A Citizen of Heaven

Crônicas do Cotidiano > A Citizen of Heaven

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ… Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people… -Ephesians 2.13,19

I asked my mom to write a poem
For me to read to you today.
She didn’t think it could be done,
But as you see, I got my way.

“Who am I?” I’ve sometimes wondered,
When someone asks where I come from—
Looking at my brown-eyed father
Standing next to my blonde-haired mom.

I reply that I’m Brazilian.
Pernambuco is my home state.
“Vovô,” “Vovó and many “tios”[1]
In Recife,[2] my visits await.

Every year I board an airplane
To see the people I love so.
And once again I sleep and play
Where I did live, five years ago.

I wonder, then, how I would be
If we had never moved away.
I think of playing by the sea.
And hugging Grampa every day.

When I leave, full of “saudades”,[3]
There have been times that I’ve complained.
But my mommy quickly tells me,
That my tears should be restrained.

“But your mother?” people insist
Was she born in Recife too?
“My mother came from Canada.”
I respond to this interview.

But in a way she’s really Dutch,
For her parents from Holland came.
And that is the explanation
Of the “Zekveld” part of my name.

“But are you a Canadian too?
A few insist on finding out.
And I confirm with my reply,
I am that too, without a doubt.

Canada, too, has folks I love,
And maple trees, and winter snow.
The stores are filled with lovely things.
To there again, I’d love to go.

Yet Canada is not my home.
And Recife too, lies in my past.
For five years, I’ve been in Manaus.[4]
In some ways, they’ve gone quite fast.

And I’m glad we left Recife,
With all the things God gave me here.
I wish they could be mine forever
That never more I’ll changes fear.

I love my school and my teacher,
My church, my home, my rabbits too.
I know that living by the jungle
Is the privilege of very few.

Yet my school is American,[5]
And I study about the States.
I know the capitals and am
Aware of all its special dates.

I’ve learned how to salute its flag.
Of pilgrims, wars and presidents.
At times I feel American,
Eating Mars Bars and peppermints.

Can you see why I get confused,
Looking at this situation?
“Which is my country?” “Where is home?”
Which deserves my dedication?

“So who am I?” I ask again.
Where should my allegiance go?
And the answer is so special,
“I’m the child of a King, you know!”

This King is the sovereign Lord
Of all the nations of the earth.
And He has planned my destiny.
‘Twas He who chose my place of birth.

And I really need not worry
About whether I’m from here or there.
I just need to be sure to be
A good citizen, anywhere!

In this life, I’m on a journey.
God, my Father, the map has made.
And my family consists of those,
For whom God’s Son the price has paid.

I’ll do my best to not complain,
And try to serve Him everywhere.
He has a reason for each place,
And means to teach and use me there.

Some day I’ll leave these lands behind.
Then my lips will burst out in song.
For I’m a citizen of heaven,
And that’s the place where I belong.

Elizabeth Zekveld Portela.
Written for her daughter Grace (age 10) to recite at the ACLIA school talent show, when Mommy knew (and Grace didn’t) that they would soon be moving to another city.
Manaus, Amazon, Brazil. May 8, 1992

[1] Grandfather, grandmother and uncles.
[2] Coastal city in Northeast Brazil.
[3] Brazilian word that expresses a feeling of longing for something or someone, homesickness.
[4] City on the Amazon River, Northwest Brazil, in the rainforest.
[5] ACLIA—an English speaking school in Manaus.

Um Comentário a “A Citizen of Heaven”

  1. nellielensch disse:

    Nice poem! Your kids have a rich heritage in the Lord!

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Crônicas do Cotidiano > A Citizen of Heaven