As we sat back in our seats, slightly pushed away from the round table that provided the stage for our bate-papo (conversation), there was a moment of impromptu silence as if to pay tribute to the incredible Brasilian fare we had just enjoyed. That brief moment of pure satisfaction was interrupted by the welcomed reminder that this restaurant provides a steeply discounted dessert for anyone celebrating a birthday within the week. We knew there was a reason we brought Ron!
It was already getting late, at least by the standards of 2 families with young kids and one guest with a newly minted Medicare card, but we decided to take a look at the menu anyway. After all, we were there to celebrate the arrival of our friends, teachers, mentors, and beloved Tio Ron and Tia Georgia. Despite previous pictures (if you are following along) we really don’t eat here every day. It is our special-occasion place to take our favorite guests. Ron and Georgia definitely fit that descriptor. They were responsible for a large part of our training through GCM and helped us navigate the first three weeks of living in Brasil as they settled us into São Luís. Besides that, they are loads of fun and positivity and have been such a huge encouragement to us all along the way! The selection was made, ice cream brownie it would be!
A solid 10 minutes went by before the waiter returned with a stack of plates and spoons and placed them neatly on one side of the table. We just knew that any minute the treat would be upon us. The kids’ eagerness for a sugar rush was building and was evidenced by their inability to sit still, and we were running out of things for them to do. The food had been eaten, the table cleared, and all books, stickers, toys, and magna-doodles had been recycled by all at least twice already. As the minutes ticked by we kept wondering aloud what was taking soooo long! How long could it possibly take to prepare an ice cream brownie? Did they have to pick the cacau beans and milk the cow or what? After another 15 minutes or so the river impatience was about to crest our collective banks. The kids were exhausted, we were exhausted. Ron and Georgia were still travel weary. Grumble, grumble, grumble. There is no way a brownie with ice cream could be worth it. In all our experiences with lifetimes of restaurant desserts, nothing has ever warranted a 30-minute wait!
Melynda was the first to lay eyes on it and quickly exclaimed “Ronald Freitas!...I hope you are ready for this!” Those words were an apt prelude to what was being escorted down the aisle like a bride descending to meet her groom. THIS is what appeared:
I think this goes without saying, but missionaries are human too. The indignation of our ignorance of what was to come left us with just a hint of the sour taste of guilt in what was supposed to be a moment of surrender to the creamy goodness of Ron’s birthday reward. Don’t go overboard here, this dessert was most assuredly and thoroughly enjoyed by all! The race to Ron by the kids was too close to call because they were all within elbow room a split-second after the arrival of what looked more like the Stanley Cup than a brownie bottom ice cream treat. That being said, the lesson didn’t escape us.
Because were so sure that no dessert could be worth a 30-minute wait, we let that negativism invade our thoughts. We accepted the certainty of our assumptions because we didn't believe it could be this good. We didn’t believe because we had never seen anything like it before. Actually we had, we just forgot. We chose to listen to the more negative experiences of our past rather than the experiences of our present. It isn’t like we don’t have past positive experiences to focus on either. For example, we had never experienced a bad meal at this restaurant. Everything we have eaten there has been excellent and over-the-top in both quantity and quality. We had ordered appetizers in the past that were equivalently the largest we had ever seen before. And, the waiter brought out a STACK of large plates and over-sized spoons in preparation for this dessert. We should have known something good was cooking when the waiter took Ron’s ID to the back to verify that his birthday actually was this week!
And yet all of those things were lost on us. Why do we so quickly forget our blessings? Why do we so quickly focus on the negative instead of what is often the abundance of positive around us? Why can’t we imagine that our good Father knows how to give good gifts to us? Why don’t we believe Paul when he tells us that our God can ACTUALLY DO MORE than we can ask or imagine? We are guilty, but we are resolved to change.
Today, we will praise God for what he gave us yesterday, what he is doing in our lives today, and what He will lead us to tomorrow. We will give Him thanks because He is a patient God, a merciful God, an understanding God, and a good Father! We will do better, and we will be thankful for the gentle ways he reminds us of the attitudes we should have as his children, especially when the reminder comes with 15 scoops of ice cream!