07.12.10

Unconditional Love

Posted in Excerpts at 08:06 am by admin

           

In America Movie

 Every Sunday at 9:10 A.M. you will find my husband and I at the adult forum given at St. Patrick’s Episcopal church in our town, Incline Village.  This past week our rector gave the group the assignment to watch the movie “In America.”  We rented this movie and Sunday, during our forum, we saw parts of it and discussed what implications it had for our lives.  Much of our discussion had to do with faith..  The movie is about an Irish couple with two young daughters who came to America, via Canada, in an old car, with $100.00 in cash, and with no expectation about the future.  They had just lost a son to brain cancer, and especially the father lingered in a state of shock, unable to experience his deep emotions.  The oldest daughter, about 12, had a movie camera and she documented every part of their lives.

            They moved into a tenement in New York City, where most of the tenants were drug addicts and social outcasts.  On the first floor lived a tall, very scary, African man, named Mateo, who was known for his screaming any time, day or night.  There are many meaningful parts to this story, but for me, the most significant time was when the two young girls befriended Mateo.  They insisted on “trick or treating” on Halloween, and were excited to find Mateo home.  He reluctantly let them in, and after searching for some kind of a treat for the girls, he found a small jar filled with coins.  He gave it to them, and this was the beginning of a wonderful friendship.  What I saw was a clear depiction of unconditional love between these little girls and Mateo, which became the catalyst for all kinds of transformations for everyone. It turned out that Mateo was dying of aids, and the Irish mother was pregnant with a baby which the doctors said was in danger of not surviving.  By the family’s unconditional love for Mateo, as well as Mateo’s ability to return their love, wonderful things happened.  For me this was a clear picture of what it means to be a Christian and how unconditional love brings about positive changes for all of us.  Read the rest of this entry »

07.05.10

Belief or Faith

Posted in Excerpts at 11:45 am by admin

             For the past few months I have been aware of a change in my thought process regarding my faith.  I have also come to the realization that, for me, belief is the opposite of having faith. 

            There is much in the Bible that one can believe.  It is based on historical fact and stories that have been passed on from generation to generation.  However, vast amounts of the Bible are not logical or historically confirmed and must be taken on Faith.  This, in no way, makes it less important or irrelevant to our lives, but for me, it is important to be aware of the differences, and in some ways it makes my faith even stronger.   I used to think that I believed every single word in the Bible, and to question anything in the Bible was a sin.  After all,” the Bible is the word of God.”  What I have since come to believe, is that much in the Bible is written by men, translated from its original language, be it Aramaic, Greek or Roman, and men with various agendas have interpreted, edited and translated biblical texts. Also stories were verbally passed on from one generation to the other, and with every telling of a story some factual material gets changed.  This in no way diminishes my faith; indeed it makes my faith stronger.  I am Christian.  My faith tells me Jesus is the Son of God who became man, and showed us the way to live our  lives, and by giving his life on the cross, he showed us the way to obtain eternal life.  My feelings are not based on proof or belief.   Read the rest of this entry »

06.29.10

Patriatism

Posted in Excerpts at 05:02 pm by admin

Brazilian Flag

            In my book “Divine Betrayal,” at the end of Chapter Sixteen, I talk about nationalism, and how I felt as a child about Brazil, and I still have these same strong feelings today.  When I see the Brazilian flag my heart skips a beat.  When I hear the Brazilian National Anthem, I have to stand and place my hand over my heart. It is a demonstration of my deep love and respect for Brazil. Something that was ingrained in me as a child

            How does this differ from my feelings about being an American? We are about to experience the celebration of Independence Day, the 4th of July, and each year when this date comes along, I ask myself this question.  How do I feel about being an American?

            First I have always been proud to be an American.  Even in my early years, growing up in Brazil, there was a special sense to pride to be from this important nation, and I was “special,” because I could say I was an “American.”  But how do I feel today?  My answer, “with each day I am more in-love with this Country, its history, and I am extremely proud to be an American.”  I cringe whenever I hear a blatant criticism of this country.  We have been a leader to the world, and just look back and imagine what this world would be if the U.S. had not intervened in WWI and WWII.  Especially WWII! I believe that England would not have survived the Nazi invasion, and would have fallen like France.  China and the Pacific Rim would be slaves to Japanese fascism. We gave our energy and lives for the freedom of Europe and the Pacific. Then the Marshal Plan helped Europe quickly recover from the devastation of the war.  The Soviet Union might have eventually overtaken Hitler, but even so, imagine how different things would be today if we had not entered WWII.  Europe would be under the Nazi rule, or Soviet rule, and quite different today.  And I must add our nation would also be changed.  And imagine if Japan had won the Pacific war.  The occupation of the U.S. by Japan was their dream, and whether you believe it was right or wrong to use the atomic bomb, it probably saved the lives of tens of thousands of Americans and millions of Japanese.

            Our Nation has also been open to accept immigrants from around the world, who come with the intention of becoming part of this country and contributing to its progress..  There is a lot of confusion today, in the unlawful immigration across our borders by many, who have no intention of becoming Americans.  They come here to work and send money back to their families, in Mexico, Brazil or other countries, or they are in the illegal drug trade and they are filling our prisons to overflowing. These immigrants are very different from those coming through our borders looking to become Americans, and being part of the American dream, to learn English, pay their taxes and become American citizens.  The legal immigrants are still welcome in America and always will be welcome.  This is what makes America strong, and makes me very proud to be an American.

Read the rest of this entry »

06.04.10

Eight Ways to Destroy America

Posted in Excerpts at 02:42 pm by admin

            I just read an article that “rocked my world.”  I felt a deep sadness and fear.  I must share some of it with you. 

            Having been raised in Brazil, with a different language, and different culture, I strongly value my American heritage.  I love Brazil, and I write about my life in Brazil up to eighteen years of age, in my book, Divine Betrayal, and am glad for the opportunity to have been raised there, attending their school and particpating in their culture.   Yet, I appreciate and love America and value everything it stands for. In the last few years I’ve been very disturbed by the rise of multi-cultures in America. When I get a choice of which language I wish to use, Spanish or English, and in some places you can almost “name your language.”  I am disturbed.  In Nevada, where I live, the voting forms are in Spanish and English.  How can I feel confident that the persons deciding the leadership of our state and country are qualified to choose, when they do not speak English, which is the cornerstone of our culture?   I believe that language is the cement that holds us together.  

            In a speech given in Washington, DC, to some of America’ finest minds and leaders, the former Governor of Colorado gave a very strong, provocative speech which touched me to the core.  It is very long and I will only give you an outline with the main points.  I feel this speech should be heard by every American.

             It starts out with the statement: ”An autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide.”  Here is how to destroy America.

  1. “Turn America into a bilingual or multi-lingual and bicultural county.”
  2. “Invent ‘multiculturalism’ and encourage immigrants to maintain their culture. For instance, I would make it an article of belief that all cultures are equal, and that Black and Hispanic dropout rates are due solely to prejudice and discrimination by the majority. Every other explanation is out of bounds.”
  3. “Celebrate diversity rather than unity.  Benjamin Schwartz said in the Atlantic Monthly recently: ‘The apparent success of our own multi-ethnic and multicultural experiment might have been achieved not by tolerance but by hegemony.  Without the dominance that once dictated ethnocentrically and what it meant to be an American, we are left with only tolerance and pluralism to hold us together.”
  4. “I would make our fastest growing demographic group the least educated.”
  5. “Get big foundations and businesses to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic identity, and would establish the cult of ‘Victimology.’”
  6. “I would include dual citizenship and promote divided loyalties.  I would celebrate diversity over unity.  I would stress differences rather than similarities. Diverse people worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other – that is, when they are not killing each other”.
  7. “I would place certain subjects off limits – make it taboo to talk about anything against the cult of ‘diversity.’  I would find words similar to ‘heretic’ in the 16th century – that stopped and paralyzed thinking.  Words like ‘racist’ or ‘ xenophobe’ halt discussion and debate.” 
  8. “After a profound silence he added: “I would censor Victor Davis Hanson’s book ‘Mexifornia.’  His book is dangerous.  It exposes the plan to destroy America.”  Read the rest of this entry »

06.04.10

Brazilian Children

Posted in Excerpts at 09:03 am by admin

            Brazilians love children.  Children are revered and hold an important status in the family.  I have never seen a baby sitter in Brazil.  Wealthy Brazilians will have a nanny to help with the children, but the families are always together on all occasions.  Even when an adult has a birthday celebration, it is assumed that everyone comes, including all children.  

Other differences in Brazil and America is when boarding an airplane, families with children get on first.  Here, Southwest Airlines had this practice, but now they changed it to allow children to board after group A.   In a restaurant the waiters will come to the children first to take their orders and after they are taken care of, the adults can place their order.  My three daughters always loved our trips to Brazil and they were very aware of these differences and wished it were the same at home.

It is not unusual to see teen agers, both boys and girls, paying attention to younger children, such as taking time to talk to them and playing with them for long periods of time, not because it was a duty, but it is their pleasure.  I’m always struck by these differences in our cultures.

            I’m sure this extra love and attention paid to children, makes them feel wanted and important.  Therefore you might think that Brazilian children would have very positive self images.  In most cases I feel they do. However, as they become teen agers, self consciousness, comparing themselves to others who they believe are better looking, or have better personalities, may create self-doubt.  But overall I think of the Brazilian teens as being self assured and with an overdose of self confidence and positive self images.

05.27.10

The Christening

Posted in Excerpts at 08:46 am by admin

            Gracie's ChristeningOn April 20th I flew to Jackson Mississippi.  As the airplane was descending and preparing to land I looked out of the window at the vibrant green colors, blue waters of the many small lakes below, and I started to cry.  I do not cry easily and wondered why this was happening to me.  What was happening within me, at this moment to cause me to cry?  Then it came to me like a bolt of lightening!  I was going to the Catholic Christening of my granddaughter Gracie.  What would my father and mother think?  Especially my mother, who believed that it was very rare that a Catholic would make it to heaven, and in my book, Divine Betrayal, (Chapter Thirteen, p.137) I write: “I joked with Mother about how shocked she would someday be to get to heaven and see all those Catholics milling about.  She threw me a stiff glance that said she knew better.”  And here I was on my way to the Christening of her great-granddaughter in the Roman Catholic Church.  But I soon discovered that these tears turned from sadness to tears of joy.  A flood of emotion filled me and I sobbed and cried even harder.

            Saturday was the ceremony.  When we got to the church the first person I met was the priest.  Before going on, I want to explain that my youngest daughter Martha married Todd, a young man from Jackson Mississippi.  His family has a long tradition in the Catholic Church.  Todd’s grandparents came from Italy and this Church has played a major role in his upbringing.   Gracie’s baptismal gown was made from handkerchiefs her great-grandmother brought from Italy.  The hem of the gown had embroidered names and dates of other family members who had used this gown.  The priest, Father Curley, came from another town to perform this ceremony, for he had christened Gracie’s Dad and all of Gracie’s aunts, uncles and cousins.   Sadly, Father Curley had buried Gracie’s  grandmother only two year before.  Father Curley was one of the family.  The ceremony was beautiful, Martha and Todd beamed the whole time, and I cried tears of joy.   Read the rest of this entry »

05.23.10

The Friendly Brazilians

Posted in Excerpts at 08:35 pm by admin

          Anyone who has ever been to Brazil is very much aware of how friendly the people are.  Besides the beauty of this country, the most outstanding thing that visitors mention is how much they enjoyed the way they were treated by the Brazilian people.

          As I have mentioned in other blog entries and in my book, Divine Betrayal, Brazil has a very diverse population. Most of the settlers originally came from Portugal, Italy, Africa (as slaves), and Germany.  Brazil also has a large population of Asians, mostly from Japan, but lately from China.

          The language is Portuguese.  Portuguese is a Latin language and it is very similar to Italian.  It is not surprising that I find Brazilians also very similar to Italians.  The Brazilians are very demonstrative, and it is absolutely impossible to speak Brazilian Portuguese without using your hands. At a dinner table it seems like everyone is talking with loud voices, interrupting one another and speaking at the same time.  There is no such thing as a quiet, relaxing dinner with a group of friends or family.

            It is not unusual to meet someone for the first times, and to have him invite you to his home.  He really means it!  If you accept the invitation, you can be sure you will be very welcome. 

            On one of my trips to Florianopolis, I tried to get in touch by phone with an old family friend, who lived in a near by city, Blumenau.  I called information and reached a person with the same last name.  After a few minutes of conversation it was clear to me that he was not the person I was looking for.  After polite conversation, and establishing that it was the wrong number, the person said:  “I would love to meet you and your family. I would be honored to have you come and have dinner with my family.”  You may think this was strange.  I did not.  He really meant it, and I’m sure if I had the time to visit him, we would have had a great experience, and could have made a new friend.  Similar things have happened to me several times in Brazil.  It does not take long to make friends in Brazil, and I must declare that I have never met a Brazilian I did not like. 

            There is always hugging and kissing when you see someone, even if only a casual friend.  The greeting for women is kissing both cheeks, and for men it’s an “abraco” …a warm hug. It is very impolite to meet someone, even for the first time and not shake hands.  Just saying “pleased to meet you” is not enough.

             All our Brazilian friends love music and dance.  It seems like everyone in Brazil can sing, and sing well, and many can play the guitar.  Brazilian music if full of rhythm.  Everyone, even little children, love to keep time to the beat, with a coke bottle filled with stones, a matchbox, or just sticks hitting an empty can.  Read the rest of this entry »

05.12.10

Florianopolis

Posted in Excerpts at 09:48 am by admin

            I hesitate writing about my hometown, because there is a selfish part of me that doesn’t want everyone to know about this place.  Every time I visit, it is obvious that it is growing way too fast: the highways can not contain the traffic, and the beaches are  overcrowded, especially in January and February, the summer vacations months in Brazil.

Praia de Armacao

 Florianopolis, also nicknamed Floripa, is the capital city of the state of Santa Catarina, in the South of Brazil.   I write about the history of this area in chapter nine of Divine Betrayal.  The city is located on an island also called Santa Catarina.  When I lived there the population was near 30,000.  Today the city has a population of  407,000 and with the surrounding areas the total population is 821,000.  

Newsweek has named Florianopolis “one of the ten most dynamic cities of the world.”  It is also known to many Americans as the “Hawaii of the South.”  Besides being the State’s Capital and therefore housing the Governor and Legislature, it also has several well respected Universities.  However, with 42 beaches surrounding the island, it is a tourist center, and also becoming a second home destination for Americans, Europeans, Argentines, and tourists from other nearby South American countries, as well as Brazilians wanting to escape the larger cities.  It is 711 miles south of Rio de Janeiro and 430 miles south of Sao Paulo.

In the north central part of the island is a beautiful lake called Lagoa da Conceicao..  It is 19.17 square kilometers in size, and near two ocean Beaches, Praia Mole and  Joaquim which are noted for hosting major international surfing competitions. In this same area there a large sand dunes and sand surfing has also grown as a sport. 

The northern half of the island has the most population, with modern homes, condominiums, hotels, and restaurants.  The southern part is still relatively pristine.  The beaches have restaurants, some vacation homes, but no hotels.  When we visit Florianopolis we are fortunate to stay at the Armacao beach.  The photo shows as it is today, still a fishermen’s village, with a picturesque church, restaurants, a primary school, a police station, and just recently a library.

When we visit Armacao we stay with the family of my dear friend Luiz Sabino, who we visited in 2006 shortly before his passing.  On that visit, the beaches were crowded with people bused in or who came by car from Florianopolis.  It takes about 40 minutes to get from the center of Florianopolis to the beaches at the south end of the island. Read the rest of this entry »

05.03.10

CAFEZINHO (Demitasse coffee)

Posted in Excerpts at 08:26 am by admin

              Coffee is not just grown in Brazil, but it is a very important part of the Brazilian culture.  Most Brazilians drink several cups of coffee per day and it is served in demitasse cups.  It is a very strong, almost a syrup, and they usually fill the demitasse cup half full with sugar and then add the coffee.  Of course there is a jolt and I’ve often wondered if it comes from the caffeine or sugar.  It probably comes from both.  In Portuguese the name for coffee is “Café” and “Cafezinho” literally means little coffee.

            Cafezinho is served at tall bars, with standing room only, no stools.  The customer comes to the bar, orders his cafezinho, adds the sugar, stirs and with one or two gulps it is swallowed.  He goes on to his business. He may do this several times during the day. For this reason American coffee companies, such as Starbucks, have not been successful in Brazil.  The Brazilian does not sit, relax, visit with friends, or even use the internet while he is drinking his coffee.  This is a cultural phenomena and it is not going to change. Read the rest of this entry »

04.27.10

The Martians Are Coming

Posted in Excerpts at 04:11 pm by admin

          I loved to hear my Dad tell the story (Chapter Two, Divine Betrayal) of the night  his Lansing, Michigan church completely overflowed.  Right in the middle of the church service the doors flew open and droves of people started entering the church.  Not only that, but they sat, listened to what Dad said and their faces were full of anticipation.  They eagerly took in every word. Then, when he asked who wanted to come forward and ask Jesus to forgive their sins and give their heart to the Lord, they all came forward, some of them crying, with their hand in the air, anxious to have my Dad pray for them.

Lansing, MI Church - 1937

           “Something seemed strange to me,” said Dad.  “I have never seen anything like this.”  “As they were coming forward I asked one of our members if he knew what was happening.”  He shrugged his shoulders and said,” No, I don’t, but thank the Lord.” 

            As soon as Dad’s prayer was over, and the new converts rose from the alter, with relieved expressions on their faces, Dad took someone he knew aside and asked him “why tonight, what was happening? “ He then told Dad. “It’s the end of the world, we are being invaded by Martians.  We all heard the news on the radio tonight. “

            Later, when Dad returned to the parsonage, he turned on the radio and heard the news.  The announcers were talking about the panic caused by Orson Welles’s CBS radio drama on Mercury Theater called “The War of the Worlds.”  It was a realistic drama vividly announcing the invasion of Martians.  It was so well done, without giving any warning at the beginning of the program, that this was fiction, all that heard it were convinced that it was really happening.   Read the rest of this entry »


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