Two Years Goes By...

 This is the man I love, the one I pledged my life and devotion to on this day 2 years ago.  I wouldn't trade the time that we've spent with one another for anything.  I look forward to many more years of learning, growing, sharing, and, most of all, laughing.

For he makes me laugh.  A LOT.

It's such a blessing to be married, to have constant companionship, to have trust, love, and respect.  To know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he's committed to me, to us.

I'm so grateful for the spiritual accountability that he provides, and for the wisdom of the Lord with which he is so bountifully endowed.

Babe, God gave me a precious gift when He blessed me with you.  Thanks for sticking with me, and for being so patient when my, "Just one more minute" turns into fifteen.

I love you.


Tried, Tested, and True...

I've spent the majority of my life trying out various deodorants, eager to discover which one will make true on the promises to keep me dry, odourless, and in comfort.


We all know that sweating is good for you, and a natural way for your body to shed the toxins that it stores.  I think I've come around to accept that I didn't inherit my mom's 'dry' genes.  I'm just a sweaty, sweaty lady.

Recently I've learned that anti-perspirants aren't good for you simply because they keep you from sweating.

That's not natural.  My most recent endeavour has been to find a simple deodorant that keeps me from stinking.

I bought this one, in the picture, here in Brazil.  Along with the normal stick deodorants, they also have a spate of 'spray' deodorants for women, so I just picked one at random in hopes of feeling and smelling pretty.

Let me tell you, I hope that they sell it in Canada, because it keeps me pretty fresh-smelling for basically the whole day!  (And that says a lot when the temps around here have been in the mid to high 30's)   Its promise of 'Dry Comfort' has yet to be seen, because I've still got sweat rolling down from my armpits; but hey, the stench isn't completely noxious.

So there you have it- my new favourite deodorant.  Just what you wanted to know ;)



God's Little Miracles...

Silmara was one of the most vibrant and animated ladies I've ever met.  As we, the team from Canada, worked alongside her, we struggled to say her name, so she wrote it in the sand with a stick.  She absolutely loved handicrafts, as many Brazilian women do, and took a real liking to Gwen, who was leading the class on cross-stitch at Free Flight for the next three weeks.  Through a translator, we found out that she and her husband, Alair, had been married for 8 years, and she was in tears as she told us of one of her heart's greatest desires.  They had been praying for a baby for so long.  I was saddened as I listened to her story, and when I returned to Canada with the team, I kept in contact with her.

One day I was checking my emails, and I found a message from her saying that she was pregnant.  I was overjoyed for her, and even more happy when I heard about little Kaitlyn's arrival.

When Jake and I visited Free Flight a couple of weeks ago, she was one of the first people that I saw, and we had a chance to catch up.  I finally met her precious little girl, and discovered what a miracle it is that she is even alive.  The pregnancy itself was high risk, and Kaitlyn almost died.

But God gave Silmara and Alair this precious gift.  She's now three years old, and, as Silmara put it, has her daddy wrapped around her little finger.  To see Silmara with her daughter is so wonderful, she calls her "my little treasure", and you can see the gift and blessing Kaitlyn's been to her.

Let's celebrate the gift of life and blessing that God gives to each and every one of us, and let's rejoice with Silmara and Alair for the blessing of their precious little girl.



New Church and a Showerhead...

Jake and I went to one of the Presbyterian churches in Anapolis today.  I've never really attended a Presbyterian church before, so I was rather hesitant for the outcome.  We were both impressed with the service.

{Here in Brasil, most churches have Sunday school in the morning, beginning at 9 or 9:30am, and then the main service takes place in the evening, starting around 6:30 or 7pm.}

We will now be teaching a Sunday School class in English at this church, with the emphasis being on missions.  The pastor made it very clear to those interested that this is not an English class, but rather a class taught in English.

We're eager to start something new, and are very excited to have discovered such an amazing, Bible-believing church.  We attended the evening service as well, and were both very encouraged by the acceptance and love by the congregation, among other things.

The church we went to with the Bacheller family was ok, but I found the Presbyterian church to be thriving. I don't know if that would be a word most people would associate with this denomination back home (at least, that was how I thought of it).  Both Jake and I are eager to start attending this church, and excited to have the chance to serve in it!

On another note, hot water in the shower is heated by the showerhead which is literally plugged in to an electrical outlet right in the shower itself [sounds dangerous, doesn't it?!].  Ours burned out the other day, consequently rendering our bathing water frigid.  Thankfully we were able to get a new one, and enjoy a nicer temperature.

We take joy in the simple things!



Night Life...

Jake and I are living in an area surrounded by schools and universities.  Most classes finish around 10 or 10:30pm, so the main strip is just lined with buses to take students home to surrounding cities, and all the restaurants are alive with antsy, hungry young people, fresh out of class.

There are a couple of things to note about Brazilian culture:
-the main meal of the day is at lunch
-some lanchonetes (snack restaurants) only open at 7 pm, strictly to accommodate the night culture
-dinner might consist of a hamburger, no fries (purchased at one of these lanchonetes), pizza, or left-overs heated up from lunch
-the dinner hour could be anywhere between 7-9pm, so people like to lanche in the afternoon before it's time for dinner, and after 9pm if they didn't get a chance to eat dinner (like if they were in class)

Our classes hours are  9-10pm on Tuesday, 7-9:30pm on Wednesday, and 7-9pm on Thursday, so Jake and I often need to eat after class since we teach through the dinner hour.  We could just heat something up at home, but it's more fun to get a snack from the lanchonete.

Last night we ate:
Hamburger with egg and cheese: $2.50
Hotdog with ham and cheese: $2.00
Milkshake: $2.00

People, our meal cost only $6.50, and they were good sized portions!  This is merely one of the reasons Brazil is amazing-the food is just incredible, and so cheap.

We made it just before the university rush, so by the time we left, the restaurant was filled to the brim with people getting their hunger on.

As we walked back up the street, we saw people waiting for their buses, purchasing food at little BBQ stands, as well as at other food carts along the way.

I keep thinking about how, back home in Canada, everything starts to close up around 9 or 10 at night.  The cultural difference is astounding, but exciting, too!



More from the other side...

I'm going to share some stories about Free Flight, the youth centre/mission that Jake and I visited in Aguas Lindas.
Adenaide in the padaria (bakery)
 Adenaide came to Free Flight desiring to learn the art of sewing.  When she heard that God had given the association money to start a padaria (bakery), she begged the staff to let her and her son be trained as bakers.  Now they are the ones who run it, and what a fine job she does.
Showing off her oven
  Another one of her children, a daughter, is deaf and mute, but now she is coming to the mission to attend the sewing class.  She will not only have gained a skill, but also a means of supporting herself where her disability would otherwise limit her options.
Adenaide's daughter is in red

Nyce works at the ice cream shop (which also sells the baked goods).  She makes the ice cream right on site, and sells it by scoop, in cones, or by the bucket.  Jake and I actually got to go with a staff member to deliver the delicious ice cream to one of the small little shops in Aguas Lindas, where they would not necessarily have the capabilities of making it like Free Flight does.
Nyce, proudly displaying the equipment she uses to make ice cream.  Being of small stature, she's had to build muscle to heft the 20lbs worth of ice cream every day.
 The day we arrived at Free Flight, I thought I recognized her.  It turns out, she was one of my students when I taught ESL there!  She was only 16 years old at that time, but we're both married now, and she's been able to get a job at the ice cream shop due to her connections with Free Flight.  She still takes classes when she's not working at the shop.

Former teacher and student reunited
Free Flight is blessed by having the income from the bakery and the ice cream shop, but they are also blessing others by giving them a 'hand up' and literally working with the community to improve quality of life.  Not only do they educate the mind, but they also minister to the soul, and that's the only way to touch someone with the power of Jesus Christ!



Let It Go...

One of the hardest things about being a teacher, for me at least, is learning how to learn.  Ironic, isn't it? I expect such perfection from myself, especially in the classroom, and don't give myself any breathing room.

Tonight was one of those nights.  The lesson that I had prepared turned out to be much more difficult for the students than either Jake or myself had anticipated.  I started holding tension, was getting frustrated with a student, started taking over the class i.e. wasn't letting Jake do anything in an attempt to gain control of the situation.

When the class ended, I let out a whoosh of a breath, and started being negative with myself.

I'm a terrible teacher.
They didn't learn anything.
How did I not anticipate that?
Why was the handout so difficult?! 

I need to just let it go.  There was enough information there that they will take away something, even if it's one word.

Plus, now I can prepare better for next week's class.


Cannelloni and Some Updates...

The cottage cheese here is more like ricotta, and so much cheaper! 

Mozzarella first, then the filling

All rolled up!

Perfectly delicious and filling cannelloni!
As you can see, lunch today was delightful.  Both Jake and I agreed that this was the best meal I've made since getting here.  I think I'm getting the hang of cooking in our tiny little 'kitchen'.

I was a little bit lax on the blogs last week, and I know some of you were waiting for me to fill you in on our lives down here.  Last week was quite an emotional one, filled with ups and downs of adjusting to various things.  I'm happy to say that this week has gotten off to a wonderful start, including planning our ESL lessons a day in advance.  This has helped to alleviate much of the stress that I felt last week.  Thanks for your prayers!

Jake and I had the chance to visit Joyce Hancock, a missionary with CBM, and Free Flight Association, where I was teaching ESL when I lived in Brazil 6 years ago.  It was a blessing to see all the things that God has been doing there, including providing enough finances for there to be a bakery and ice cream shop.  (I'm sad that I forgot to get a picture of us with Joyce!)

The weekend seemed to fly by, and before we knew it, we were back in Anapolis looking forward to our fourth week here.  I'm glad, though, that Jake was able to see a different part of Brazil.  It was so good to visit and be with some of my friends that I've been missing for so long, including these beautiful ladies:

From L to R: Gisele, Soraia, Lilihanna, Jorcina (she's expecting her first baby in February!)

On Friday, we had to say goodbye to the Bacheller's, who we've been working with closely since we got here.  Ben and Becky flew home to the States on Saturday night, where they'll stay for a couple of months.  
From L to R: Caleb with the kitties, Leo and Cleo, baby David, and Samuel
We've been missing them this week, and things have been especially quiet around here.  Thankfully we have their dog, Nina, to look after and keep us company:

Nina (on the right), and her mom Nega
Anyways, that's about it for now.  Hope everyone is having a blessed day!



5, 4, 3, 2, 1...

Last week was the exception.  We had just arrived, it's Jake's first visit, so why not consume greasy pasteis, and have ice cream and chocolate every day? (Don't worry, it didn't happen every day!)

Now it's time to straighten out again, before the bad habits take over. 

The difficulty is that I, who considered myself to be quite proficient in the kitchen, have completely left my recipe ideas back home.  In Canada.  In my mind, it's as if we moved to a different planet.

Granted, there are quite a few things you can't find here (including some of the natural/vegan type foods I was accustomed to buying).  For the most part, however, you can find a 'natural' section in the grocery store.   I was happy to find some ground flaxseeds to help keep me, um, regular.  Praise the Lord for that!

My customary way to do things was to plan the recipes for the week, then do grocery shopping with that in mind.  Perhaps I should get back to doing that again.  I think it might help me focus.



Days Like Today...

You expect to have everything in order by the day you begin teaching a class.

You plan everything as best you can.

You organize your notes and ideas.

You dialogue and mull things over with fellow teachers. 

And yet you still can't agree on how best to draw a "running" stick figure...

Days like this are best filed under the category 


Until next time,


In the Stillness...

The busyness of this trip has yet to come.  Amidst the prep for our ESL classes, there are pockets of time like the one I'm in now, sitting on our little porch with the birds calling to their mates, the clothes on the line gently swaying in the breeze, and thoughts of last night's sermon echoing through my head.  

Experiencing church in Portuguese was a bit harder than I remember.  It's difficult when you so desperately want to be fed God's Word, and yet the language barrier holds fast.  A typical Sunday in for evangelical Brazilians usually begins with Sunday School at 9:30am, then the main church service at 7pm.  Last night, I prayed that God would enable me to understand, not only for my sake, but also for Jake's.  I was grateful, for what I did understand was absolutely something I needed to hear.  

The pastor was preaching about the four types of soil.  You know how it goes, the farmer sows the seed on the rocky ground, the shallow ground (where the seeds grow but have no roots), the thorny ground, and finally the good soil, where the seeds not only grow, but also produce fruit.  

I feel like I've been stuck in the thorny ground for a bit.  That's the one where the Word of God becomes choked out by the cares and worries of this world.  How can I produce any fruit when I let the thorns choke out the words of life?  

One thing the pastor reminded me of is this:  

Don't worry about anything, but pray about EVERYTHING.  (Phillippians 4:6,7)

I'm so thankful for some time to meditate and think about that this morning.


P.S.  Happy thanksgiving to all my friends and family in Canada!!  Jake and I talked about doing a mini thanksgiving here...we'll see what we come up with.

P.P.S. You might notice the new poster to the right of this post.  I've been following the blog of this wife and mom, Sarah Bessey, and she has the opportunity to go to Haiti with a team of fellow bloggers to experience life there and share the stories of people who would otherwise not be heard.  Please feel free to click on the picture and check it out.


Things Jake Says...

(Just a normal day, chit-chatting...)

J: A chicken wing just floated through my head and I wanna know why.  (pause) And if there are others. (pause) Maybe it was just a lone one.

A: You're so weird!!

J: Doesn't that ever happen to you? Isn't your brain a subspace highway for transient chicken wings?
~August 24/12


(After commenting on how stiff and sore his back was after falling into a hole...)

J: My dear, I think you married a pencil.  I'm useful with words, but I don't bend.
~October 4/12


'nuff said...I love the guy!



A Kitten Story...

The precious little kittens in this picture deserve their own blog today.  The Bacheller's just got them last week, and something happened to them on Monday, a day after we arrived.  No one could figure out if they had eaten poison or if one of the children had squeezed them too hard, but it looked as if their nervous system was shot.  Their entire bodies were shaking, and their legs were so out of control they could barely walk.  Ben and Becky were pretty upset about it, and he took them to the vet to see if anything could be done.  They were given an anti-inflammatory, but the vet said if that didn't work within 24 hours, it might be for the best if they were put down.  

Everyone was so sad, and we prayed that God would heal them.  Within the 24 hour period, they were chasing each other again, albeit with some shakes still, but everything was basically back to normal.  

We often forget that God orchestrates everything perfectly, even in our day-to-day mundane activities, or the lives of small kittens.  He is faithful in the small things.


We went to our Wednesday church to do English level testing last night.  I was not prepared at all for the amount of people that showed up.  There were 24 people initially, yet when we were finished the testing, we had counted close to 50 people!  It's really great, because some of these people  could never have afforded the cost of a regular English-learning school.  Through the church, they only have to pay around $5 a month to learn or improve their skill.  The majority of people were definite beginners (they couldn't speak any English at all), and then there were about 7 intermediates and 3 advanced.  

In order to place them at the correct level, I printed off an basic intermediate multiple choice test with 10 questions (the written part), and then conducted a short 'interview' with questions like:

1. Tell me about your family.
2. Do you serve in your church? If so, how?
3. What do you like about missions?
4. Why do you want to learn English?

These questions gave me enough of a guage to judge their level of comfortability with the language.  If we had to speak Portuguese during the interview, I would only ask them questions 1 and 4, just to get an idea of who they are.  

I really enjoyed hearing their stories of why they want to learn English.  Many of their reasons included travel, to gain knowledge, or to connect with family or friends in the US.   One woman told me it was simply because she loves the sound of English (and she loves the accent of English-speakers who speak Portuguese-that made me happy!).  One of the oldest women there (I'd guess her to be around in her 60's or 70's) told me her grandsons in the US don't even want to speak Portuguese, so she wants to learn English in order to have some semblance of a relationship with them.  

Both Jake and I were really encouraged, and he told me he's really excited about teaching ESL now, especially after hearing why people want to learn.  

So far, we will be teaching classes on Tues, Wed, and Thurs evenings, and possibly Sunday School once or twice a month.  All the classes are starting next week.  

That's all for now...Jake and I are headed to the shopping centre to buy some eggs.  Ministerio OASIS didn't have any free-range eggs left for us when we were there yesterday.

Boa tarde!




Today Jake and I went to Ministerio OASIS, the part of the Brazilian missions agency MAEB which cares for missionaries and pastors who are burned out or in need of counseling. They have chapel services, a swimming pool, and massage therapy, not to mention the prime location. It's situated just outside of Anapolis, and the countryside is a perfect place for the soul to mend and heal.  The other part of MAEB includes the preparing and sending of missionaries, and it's in it's beginning stages in the adjacent property to OASIS.

It was good to come out here today, to see the properties, meet the staff, and better understand the facets of ministry we're working with. We don't actually start teaching until next week. Part of our teaching, though, is to promote MAEB to our students, so that they know who to contact if they feel God calling them to do missions.

(Just for clarity's sake, we're with TEAM (The Evangelical Mission Alliance) , and MAEB is the Brazilian equivalent.)

Suffice it to say, we've been learning a lot about how Brazilians are caring for Brazilians, and learning how to work with people who have different giftings from ourselves.  God is doing a good work here.

Jake also discovered the tranquility of this Spirit-filled place...as pictured below.




Among other things, I went for a run today with Becky and two of her little ones.  Can I just say, I'm grateful for the freedom to run? Everyone kinda looked at us funny, apparently they don't have double strollers in Brazil (or the ones they have are super expensive).  It was nice to have a chance to get to know her a little bit better.

I think I may have mentioned that I was a little bit nervous about coming to Brazil, especially because their food isn't the healthiest.  Even in the short amount of time that we've been living here, I've learned that it is possible to find better options.  The family that we're living with made beans and rice with brown rice today, so I took that as a good sign.