Like probably many of you reading this, I tend to overthink things. Even though we’ve been here for over a week, and I am loving every new experience, I can’t always let go of my worries about what is to come. Whether its a new job shadow opportunity or venturing to the mall by riding in an Uber, it is easy to think about what could go wrong. But being enveloped in the culture and by the people here has begun to change the way I think about many things.
A few days ago we were scheduled to visit BASF, a large chemical company. The dress code and requirements stated to bring your passport and wear long pants but no sandals, no open toe shoes and no tennis shoes with laces. Though our host families attempted to help us by providing shoes, we met at 7 am the next morning wearing a mix of ballet flats, sneakers with and without laces, boots, and dress shoes. Vanessa, the master at making things work, was carrying three bags stuffed full of borrowed shoes, and Julie said we could try to see what flexibility the company might offer.
Alas, later that morning when we were ready to tour the factory, it became clear that practically none of our shoes were suitable. What followed was a little stress but lots of laughs as we all had to try on the seemingly endless supply of boots provided by the employees. Finally we experienced an amazing look into their factory that manufactures paint. It felt like I had been transported to the TV show “How It’s Made”!
But what I skipped over was my own worries and fears that seem so inconsequential now. Would I be allowed entrance, or have to wait outside on the bus? Yet, when we arrived, none of the employees were worried. “If we need to let the Americans borrow eighteen pairs of our boots for an hour or so, that’s ok!”
As I am learning, so many of my worries, fears, and anxieties are unfounded. According to Google, worry means “a state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems.” So far, none of the problems I have worried about have ever come true. We can’t know the future. We can only prepare ourselves as much as possible and trust in God to take care of the rest.
One of the activities I was most nervous about, giving a presentation to students at the local K-12 school, has become one of my most cherished memories of this trip. When told the night before that we were asked to talk about embryology in one class, as well as the rocks, soil and vegetation of NY in another, I was more than slightly terrified.
I arrived at school on time and mostly prepared early the next morning. To my surprise, I was greeted by the smiling faces of multiple students who spoke amazing English and were waiting to guide me to the classroom. That sense of wonder and welcome persisted throughout the morning. Being able to share some pieces of my home through pictures and broken Portuguese was incredible. I formed a tangible connection with the kids as we combined Portuguese and English to communicate.
Experiencing first-hand how none of my imagined fears are coming true has helped me to think about upcoming activities in a new light. This Monday I am going to visit Casa do Jardim for the first time. Though I am beyond excited to meet these kids, interact with and shower them with love, the language barrier and fear of the unknown is still with me. Yet, I constantly remind myself that despite all the potential problems I make up in my head, so far everything has worked out perfectly.
After all, in Brazil, they make everything work!