Saturday, June 30, 2012

Trip to Ourinhos

My time is a little short this week, so instead of writing a full fledged blog post about Dad's and my trip to Ourinhos, I thought I would simply post the pictures that we took with a few words of explanation. I hope you enjoy them!


On the way to Ourinhos, we stopped in Marilia. A nice city with a little over one hundred thousand inhabitants. I'm not sure what all the city thrives on, but we learned that it is home to three universities and Marilan, a factory that produces a wide variety of cookies and crackers.

Dad and Pr. Gilberto

Our purpose for stopping in Ourinhos was to visit Pr. Gilberto Stefano.  As soon as you set foot in his home, various pieces of antique furniture and an old, old radio reveal Pr. Gilberto's love of history. He loves church history in particular and is currently adding the final touches to a book he wrote about the history of Baptist churches in São Paulo state. Pr. Gilberto has been wanting Dad to look the book over and give his opinion about it. This visit was scheduled so that Dad could do just that. 

Lara and Maria Lydia

 Dad and Pr. Gilberto spent almost two hours holed up in his office. During this time, I talked and played Old Maid with Pr. Gilberto's two daughters, Lara (16) and Maria Lydia (6).
Filipe and Sis. Valeria

Near the end of the visit Pr. Gilberto's wife, Sis. Valeria, and his son, Filipe (14), even joined the fun.

My "Cell"
We left Pr. Gilberto's home shortly before 8 p.m. and continued driving to Ourinhos. I think a good adjective to describe Ourinhos as we drove into its downtown area at 9:30 p.m. would be "bustling". Every parking spot on both sides of the streets was taken, and it looked as if the majority of the city's 10,300 inhabitants were heading to the central plaza, where music was playing and lighted food booths abounded. Later we learned that a festival for Saint John's Day was taking place.

The family we would be staying with during our time in Ourinhos wasn't expecting us until noon of the following day, so Dad after much searching found us a hotel for the night. This hotel earned itself a place in my special memories. I'm not exactly sure when it began working its way into that special category of memories, perhaps it was when the elderly clerk informed us that the hotel's parking was around the corner and down the road a block and a half, but for sure by morning, the Ninth of July Hotel and especially room #9 had become an unforgettable experience. It surprised me frequently during my stay there how very tiny the room was, and Corrie Ten Boom's descriptions of her prison cells often came to mind. With portions of Corrie Ten Boom's book, The Hiding Place, lurking in my thoughts, I measured my room. It was exactly 5 steps long and 4 wide. Later I opened the window and sure enough a dingy, gray wall was within arms reach. Thankfully, unlike a prison cell, my room was very clean and the bed soft. It was a welcome haven after a day of traveling and visiting.

Dad with Pr. Israel

The next morning we packed up and made our way to Pr. Israel's home. Pr. Israel has worked as an electrician for many years. Of late, he and his family have been working extra to make some improvements on their home. They have already finished adding on a bedroom and laying new tile in half the house. Their next project is to transform a back bedroom into a utility room. Pastor, his wife Izalina, and their youngest son, Giovane layed their work aside and welcomed us warmly.

Salto Grande

That evening we accompanied Pr. Israel to Salto Grande, a small town about twenty minutes away from Ourinhos. Although the church in Ourinhos began this preaching point in Salto Grande quite awhile ago, there are only three people that faithfully come to the services. None the less, Dad enjoyed preaching to them, and they really seemed to enjoy the books that we took.

Talking after the morning service

Dad preached both the services in Ourinhos on Sunday, and we had enjoyable times of  fellowship with the brethren after the services. 

Jander, Flavio and Dad

Two of the men in the church, Flavio and Jander, especially enjoyed talking with Dad about the Greek roots of certain words. 

Giovane and Dad

 In the free hours that we had in the afternoons, we played numerous rounds of dominoes. Giovane won most of the games, but it was still fun.

Diego and little Julia

Pr. Israel's oldest son, Diego, came over Sunday afternoon to see his parents and visit with us. He brought his little daughter, Julia. She doesn't like strangers, so I had to content myself with looking but definitely NOT touching. :)

Sis. Izalina, Pr. Israel, Giovane and Paula with Dad

This gathering of Baptists (like most others) was not lacking in good food. Right before this picture was taken, Sis. Izalina served us a two layer pudim. The common pudim is very similar to an extra sweet custard and only has one layer. This pudim had been baked and then covered with chocolate cake batter and baked again. It was delicious!


Okay, this is a bonus picture. I took it in Marilia because I liked the trailer's paint job, but later I realized what a good example this is of a lanchonete. Lanchonetes are quite common in Brazil. The cooks and waiters that run these eateries usually set up tables and chairs on the sidewalk and heat their flat griddles around 7 p.m.  They then fix and serve every type of sandwich that you can imagine until the wee hours of the next morning. Most lanchonetes serve a sandwich called the X - Tudo (which means: Cheese and Everything). This sandwich has a hamburger, chopped chicken, bacon, fried egg, cheese and even sliced sausages stuffed into a big hamburger bun. 
Luis Carlos, the Hamburger Man

We came to know Luis Carlos, fondly called the Hamburger Man, through the lanchonete that he owned and operated just a few blocks away from our house. Since his battle with cancer, Luis Carlos had to sell his lanchonete, however the Lord has kept the door open for us to have contact with him. Dad visits him occasionally, but more often then not he visits us and helps run errands or work in the print room. This month Luis Carlos has been rejoicing because he has been cancer free for one year.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Trip to Sud Menucci

Daniel, Guest Speaker, Sabrina and Ellise
at the youth conference
Thursday, June 7th, was a cold, drizzly day, but it was also one of the many national holidays here in Brazil. Not only was it a holiday, but to many people’s delight it fell on a Thursday and could be extended to the weekend. It was interesting to take notice what Brazilians did on their holiday. Joy found out the hard way that lots of people went grocery shopping. Joy used part of the holiday to balance the book ministry’s accounts and found that the post office bill was due the next day. "No problem", she thought, "I’ll just run to Muffato Max (a grocery store similar to Walmart) and get some cash out of the ATM so that the bill can be paid early on Friday." Joy arrived at Muffato to find that there was a substantial waiting line to get into the parking lot, long lines at every checkout, and much to her disappointment the ATM had already been milked dry. The withdrawing of cash was immediately postponed to a later date.

Daniel participating in an activity
at the youth conference 
Many people also used the extended holiday to travel. The newspapers were full of reports about the heavy traffic and accidents on the most used highways. Daniel and his work buddies had to travel from São Jose dos Campos, where they live, to a nice conference area in the small city of Atibaia. Every year Editora Fiel, the Christian publishing company where Daniel works, holds a youth conference with a variety of guest speakers, special book sales, and fun activities. This year’s conference took place on the holiday weekend. Several days before the holiday, Daniel and his fellow employees packed up boxes and boxes of books and electrical equipment, then accompanied them to the conference area in order to set everything up. The holiday brought buses and cars loaded with young people to the conference. Eventually about three hundred young people had gathered to attend the conference. Daniel’s usual job at these conferences is to take the footage being picked up by the video cameras and transmit it live over the internet to spectators that are watching off and on throughout the day. This year, however, Daniel’s boss asked him to take a more public part and share the responsibility of introducing speakers and activities, in short keep things running on schedule. Daniel said it was quite a challenge for him, but by God’s grace he was able to do it.

Decorated Street
This holiday like so many others in Brazil has significance to the Catholic community and on this holiday in particular, they put special emphasis on organizing priests and Catholic faithful into processions that walk up and down the main streets of the city. In some cities they even go so far as to decorate the streets that the procession is going to walk on. The city of Piquerobi is a good example. It is a very small city with only four thousand inhabitants. For the last forty-four years many of the inhabitants volunteer every June 7th to make a seven hundred meter "carpet" for the procession to walk on. Two months before the holiday the government and Catholic authorities begin planning what designs and colors are going to be included in the carpet. An average of $25,000.00 is invested every year in having the metal patterns (similar to gigantic cookie cutters) drawn out and made, and the purchasing of colorful pellets which will be packed tightly into the patterns. Years ago flower petals, dyed sawdust, sand, leaves and natural rocks were used to make the carpets on the roads, but nowadays these have been substituted by the made to order colored pellets and a little spray paint and styrofoam. The decorated roads and procession in Piquerobi have become so well known that four or five thousand tourists flock to the city every year to see them.

Celeste and Adalberto
Our Thursday was fairly normal. We worked on routine jobs around the house and in Dad's office, and then helped Dad and Mom pack up for a four day trip. Late that afternoon they were expected to make a visit in Araçatuba, a city two and a half hours away from us.  A number of years ago, Sr. Celestino took over the pruning of the two trees in front of our house. With time he invited Dad to have Bible studies in his home, and we came to know his wife, Marcia, and the three daughters that are still in their home: Suellen, who is in her twenties, Celeste, fifteen, and Marcela, who is nine. In December 2011, Celeste ran away from home to live with a man in Araçatuba. Celeste cut off all contact with her family at first, but after several weeks she resumed communication with them and even asked them to come visit. About a month ago Celeste sent word through her parents that Dad would be welcome to come visit with her and Adalberto. Dad scheduled the visit for this holiday, and shortly before noon, he and Mom piled into the car and headed for Araçatuba. Adalberto and Celestre are currently living on the chicken farm where he works. The constant drizzle and crisscrossing dirt roads made their house a little hard to find, but Dad and Mom eventually found it and the Lord blessed them with a good visit. Adalberto was receptive to the Biblical counsel that Dad gave them, and both Adalberto and Celeste left the door open for Dad to visit again the next time that he is in the area.

Church in Sud Menucci
Dad and Mom spent Thursday night in Araçatuba, and Friday morning drove another hour and a half to Sud Menucci. Sud Menucci is a tiny city. Most of the people that live there are employed by the large sugarcane processing plants in the area. Some of the folks work in the fields planting and harvesting the sugarcane, while others work in the plants turning the sugarcane into refined sugar or alcohol. The church in Sud was going to be holding a series of special services beginning that night and continuing to Sunday evening. They invited  Pr. Figueiredo from Catanduva to preach the first three services, and Dad to preach the last one. Pr. Figueiredo arrived by bus shortly after Dad and Mom arrived. Later that evening he preached a good message on forgiveness.

Pr. Figueiredo and Bro. Ari, the church's leader
Saturday dawned as another gray and drizzly day, and with Saturday began the most memorable part of Mom and Dad's trip. Just minutes before breakfast was served, Mom began having waves of nausea and vomiting. Nothing, not even medicine, would stay on her stomach. Bro. Ari and his wife, Rosali, with whom Dad and Mom where staying, mentioned that a strong stomach flu had been making its way around town, and most people ended up going to the hospital for some strong medicine to stop the vomiting. Mom ended up going to the hospital that night at eleven. The intravenous medicine stopped the vomiting, but a few hours later the second phase of the flu, diarrhea, began. 

Some of the members and visitors in the special service
Sunday was a little bit drier than the three days before it. The sun even broke through the clouds for short periods. Mom was still battling nausea and diarrhea and unable to keep anything but small amounts of liquid down, but she was feeling a little bit better. The Lord gave her grace to sit through both the Sunday services, and He gave Dad grace to preach the evening service. Dad preached about "So Great a Salvation" and then made his way to the back to shake everyone's hand as they left. Just minutes after the last person left, Dad began vomiting and it didn't stop until morning. We were all seriously wondering at this point if Dad and Mom would be able to come home on Monday as originally planned. The Lord was merciful, though. Dad’s symptoms subsided early Monday morning and he was able to sleep for a couple hours.  Dad felt brave enough to start traveling after his nap. So, he and Mom packed the car and picked up two Gatorades to sip on the way home. They arrived here in Prudente pale and very tired, howbeit safely, shortly before 2 pm. In the three days since then, Mom and Dad have been taking extra naps and eating mainly jello or potato soup. Now that they are definitely feeling better, I guess we are ready for another member of the family to come down with the flu. :)