Saturday, January 29, 2011

Before the Family Photo Disaster

I love these pictures which someone snapped right before we tried our family photo shoot.  Evidently this was the quota for pictures for Giovanni for the day, because after these he was definitely against the idea.

I love the big blue eyes and the brother/sister loving.  He's everyone's baby.  (Is that good or bad?)

Friday, January 28, 2011

New Home

One of the best ministries of our church here is our support of the chacara - a Christian drug rehabilitation center.  Many of the families in our church have come to be a part of our family because we knew them when they, or their family member was at the chacara.

One such family is Everton and Daiana.  You can read more about them here.

Last year, Everton and Daiana were living in Canoas - a suburb of Porto Alegre.  They don't have a car, and the distance from their friends, family, and Everton's work in Porto Alegre was getting to be really difficult - especially for Daiana who was home alone taking care of the kids and who is now expecting another baby in March.

They wanted to move closer to Porto Alegre, and the church helped them buy a new place to live.  Here is what the house that they bought looked like when they bought it.

At the end of last year, they moved in their new house.  Everton, with some help of some of our church members, had fixed up the place and added on a bedroom for the kids.
A few Sundays ago, our house church went mobile and went to visit them in their new place.  It was a time of fellowship and rejoicing with them for this new stage in their lives.  They were very, very proud of the progress they had made.

Recently, I took Daiana to do some exams in downtown Porto Alegre.  One of the exams was the glucose tolerance test where you have to wait a few hours, so we had some time to talk.  One of the things that she shared with me was how her relatives that live near her are having problems in their marriage.  She said she was seeing again in her relatives the same problems that she and Everton used to have but because of meeting "us" (our church family) they had learned to talk things out and their marriage was so much stronger.  She also talked about the neighborhood kids and how she teaches her sons to be careful who they hang around with.  She said that her sons recognize that their true friends are my sons, Garrett and Anderson, because they have fun together but encourage each other to do the right thing.

I was so happy to hear that.  Our church family had made, and is making, a difference in this family's life.

This past Sunday, during our worship time, Everton shared that he had a new neighbor buy the house next door.  A man in his 50's with physical problems had bought it for his daughter.  The house was full of trash and rotted wood.  Everton asked the man if he could help him.  The man resisted.  He resisted because it is not normal for people to just help complete strangers do something like that.  Everton shared with him that his church had done the same thing for him.  (Well, his church and the Aggies for Christ).  He insisted upon helping the guy and spent 5 hours hauling out trash and wood to clean out the house so the man could begin fixing it up.  Because of what was done for Everton, he now has a new "normal".  It was important for him to help this guy, and we know that it was just a seed planted for a growing friendship and brotherhood with his neighbor.

If you don't know it already, we work with house churches here in Porto Alegre.  Small, sometimes very small, groups.  You may be wondering why.  We used to have a traditional church, but we changed.  One of the reasons is that our goal is not how many people attend on Sunday morning, but transformed lives.  We believe that life transformation happens, not in large Sunday services, but in relationships.  Relationships that are born from working together, supporting one another, phone calls here and there, trips to the doctor, small group Bible studies, hugs, prayers, and visits to new houses.

And so we put the emphasis on those things.

We love this family and look forward to serving with them for many years to come.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Family Picture

While Bronwyn was home for Christmas, I really wanted to get a family picture.

I didn't bug everyone or whine about it.  I just announced on the last day we were all together that everyone needed to be ready at this certain time so we could take a picture.  I didn't even demand special clothes.  I was, as usual, met with groans and complaints and "why mom??".  I just ignored all that and said be ready at this time.

Let's just say things didn't go well.

Kids goofing off, husbands goofing off, toddlers not cooperating.

People shooting birds in the picture, people grabbing body parts in the picture, toddler throwing temper fits on the floor because he did not want to take a picture.

Mom getting really aggravated.

So, here is what came of our day (minus the bird-shooting picture.  This is a Christian blog.)

Fun times.

I guess we'll try again in May.

Monday, January 24, 2011


I didn't have time to write a lot today.  We have been trying to get a new cell phone plan ALL DAY.

For those of you who have ever lived in Brazil, you understand.  For the others, suffice it to say that something "little" like this can literally take all day.  We started this morning at 9:00 going to downtown Porto Alegre (wasted trip) , came home for lunch, and then went to the mall with the kids to get the new plan set up.  We came home for an hour or so, then headed back to the mall to sign our lives away and get everything finished.

So...Kevin and I took a well-earned date night (after we finished the phone junk.)

Thus, not a lot of time for posting.

But, here are some cute pictures of my favorite 2 year old enjoying a rain shower the other day.  I know that at least the grandparents and big sister will enjoy!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Keep Marching

Listening to Sara Groves sing "When the Saints" during my morning run today.  (Sounds like I'm some kind of regular runner - I'm doing this couch to 10k....again).  Anyway, I have loved this song since Bronwyn learned of it when she was in Africa and got to see Sara Groves in concert.  But today, I listened more carefully to the words - and oh how they spoke to me.

Lord I have a heavy burden of all I've seen and know
It's more than I can handle
But your word is burning like a fire shut up in my bones
and I can’t let it go

And when I'm weary and overwrought
with so many battles left unfought

I think of Paul and Silas in the prison yard
I hear their song of freedom rising to the stars
And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them

Lord it's all that I can't carry and cannot leave behind
it all can overwhelm me
but I think of all who've gone before them and lived the faithful life
their courage compels me

And when I'm weary and overwrought
with so many battles left unfought

I think of Paul and Silas in the prison yard
I hear their song of freedom rising to the stars

I see the shepherd Moses in the Pharaohs court
I hear his call for freedom for the people of the Lord

And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them
And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them

I see the long quiet walk along the Underground Railroad
I see the slave awakening to the value of her soul

I see the young missionary at the angry spear 
I see his family returning with no trace of fear

I see the long hard shadows of Calcutta nights
I see the sisters standing by the dying mans side

I see the young girl huddled on the brothel floor
I see the man with a passion come and kicking down that door

I see the man of sorrow and his long troubled road
I see the world on his shoulders and my easy load 

And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them
And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them
I want to be one of them
I want to be one of them
I want to be one of them

The first two stanzas talk about the burden of all there is to do. Since coming to Brasil my world has opened up.  There is SO much to do, and so many times I feel very, very inadequate.  Like my little efforts are like an ant scratching away at a mountain, grain by grain, pebble by pebble.  It's easy to get overwhelmed and weary and wonder if it is even worth all the sacrifice - not just by me, but all those who support our family, our extended families who miss us and vice versa, etc...

But in this song, we are reminded that we have encouragement through the scriptures and all those who have gone before us.  Maybe they felt like their efforts were useless also.  Now, years later, we see that they weren't useless.  Maybe they never saw the fruits of their labor.  That would be really hard.  They had to suffer a lot more than I am suffering - yet they marched on.

Marching - not sprinting, running, walking leisurely, crawling or standing still -frozen because there is so much to do.  Marching.  Walking confidently forward with a purpose.  Following their leader and those in front of them.  I've never been in a band, but I'm imagining that that's what you do - follow the leader and the others in front of you and around you who are marching in the same direction.  Your one little instrument playing, while it may be pleasant, doesn't have near the impact of all the instruments playing together as one.

So, my efforts of clawing away at the mountain may not do much, but combined with all those others who are working to advance the kingdom - wherever they are, whatever they are doing (I'm certainly not just talking about missionaries, or paid church people here - far from it!). All of us together will make a difference.

So let's keep marching.

Listen and be encouraged!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Good, Pleasing, and Perfect

This has the potential to be a long, rambling post, so I'm going to try to get to the point.

Our family is in a kind of "limbo" state.  Not sure if limbo is the best word, but here's the situation:  We are living in a house that belongs to the Baptist mission here in Porto Alegre.  We are good friends with the Baptist missionaries here.  All of them have always been a tremendous source of encouragement and support and friendship to us throughout these almost 9 years.  Anyway, they had a house that was vacant.  They needed someone to live in it until another family would arrive.  We needed a place to live, and so we have been blessed to stay here for the past year and a half. 

Well, it is now time for the family to arrive in Porto Alegre - they are scheduled to arrive in June.  So we need to find a new place to live.

That sounds easy enough - look for house or apartment to rent or buy and go for it.

But we are not sure what to do.  House or apartment?  Buy or rent?  Where?  How much?  For how long?

There are a million little details that mix into this equation, and I won't go into all of them now.  But they have to do with our financial situation - the fall of the dollar and the constant rise of inflation here.  Constantly, things cost more and we make less.  They have to do with the sale of a property that we own part of, that could sell soon....or not.  A bunch of real estate mumbo jumbo that we don't really understand. 

Another question in our minds is do we stay in the same neighborhood?  Do we branch out?  Do we stay in the same city, or country??  Those are huge questions.

In all of these options, we have no opinion.  Or hardly any opinion.  We sincerely don't know what to do.  Part of us loves to be around things that are comfortable and familiar, but we don't want to miss out on any opportunities that God might have in store for us.

Seriously, we want God's will to be done in this situation and all its details.

It used to scare me to say "God's will be done" because I felt like I was allowing God to choose for me - and I might not like what he chooses.  Several years ago, I did a Bible study in which we focused on this verse:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

God's will is good:  Good for me, my family and his perfect plan.
God's will is pleasing:  Hey!  I'm going to actually like God's will!
God's will is perfect:  Don't know what to do?  Let God handle it - he is always perfect.

Thankfully I have learned (or I think I have) not to dread God's will.  I'm not going to take God's matters into my own hands.  

I would really appreciate your prayers for our family - that we would go or stay where He wants us and that we would KNOW that it is HIS will - and obey.

Thanks for listening.  I'll keep you updated about how this all works out.  

Friday, January 21, 2011

I'm back....Thanks to Anderson

Well, sorry for the lack of posting (all three of you who read this....)

There is lots to post about, but I kind of lost my momentum.  But, this morning, I decided to get back into the blogging world.  As I was pondering what I would blog about today, this little guy gave me a great idea.
"Mom, look at these play-dough worms I made!  Can you put them on your blog?"
So, of course, I will.
 This green one is for Carys.
 This colorful one was mine.  I named him "Spot".
 Giovanni got this little blue guy.
 Garrett got this white one with green spots and big black eyes.
 This was called "Tiger".  Kevin got this one.

He enjoyed playing with it.

 And this one was Anderson's.  It was called "AC Milan" because of the colors.  You may not know about that team, but it is a really good soccer team in Europe. (Anderson gave me that info.)

As I was working on the blog post, Anderson made this sign out of tinkertoys. 
I think that today will be the first of several posts about Anderson's crafts.  Thanks, Anderson, for helping your mom get her blog restarted, and we look forward to seeing more of your crafts!!