Do you know what happens in thirty-five days? My daughter, India, comes home from Brazil! She has been gone for nearly eighteen months! Can you believe it? The first few months dragged by. And about a year ago she had a bunch of really difficult struggles that made me wonder how much longer she’d be able to survive down there. But she stuck it out and has blossomed and grown more than I thought possible.
Let me tell you about sending your kid on a mission to a third-world country: it’s hard. Not in the ways you might think, though. Honestly I rarely worry about the safety of my children. You know there’s nobody God watches out for more than people who are in His service full-time (except for priests who are pedophiles. Pretty sure God is not watching over them at all). York has had guns pulled on him a few times (never robbed, though!) and he got invited to come in and pray in a house that happened to have a murdered body lying on the floor (apparently police investigations are a bit lax in Brazil). Nothing dreadful has happened so far, though. And India has had even fewer alarming things happen than her brother, thank goodness.
The things that I worry most about are health issues. There have been unforeseen mental health issues and all I have to say is thank goodness for medication and the blessing that can be. There have also been many physical challenges. The obvious one is that my kids walk all day, every day. They take busses from time to time but mostly they are walking everywhere. And in case you hadn’t heard, Brazil is pretty hilly. My kids wore their shoes through within seven months and we had to completely resupply them. Their legs and feet and backs have been hammered constantly. India has been able to visit a chiropractor a few times but mostly it’s a matter of just pushing through the pain to keep going. I’ll bet she’s got quads of steel judging by this street in her town.
The kids have both had numerous illnesses and have been hospitalized more than once. When we first heard this, we were so alarmed but now we realize that it’s pretty normal. They’ve probably had Dengue Fever and Zika (tests were inconclusive) and have been terribly sick a dozen times each. The health system in Brazil is lacking for the most part, unless you’re in São Paulo proper and can visit the one super fancy hospital. In one village India lived in, the “hospital” had literally eight kinds of medication. That’s it. If your illness required anything more than that, you’d have to take a bus to the hospital in a larger town.
India recently had to get glasses (our first child to wear glasses!). We were surprised to see that her glasses looked just like her companion’s glasses. When I asked if she got them to match on purpose, she told us that there’s only a couple of styles of glasses where she lives and that’s it. We’ll have to order her a bunch of cute pairs online when she gets back. (This cutie is her current companion, Sister Ruiz. It’s her second comp in a row from Mexico. Sister Ruiz is hilarious, according to India, and is also trying to teach India Spanish which I am sooo happy about. Portuguese is kind of useless. No offense, Brazil.)
The kids have been in areas where toilets flushed right onto the streets because the areas are too poor for plumbing. The houses are built of cinderblock and are stacked on top of each other with little care for proper engineering. Garbage is dumped everywhere which includes rotting meat and anything else you can think of. York said he’s actually thrown up a couple of times right on the street because the smell is so vile. There are also varieties of orchids down there that are meant to attract flies, not bees, for pollination. To attract flies they put off a really strong rotten stench while they are pollinating. York said it’s almost unbearable, how awful they smell. Fun times!
None of the houses or apartments–my kids’ included–have air-conditioning, heating (and it gets surprisingly cold which means wearing every single pair of sweats and thermals to sleep in at night) or even insulation. There is no hot water heater, although the shower has a head with an electric current in it that theoretically warms the water as it flows out. This sounds like the most dangerous idea possible (electricity and water together! Super smart!) but, hey, the Third World is one round of excitement after another. They do miss a few things: carpet and tortillas and spicy food and cookies. And air conditioning. Did I mention it’s a rainforest down there? And it’s summer right now? India said it’s great for her tan, though. She did not inherit her mother’s pasty white complexion and is almost as dark as the Brazilians.
Ultimately, though, India and York are loving their missions and being in Brazil. The whole point is to invite people to come unto Christ and serve the people that they come in contact with. That’s what they do all day every day.
Even though they’re both in and around São Paulo, it’s a huge sprawling city of almost 20 million people and has the worst traffic in the universe. They have only seen each other once since October of 2015. They happened to go renew their visas on the same exact day at the same exact time. How crazy is that?
India said she can’t remember how to do anything but be a missionary. She’s not anxious to come home but she did say last week that she is so very tired. She’s been 100% super, duper obedient to her mission rules (and there are a TON of them) and is used to praying about a million times a day. I told Mister we’re going to have to up our game before she gets home. We’ve already started kneeling for family prayers: previously we just sprawled about wherever we were. We’re going to have to get a bunch of pictures of Jesus to put around the house before India gets home so she doesn’t think we’re heathens. Don’t want to get in trouble with the RM! Mostly, though, I just want to hug my baby girl. And show her all the funny cat videos she’s missed for the last 18 months.