Once again I epically fail at providing regular updates on my brilliant blog! My feet have barely touched the ground this week... quite literally! I am making the most of our Easter holiday break this week to go on an exciting adventure with my room mate Brenda, which involved visiting not one, not two, but three capitals of Brazil in 24 hours!
On Tuesday we did our usual trick of squeezing as many people (plus suitcases this time) into Felix, and whizzed down into town after our evening lectures for a night-time escapade, pushing the limits of our curfew! I should add that a new game has been added to our driving repertoire aside from "voltinhas". It's called "Heather e legal aqui" (Heather is awesome here" and goes something like this. We drive along, squeezed in like coffee beans in a coffee pod (I struggled to find a suitable Brazilian idiom here!) and Bruno swings the steering wheel violently to the right singing "Heather e legal aqui", and then to the left "e Heather e legal aqui", at top speed ad libidum, until I turn green and the car is ringing with ultrasonic screaming.
We enjoyed a "lanche" and clowned around in the bus station (quite literally, and loudly, much to our fellow passengers´ annoyance), we crawled onto a bus at midnight to Belo Horizonte, the capital of our state, Minas Gerais. After another bus ride and a flight, we arrived in Brasilia at around 11 am on Wednesday. After yet another two buses, and a lift from Brenda's friend Vitor, we arrived at Goiania, to spend a few days on an Easter camp for young Christians. Brenda manages an AMAZING worship band, and they were the main act at the camp... I am still humming their songs now as I write this! I cannot put into words quite how much Brazilians exceeded my craziness expectations during those few days! I found myself dancing like a clown, shouting and generally being very stupid, all in the name of Jesus! One evening they had a pretend "peasant" wedding, and on another they had a Mexican fiesta, at which I showed my pure Englishess by failing tragically at dancing the limbo!
I must digress for a moment to tell of the subtle irony of this latest humiliation. As you all now, the boys here at CEM dearly enjoy winding me up like a clockwork mouse to see just how beserk I will go. Tercio particularly enjoys asking me very deep and meaningful questions that he knows I don't have the vocabulary to answer, as late at night as possible. Everyone laughs at me because at 10pm sharp every day I go into "screensaver" mode and am incapable of communication in any language. Last week he was passing me questions on post-it notes during the Systematic Theology lecture to keep me awake, in which we were discussing why Catholics believe in limbo and Protestants don't. Having asked me what I thought about limbo, I told him it was a special dance found at only the best parties. 24 hours later I found myself dancing the limbo (*correction*, I found myself face down in front of a bunch of very boisterous amd "brincalhao" Brazilians!) At least I think Bruno and Igor, the clowns, would be proud. They have devised a 10 point "Curing Heather of clown-phobia" plan. They estimate that by the end of my Stride project they will have me fully made up in clown gear walking a tight rope. Not quite so sure about that!
Despite being severely bullied, my friendships here at CEM are going from strength to strength, and I have an amazing sense of God's grace and presence... this is where he always intended me to be! My Portuguese has come on leaps and bounds too, and I even manage to throw the odd bits of slang in here and there. My favourite expressions so far are "get your foot off my dinner please" (roughly meaning, "get a flippin move on") and "stop filling sausages" ("stop rabbiting on!"
Other important highlights have included an all-night vigil the students did to pray for the situation in Rio (where a man opened fire in a primary school), making cards to send to the victims, singing round the bonfire, a three-day visit from Lesley, the lovely lady from Latin Link who set my project up, severely bruising my arm playing volley ball with the CEM crew, and being taught how to cook a proper "feijoada" (think beans, with beans, and unmentionable bits of left over pig... and beans). Guess what it's served with. Go on, guess!.................RICE!
In food news, I have eaten many a yummy thing to compensate for my ... not so favourite experiences. Some of you will remember Dantas from my poisoned rice nightmare. He's a vet and I have taken to helping him with translating some academic texts on the effects of various laxatives on horses (!!!!!!), in return for which, he keeps bringing in yummy sweet things that his wife makes. Perhaps it will be "death by chocolate" rather than "death by poisoned rice".
What else have I been up to? Ohhhh so many things, I don't know where to start! Picnics, prayer meetings, training days, eating copious amounts of pizza, playing crazy games. In wildlife news, it has been kitten central in CEM, and I have been mastering the art of doing my washing with one kitten on each foot, one on my shoulder, one clinging to my neck, and another two in my wash basket trying to get into the machine! The day they got taken to market was a very sad day, but thankfully one got left behind, which is a great distraction/therapy on stressful days, and a great antidote to all the dogs/cows/creepy crawlies that follow me around!
Now I am at Brenda's house enjoying a few days of rest I am hoping to brave getting my hair cut too (let's see how my hairdressing vocab turns out!), although the boys at CEM have started a campaign to stop me doing so! Brazilian men don't like short hair! Things have been so busy in Vicosa, that it's great to take some time out to spend with God and think about why I'm really here, where I'm going... and just being thankful for all the wonderful things that my Father is doing in my life. Look out for my April prayer letter soon!
x x x