One of the greatest blessings God has given us here in Brazil, (and I don’t say that lightly, literally one of THE biggest blessings we have received), has been our relationship with our Brazilian mom, Vera.
When we first moved to Porto Alegre in 2002, we had 4 young kids and were trying to figure out life – how to speak Portuguese, how to cook with different ingredients, how to help our kids with their Portuguese homework, how to drive around a city which has many one way streets and hardly any left turns allowed, etc…. You get the picture. We, as a family, were getting overwhelmed and needed some help. Another American missionary we met told me about a lady who came to help her in her house 2 days a week. She asked if I would like to hire her to come and help me as well. That is how we met our Vera in 2002.
She has been with our family since that time, helping me in the house, but more importantly, loving and caring for our family. There were times over the years that she would come twice a week, times when she came 4 times a week, times when she didn’t come for several months, and times when she stayed at my house solid for a week or more. When Anderson and Giovanni were born, she lived at my house and took care of everything. In her words, “What would your mother do for you if she were here? Well, she’s not here, so I will do what she would do.”
Our kids love her deeply. They love her like a grandmother because she has been a grandmother to them. She has cooked for them for over 16 years and played with them and loved on them and cared for them. This is Vera with all our kids, except Bronwyn, the last time we were all together in Brazil in December of 2015.
To say that we love Vera dearly would not be enough words to describe what she means to us. She is seriously one of the most Christ-like people that I know, even though she can’t read or write much and has probably never been able to read the Bible. She has a servant heart. Never complains. Always thanks us when we help her out in any way. She is patient, kind, and gentle. I have never in 16 years heard her talk roughly or get mad. She is gracious to everyone. She fears God and is an active member of the Catholic church in her neighborhood.
Vera’s neighborhood is far outside of Porto Alegre. She travels between 60 to 90 minutes by bus to get to our house. Her neighborhood has many young people who are into drugs and crime. Vera has 4 children, who are adults now, and not one of them has had ANY problem with those things. They are outstanding people.
One more thing about Vera – she has an incurable eye disease, Stargardt’s disease which began when she was young. She was from a very poor family and she didn’t even realize that she had a vision problem until we took her to get some glasses several years ago. Unfortunately, glasses won’t help Vera’s vision problem. Because she is legally blind, sometimes she puts up dishes that are dirty and her cleaning skills may not be the greatest. We don’t even care. We all love having her in our home, and look forward to the day that she is with us and we hear her cheerful whistling while she goes about her work.
Why am I telling you all about Vera today? Because Monday, Vera’s husband of 43 years, Paulo, passed away. He had been struggling for several years with physical and emotional problems. Finally, his problems intensified and he passed away after a brief stay in the hospital.
Just a month ago Vera and her family celebrated Paulo’s 71st birthday.
Please pray for Vera. We love her very much and are hurting along with her and her family.
We thank God for her. She is a treasure.