Life is different in Natal, Brazil. We must adjust to several actions we are not accustomed to in the United States. Here are some examples.
Security is a very high priority everywhere. The church building is behind a security wall that has barbed wire or sharp ends of metal lining the top of the wall with a padlocked gate. Two padlocks are on the barred exterior door to the building, and another door must be unlocked to get into the building. In addition, a security system must be activated when anyone leaves and turned off when they return. This is typical of all middle class homes and businesses.
Now I am much more aware of locking things and being more cautious when walking on city streets. When I return to the States, I know I will be more sensitive about locking my doors and being more consistent with security systems. I am committed to being more aware of people around me on the city streets. I’m delighted about that continual reminder here.
No left turns are allowed at intersections of the city streets in Natal, and many intersections do not have stop signs. Drivers just assume the other person will stop (or not).
I have not driven a car in 15 days; we depend on others to transport us or we find a cab. When I am home, I typically drive everywhere we go. This change gives me an opportunity to see the sights along the way and to give attention to the architecture and unusual arrangements of home and businesses. This is enjoyable and rarely available to me in the States.
Church services are in Portuguese, both songs and speaking. It is delightful to hear the voices of Brazilians sing these songs and to guess at the meanings and pronunciations of the words on the screen at the front of the auditorium. I listen more to how words sound when sung in Portuguese and am much more aware of the melody of the songs.
I feel out of place at times in malls and on the streets because I do not know the language and look different from most around me. I find that a smile and a nod of the head always seems to guarantee a smile and a nod in return from the people I pass. I will be better about having the pleasant look when I return to Kentucky.
Although many things are different here, I am delighted to learn about the language, the culture, and the people. Brazilians are hospitable, helpful, and encouraging. We are making many new friends and our temporary church family is a pleasure to worship and work with.