This is our 12th winter in Southern Brasil.
I remember before we moved here our old teammates John and Samantha told us winter in POA was the worst cold they had ever felt.
They had been here before and talked about how cold it was.
I confess that my girlfriend and I just kind of looked at each other when they said that and kind of smiled. It was our way of saying, "Yeah, right." without actually saying it out loud. How could southern Brasil be colder than any other place they'd been?
We moved here in the middle of winter 2002 and quickly had to confess our judgmental sins.
John and Sam, if we've never verbally confessed our sins, we do it now. You were right. It can be brutal. We apologize.
I was reminded of them last night as we sat in a very cold building worshipping with some brothers and sisters.
It's been cold here this week. Very cold. Low to mid 30's at night cold.
If you don't know anything about our city then allow me to share a little with you.
Our buildings don't have insulation. Just concrete walls. We also don't have central heat. You have options of electric, gas or oil heaters. They are awesome to have when it gets really cold but we try not to use them too much because it really spikes your electricity bill. So we typically put 2-3 blankets on our beds and try to get warm. Some days those blankets are used as coats in the house because when it gets cold outside it is usually colder inside your house. You can easily see your breath on nights/days like we've had the last week. Even after the temperature warms up the cold stays in your house for a few days.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining, even though it probably sounds like it, just stating facts. We've grown accustomed to the rituals of our winters. Everyone here is in the same boat as us. Everyone bundles up and waits for spring. We are thankful that we don't have 3 straight months of 30 degree temps at night. That would be almost unbearable.
When we get whiney about not having central heat or air we remind ourselves that most people in the world don't have those luxuries.
This past week we had some of our best buddies come and visit us from São Paulo state. They wanted to go up in the mountains while they were here. The day we went we were told that it had actually snowed that morning in the city we were visiting. Our friends had never seen snow.
It was very cold in the mountains. Cold and windy. If it had been cloudy I thought we might have been able to see some snow. We didn't and, sadly, our friends still wait for that day.
It rarely, rarely snows here. Most people haven't seen it. The day after we visited the mountain city one of our newspapers had this on the cover.
It says that over the previous two days 104 cities had snow. Places that had not seen snow in decades. It said the intense cold was going to last through yesterday. I even read that someone living in the streets had died this week because of the cold.
I agree with what the paper predicted. Yesterday it was very cold again.
Like I mentioned earlier, we were in a building last night worshipping.
We have a brother in our city who planted a church a couple of months ago. He asked my girlfriend and I to help him. We've been a part of their Thursday night praise times since we got home from the wedding. It's been an amazing blessing but I confess that last night was tough for me to stay focused.
Why? Imagine sitting in a building with no heat, all concrete and with temperatures in the 30's. As we sang you could see everyone's breath.
Our brother, André, actually stopped one time and told everyone to get up and move around to get the blood flowing. He kept preaching while we all did mini exercises.
When the worship was over I told my girlfriend that I had never been this cold in my life and that even included spending time in the Ukraine one winter. The cold and humidity mix is brutal and it feels like the cold gets deep into your bones.
As I shared how cold I was my girlfriend she said her feet felt like this.
So far this year we've had one cold week and it's ending today. Forecast says warmer temps to come and we are thankful for that.
Thankful that some people got to see snow for the first time in their lives. Thankful that we won't be able to see our breath in our house anymore. Thankful that people living on the streets will be spared from the brutally cold nights.
I'm even thankful that my girlfriend can now ditch her "winter time" boyfriend. You can click here to read about him. He's such a bed hog.