Saturday, September 24, 2005

It Has Begun

Strange as it may seem, something has just begun today for me. We visited the Pan American school today as part of a field day. There was a good mix of Brazilian and American parents there, playing and eating. But the strange thing was that the English speakers gave me sensory overload. I didn't feel comfortable with them like I thought I might. The language my ears gravitated toward was Portuguese! It was kind of a weird moment; I don't know if things will be different here now. Don't get me wrong, I want to show as many people as possible the work we are trying to do here. But I feel like I am an actual part of the culture now; not just another visitor. For that I am very grateful. Enjoy your week!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


A man was sitting in a cafeteria next to a blonde woman
who was engrossed in her newspaper.

The bold headline read "12 Brazilian Soldiers Killed."

She shook her head at the sad news.

Then turning to the man she asked, "How many is a Brazilian?"

Sorry, guys, I just had to share that one. Thanks to Jeff for passing it on!


Did you notice who wrote the previous post? Russell! We've finally drawn him out. Now we just need to encourage him to write more!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Life Is Good

I had a great moment at church today. We visited the oldest Church of Christ in the city, and after the service, the oldest member in the city (I am relatively certain) pulled me aside. He asked, "Do you have a video camera? Because you guys are so encouraging to us, and I just want your supporters back in the states to feel as good as we do about your work." I just love that guy. He reminds me of a friend from my hometown- Marvin -who gave me my first job. I just wanted to pass that warm fuzzy on. We are loved, even though we are far from home. God bless.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


Tonight we met Matt and Mary Virginia at Matsuri, a restaurant a few blocks away from our house that we'd been dying to try. The first thing of note was that we decided to go at 6:15 and made plans to meet at 7:00. It was a few minutes after 7 when we arrived and the place was completely empty. We contrasted that with our experience in our "old lives" in the US, having to meet at 5:00 for dinner or have a two hour wait. There were no other diners until 7:50. This is a pretty common occurance for us, but we're still used to our North American meal schedules and besides, we can have the whole restaurant to ourselves!

The restaurant is located on the edge of a little park, in a building with two other restaurants. I could never figure out what the other restaurants were, maybe Italian or something. Matsuri, on the other hand, is a Japanese/Chinese/Vietnamese/Indian/Sri Lankan/Thai restaurant. How's that for diverse? The majority of the menu was Japanese food but the front page had appetizers and entrees from all the other countries. Tonight we had Thai, our first sample of Brazilian Thai food. It was pretty good- just hot enough to make your nose run. The rest of the menu looked really good as well and I'm looking forward to go back and tackling another country's food.

Salvador seems to be just starting to discover international cuisine. The current trend is Chinese and Japanese. We pass at least six Chinese/Japanese restaurants on our way to class in the morning and there are several more nearby. Most places offer a combination of both Chinese and Japanese. Though Russell and I have been to Japan, I can't say we're in love with Japanese food, so we usually opt for Chinese. There are several more "ethnic" restaurants around: Spanish, Mexican, Italian and we've heard rumors of a couple German ones. It's always fun when you're in another country to eat food that isn't from that country. It helps you realize how colored food is by culture- American Chinese food is different than Brazilian Chinese food, which is drastically different than Chinese Chinese food. (We have yet to be satisfied by Brazilian Mexican, though as our last TexMex meals fade into our memories the food seems better and better!) We look forward to seeing what new restaurants will open in the future, bringing us tastes from around the world, Brazilian-style!

(We do eat at Brazilian restaurants too!)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A Quick Update

I'm tired and am headed for bed but I figured I was due for an update (especially since I know some of you faithfully check every day!). So here's what's new:

-The six-month anniversary of our arrival here was yesterday. Hard to believe we're halfway through our first year. So much done and yet even more to do.

-We have a Portuguese teacher once again! We've hired my old teacher to teach our little study group. Our first class was this morning. We're meeting at 8:00 AM, which explains why I'm eager to get to bed.

-Everything else is progressing. We're having to have big conversations now about church names, locations and budgets. Gone are the days of dreaming. It's time to make the dreams reality and get to work. Unfortunately that means more meetings, but they'll be the kind that create concrete plans. I much prefer those.

-Culture shock is still there but seems to be not as bad as it was. Slowly we're emerging from our funks (though it may be temporary). Everyone is much more agreeable and we all seem to have more patience with each other. Everyone is making leaps and bounds with Portuguese- I'm so proud of all the hard work that's being put in.

-I cut my hair off. It's much nicer in the heat and definitely easier to take care of. Russell is also happy that I'm no longer shedding two-foot hairs on our white floors! I'll try to put a picture on Flickr in the next day or two for those who want to see it. My hairdresser brought up church stuff the other day. I've only been to her twice but I will be going back, especially because she really wanted to talk about it. Please pray for Rosi.

Monday, September 12, 2005


Birthday "Cake"
Originally uploaded by russandval.
Part of the joy of being here as a team is getting to be family for each other. We make a point to celebrate everyone's birthday and we try to do it to suite the person. (Except poor Alicia, whose last two birthday were while we were in hotels, but we're going to make that up to her!) Last Friday was Travis' birthday so we celebrated it Sunday night at our after worship meal. Travis is not a dessert guy. He is frequently seen finishing off the leftover salad instead of devouring whatever gooey sweet monstrosity someone has concocted (that's just not right in my book!). So as we talked about what to do for his birthday, an idea emerged...the birthday salad. Stacey filled her cake pan with salad, added a "32" out of cherry tomatoes and candles were put into more cherry tomatoes. Needless to say, he was suprised when we brought the lit cake out. Can't say I've ever seen a birthday salad before, or that I ever will again, but we all got a kick out of it and so did Travis' vegetarian dad when he saw the picture!

(Don't worry, we did have real dessert later on!)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Where Do Babies Come From?

Brandon falling from the sky, originally uploaded by russandval.

I had to share this picture of Russ and Brandon. I just think it is hysterical, plus I love the colors. I took it while we were at Praia do Forte a couple of weeks ago.

This week, we've got Ron and Georgia Frietas here. Those of you who have been following us for a while will remember that Ron and Georgia came to help settle us in six months ago. Six months. Absolutely incredible. I'm not quite sure where the time has gone. Anyway, they came to do a little team check-up- making sure we're all still speaking to each other (we are), that no one's gone off the deep end (no one has) and that all our newly acquired tattoos can be covered by shirt sleeves (little do they know that we don't believe in shirt sleeves anymore!). Also, Ron had some wisdom and insight to share as we start looking for our facilities. Since we've been here for six months, that means our inaugural service is about six months away, too! Scary and thrilling thought!

It's good to have Ron and Georgia here because we've known them since our very first recruiting dinner. They became great friends during our internship in Abilene, came with us to check out Salvador for the first time and call periodically to check up on us. (It also didn't hurt that they came bearing Mike & Ike's and marshmellows!) Familiar faces are always great and we look forward to having more come down!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Paying Bills

When we lived in the US, I hated paying bills. Somehow it seemed too much trouble to write the checks, put them in envelopes and actually mail them. Even once I had online banking, it took a lot for me to remember to actually log in and take the ten seconds required to pay a bill.

My life has changed a lot.

This morning Russ and I had to go pay some bills. I say some bills because we can't pay all our bills in one place. Russ paid our insurance bill last week at one bank. We paid our phone bill yesterday at a lottery kiosk. Today, we paid the bills due at Bradesco, one of the major Brazilian banks. We'll pay the power bill next week at the grocery store. (If we had waited until next Monday to pay the bills we paid today, we would have had to pay one of them at another bank.)

To pay our bills today, we had to first go to the ATM to pull out enough cash to pay it. We were paying our rent, property tax and condominium fee, so we have to make more than one ATM trip to get enough cash. Then we headed over to Bradesco. To get into the main part of the bank, you have to go through a revolving door/metal detector. It usually takes me a couple of tries to get through it--each time I remove any offending items from my purse and put them in the pass-through box. I've even shoved my whole purse in there before. (It doesn't seem like the most effective system to me; I could have almost anything in my purse!) Anyway, after two or three tries and a handful of "desperate" facial expressions, the security guards will usually take pity on me and let me through anyway.

Once inside, we head to the cashier's counter. There are lots of different banks here, but they all share one characteristic: you can't see the line at the counter until you are well inside the bank. Why? Because if you could, you wouldn't even try. Some days, the line is thirty or forty people long with only one or two cashiers working. Every so often we luck out and there's no line and we're left trying to figure out what to do with our suddenly free day. Today was a good day; there were probably only twenty people in front of us and there were three cashiers working. We only stood in line for about fifteen minutes. Once you get to the front, it takes about thirty seconds. Yes, all that for thirty seconds. Then, we get to freely walk back out through the revolving door, shooting pitying glances at the people stuck in line.

There have been adventures while standing in line. We've seen fights (just verbal). One day while standing in line with Stacey, I started bleeding profusely from a couple of spots on my ankle. That wasn't much fun, but it meant I got to experience first aid! There always seems to be some story to tell after bill paying.

It's funny--back when paying bills was simple, I hated it. I'm not saying I love it now, but I really don't mind it, especially not if I've got someone with me to talk to. And I have the consolation of knowing that one day I'll be pregnant and get to stand in the express line. Then I'll be paying bills every month. However, there are many things I've put off getting (monthly cell phone plans, satellite television) partly because it will mean more bills!

Time, lines, extra-sensitive metal detectors...these aren't that bad. The worst part about bill paying is that it occupies a two week period of time each month, meaning that once we're done, it's only two and a half more weeks until it's time to pay bills again!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

And Another Thing

Isn't it funny how once you start thinking about something spiritual, God seems to send several other things related to it your way in the next few days? The women of our team meet every Wednesday afternoon for lunch, prayer and study. We've been working through the Beth Moore series Believing God, which has videos online for us to watch and homework during the week. (Let me just take this moment to plug this bible study- it is amazing!) In our homework for the past week, part of the study took us into the book of Joshua, reading about Rahab and the "battle" of Jericho. Looking at the beginning of Joshua 2, Beth writes:

"...I like the fact that the king of Jericho knew the spies were there. God intentionally made the Israelites, like the body of Christ, a peculiar people. Ordinarily, the devout of the Lord stick out like a June bug in January. After wandering in the desert for 40 years wearing the same old clothes, conspicuous tassels on their garments, and their hair in certain ordained styles, they didn't exactly fit in. Their disguises didn't work. (Mine didn't work, either, no matter how good they were.)"

That's what I'm talking about- we're freaks! We stick out even when we're trying not to! It's been a good week having these thoughts in the forefront of my mind.

Another treasure from this week's discussion of Rahab was her proximity in terms of lineage to King David. No one much talks about it, but Rahab was the mother of Boaz. Is it any wonder that Boaz was so kind and open? His mother had experienced the kind of redemption that only the Lord can bring! Rahab had a bad start, but went on to become the great-great grandmother of a man after God's own heart. How awesome it is to think about the legacy of transformed lives!

We've been told (and have seen enough to suspect it's true) that "whole" families are fairly uncommon in Salvador. It's the result of the people living far from God. Sin has run rampant and has torn apart their lives. But the story of Rahab encourages me. I can only imagine what God will do through the lives He changes here!

Sorry for yet another sermon. Soon I'll go back to reporting on the mundane details of our lives. It's just silly to write about our trip to the grocery store today when such wonderful things are running through my head!