“How Are You Adjusting?”
We get this question a lot…
It’s a good question. It’s a question uttered by people who care about us or people who are genuinely interested in what it’s like for Americans to uproot and move to another country.
Adjusting is something I’m accustomed to. Who isn’t!?? Life is full of opportunities to “adjust”.
There’s difficult adjustments like if your parents were divorced, if you’ve lost a loved one or lost a job. Then there are good adjustments like a pay raise, move, or getting sent out, etc. When I got saved, I had some “serious adjusting” to do in my life. When I got married…even more “serious adjusting”. Then our precious, demanding angels came into the world and, there we went, off to more adjusting. Then things calm down and you’re serving God, happily married and raising your children BUT life still throws more adjustments your way. Someone gets sick, someone loses a job, etc.
I remember when my husband had a job change and was making a lot more money, we made some adjustments and spent more money! It was nice to be out of debt and blessing ourselves with clothes, furniture and other things we weren’t able to purchase before, AND being able to give more tithes/offerings (every Christian knows how good that feels).
Then, there was the time the income decreased, and again, we made adjustments to our spending and other daily life situations. Was I bitter that now I had to stop getting my nails done or shopping? No, I was an adult and had learned that life takes adjusting to sometimes. Why fight it? The bible teaches that we can learn many valuable things through “our trials”. One thing that I’ve learned is the need “to adjust”.
When my husband was first called into the ministry we needed to quit slacking, get serious and make adjustments. Remember ” many are called but few are chosen “. We didn’t want God’s will to pass by because we weren’t willing to make adjustments.
Now, see how this comes into play here in Brazil? Life comes with changes so we roll with it. You can move to another country and seek out ways to make it just like home or you can embrace all things foreign. I meet somewhere in the middle which is easy in Brazil because it’s a pretty modern country. Not the most modern but I’ve got internet, familiar foods to work with and 2 WALMARTS! It may be Brazil’s interpretation of a Walmart but, a Walmart nonetheless!
Wives can really hinder husband’s in this area because men are more excited about change than women. We like comfort and security and familiarity, which isn’t a bad thing, it’s how God made us. However, what happens if the change God’s calling our husband to has too many adjustments attached. Adjustments we don’t want. What then? Do we dig in our heels or support?
I can’t say I felt “called” to Brazil but I definitely feel called to support and follow my husband. Despite that, God still spoke to my heart about it, probably to give me the comfort and security I needed (remember those words)? Isn’t He good!? Knowing God wants us here has made adjusting easier. Life here is definitely different but it’s interesting learning a new way of life and about a new culture. We’re just embracing all the changes that come. I know God’s going to continue His work in US, as well as Brazilians.
The language barrier is probably the biggest adjustment but since I’m from the Rio Grande Valley and I’m not fluent in Spanish, I’m kinda used to being in a setting and only understanding half of what’s going on. Not the greatest thing to feel used to. Lol. I’ve been to many fellowships where everyone’s speaking Spanish and I just sit there smiling politely. That’s exactly what I do here most of the time. Once we visited a church here and I felt bad for my husband because he couldn’t talk to the men as much as he wanted because the ladies needed him to communicate to me and you know how us ladies like to talk! It’s difficult not being able to truly connect with someone in your own language or any mutual language for that matter. Sometimes I crave human interaction outside my hubby and kiddos, another woman to converse with would be a blessing. The need to communicate is not to bad now because my husband’s usually by my side but I know when we open the church it’ll be more of a challenge so I’m studying as much as I can. Pray for me!!!
Cooking has been good. Once I got used to my gas stove I just bought what I was familiar with and the family seems happy. I tried to buy some things with recipes attached but My Goodness by the time I’m done typing everything into Google translate I don’t feel much like cooking anymore! For now I’ll just stick with what I know and wait for some brasileiras to teach me some Brazilian dishes.
When we first arrived here we lived in a hotel for a month. We’d buy normal things like hot dogs, sandwiches and ramen to eat in the hotel and save money “but”… Ew. The hot dog franks were orange and don’t taste like what I’m used to and I still haven’t had a regular sandwich I like but the ramen’s great! And… Don’t even get me started on the pizza! Didn’t know pizza could be so different. This just means that I cook better than before since I can’t rely on american-type junk food anymore. Not a bad adjustment. I found flour tortillas here and I could hear the angels singing! Hallelujah!!! (Or maybe that was me.) Brazilians put ham and cheese in them here so I look forward to cooking some mean tacos for them. It’s interesting that Brazilians don’t really eat chile like we do in Texas. Some think bell peppers are spicy and even though you can find Tabasco sauce at every restaurant I’ve never seen them use it. Grocery shopping is a lil challenging, but not too bad. It’s mostly the translating that makes it difficult, we simply don’t know what some foods are, or what type of meat were buying. I bought cake mix and we couldn’t find what they put as icing. We had to ask some nice ladies in the cake aisle. There are several things I’ll need to start cooking from scratch because they can’t be found here, but that excites me because I actually like cooking. My husband has been looking out for corn flour (and other spices) for me so i can make corn tortillas or tortilla chips (mmmmmm) he says everyone in the store will join in trying to help him find what he needs. Love these people! We still haven’t found corn flour but I did find chili powder and jalapeños which is not common here. Some american things can be found here but are too expensive. I’ll probably be asking for tortilla chips (which are $10 a bag) for my birthday! Ha! Julia’s always asking for buffalo sauce which is $7 a bottle so we ration it when we buy it. Lol! (If you know my daughter you’d know she’ll put it on everything if I let her) In America we have a whole aisle just for cereal. Here they have a tiny section for cereal and it’s mostly healthy and about 5 different kinds only. The milk is different too because it’s not refrigerated til opened and tastes very…different. As a milk drinker, I sooo miss chugging a full glass of ice milk!. The other day I saw a Milky Way candy bar for R$.69! That’s .30¢ for a candy bar! Hallelujah! Fruit is also cheaper here so we’ve got a plethora at home. We are enjoying eating several kinds of fruit we’ve never seen in the states. Such as, guava, maracujá (passion fruit), acerola, acaí, guaraná, and caju and MANY more. People here drink fruit juice with every meal. It’s commonly served with lunch and dinner here. Brazil also has a heavy Italian influence, therefore whole aisles are designated to pasta and it’s sauces. It was funny because once we had a fellowship and I mixed up some garlic butter and spread it on the bread, toasted it too. Mmmm, so good! BUT our friends made a funny (but polite) face and didn’t reach for the bread after we prayed and began our meal. Hmmm, “You guys want some bread?”, we asked. I was excited for them to try it because Brazilians are known for their love of bread sooooo why weren’t they grabbing several pieces like our carb obsessed family!? They only eat bread for breakfast or lunch if it’s for a sandwich. We were like, “but it’s Italian food!” They gave us funny looks as we ate and dipped our bread in any pasta sauce we could muster off our plate. We’re fascinated with little differences in our culture such as these.
This is maracuja, passion fruit in english. It reminds me of the passion fruit candies. It’s great to drink or add to a smoothie. Julia spoons it out of skin and eats it, but it’s to tart for me, I prefer in a smoothie or juice. Yum!
Brazil has street food everywhere, from macarrao (spaghetti), empanadas, sandwiches, churros and these are my favorite, called Coxinha (co-sheen-nya). They’re filled with shredded chicken seasoned with tomato paste and onion and garlic.
There are other adjustments like, being so far away from family and friends. I thank God for technology. We can text, call and video our family/friends all for free, with wifi, of course. It’s refreshing keeping in touch with everyone. It’s a little lonely in the beginning. Then soon we’ll need to adjust to being busy with the church again… Lol.
When looking for a home in Brazil I really only prayed for a safe location, great price and a beautiful view. Brazil is full of mountains and Belo Horizonte is built on mountains, literally. Coming from South Texas, everything is so flat. I absolutely love the mountains, SO much. Lol! God was gracious enough to grant my request and the only Realtor willing to rent to us (ugh) had two apartments and ours has such a beautiful view. One look outside and you see the beauty of Gods creation and I feel instantly inspired and encouraged. Yes, the mountains do all that for me! I’m easy to please! I do miss washing my face with warm water though. Only the showers have hot water here and they’re electric, so no water heaters! It’s actually been better on my skin and our wallets. HA!
In our home we have no AC but the weather is nice so we don’t really need it. We keep our windows open at all times and there is constantly dust/dirt everywhere, which drives me crazy because our floors are white. But nimodo, no biggy. It’s just something we’re getting used to. Good thing our kids are old enough to sweep too! The kids love our small apartment and tell their friends it’s like, “living in a hotel” because the buildings have elevators. I’m glad they’re easy to please too.
We’ve only been here for 3 months and we don’t feel like we’ve fully experienced the people and the culture yet. I’m certain another adjusting blog will be in the foreseeable future.
This is the view from our veranda.
No matter where you are in life right now; whether it be as a missionary, a wife, mother, teen, etc you’ll need to adjust somehow, eventually. Some are good adjustments, some bad, most are temporary. You can fight it or embrace it but they’re coming. I’ve learned that we can adjust to anything if we have the right perspective and attitude. Life would be boring and mundane without changes. We also wouldn’t be very interesting elders if we didn’t have any stories to tell of life’s curve balls and the ways we adjusted and made the best of things. Just the other day we were retelling a story to our daughter about something difficult we had gone through. She didn’t understand why we were laughing while telling a story of something so difficult that had happened. We all know that’s it’s painful going through it but later you can laugh at the absurdity of it all. We look forward to laughing and sharing many wonderful stories of our life as expats in the future with our kids; about what we experienced, and how we embraced and adjusted to life in Brazil.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
Thank you for reading my blog. Pray for us as we pray for you!