Walking into this new culture/home/language/ministry/life has proved to be an interesting adventure. Stripped bare of all comforts of familiarity, the world we are now looking at seems a bit alien. We are children again, fumbling and drooling about as we learn how to walk, talk, and act. "Não custa nada, ser bem educado," (it doesn't cost anything to be well mannered) the children's song goes, but I would give riches for the nuanced accent of even the smallest child, for the cultural sensitivity and awareness I'm so gravely lacking.
The other day as we were about to board the subway for one of our study jaunts, we were approached by a man who was asking us to sign a petition against this, or for that (who knows). I quickly responded, in my acutely honed Portuguese, "No thanks, we can't sign.... we're citizens!" His response was different than the sharp "thank you, have a good day" I expected. "Ummmm?" I quickly realized my mistake. Not waiting for a response I blurted out, "We're FOREIGNERS!"
Another day I received a phone call from our cell phone company wishing to tie up some loose ends. While attempting to decipher the barrage of technical jargon, I realized I was being asked a question. What question? I had no idea, but naturally I gave the oh so easy, but dangerous response "YES." That should have fixed everything, right? The worker asked the question again, so I responded "Yes, Yes" this time. Obviously the double yes emphasized the absolute certainty of my answer. "Sir, are you sure you understand me," was her response.
What does our external walk with Jesus look like when we can't have a real conversation with anyone, when we don't have the language to go up to a stranger to pray for them, when we can't preach the gospel because we just don't have the words yet?
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. He will always be faithful. We have been praying these questions, these petitions, and he is answering our prayers, opening the doors of relationship, and using our frailty. We are making friends, developing relationships, and attempting more and more to be open to Jesus... everywhere, language or not.
We were sitting in a coffee shop the other day studying. Right in front of us plops down a real-live traveling man, fully equipped with backpack and hiking boots; a european explorer from the order of Yukon Cornelius (any Christmas aficionados?) After a short bit, he looks up, and in broken portuguese asks if we are here to study. Once Andrea informed him we speak English, we found out he's an American linguist that, in his retirement, has chosen to live in Europe, studying languages. It was a fascinating conversation, and we were given the opportunity to share our testimonies, and encourage him in the things of the Lord.
God is faithful to allow us to co-labor with him when we are open! He truly does use the weak things of the world to shame the strong, and we are relishing our weakness, as God is growing more dependence inside of us.
We've never had to depend on Jesus more, and it's the best place we've ever been.
Oh, and we're studying like we're in Med school.
For your viewing pleasure, please enjoy one our latest language learning tactics, Portuguese children's songs. This is one of our favorites.