Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Enchanting Thoughts

    Six-thirty a.m., the alarm goes off. Four sister missionaries crammed into the same room one by one slide onto their knees without ever opening their eyes and slip naturally from sleep to prayer. The day begins without a word from anyone as they each find their own corner of the tiny apartment in which to exercise. This morning's breakfast of choice is the same as yesterday's and all the days before: bread and milk with Nescau powder and vitamina. Then begin the hours of study, practice, and preparation for the day. 11:30: Fully clothed, hair pulled away from the face and neck in the captive knot of choice, Chaco sandals securely fastened, the four sisters kneel in prayer. I think of the people we've planned to visit for the day, and of the people we might encounter. Joselha's husband doesn't want her to go to church, what can we do to help her? Tamiris has been keeping all of her commitments, but she didn't come to church. We need to try again to find the house of that one man who asked us to visit him.... All these thoughts swim around my head as I rise to my feet and, together with my companion, descend 4 flights of stairs and make my way down the long, dark hallway of our apartment building. The big metal door opens with a deep groan, and we are splashed with the almost blinding light of the sun. Good morning, Jequié! 
Anything can happen today. 
We are missionaries!

Yes, my life really is that epic. Someone should make a movie about it.

I think one of the most tragic words in the English language is "disenchanted". If you ever were once enchanted by something, stay enchanted! If you're not enchanted by life, you need to stop. Look around you. Breathe in the scents. Take in the colors. Listen to the sounds. Allow yourself to be swept off your feet, if only for a few minutes!
    What enchants you about your life currently? Here in Jequié, I'm enchanted by the gorgeous green mountains that surround the city. I'm enchanted by the clip-clop of horse hooves on cobblestones as they pull carts through the streets. I'm enchanted by the children who gather to whisper about us as we pass and then urge the bravest of the bunch to call out to us, "Fala Inglês!" (speak English!) and when the request is granted they split into peals of delighted giggles. I'm enchanted by the little boys who play futebol in the road. I'm enchanted by the man who gives us bushels of bananas for free just because he likes us. I'm enchanted by all the houses that sell gelaginho for 50 centavos. I'm enchanted by the terracotta rooftops, the daily-baked rolls of bread that everyone eats for breakfast from their local bakery (pre-sliced loaves are a joke to Brasilians), the many fruit stands that sell bananas, coconuts, mangoes, oranges and avocados the size of your limbs for super cheap. I'm enchanted by the women who walk around with umbrellas to protect their skin from the sun (it's so hot here I finally joined the ranks last week).
   Overall, I'm just enchanted by Brasil. Sometimes it's easy to become so focused on work, work, work, that one starts to forget the magical scent of mango trees on the air and "disenchantment" starts to set in. What was once "Ah! Brasil!!!" becomes, "eh, Brasil." Then I have to skid to a halt and  ask myself, "Just Brasil?! Did I really just think that??" And then it's time to stop in the shade for a few minutes and soak in the blessing of living in such a place for 18 months of my life.
   I think the same thing happens to us all in our day-to-day lives. We become so caught up in our routine that we forget how blessed we are. There exists a cliché dream in the US of lounging on a tropical beach, sipping coconut milk through a straw. Well, that's people's reality here and they can think of nothing more glamorous than taking a car to the McDonald's drive-thru. One of my companions had a packet of mayonnaise from Burger King that she kept on her desk like a trophy.
    Now that I'm here, sometimes I lose myself to daydreams of sitting on my couch at home during the cold autumn months with fluffy socks on my feet and an over-sized sweater that I can slip over my knees while sipping chamomile ginger lemon tea and watching the fallen leaves get soggy in Oregon's rain. It's the little things like that which make life enchanting and, no matter where you are in the world, these "little things" exist in some form or another. Never become disenchanted with anything! Relish the good where you are when you are! It's in treasuring the simple joys of life that we become truly grateful people. It's a form of worship, really-- recognizing the blessings that God has given us. I love what James E. Talmadge said in his book "Jesus the Christ":
      "Though the sun shines and the rain falls upon the just and the unjust, the righteous man is grateful for these blessings; the ungodly man receives the benefits as a matter of course with a soul incapable of gratitude. The capacity to be grateful is a blessing, for the possession of which we should be further grateful."

I love you all so much! I'm so grateful for every single person in my life!

_Sister Weezer

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