With the cooler mornings, I started thinking about how scrambled eggs would be nice for breakfast. The problem is that my misadventure in Brazil one morning in July 2015 was in the back of my mind. That fateful morning I started cooking eggs and then checked my Facebook. I had a message from a young person from Vietnam who had been in my weekend group when she was in high school. She wanted me to look at the essay for her medical school application. I forgot about the eggs until 45 minutes later when my friend and I finished. The result? Eggs burned so badly I had to throw them out and the pan needed to be soaked five times to get it clean.
So this morning, I had a revolutionary thought of what if I stood there at the stove top while cooking the eggs. I tried it this genius idea and it worked. I was able to enjoy scrambled eggs even putting salsa on them. I thought I should share this good news to help my readers.
The ultimate good news is the gospel of Jesus. Gospel comes from the Greek word that literally means good news. Romans 5:6-8 says:
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Jesus died for us, for all of our sins. That is the best news possible. God loves us so much that Jesus came to die for us, so we could be forgiven and receive eternal life. For those of us who have been Christians for a while, it is a truth we need to remind ourselves of, the simple yet most profound message that God loves us, Jesus died for us, and because of that we have eternal life because of faith in Jesus.
If there are further breaking news stories about my cooking, I will share those. 🙂
Yesterday morning was such a blessing in my morning group. Pastor Lucas Gomes and his family were visiting my church. They are from Brazil. Pastor Lucas and I both shared brief messages with our Hispanic friends in Spanish. His wife Lizi led us in singing some worship songs in both Spanish and Portuguese. One of our Hispanic friends Samuel from Honduras also led us in a song in Spanish.
As we sang one song, one of the women was crying. She is a single mom from Venezuela trying to make a life for her and her son here. All of our Hispanic friends felt blessed.
We started with a devotional based on John 1:1-3:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
The Word is one of many titles for Jesus. We focused on the fact that Jesus created everything, so he has the power to help us in our lives.
So this Music Monday I am sharing the song What A Beautiful Name in English, Spanish and Portguese.
One of the things I love about teaching an ESL class at the college is what happens before class and during the short break we take. It is an opportunity for me to walk around and greet students from all of the classes in their languages. Interacting with them is such a blessing and has allowed me to learn to greet people in thirty languages.
Perhaps in heaven I can have a job as a greeter for new arrivals greeting them in their languages. There won’t be a need for a missionary since everyone in heaven will know Jesus already. There won’t be a need for a language teacher.
Sometimes I think how cool it would be to greet someone upon their arrival in heaven in their language. Can you imagine entering heaven and someone greets you in your language?
Of course we have little understanding of what our eternal lives will be like other than it will be way way better than the best life we could have in this life. But I still like to entertain the thought at times.
This morning I am going to church where we will have a fellowship time in Spanish with friends from Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, and Venezuela with some Americans as well.
My weekend English conversation groups at church have been going for twenty years with the exception of one year during the COVID shutdown. Over the years people from diverse cultures have come, but after the COVID shutdown I felt release to try something, which is to focus on Spanish speakers. I speak Spanish at an intermediate level and use Spanish to help them understand English.
A dream I have had for future ministry is for my church to have a Spanish club that meets regularly. It would give my Hispanic friends a chance to help people with Spanish and also give an opportunity for people from church to practice Spanish.
If this happens, it would also give American high school and college students studying Spanish a place to invite friends from Spanish class to come practice Spanish.
This week my church is hosting a visiting pastor from Brazil. Portuguese is the language of Brazil, but my friend also speaks Spanish. He emailed me asking if I thought we could have a time of worship. Of course I replied YES. We will try, He is here for a short time, so not sure if it will come together. But his email encouraged me to keep dreaming about the potential.
Gracias por leyendo. Thank you for reading. Dios te Bendiga. God Bless.
In June/July 2015, I had the privilege of teaching English for a private university in Rio du Sol in Santa Catarina Brazil. I love being in other countries and Brazil is one of my favorites. I love the people and their culture. I taught three classes in the evenings with one of them being an Advanced English class.
While I love being in other countries, flying is a bit boring for me. Flying internationally presents a specific problem for me. Because I have asthma, being in an airplane for prolonged periods of time can cause me to have bronchitis. Such was the case for that trip.
So there I was trying to teach and coughing because of bronchitis. One of the students in the Advanced English class came up to me after class and asked me the same questions my doctor in my city asks when I have bronchitis. She came back to class the next evening and handed me a small bag that had medications with instructions she wrote in English in it. She told me that she is a doctor. The medications included and antibiotic and prednisone both of which my doctor prescribes for me here when I have bronchitis.
After a few days, my cough was gone. and I was ready to go for the weeks I would be there teaching. God knew I would have the problem and placed someone who would have the solution in my class. It brings to mind what Jesus said about God knowing what we need before we ask in Matthew 6:8.
I hope to return to Brazil in the future, but wherever I go, my international trips have underscored for me the truth of Matthew 6:8.
Yesterday evening I had the privilege of having dinner with my filha Fabi. Filha is daughter in Portuguese. She was my assistant in my morning class five years ago and we have kept our friendship over the years. She calls me Papa Bear.
We had not seen each other for quite a while because of the pandemic. She went to Brazil early in the pandemic to be with her family. She is back in my city working on her Phd. We had a great time catching up and eating burgers.
The quote in the title is from Fabi. After sharing about her grandmother dying while she was in Brazil, she commented that she remembered me saying I did not want to be too old to do anything and that I would rather go to be with Jesus before I got to that point. Then I shared that perhaps the best way to go would be in my sleep and waking up in heaven. That was when she said, “that would really be a dream come true.”
Waking up in heaven would be awesome. But for now, Jesus has a purpose for me in this life. The older I get, the more I appreciate what Paul said in Philippians 1:
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
Burgers and friendship are a wonderful combination.
When things get crazy in the world, the first thing I tend to think about are people I know. Through them I feel connected to many places around the world. The public school system where I live has children from over 160 languages just to give you an idea of the possibilities there are for meeting people from around the globe.
The recent troubles in Canada had me thinking about my Brazilian friends living in Winnipeg. I connected with them through a woman who used to live in my city when she was a graduate student here. The situation also had me thinking about bloggers I connect with in Canada.
Russia invading Ukraine has me thinking about my friends from Ukraine and the Ukrainian church I have helped. I might go visit there this weekend to show support.
China threatening Taiwan has me thinking about my former students who live there.
I have a new student from Afghanistan who is a newcomer refugee.
The list could go on but as for me, my small part, I can only be a listening ear and supportive friend and of course pray.
When I see the troubles in this world, in my spirit I say Maranantha, come quickly Jesus.
This is a picture I asked a student to take for me shortly before the pandemic began. For me the message of the picture is Matt reaching the world. The public schools system in my city has children from 157 different languages who have come here as refugees with their families, as immigrants with their families, or are children of people who have come here in connection with the university.
Jesus has blessed me with the opportunity to teach people from all over the world in living in my city. He has blessed me with opportunities to share the love of Jesus with people from all over the world living in my city.
He has also blessed me with opportunities to travel Brazil, France, Mexico and Romania for ministry trips. An extra blessing has been being able to visit Austria, England, Germany, Holland, and Switzerland as part of those trips.
All of this has been while living with chronic illness for thirty years. He has blessed me to be able to rise above the pain and fatigue to reach the world.
I am grateful that Jesus has given me opportunities to share his love with so many people from so many places.
The looks on their faces said it all that October morning many years ago. My young Vietnamese students were shocked to see how their teacher was dressed. It was a typical mid October morning where I live. It was 35F/1.6C but would warm up to 65f/18c in the afternoon.
My young friends were wearing coats and gloves. One even had a scarf and winter hat. They saw me walking in shorts and a sweatshirt. They could not believe their eyes. They were worried and asked, “teacher aren’t you cold?”
A similar scenario occurred in July 2015 in Brazil. When it is summer in the USA, it is ‘winter’ in Brazil. I found their winter to be quite comfortable and nothing like a Midwest USA winter. One afternoon I walked into the university I was teaching at wearing pants and a short sleeve shirt. It was a nice afternoon for me of 65f/18c. I walked past the office for the young women working in the media/internet department. They waved for me to come in the office. They were wearing coats. They asked me, “voce nao esta frio?” Aren’t you cold?
Perceptions vary. One person’s nice day is another person’s cold day.
Perception is why I need to spend time reading God’s word. At times my perception of my circumstances is that they are too difficult. I need the reminder that nothing is difficult for God. Then I can look to him in prayer to ask for help.
Do you like cool days? What would you think if on a morning of 35f/1.6c, you saw me walking outside wearing shorts and a sweatshirt?
An experience I will never forget is being in Rio do Sul Brazil, visiting a friend’s acreage that had fruit trees, and picking an orange off the tree and eating it. It was so sweet and delicious. Nothing like fresh fruit as in freshly off the tree. 🙂
The one thing I like about summer where I live is the plethora of fresh fruit. I love fruit and actually can’t choose a favorite. I also love fresh veggies. Needing to eat gluten free doesn’t bother me so much because I can still eat fruit and veggies and of course meat. Sadly in the winter and spring we don’t have much variety, so I enjoy as much as I can while we have it. But I know they will be back the following summer.
It is the unknowns of chronic illness that are not so easy to handle. What will the lab results be? What will the doctor say this time? Will I have a flare up? Will I need to let go of things I love to do?
Part of living with chronic illness is wondering if things we enjoy will still be doable. One thing I love is international travel. COVID shutdowns took away plans for summer 2020. Spending money on doctors prevented travel plans for this summer.
I also wonder about 2022. If the treatment I am on works well, I hope to travel internationally. If the treatment does not work well enough, will it mean letting go of one of my favorite things to do. I love experiencing other cultures, drinking coffee in another country, eating the foods of the culture, and best of all interacting with and getting to know the people.
So I will be praying that traveling to other countries and sharing the love of Jesus is not one of the things I will have to let go of because of living with chronic illness.