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A letter from Kim Vis in Brazil

September 2012

The summer has ended. We live in the Southern Hemisphere, so technically it is winter that has ended. As with so many people in the States, we too are experiencing the craziness that the changing of seasons can bring. While students are busy heading back to school, teachers back to work, and families reminiscing about the great summer, we too are in the midst of some major changes.

This semester Josh began teaching his own class at Universidade Metodista de São Paulo. He has 12 students in his class and they all appear to be enjoying the lessons he provides. We continue to feel certain this is the right place for Josh at this point and are thankful for his work. He shares a little bit about his classes below.

Josh is also putting the finishing touches on his dissertation and has a defense date of November 26 at Duke University. His work on his dissertation has been a staple in our lives for four years and we are excited to have the end in sight. It will be a big change for us to have this completed. This will be especially complicated for Josh as he has devoted much of his time and energy to this topic over the last several years. He is uncertain about what feelings will accompany the completion of his dissertation. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers for a successful defense and transition to life afterwards.

Family photo - September

I am seven months pregnant and eagerly looking forward to the end, hopefully around Halloween. I am fortunate to have had a smooth pregnancy with the only inconvenience being the monthly, now weekly, doctor's appointments. We have chosen to have this baby at a wonderful hospital located about 15 miles away. Although the hospital is not far away, the quickest we have been able to arrive at the hospital has been 1 hour and 15 minutes! Traffic always seems to be an issue here. Since all of my prenatal appointments have been at the hospital, we have tried several different routes. Josh and I joke that it is because we are Americans that we continue to search for the most efficient route to arrive at the hospital. I am really hoping this baby decides to make her entrance into the world in the middle of the night! After four and a half years of just the three of us it will be a big change to have a baby!

Mahalia is especially excited about being a big sister. She too is anxiously waiting for her sister. In her words, “It is taking forever.” I hope her excitement continues once the baby is born. We know it will be a big adjustment for her as well. Mahalia continues to do well at school and at ballet. Her teachers comment on how bright she is and how well she has learned the language. They are amazed that she is able to speak without an accent. She knows all of the letters in the English alphabet and most of the letters in the Portuguese alphabet. It is so exciting to see her mature in both languages. A common frustration for Mahalia, outside of school, is that other children keep asking her to speak English for them. For many children here in Brazil, Mahalia is a novelty. Children, and adults, love most things about the United States, including the English language. Many have never heard a native English speaker, especially not a child. It is difficult for her to understand their desire when she is trying so hard to learn the Portuguese language. At this point she proudly announces to whomever may be listening that she knows more Portuguese than me. While this may or may not be true, I am very proud of her ability to learn and effectively utilize Portuguese.

The next two months will undoubtedly bring some major changes to our lives. During this time we appreciate your continued prayers. We also appreciate your prayers for Brazil as this country continues to struggle with poverty, a great disparity of wealth and resources, and corruption.

A Little Bit from Josh:

I wear a slick tie-and-shirt combination when I teach in the hopes that this will somehow offset my inability to speak Portuguese smoothly. I need not worry too much as my students are very forgiving and patient. However, it can be frustrating to speak on such weighty matters as homosexuality and the authority of the Bible (the class is on Leviticus 17–26, which contains passages prohibiting gay, but not lesbian, unions) when one is still very limited in one’s vocabulary and syntax. And yet our classes have been fun and engaging and the students tell me they are pleased. What can they say to my face, really? I choose to believe them because their generous spirits have convinced me. We struggle together with many of the same issues anyone anywhere struggles with when reading the Bible. How should we read the Bible? What are the best methods? Who wrote the Bible? Do we have to agree with the Bible? Can we reject parts of the Bible? Does anyone actually submit fully to the Bible? I expect I will converse with students about these questions for the rest of my life, in one language or another.

We wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Josh, Kim and Mahalia Vis

The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 27

Write to Josh Vis
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