Thursday, December 22, 2005

Sorry, Folks!

If you're coming looking for updates you'll have to wait a few days. Russell's family is visiting and I'd rather spend my time with them instead of updating the blog. I'll add some pictures to Flickr as I get the chance so you can see what we're doing, but you'll have to wait for the narrative.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Yesterday the owner of the building we have been looking at accepted our (rather low) offer. The walkthrough will be done next Monday. We will be signing the contract on January 2. In a nutshell, WE HAVE A CHURCH BUILDING!!!

In a couple of weeks I'll post some pictures of the space. Until then, just know the following:

-it's bigger than we could have possibly dreamed
-it has space for worship, classes and offices
-it's already outfitted with awesome bathrooms
-we have great landlords who are very supportive
-it's across the street from the beach
-it's located on Rua Espirito Santo (technically named after a Brazilian state, but literally means Holy Spirit Street!)

This building is an answer to prayer. We did not think this building was even a possibility but God has cleared every obstacle in our way. We praise Him for providing so abundantly! Please keep praying until the contract is officially signed. But mostly, we invite you to rejoice with us. Our visions of our inaugural service and the future church are becoming clearer and clearer now that we know where we'll be meeting.

Thinking of that, we have our first small group meeting tomorrow night. It's thrilling to be launching that ministry. With God's help, we will already have a great core group of believers when we officially open the doors of the building on April 2.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Shopping Spree

For those of you keeping score, the air conditioner count has doubled to two. We are frantically preparing for the Quireys' arrival next Monday. And while the weather in Blackwell can be "nice" at this time of year, their bodies will not be ready for our summertime. So today Russell and I headed out to do a little shopping. We're finally doing all the shopping that we should have done when we first arrived. We bought the least we could get away with, and while the two of us can get by with only two bath towels, having four houseguests forces us to actually buy more.

So we went to the electronics store and picked up a couple of air conditioners. After all the problems we had getting the first one installed, we had carefully measured the holes. It made shopping really easy because the small dimensions of our holes ruled out almost every AC in the store! Confirming that they were a good price, we ordered two of them. Fortunately they had them in stock so we were able to bring them home today.

Next we crossed the street to the hipermercado (the closest thing I can compare it to is SuperWalmart). We grabbed pillows, towels, bedding and all kinds of odds and ends to make our place more liveable. As I paid the cashier, I remember why it was that we hadn't yet bought all this stuff. It adds up!

Late this afternoon, Russ opened up the hole in the wall to install our air conditioner. And it was done! It's a funny feeling--everything else we've done has taken so much time. I was glad, though, because I've got quite enough on my plate this week. We'll install the other AC soon, but we have to figure out how to take the glass out of the window. (Russ didn't accept my offer to open it with the hammer and chisel like he did the wall.)

Tomorrow may be an adventure. I'm borrowing Keith and Stacey's maid for the day to help get the apartment ready. Most families on the team have maids but Russ and I have decided we'll wait to get one. But we've enjoyed our friends' stories of all the miscommunications they've had with their maids. Hopefully tomorrow will go smoothly, but I know the potential exists for some great stories. (Should anything worth telling about happen, you guys will be the first to know.)

In other news, tomorrow Matt and Mary Virginia are headed to Recife to get some visa problems resolved. It's a silly problem, but it's got to be handled. Please pray that everything goes well for them, that the government officials have open minds and open hearts, and for safety in their travels.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Christmas Party

Originally uploaded by russandval.
Last night we celebrated Christmas as a team. As we looked at the month of December, we realized that we only had a small window of opportunity in our flood of visitors to share the holiday as a family. And we wanted to leave every family free to do what they wanted for the holiday itself, celebrating or creating their own traditions. But one evening wasn't enough to do everything we wanted. So the idea of the Christmas sleepover was born.

First on the agenda was Christmas dinner. Everyone contributed to the feast. We had turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, corn, rolls, and, courtesy of Alicia, perogies and (fake) sour cream. Delicious.

After dinner, we gathered in the living room. Mary's family always reads a poem that her dad wrote, so we passed it around the room and all took turns. Then Matt and Randy read the real story of Christmas and Keith led us in some carols.

We took a break to clean up the kitchen, eat dessert (pecan pie, pumpkin pie, shortbread cookies, molasses cookies and my pictured gingerbread cookie tree) and then reconvened to play Dirty Santa. We had a White Elephant theme this year, so the gifts were pretty funny. Russ and I walked away with a cell phone car adaptor and some Avon aftershave and body powder. Even still, we did better that some people, but, to protect the not-so-innocent, I won't go into detail. (Nothing really bad, I promise--there were kids playing with us!)

The rest of the evening we just visited, watched Elf and A Christmas Story and ate. And ate. I have no idea when the last person went to bed, but it was some time after 3 AM, I believe.

This morning we got up and ate a big breakfast. Then it was time for the real gift exchange. We let all the kids open their presents first (they'd been dying to all night!). Then we revealed our secret pals. I used the opportunity to re-gift my new aftershave lotion, throwing it in the bag of presents I was giving Travis.

Russ and I headed home at around 1:30 PM. Everyone else was still going strong but we were tired. Guess we're getting old. But we were glad to have this chance to start a new team tradition and to celebrate with each other. I can't imagine how hard it must be for missionaries who don't have teammates to help them through the holidays!


While we were opening gifts this morning, we received a call from the owner of the building we are trying to rent for our church building. A meeting has been set up on Tuesday for what could possibly be our final round of negociations. Please pray that everything goes well and that we can get this building nailed down soon. I haven't said much about it on this blog, but it is a wonderful facility and would be an excellent tool in our work.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Bean Supper

Bean Supper
Originally uploaded by russandval.
(It took me a while to get around to posting this, my apologies.)

When we were at Mayfair, in Oklahoma City, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving was a church-wide bean supper. The food was made and served by the men. Really, it was served by a handful of men in particular, who had started this tradition many years earlier and continued.

We didn't have Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving day (since we'd had it on our team retreat and since Russ and I represent two different countries that can't agree on a date for the holiday) but Stacey and I decided we needed to have a bean supper. We spared Russ and Keith from having to cook the food themselves, so we prepared the beans and cornbread. The way our schedule ended up, the bean supper was sandwiched between a team meeting and Brock's birthday party so the entire team joined us for the meal. It was a little way to feel united with our old church family.

One bittersweet note: as we we getting ready to eat, Keith received an email that one of the men that was responsible for the bean supper when we were at Mayfair, Bill McIntosh, had passed away that morning. Bill was an incredible servant of God and had been a huge supporter of missions. He and his wife Bonnie were so encouraging of all our endeavors, from the college Mexico trip to Russell's first trip to Brazil with Basil to our plans to move here. We are grateful that God blessed him with such a long life so we could know Bill, and Bonnie remains in our prayers.