Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas In Brazil

The school kids are on vacation and the kites are flying. The bananas and mangos are ripening. The big neighborhood lizard is sunning himself in our front yard. Yes, it's Christmastime in Brazil! We have longings for friends and family back home and we miss you all. But the joy of the Person of Christmas, Jesus Christ, transcends all distances, cultures, nations, and time. We are glad because of HIM! Here are some Christmas pictures we thought you'd enjoy.

This is our second banana harvest from our small group of trees. This bunch of bananas is different than our first harvest because they are from a different tree. They are called apple bananas because their taste is similar to that of an apple and they are smaller. Next, is a giant lighted Christmas tree in an enormous park in Sao Paulo. It is as tall as some high-rise apartment buildings and plays Christmas carols from speakers inside. Next, Melissa, five months pregnant, is standing in a rose garden. Our colleagues took us to a place that grows and sells flowers about 30 minutes from our house called Roselandia. Next, the girls are having fun on the front porch on Myla's birthday.

Friday, November 2, 2007

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

The weather has been in the 80's and 90's this week with rain showers at night that cool it down nicely. It seems so strange with all the sun and heat, having come from Michigan, to see Christmas trees and decorations popping up in some local stores. Church picnics in mid-November are a novelty to us too. Equally new and exciting is to sit at my desk, look out the window and see small monkeys playing on the telephone wires and many varieties of hummingbirds enjoying the spring flowers. What a great Creator! Pray that as we labor here the people of Brazil would recognize His worth and find salvation in Him.

Some Family Prayer Requests:
1. Please continue to pray for Melissa's pregnancy. We glorify the Lord that the minor complications that she was having at one point have cleared up completely.
2. Please continue to pray for the girl's adjustment to their new culture and language. Myla is really starting to catch on and speak Portuguese (and correct our Portuguese) in our home. She usually won't acknowledge people who talk to her outside our house though. Ellie responds better to people who talk to her in Portuguese and there is a mutual love between her and our Brazilian friends. Her red hair and fair skin are a novelty here.
3. Please continue to pray for our language training. Next week we begin our second 12 week trimester.
PICTURES! I think if you click on them they can get bigger.

Our front yard has a row of tall beautiful bamboo that Melissa and the girls are standing in front of. Also, the homeowner planted many exotic flowers and plants in the yard. (Right) Our language school took a field trip to the Sao Paulo Zoo for a language/cultural experience. They invited the families of the students. Myla and Ellie thoroughly loved it! Except that Ellie, we think, got into a swarm of biting gnats that left her face covered in red dots making her look like she had chicken pox. They have since healed.

These kids at the zoo were by themselves and they thought it'd be fun to get in a picture with a foreigner.

The young man in the blue with the tie is the son the of the Pastor of the church we attend, his fiance is on the left, and her parents are on the right. Caiu (I think he resembles Tiger Woods) and Elaine plan to get married on December 8th. People usually stay in the youth group until they get married here, so it we'll be sad to lose him from the youth group. They asked me to play trombone in their wedding so I'll have to start practicing and get the rust off!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Happy Spring!

This past Sunday was the first day of spring here in Brazil. The new season brings with it new joys, new goals, new challenges, but, thank God, always new mercy (Lam. 3:22,23). We're amazed at God's grace to allow us to be here and serve in this capacity.

I usually post a blog when I send out a letter so that people who can't get picture attachments or have slow connections could see some pictures. But certain people (read grandparents) have requested to see some more pictures so I'm posting this blog early. We also have some prayer requests that we'd like you to remember.

1. Please continue to pray for our language training. We've finished seven weeks and are now attending a Brazilian church and working with a Brazilian pastor who has told the congregation NEVER to use English with us! We know this will help immensely.

2. Please pray for the salvation of our friend Marcello that we met on the train.

3. Pray for Melissa. She's 4 months pregnant with our baby boy.

Now some pictures:

Here's Melissa waiting with the crowd for the afternoon train and having a little salgado (salty snack). Remember... she's pregnant! If you want an experience in cultural immersion, just ride the train for a couple of hours every day like we do. In seven weeks we've seen people jump in the small train windows to avoid the toll. We've seen children and adults illegally selling almost any kind of item imaginable on the train from ice cream, to cookbooks, to gum, to toothbrushes. It's a hard life having to constantly look over your shoulder to avoid being caught by the many plainclothes and uniformed officers. Every day, people in desperate situations are begging for money. There are children, the elderly, people without legs who wear thick gloves on their hands, people who can't speak, can't hear, can't see, and one with an grisly open wound that covered a large portion of his leg and caused him to limp. Jesus had compassion on the multitudes and I believe the Lord uses these things to graphically illustrate his heartbeat for urban missions to us each day. Oh, that we will not grow calloused.

This is our Portuguese language class. On the left is our excellent Brazilian teacher Liliana. Next is Norie from Japan. Her parents are missionaries with the Presbyterian church and she works for a travel agency for Japanese living in Brazil. Next is Juninho. He's from Korea and training here in Brazil to be a soccer coach. Next is Shin. He's also from Korea and recovering from cancer. His family is back home in Korea. Guess who the lovely, studious lady on the right is?

The blog would not be complete without a picture of the girls participating in their favorite pastime.

Friday, August 10, 2007

By God's Grace We're In Brazil - And We Love It!

On May 18th, after some airline delays because of weather and missed connections, we arrived safely in the Sao Paulo airport (not the one with the recent disastrous crash). Next week we will have been here three months. There have been times when I've woken up in the morning and I'm overwhelmed by the thought that God in His grace called us to Brazil and brought us here in direct answer to so many people's prayers. God is alive and able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. Our time here has not been without its trials, but in every trial that God has brought us through, He's shown Himself real and helped us learn in the process. And in a new culture surrounded by the totally unfamiliar and feeling helpless at times, probably the biggest thing we've been reminded of is our complete dependence on God.
We enjoy it here and we've had a fun time laughing at how ridiculous we must look as we try to plunge ourselves into our new culture. Thankfully we started language school two weeks ago, but here are a few examples of cross-cultural situations that we face daily.
You know you are in a new culture when:
-You find yourself nearly getting into a car accident on the highway because for just an instant you forgot that motorcyclists don't use lanes, they just drive between cars on the dotted line.
- You find yourself holding up the line at busy supermarket because the cashier is asking you a question in a foreign language and you can't guess what she could possibly be asking because you've already paid for and bagged your groceries. Then, you find out she was just asking if you'd like a piece of candy in lieu of change because she didn't have the correct change in her register (apparently a common practice).
-You wonder if the South American breed of opossum that is stalking your house is rabid because all your attempts at ridding yourself of him only make him more boldly eat your garbage and lick your grill with what appears to be a smirk on his face.
- You are the only Americans in a class composed of Japanese and Korean students in a Portuguese language school and you don't understand their language and they don't understand yours, yet you try to communicate in a language that is foreign to everybody.

These are a few of our daily adventures as we learn. Definitely, we need your prayers.

PRAY- For opportunities to minister in creative ways since we cannot fully communicate yet.
PRAY- For safety in travel and for quick language acquisition.
PRAY- For our walk with the Lord under the strains of adjusting to our new home.

We also have had many requests for pictures (grandparents take note). Here's a few that I thought you'd like. They are of our church neighborhood, two kids from our church VBS, and Myla, Elaina, and Pamela their Brazilian babysitter who watches the girls while we are in school.

Friday, May 11, 2007

To Brazil!

On Tuesday, May 15, we’re scheduled to board a plane in Lansing, MI, at 8:20 p.m. and arrive in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Wednesday. This is the culmination of many answered prayers (concerning packing, shipping, plane tickets, visas, travel, sharing our burden for Brazil, and open doors to minister.) We thank all of our friends for the support that you have shown us since we started on our deputation ministry. We give the Lord the glory for all that He has accomplished- "Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it."

Now more than ever we need your prayers.

PRAY for traveling mercies on our long flight Tuesday & arrival in Brazil on Wednesday.
PRAY for our family transition into a new culture and for our language studies. (Myla already knows Portuguese. She’ll make up a word and insist, “That’s Portuguese!”)
PRAY that we’ll have a close with the Lord & be sensitive to ministry opportunities.