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A letter from Kim Vis in Brazil

November 2012

She’s here! Our second daughter, Luciana, was born on October 30 in Brazil. We were blessed with an uneventful delivery and a healthy baby girl. Mahalia is loving her role as a big sister and cannot kiss, hold, and cuddle her little sister enough. She anxiously awaits the day when Luciana can play with her or at least be a little more attentive to her antics.

Josh, Kim, Mahalia and Luciana Vis - A new family of four

Luciana is Brazilian and American and we have been very busy securing her documents for both citizenships. This has proven to be a time-consuming process, but wonderful practice for our Portuguese. A year ago I am certain we would not have been able to navigate the language and details by ourselves. At the hospital the only people with whom I spoke English were my doctor and visitors. At one point, after an epidural, my doctor, her assistant, our midwife and the anesthesiologist were sitting in the room with Josh and me chatting in Portuguese while we waited. This moment was so surreal to me. I cannot imagine this type of care happening at a hospital in the States. When the time came, we all moved to the delivery room and although the conversation switched from casual talk to birthing a baby we were all very comfortable with each other.

Since Luciana’s birth we have been able to secure her official Brazilian registration, apply for her United States passport and birth record, and apply for her Brazilian passport. It took us exactly one day to secure her Brazilian registration. We have been here a year and a half and are still waiting for our registration cards! Through our experiences in Brazil we have become much more sympathetic for expatriates/foreigners living in the States.

It has been a busy few weeks adjusting to life with a newborn and a 4-year-old. I think it is easy to forgot how much work little babies are. While Mahalia continues to attend school, when she is home she takes every opportunity to help Mommy and Daddy. Luciana is never short on kisses and cuddles from Mahalia. Unfortunately these moments of intense affection often seem to occur at the least opportune times, like when Luciana is trying to sleep, calm down, or eat. However, I would much rather endure intense love than jealousy issues! We are so thankful for Mahalia’s acceptance and love for her little sister.

Proud big sister Mahalia

It has been a wonderful year and a half for our family in Brazil. In the coming year I hope to find a way to become more involved in our community. Although I know I will be busy with the children and the household activities, I am hoping to find something fulfilling to do beyond parenting. Please pray that I may find something fulfilling to do outside of the home. Mahalia will begin kindergarten in January at the same school she attended this year. We ask for prayers for another smooth transition to a new teacher and peers for her. Since we will be spending time with family in the States over the holidays we also ask for prayers for a smooth transition back to Brazil for all of us. It is always difficult to leave the ones you love, especially for Mahalia! As for Luciana, we hope she continues to grow well and thrive in her first year of life. While I am busy on the home front, Josh explains below a little of his work this year at the university.

The past year and a half have been pretty amazing for me, in particular, but also certainly for our entire family. I came to Brazil needing to learn Portuguese and finish my dissertation. It was a tall order and I frankly wasn’t sure I could do it. However, last year at about this time I had a breakthrough on my dissertation. I still don’t really know what happened; that is, I cannot describe how it is that this breakthrough occurred. I suppose I could call it the work of God and I suspect many would, but in all honesty, I have trouble making such attributions. I have always been open to interpretation about God’s actions while being as clear and as bold as possible in my attempt to follow Jesus.

Josh teaching class.

I am not skeptical about what an important ministry this is for me and my family, and also of course for Universidade Metodista in São Paulo. I recently learned that Universidade Metodista is having some financial difficulties, not an uncommon occurrence for them. The university receives no private money, none, and thus relies entirely on student tuition. Due to lower enrollment, the university is cutting back on hours for the professors here, which of course means less salary for the professors. This too was a surprise to me, as I had assumed the professors had a fixed salary. Thankfully, my appointment helps the university and our department since an international presence boosts the credibility of the department. I am also free help for the department, of course. In the U.S. no university/college attempts to run simply on tuition. It’s just not feasible. I’m not sure it is feasible here, either, in the long term, but I must be careful not to assume the U.S. knows best in this respect. Thus, while I did ask about private money, I did not press the matter in our meeting about the financial difficulties.

The language has come slowly but surely. I am often frustrated by my inability to communicate precisely and fluently, but I know language acquisition is a slow and arduous process. Just to give an example, Portuguese uses the subjunctive much more than English and there are three different subjunctive conjugations: present, imperfect, and future. Whenever I begin a sentence with “if” or “I want you/him/her to...,” the verbs that follow must be in the subjunctive. Mastering this is my next linguistic challenge. I have been teaching my own class this semester and it has gone quite well. I certainly make plenty of errors, but the students are gracious and engaged. 

Our concerns for the coming year don’t feel as weighty as our concerns were for the past year. My dissertation and Portuguese are still my most pressing concerns, but nothing like they were a year ago. Still, I request prayers for both. Last, over the next year we will begin to think about whether or not we will extend our appointment here in Brazil. As part of this, we will spend six months in the U.S. meeting with supporting churches. Universidade Metodista em São Paulo could also use prayers for the amelioration of their financial challenges. All said, though, this first year and a half in Brazil has gone better than I could have imagined. We are, as always, grateful for your generosity. Please know that our lives are certainly being changed by this experience and through our many relationships here in Brazil, and through my work at the university, I am convinced that we are making an impact, small as it may be, in Brazil.

The Vis Family

We wish everyone a wonderful Holiday season!


The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 27
The 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 37
Read more about Josh and Kim Vis' ministry

Write to Josh Vis
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