When I was twenty-four…

At this time, in 1967, fifty years ago, I was about to finish my first semester in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Not an entire semester: four months and ten days.

It was my first time outside Brazil – my very first travel abroad. The USA was the first foreign country I came to know. In a sense, that was as it ought to have been, since I always liked and admired the country, above any other (even above Brazil).

In a way, the USA was not much of a foreign (strange) country to me… I grew up in a personal environment where the USA was quite important to most people around me. I grew up hearing the names of a good number of American missionaries who were friends of my father: William Waddell, Charles & Eveline Harper, Miss Frances, Edward & Mary Lane… All of these people sent cards and gifts to me when I was born… (I still have the cards: the gifts, mostly money, I never saw…)

Edward (Eduardo) Lane was the single most important person in my father’s life. He was an instrument in my father’s becoming the person he did turn out to be. He got my father “converted” from Catholicism to Protestantism (Presbyterianism), he baptized him, he got him through confirmation (public profession of faith), he helped my father decide to become a Presbyterian minister, he got him a scholarship to come to Sao Paulo and study at the Institute JMC (where, several years after, I also studied)… Before all of this, the very least my father could do was to give Eduardo Lane’s first name to me, his first born…

My first name, Eduardo, was therefore chosen to pay homage and show gratitude to Eduardo Lane. As a matter of fact, my first name is a compound, Eduardo Oscar. My dad decided, in my name, to join the name of the man he admired the most and his own name, Oscar… Quite a responsibility he laid on my shoulders… I, Eduardo Oscar, was to carry the compound name that “sacramented” the friendship between Eduardo (Lane) and Oscar (Chaves)…

As it turned out to be, Edward & Mary Lane are the paternal grandparents of two friends I have, in life and here on Facebook: William Lacy Lane and Mary Lane… Billy is the Director of the Faculdade de Teologia Sul Americana (FTSA), Londrina, PR. Mary teaches at the Instituto Bíblico Eduardo Lane (ABEL), in Patrocínio, MG – city in which my father was born and came to know Eduardo Lane.

As a matter of fact, Billy and Mary’s father and their uncle, Edward (Eduardinho, as my father called him) and John, were my colleagues at UNICAMP for a good many years. They were both medical doctors, who created the Clínica Lane, which stands at the Rua Rev. Eduardo Lane, in Campinas, SP…

And now Billy and Mary are my friends. Three generations of friendship…

But let me go back to my trip to the USA in 1967… I left Brazil on Aug 19 and arrived in Pittsburgh on Aug 20. Many things happened during those first four months and ten days abroad.

Right at the beginning of the period, on Aug 27, one week after I arrived in the US, I received bad news from Brazil: my maternal grandfather, José de Campos, of whom I was quite fond, as his first grandson, died, in Campinas, at the age of 69. He was already in the hospital when I left Brazil.

On the following week, on Sep 7, I turned 24.

One month later, I got married (for the first time), without any relatives around: just four Brazilian friends, two couples, witnessed my action. One couple is already dead, the other is sticking with me here on Facebook, Waldir and Ondina Berndt, dear friends, from Florianópolis… Nobody in my family knew what I was doing. To be truthful, not even I did…

Later on in the semester I saw snow for the first time and enjoyed the experience…

Academically, things were a bit easier than I thought or feared: I got straight A’s in the courses I took. My oral English evolved nicely, both in hearing and in speaking. With reading and writing I never had any problems, even before going to the US.

The two professors I liked the best were Dietrich Ritschl (History of Christian Thought) and Ford Lewis Battles (History of the Church). We became good friends throughout the five years I spent in Pittsburgh.

In two years in a half (May 2020), if I am still around, I should celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the day I got my Masters of Divinity degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. If I am alive and in good health, I intend to be in Pittsburgh to celebrate.

This year of 2017, I intend, before the year is over, to take Paloma to get to know Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Seminary, the University of Pittsburgh (home of the Panthers), the stadiums and arenas where the Steelers, the Pirates and the Penguins play…

In general, with its ups and downs, the second semester of 1967, my first semester abroad, was a good half-year.

When I was 24 – for the first and last time in my life…

In Salto, December 18th, 2017


Categories: Autobio, Autobiography, Uncategorized

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