Saturday, July 30, 2005


More Caco
Originally uploaded by russandval.
We spent yesterday afternoon painting the little church in Itinga. (More about that later, I'm just eager to share the monkey experience!) Some members of the church live right behind it and afterwards, we got to play with their pet monkey! Alicia and I have had a bit of an obsession with monkeys since we first came to Brazil. Any time we get to see a monkey is a big deal. So imagine our delight when we not only got to see a monkey, but we got to stick our fingers into the cage as well. Caco (the monkey) held our fingers and we were pretty content and went back to the church building. But then Russ came in and told us they had the monkey out of the cage so we went running back up to the house.

Caco was pretty shy and reluctant to go to anyone but when I held out my hands he came to me. I snuggled him up to me like I would any small animal. It was awesome. Awesome until he decided he was done. He started squirming and I started panicking, because at the back of my mind, I was thinking, "This monkey will bite me and give me some mysterious monkey virus." When he decided to jump, I gave him a little help, ultimately making him land on the head of a nearby baby. He bounced off the shocked baby's head and landed on the sofa, where he sat perched for the rest of the time. He would let us sit and hold his hand, but wouldn't let anyone hold him again. But I didn't care- I got to hold him! (Okay, I felt a little bad that no one else got to, especially Alicia. And I do feel bad that I scared the baby, who was really closer to a toddler. But the kid's okay, I promise- he was just a little startled!)

And that's just a fraction of what we did yesterday. More to come.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

A Day at the Beach

Originally uploaded by russandval.
Okay, they tell us that we shouldn't let supporters see pictures like this, that we should act like we live in a barren, God-forsaken place, but I just can't help myself. We live in an incredible place. God did a pretty good job when He made Salvador! This beach is less than a 15-minute taxi ride from our apartment.

Most of the team met at the beach this afternoon. The waves were rough, the water was cold and it was no hotter than 85 degrees but the beach was packed. (And it's winter, so what do you expect?) At the beach you spend the day at one of forty or so barracas, full service little cabanas with tables, umbrellas, food and drinks. As soon as you get out of the cab, you're swarmed by guys trying to get you to come to their barraca. We've been to a couple different ones and have yet to notice much of a difference. And it's one seamless line of tables and umbrellas so you're pretty much getting the same thing at each one.

We walked a little, swam a little and sat a lot. As we sat at the table, vendors approached us selling anything you could want, from sunscreen and sunglasses to necklaces and hammocks to mussels and roasted cheese. The cheese is one of my favorites. It comes on a stick and is roasted over coals. For lunch we ate carne do sol, little cubes of salted steak. When I was little the beach meant salt-water taffy and seafood, now cheese and steak are flavors I associate with going to the beach. (There is plenty of seafood to be had, it's just not my thing!)

It was a great day. We've all got a little more color now and we're a little more relaxed. Above all, we're thankful that we are privileged to serve God in these beautiful surroundings.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


It was hard to get up this morning. Is it possible to have a food hangover? Last night was Stacey's birthday. When the Perkins came a couple of weeks ago they brought the team a brick of Velveeta and a huge bottle of Pace so we decided to bust them out for the birthday celebration. We made fajitas, Randy made a ton of tortillas, Matt and Mary picked up two kilos of tortilla chips from the Mexican restaurant and we ate ourselves sick. I never thought I'd be so excited to eat processed cheese, but the queso was incredible. I think we put on an excellent birthday spread for Stacey (topped off by my zucchini cake).

Food has a new significance here. It's one of those things that connects us with "home". A familiar taste brings back a flood of memories and feelings of comfort. I don't want to have American food every day, but once in a while it's so exciting to eat the food of our homeland. In moderation of course. Not like last night. Unless there's queso involved.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Sometimes the milestones we celebrate might appear minor to our friends and family in North America (and sometimes even to our teammates!) but today was a significant one for me. I went to my first Portuguese movie.

Most American movies that come out here are kept in English but have Portuguese subtitles. This has been great for us because we've been able to keep up with the new releases (especially since movies are much cheaper here). Animated films are always dubbed, that is, the original audio track is replaced with Portuguese voices. Occaisionally a film will be shown both ways- then you have to be careful you ask for the right showing!

As a result, the team's kids (because they truly belong to the whole team) have missed out on the big new movies. Robots came out shortly after we arrived. Madagascar has been widely advertised; there's even a special Madagascar playland in the mall complete with a climbing wall. We've had to explain to them that they wouldn't understand the movie so they'll just have to wait for the DVD to come out.

I knew Lauren had been dying to see a movie so I told her when Herbie came out we would go see it together. It's live action, so I figured it would surely be subtitled. It came out last week. Dubbed. I passed the disappointing news that we couldn't go see it on to Lauren. She was sad that we weren't going to get to go the movies. A day or two later, she said, "I want to go see Madagascar."

"It's in Portuguese like Herbie is," I said. "The whole thing. No English."

"That's okay," she told me. "I just want to see it."

So today we went. Lauren said she understood some of it. And I think she really did. I had to explain a lot of the movie to her, but we usually have to explain shows and movies to her regardless of what language they're in. What was awesome, though, was that I was able to explain it! I caught about 75% of the dialogue, was able to laugh at several of the jokes and enjoyed the experience thoroughly. I had been worried about seeing a movie in Portuguese but today I proved to myself that I can do it!

Good thing, too, because as we were walking out, Lauren saw a Wallace and Grommit movie poster and is already making plans...

Friday, July 15, 2005

Tongue-Tied (rated PG)

Well, it finally happened. I made a huge language blunder. Last week I told Jaci, our teacher, how excited we were that Rachel Perkins had made brownies for us. She had never heard of them and loves chocolate so I had the perfect excuse to use my oven! I baked a nice batch of brownies last night and brought them to class today to eat during our break time.

After the break, we were talking further about brownies. I told Jaci that I have seen brownies here in Salvador, both fresh and packaged. I tried to explain that packaged brownies aren't as good because they have so much other stuff in them. The English word I was thinking of was "preservatives". I guessed that this was a cognate and just changed the ending and said I don't like all the preservativos in packaged brownies. As soon as I said it, I realized my mistake. (If I hadn't realized right away that I'd said something wrong I would have quickly figured it out by looking at Jaci's face!) Preservativos is the word for condoms. I was looking for the word conservante. (For the record, I don't like either one in my brownies!) It took about five minutes for us to stop laughing. I'm a little relieved though- I know that making big and embarrassing mistakes is an inevitable part of language learning so I'm glad to finally have the first one out of the way!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Reach Out and Touch Someone

Have you been wanting to call your favorite missionaries in Brazil but don't have a good long distance plan? Try Enjoy Prepaid! We'd love to hear from you! (Though we don't have an answering machine, so it helps to warn us if you're going to call!) Right now, we are just one hour ahead of Eastern time.

The Porters made it back from Itu and they came bearing gifts. Oh the joy that Dr. Pepper and blueberry muffin mix brings to the weary missionaries! It's not that we can't live without that stuff- we're doing fine. But every so often, it's nice to have something familiar. (The things I really miss can't be shipped- cheddar cheese, sour cream, my mom's pot roast.) But we get by. We have a wide variety of tropical fruits with which to console ourselves. And Friday we're headed to the churrascaria, an all-you-can-eat-meat-extravaganza. Yet as I'm typing about our wonderful food here, I can't help but look at the newly-arrived brownie mix and wonder if I should stay up to bake it!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Nothing to Report

I just realized it's been almost a week since I posted (it might have been less if Russ would ever get around to posting). Anyway, there hasn't been much going on. I've been cooking- hooray!- but I won't bore you with the details of our menus. This morning we made coffee for the first time. We have a french press coffee maker so we had to wait until we could boil water to do it.

This weekend was, quite literally, a wash. It rained and rained. Torrentially. And the wind howled. (We had it better than Mary Virginia's friends and family in Alabama, but it was enough to keep us in the house.) Palm trees, especially little ones, are so dramatic in the wind. The fronds are whipped around in every direction. It definitely doesn't encourage one to go out.

Last night after our team worship time we made mini-pizzas. It was such a flashback to my childhood, when that was a common get-together food. I just love the community feeling of everyone around the table getting their food ready. (Of course then there's the chaotic moment when the pizzas come out of the oven and you have to figure out whose is whose.) We were missing the Porters though. They're in Itu right now with a campaign from Highland. They're coming back tomorrow and bringing Heather with them. Heather is an ACU student who took our Portuguese class with us made us all look bad at Portuguese. I'm excited to see her and to show her how much we've all improved.

We just emailed out a copy of our newsletter. If you didn't receive one but want to, please let us know.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

One More Thing

Okay, this is the last you'll hear about it, at least for today, but tonight we had meatloaf, mashed potatoes and broccoli, all made using, you guessed it- the once-useless stove!


Originally uploaded by russandval.
Look at the sheer joy on Russell's face. He gets to have an egg for breakfast. Tonight we're having meatloaf. We are so thankful to be liberated from our steady diet of nuggets. Thanks for all the prayers sent up on behalf of our fog√£o!

Monday, July 04, 2005

Good Things Come...

Three months later...


That's all I'm going to say about it right now. I've got to go boil water or fry an egg or try to remember how to use a stove/oven.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Back on My Back

Grr. Last week, our extra-long holiday weekend, I was healthy. Russ was sick. But then he got better and we got to enjoy the holiday.

Now I'm sick again. Food poisoning, we think. I spent yesterday evening throwing up but now I'm doing much better.

What is frustrating about me having food poisoning is that I'm not a very risky eater. I don't buy acarajes on the street. I have been deliberately careful about not introducing to much funky new food to my diet all at once. And yet here I am, missing Portuguese class once again. It was totally a random incident- we've eaten at that restaurant several times but, just as happens in North America, they were having an off day.

On another, much more positive note, Brazil won the Confederations Cup (soccer) the other day. The tournament itself was pretty rocky- loss, loss, tie. Finally we won our semifinal game putting us in the final with Argentina. It was a very exciting game- the last time we had played Argentina (for the South American championship) we lost, not to mention some general old rivalries of a historical nature with Argentina. But there was not contest. Brazil showed why they are one of the best teams in the world.

It's incredible to experience Brazil during a game like this. Stacey and I were with Alicia in her apartment when the first goal was scored. Fireworks went off outside the window. (I mean RIGHT outside, which startled all of us immensly). People were shouting "GOOOOOOAAAAALLLL!" and horns were honking. It was so exciting. We weren't even watching the game at that point. When we got to Keith and Stacey's a few minutes later, the boys were watching the game. Every time a goal was scored we ran out on the balcony to watch the fireworks and listen for the yelling. Did I mention this game was at 4:00 in the afternoon? At the end, when our victory was finally official, the fireworks started again. It was dusk by this point, so you could really see them. From the Parkers' balcony you can see very rich neighborhoods and very poor neighborhoods. On Wednesday afternoon it didn't matter which was which- the whole city was celebrating the win!

I can't wait for next year's World Cup!