Photo by Jens Rademacher on Unsplash

The year I was nine, we lived in Lincoln, NE. That was also the year we got to fly out to Los Angeles and visit Disney Land. I didn’t even know what a theme park was, much less on that grand of a scale. I remember going on a ride called “It’s a Small World After All” and laughing with Pennie that they didn’t come close to capturing our experience. There were so many “I have nevers” packed into that one day: getting my likeness painted as a caricature. Seeing grown men and women in full Disney costumes, not even…

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One morning, someone spotted a screw driver lying near the chicken coop. Whose was it? Where did it come from? Had our yard boy Daví been careless? Oh yeah… the thief in the night.

The night before, dad awoke to a noise outside their bedroom window accompanied by the furious barking of our dog. Being either foolish or brave, he went to investigate. It was pitch black with no street or yard light to see by. Taking a flashlight, clad only in his pajamas, he called our German Shepherd Teddy, and set out to see what all fuss was about.

A four year old’s perspective

Photo by Davide Cantelli on Unsplash

The first time I came to the US, I was about four years old. It was not “home” by any stretch. It was a foreign country with its own code of conduct, weird food and customs, funny smells and strange people. Outwardly I fit in with my blond curls, blue eyes and fair skin. But my interior landscape was definitely not American. I had grown up with monkeys and macaws for pets and spoke two languages. I had never seen snow, walked through a corn field and didn’t know what an apple was. I had…

Photo by Les Magee

The news was in the air: grandma was coming to visit! I thought, who? I had no idea what “grandma” meant and the thought that mom had ever been a little girl was strange to me. At two or three, I had not met any of my grandparents, but called other American adults in our lives “aunt” and “uncle”; they had become our surrogate family. This person was a stranger to me and it took me a while to get used to her wanting to hug and kiss me. I’m pretty sure I hid from her at first, a little…

Photo by Les Magee: My sister and I headed for school

Early one morning, I heard mom’s quiet voice calling, “Juju! It’s time wake up and go to school!” I felt her warm hands reach for my feet and rub them to help me wake up. Reluctantly I crawled out of bed and sleepily went to eat breakfast. School started at 7:30. This was my very first day and I was a little apprehensive, since we had just moved back to Brazil from a year in the US and I had forgotten most of my Portuguese. What was it going to be like? …

Watercolor by Judith Hansen

We piled into our jeep with a canvas top and plastic windows, used only when the weather was bad. Mom and dad sat in front while my sisters and I sat on the metal wheel wells in back. We would grip the edges for dear life, wondering when the constant jarring of the washer board road or pot hole would buck us out of the jeep. I hated it when another car passed us or we lingered too close behind another vehicle, because we would choke on the dust. What a ride!

We were headed for the “mato”, or jungle…

James Douglas on Unsplash

Mondays were dad’s day off, so we would pile into the jeep with our swimsuits on, no sunscreen and impatience for the 20 minute drive to the beach. Who knew it could last so long? It was my favorite day and I was eager for it to get started. Often dad would check to make sure no Portuguese Man-of-War had littered the beach from a recent storm. In my memory, this occurred only once. When that happened we couldn’t swim as they were deadly and would lurk in the water or be strewn across the the beach. Dad, in a…

Photo by Nathalia Segato on Unsplash

One early morning, as I was slumbering on my cot upstairs, I heard a blood curdling scream coming from downstairs. Jarred awake and with my heart in my throat, I went to investigate. As I crept to look over the balcony, more screams came. As I peered to look down below, I saw a bat swooping about, trying to find a way to escape its own terror. The screams were coming from either my mom or perhaps from the mom of the other family living with us. We were living in a big, drafty, old colonial home called The Vila…

Photo by Torsten Dederichs in Unsplash

I have been part of the Christian tribe my whole life. I mean literally, my whole life. Mom took me to church in utero. I probably learned to sing the hymns before I was born. I raised my kids in the same manner, but with one (for me) crucial difference: I grew up in many different cultures, with different perspectives on how to do faith and life. That left an indelible mark on my tender psyche. I still played the game though — going to church, attending Bible studies, etc. …

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

There is a picture I once had of a small chapel, much like the one above, except that the angle was different. In the foreground, there was a yellow caution sign that read, “Slow Church”. It seems to embody so much of my experience as a female in a predominantly white male oriented church culture. They are slow to see their own bias and the harm that comes from silencing the voices of women and minorities.

I was fed up with church. At least the kind of church I had attended since infancy. My faith, as currently expressed, no longer had meaning. I had been so immersed in the protestant white male teaching, it was like being the proverbial frog in boiling water. A slow imperceptible faith death.

Two events saved me, but not what you would call the usual way. One was a sermon from the church I left, the other from my son-in-law.

The sermon was part of a series on various Bible characters and how they were just common folk. It was fine…

Judith Hansen

I grew up in Brazil in the 60’s and early 70’s, Portugal in the mid to late 70's. I love sharing about that time in my life and how it shaped my worldview.

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