This was the first Christmas that I have ever had to spend away from home. Most of you know that I travel a lot so home has come to mean wherever my camper is parked and my wife is staying. A number of the guys that have worked for me over the years would have called it missing Christmas, but to be perfectly fair, I didn’t miss Christmas, Christmas happened here just like it did all over the world; and because of a timely lesson and a generous family it was a good Christmas. I was extremely blessed to have been invited to partake in a Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, because while I did not get to spend Christmas with my family I still got to spend it with family. This was all the more a blessing because of the lesson God gave me on Monday.
Monday, during my prayer time God reminded me that I should desire the things that He desires. This was nothing new to me, just a reminder; what was new was the connection I made between that and the fact that I am still here in Brazil. It’s pretty clear that it is by God’s design that I am here, if it is by God’s design then it is His desire that I be here, that means I need to desire to be here. Whoa! Those were hard words to pray and it’s an even more difficult concept to live. It’s not enough to simply have a good attitude about being here; I need to desire to be here. My desire to be here shouldn’t be based on whether or not my family is here, or whether or not I get to eat my favorite foods or spend time with anyone special. My desire to be here should be solely based on the fact that God wants me to be here; meaning if God desires me to be here, then I desire to be here. Talk about learning whether or not I truly believe “My grace is enough.”
On Christmas Eve I attended a candlelight service at church and when I drove from Ipanema to Barra Tijuca on a Tuesday evening in 35 minutes I was shocked, that should have been an hour and a half drive! The service was nice; we sang several Christmas carols interspersed with reading of the Scripture. I was amused at how obvious my Baptist roots were since I only knew the first, second, and fourth verses of the four verse carols and only the first and third of the three verse carols. I wasn’t aware that there were people in the world who actually sang those missing verses.
This week I happened across what is possibly one of the most cruel and sadistic things on the face of the planet: unpoppable bubble wrap. Seriously. It was designed in such a fashion that in a single row all the bubbles were connected, meaning that when you squeezed one bubble all of the air was forced into the adjacent chambers. It is practically impossible to forcefully eject the air from the bubble groups leaving only stabbing it with a knife and burning it as viable alternatives and I tend to get in trouble for burning things. It’s like this stuff was created for one specific purpose, pushing those who are bordering the edge of sanity right over the cliff; and we’re not talking about a gentle push, we’re talking like loading up the trebuchet and launching them into the abyss of insanity and paranoia.
I was reading a book this past week that used Rio de Janeiro as a stage for one of its scenes. I was simultaneously impressed with the mention and mostly accurate description of the small and relatively unheard of suburbs and disappointed with the use of places that, for the most part, do not exist in Rio, like pool halls and internet cafes (to be clear, it’s not that these kinds of places are entirely unheard of, rather, they simply do not exist as described in the novel). I was also miffed at the time frame given between getting off the plane and picking up the rental car; the whole time I kept thinking, seriously, have you ever tried to rent a car in Rio before? All in all it left me a little disillusioned with one of my favorite authors because it would appear that his research is not as thorough as it always seemed before.