We were like two kids waiting for Christmas morning. Having last seen Justin, Jill, Caden, Rylee and Addison on January 13, 2018, we anxiously awaited our August 26th departure date. Arriving in São Luís on August 27th, our hungry hearts were filled with lots of hugs, squeals, kisses, tears and two welcome posters written in Portuguese. It was better than Christmas morning! The three weeks that followed were filled with so many special times and memories.
As parents, it was so good to see where and how our kids and grandkids were living. The grandkids were so proud and excited to show us their new home and their bedrooms. We enjoyed walking the girls to school every morning and also picking them up. It filled our hearts to see how much the girls loved going to school. The teachers and staff at Maple Bear schools are wonderful. They welcome everyone with open arms and big smiles. We discovered that Brazilians are very happy and affectionate people. It was also so much fun to watch Caden play ‘futebol’ (soccer) at his school. Experiencing their day to day life was so enlightening. Even going to buy groceries or buying supplies for home repairs was an adventure. You don’t realize how convenient it is to have an HEB or Home Depot down the street.
The food was amazing! Our taste buds were introduced to many new fruits and foods which we thoroughly enjoyed. While we did a lot of walking, we did take several car trips. We couldn’t believe how many people used motorcycles as their family vehicle (Honda 150) and for making deliveries (propane tanks & 5-gallon water jugs). São Luís is a modern city in many ways, but don’t be surprised to see a donkey-drawn cart making its way down the street. Our car trips took us to see many beautiful places in and around São Luís. One of our favorite places was Lençóis Maranhenses National Park with its breathtaking sand dunes and crystal blue lagoons.
Even though we were privileged to see these spectacular creations of God, we felt the most beautiful thing we saw was the way our Creator is working in São Luís through the Hills and the Dyes. In seven months they have already formed so many friendships and relationships with people they live life with. It was a joy to go to the shop and meet Elian, the lady they meet on their first trip to São Luís in 2016 and see them converse with her in Portuguese. She was so happy to see them and meet us.
We couldn’t believe it when our three weeks was coming to an end, but our hearts were so full. We had shared so much life, learned so much about the Brazilian culture and saw our children and grandchildren (which includes the Dyes) living a life on this new faith journey with all it’s ups and downs, knowing that our Father has the master plan. They have already witnessed Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” - Rene’ and Steve Bailey (Jill's parents)