I have in my life.
In Brazil, I have extended relatives and adopted family who just plain amazed me with their hospitality. They patiently explained the bus routes that I needed to take to make it to a given destination, only ending up having to pick me up and bring me there themselves because I got lost. I always had my fill of coffee, tea, and pão sovado, and never left the house hungry unless we were on the way to a churrascaria.
Coraçãozinho (chicken heart), anyone?
As a result of my most recent trip to Brazil, I now have friends from multiple countries, including the US, France, Denmark, and Brazil, and smile at the thought of the times we spent together. We swam amidst the laughter of waterfalls. We played Pink Floyd on the praia. We soaked in a natural Jacuzzi. We played Ultimate Frisbee. We sambaed. We feasted. These friends… this multicultural family… gladly took the time to get to know me. And I am glad to say that I know them.
But this trip contained more than just friends and family. This trip was packed full of redemption.
Besides cultivating relationships with people in Brazil, this trip helped me in cultivating the relationship I have with Jesus Christ. Because of the pressure of student teaching and the concern of finding employment after graduating from university, I came to the end of my rope on multiple occasions. I learned that plans often fall apart. But I also learned that Jesus is always there to make all things work for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). No matter what I go through, I know that He will redeem it and use it for His perfect good will, to bless other people and me in the process.
Some notes on redemption for my readers:
No matter where you are in life or where you see yourself going, if you trust God with your life, He will take better care of it than you ever could. Why? He knows you.
Let me give you an illustration.
OK, how about an illustration in word form?
Ever since I was a little boy, visiting my Brazilian relatives in Florida, I wanted to find a big, unbroken sand dollar. Every one I found on the beach was in shards or so small that it fit in the palm of my eight-year-old hand. That wasn’t big enough. The big sand dollars that the gift shops sold cost so many real dollars I couldn’t bring myself to seriously ask my parents to buy me one. I began thinking I would never find one, but I prayed I would. I never did. So Little Kyle had to forget, grow up, and move on. It was just a crazy idea, after all.
The truth is, though, that it wasn’t a crazy idea… At least Jesus didn’t think so.
When walking on the beach of Superagui, a peninsula-turned-island off the coast of the state of Paraná, I found out that God heard my quick, short prayers back when I was a youngster. As a walked toward the ocean, I looked down at the sand. Then, there, half-buried in the sand, was the biggest sand dollar that I had ever seen. I picked it up with both hands. From my point of view, you couldn’t tell that I had any fingers; the sand dollar was so huge that my eight fingers were completely hidden and I looked like a pollical oligodacttylist. You couldn’t see my fingers! Smiling, and remembering the old desire that I thought I had forgotten, I looked down the beach. Sand dollars were everywhere. Sand dollars literally speckled the beach. And I felt like a rich man. I didn’t have money, but I felt rich inside.
I thanked God and shook my head at all that time I had tried to find what I had just stumbled upon. Then I put my sand dollar back on the ground and continued walking. I didn’t need it anymore; God had showed me that he paid attention to me, and that was all I needed.
There were other wants that I had before this trip that Jesus gave me in Brazil. One of them involves cheap cheese and blue M&Ms. The others are just in between Him and me.
As the posts have showed since the new year began, I’m smiling because of my Brazilian summer. And I plan to keep smiling, where ever I am, in whatever season I find myself.