19 June 2012

The People of Manaus, Brazil

Being in Manaus with Danny was extraordinary.  It was my favorite part of the trip.  We were able to meet up with many of the people that he taught and served for two years while living there as a missionary.  
All of these dear, wonderful people just couldn't believe it when we came clapping at their homes (you clap here outside someone's gate to alert them, instead of ringing a doorbell.)   


These dear people smiled, squealed, jumped up and down and even cried when they saw Danny's face.  It really could be one of the sweetest things I've ever seen in my life.  They haven't seen Danny in 12 years, but they still have so much love for him and remember him so fondly.  He loves these people with all his heart.
Even though I didn't speak Portuguese, it was remarkable to meet these families.  They proudly showed us their homes, served us meals and just welcomed us with so much warmth and generosity.  I was just so touched by their fearless outreach and kindness. 

These boys are as smart as can be and so kind and respectful.  They were filling up bottles of water from their well as we sat and talked with their parents.


We were visiting a family right before heading to the temple dedication and one of the women wanted to help me freshen up as it had been raining all morning.  I told her I was ok.  But she insisted on taking me back to her room.  She sat me on her bed and then touched up my make-up with blush and powder like I was her best girlfriend, showed me how to apply lotion to my arms and hands, and then offered me a shine product for my hair.  Even though we couldn't communicate with words, it was such a sweet moment of friendship.  
 


This woman's father laid in the bedroom after a stroke.  She and her sisters and mother are doing their best to care for him.  Danny had the most wonderful conversations with them about trials and life and how to face all that comes our way.
 


Danny lived in neighborhoods in Manaus with living conditions that are very different than what we are used to in the States.  Some of them had very little, but it didn't matter.  These people were just thriving spiritually and they were so happy.
 
These wonderful people are all working towards the same great things that we work towards - just having more happiness in our lives, facing our trials with strength and character, and developing more love for those around us.  Even though we live so far away and speak a different language, I feel so connected to them because of these efforts, and feel so much love for them.

Do you find yourself bonding with people because of a common purpose?  What is that for you?  



  
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16 comments:

  1. Well said! I couldn't agree more. I served in Ecuador--I'm guessing the circumstances/conditions were quite similar--I too found that we all have so much in common. We're searching for and working towards the same things. One of my sweetest travel memories was in Cappadocia, Turkey (center of the country...amazing place...do add it to your must see list!) and I was talking with a 20-something guy who was running his family's B&B.What he wants in his life, for his family and for their future is exactly what I want for me and my family. It didn't matter that we lived worlds apart, different cultures, different religions, we shared the same common goals for our lives. It's just so beautiful, isn't it?

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    1. kh - so cool. Thanks for sharing. I do find it so beautiful for sure -just to be connected to people in any way possible.

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  2. Oh this makes my heart so happy! This is just how I felt about visiting my husband's mission in El Salvador! I grew to love the people and culture so much as we went around visiting. I loved seeing how happy they were to see my husband and how they remembered him so fondly. I felt worlds away from everything that was familiar to me, and yet so at home with the faithful saints there. They willingly invited us into their homes and offered us whatever they had, even when they had so very little. I wrote a particular post about being so united even when our lives seemed so different here: http://lynleyj.blogspot.com/2012/01/everything-that-matters.html

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    1. LOVED THIS POST!! Oh, you are a gifted writer. This was fun to read. thanks for sharing.

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  3. Yes! These days, I find that I can form an almost instant bond with anyone who has adopted/is adopting! I have been so immersed in the culture and process of adoption for so long now that I just feel like I can relate to anyone who has experienced the same process, no matter how we might be different in other ways.

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    1. Lauren - that's so cool to hear. That process still seems so foreign to me. But I'm glad to hear that it can be a tight knit and bonding experience with other people going through the process.

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  4. I m so happy for you guys.... danny I can tell how much this trip was so special for you to reconnect with people that love you so much.... they will always remember you and love you... and now mara, you are also part of this family, this love, they will always love you too... that is the real bonding, just pure love.... some people will just give back to you waht they see you have to offer them... and you guys are very open to express who you are...abraços. (elane)

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    1. Oh, thank you, Elane! It was so special meeting your family - and their country house was amazing. Oh, how I wish we were still sitting on that porch.

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  5. i spent two and a half weeks in ukraine with my little brother when his mission wrapped. i have an older brother who served in russia and my mom explored all the sights of russia with him and came back with glowing reports of beauty of st. petersburg and moscow and the like. i figured this was my one and only visit to eastern europe and we had two and a half weeks... surely we'd venture out of ukraine to see these totally awesome places. my sweet, stubborn, and spirit-filled brother had other plans... he wanted nothing other than to visit the seven cities he served in and introduce us to the people he loved... and so we did! ukraine doesn't have a single postcard-worthy sight (i feel like i can say that because i was there. no offense to any ukrainian blog about love readers!). there's nothing famous, nothing to ooh and aah at... it's run down, broken, and dirty.... but we had the sweetest time experiencing real life for these people who loved my brother so much and who my brother loved SO SO much.

    and so... i'm looking for another excuse to get myself back there for the russia trip. i'm sure the people are great there, too!

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    1. The Ukraine? WOW. What an amazing experience.

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  6. my husband served in Boise, ID (exotic!). for Christmas this year, my present to him was plane tickets for both of us to go back to his mission. he served among the Spanish-speaking immigrant population there, and they were so happy and proud to see that he'd married himself a Mexican :). Being there with him made me appreciate what it must be like to serve a mission (since i never did): busy, rewarding, exhausting. ha!

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  7. my husband served in Boise, ID (exotic!). for Christmas this year, my present to him was plane tickets for both of us to go back to his mission. he served among the Spanish-speaking immigrant population there, and they were so happy and proud to see that he'd married himself a Mexican :). Being there with him made me appreciate what it must be like to serve a mission (since i never did): busy, rewarding, exhausting. ha!

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    1. Vanessa - - that is such a wonderful gift. So cool you guys got to do that...

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  8. I read your blog quite often but have never commented. First, you two are a great example to all couples (especially young who are figuring out how to make a family) and you are obviously thriving because of it! Second--thank you for sharing these wonderful photos of these marvelous people. I grew up in a 3rd world country (not not in a 3rd world situation) and I always try to remember those who were less fortunate than me materially, but were also happy and content and strived for the same things we all want. How exciting for you to get to visit your husbands mission. My husband and I did the same thing a few years ago and it too was a great experience. Thank you for your post!!

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    1. Bonnie - so glad you wrote it. Thank you!

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  9. It's so awesome that you could do this together! My husband served in Taiwan, and while he was still a missionary there, he told everyone that he would come back to visit after he got married and before he had kids. We were able to do that several years ago, and I had many of the same thoughts and feelings that you did. One thing I'll always remember is one of the members he'd baptized telling me about how my husband had taught him the gospel, how the first time he saw my husband his first thought was that he was a "dark angel" - dark because my husband (a blonde) was wearing a black trench coat in the rain. They also showed me the Book of Mormon my husband had written his testimony in in Chinese and had given him when they were baptized.

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