Eighteen years ago Dan and I moved our three boys from the big city of São Paulo to the tiny town of Petrolina in NE Brazil. When we’d gone up to investigate a year earlier, we had stayed in the home of a pastor and his wife. My journal entries show our initial reactions.
March 18, 1993: On our first night in Petrolina I learned the true meaning of “bed and board”. I even peeled away the corner of the already worn mattress cover to verify that I was sleeping on a thick piece of plywood. By the time we went to bed the hardness of the mattress mattered little. We were too tired and hot. We lay down, grateful for the fan in our room. The fan, however, did nothing to prevent the merciless onslaught of the “mosquito squadron.” Both Danny (3) and David (1) woke up all night long, crying and scratching.
The next morning there were no hot showers but no one minded. In this drought-stricken area we are glad to have water. The house was so hot and stuffy by 9 a.m. that a cold bath was a relief.
March 27: Although it’s Saturday the boys woke up at 6:30. They were making so much noise that I decided to dress them and take them to the street market. We left at 7:15 and by 8:15 it was 100 degrees. Because of the blistering heat, I stopped into a little store and bought ice-cold colas. I’m sure I’ve never had a coke before breakfast before!
March 30: David has a heat rash all over his head that is causing him to literally pull out his hair in aggravation.
Tensions with the family with whom we were staying, illness, and the extreme heat caused us to cut our month-long stay short by one week. Yet a year later I wrote in my journal, “Our dream of moving to Petrolina seems about to come true. I’m so excited I can hardly sleep some nights.” On April 15th 1994 we boarded a plane and headed north for seven rich years of ministry. Of course there were challenges, but we wouldn’t have traded any of them for the miracles seen and the friendships experienced. What a gift from the Lord!