I believe it was in the late 60s, another normal Saturday afternoon at home. My dad, my mom, my grandmother, my aunt, and my sister were in the dinning room having some coffee with cake as they used to do every Saturday. I was in the backyard, playing soccer with my friends from the neighborhood. It was my grandma’s house. The house had a huge backyard, with fruit trees all over. We had many Jaboticada trees, mango trees, fig trees, lemon trees, and mulberry trees. In the middle of the backyard there was an empty space, large enough for us to play soccer. So, every Saturday the neighborhood would come to our house for a tournament. It was a big event in the area.
While I was in the backyard playing soccer and my family was having coffee with cake, someone at the door knocked. It was a knock on the door that would change everything. My dad went to the door, and standing there was a young man all dressed up with suit and tie. My dad asked him: “Can I help you?” The young man politely asked: “Are you Mr. Alcino Pina?” My dad said: “Yes, I am.” The young man then dropped the bomb: “I am Tarcisio, your son!” My dad started to shake nervously. My sister and my mom rushed to help him to sit down. They invited the young man in. My aunt went to the back door and called me: “LUCAS, HURRY, YOUR BROTHER IS HERE!” I did not make too much sense of “your brother is here!”, part, I just listened to the “Lucas hurry” part. So, I asked someone to take my place in the team and rushed up the stairs.
When I arrived at the dining room I found everybody crying, so nobody was able to talk. With some difficulties someone introduced me to this young guy saying: “This is your brother.” Maybe because of my temperament, or maybe because I was with my mind in the soccer game, I did not realize the immensity of that news. I also could not understand the whole commotion. I went to him, said my name and asked: “Where are you from?” He told me that he was from São Paulo. So, without blinking my eyes I asked: “What is your soccer team?” He answered me: “Santos Futebol Clube.” If you do not know, that was the team that Pelé played. With a big smile I told him: “Me too!” And with that we started to talk about soccer while the rest of the family was crying.
After everybody recomposed we were able to learn what was going on. That was for me, a trip to a time before the present. I learned that my father before he married my mom was a widower. The marriage with my mom was his second one, and he had a son from his first marriage. Now after this the story gets foggy for me, because I did not understand the details very well. What I understood is that his first wife died in the delivery room, and that the grandmother of Tarcisio took him to São Paulo and he could not be found anymore. I heard stories of letters that my dad sent which were returned. So, for more than 22 years, my dad had no idea of the whereabouts of his son. After a few years he was married again to my mom. But that secret of a brother was very well kept from the children until that day.
When I think about this experience I am transported to the life of the church. In the church we do not always know all of our brothers and sisters. We, as the body of Christ, have members of our family that we do not know yet. That is a wonderful discovery. During mission trips, people find brothers and sisters that they did not know they had. This is the experience that we face with the immigrants here. When we get close enough, we find, to our surprise, that we have brothers and sisters that we did not know we had. But this experience should also be replicated in the relationship with other churches that do not have the same traditions that we have. When we partner in mission with them, we find that we have other brothers and sisters that we did not know we had.
Sometimes, God, in His grace and mercy, surprises us, helping us to realize that His family is larger than our little group, and we need to know and accept that.
To be continued…
Pastor Lucas Pina
From left to right: My mom Meninha Pina, me, my brother Tarcisio Pina, my sister Maria Antonieta Pina, and my dad Alcino Pina.