Friday, August 29, 2008


Today we took Ceara back to her parents. We had a fun couple of days with her but it was nice to take her back. Having two under two was a bit much for me, especially the diaper part.

Today we did a little more of our pre-furlough shopping. Loaded up on coffee (to take with us) and dog food (to leave for Samson).

Today we got hit by a 20-foot sign that flew off the back of a truck. Thankfully Russ was paying attention and managed to swerve, avoiding us getting totally clobbered by it. It did take out one of our mirrors and left a big scratch on the side of the car. I was not paying attention and it hit the side right beside me. It definitely shook me up a little. But then we laughed and laughed at the absurdity of it.

Today I keep trying to finish my lesson for the women's class on Sunday and it just doesn't seem to be happening. Maybe I should do that instead of blogging!

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Jackson has a new friend! Last night Travis and Alicia's new baby BOY, Calen Xavier, was born. We're taking care of Ceara while they're in the hospital so today we took her up to meet her new brother.

She wasn't quite sure what to think at first but soon she was fascinated by him.

Now there are six kids on the team; four of them born within the past year or so. It's a whole new world!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

getting around to it

Sleeping baby in lap.

Typing with my right hand.

Feel incredibly guilty about not posting recently.

Apparently unable to use pronouns.

What we've been up to:
  • Inaguration of new building--about 80 people--cake, ice cream, good time
  • Took JT to a birthday party. Another one tonight

  • Team strategy review--two days reflecting on what we've done and need to do next
  • We've been having 25-30 people in my English class on Sundays
  • Furlough is almost here--less than two weeks--so much to do
  • Alicia is going to have a baby any day now

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Point Five

Oh, this kid.

Today Jackson is six months old. He's changed so much; it's hard to remember back to when he was this kid:

I remember wondering in those first couple of weeks how I was going to make it to six months. Six months was a far-off oasis--the promise of rest and a simpler life where I wouldn't constantly be worried about keeping this fragile newborn alive. Sometimes when things were tough, I divided the year into chunks: "We've made it one month--we just have to do that eleven more times and he'll be a year old!"

And now we're halfway there and I wonder where the time has gone. I now know that I'm always going to worry about him, only now instead of jaundice and his developing immune system I worry about all the ways he can get hurt interacting with the world around him. (He's not crawling yet but between scooting backward and running around in his walker, he finds all kinds of trouble to get into!) But the worry feels different now. When I take a minute to sit back and reflect on God's faithfulness to us, I am reminded that he's in good hands. Jackson's survival is not exclusively up to us. That's a big load off.

It's a good thing, too, because as we're discovering who JT is, it's become obvious that we're going to have our hands full.

Speaking of full hands, he just woke up. The Sunday rush has begun. But I had to say, "HAPPY POINT FIVE, JT!"

Friday, August 15, 2008

Check Him Out!

JT is getting so big. Check out his latest feat!

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Sunday, August 10, 2008


Everyone, meet Leandro.

Leandro is a pretty cool guy. Today he became even cooler.

Because he did this:

Leandro has several relatives that are members of our church and he's been connected with us for a while through one of our small groups. A couple of months ago, he decided he needed to start studying the Bible so Travis started studying with him. Then while the gang from Auburn was here he was at the church constantly, hanging out with them and helping out any way he could, even though he speaks very little English and they spoke no Portuguese. It gave us all a chance to get to know him better. Last week he called Travis and told him he was ready to be baptized. Today the church gathered at the beach to watch him put on Christ.

It's a big decision for anyone. For a guy like Leandro, it's huge. He knows what the world offers. He knows what he's giving up. He doesn't have the support of his immediate family (his mom is a Jehovah's Witness). I ask you to thank God for helping Leandro make this decision. Please join us in prayer for his new life as a Christian. Pray that he can be strong in his faith and that we will be the Christian family he needs.
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Saturday, August 09, 2008

A New Challenge

For the past couple of months I've been battling a skin problem. I've made several trips to the dermatalogist to try to figure it out. I've been given different creams to try that have made it go away for a little bit but it always comes back. Last week I did allergy testing but it didn't reveal the source of the problem. So, it's back to experimentation.

This time, though, there's a difference. Instead of just a cream, I have some strict orders: no harsh soaps or chemicals and no makeup. Yup, that's right--no makeup. FOR TWO WEEKS!!

Some of you read that and shrugged. No big deal. But others of you probably winced.

I'm definitely in the second camp. I like to believe I wear "just enough" makeup--enough to roughly cover my flaws and call attention to the good parts. My makeup routine takes all of three minutes. When rushed, I will just throw on some eye makeup and lipstick and run out the door. If I'm dressing up, I might spend a whole five minutes on my face.

But I rarely leave the house completely bare.

So the next couple of weeks are going to be an interesting challenge for me. I will be showing the world 100% unfiltered Val. It's no big deal in my day-to-day life--hanging out at home with JT or meeting with teammates. But then I think about the big things--like our big Open House next Sunday--and I start to squirm.

I don't think of myself as a vain person but the fact that I'm so uncomfortable is making me even more uncomfortable. And I'm taking my discomfort as a sign that I need to do a little self-examination. Why am I so concerned with what everyone else will see? Why do I feel the need to cover my flaws and draw attention to the parts I think are good? Why does what's on the outside matter?

I haven't yet answered these questions. If I figure it out, I'll likely share it with you. (Unless it's intensely personal and then I might not.)

In other news, in one month from today we will be in Oklahoma. I am definitely ready for furlough.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Survey Sunday


Our invasion of Boca do Rio (the new neighborhood) continues! Yesterday was another free lunch and almost 100 people showed up! Today we sent out teams to survey the neighborhood. They asked people about their religious affiliation and, more importantly, what a church can do to best minister to this neighborhood. Travis has been preaching a series on the lessons we can learn from the book of Joshua and the church is excited to "conquer" our new neighborhood in God's name. So, for example, this week's survey was like sending spies out. Next week we'll spend time reflecting as a church on the time we spent in prayer and fasting. Everything is gearing up to our big grand opening of the new building in two weeks. Keep us in your prayers as we seek God's will for us in this new neighborhood.
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Sniff sniff

The "kids" go home tomorrow. It has been great having them here. They have brought so much life to everything and I've been so proud of them for connecting with their students in so many ways.

Those connections were evident last night. A couple of weeks ago at one of the weekly parties, a couple of the students came up to me and said they wanted to plan a surprise goodbye party for them. They said they'd handle all the planning--we just had to show up and bring a little food. It was an offer we couldn't refuse. We left the party in the hands of the students and they did a great job. When we showed up yesterday, the building was decorated, there was a table full of food and there was a whole evening of activities planned. First on the agenda was getting a little revenge for all the games the Auburn crew had made their students play. They painted their faces, made them sing the Brazilian anthem and gave them quizzes about Brazil. After that there were speeches and performances. It was a lot of fun and an excellent testament to how they touched the lives of so many people here.

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Friday, August 01, 2008


The playdate the other day seems to have worked! Jackson is getting the hang of playing with other kids. Just look as he demonstrates what he's learned from the "big kids" on poor Samuel.

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But look at that angelic face! Surely he didn't mean it!