I've been slacking lately. Sorry about that.
Actually, I haven't been slacking in "real life", just in terms of updating the blog. I spent most of last week (Tuesday-Saturday) down with a virus. The first couple days of it, I was quite literally down, flat on my back, watching movies my dear sweet Russell rented for me. It may seem like I've been sick a lot since we've been here, and compared to the last few years of my life, I have been, but it's pretty par for my life. My immune system is not the most cooperative in the world, so by moving somewhere new, with all kinds of new bugs, I'm like a kid starting daycare--I'm going to pick up everything. At least once. But I'm feeling quite a bit better now, though I've got some symptoms that are still kicking around.
Sunday was my big day to emerge from the apartment, and I jumped back into life with both feet. I'll do a separate post about it (or better yet, get Russ to do it), but here it is in 30 words or less: Russ preached his first Portuguese sermon in a little upper room overlooking the Bahia de Todos os Santos (All Saints' Bay) while I sat shivering.
Russ and I stopped at the mall on Monday morning and discovered that Christmas has arrived in Bahia. The Christmas decorations are out in full force. On display anyway. There's not very many for sale, and the ones that are for sale are either outrageously expensive or embarrassingly cheap. We generally opt for cheap. The most well-stocked store, Lojas Americanas (which literally means American Stores), is the closest we have to WalMart, though it doesn't really compare to WalMart. (For the Canadians, I would compare it to Woolco.) The Christmas section was absolutely insane; it felt like WalMart on the day after Christmas. People were buying decorations like they might not be there tomorrow, and unfortunately we caught the fever and ended up picking up a couple of things.
I spent Monday afternoon working on our team/church budget with Randy. It was, to say the least, a challenge. We had to create a budget for a church that currently has only ten adult members but hopes to, within the next year, have a youth ministry, a children's ministry and a church building! I definitely sent up a lot of prayers about that budget. We resisted presenting it to the team in the form of a budget Sunday and opted for last night's meeting instead. Hopefully we'll get the figures nailed down within the next week so we all know what we're working with. Especially since...
...the search for a building has begun! Actually, it's been going on for a couple of weeks. We've got several different realtors on the case and every major street in our neighborhoods has been scouted. We've got one property that looks good, but there's a lot of legal work to be done before we're ready to sign a contract, so we're cautiously optimistic. Fortunately, we have all seen God's hand provide for us repeatedly and know that even if He doesn't give us our first choice, He will give us just what we need. The process of getting to Brazil left us all with such confidence in the faithfulness of our God that we have no doubts that we will be in a building for our inaugural service on April 2.
Other than that, there's just a whole lot of running around going on right now. We're spending the next three days in training on our evangelistic Bible studies that Travis, Randy and Mary Virginia have written. We've got another wave of visitors coming, starting with Matt's parents, the Maberys, on Sunday. They'll be here for a week and will be followed by Georgia Freitas and Donna Millican in early December. Donna is a trustee for Continent of Great Cities and her husband, Don, is an elder at Park Plaza, the Parkers' sponsoring church. The Millicans graciously let us live with them for a couple of months last year when things were looking bleak, so we're looking forward to her visit. Finally, Russell's folks will be here in just over a month. His parents, brother and grandmother (Nana) will all be staying with us, so we're working hard to get our apartment ready for them. With all those visitors, it means that we, the Maberys and the Parkers are all making frequent trips to the store to buy paint, towels and whatever else we've been putting off buying. I can't wait though. Any family's visitor is a visitor for the whole team, especially parents. We were fortunate enough to get to know every team member's parents before leaving, so we look forward to seeing them again. Please keep all the travelers in your prayers.