(For parts 1-5 of this story, click here and scroll down.)
After we got in touch with Continent of Great Cities in 1999, we didn't hear from them again. However, we still talked at home about the possibility of joining the Porto Alegre team, which was due to arrive in Brazil in 2002. We actually ended up calling them - turns out they had forgotten to put our names in their computer system. We scheduled a visit from one of their representatives, Ken Lewis.
Ken drove to Mississippi and had dinner with us and then talked with us and the kids for a long time about what all would be involved in actually joining the team. He couldn't have been nicer and made us feel so comfortable. He actually made it sound possible for our family to do this crazy thing. One funny memory of that evening was us asking 3 year old Garrett to say the prayer before dinner. He said, in his sweet quiet slow-talking way, "Dear God, thank you for the Backstreet Boys...." We all nearly cracked up but were trying to make a good impression on Ken, so we held it in. Ken just kept his head bowed and acted like it was totally normal.
After dinner, we sat down with Ken and his laptop and he showed us pictures of Porto Alegre. It looked much more like a normal city than I had imagined. He was very patient in talking to Bronwyn and Ansley about school in Brazil, and what life was like there. After he left the next morning, the girls said that before Mr. Ken came they were scared, but after he talked to them they weren't scared anymore.
I can't really remember exactly what the next steps were in joining the team. We met our future teammates, Kyle and Leslie Klein, at a half-way point and had a meal with them. We had a little team get-together at our house one weekend and Albert Lemmons taught and prayed with us. We went to some kind of seminar one weekend in Arkansas. We filled out applications.
I think the reason that I can't remember many of these details is because I was dealing with some major turmoil in my heart. Even though on the outside I was "moving forward", on the inside I was struggling. You see, I had a dream. A dream of my life the way I always thought it would be. That dream involved a charming house, cute kids, a nice church, good friends, cookouts, piano lessons, little league, etc. Very American. It didn't involve a city in South America, foreign languages, or strange customs.
How I got from that place of turmoil to where I ended up deserves a post on its own. So I'll pick up here next week...