JOÃO PESSOA, Brazil (BNc) by Jeremy Newlin — There are days that will stand out in your mind for weeks, some, for months or even years. Other stories may live on through your children and grandchildren, and still other stories may die with you. I don’t know which category this story will fall into but I do hope you enjoy it. Don’t feel bad if you laugh. I did.
A couple of weeks after arriving back in Brazil, I took our car to the mechanic. It was a rainy day; we had a hard rain early on and then it began to taper off. I was at the mechanic, and I went walking to buy a part for the car.
There is no sidewalk. I was walking along the side of the road, just off to the edge to stay out of the way of the cars. Because of all the rain there were some puddles of water in my path. I came upon one puddle that I did not want to step in so I stepped into the road where there was a wet board leaning up against the curb (a curb with no sidewalk, mind you). I slipped on the wet board.
You might think you know what happened next, but I did not fall. I put my right foot down in the puddle so that I would not fall; only it was not just a puddle of water. It was a sewage drain and the top was off of it with the sewage water forming the puddle.
Listen, if it was just the water on top of the sewage hole that would be normal but since the top was off my whole leg up to the top of my thigh sunk deep into the dirty sewage hole. There was a group of people at a little snack shop right where it happened. They were probably amazed at how I didn’t really miss a step even though I almost got sucked into the sewer. All that was for show because of my embarrassment. They were quick to remind me, “Hey, you know that is a sewage hole, don’t you?”
I went on to the store and bought the part while smelling the stench reeking from my pants. After buying the part I had two choices: pass in front of the guys again or take the long way around and avoid further embarrassment. I decided to pass in front of them and swallow my pride, but this time I didn’t care if cars were coming or not, I was taking the street.
After standing around for a couple of more hours, I decided to call Monica instead of taking a bus home so I wouldn’t rub any sewage off onto anyone, and she picked me up. When I got home I took a shower and washed my leg at least five times. My pants still stink but only if you put your nose up to them.
I was back to the mechanic for more, but I was going to make sure to avoid any sewage holes. Thinking back, as I write this, that may have been the reason day two is in this story. I was walking to another parts store, looking carefully at where I was stepping. As I came up to the parts store, two guys who were sitting outside were looking at me, and they both said “Hey!” at the same time.
Before I had time to think or react, I rammed my head into a pole that was sticking out of the building to hold up the front part of the roof. The two guys started laughing. That was about all I could do too, but I didn’t want to call any more attention to myself. And when you laugh at yourself for something like this, it kind of makes you look weird, so I held it in. Yes, I have done it before and that is how I know. I did get a little cut from the pole, but nothing too bad.
This day I was registering my car. I was in a line with my car for them to check it over and make sure everything was OK. They closed for lunch, they get a two-hour break, and they take the full two hours. I left my car in line and went to get something to eat.
On the way back I was walking in front of a bus stop full of people, so full in fact, that I had to step out into the street. As I was passing by the people, I saw a bus approaching. When you want a bus to stop for you, you stick your arm straight out perpendicular to your body.
As I was passing by the stop full of people, the bus was coming, and I was licking my lips still with the good taste of my lunch on them, when suddenly a lady sticks her arm out.
Instead of licking my lips, I licked her arm.
I don’t think she knew what happened, and I really did not want to tell her. Lady, if you are reading this, I’m sorry, I did not mean to lick your arm. Anyway, her perfume was in my mouth for the rest of the afternoon.
I was at the prayer meeting that night telling everyone what had happened in my short week. They all laughed. Samuel McKinney spoke up and said, “I want to go with you tomorrow to see what is going to happen.”
If we can’t laugh at ourselves, who can we laugh at? I hope you enjoyed three strange days in the life of one missionary to Brazil.
Jeremy and his more coordinated colleagues share reports of their work here.