Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Notes from Anaheim

1. It took us waaay too long to get here. We had several flying delays which extended our trip by 11 hours, then had to wait around LAX for four and a half more hours for my parents' (delayed) flight. Add some more amazing hours and you get a classic trip. But we all made it--Mom and Dad from Winnipeg, Joel and Susan from New Mexico, Dave and Liz from Washington. We wish Mike and Jacque and the girls were here!

2. Our vacation rental is great and just a 15 minute walk from Downtown Disney. Not too shabby! (Thanks Mom!)

3. I hurt my back last night when I bent over to pick up my screaming child. I don't know what I did to it but I'm sure a little time in the hot tub tonight will help!

4. We finally feel like we're on vacation. We never go on vacation. We usually tack our vacation time on to furlough so it just ends up feeling like more furlough. This is wonderful!

5. California is COLD! When we landed yesterday morning the pilot said it was 45. That may seem warm to you (and my parents) but we're coming from Brazilian summer. Salvador never even gets CLOSE to 45 in the winter!

6. I am quite proud of myself: I have been here for almost 36 hours and have only been to Target and Starbucks once.

7. It's awesome to get to meet my new sis-in-law, Liz. Welcome to the family!

Monday, December 07, 2009

One more post. Good thing, too, because my brain hurts!

But I have not posted pictures of Jackson in a long long time and I just wanted to take a minute to tell everyone what an AMAZING kid he is. I know you think your child/grandchild/niece/nephew/best friend's kid/whatever is cute and smart but Jackson's got them all beat. But I try not to let HIM know that so he can be humble, too.

English Class Christmas Party

Yet again we celebrated Christmas with our English students in the "North American style". I think this party could also be referred to as "Missionaries-Pig-Out-On-Christmas-Goodies Day". My tummy hurts! So it's hard to post this first picture.

(Truth be told, I didn't really eat that many goodies yesterday. It was more all the days leading up to the party when I was baking.)

The kids helped me decorate. They were really into it this year so we let them decide where to hang things.

We played a gift exchange game that almost ended in a catfight.

Well, not really, but there were tears and screaming (mostly kids, I promise!)

And of course a special visitor stopped by!

Some of the students from the beginner class with their wonderful and beloved teachers.

(Yes, Santa was one of my students.)

This year the party was a little bittersweet because we're not going to be able to offer English classes next year. My plate is going to be pretty full with the addition of the children's ministry responsibilities and my co-labourers in the English ministry, Heather and Travis, are both bailing on me. I pray that in the future we'll find a way to get this great outreach going again!

And next year we missionaries will have to come up with another excuse to do our holiday baking...

Lourdes' Baptism

Here are some pictures from Lourdes' baptism.

Lorena and Gustavo

Here I talked about Lorena and Gustavo's reception. Here are some of the pictures from it. The only problem is that I didn't manage to get a decent picture of the happy couple. So here's Lorena and Gustavo's reception minus Lorena and Gustavo:

We had a potluck lunch. Always tasty!

Some of the amazing servants that make days like this possible! We've started using glass plates for all our events which means the workload is greatly increased.

We've all of a sudden got a bunch of little girls at church! They're all just precious...most of the time!

Women's Conference

(You don't need me to tell you that I haven't been blogging very faithfully lately. Today I'm trying to play catch-up on a lot of things, including uploading pictures, so today I'll be posting a lot of pictures.)

A couple of weeks ago several of us went to the annual state-wide women's conference. Actually, there were women from several states.

There were about two hundred present. The organizing congregation went all out with the decorations.

The meals were especially excellent, with a huge breakfast spread and the hottest pepper sauce I've had in a while at lunch. It looked like it wasn't hot, more like pico de gallo, so I piled it on (I'm not a fan of hot stuff). Big mistake. I wanted to cry. But I dutifully finished my plate.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Quickly, an update-
Our new sister in Christ was baptized at high tide today on the beach in front of ICOS. Her name is Lourdes, and she has two small children. She has been a part of a small group for about two years, and it has been a struggle to give God control of her life! Her husband came to church with her for the first time, and her daughter Vanessa was so excited to hug her mother when she walked out of the waves. We are pumped...

Another friend, DL, who I wrote about last month has returned to Salvador. He was able to live with his brother in the second-largest city in our state and make enough money to pay off his crack dealer. To top it off, the same dealer surrendered his life to God in a local Four Square Gospel Church while he was gone! Some things take decades of prayer to change, but others only a few days. I look forward to more study times with Deraldo (see my note about DL in an earlier post).

Finally, pray for Jeni and Rizzi - I have been studying with them both. One is very close to telling her family about her plans to be baptized, and the other loves talking about Jesus on a weekly basis with me. Pray for them both in the two weeks before we leave for the US. Valerie taught her last English class today, and it was bittersweet. She loves all the students that she has met - over 200 just this year. However, there will be much more responseability placed on us in overseeing the children's ministry. We have many needs but we know who is making our list. Peace, guys and gals.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Last Thursday we enjoyed some family time on our day off. We're really bad about actually taking days off so it was nice to spend some time together and just relax. We went to the zoo but my camera battery died so I didn't really get any pictures. As soon as we get to the zoo, Jackson demands to see the lions. He grabs my chin and looks into my eyes and says, "Rawr?" (which is his word for lions. He refers to most animals by the sound they make until he decides to start calling them by their "real" names. So dogs are now dogs but cats are be-ows.)

On Friday, we had our next set of meetings to plan for next year. This one was a little better for me, though, because it's the guys that met all day and then different ministry leaders just had to come in to meet with them. This year Russ and I were responsible for the goal-setting for children's ministry since we're taking over the ministry in January. It sure is a lot of work for a ministry that we have not "officially" taken over yet! We're trying to get the curriculum mapped out for the next few months, plan VBS and figure out how to recruit and train some more volunteers. We're headed on our vacation in less than a month and when we get back we'll have the missionary conference so anything that needs to be ready in January needs to get done now.

On Saturday I got up early and headed to the annual city-wide women's conference. Russ was kind enough to take care of Jackson for the day so it was extra-enjoyable! It's always nice to get together with our sisters from the other congregations. We took several of our women with us (we all squeezed into Jenn's tiny car!) and everyone had a great time.

When I got home, it was my turn to hang with Jackson while Russ went to small group. Why has Jackson been home so much? Well, in the past two weeks or so, we have dealt with an ear infection, a cold and headlice. Yes, that's right! Good times, I tell ya! I'm not sure where he picked up the lice (though I have an idea or two) and fortunately we seem to have caught it early enough that we're not having much of a fight. I never had lice as a child so this has been a crash course for me! I find it a little funny, though, because in my Tuesday bible study I asked for everyone to pray that Jackson could catch a break healthwise. Apparently God said no.

Yesterday we decided to keep Jackson home one more day. It was a pretty full Sunday so we decided that I would stay home with Jackson during church and then Russ would trade out with me at lunchtime so I could go help with the potluck and reception we were having for one of our recently-married members. I used the extra time to make my food for the potluck (Mexican casserole and guacamole!) but was surprised when I heard a key in the door at about 11:00. (Church usually ends at about 12:00.) Russ was home early because he felt miserable. Fortunately this week one of our members was leading singing and another was preaching so Russ had no responsibilities in worship and was able to leave. I rushed around to finish getting ready and made it to church about five minutes before it ended. I don't know if it was the holiday weekend or the wedding reception or what, but we had an awesome turnout for worship and almost every single person stayed to eat. After lunch we celebrated Lorena and Gustavo's wedding. They got married a couple of months ago but it was in another city so none of us (except Mary) were able to be there for the wedding. We had a yummy cake and open mic time, which is always interesting but this time was actually pretty tame. After the reception, we had a devotional. Anailson, another Brazilian, brought us a message about prayer. You could tell that he was incredibly nervous but he did a great job. I was so thankful that I got to participate in even part of yesterday. On days like that the feeling of community in our congregation is amazing. I was glad that people like Lorena's husband, Gustavo, and her mom were there to experience what her church family is like.

This morning I got up early so I could put a turkey in the oven. Today we're celebrating Thanksgiving as a team. Matt and Mary Virginia are leaving for furlough in a couple of days and we wanted to be able to celebrate with them. (We're missing Travis and Alicia, who are in Ecuador right now but we'll celebrate Christmas with them!) Some people (including one that I happen to be married to) think it's silly that we're having Thanksgiving so early. No one seems to buy my argument that we're actually celebrating Thanksgiving a month late! (Actually, as an American-Canadian or Canadian-American, or half-breed or whatever you want to call me, I believe it is within my rights to celebrate Thanksgiving as many times I want on as whatever days I want.) So we're off to try not to ruin all the hard work we've been doing to lose weight. Maybe we can all work out after dinner. Or something like that...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

We need some prayers for our friend

Hello everybody- I had a tough conversation with our new friend, DL. He recently came back from rehab and was really getting involved with our church. I have never seen someone actually return from rehab and thank me for buying his bus ticket! He spent a morning with me at the city court to replace his ID so that he could return to work. His big sister was letting him live in her extra room above the house.

He called me after I returned from English class and asked to speak to me personally. I hope you can pray for him from this point in the story. He had gone with another member to hand out flyers for our church in the neighborhood, when two guys on bikes grabbed him and said his old drug dealer wanted to see him. He fled, and hid above his sisters house, but when she saw him she said that four men had threatened to kill him if they found him. We prayed with him, and offered to do whatever he thought he needed to be safe. After considering our offer to make a report to the police or at least stay with another family, he felt it best to leave town immediately; his brother lives a couple of hours away where he was in rehab. He looked like a man who had lost all hope. DL is a smart 46 year old who is trying to make a fresh start. I really hated sending him away, but none of us had space for him to stay more than one night. Please pray that he finds family in another city. We are praying that sometime soon (after his debts are paid) he can return. DL, we are praying for you and for your safety.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Strategy Review, Days 3 & 4

I didn't blog last night because we all headed out to dinner and it took us over ninety minutes to get a table (it would have taken even longer had a certain teammate not boldly approached the couple that had already paid and was taking up our future table and begged them to move on) so we didn't get home until ten-ish.

That's one reason anyway.

The other problem is that I'm not actually sure what to say about yesterday, or what led up to it.


Okay, I'm going to let you in on something you may or may not have already known: missionaries (and ministers, for that matter) don't always have it all together spiritually speaking. We get distracted, we lose our focus, we neglect our personal spiritual lives. It's really easy, since we're "professionals", to put all our time and effort into our work and convince ourselves that it's all for God and actually be quite far from him. We make decisions based on what we feel is best and don't stop to ask God. We get so caught up in the what that we lose the why.

As we talked about what has happened in the past year, we were frustrated. Things hadn't gone like we had hoped. We weren't seeing the results we expected. Several of us are exhausted by our workloads, especially on Sundays. We all knew that something had to give.

We made our list of what we feel God wants in 2010 and what kept coming to the top was that God wants us to seek Him. The more we talked about it, the more we realized that if we all seek God with all of our hearts, everything else will happen naturally. And if we, the missionaries, are not seeking God first and foremost, how can we expect that from our members or the people we're studying with?

I've got to pause here to say again how hard this is to share. In fact, in the course of this conversation, we discussed how tough it would be to share that we had not been measuring up spiritually. (I even specifically said that it would be hard to blog about!) But I realized that 1. It's the truth and we need to openly share our struggles to be able to conquer them, and 2. We are definitely not the first missionaries or ministers to have this struggle. So I'm sharing it with you. My prayer is that your response would be one of support and prayer as we try (as everyone ought) to truly make God Lord of our lives.

So put God #1. Easy peasy.

Oh, no wait. That's hard. But we're going to try to do it together. I won't go into all the details of how we're going to go about it, but it involves regular study, prayer, worship and accountability. Sounds like a good start, doesn't it?

That wasn't the end of our retreat, though, because we did have to get around to talking about some of our day to day ministry things. But the incredible thing was how quickly all that went once we were all unified in our desire to focus first on God. Conversations that we expected to take hours were had in ten minutes, incredibly tough decisions were made, prayers flowed freely.

This week's strategy retreat was unlike any we've had before. (To begin with, we had less people than ever!) Through our time together, through our conversations, our worship, our times of prayer, we reached a new level of unity. We had moments of discouragement but are now refreshed and renewed in our commitment to serve God and the people of Salvador. I thank God for what He did in our lives and our hearts this week!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Strategy Review, Day 2

So we continued the strategy review process today. We had a little housekeeping to take care of at the beginning of the day, talking about furlough schedules and other team-related stuff. One thing we talked about was our common desire to recruit new team members, whether interns or full-time. With Travis and Alicia leaving, we have some holes in our team, and while we know we will never replace them, we are still at a point in the life of our church when reinforcements would be welcome.

We also spent a while talking about Travis and Alicia's departure in April and Heather's in June (when her two-year internship ends). There's a lot to be worked out, from finding new ministry leaders to goodbye parties. It's tough to talk about all this stuff because it brings the reality of our teammates leaving to the front of our minds but we're thankful that we have this opportunity to plan and work through it together.

Since it was a tough morning, we took a good break for lunch and headed to our favorite churrascaria (favorite because it's cheap!). It was a little challenging for all of us because of our ongoing weight-loss competition (which is going very well, by the way!) but we all managed to control ourselves. Mostly. There are these really good homemade potato chips...

This afternoon we joined together for worship time. We've been meeting in the "party room" at our apartment building but this afternoon we gathered around the pool to enjoy the cool breeze. It was a welcome change of scenery!

Our final major conversation of the day was the start of building for next year. We all shared what God has put on our hearts about the coming year. We talked about personal realizations and, of course, stuff about the work. It was a time of vulnerability and openness and together we ran the gamut of emotions. But I think when we finished, we were united in purpose. It became clear where our focus needs to be and, more importantly, who we need to be.

So tomorrow it's down to the nitty gritty--we start brainstorming.

It's been interesting going through these meetings as the mother of a toddler. We've hired a babysitter to watch Jackson and we've been dealing with the a kid who's used to having a (mostly) stay-at-home mom be stuck with a sitter from 8-4. Good times! Not only that, but we used to come home from these strategy meetings, order a pizza and crash out for the evening. But Jackson seems to have other ideas, which is how we found ourselves at an animal fair tonight. It was totally worth it though--when he saw the geese and cows he flipped out. I would take him a million times to see that reaction!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Strategy Review, Day 1

I'm trying to get back in the habit of blogging more. It's hard to consider my daily life interesting to blog about most days but every so often I realize that my life is probably pretty different than many of yours. So today I thought I'd give you a glimpse into some of the not-so-glamorous missionary stuff.

Today we started our annual strategy review. Our strategy review has been an evolution. Before we moved to Salvador, we sat down as a team and wrote a strategy document. I can't remember exactly, but I think it was about 60 pages. Yeah, seriously. It talked about our big goals and dreams and some of the day to day stuff, too. It was intended to give us a starting place with our ministry but we knew going in that it would be a living, breathing document. So every year we sit down and re-examine what it is we're doing and what we hope to do. Does it sound exciting yet?

So today we started by looking at the past year and reflecting on what went well and what could have been better (or in some cases, flat out failed!). I should mention at this point that these retreats require a great deal of humility and very thick skin. (It has taken us years to get to the point that tears at these retreats are few and far between!) Then we considered our church's identity (a family of God) and our values (authenticity, healthy theology, growth and invitation). We asked ourselves, "How are we reflecting these? Are we effectively communicating them to the congregation? Are they sufficient or do we need to change them?"

Finally, we looked at the list of roles that we all currently hold. For each person on the team, we affirmed which jobs they have been doing well. After that, we expressed any hesitations that we may have about particular roles they have been filling. It sounds a little scary and it requires a great deal of trust (and as I said above, humility). But we start that time by first being confessional and admitting our own failings. It's rare that the team tells us anything that we don't already know--though sometimes we think we'd been "getting away with it" a little better than we actually were! From that conversation, we have a short list of some ministries that need to be re-examined and some roles that need to be filled by other people.

An essential element to the day is prayer and worship. We know that all of this is for God and is only possible through God. Taking the time to worship together unites us in purpose and reminds us that we are all here to serve our Lord.

So that was day one. As we get further into the retreat, we'll look closer at our focus and the ministries we have. We'll consider why the ministries exist and how they help us accomplish our goals. We'll brainstorm for new ways to reach out to the lost and to minister to God's family.

Strategy review is a tedious process. As I said, it's been an evolution. But we've found that as we have grown to trust each other more and experienced personal growth that it has become a time of necessary pruning and shaping. We all know that there will be tough conversations, times we don't get our way and moments of great frustration. We may have to give up ministries or roles that are important to us. But we believe it's all ultimately necessary to best serve God and use the resources that have been entrusted to us.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

We have our annual strategy review this week. Four days of meetings. Imagine my excitement. But really we have a lot to talk about this year with Travis and Alicia leaving so I know these meetings are important, even it if does mean leaving Jackson with a sitter for four days and dealing with his crankiness in the evenings.

Russ had an amazing trip to Sao Paulo other than the fact that he got sick and wasn't able to talk or sing. I'm so thankful he was able to participate in the conference. Thanks to Continent of Great Cities for taking such good care of us missionaries! And I was personally blessed to have Debbie (aka Grandma Q) here for the week to help with Jackson. I know that lots of people are single parents and many others deal with their husbands being away for deployments but this was a first for me and I was grateful that Debbie was able to take the time off to come down. We had a superfun week.

And now, just to make (some of) you smile, your dose of dorkiness for the day. It reminds me of a certain band tour top ten list!

Get Fuzzy

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


There's a lot swimming in my head right now (probably since it's been ten days since I last blogged!) and I'm trying to figure out where to start. I'll just throw everything at you and let you try to connect it all.

*Big news first: Last Sunday Travis and Alicia announced to the church that they will be leaving in April. Not only that, but they'll be taking their kids with them, much to the disappointment of many! They've reached the end of their commitment and they're ready to move on to another work. We're sad to see them go (my fellow Canadians!) but I know that God will use them to do great things wherever they are. And we still get a few more months with them, so I'm not going to start freaking out about it now!

*Since they're leaving it leaves some big holes in our work especially with the children's ministry and Russ and I have decided to take it on. We're really excited about it. We had the opportunity to do some work with children together when we interned in Nova Scotia so we know that the combination of my planning skills and his craziness really works!

*Poor Jackson can't catch a break. He's been fighting a cough for at least three weeks now and he's finally getting better. But now he's having some crazy skin problem that required a trip to the dermatologist this week (and some very expensive creams to put on it). And now we think he may have pinkeye. Blech. I have no doubt that if we lived in the US he would have had swine flu by now.

*R's mom Debbie arrives on Saturday morning! We're all super-excited to see her. Russ will only get a couple of days with her before he heads to a conference in São Paulo but Jackson and I will have a fun week of Grandma-time.

*Jackson and I are headed to see the Backyardigans Live on Saturday. This is our first such outing and I'm really jazzed about it. Well, not so much. I know that Jackson will think it's AMAZING and that's why I'm going. That boy has a serious thing for Uniqua.

*I hosted my English bible study this week and I discovered a yummy new recipe--Maple-Pecan Danish Coffee Cake. It's made with Bisquick, which we don't have here but I make my own baking mix with half whole wheat flour. And it calls for maple syrup, which we also don't have, but I did happen to have a bottle of Griffin's Butter Pecan syrup so I used that instead. It was absolutely delicious. HOWEVER, something happened overnight and it disintegrated so it was unservable. That left me with some very tasty scraps in the kitchen. Oops.

*While I'm sharing recipes, I can't forget this one: Pumpkin Spice Lattes IN THE CROCKPOT!! You see, not all of us can just run to Starbucks to grab some deliciousness whenever we want but we can make it at home! (I make it with artificial sweetener because of the whole weight-loss competition thing but it's still pretty good!)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Today was as always a full day. This morning we had several of our "long-lost" members in attendance, people who haven't be showing up lately. And we were thrilled to see one of our former members and his family, who we haven't seen since the move. Antonio is blind and it's just too hard for him to get out to our new location. It makes us sad, because they're wonderful people. Jackson fell asleep during the FIRST SONG at church today, which has never happened. He woke up about ten minutes after church ended. Then we ran to the mall with Heather to get a bite to eat. Heather and I tried a new salad restaurant. For those of you familiar with Brazil, you can imagine my excitement to get a "Tex Mex" wrap on a whole wheat tortilla with low fat Ranch dressing. After lunch we headed back to the church for English class. Today we had more sign-ups which brings our grand total of students for this term up to 71! Amazing! It seems to be an enthusiastic bunch and I look forward to getting to know them. After class, it was back home to make dinner and play with Jackson. Sundays are always full, always crazy and always a blessing.

Monday, September 14, 2009


I just wrote in an email "It's Monday morning and I already feel behind." and it couldn't be truer. I feel like I've got so much work to do, things that I've been putting off or had to put on the back burner while I tended to other things. The past month was a little chaotic for me because the hotel where we'd been planning on having the missionary conference backed out, leaving me to scramble to find a new one. Many prayers and price quotes later, we have a new place. But it meant my to-do list was completely thrown off for a few weeks.

So now there's today. There's a lot going on--yesterday we started a new term of English class. We had 40 students with no advertising whatsoever, just word of mouth, and I know there will be more next week. At this point we've done our basic course enough that our curriculum is set so the main work is administrative and getting to know our students. I pray that God will show us ways to enter into our students' lives.

Thinking about prayer, I need to ask you all to pray for Salvador. The city has been experiencing some violence and everyone is terrified (understandably!). Several buses have been set on fire, at times full of passengers, and several police stations have been attacked. No one from our church family has been a victim of the violence but some have been affected by it. And the whole city is scared. So please pray for an end to this violence. Pray for God's protection for His children and that all would come to know Him, which is the only true solution to our troubled world.


Monday, September 07, 2009

7 de Setembro

Today is Brazilian Independence Day. We decided to make it a weekend for the church family to be together. Yesterday after worship we had a potluck followed by a devotional.

Then today, about thirty of us headed to the beach. We had tables and umbrellas reserved and we sat and talked and ate and swam and chased kids. The weather was just perfect--not a cloud in the sky! Here are some pictures from today:

Here's Russ with our lunch--a big red fish, slightly battered and fried. Amazingly this was the smallest size available. We didn't mind too much, it gave us more to share.

Lucas and Cristina, two of our members.

Russ and Jackson flying a kite.

There were several chess matches. I would have never thought to play chess at the beach.

We rented this pool for the kids to play in. It kept us from having to chase the kids down every five minutes.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Washing the Dishes

When we first got married, we were both in college and we divided a lot of the household chores. We decided that I would cook and that Russ would clean up after dinner. I'm not the best housekeeper in the world and washing dishes is pretty low on my list. It was our system for over nine years. At times it was a bit of a challenge for me, since Russ wouldn't always do them in a timely manner, but he would eventually get the job done and I rarely had to touch a dish. When I did, I had a hard time not feeling a little resentful, though my problem was less with Russ than the task itself.

A couple of weeks ago we decided that in this season of our family life, the time had come for me to start doing the dishes. I wasn't thrilled about it and only suggested it because I knew it was the right thing to do for our family. And so for the past two weeks, I have faithfully done the dishes, leaving a clean sink at night and even treating our cleaning lady to a clean sink a time or two!

Yesterday as I stood washing the dishes for the umpteenth time that day (we had a potluck at church today so I spent yesterday cooking) I realized something. I didn't feel at all resentful. The once-hated task has become part of my routine and I do it without thinking about it.

So what's changed? For me, the "why" has changed. Now when I do the dishes, I'm doing them as part of my conscious choice to do what is necessary for my family. It's not a burden someone else put on me; it was my choice to take it on.

Hmmm...it seems to me that there's a word for what I did. It's a word that's often maligned and misinterpreted but I'm going to go ahead and use it anyway: submission. Are you still with me or are you cowering in fear of the s-word? When we choose to submit, it is an act of love and comes from a desire to do what is best. No resentment necessary!

Obviously, when the topic of submission comes up, most of our minds run to the subject of women in the church. But, as I was reminded yesterday as I scrubbed pots, we are given the opportunity to submit and transform our attitudes all day long. It's yet another way to follow the example of our Master.

Monday, August 31, 2009

This morning Jackson and I walked to the mall, a good 25 minute walk. It's not a particularly hot day but it's cloudy so it's just kind of steamy. When we got to the mall I let him out of the stroller to walk around a bit. He ran to a TV display in an electronics store. We stood watching for a minute. As I was standing there, I started experiencing a delayed sweat. I often don't sweat while I'm outside but instead once I get into the cool again my face starts sweating buckets. And that's what I was doing, in the middle of the mall. All of a sudden a Skate Canada commercial came on the TVs we were watching. It was the weirdest thing--sweating profusely while watching figure skating!

(Sorry for all of you who are disillusioned by my admission that I do, on occasion, sweat. I promise most of the time I just "glisten", as a proper lady should. But when you live in Brazil, sometimes you just can't help it!)

Yesterday was a bit of a break for me since we didn't have English class. It was, however, our monthly ladies' lunch and class. This month we had two of our members, Veronica and Jaciara teach, which would have been awesome except that Veronica is my number one lunch maker. I decided to make lunch this week to help her out. In the process of cutting up tomatoes for the beans, I sliced my finger open and now I have a bandaid on the tip of my finger which greatly interferes with my typing skills. I'm using my backspace key a lot today! Anyway, they did a wonderful job teaching--they were both really nervous--and it was one of those classes where everyone ends up crying, which for a ladies' class is usually a good sign!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Another Sermon Done

It was a slow start to worship service today, because a 10-K race turned around RIGHT IN FRONT of our building, so all the buses were locked in traffic until well after our normal start time. Still, there were over 2,000 race participants which was impressive.

I got to preach about service today; it went well. A sweet sister said it was the first message from me that she could completely understand! Happy language learning, i guess.

Finally- my son was in my arms when I dropped a juice box and it splattered across the white tile floor. Unprompted, he looked at the mess and said "dang." Way to go Okie! Maybe I should watch my mouth....

Friday, August 28, 2009

Seven Quick Takes

1. Jackson has been sick this week. Nothing serious, just a fever. The only way to keep him from running around the house is to plunk him in front of the TV. So it's been a couple days of Blue, Dora and the Backyardigans for us. Good times. He's feeling much better today. No TV!

2. The team weight loss competition is going well. Everyone has noticeably lost weight. Sadly, Russ and I have yet to place in the weekly top three losers but I'm glad to rejoice with those that do.

3. Speaking of that, this week I made this soup and I am madly in love. The flavors were really balanced and the pumpkin gave it a really smooth texture.

Since we can buy very little canned stuff here (a blessing, really!), I used dried black beans, homemade pumpkin puree, fresh diced tomatoes and homemade chicken stock. Maybe the recipe would have tasted different with all canned stuff.

4. We recently bought our tickets to go "home" for Christmas, except we're not going to Winnipeg. I'm only a little sad about that, because instead of freezing up in Canada, we're going to meet most of my family in Southern California to celebrate Dave's wedding. Not bad at all! Then we'll do a week with Russ' family in Oklahoma, with a day or two in Texas thrown in. It'll be a lot of travel for just two weeks but I can't wait!

I do have to say, though, that this trip is 95% about family. While we'd love to see all of our peeps, we want to focus on our families. We will, however, be taking a furlough a few months later and will be happy to visit with you then!

5. Sunday was the last English class of our ten-week course. We handed out about 30 certificates to people who had 80% or better attendance. Now we get a couple of weeks off and we'll start again!

6. The weekly English Bible study I attend started up again this week and I'm glad. I've really missed it. I've decided Jackson is too big to bring with me anymore, so figuring out what to do with him is a bit of a challenge. Too bad his grandmas don't live closer!

7. We went to the zoo last week. I've been meaning to do a separate post about it but just haven't gotten around to it so here's a few pictures:

(They're growling at a panther.)

The zoo was certainly the smallest I've ever been to and the habitats were certainly not very elaborate but it was free and Jackson loved it so I have a feeling we'll be going back often. And it is a BRUTAL walk (built into a huge hill) so it's awesome exercise, too (especially when pushing a stroller and wearing a backpack, not to mention carrying a toddler).

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pictures from Team Retreat

Okay, I promised pictures from our team retreat WEEKS ago, so here you go:

As usual, we played a lot of cards. Jackson is already learning some mad cribbage skills. He's not very good at Rook yet since we usually played after the kids were all in bed. Oh, and we also played a ton of Ticket to Ride.

The beach, the beach, the beach!

This is Joelia and Nadir. I love them. They were our babysitters for the retreat and having them made such a difference. They went for a walk with Kelton and they found the Hugest Coconut Ever. But the coconut water from a fruit like that isn't very tasty. You want a little one that will be nice and sweet. But it was crazy to see!

Joelia and Nadir were amazing with the kids and gave us a chance to catch our breath.

With this many kids around, we tended to eat in shifts. Here's Jackson and Samuel. You can see the different in their personalities here!

As the kids get bigger, we're starting some new traditions. We had a team talent show (I'm going to spare us all the embarrassment of posting pictures of the actual "talents"). Kelton was our excellent MC.

And we followed up the talent show with a game of Ring Around the Rosie.

Finally, I think the kids' favorite time was when we got out the parachute. (Okay, maybe the grownups enjoyed it a little, too!)

Friday, August 07, 2009

7 Quick Takes

A blog I enjoy reading has a regular Friday activity: Just post seven short items, they don't have to be connected at all. I feel the call to blog but don't have anything major to say, so I thought it would be a good day to try it. Here we go!

1. The chicken fajitas were pretty good. The cilantro-lime coleslaw was AMAZING. Even Russ loved it, and he's not a coleslaw eater. The rest of the week's menu ended up less than exciting though I did make beans in a pressure cooker for the first time and was quite pleased with the result. (We are going to have to get our stove fixed before I can use the pressure cooker again. The heat is just too high.) So many of our meals were centered around the beans I made. We had fajita "bowls", then I refried the leftovers so we could have them for another meal.

2. Next week we're spending the week with Jerry and Lynn Jones. They're going to present their marriage seminar to us and then help us learn how to teach it. It's an amazing opportunity and something that can potentially become a great way to help families here in Salvador.

3. Yesterday I was incredibly frustrated when someone I've been trying to do business with essentially flaked out on me. It was a major disappointment because it's to do with something really big. At times like this, it's hard to keep from getting angry and doing or saying things I will later regret. The world tells us that we have every right to be mad and vent. But I've got to keep a cool head and just move on.

4. Jackson has a major Cheerio addiction right now. He calls them "rice", which is a little confusing, because he also calls rice "rice". I don't know why he started doing that. I keep the Cheerios in a big glass jar that used to have rice in it and in fact says "RICE" in big letters on the side. So it was a little weird when he started doing it but I am under no illusions that he's taught himself to read at 17 months.

5. Speaking of Jackson and his vocabulary, watching him develop is awe-inspiring. Yesterday's word of the day was "baseball". It's now what he calls the Wii when he wants to play. He watched Kelton and some of the daddies playing in real life on our team retreat and now the video game seems too make more sense to him. He used to just swing indiscriminately but now he waits for the pitch and then swings. Yes, this generation is differrent.

6. I am really struggling to keep my church work part time. The challenge for me is that much of my work is done on the computer so it's always available for me to work on. When Jackson and I are home, it's tempting to sit and work while he plays (or watches Backyardigans).

7. I'm making cinnamon raisin quinoa to go with lunch. Yum.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A Fun Idea

I just sent this email out to many of our supporting churches. Then I was thinking about it and realized that there are lots of people who might be interested in this who aren't connected with our main supporting churches. So why don't you give this a look and prayerfully consider it!

Hello dear friends of Salvador,

Our team is looking at hosting a supporting friends and church campaign next summer. This campaign is for all of our friends, family and supporters who are interested in serving the church here in Salvador. The idea is to combine the efforts of individuals, families and smaller groups from churches into one larger, more effective campaign. Our team receives lots of visitors each year who love us and love the church here. We feel that to combine the efforts of the individual visits would utilize those who come to serve in ways that are most useful to the church here in Salvador. You could come and serve with others from the US and Canada in a way that would leave a lasting effect on your Brazilian brothers and sisters.

Dates: JULY 5-13, 2010 (not including travel days)

Costs: Your costs would include your plane tickets, food, lodging, and transportation

What will the campaign do?: This campaign will focus on evangelistic outreach to our neighborhood, physical labor working on our church building and homes of our members, and a special event reaching out to families.

What we need right now from you: Right now we need to find out if there is enough interest from our supporters to host this campaign and start working on the myriad of details.

If you are interested in coming for this week of service next summer we need to know ASAP. Your response is not a commitment but will let us know if we should go ahead with this campaign. We would also like to know your level of interest, from “That would be fun, maybe”, to “I think we might really like to do that”, to “Sign me up, I’m coming!” So if this is of interest to you please respond back to me (porter AT missionsalvador DOT com) or to the missionary family you support.

We know that the Salvador mission team has a great cloud of witnesses praying for us. As a team we would like to thank you for all that you do to keep us here on field serving the Lord in this way. We would love for you to come and see first hand what God is doing here in this marvelous city and take part in His work.

In Him,

Jennifer Porter

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


Our team has decided to have a showdown of sorts. We're all needing to shed some pounds so we've having a biggest loser-style competition. Everyone is getting into the competitive spirit. We started on Sunday and will go until American Thanksgiving.

I'm trying to cook good food for our family and I have a bit of an addiction to food blogs. Throughout the next couple of months, I'm probably going to be posting links to many of the recipes we try, not so that this blog becomes a food blog, but to share the yummy stuff we eat and also so I can keep track of all the stuff I've made.

Like for breakfast this morning, we ate baked oatmeal. It was crazy delish. Jackson is absolutely nuts for anything with dried fruit in it.

Tonight we're having crockpot chicken fajitas with a spicy cilantro-lime coleslaw (I've already had a few bites of the latter and it's AMAZING!)

Anyway, I'm sharing our challenge with you all so you're not all of a sudden confused by all the recipes I'm posting and, more importantly, to add even more accountability. It's one thing to try to lose weight; it's another to do it and actually TELL people about it. It drives me to succeed even more!

p.s. We're not just eating better, we're working out, too, which is why my abs are killing me and I have HUGE blisters on my heels.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Recipe for a Team Retreat

2 babysitters
6 miscellaneous pool "floaties"
1 big green lawn, suitable for running around
3 days worth of awesome food (including this and this
Rook cards and Ticket to Ride
2 hammocks
10 lbs of junk food
1 broken toe
trips to the beach, as needed

Combine all in a big house. Garnish with a silly talent show, bubble-blowing and a giant parachute.

Pics to come.

Monday, July 20, 2009

VBS Night Five

Night Five was all about our relationship to God's creation.

Here's Diana cutting out an egg carton flower

in the class she and big sis Piedade taught about recycling.

Here are Heather and Ana Paula

and Ana Paula helping the kids do leaf rubbings.

Finally, there was Cintia (or the back of her head, anyway!)

and her mom Cristina, who talked about plants and helped the kids plant their own seeds.

At the end of the evening we had a slideshow with pictures from the week, which we showed again yesterday during church. We also took time to recognize everyone who had helped out during the week--about 25 people, which for a congregation our size is huge! Thanks again to Heather and Alicia for all their hard work and to everyone who joined us in prayer!

Saturday, July 18, 2009


I still haven't uploaded any pictures from the last night of VBS. It was our biggest night yet and the kids got to show their work off to their parents.

Oh, but that's not why I'm blogging.

I wanted to say that yesterday, my mind was MILES away. 6592.8 miles to be exact.

This was happening:

That's my "baby" brother, Dave and his new wife, Liz. (Liz is the one in the white dress.) And that's my dad behind them.

Dave and Liz met while touring with the African Children's Choir, though they are neither African nor children. They've been off the road for a few months and now they've started out on a new road together. Metaphorically speaking, anyway. They will be living in Washington.

So that's where my mind was. I wish I could have been there but it just didn't work out for us to get up there in time for the wedding. Sigh. But I'm sure my parents, grandmother and sister did a good job representing the Turner side.

So, Dave and Liz, congratulations! When are you coming to Brazil?

Friday, July 17, 2009

VBS Night Four

I still don't have pictures from night three. I'll post some when I do.

Last night was about our response to God's creation.

Jenn taught a class about praise.

Heather's class was about people in different countries. Specifically she talked about a far away land called "Texas". She made strange food (Ranch dip) for the kids to try.

There were a bunch of letters from kids just like them that live in that exotic land.

In another class they talked about love.
These three, Andreia, Ana Paula and Viviane, threw glitter in everyone's hair and told us we were blessed. I'm glad I'm not the one who had to clean up that classroom!

There was an enormous bowl of Jello for snack time.

And I have to mention that Heather has been doing a great job with the singing.
See? She's got joy like a fountain!

Tonight is the last night and the kids will be doing a special presentation for their parents. Please pray that we will be able to follow up on the relationships built this week!