Whenever you move to a new place, there is always that thought of, "when will I meet people?...how long will it take until I have friends?" Well, moving to a foreign country is no exception...except that my potential friends speak a totally different language!!
However, this is no ordinary foreign country--this is Brazil!! The people are very friendly here, if not curious about newcomers. We began meeting neighbors right away. There is something about the curiosity and unassuming nature of children. As I look back on all of the neighbors we have met, I realize we met their children first.
On our first afternoon here, after the students had gone, Tom met Renan (pronounced Hay'non), a 10 year old boy from down the street. Renan just struck up a conversation with the new man on the block. Then he took him to his house to meet his dad. I was unconscious upstairs- sleeping off the jet lag (I did not sleep on the 13 hour flight...but that is a different post for another day.) It was here that Tom borrowed a phone to order a pizza. He left money with the dad and later our pizza was delivered to our door by none other than Renan.
After I had resumed consciousness, and after dinner, (the kids didn't really care for the pizza...the first of many disappointing meals) the kids and I were hanging out in front of the house. Tom had walked over to the mall to try to get his cell phone set up. The little girl from next door (3 year old Manuela)came out and just sort of loitered on the edge of the lawn between our two houses. She kept staring at us, so I tried to think of all the Portuguese I could say..."Hello, I don't speak Portuguese. What is your name?" This has become my standard greeting for everyone. I feel very accomplished that I can speak in full sentences. I just keep my fingers crossed that the answer won't be more than one word. We went on like this for a while, me using every word I knew, Manuela smiling at me.( Hopefully I was saying what I thought I was saying.) She warmed up, and soon she and my little girls were playing-running up and down the driveway. Finally her grandmother, Lucia came out. She speaks a little English. Music to my ears!
We talked for a little while in the driveway. I noticed people walking up and down the street, greeting each other. It reminded me of my neighborhood back home. (We live in the best neighborhood on earth! Here's a shout out to all my Clover Ridge Peeps!!) I considered it a tender mercy of the Lord that we were placed in a friendly neighborhood! My heart began to take courage. (Just hours before, in the bustling airport of Sao Paulo, I had thought, "What have we done?!!!!") Now I'm thinking, "I can live here. I can do this!" (I go back and forth daily between these two very different thoughts)
Later,I find Marissa out in the front yard talking to Renan, his parents, and his 12 year old sister Erika (she and Marissa are becoming friends). None of them speak English. Thankfully, Lucia is out also and tries to translate back and forth. I get most of it. They are all so nice, so genuine.
Marissa and Jaden go off to play basketball with Erika and Renan. Keira and Tessa are playing with Manuela in the driveway. Of course, my loving Keira is hugging Manuela often. I think to myself, "laughing and playing, hugs and smiles- these are understood in any language." My children have friends on their first day here. My heart sings! Another tender mercy.
Later that night, after the kids are in bed (we ordered beds for the kids and 2 futon- type couches before we came. Tom and I didn't want to order our bed until we could lay on it) I was making up the futons in the living room for Tom and I to sleep on. Tom was in the shower. I hear a doorbell--is that my doorbell?! What do I do?!!! (This reminds of the time when I was at my new job at the Health Department. I was in the little procedure room when the phone rang. That phone had never rung before. I panicked. I called out, "The phone is ringing. What do I do?!" My co-worker, Candace, called back, "Answer it!" Doh!!) Anyway, I'm getting away from my story. I go to the door, glad that I have not yet gotten into my pajamas (my underwear), and I can't open it!!! The doors here don't have that little knobber thingy that you lock from the inside. No, you must lock and unlock these doors with keys. We have a whole box of keys for all the doors in the house and yard. Our door is a frosted glass door:
I can see Renan's parents standing out there, arms full of groceries. They can also see me. I hold up one finger and yell "uma momemto!" (For some reason, I think I'm in Mexico) I run in the kitchen and search the box of keys. I can't find them. "uma momemto! uma momento!" as I run up the stairs. They are looking at me like I have lost my mind. I shout at Tom, in full lather in the shower, "Someone is at the door! Where are the keys?!" He tells me. I run back down and find them. Now I'm fumbling at the lock when I realize they are standing out there in total darkness. Suddenly, I feel the need to turn the porch light on before I open the door and let them into the well lit house. There are like 20 light switches by the front door. I'm not exaggerating (maybe a little). I try them all, lights flipping on and off, finally finding the desired porch light with the LAST flick. They are still patiently waiting. I can only imagine what they must be thinking. After more fumbling with the keys, I am finally able to admit my guests. They hold up the sacks and say, "Breakfast!" in their finest English. I invite them into the house, unable to recall ANY Portuguese. I pantomime that Tom is taking a shower (perhaps a little too enthusiastically, thanks to the adrenaline surging through my veins- due to the trauma of being unable to open my OWN front door---FROM THE INSIDE!!!) We begin unloading sacks. They have brought 2 loaves of bread, cream cheese, sliced meat and cheese, chocolate milk, juice, cookies...the food just keeps coming. I'm overwhelmed. I feel the tears coming to the surface...tears of gratitude, tears of happiness. Now I remember one word which I repeat over and over: "Obrigada, obrigada!" ("Thank you, thank you!")