And don't even get me started on the deals at thrift shops for practically brand new stuff that people just give away. Incredible. It's fun to go to the public library, the public parks, and all the variety of restaurants. (In Brazil, I REALLY miss Mexican restaurants, mainly because of the chips and salsa. I'm already a little sad just thinking about going without that for another four years.)
There are some things that are harder here, though. Like, pumping your own gas. Haha, seriously, why do Americans have to get out and pump their own gas? That is a luxury Brazilians enjoy and I have to say, I kind of miss that. The whole weight gain thing is hard too. Maybe that's because of all the chips and salsa and the easy housework. And what is up with the coffee here? I'm just saying ...
But on a more serious side, there are some aspects of furlough that I am struggling with. It's not easy being in a different church on a regular basis, especially with our children. It's hard enough to feel slightly pressured to be prepared for meetings and present our work in Brazil well to those who have partnered with us, but then you add in the variable of children, and well, it can get tough. Why my kids choose the worst possible moments to be on their worst behavior is beyond me, but let's just say that I've had to fight back tears more than once because of how my children were acting in church. And since I'm the missionary's wife, it probably wouldn't look good if I were to lose it in front of our supporting churches, even if one (or both) of my children is kicking (yes) and crying and screaming not to go into their class or running like crazy little people in the sanctuary and messing with the instruments and jumping off the stage (thankfully, this is not during the service).
I struggle between missing my life in Brazil and everything that goes with it -- our friends, our ministry, our house, our familiar routine -- and being worried that our time on furlough is going by too fast and soon we'll have to leave the States and all the blessings of living here. I appreciate meeting new people at our supporting churches and getting together over a meal with new and old friends, but I do not enjoy feeling the pressure of making sure my kids are behaving a certain way or that we are saying the right things. Perhaps that pressure is self-imposed and I'm working on that because I realize that I cannot be perfect and the only One who is completely perfect knows my heart and understands my struggles and is there to help me when I am fighting feelings of doubt and inadequacy.
Recently, I bought a kids' cd for Gabriel and Juliana to listen to on our trips. The songs are a little ... ok, a lot ... cheesy, but the words of one song kind of stood out to me.
When the sun shines bright and your heart is light,
Jesus is the Friend you need;
When the clouds hang low in this world of woe,
Jesus is the Friend you need.
I liked the reminder that I need Jesus by my side regardless of whether I'm enjoying a fun outing with people I love dearly or whether I'm fighting tears of frustration over a situation that I am completely helpless to do anything about. After all, isn't God the One who has ordained everything for my life? Don't both good and bad work together to make me look more like Jesus? And so, I pray that our furlough experiences, just like every other life experience, point me always back to Jesus and that I'm not too caught up enjoying my chips and salsa to see His hand in every thing that comes my way.