It was the early morning of June 6th, 2006. It was cold. Our flight arrived very late and our lift would come only in the morning. We had another five hours in this strange almost English summer weather.
Mateus was sitting on the floor playing with the toys he brought in his carry-on luggage. He was three years old at the time. Amanda who had just turned two, had her bright black eyes wide open and was looking around trying to understand what was going on. In her mouth she had a big blue pacifier that was very dear to her. Her hair was scattered around her face like delicate black petals of a beautiful flower. She asked to go down to play with her brother. They were so calm and well. I was expecting two grumpy children, taking into consideration that the last nine months had been chaotic for us. We had been living in so many different places, slept in beds, bathrooms, on floors, in airplanes and hotels. I expected to see them agitated and moody, but they looked fine. They were enjoying the adventure and the attention of their parents. They were always sitting on top of our mountains of suitcases. They felt very important on the top of their world. They were definitely having fun. They just needed to know where we were. Our presence had become their house. If we were with them, they felt happily at home.
After sometime, the kids got tired we had no choice other than to camp there in the airport. Paulo and I decided to create a nest with clothes on the floor for the little ones to snuggle and sleep. They slept so easily, as if they were at home; no fear, no complaints. Paulo and I looked at each other in silence. We had no courage to express our fears. We had so many… At such times, a look can communicate more than words. We had no idea of how the future would look. We decided not to create expectations. We left absolutely everything and closed the door behind us. We knew that if we would have left an open door we would turn back to Brazil at the first difficulty. In reality, I felt like running back home already. We lost 90% of our support when we communicated to our churches and friends we were coming to England. For them the UK was not a mission field. I felt as though I was on one of those first missionary adventures in the beginning of the last century but in an inverse direction. Lots of questions came to mind and some people doubted if we were making the right decision. I had my doubts as well.
The kids were fast asleep and I needed to have some time on my own. So, I left them with Paulo and went outside. I was so scared and insecure. I needed to feel and smell the fragrance of this country that would be my home for the next years to come. I wanted to smell England. LOL! Funny how my memories are always linked to the smell of the moment. The smell was damp and cold, but brought me comfort some how. I closed my eyes to let my mind take a photo of that moment and I thanked God for His faithfulness in bringing us to this nation. I had no idea what the future was holding, but in that moment I decided to trust that I was not alone. I had God, I had Paulo, a man of faith, that loves me and has been proving his love day after day. I had Mateus, and Amanda. I had what and who I needed with me, the rest would come at the right time.
Today 10 years later, I still sense that smell whenever I travel and come back home. Every time I come out of the airport after an international trip I can sense the fragrance of England and then the memory of that night comes out from the memory boxes and then I remember that first encounter with this country that has now become my home, my nation.
I think of my relationship with England like a marriage, an arranged marriage. I didn’t choose to come and live here. It was Paulo’s decision, I just agreed.
So the beginning was not a relationship of passion and attraction. Everything was strange and I felt so lonely. I could speak the language, but that was not enough. Love was not natural and emotional, like I was used to in my own culture. I am an energetic South American lady full of passion and emotion. Here I was, in this relationship that challenged my world view. I had to embrace who I was, accepting another way of being. I had to learn about this nation if I wanted this relationship to work. Then I decided to read about their history, it’s kings and queens, industrial revolution, Northern culture, Southern culture, drinking tea…I learned so much, and started to love what I was learning. Knowledge brings understanding and value to the relationship. We decided to take one day at a time and let our love grow gradually, no hurry, just one step after another. So, it has not been easy, but it has been beautiful and definitely worth it.
In this arranged marriage, like any other, England offered me a wedding ring as a symbol of the importance of our union, a symbol that would connect me to this land forever. The ring was my third child. Six months after arriving here, without having planned, I got pregnant. At the moment I discovered the pregnancy, I was confused, lost. It was as if I had received a wedding ring, but did not feel ready to commit myself at that level. How could I have a child in this strange place? I always planned that all of my children would be born in Brazil, in the comfort of my house, my nation, near to my parents, my friends, my family. If I had to move to another country it would be only after I had my children, and this is what I did! Now I was pregnant and I lost all the control that was so precious to me and felt I was being thrown into a hurricane of emotions. I was vulnerable and there was nothing I could do to change that feeling. I had to face the fact that my marriage with the land had become more real. I felt God whispering in my ear, “Receive the gift and enjoy! Just take another step of faith.”
Then Lucas arrived, and like a wedding ring that you have with you everywhere you go, this is what Lucas became. He helped me to learn to love and to let this nation be part of my life and eventually become my own nation.
Today, 10 years later, I can say without a doubt that it was worth it !!!!
Thank you for being part of this journey with us. With the lifestyle we choose to live, your friendship is key. We wouldn’t be able to celebrate this anniversary without you. We are grateful for your life. Thank you for having patience to read our newsletters, and for praying for our family and ministries. Thank you to all who have received us in your church or in your home. Thank you for sponsoring us in our projects. You are definitely part of our history. You have been a key part in the construction of this arranged marriage with so much love and affection.
Happy 10 years in England for us !!!!
Paulo, Damares. Mateus, Amanda and Lucas