Ana and the American dream….to serve; dine out Sunday to help her cause

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Living the American dream. What’s that mean?

Working three jobs?

That’s it if you are Ana Maria Neves, Rising Sun’s newest American citizen.

If you’ve been to the Rising Sun Cantina Mexican Restaurant in downtown Rising Sun then you know Ana and her always smiling face.

Perhaps you’ve eaten at the Rising Star Casino Buffet. Yep. Ana is smiling there.

Maybe your kids came home from school talking about this Spanish speaking substitute. Right again. That’s Ana.

While the native of Porto Alegre, Brazil speaks Spanish and enjoys when she subs for teacher Mike Seipel, her English is better and clearer than most lifetime residents.

Like Pele, Ronaldo, Messi, Shaq, Magic, Larry, Damon, Oprah… the name Ana is becoming a very recognizable name.

Ana came to the United States in 2008. Nearly 10 years later she has officially become an American citizen, along with 23 others during a ceremony on July 28th in Indianapolis. It was the end of a long road.

“It’s a long process,” explains Ana. ” A lot of waiting and hoping in between getting Visas approved changing Visas, getting them extended. One step then another. Finally I applied and was able to enter the process. After time you meet criteria and become eligible to apply for citizenship. Just because you become eligible doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. It’s long. It’s trying, You really, really, really got to want it.”

And Ana really, really wanted it. One of the hardest part of the two phase process is meeting with the immigration doctor to make sure you’ve had all your shots. “There was a mix up with my vaccines paperwork and I had to have all my vaccines since I was a baby,” moaned the now 30 year old.

The test is an interview setting, not written. It’s you and an officer and you swear to tell the truth, explains Ana who had to take the test twice. “I put a lot of my heart into it. I enrolled in two college history classes.”

“It was so nerve racking, ” she admits. “Boom. Boom. Boom. No time to think. Then they ask on the spot questions. Who was the president during the Great Depression?

She has asked high school students some of the questions and they say “What?”

Ana admits she’s enjoyed the process because it makes you learn about the country’s history. From the beginning pilgrims, native Americans, all the way to civil rights, the wars, terrorism, World Trade Center, presidents through Obama and since she just took the test and had a Trump questions.

“Everything’s in English which is neat because you really have to study,” she adds.

There’s no score just pass or fail. “They sense if you’re fidgeting or sincere.”

“I thought I passed but had to wait until I got a letter.”

She’s had a lot of support especially from the women of her Bible Study at the Rising Sun Church of Christ who took part in celebrating her new citizenship status. Former teacher Marty Morningstar has been a lot of help.

Food to serve

While serving up food is a large part of her life, it is service to those in need that drives her.

Owners of the Cantina will offer 20 percent discount on dinners (food only) from 2 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20th to benefit Advocate Health Care team.

Ana will run for the Advocate Health Inspired to Run team in the Chicago International Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 8th. Each member must raise at least $1000. All money goes to supporting cancer research, helping children and adults with Down syndrome, giving back to the nurses and physicians who save lives every day.

It will be her first full marathon (26.2 miles). “After the 20th mile anything can happen,” she contends. “After that it’s God taking you.”

She’s run half marathons in Cincinnati and Detroit but is looking forward to a flatter course in Chicago. It will be cooler also.

“Sporting events bring a lot of good out of people,” Ana believes. “It will be neat to see all the different shirts in support of so many causes.”

I chose to run for a cause close to me. My brother died of cancer. I enrolled and was accepted as part of the team. Hopefully I will be able to finish.”

At the benefit dinner there will be plenty of good food and a raffle.

Items will include massage certificates, hair styling, Keep Collective jewelry, a lap quilt, two Perfect North Slopes lift passes, Rising Star buffet passes, margarita basket with tequila, Powers Winery, Fiekerts Homestead Wines, chocolates and much more. Donations will be accepted also.

“It will be good food and will help a good cause. Hopefully we can pack this place up,” says Ana. “It’s not me alone. There have been a lot of help. Ginger Bailey has been a big supporter.”

Ana had a bake sale and a yard sale to support cancer research.

She will be with many Advocare runners who she won’t know but share the common cause. She has been training with experienced marathoner George Selix running through town early in the morning.

Teaching is fun

While living in America, Ana hasn’t been home to Brazil since Christmas 2013 but she’s going back this fall when it will be spring there. Her parents have been able to come to Miami where Ana has been able to visit with them over the years.

She was visiting with a family for Christmas and became sick. “I ruined their Christmas,” she says apologetically. They asked if she would be interested in a job in Rising Sun.

“It’s the first time I’ve been in a small town. It’s been two years. For the first time, all good things are going. God is putting everything together.”

Ana’s travels have taken her to India where she learned yoga to help her with her scoliosis.

A fitness enthusiast, she may teach yoga someday. There’s not a lot of time between her three jobs.

She always wanted to be a language teacher and came to the U.S. in 2008 as part of an exchange program.

“It is fun. I like it (teaching). The kids and families in this community are nice,” she said of her time as a substitute. “The majority come here (Cantina) to eat and they know if they do anything. I’ll tell their parents.”

While most of her time has been at the high school she has enjoyed time in kindergarten and first grade. “They hug you when they go to recess.

Hug you when they come back in. Hug you when they leave. Lot of love. I like that.”

“I’m waiting for the Lord to guide me,” she says of her future plans. “I want to serve a meal or event for people in need. I want to be of service”

She believes two things can help America’s youth….Army boot camp and live as missionary in third world country. “You wouldn’t have problems with drugs, laziness, attitude, with crime.

She’s been asked Why leave beautiful Brazil. Ana tells of working all day, everyday and can’t bring food home to the table.

“It breaks my heart all the waste (here). People don’t like food or get to go boxes for a bite or two left or a drink they won’t finish later. They don’t understand those boxes put a tax on nature. The containers be there for grandchildren to see. It’s those little things people take for granted,”Ana says

The native of the southern most part of Brazil says she missed the live music and how people just kind of show up. She likened it to bonfires here. There you always have somebody with a guitar sit around for a couple hours

She misses the fresh, organic meals. Here you have to make a conscious effort what you put into your body. There you have farmers’ markets in every neighborhood.

“People are very lucky to be born in America (even) with all the problems that people see, it’s still a great country!”

As of Thursday, Aug. 17th, it will be 51 days until the marathon so saving energy is important. That energy will be used to train when off duty otherwise it’s Ana at your service.