Little girls ride by me on their bikes and shout, “Hi Jenna!” Kids run up to me for a quick hug or a simple hello. Shopkeepers call me by name and ask personalized questions. This is disconcerting because I DO NOT KNOW WHO THEY ARE. Not their names. Not how I know them. It’s worse with the people who have full conversations with me, people who want to know how my trip went, if the other missionaries are coming back, people whose words belie a history that I supposedly have with them. And for the life of me, I can’t remember.
There are small bands of adolescent fans, even adults, who are starting to at least talk about attending the various church services where I’m singing. They are fascinated by my Americaness.
On the other hand, the girls from church are fascinated by how I am losing it...the Americanness, that is. They have even gone so far as to tease me about my “Brazilian” walk and posterior. Having 8 women giving a small treatise on the various stages of your butt’s progression to full Brazilian status (“do you work out? what have you been doing differently? it wasn’t like that when you came here...”) is also somewhat disconcerting...and gives me no end of private giggles after the fact.
I have decided most of this not knowing people comes from my singing engagements. I can’t memorize the faces of everyone in these churches, but they can remember me. So I am trying not to let it bother me too much and am learning the fine art of a smile and a hug and careful avoidance of any situation that requires first name use!
Speaking of singing engagements, I sang last night at the First Baptist in H-. And then arrived at the rocking out Christian street party whose stage was in front of my house. Jessica, a friend from church, was on the singing schedule and she invited me to do a duet with her. It was a great opportunity which perhaps I will elaborate on later, one that has already brought up at least one more invitation, and probably several more in the works.
What happened to my stage fright? It ran away...