Sunday, July 14, 2013


It was over 20 years in the making...this trip to Brazil. 

In 1969, Sam's oldest sister, Anna and her husband, Daniel Kramer, said 'good-bye' to their families and moved to Goias, Brazil with their 6 children. They and 5 other Holderman families decided to pioneer their way in this far and distant land of opportunity. Around 7,000 acres of bush land was bought from the government. There was much clearing to be done and roads to be paved. The first several months were lived in tents. There were snakes and tapirs and treefrogs and......tropical whatnot.

Over the years, travel became easier and more common. Uncle Sam made the trip several times as did more relatives.  The aging parents, Elam and Edna Kauffman, who thought they would never see their daughter again when she left, also travelled to Brazil. By this time, there were 4 more Kramers added to the family. More Americans moved in and native Brazilians joined the church and colony.  There were large tracts of land being farmed.


The Kramer family settled along the river bottom and built their homestead. The 6 sons married and set up their own homes in close proximity. A few married lovely Brazilian ladies. The ingenious brothers generated their own electricity from the local river. Every time their single Uncle Sam would visit, a new project was being worked on. He made the trip every few years. Then Sam married and he 'stopped going.....' He had taken a wife!

Sam was beginning his own home. There were children coming and the nieces and nephews in Brazil were wondering if their uncle had abandoned them. The children started going to school. We started making plans but there was either a pregnancy to consider or school to work around. There were several tours to Europe and annual trips made to the midwest to visit the Bender family. There were Mattie's brothers' weddings to attend. And still the trip to Brazil did not materialize.

After finalizing the Ukrainian adoption in 2008, we decided now we will plan to visit these relatives we don't even know. Christmas vacation seemed to be a good option. We obtained David's US birth certificate and updated passports for all. The call was made to the travel agency for airline tickets.......and ugh! We didn't expect it to be this expensive! Our hearts sank and once again the trip was delayed......when will the timing be better? We didn't know. A month or two later we got the call to go to Kenya. There was no reason not to. After all we had our passports.

After serving 2 1/2 years in Kenya, we returned back to life in these United States. Once again, the subject of traveling to Brazil arose. January, 2013, found us leaving Dulles International airport heading for Goianna, Brazil via Sao Paulo. At last!

It was well worth the wait! By now, the Kramers numbered 101 people.

In the home of Stephen and Dete Kramer (on right). This was one nephew I had never met during the 23 years we were married. Sitting on the left is Sam's sister, Anna and her husband, Daniel.

Down by the river, cousins as strangers getting acquainted.

The moped is a basic mode of travel within the colony. The roads were graded and are maintained by the Mennonite men. Son Daniel took full advantage of this opportunity and his mom just hoped for the best.

These are 3 daughters of Sam Kauffman and 3 of Stephen Kramer. They are age mates and have been pen pals for approximately 6 years.
In this photo, the girls had switched dresses, one of those silly things girls do for fun. And fun they had, finally getting to meet each other.

Living in an apple orchard made visiting an orange grove interesting for us. Monica is intently trying to see if she can peel an orange in one piece.

One of the church families is raising an abandoned baby anteater. David is feeding it a bottle....note the long nose plus the long drooping tongue. Fascinatingly ugly creatures they are..... 

Nelson Unruh (right, husband of Ruth Kramer) and his father branding their cattle. There are many of brahma mix grazing the vast plains. 

A new outreach started in Mata Grossa, about 500 miles west of Goias.  A few of the ambitious Kramer brothers relocated to this even more remote area. We couldn't miss visiting this place. The last 100 miles or so was dirt road heavily travelled by over loaded grain trucks. This resulted in a more challenging passage of huge ruts. Here there are rattle snakes and tapirs and even larger fields of crops and cattle and endless sky. 

Martina and David helped Ivan Kramer round up cattle with their young one day.

Myrna and David spent a lot of time on horses, David especially has the horseman knack of staying glued to the horse. You just get on and go, full tilt with no saddle. Nothing to get in the way or to hit for the most part. Again mom just took a deep breath and looked the other way.....

Claudio and Susan (niece) and their children poring over an old photo album Uncle Sam brought along.

Cute little Ellen

A farmer teaching Daniel and David how to blow their shofars.

A rescued conure parrot from the church house attic sitting on Aunt Mattie's shoulder. Itsty bits lived in the home of Stephen and Dete and got much attention.

After almost 3 weeks, we arrived back to our Lancaster PA home much more aware of what is happening in Brazil. Much more could be said.

There are seven dangers to human virtue.

1. Wealth without work.
           2. Pleasure without conscience.
             3. Knowledge without character.
    4. Business without ethics.
         5. Science without  humanity.
       6. Religion without sacrifice.
      7. Politics without principle.

Mattie Kauffman

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm... ever think you'll start posting again? In any event, I'd love to hear about your recent adventures. My email is