What Does She Do...

We have some pretty great students.  Our Thursday crew has transformed into one family consisting of a mom and her two little girls. The rest of the class seems to have given up, but this little family creates as much energy as a class of 25.  Unfortunately next week will be the last week with them, due to graduations and Christmas.

Delia works as a music teacher/pianist, and both of her daughters are in ballet. The oldest one wants to join a ballet company when she gets older; she showed some of her routines to us last night.

We taught them about jobs and professions, and they learned how to ask, "What does she do?  Where does she work?"

To practice further we played charades...if you look at the picture, can you guess?

She's a dentist!

My goodness, they're quite dramatic and you can imagine all the laughter that ensued.

Sometimes it's the simple things that are the best to learn.  I'm amazed at how quickly even little Eloisa was learning words.

Despite the surprises and changes that have been part of our time here, one thing hasn't changed:

It's a blessing to impart knowledge to others.




So I realized that lately I've been doing more photo blogging than writing.  Not like this is a terrible tragedy, but for me it's actually a sign of blogging laziness.  I intend to do better, my blog friends.     

Dave and Miriam's church plant
 Jake and I came back from Catalao with full hearts.  It was such a wonderful time to visit Dave and Miriam and their daughter, and to see some of the rural parts of Brazil.  

It took us three and a half hours to get there from Anapolis, so we stopped for a bite to eat on the way.  By the time we got there, it was midnight, so we basically said goodnight and went to bed. 
Exploring the downtown
The next day, Miriam made us waffles for breakfast, and then Dave drove us around Catalao.  First we went to see the church plant that they started about five years ago.  The mother church is in the picture to the left, right behind the yellow-ish pagoda.  Catalao only has about 150,000 people, and there is a huge need for church and evangelism there.  A lot of the youth get involved in drugs, and so there are many young people in the church who look up to Dave as a father figure.
It's so bright!!
 Dave took us downtown, and we enjoyed the small town feel compared to the sprawling city of Anapolis.  We saw various schools, universities, activity centres, and some of the tourist attractions like this gorgeous Catholic church set on top of a hill overlooking the entire city.  (You can see the view here.)

One of my favourite parts of spending time with the Kanagy's was seeing their trampoline ministry with the neighbourhood kids.  So far, there are about 55 children that come out every week, and many of them are unchurched.

Trampoline ministry?  you ask.  Yes, check it out for yourself! I asked Dave how he came up with the idea, and he said it just came to him one day.  They have a lovely trampoline in their yard (yes, I was to be seen testing it out for about 10-15 minutes on Saturday evening), and the kids can see it when they look through the fence.  

Dave and Miriam let the kids jump on it, but there is one stipulation(for those who don't go to church): they must memorize a Bible verse before they can jump.  They each have their own sheet, with about 10 verses on it, and once they have memorized it, they must sign their name.  They can build up credits by memorizing two verses, but no more than that.  Dave said that some kids even give away their credits to others sometimes so that those who aren't so quick at memorizing can jump right away.  Here is an example of how it works:

These boys had never been here before, but had only heard of it from friends.  Dave has the children memorize verses starting out with understanding that they are sinners, then working on down to how to receive salvation from Jesus Christ.  The young guy without the shirt on took a look at this verse, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." ~Romans 3:23, and said, "What! That can't be true! We aren't all sinners!" and Dave had a chance to tell him that yes, indeed, we are all sinners, because that's what God says in His Word.  

What an amazing ministry to children!  Some of these kids have no idea what truth is, and yet here they are, memorizing God's Word just so that they can jump on a trampoline for an hour.  I was absolutely blown away.

They were super excited to jump, and I was just excited that they are receiving truth! 

There was a comedy night at the church plant that evening, so we got a little taste of Brazilian humour. 
The pastor and the worship leader pretending to be Brazilian 'rednecks'
There was a 1/2 hour long sketch of Brazilian 'redneck' humour, but there were also a few videos that didn't include talking (including a Mr. Bean sketch) and thankfully the humour rises above cultural differences! 

The lake is just starting to fill up again due to the rainy season
After Sunday School on Sunday morning, we went to a lake that was close by.  Since it's dry season, the lake is a lot lower than normal, but the water was the perfect temperature!  We thought it was going to pour at any moment (hence the clouds), but it just got hotter and hotter.  We both got sunburned on our backs, but we didn't notice it at the time because floating in the warm, refreshing water felt so delicious.

Dave and Miriam took us to a place that overlooks the lake, and it's also  got the replica of Jesus the Redeemer statue like in Rio de Janeiro.
Overlooking Lake Azul

Jake with Dave and Miriam Kanagy

We were just so overwhelmed by Dave and Miriam's hospitality.  They fed us well, and treated us like family.  I probably talked a little bit too much to Miriam (maybe due to the fact that her counselling and psychology training makes her an excellent listener?! Let's go with that!)  It was a great opportunity to see just another facet of ministry that believers are doing here.



Last Full Class...

 Well, Bible classes have come to an end at the seminary, and so did ours last Tuesday.  Our class of three has dwindled down to two now, and as long as those two would like to keep learning, we'll keep teaching up until the week of Christmas.  The school year goes from mid-February to mid-December in Brazil, so this time of year there are a lot of graduations and celebrations, aside from Christmas!

From L to R: Natalicio (a professor), Elide, and Herli)
We really enjoyed this group, and I'm so upset that I forgot to take a picture of them with us (seems to be a theme here...), but happy that I captured this one at the end of class.  We had decided the week before to have a little celebration with food to say our goodbyes to Elide.

Our snack, complete with cafezinho and mandioca cake
(in the clear plastic tub)

We only had one student show up at our Thursday night class again, so we had to cancel it.  That has been so discouraging, but we're starting to learn how to be flexible in those situations.

This weekend we're visiting Dave and Miriam, our ministry team leaders, in their city of Catalao; it's been exciting to see a different part of the country, as this city is completely surrounded by farmland.  We're going to visit the church plant they've been helping with for the past 5 years.  Their commitment was about 5 years, so by next June they'll be finished here and will start wherever else God wants them to be.  
Just a teaser...



Raining Again!...

Today I found coconut oil, after thinking stores didn't carry it, and I decided that $20 for 300 mL is not worth it...

Then I made a grilled cheese and pear sandwich.  Delicious. 

You should really try it...no regrets!



Chicken Little...

Jake and I went to the evening service at the Baptist church that we teach at on Wednesday evenings.  Every church worships differently, and this one is a praying church.  Before the service started, we were told to join hands with one another in little circles and pray.  We had a chance to see some of our students there in a different context, where we are the students (of Portuguese, that is!) and they are the teachers.

There is a man who attends our intermediate class with his two daughters, and Jake and I have gotten to know them really well.  It turns out that the Lopes' family have three birthdays within 6 weeks, and mine happened in there somewhere as well, so we've been able to celebrate all these birthdays with them.

They invited us to come back to their place after church for 'shrimp'.  That was all we knew.  I like shrimp, it was 9:30pm, we thought, hey, it'll be some light appetizers.  This sounds like fun.

When we arrived at their house, we had to wait for the pastor and his wife to get there, then we started with some fancy cheeses, salami, and wine. (Wine! you say.  Yes, it's acceptable for most Christians in Brazil to drink wine, but not beer or other alcoholic beverages.)

By this time it was 10:30, but I noticed big plates and forks sitting on a side table.  Next thing I know, there is rice, and salad, and a shrimp sauce, and chicken, and we're eating all this delicious food so late at night!  It was delectable, my friends.  I can't begin to tell you how amazing it was.  The chicken was cooked to perfection, and seemed to melt in my mouth with all the creaminess.  The shrimp was placed in a cooked pumpkin, and so when you scooped it onto your rice, a little bit of pumpkin would come with it.  My, how I should have taken a picture, but I was so enamoured by the fantasy of it all.

Ice cream was the dessert that followed, and then more talking and sharing and getting to know this family a little bit better.  This is probably the sixth or seventh time we've shared a meal with them, and each time I feel even more blessed and humbled by their generosity and grace in our lives.

Valeria (wife and mom) wanted my pumpkin pie recipe, and although I have yet to pass it along to her, she gave me the recipe for the amazing chicken dish that so enthralled me.  We still have leftovers in the fridge which both Jake and I are ecstatic to eat for lunch today!

Chicken a la Valeria
1 can of coconut milk
1 cup of cream
1 cup of some sort of melty cheese 
[Softer than cream cheese]
(Here they use Requeijao, which could be a type of Cheese Whiz...
I'll have to perfect it in Canada, or you let me know what you find)
Flour or onion soup mix
1 TBSP mustard (optional)
1-2 lbs chicken breast

1. Filet the chicken breasts so that they're in smaller pieces
2. Dip them into the flour or onion soup mix (This helps to thicken the sauce) 
and lay them in a glass pyrex dish 
3. Mix together coconut milk, cream, cheese, and mustard if you choose,
then pour over top of chicken
4. Bake at 350F for 40-50 min (I'm a little dicey on this part-
just keep an eye on the chicken.  You could cover the top in foil 
for the first part, then take it off for the last 10 minutes or so)

The picture doesn't do it justice!
Voila, you have delicious and tender chicken!
Bon Appetit!



The Time of the Bride...

Well hi there, stranger! I've gone a few days without writing, but that doesn't mean for a second that we haven't been having any adventures.

While back in Canada, our very good friends, Charlie and Cindy, told us that one of Cindy's nephews was getting married in Anapolis during the very time we would be there.  Since they couldn't go, David (her nephew) said we could stand in for them.  

Then, we met a family at the Presbyterian church who mentioned that their cousin was marrying a Canadian in a couple of weeks.  The wheels in my head started turning.  Is it by any chance David and Mellissa? I asked.  The answer was, of course, yes! and how did we know them and were we going and now we have a ride and know someone at the wedding.  Coincidence? I think not!  God is so good.

It seemed like November 16th was such a long ways off, but it came and went last Friday.  David and Mellissa are married, Jake and I are impressed, and all is well.  

Most weddings in Brazil take place at night.  Like I said before, one of the mantras of missionaries around here is "night culture".  It's said whenever something doesn't seem to make sense, or a wedding starts an hour and a half after it's supposed to, or people have dinner at 10:30pm...say it with me: 

Night culture.

Ok.  Now that we have that established, the wedding was to begin at 8pm.  Jake and I got a ride with the family, so we arrived there at 7:30pm.  Our friend Igor took these pics, and I couldn't choose which one I liked the best!

We were sitting in our chairs, watching people arrive for an hour and a half. Yes, the wedding started at 9pm.  

Before the ceremony began, there was a small little ensemble playing some lovely orchestral and pop culture pieces to welcome people as the came in.  There was also a live recording of the entire ceremony projected onto the wall. It was nice because family members who weren't able to come could watch, and once David and Mellissa got up to the front, their backs were turned to us the whole time, so we could see their faces.  If you watch the video, you'll understand what I mean.
This is what greeted us as we came in, this delightful table of sweets and assorted pictures of David and Mellissa.

There was an orchestra, a live orchestra.  Apparently they play at all sorts of weddings, and Mellissa is one of the singers.  Let's hope they cut her a deal?!

The aisle...My goodness but it was gorgeous!
David came and stood up at the front by himself for the longest time.  First, he had to wait for both sets of parents to come up, then all of the bridesmaids, flower girls, and various others, then he had to wait for about 30-or-so close relatives to walk up the aisle.  

That's a lot of waiting!  It was worth the wait, though.  The orchestra played incredibly well (they even played a song from Pirates of the Caribbean for the parents' entrance!) 
All the close relatives sitting up near the front
 Here comes the bride, finally!

 Her dress was fantastic, wasn't it? 

One of the first parts of the ceremony was the placing of the rings, then they read their vows, which were long, and more like intimate letters to one another.  They've known each other since they were very little, and they've both been through a lot, but God brought them together!  After that came the little message (did I mention her Dad married them?)

There was a lot of special music (sung by members of the orchestral party), and signing of the register (by the grandmothers).  Then when they kissed, sparklers shot up to the ceiling! A very memorable moment.  What impressed me the most, was that there was a little video for the guests to watch while the bride and groom stood up at the front and got pictures with the various family members.  It was a great use of time, extremely efficient.  
The happy couple!

I just had to get a picture of that train!
After the wedding, there was no reception, not even salgados (appetizers), but there was a long line up to shake hands with the bride and groom, and their parents.  

While waiting in the line, we took pics of these gorgeous flowers (Jane, Jake knew you'd want to know what they looked like, so this was his idea :)
I would have liked to get a picture with them, but, like I said, it was a LONG line-up, and I didn't think it would be fair to make everyone behind us keep waiting.  

Afterwards, we got to go out for pizza with our new friends from the church, and it was 11pm, and we got home around 12:30am, in the rain, and had to slip through that little space between the bars in the seminary gate, and tried not to make noise so as not to get the dogs barking and wake up our neighbours.

All in all, it was such a cool opportunity to experience a Brazilian Christian wedding.  We're very happy for David and Mellissa, and may God bless them in their new union!



Rain, Rain, Go Away...

Well, if you think we're getting blessed with all the sunshine down here, think again!  We might still be able to wear shorts and tank tops, but it's been raining cats and dogs most days.  The birds woke me up with their racket.  I'm watching green parrots chase each other and use their beaks to climb up the branches-at least they seem to enjoy these dull days.  Let's hope the toucan doesn't swoop down upon this bird paradise.
Then again, it's starting to sound worse than a pet shop out here.

I've been thinking about a lot of things lately, including our future in ministry, writing a book, starting a family...you know, the usual.  Life often resembles this alleyway, where you can only see a few steps ahead of you, and the rest is a mystery.  

Thankfully, the future is not a mystery to our God.  We need to learn to depend on Him, and trust that He will lead us in His path. 

I posted this verse to Facebook yesterday, but I want to share it again here, because it is so beautiful and completely encapsulates the need for our dependence on God:

If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. ~isaiah 58:10-11

Praise God for His encouraging words in our lives, even on rainy days such as these.


Brazilian Baby Shower...

When Ben and Becky were still here, I had the opportunity to go to a baby shower.  Becky informed me that-for any party whether it be for a birthday, baby shower, or wedding-when the cake is brought out, it's time to go home (or, at least you know it's acceptable to do so at that point).

Well, I went home a bit before the snacks and cake, but I got to see quite a bit of what goes on.  Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, so you'll have to use your imagination.  On that day we were celebrating three babies, not yet born.  One of the women was going in for a C-section the next day, so everyone was excited for her.

They started with a really neat presentation of gifts.  You may have seen this done in Canada (I saw it at a wedding, once), but first you start with an empty bag.  Then the presenter starts giving gifts, preceding that with a nice phrase to go along with it.  For example, one of the gifts at the shower was body lotion, so the woman said something about keeping the mother feeling and smelling pretty even though she will be tired.  It was a really neat idea, and pretty soon their bags were full, and everyone got to see what the gifts were and why they were important.

After this, the games director gave the mothers a small, non-exerting writing game to keep themselves busy while the rest of us ended up playing some pretty exhausting ones!  They included:

  • The laundry hamper game: A team of two people had to work together to get a load of baby clothes on and off of the clothes line before the other team.  My team won, you know why? Because my mama taught me how to hang them clothes right! 
  • Find the shoe game: We all had to take off our shoes and put them on one end of the room.  Then, the games director went and mixed them all up while we had our backs turned.  The first one to find her shoes and put them on won
  • Put the clothes on the baby: There were two plastic baby dolls, and the first team to undress and dress her won
  • Pin the diaper on the baby: We spun the unsuspecting blindfolded victim around and then, using only our voices, had to lead her to the bulletin board to pin on the diaper.  Wow, this one got out of hand! Women were yelling, screaming, getting so frustrated when the player wasn't listening.  I left after that!
From my point of view, showers are pretty similar to those in Canada, except for all the balloons.  I don't know what it is about Brazilians and their balloons, but they LOVE to use them for all their parties and decorations.



New Neighbours...

I may have mentioned that our originally intended ministry supervisors arrived home to Brazil yesterday afternoon.  Tim and Tammy have two teenaged children and a little Dachsund, so we're back to a full house around here again.

They've been busy unpacking and reorganizing their home, and we've been busy planning lessons and job hunting (for when we come back to Canada), so we haven't seen too much of them.

Jake and I were talking about it earlier, and, as he said, it's a fine balance between who is guest and who is host right now.  Technically this is their home and property, so they are the hosts.  However, they haven't been in Brazil for 16 months, and we've been living here for a few weeks, so does that make us the host?!  It's all very confusing.  I think tomorrow we'll go over with some pao de queijo  and break the ice a little bit more.




Jake and I went to Pirenopolis, which is only about 45 minutes away, to stay at a pousada (a Brazilian Style Bed and Breakfast) for our 2nd anniversary.  I'll let the pictures tell the story:

The bus ride only cost about $3.00, and we staked out the very back ;)

Our room

Delicious acai, topped with banana, granola, and condensed milk

The famous Catholic church of Pirenopolis

Thankfully it stopped raining just long enough on Friday for us to enjoy a swim!

Excited to eat our pizza!

Just a sample of what the streets looked like...this section is very touristy

Francesca, the pousada proprietor 

one last look at it...


Take It In Stride...

We showed up tonight, braved the rain, prepared the lesson, and no one showed up.  The doors were locked, the lights were off, the church was empty. I was looking forward to this class (Thursday classes are my favourite-they're small in numbers, but the group is really fun!)

So we did this, instead:
Doing what we do best with Bill and Kathy Bacheller, and Ward Rau, a gentleman from their church in Chicago who is here for two weeks
I had made some peanut butter chocolate squares for our class, but since we didn't get to eat it there, we ate it at the restaurant.  I gave some to the waitresses, and they liked it so much, they asked for the recipe! (Thanks, Ashley!)  I never imagined that baked goods could be such a viable ministry-for me, anyways.  There are many talented and renowned cooks back home in Canada who use this gift for baking and cooking in opportune ways, and I admire that.

Jake and I got to visit Ministerio OASIS again yesterday, the counselling part of MAEB, and Kathy Bacheller showed us her house that is in the process of being built.

Kathy and the new director's house

Bathroom space- this has been Ward's project during his time here
We enjoyed being out there, and I was able to chat with the secretary, Karine, and hear more of her story, how God has worked in her life and brought her here.

Karine and I, a few weeks ago- I think I've gotten a bit darker, don't you?
Jake and I decided to take some pics too...

Being in Brazil has really taught us how to take things in stride.  If you show up somewhere and no one is there, or they're late, you don't worry about it.  I've actually felt less stress because of this, for, if I'm a little bit late, I know that my Brazilian counterpart won't mind that much.



Comin' Along...

We've been saying for a couple of weeks now that we need to get our teaching preparations completed before the actual day of class.  Even though we have plenty of time to prep during the day of(most of our classes don't start until 7pm), we both get too stressed out from the pressure of needing to get it done, not to mention getting anything printable to the copy place in an appropriate amount of time.
Needless to say, this type of preparation never helps us to feel adequately engaged with the material, nor does it put us in happy teaching moods.
What we would prefer happened this week ...I can hardly believe it!
On Monday, I prepared Tuesday's and Wednesday's classes while Jake finished up his class for the intermediates.  Then yesterday I completed Thursday's class, leaving enough time for touch-ups and review the day of.
The lack of stress is so incredible. It's not like we're doing any less work-in fact, we're doing more because we're giving ourselves extra time to think.

Jake teaching our Wednesday night Intermediates

I'm really desiring and praying  that this won't be just a fluke week, but that the lesson of planning and preparing ahead of time will stick with us for the rest of our lives.


Brazil is Alive...

Don't worry, I washed my hands thoroughly!
One of the reasons I love Brazil is because it is so lush.  It's alive.  There are constantly birds singing, lizards scuttling, and beetles buzzing.  The trees change into beautiful flowering things, and the vegetation multiplies like a child in a growth spurt.

Jake often comments to me that life is so much simpler when you don't have to prepare for four seasons.  You don't need to put special shingles on your roof, just use ceramic tiles, because there is no snow.  You don't need to change the tires on your car to accommodate for inclement conditions, and you don't need to go through a complete wardrobe change-up when the fall season starts in earnest.

I miss the beautiful colour change of the leaves in autumn back home, but I wouldn't trade sitting on this porch in my shorts and bare feet for anything.



Toucans And Another Anniversary...

There is a big tree in our yard, and on two occasions, Jake and I have spotted toucans flying in for a few moments, rustling around in the treetop, then flying away.  The first time, I was doing some lesson planning on the porch, and I couldn't believe my eyes.  I'm sure many of you have seen them in zoos, but their beaks are absolutely enormous.  I found out why on Saturday evening. 

They are carnivores.

That's right, that cute lil' "Toukie-toukie!" on your morning cereal box eats innocent little birdies out of their nests. Lovely.

On another note, the church we've been attending celebrated their 25th anniversary yesterday.  To commemorate, they had a lovely lunch after Sunday school, and a guest preacher in the evening.  The pastor even led us in a rousing Portuguese edition of "Happy Birthday" after the evening service!  



Pumpkin Pie...

Since Jake and I missed Thanksgiving this year, I made a pumpkin pie for him for our anniversary.  It was actually the first time I'd ever made one, and I found a recipe that included condensed milk (which Brazilians love!) So I made another one for a BBQ we went to last night. Brazilians usually eat pumpkin with only salt and butter, so for it to be sweet was something new. But oh my, they loved it! One lady went back for seconds, and another asked for the recipe.
I also made chocolate covered pumpkin seeds and brought them to a movie night.  The pastor's two teenagers just raved about them.

It's such a blessing to have these moments with people here.  It seems as if Jake and I are always trying new things, getting out of our comfort zones, yet I never imagined that food could transcend language and cultural barriers, creating an equality between us and the Brazilians, as they, too, have new experiences in their own country.  A simple pumpkin, of all things!



Bikini or Muumuu...

As most of you know, I have been spending the past year trying to change my diet and also my eating habits (moderation, etc).  Because of this, I have had to jump over a few hurdles, including my love for all things chocolate.  Jake has been my biggest supporter, and one day when I was struggling particularly fiercely with the desire to eat more desserts, he looked at me and said,
"Bikini or muumuu??"

It caught me off guard, and I burst out laughing, and then said, "Bikini!", effectively stopping myself from giving in to that specific temptation.

Since then, I've asked him quite a few times to ask me that in dire moments, and it's been quite helpful in keeping me accountable when I seem to lack self control. 

Thank God for witty husbands!



Aspirations and Jabuticaba...

Happy November, friends!  My new goal this month is to write a blog every single day.  I can't promise that anything exciting will happen, nor that they'll all be interesting, but we'll see how it goes.

 A family from one of our ESL classes invited us to go to a chacara, or farm, to pick jabuticabas.  Unfortunately, Jake was pretty tired out and couldn't join us.  The little farm was only about 10 minutes away, and has been in their family for only about 8 years.
Jabuticaba-the skin outside is edible, but it's pretty bitter.  It's the inside that is most delicious!
 They grow directly on the tree branches themselves, and, as you can see, in little clusters.  I get really grossed out by clusters of anything (especially insect eggs), so it was hard for me to start picking them.
I've also turned into a pretty big city girl, so I had to get over the fact that ants were crawling all over the trees.  It was nice to have a chance to get to know the family better, and to see their little farm.  There were roosters, and all sorts of fruit trees, including tamarind.

One of the most interesting things on the property were the monkeys! They were pretty fast, so it was kind of hard to get a picture, but a couple of them turned out, including a video! 

Rodrigo and his son, Arthur, trying to entice the monkeys with pieces of bread.
There they are, eyeing the bread! They even ate out of Rodrigo's hand!

 After jabuticaba picking, we ate a snack of sweetened black coffee (cafezinho) and pao de queijo.
Arthur and Annalise

Marilane and I-she's the wife and mom, and quickly becoming a dear friend!
It was great to spend time with this family, as well as experience something new.  Marilane told me that you can make jam out of jabuticaba, so I'm eager to try that tomorrow.