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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Leaving Brazil

It's three weeks since we boarded our first flight back to Canada.  The connections were tight (less than two hours), flights were delayed and we literally had to run between flights (with luggage) to make sure we got back.  I was anxious to be home, to see my Dad, I really didn't want to be delayed.

Pushing much lighter luggage than when we left, 'team Snell' made it to Toronto in 22 hours.  We were exhausted physically and emotionally, the weeks before we left were wrought with tension waiting as tests were done to find out about my Dad's health.

Saying to good-bye to those we had just begun to know and love in Brazil was harder than I thought.  Funny how leaving a place makes you look at your relationships a little more closely.  As much as Brazil isn't 'home' yet for me, I realized as I was packing and hugging and wiping tears (both mine and of others) that roots were beginning to go deep.

Lorrane and Faith 

One of our first friends, a twelve year old girl named 'Lorrane' (pronounced Lohanee) came into our house a few days before we left, saying she just found out we were leaving.  She flung her arms around my waist and squeezed hard as tears streamed down her face "I will miss you guys so much, you're so nice and I love you!" It was overwhelming to see her obvious grief at the thought of our absence there and it brought me to tears (not hard these days).

Another moment before we left that meant so much was during our last church service.  They had a time during worship when everyone goes around to say hello to each other.  When we first arrived, I saw a little girl who was so adorable, my smiles to her were met with suspicion and often a scowl.  There was an obvious distrust of adults.  Over the months that we've been there, she has slowly warmed to me, and especially to Phil whom she has wrapped around her little finger.  During this particular worship song I was making my way around the church and then spotted her.  I bent down and opened my arms for a hug and she jumped into them wrapping her little arms around my neck as I spun her around.  I put her back down and she opened her little hand, offering me a gum ball.  I don't think she realized how much that little gum ball meant to me, I had cracked through her tough exterior. 

Since we've returned it has been an overwhelming sense of love and God's presence and provision.  We have a complete peace about having pressed the 'pause' button on our work in Brazil and there has been nothing but confirmation since we arrived that we are exactly where God wants us right now.  I'm so filled with opposing emotions most days.  Joy, gratitude, grief and pain. It's truly an odd place to be in.  We are trying to live moment by moment day by day, praying for God's grace in all of it.

Mountains and Valleys

Writing has not been coming easy to me these days, hence the four
week hiatus since I've posted.  I've tried to write and have three other posts sitting in 'drafts'.  If this were the age of paper and typewriters, I'd be banging away on the keys, under the glow of an overhead light surrounded by crumpled balls of paper.

Instead the curser blinks, words spill out and then get erased.

The trouble is, a lot of my writing is poured out through my heart, and right now my heart is a bit of a tattered mess so, when I can bring myself to the keyboard and try to get to a place where I can connect with all that's going on, my mashed up heart seems to be scrambling the words.

So please, bare with me.

We are back in Canada and it's almost like we never left.  If it weren't for the pictures and the messages from friends in Brazil asking, 'when will you come back, we miss you',  I would be inclined to think I had just dreamt the craziest dream.

My Dad was in the hospital when I came back and that first reunion (see video below) was so good and so hard.  We both were in tears, for so many reasons.

Taking Communion with my Dad
Not long after our return we made the decision, as a family, to have my Dad transferred to my brother's house where we would all (I have 6 siblings and in-laws) work to take care of Dad along with the help of nurses and personal support workers.  It was a big decision, especially for my brother and his wife who have transformed their living room into my Dad's room. But it was also what we all wanted, to have him in a home environment where we can come and go and spend time with him.

I have such conflicting 'mountains and valleys' feelings these days.  We are overwhelmed with gratitude for all of those who have rushed to help us, to put clothes together for our kids, to
offer us a place to stay, to feed us etc., that my brother is providing us with the trailer so that we have our own space for the time that we are here, for the Doctor who took the time to get to know my Dad today, and for the fact that I recorded her conversation with my Dad, for the way God is just pouring his mercy and his grace over us every day.

Our home while we're in Canada!
The valleys are the days like today.  My Dad had a fever and was just not himself.  I sat and watched him sleep, and mumble in his fevered delirium and fought the tears, a battle I lose every time.  Watching him slowly slip away, unable to use the limbs which were once so strong his hugs took my breath away is heartbreaking and today I let the waves of grief wash over me as we drove away.

I walked this road before, a much younger woman of eighteen, with my mother.  The difference between then and now is night and day.  Although the heartbreak and sadness are still there, the hopelessness is not.  I have a hope that is eternal.  I have a saviour who strengthens me, and who carries me on the days I can't carry myself. Today was one of those days.

As for the question of how long we are going to be here, God has the answer to that.  I know He's all over this.  So, for now we take things day by day, minute by minute.  A crash course in living in the now.

We do appreciate all of your prayers and love and support, thank you.

Video: Reunion With Dad