Saturday, April 07, 2007

An open letter to God. Warning. Contains bitterness.

God, what's going on?

I know all these women whose children have been taken away from them. A seven year old child not going to school I can understand. But a four-month old still-nursing baby? You know what those orphanges are like. Are they really that much better than the street? What will happen to these beautiful people?

The dollar has taken a nosedive. Now, when I'm ready to move out of the favela, I'm not sure I can. I can't find roommates because everyone lives with their parents. Travel costs are so much more than they were a few years ago; bus and metro fares seem to climb ten cents every six months. This summer has been blisteringly hot with almost no rain. That means food prices are skyrocketing; vegetables that used to cost fifty cents now cost R$1.50. How are people on minimum wage salaries supposed to feed their families with that kind of inflation??? As it is, minimum wage barely covers food costs for one person. This absence of rain leaves us all testy. Everything's dry. My house has been out of water for three days now. The elderly upstairs neighbor doesn't get a drop of anything. She's taking her arthritic legs up and down the stairs a couple times of day to fill buckets at the faucet by the street. At least I still have what's left in the tank and get enough water sneaking up my pipes to flush the toilet once a day and fill a bucket with water. But the water's so full of sediment I'm afraid to even wash my dishes in it. We don't even get water bills, so who are we supposed to complain to? Dona A-, the aforementioned upstairs neighbor, talked to you about it in the bathroom this her husband thinks she's crazy. But really, you're about the only person we can complain to.

Can you do something about the infestation of tiny cockroaches in my house too? I try to kill them but they're so much faster than me. And they run rampant over everything.

My refrigerator officially died a few days ago. Appliances seem to know when holidays are approaching and exchange rates are dropping, so that I am as screwed over as possible when it comes time to buy. If I manage to buy the refrigerator I saw on sale today, it still won't be delivered until Wednesday. But, seeing as how my credit cards were all declined even after assuring their respective fraud departments that I lived in Brazil and was really trying to make this legitimate purchase, perhaps having a refrigerator in the midst of this heat wave is not in your plans for me. Like not having water.

Do you want me to feel like I'm living in Africa or India for a bit? You do realize that they probably don't have to go to sleep to the sound of machine gun fire, or wake up with sore bones from a night spent on the (relatively) safe kitchen floor? That they don't have police helicopters whirring over their communities, cops staking out the exits, hiding in the corners and scaring the living daylights out of everyone who passes with their guns and short tempers? And when I came back this afternoon, I saw a cop car parked in an alley and the officers holding about ten young men lined up against the wall...please tell me that wasn't an assassination or yet another massive bribery. The number of people who were shot last year as a result of "balas perdidas" is shocking. 224. Just in our city. Just mistakes. This year? In March, 7 people died and 34 people were injured by "balas perdidas." That's one per day. And that doesn't include the 500 or so homicides that happen every month. A little boy died today because some guy tried to shoot a pitbull and missed. I'm not sure that living here is helping my old NRA sympathies at all; and yet living here is like living in the warzone between two groups of criminals. The only difference? One set wears bulletproof (though expired) vests and badges. We pray for peace in this city, but we don't even know what that means anymore. Do you?

And to top it all off, I think I'm single again. We didn't really end on a very good note when Tiago left the other night, so maybe we are and maybe we're not. This isn't what either of us wanted, but how are we supposed to sustain a relationship under these conditions? Under this kind of stress? Unemployment in this city is absurd. I see the lines of people downtown waiting to drop off their resumes, knowing that it's futile because the job will go to so-and-so's nephew, the boss's son-in-law, etc...Even speaking excellent English isn't going to assure him of a job. But he's trying. Dang, how he's trying. Can't you help out a little? I know all the churches in this city seem to preach a prosperity gospel, and maybe we're buying into it, but how does it help your marketing campaign when your followers find only locked doors and automated voices saying "Sorry, no, no, no, no, sorry, can't, no?"

And it's Easter. I guess I'll be celebrating with warm water and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, alone. What fun.

In case you're reading this, I love responses. And preferably ones that are decipherable. I'm really not that bitter. I just want to take a shower and get one good night's sleep and know that you're good and you love us here in Rio. That you haven't left for cooler climates...


Keith said...


We will be praying that God shows you in a tangible way that He is there and that He cares! I wish there was something practical that we could do to help you. Hang in there.

Ali la Loca said...

Hey girl,

I empathize with a lot of this, especially the parts about violence and poverty and how these societal ills translate to difficulties in one's day-to-day life. No water, corrupt police, crime...these are unfortunately not confined to Rio, but I do admit that the city has been dealt a particularly terrible hand.

Hang in there. You are doing incredible work, and if you feel this is the path you are meant to be on, then you will prevail.

Also, I hear you about the dollar. Booooooo! With every devaluation, the maintenance of the casa rosa gets more and more difficult financially. I have a plan - I will let you in on it when we meet in Rio in a few weeks.

Can't wait to see you!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you can talk to God about it. So many people feel like you do, and take it out on others rather than tell God how we feel. He knows it anyway. Sometimes it good to say it and be ready to hear His answers. That is what is so amazing to me, that He cares and will answerus, often in ways that really blows our minds. I will be praying for you, and trust that things will brighten for you. Let me know as soon as your plans are firm for June. I am anxious to see you again. Love, Grammy

Sarah said...

straight talkin, beautiful, hardcore, kickin apples on the street in rio...i think you are one of my hero's jenna. i might live in a hard place but i could never handle the guns! i will take dirt over guns anyday. hang in there...

Longe Hawaii said...

It's refreshing to read the words from your heart. So many "religious" people put a mask on through the tears. You are in the right place, talking to God about the hurt & pain you see & feel around you. I too often wonder why He does not step in & right the wrongs in this world, but that is where faith comes in that He knows what He's doing for a higher purpose. In the mean time, it's okay to grieve a time. He will encourage you.