the Read, the Eat, the Trash

So I (Mandy) had one of those 'life-changing' moments yesterday. It's been a long time coming…

Part 1 - the Read

I just finished reading through Ecclesiastes. Awesome book. The man who brought us so much wisdom literature, brings us this really depressing, hard-pill-to-swallow, book of regrets. Like he woke up on the wrong side of the bed or something. As I read over a period of weeks, my initial perceptions about Solomon’s bad attitudes came to a screeching halt as I "woke up" to the truth in his words. I didn't read between the lines much less consult a commentary. Scan the chapters and you'll see the consistent theme yourself. Solomon writes repeatedly "A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?" Eccl 2:24

Solomon enjoyed being rich and famous, he had family and fortune, he had anything you could dream of yet he declared: all of it was meaningless. Then he writes: enjoy your WHOLE life, every difficulty, everything you work for, everyone you labor after... enjoy it, because that is your purpose in life.
So I sat on this idea, trying to re-shape my inner grumblings and complaints into thankfulness for challenges etc...

Part 2 - the Eat

Anyone who knows me probably knows I love to cook. Which inevitably means I love to eat. I know what you're thinking, just remember, I'm 25 - it's gonna catch up with me soon!

SO ANYWAYS... Maicol and I go to this Rodisio De Pizza. It's like a pizza buffet. Don Vitto's is one of the most popular places in our city so we try it out. 69 different flavors of pizza and about 20 flavors are dessert. We’re stoked. This place is every foodies dream. Any style of food you can imagine baked to perfection on a crisp crust in a classic pizza oven. Maicol easily downs 20 pieces and I'm on 12... My meter is just about full and we haven't started dessert! I nearly panic except for the fact that my state of satisfaction is so high that I’m in that sleepy, slouchy, peace you only have after a big meal. Dessert pizzas start coming and I look around and realize the place is packed, there's one table open next to us and I see the waiter seat a family. I'm in the dazed and confused moment from being so full and suddenly it hits me.. I look down at my plate of dessert pizza that I can hardly finish and I look back to the people who just sat down to begin. I remember that feeling an hour ago. The anticipation, the excitement, the feeling that I could conquer every slice they offered me. I start to actually wish I could do it all over again. Every bite, every flavor, the good, the okay, and the "not my type".

Such is life! We see this wisdom from our grandparents and those nearing the end of their time on earth. They’ve had a taste of what life has to offer, and maybe wish they had the chance to do some of it over. They tell us stories of their achievements and see the spark in our eyes as we set out to conquer all life has to offer. They sit in awe of a Creator God and all they've learned simply by journeying through and reflecting. This is what Solomon meant by enjoying your life! Whatever life brings you, enjoy the toil, enjoy the labor, and utilize the energy you have to be content with the ups and downs. This is your purpose. Not to regret but to realize that one day you will reflect on everything and see that most of what you did was meaningless. What matters most is that you enjoy every part, and who can enjoy life except the one who intimately knows God? Those without him, they have no peace or ultimate satisfaction.

Part 3 - the Trash

So I started to tell you I had the "Ah hah" moment yesterday and here it is. My object lesson. One thing you may be intrigued by is how Brazil does trash pick-up. For some reason this fascinates me. You tie your trash up in bags and place them on the street. Occasionally homes have a metal basket cemented in front of their house just for trash. Other times, you just hang the trash on your fence or place it on the road. The trash truck comes over and two or three men are standing on the back. They jump of the moving truck, SPRINT for the trash, pick it up and SPRINT back to the truck. All day. They sprint. Constantly. Talk about enjoying your job! You can imagine not everyone is qualified to be a trash man. These guys throw around on average 3 tons of trash per day for about $700/month! That amount includes overtime and compensation for the fact that they are inhaling diesel fumes 50 or more hours per week

It gets better. Yesterday I see this guy running for the truck as I drive by. Sweat dripping off his face, eyes bulging out of his head, and he's shouting something I don’t understand. Maybe he's about to faint! Then the neighbor he was apparently conversing with shouted back and he jumped on the truck and went on his way. He was, enjoying his job. The trash guys laughed and smiled and shouted to each other all the way up the street.

I remember Maicol telling me that many times the trash guys will show up for a soccer game or marathon in their work shirts. It's quite the intimidation factor considering everyone knows how they train. They run all day long! So I start researching and find these two men Beserra Fernando da Silva and Solonei Rocha da Silva who trained for marathons as trash men. That ladies and gentlemen is making the most of your work. That is doing everything for the purpose of enjoying life, bringing God glory, and making the most of the moment.

I really don't enjoy running so why I won't make a lifestyle of it, when I have to run i'll be remembering my fellow trash men who encouraged me to make the best of it!

Solonei Rocha da Silva placed fourth in last years marathon Pan American Race in Rio and placed second here in Porto Alegre behind a Brazilian who has had two victories in NYC's marathons.


Auto Escola

Today Maicol signed up for his final leg of driving school! He has practice hours, 2 hours/day for a total of ten days. Monday November 14th, 2012 he will have his practical exam and hopefully, after two months, be an official Brazilian motorist! The things you celebrate in life... Yesterday he passed the theoretical test with flying colors so we are confident after driving for ten years, he should have no problem with the practical portion.


We HAD a bat in our house!

To add to all our "first" experiences... we just had a bat flying around our living room! Maicol sent me up to our bedroom so I closed the door and laid on the ground to listen underneath the door. I heard one big swat and the bat was down... my wonderful husband saved us! Removed the bat and restored us to peace. Almost. I still have a hood over my head - what if there's more!!!

Practice makes Perfect

Saturday night Maicol had his first basketball game with Sogipa. It was fun to watch the game, sit back and relax. I took a friend, Amy, who is also an American and speaks English. We had plans to speak English, enjoy watching the competition, and relax. After a full week of Portuguese for both of us, this was feeling more like a need than a want.

Two minutes into the game Maicol looks up to me long enough to ask for a bottle of water and then turns around. I couldn’t get his attention to tell him I didn't have any money. For the next ten minutes I tried to get his attention. He was in the zone...

So I knew what I had to do…Practice my Portuguese.

The teenage boy sitting next to me heard Amy and I speaking English and he stared inquisitively. So I assumed he understood some of it. In Portuguese I smiled and asked " You speak English?!" He replied - "no." Great, now I have to continue. So I proceed to explain to him who my husband was and that he needed water. And I "have no money". Then, I very politely demanded HIS money. Saying: "Can I have your money please?" I had no idea what the verb for "borrow" was. He stared at me for what seemed like an eternity. Amy scanned her brain and whispered to me what the word for "borrow" is... so glad she saved me! I turned red and the then tried to explain that if I could borrow his money, the tall red-head which the Brazilians fondly refer to as "Cenoura" or "Carrot", would pay him back after the game. The boy was very kind and loaned me the money.

Maicol had a fantastic game. The boy who loaned me money was part of a group of high schoolers who had just finished their game prior to the start of Maicols. Once they saw me struggle through demanding this kid's money, they became our friends and we helped them yell at the opposing team during free-throws and they cheered for "Cenoura" all night long. Maicol had a chance to "make peace" with a player from the opposing team after a few bad calls. You could tell from the way the player responded he wasn't used to making friends on the court. Who knows, maybe Maicol will have a chance to see him again!

Both of us have learned an important lesson when it comes to basketball and language studies - practice makes perfect!