Friday, June 08, 2007

20 Years in Venezuela


This week marked our 20th anniversary of living in Venezuela. I remember arriving here as a young woman, 7 months pregnant with my son, holding the hand of my 18 month old daughter, walking beside my husband through the airport in Maiquetia.

We were so excited to be here. We had just spent a year in Queretaro, Mexico, learning Español only to find out that here in Venezuela they speak Castellano! And the accent is very different!

I remember my first arepa! I thought it tasted a bit like a paper napkin!! And now, I want one every day!

I remember my frustration when my 2 year old daughter was already easily speaking Spanish as I continued to struggle! She even learned a few "bad" words and we were unaware of the meaning !!!

My son was born 2 months to the day of our arrival in the country. The nurses thought he was deathly ill...he had no color and his blood veins showed though his skin!!! It was in the clinic that I ate my first Venezuelan breakfast. I remember looking at my plate and wondering what it was. It was all white. Atol, milk, white cheese, arepa...all white!!

We moved into our first Venezuelan house a few weeks before my son was born. We were quickly introduced to the neighbors weekly Saturday night domino game. They played on their roof top, right next to our second story bedroom window! We of course get up early every Sunday to prepare for church...Once, we complained to them, they looked confused and asked us why we did not just join the game. They even made room for us at the table...how can you stay angry with people like that!?!?!

My husband took the pastorate of La Iglesia Bautista La Santa Biblia while their missionary pastor was away on furlough in the states.We grew to love the people...most of the time! When the year was up and we were turning the church back over to the Pastor, the church gave us a great despedida and a parilla (BBQ)! My first chinchurria!!! ( Don't ask!!)

20 years later, this church is running 800 every Sunday. The Institute we helped to start has graduted over 100 and now has 22 pastors out starting Baptist churches!!

In that short year, we grew to love this country and the people. I remember being told that Venezuela had the strongest democracy in South America! I hope people in the USA will realize how quickly a democracy can be lost.

I rememebr returning to the states for a short visit and being surprised to find that I did not feel at home there any more!

These are just random thoughts as I contemplate our departure from his land.

21 comments:

jennifer said...

Wow...your legacy in Venezuela is wonderful!

The random thoughts are exciting!

I look forward to the book:-)

Webutante said...

Most touching and impressive, Rita. Godspeed.

PortraitofPeter said...

You must have so many thoughts and emotions of your 20 years in Venezuela.

May you retain such memories in order to share with others in future years.

CONNIE'S THOUGHTS FROM THE HEART said...

OH, me , in a way this was so sad and yet much cause for rejoicing also. You have had a very full 20 years, Rita, I pray that the new door God is opening for you all will be full of many blessings and great times in the Lord. Have a good day. connie from Texas

marallyn ben moshe said...

what a wonderful blog...and life...how brave...are you leaveing??? pls tell me more...it reminds me of when i moved to jerusalem 37 years ago...such memories...tx...shabbat shalom my dear friend

Pam said...

20 years! It's hard to believe isn't it? I feel your emotions in this post Rita. Hang in there. God is faithful.

Penless Thoughts said...

It is such a part of you I'm sure leaving will be an adjustment but God doesn't lead us without going before us.
Susan

Tina said...

Thanks for sharing all this.

Jackie said...

We really should write a book...I'll leave out the swear words I learned as a two year old! ;)

RealEstateGirl said...

God has definitely blessed ya'lls work there.

I remember feeling that way too, when we would return from Brazil, home on furlough. I felt like I was in a very foreign land and I hated it! Brazil was my home, and the Brazilian people were my friends...not these spoiled rich, white kids in the states!

How quickly we get accustomed, though, huh?!

Susan said...

I loved reading your "ramblings." I can relate just a tiny bit, although moving to Canada was not quite as much of a change as moving to Venezuela. I can identify with learning to love another country and people than my home country. We go into the US about once a month for shopping, but it doesn't feel like home anymore. We feel home when we drive through the border back into Canada!

Keep sharing with us!

Bob said...

Thank you for sharing, Rita. Would you want to say more about how you felt about returning to the United States, and how you feel this time?

jennifer said...

Rita I am sorry to have made you feel sad over my post about the differences in the stores. Please jump over and read my comment to you. I so appreciate you, your family and the work that you do.

Please understand that I really admire you:) Take care
Jennifer

Rebecca said...

Thank you, for your love, devotion, and sacrifice that has lead the way for so many Venezualans to know the saving power of Jesus Christ.

Stephen Renico said...

Good work, Jungle Mom! Keep it up and God bless you.

Kimberly said...

I am so sorry you have to leave your home. Either the Lord has something even better for you or He has something better for the people He is sending you to.
Pam is getting very excited, can you tell?

Kitty said...

These really were touching... what an amazing 20 years your family has spent in South America!!

Pat said...

Amazing that with all that has happened while there, the memories are vivid, even as though they had just taken place!!

What a great difference your ministry (and as new missionaries) has made in the country!! You were used mightily of the Lord!!

Glenn Bartley said...

Rita,

The USA will always be your home, no matter where you hang your hat, you will always be welcome back home. As for the 20 years you spent in Venezuela, consider it your home away from home.

I have not been as up on this as I should be - where are you going to move to now?

All the best,
Glenn B

~Ginger said...

Very touching post Rita. Home is where your heart is and yours has been far from the USA. We will welcome you back for however long the season may be. God bless and protect you.

Caraqueña said...

Ok, Rita, now I'm crying...I, too, love Venezuela so much. To see it in his clutches is breaking my heart...