We are having a blast learning new expressions (and sometimes inadvertently creating our own)! We recently learned that during a downpour, people say “está chovendo canivetes.” This is a Portuguese idiom that means “it is raining pocket knives.” That made us think of other fun expressions that have to do with rain, like the one our kids seem to prefer which is “its raining tacos.” We have been taught not to say things are “weird,” so we will call that phrase “interesting.” Because it is so interesting, we looked it up and it turns out to be a silly YouTube video. Here is the link (https://youtu.be/zLZKuAY2tkc) but be warned, you may be singing this in perpetuity!
Watching that video reminded us of the unequivocal nirvana that is realized during the inaugural bite of chorizo and cheese folded into a handmade buttery flour tortilla and laden with a proportionally glorious amount of roasted salsa! It reminded us of, well, tacos. But that reminded us of San Antonio, which then reminded us of family…and friends…and our church community…and the smell of mountain laurels in bloom…and…well, you get the point (even more so if you have read "If you give a mouse a cookie").
We have learned another Portuguese expression that fits with the sentiment this silly song evoked…”saudade.” Google translates it as “missing” or sometimes better as “homesick,” but those words in English are really devoid of a deeper meaning that Brasilians better understand. One person wrote, “it describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic or deeply melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves.” No, that is still too sterile. Maybe better translated one writer said, “this word means not just missing you, but a part of me is missing.”
It is hard to write about saudade, a normal part of cross-cultural adaptation, without sounding whiny - so, sorry. But sometimes a good cry actually helps with acceptance. The reality is that we are sad about leaving. We are sad about the things we won’t get to experience with you. We are sad to miss birthdays, weddings, even funerals. We are sad that we won’t get to be physically present to laugh (or cry) with you for a while and to pretend that we aren’t is disingenuine.
"Às vezes parece que está chovendo canivetes!"
(Sometimes it feels like it is raining pocket knives)
It is true that a part of us is missing. It is also true that we have gained and will gain new parts of us. Parts that only exist because of the privilege we have been given to be here. They won’t replace the parts that are missing, and they don’t need to.
A truth we are learning is that saudade is a good thing. It means you had something significant in the first place to evoke the feeling. It means that you have loved and are loved. It also connects us to others who experience the same. Instead of focusing on the fact that we aren’t able to laugh and cry together physically, it actually will enable us to “rejoice with those who rejoice” and “mourn with those who mourn” better. We all have parts of us missing, parts that can’t be replaced or filled with anything less than the love of Christ. He had saudade too. It resulted from his voluntary obedience to do the work that was set out for him. Paul wrote about it as well but embraced the feeling as an opportunity to learn to be content and rejoice in every situation.
We do not always walk around smiling. We do not have significant faith building grand moments every day. Some days are pretty ordinary. Sometimes the homesickness comes out in a harsh word or short reply. Sometimes we just cry. But God has heard the prayers of many of you and He is faithful to provide our daily bread, and we feel like we have crossed over an initial adjustment hurdle. The transition from March to April has helped us learn our first lessons in how to be content with and even rejoice in our saudades. Thank you for the love that we miss, the love that wins! It spurs us on to share it with those that don’t have it yet! Oh, and enjoy a taco for us! In fact, the next time you have one, maybe say a prayer about our mission, and yours too!