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Saturday, December 29, 2007

The greatest gift of all. . .














It's six pm and the thermometer in my room, where I normally work, reads 90 degrees. No wonder I've been so miserably hot these past few days, not sleeping, and moving slower than a sloth. Somehow I managed to spend a couple hours ironing, finish my word count for the week, study my Portuguese, and straighten Mariah's hair. I'd take a nap if I could, but it's simply too hot.

Okay, enough of the negative.

This Christmas I received one of the most special gifts to date. A book, written by my daughter. It's entitled "The Little Boy Who Enjoyed Christmas" and she wrote it for me because she knows how much I love books.

This particular book, has just hit number one on my list, because it was a book, straight from her heart. And one that tells me just how much she loves me.

I'm writing another book right now, and it's spiritual theme has been a constant reminder to me of another gift. While Christmas might be a time to rememeber Christ's birth, the reason for His coming to earth was to ransom each one of us from death.

“And they sang a new song with these words: “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” Revelation 5:9 NLT

From every tribe. Every language. Every people. And every nation.

That's how much He loves us.

Blessings,

Lisa

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Twas the night before Christmas. . .


'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house the occupants were sweating including the mouse.

The stockings were hung by the floor fan with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children had thrown off the sheets from their beds, while visions of mangos danced in their heads.

And mamma in her tank top and I in my shorts, had just settled down for a long summer night. When out on the street there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

To the open window I flew like a flash, and searched the horizon for signs of a crash. The sky was filled with red, yellow, and blue, as rounds of fireworks exploded till two.

It might be December, without snow and icicles, but for us it’s summer, time for swimming and bicycles.

Happy Holidays!







Saturday, December 22, 2007

School's out!



After six weeks of grueling language study, I’ve made it to the intermediate level just in time for a much needed two week break from classes. These two weeks, though, won’t be work free. I have lots of studying to do before going back, mainly learning vocabulary and verb conjugation.

I’ve also been instructed by my teacher to watch as much television as I can. Strange homework, isn’t it? But I’ve found that it really does help. The more I listen to the language, the faster I learn.

Before I share a story about Scott, I have to brag a bit on him. His Portuguese has exploded in the past few weeks. He’s returned items, made doctors appointments on the phone, taken Gabriel to the dentist, caught the city bus, and much, much more.

The other day, though, he was in a store and needed to find out the price for something. Most stores have scanners where you can find the price, but this store’s scanner was broken. He went up to the counter to ask, but there were a lot of people milling around, and he couldn’t hear the employee’s answer to his question. So he pulled on his ear to imply he couldn’t hear her and asked if she would write down the price.

And she did. In great detail. Then he realized, as he walked out the door, that the woman had thought he was deaf. Ah, the joys of language learning.

I often have to remind myself why I’m here in Brazil, learning another language and trying to adapt to another culture. Through it all, though, God has continued to be so faithful. He‘s made our family closer, forming us into a team, giving us new experiences, and sending us new friends.

May each of you have a blessed weekend, remembering the real reason of the season!

“Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” Hebrews 9:28

Blessings,

Lisa

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Big Apple Christmas


If you're looking for a great stocking stuffer or simply a holiday read to get yourself in the Christmas spirit, check out this new novella collection from Barbour Publishing, A Big Apple Christmas.

I recently interviewed some of the authors from this collection, and here's what they had to say.

LISA: What is the premise of the collection?

CARRIE: A BIG APPLE CHRISTMAS includes four novellas set in New York City during the Christmas season. The sights and traditions of Christmas in The City are the unifying factors that draw the stories together. In my novella, “Moonlight & Mistletoe,” Christmas plans are set askew when professional organizer Sarah Montgomery meets free-spirited poet Justin Latimer. As they work together on a project for her neighbor, romantic sparks fly, but new revelations threaten to douse them.

LISA: What’s it like working with three other authors on one story? Any challenges, rewords?

LYNETTE: The rewards are the best part. It’s fun seeing someone else’s version of your vision. The challenge in collaboration is the give and take. Our biggest discussion was about the weather. Christmas Eve, for example, had to have the same weather in all four stories. 

VASTHI: As the new writer among the bunch I was apprehensive that I’d need too much of their time. But these ladies were fantastic! They were very willing to give me feedback and help me make my story the best it could be. Their honesty was a gift.

LISA: I find in my own writing that I often grow alongside my characters, especially spiritually. Is there a character who you relate to and who made an input on your life?

CARRIE: It’s easy for me to relate to Sarah, the heroine in my novella. She likes to have her home and her life all neat and orderly so that she has a sense of control. I tend to be like that, and I have to guard against valuing neatness over time with family and relaxing and enjoying life with them. Sarah learns some important lessons about trusting God and allowing her faith to permeate her relationships. That’s an area I am working on in my life, too.

VASTHI: My character, Cecilia, is a hard working grad student. The first in her family to go to college, much less get a graduate degree. She feels the burden of her family’s expectations and wants to make them proud. When she sees all of her hard work going down the tubes, she panics. The lesson she learns—that we can’t rely on our own strength and abilities but must trust in God alone—is a lesson I needed to learn.

LISA: What is the number one thing you’ve learned from your writing journey?

LYNETTE: Patience, especially because I don’t have everything figured out.

CARRIE: It is an awesome privilege to touch people’s hearts and lives through my writing. I need to continually seek the Lord and be in touch with Him as I write so that my writing can have the impact He desires it to have.

VASTHI: I’ve learned that as much as I wanted to be published, and this is my first published novella, it is not as much fun as the actual writing.

LISA: Any future plans for your writing you’d like to share? Any specific dreams you’d like to accomplish in the area of writing?

LYNETTE: I’d like to write bigger books. As one who’s always had to add words to what she writes, this novella gave me the happy chore of trimming. I hope that I’m growing as a writer, not just getting wordier. My big dream is to write full-time, but until then I’m doing the best I can working a regular 40-hour work week and fitting writing in on nights and weekends.

CARRIE: I want to continue to grow and improve as a writer, and I know that takes perseverance and commitment on my part. Some day I hope to write a story set in Africa that highlights the beauty of the land, the shining faith of the believers, and also shows the needs. Recently, I’ve been very touched by a ministry called Charity: Water. They raise funds to drill wells all over Africa and provide clean water and hope for communities there. I would love to highlight their work in one of my books and help raise awareness and support.

VASTHI: I’ve written a trilogy based on a modern adaptation of the book of Ruth with Latino characters which I hope will get published.

LISA: Because I know there are many aspiring writers out there, can you share any tidbits of wisdom on getting published?

VASTHI: God opened a door for me in His timing. Wait on Him. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it. 1Thess. 5:24.

LISA: Any advise in working together as a team/preparing a novella proposal?

LYNETTE: Keep an open mind. Don’t rush. Trying to coordinate four writers’ schedules isn’t easy. But hang in there. The project will come together.

LISA: Any writer’s resources you could recommend?

CARRIE: I often consult Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King and Plot and Structure by James Bell, I also like to buy the MP3 from the ACFW Conference and listen to all the classes and workshops.

LISA: Thanks so much for stopping by, ladies! If you'd like to read more about these authors and their books, please check out their websites.

Carrie Turansky
Vasthi Reyes Acosta
Lynette Sowell
Gail Sattler
A Big Apple Christmas Site

Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's a wild ride. . .



I originally thought I’d post about our wild ride to the mall on the city bus. Then I realized that life in general has been a bit of a wild ride lately. With the ups and downs of language school, home schooling, and book deadlines, life is good, but never dull.

Take for instance the Christmas party we attended this past week. It was a dress-up holiday dinner hosted by our language school, held, of course, on the day it began to rain. We were to catch a ride that evening, but still had to walk the mile or so to the school where the van was waiting for us.

By the time we left, it was pouring.

We walked five in a row, each with an umbrella, up the drenched sidewalk, trying to stay as dry as possible. My sandals slipped off constantly as I sludged through ankle-deep puddles, dodged the spray of water from cars as they zoomed by, and balanced my umbrella, a backpack, and a cheese ball. Yes, a cheese ball. My contribution to the evening’s festivities that turned out to be a great hit, by the way.

The party was a mixture of cultures and languages from around the world. From Greece to Madagascar, and the USA to France, and even a couple from South Africa who spoke to Mariah in Afrikaans, a language she misses. We ended up having a great time, great food, and made some new friends.

Going to the mall the week before had been an even bigger adventure. We caught the first bus that dropped us at the spot where we could catch a second bus. With our vacuum cleaner in hand--the one I was so excited to have until it literally exploded in a puff of smoke after one week--needing to be returned, we watched for the number of our bus.

Within two minutes we saw it. . .and then saw it zoom past.

Obviously, we’d missed something in Bus Etiquette 101. Turns out, you have to step out and flag the bus down. Which we did after waiting another twenty minutes or so. Once on the bus, there was no place to sit, so I stood holding onto a pole for dear life with Jayden clinging to my leg as the bus wound it’s way through the city. There are no straight road, it seems, and the bus driver turned at every corner leaving us feeling as if we’d paid for a ticket on a rollercoaster instead of a trip to the mall.

At one point, I asked Scott if he had seen how close we’d come to hitting a passing bus. He hadn’t. His eyes were closed.

We continued down narrow streets where old men played board games along the side of the road, tiny shops sat sandwiched between fenced-in houses, and moms pushed babies in buggies. Colorful bougainvillea climbed garden the walls, spilling over the top for us to see, while in the distance, dozens of high-rise apartment buildings filled the sky line.

Strangely enough, it's all beginning to feel like home. I decided yesterday that home doesn't have to be a permanent address where I've live my whole life. It's a place where love and laughter ring forth above the challenges. Where I can smile across the table at my children while playing another round of Mexican Train and listen to Portuguese music compete with the now familiar sounds of cars zooming past our house with their horns blaring.

Blessings,

Lisa

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

An early Christmas


Congratulations to Patty, Ruth, Shirl, Ronie, Carol, and a sixth winner, Alene, for sending me a personal email I couldn't refuse. I'll be contacting you soon to get your mailing addresses!

Enjoy!

If you missed the contest and would like to order A Matter of Trust you can call my publisher at 1-800-847-8270 or visit Barbour's Website website. It will be available at Christianbooks.com
and other retailers after it goes through the Heartsong book club.

I also got a bit of an early Christmas present today! We've been really missing Tex-Mex here in Brazil. We can find tortillas for about $3 each (each tortilla, not each package!), but no salsa. A can of refried beans is about $10! Taco seasoning is also horribly expensive.

So yesterday for dinner I made a Mexican dish from scratch using home made salsa, taco seasoning I'd brought with me, plain yogurt, and a crust made from pie pastry. It was actually great, but not exactly real Tex-Mex.

Well, Scott went to pick up a few groceries at the store today, and when I got back from school, he had a wrapped package waiting for me. An early Christmas!

As you might have guessed, the store had packages of tortillas on sale. Packages of ten for about $2.50. Scott bought every package they had!

Guess what's for dinner?

Blessings,

Lisa

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Merry Christmas to you!

I think I've mentioned before how hard it is for me to get into the holiday spirit when it's so hot outside. For the past several years, I've spend Christmas in the southern hemisphere which definitely means hot! We've added a few more presents under the tree which has the kids anticipating Christmas morning.

To thank you for following my blog this past year, I'm going to give away five copies of A Matter of Trust (hot off the press!) to the first FIVE people who leave a comment and a way to contact you.

Merry Christmas!

Look for more giveaways in the coming weeks including A Taste of Brazil gift box!

And in all the rush of the season, remember the One who sent His son to earth, giving us the greatest gift of all.

Blessings,

Lisa

PS For some reason I'm not able to post photos today. Santa sightings coming soon. . .

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The city that never sleeps. . .


I’ve made a few interesting observations about life in Brazil in the few weeks we’ve lived here. Number one is that the people are extremely friendly. Several Brazilians have gone out of their way to help us with a smooth transition, including the staff at our language school and our landlord. I’ve had a woman help translate the lesson during church, others give us directions on the street and help practice with conversation, and show us around the grocery store.

People also walk a lot here, which is nice because our walking everywhere doesn’t stand out like it would in South Africa. But even despite all the walking, the women wear high heals (we’re talking two to three inch heals) and high platform shoes. With most of the sidewalks uneven cobblestone, I honestly don’t know how they do it.

Another thing that intrigues me, is the security guards. Imagine a twenty-to-thirty-something year old guy, black suit, white button-down shirt, tie, and dark sunglasses. These guys stand in front of various stores, or sit on stools under a large umbrella, all day, and simply guard. They have walkie-talkies and seem to know everyone that passes. That’s got to be one of the most boring jobs ever created.

And then there’s nighttime. Last night was Friday night and about ten o’clock (the hour I’m ready for bed) the city comes alive. It happens on weeknights as well, but especially on the weekend, nighttime is party time. Horns blast, radios blare, shaking our house, cars backfire, and people shout. Add a victory for the soccer team, and there’ll be fireworks. And it goes on all night, until about four in the morning. I suppose we’re adjusting better, because while I still wake up several times at night, I am sleeping through most of it now.

So we are slowly beginning to adjust to our new life.

Today we had a bit of an adventure. We took the bus to the mall to do some last minute Christmas shopping. (The photo is of the mall.) I'll plan to post about our wild ride through the city soon.

Blessings,

Lisa

Monday, December 03, 2007

I did it!


This weekend, I finished my latest deadline with two weeks to spare! I still have some editing to do, but overall I’m excited about the story. It’s a romantic suspense dealing with an internet scam, and it was a lot of fun to write. It’s such a great feeling, reminding me why I love to write. I need to add a HUGE thank you to my crit partners, Ronie, Beth, Susan, Lynette, Darlene, and my hubby Scott. I never could have finished with out you all!

I have two more books to write in the next eight months. The first one is book three in my upcoming cozy mystery series with Barbour Publishing. Pricilla Crumb, the heroine of my series, is a quirky, retired home economics teacher who never fails to do the unexpected. This has been such a fun series to write. Here’s a teaser from book one that releases in February, along with the cover.

Pricilla Crumb’s guest list has just turned into a suspect list. . .for murder. Pricilla never expected to be involved in a real life mystery, but that’s exactly where she finds herself when she joins her son at his hunting lodge in the beautiful Colorado mountains. Laced with a spiritual message and a sprinkle of romance, Pricilla Crumb is determined to discover the truth, this unconventional busybody follows one lead after another, dishing up laughter and suspense along the way.

Barbour Publishing’s new cozy mystery book club debuts next month, and if you enjoy reading cozy mysteries, you’ll love these books. I’ll be passing on the details of how to join soon, as well as a peek at my latest video trailer.

The second book I’ll be working on is an international suspense novel set in Africa that I’ve been wanting to write for a long time. About a year ago, God’s opened a door for it, and I can’t wait to see where it leads.

Regarding my writing, I prayed a lot when we felt God’s call into Mozambique. Should I quit writing? Did He want me to continue balancing children, ministry, and writing, or focus simply on family and ministry? I asked Him to shut doors if he wanted me to quit, and in the meantime, decided to take off the next six months to focus on Portuguese school.

But the doors didn’t shut. Instead of taking time off, I ended up selling a book in less than a month. In my experience, this rarely happens. Then when I met with another editor about my African suspense series, another door flung wide open.

Life is full of opportunities for each one of us, and as I’ve mentioned many times, balancing those opportunities can often be difficult. We go through seasons of life where family takes priority, with young children, siblings, or perhaps aging parents. There are needed times of renewal, times of accomplishment, and times when we need to simily stop and listen to His voice.

In it all, God only calls us to be faithful to Him.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17

Where ever you are in life today, may God bless you as you seek His face.

Blessings,

Lisa

Friday, November 30, 2007

Language learning!

I realized today that I haven't shared much about our language language, and since that's why we're here in Brazil, it's obviously a huge part of what we are doing.

I have to say that already having learned French has made learning Portuguese much easier. (Note I didn't say easy, but easier!) I already understand the process of language learning, the parts of speech, and things that are different from English like masculine and feminine nouns.

You might remember that I was very concerned to learn on my first day of class that my teacher, Maria, doesn't speak English. In the end, though, this has been a huge blessing, because I'm forced to speak (or at least try to speak) Portuguese. I also have realized that with my English, French, and some Spanish, I recognize a lot of the Portuguese words. Another big help. (Though this is hard on my pronunciation!)

Scott goes to class for three hours every morning. We eat lunch together, then I head off for class for two hours. The kids are now taking two hours every afternoon, and after a week, they still seem to be enjoying it!

Now so you don't think that life is all work and no play, we have incorporated a few fun things into our life. We play Mexican Train together every night during dinner (a domino game) and have had a lot of fun with it. Today we joined a nearby swim club so the kids can now swim everyday after school. They are so excited! For some reason they think this is a more enjoyable exercise than walking home from the grocery store with an armload of groceries.

We're also going to some friends' house tonight. They're Americans so we will be speaking only English! (Sorry, but a girl does need a break every now and then!)We are also planning to take the bus out to the mall in the next couple of weeks and go bowling. A neat observation I've made is how our family is growing closer through all of this. We've embarked on this huge adventure together, and I love seeing the kids work together, play together, and enjoy being together. (They're still kids, so not all of the time, of course :-))

Today being Friday, I'm tired and my brain is overloaded, but walking home from class, I felt like things were beginning to come together. Language is like a big puzzle, in some ways, and I'm excited to see some of the pieces come together and to feel as if I can actually say something! My teacher left the room today with her cell phone and told me to call her and invite her over for lunch as an exercise. Yikes! I thought, there is no way I can do it, but I did! She walked back into our class room after I hung up and gave me a big thumbs up! I felt as if I'd just completed the Boston Marathon!

So after three weeks of class, I'm feeling good today. The past two Fridays I was so tired I thought I was getting sick. But God is good and continues to give us what we need for each day.

Blessings!

Lisa

P.S. Please ignore any grammatical problems with my posts. These are to be expected when you spend hours a day studying a new language, another few hours a day writing in English, and yet another few hours a day teaching your six-year-old English phonetics which are completely different from Portuguese phonetics!

Maria and I
















Scott and Gabriel studying together.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Settling in. . .


I'm finally feeling settled in. . .well, sort of. I was walking the mile or so to school this morning, engrossed in people watching, something I love to do. A few minutes later, I looked up and realized I had no idea where I was. I'd been so deep in thought I forgot to pay attention where I was going! Such is the life of a writer, I suppose! I'm always viewing people as possible characters for my books, something my teacher thought was very humorous.

Speaking of books, here's a chance to win a FREE copy of my latest book, A Matter of Trust? Visit author Amber Miller's website. She recently interviewed me and is offering a chance to win a copy of the book.

Besides the distractions, I really am feeling more settled. Home schooling's moving along, and the kids have started taking Portuguese classes in the afternoon with two other children from Switzerland who just arrived in the country a week after we did. They are really enjoying it--note the photo above. Scott's taken over a lot of the housework so I can write and study, and even the kids have their assigned jobs to do around the house to ease my load.

I must be making some progress in the language, because going to the butcher to buy chicken or to the bakery to buy bread is now a feasible task! It's funny how things like asking for a few loaves of bread can make me feel like a toddler again!

I forgot to mention that last weekend, we had our first guests over for dinner and enjoyed visiting with Mel and Mandy. It's always amazing to me how God brings people together. Mel and Mandy are single women from England who are here to study Portuguese on their way to Mozambique! They are leaving Brazil this weekend, but will be living about three hours from us in Mozambique.


Enjoy today!

Lisa

Monday, November 26, 2007

From the mouth of babes. . .

It’s become a juggling act. Home schooling, language learning, book deadlines, and housework. Sometimes I feel as if I’ve been thrown into the spin cycle of a washing machine that’s off balance.

I knew these six months would be tough, and trust me, they are. Extremely. And wouldn’t you know, when I begin to lose perspective of why I’m here, it’s my children who manage to teach me what’s really important in life.

It was school time. A time that’s new for all of us. Mommy’s the teacher now. The kids have a new school room. Even the books are new and even exciting. Most of the time anyway. Still, it’s been a tough week. The excitement of the move is over and the realization that we now live thousands of mile from our friends and pets has begun to sink in.

On Friday, Mariah was tired of school and wanting to return to South Africa. She was frustrated with me, and I was even more frustrated with her. I wanted to scream, but she was crying. It was one of those Oh Lord, give me patience NOW moments!

I went back to my desk to give her some space, and in realty to give myself some space. I couldn’t help but wonder again what I’d gotten myself into. Why in the world did I ever think that I can teach three precious kids about science, parts of speech, and mathematics? All while trying to learn another language, meet editor deadlines, and manage to keep my house fairly clean.

That’s when the lesson came. While I was whining to myself--and to God--Gabriel walked over to his sister, put his hand on her shoulder and told her he was going to pray for her. Which is exactly what he began doing. I couldn’t hear what he said, but that didn’t matter. His gentle, love spirit reminded me what was important in life.

Family. . .Relationships. . .Patience. . .Forgiveness. . .

And I was humbled.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment. To get mad at the checkout clerk who’s too slow, the accountant who made a mistake on our bill, or the child who didn't make their bed.

When all they might need is a kind word, an act of kindness, a forgiving heart, a second chance.

Didn't Jesus himself gave each one of us a second chance for eternal life when he gave us his own life?

Blessings,

Lisa

Christmas in Brazil is in the air!


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Pass the salt please. . .


I've always considered myself a fairly good cook. I love trying new recipes, especially ones from other countries. Sometimes, though I tend to be a bit too adventurous. Like today for example. We were invited to spend Thanksgiving with a group of Americans Scott met at our school and they asked me to bring a desert.

Now I was a bit nervous about baking something. I may know how to cook, but with few pans and different ingredients, it can be a challenge to say the least. So I had to decide what to take to this afternoon and being me, decided something a bit.. .adventurous.

A very popular sweet here is called Beijo Do Coco Da Bahia (don't quote me on that) or coconut balls. I made some last night to see how they tasted. They looked awful, tasted great, but looked more like macaroons. Not what I wanted. So I searched on line for another recipe. This one with condensed milk, a very popular ingredient. I decided on chocolate balls and coconut balls.

The chocolate balls came out sticky. Very sticky. But I managed to roll them in chocolate powder, then put them in the small papers.

The coconut balls took less time to cook, but were sticky as well, so I jumped back on line and after doing some research added a cup of sugar. This worked great. Or so I thought.

I took a small bite to see how it tasted and gagged. Wait a minute. How can you go wrong with sweetened condensed milk, sugar and coconut?

Obviously you can go wrong. . .very wrong. I checked the sugar bowl for the culprit and sure enough. The bowl was filled with salt!

Thankfully, I'd only added the salt to half the recipe, so I was able to salvage the rest with sugar.

So for today, may each of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Remember to thank God for the ways He's blessed you this year. He is so good.

Blessings!

Lisa

To make your own coconut balls here's the recipe.

14 oz sweetened condensed milk
1 C coconut
1 C sugar
up to a half a stick of butter.

Cook in a heavy pot for several minutes, stirring constantly. Allow to cool. Form into small balls. Roll the balls in coconut, place in a small muffin paper, then add one clove in the top of each. (This is for flavor, don't eat)

Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Move over Richard Simmons. . .

. . .there’s a new exercise program in town!

With Thanksgiving and the holidays around the corner, I thought it would be the perfect time to talk about exercise. And I’ve found the perfect solution to your weight gain woes. All you have to do is move to Brazil, or some other country you’re unfamiliar with. (This can be done in your own country of origin at your own risk.)

Here are a few highlights of the program.

1. Get rid of that car. Walking everywhere is the perfect remedy to staying fit. Frequently getting lost will add even more time to the daily workout.

2. Grocery shop two or three times a week. With no car you have to walk to the store and carry what you purchase, which means you will have to go more often. Forget lifting weights. Carrying a few bags of eggs, fresh pineapples, and canned goods home will do the trick.

3. Get rid of the vacuum cleaner. Need to tone those floppy underarms? Thirty minutes a day of sweeping the carpet with a firm broom should do the trick.

4. No more dryer. It has recently been proven that hanging clothes on the line is just as effective as over-the-head free weights.

5. Make sure you choose a country with high humidity. You can lose several pounds a week just on water from all the sweating.

6. Try and avoid visits to the bakery. (see, we're not suffering too much!)

Enjoy the photos of our new town! Interclass is where we attend school.

Lisa




Friday, November 16, 2007

There's a foot in my stew. . .


. . .and other mysterious things.

Have you ever watched one of those commercials for fabric softener where the white sheets are billowing in the afternoon breeze in front of a row of daisies? You can almost smell the floral scent of the soft fabric as the sun warms the soft laundry.

Okay, hold on just a minute.

Have you actually ever washed your laundry and hung it out on a line to dry? Trust me, the producers of those commercials have never line dried their clothes before. They come out more like sandpaper than a fluffy bunny’s tail.

And here’s another odd thing I recently discovered here. Food packages should be marked buyer beware, because what you see on the package isn’t necessarily what’s inside.

Take for instance, the sausage I recently bought so I could make some beans and rice. I opened the bag, which had a yummy looking photo of beans, rice, and sausage on the outside. Now my Portuguese isn’t good yet, but I did understand that the package didn’t include the beans. That was fine. So, what was the first thing I pulled out? A half a pigs foot!

Now wait a minute. I don’t remember seeing that on the picture! Another peek into the bag reviled some normal looking sausage, but by now I was worried. Especially when I pulled yet another strange piece of meat. Scott asked me what it was.

“A large flap of skin?” I volunteer.

He laughs. I don’t.

“No,” he tells me, “it’s a pig’s ear!”

You can guess what didn’t make it into the pot that night!

So we've made it though our first week of in Brazil, started language school (no English!!), started homeschooling, managed to find the grocery store and Pizza Hut, and everyone is still smiling. The kids are doing fantastic, which is a real answer to prayer. I can't thank you enough for your prayers and emails. We're still having email problems, but I'll post as often as I can.

Coming next. . .move over Richard Simons, there’s a new exercise program in town!

Blessings,

Lisa

Monday, November 12, 2007

Moving in. . .

Saturday:

After a restless night of squealing breaks, loud music that seemed to rock the walls of our house, and dogs barking, I was awake at four, up by five, deciding I might as well catch up on some of my writing. Love the jet lag!

I’m almost done with my December deadline, a romantic suspense that deals with internet scams, but have had little time to write the past two weeks. If I write a thousand words a day I can finish it by next weekend, so that’s my goal. Waking up early might not be so bad after all.

It’s been raining a lot here, canceling our plans to walk to the park. So far, though, I don’t miss having a car. It’s been nice to walk around the neighborhood and explore. So while Scott waited for the man who was coming to install our internet, I made my first solo outing to the grocery store with Gabriel. I walked through the aisles slowly, trying to see what things I missed the time before, feeling very nervous about checking out. As we got to the last aisle I glanced down at my cart. It was half full of food and kitchen items we needed, and at that point, I realized that we had to walk home!

Ever the optimist, I decided we could carry it all home. Or so I hoped. I got to the check out area and scoped out the nicest looking clerk. I greeted her in Portuguese and she, of course, started chatting. Somehow I managed to communicate that I don’t speak the language and no, Gabriel was not my interpreter. I handed her my credit card and showed her my ID when asked. So far so good. Well sort of. I have this terrible habit of freezing up with languages, but when I was finished, I was determined to use my little Portuguese and say thank you. At that moment, though, I could have said thank you in French, Eve, Afrikaans, but not Portuguese. Oh, the joys of language learning!

(In the end, I was able to say good-bye, and yes, funny sight that it must have been, we made it home with all our bags!)

Sunday:

It’s been a long but good day. We called a friend of our co-worker, Bia, who used to live in the neighborhood we’re at now, asking her if she knew of any churches in our area. We ended up going to hers this evening and enjoyed it so much. The Brazilian people are so warm and welcoming. Even the kids jumped in and went to class and made some friends.

It's been exciting to watch the kids. Gabriel especially has not been keen on learning another language. His experience learning Afrikaans wasn't very positive, so we were worried that he wouldn't try while he was here. Instead, the exact opposite has happened. He's always asking how to say something, or telling me a word he learned, and even using the few words that he knows.

Tomorrow we start back to school with the kids, and it's late here, so I'll save another experience--There’s a foot in my stew--for tomorrow!

Below are some photos of our house. We brought comforters for the kids beds and posters for their walls, so they could feel more at home.

Blessings,

Lisa







Sunday, November 11, 2007

First Impressions

Internet is finally up! Here's a look at our last two days.

Thursday:


After a long, ten hour trip, we arrived in an overcast, balmy Sao Paulo, Brazil. Over a dozen big screen TV’s greeted us, ensuring no one in the passport control line, security, or those waiting for passengers missed a minute of the live soccer broadcast.



Our ride arrived in a 16 passenger van, plenty room for the five of us and our ten suitcases. This is my first time in South America, and I have to say, I had no idea what to expect. One of the first things we passed, surprisingly enough, was a Sam’s Club and Walmart. But beyond that, the poverty surrounding us surprised me. As we sped down the freeway, it reminded me more of the South African squatter camps than your local Walmart neighborhood. Dozens and dozens of shacks lay stacked on top of each other on the hillsides, the population, dense. Beyond that laid contrasting beautiful areas of vast green forests with mist suspended in the valleys.



We stopped for dinner at a fast food restaurant, which only continued to remind me how little I know here. Everything is a new experience, leaving me feeling like an uneducated toddler who has to be taken from place to place. From buying things with an electronic card they hand you at the door, to ordering dinner--each step becomes a monumental task. I know how to say good-day and thank you. Beyond that, it’s a helpless feeling that leaves me in a panic when anyone addresses me.

The kids have done incredibly well today, and we arrived at our new home happy, but exhausted. The wife of the director of the school we are to attend met us with the key to the house, a pot of flowers, and food for breakfast in the fridge. That’s a real blessing considering my kids are going to wake up hungry and I don’t know where the closest store is. Quickly dragging the few essentials from the suitcases, we crash around ten o’clock--two in the morning South Africa--to the sound of cars zooming by, dogs barking, and the fan buzzing as it blew away the heat.

Friday:

With our body clocks off, we were all up by five-thirty, but with ten suitcases to unpack, and a village (as they call it here) to explore, there’s plenty to do. The house is large and breezy, three bedrooms upstairs, two living areas downstairs. Knowing we were going to home school, I brought the kids books, hoping we’d have a place for them to work. God is amazing. There’s not a lot of furniture in this house, but there are five desks. Yes, five! I’d call that a miracle.

So this morning we unpacked the suitcases, then began rearranging the furniture. We moved four of the desks into the small living area, along with a wooden shelf from the kitchen and we have a school room! I couldn’t have asked for a better situation. And the kids are already begging for school to start. Let’s hope that continues.

With our things pretty much unpacked, we head out to explore the neighborhood. The director of the school had already graciously stopped by to give us a map as well as pointed out a number of places. The first place we head to is lunch--Pizza Hut. We were all excited as this isn’t something we have in South Africa. Next we walked down the street to a supermarket (our only transport is our feet from now on!) and went down the aisle, one by one, to see what’s available.

My impressions today:

1. The people here are incredibly friendly. We have been so blessed with both the school and the owner of our rental house going out of their way to help us as we get set up here.

2. We discovered that food is very expensive. Surprisingly, meat isn’t bad, but most other things are.

Small jar of Jelly: $4
Cereal: $5
Maple Syrup: $24 (Thankfully, I make my own syrup!)
Milk: $4 gallon
8 tortillas: $8

I thought packaging was small in South Africa compared to the states, but things are even smaller here. The cereal boxes are probably a third of what you’d buy in the states, and I don’t think there are more than a dozen to choose from.

No peanut butter on the shelves. No macaroni and cheese. I’m struggling to figure out what to cook. I went through my recipe book and came up with nothing. I feel as if they have much less available here than South Africa which surprises me, but it’s all a matter of figuring out what is available, something that will take time. They do have wonderful bakeries (still need to go to one) and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. We went to one fruit and vegetable store I really liked with a wonderful selection that isn’t too far from our house. Tomorrow we will go to a weekly vegetable and fruit market that’s held on one of the streets to see what we can get.

3. One of the biggest things for me to get used to is the fact that you can’t put the toilet paper in the toilet. Instead you use a small trash can. Scott says that at least people won't go through our trash here like they do in Africa.

4. No hot water in the house except for the shower that uses a heater to heat the water as you run it. This means water to wash dishes must be boiled on the gas stove first.

Tomorrow. . .photos of our new house and more on adjusting to Brazil.

Blessings!

Lisa

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Final Snapshots

Standing outside in the late night air, crickets chirp, frogs croak. An unexpected summer rain comes quickly, showering the already green grass with moisture.

So this is it. One last day amid palm trees, banana plantations, and the bright blue African sky. One last day hearing the buzz of voices walk past the house, early misty mornings, and the colorful array of flowers dotting the countryside.

For now.

The prayers and encouragement from friends from both sides of the vast Atlantic have overwhelmed us, comforted us, and humbled us. God’s miracles have surrounded us like a shield, covered us with His grace, and reminded us that the journey we’re about to embark on is worth it.

Hold onto Him who is able to do more than we are even able to imagine.

(Internet is too slow for my final photo snapshots.)

Blessings,

Lisa

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Day to Rejoice

We had a special day of rejoicing on this side of the world. Gabriel and Mariah were baptized after church, committing their lives to God! We invited some of our friends to join in the celebration and enjoyed eating together.

Enjoy the slide show!

Lisa




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Saturday, November 03, 2007

The countdown begins!

We're down to five days until the big move. I'm not sure that the reality of where we're going has really sunk in. There are moments of excitement and moments of tears, but overall, I'm ready to go. Living in Allen and Janelle's guest flat has worked out perfect for this last week, but I'm ready to get settled in to our new home in Brazil.

I've spent the past two days trying to decide what to take and packing our suitcases. Have I mentioned how much I hate to pack? The good thing is that for the most part, will finish tonight.

God also continues to answer prayers. We found a home for all our pets which was a major concern. Our indoor dog (the last to find a home) and cat, who are also best friends, will be staying with the new owners of our house who have an eight year old boy. And we sold our car today which is a major blessing! We are having to replace it with a sturdier car from Mozambique that we've already found and will pick up once we are back in Africa.

We have one last special event planned before we go, but I'll share that in the next day or two.

Time to finish packing. A storm's coming which means the power is bound to go off as well. One of the things we are planning is time back in South Africa from time to time so the kids can keep up with their friends. It's nice not to have to say good-bye for forever. Enjoy the slide show.

Blessings!

Lisa


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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Quick Update

Life's been hectic here. So hectic, in fact, that I haven't had a chance to even turn on my computer since last week. In the mist of packing, we had to drive four hours to Joburg this past weekend to meet with our South African board for our AGM, a requirement by the SA government. Not the best timing with us having to be out of our house this tomorrow, but we enjoyed our time with the board who are all close friends.

While there, we enjoyed staying with some other friends we met when we first arrived here. Gabriel and their son Jesse, were best friends in first and second grade and we've kept in touch since moving away.

























It seems there's been lots of goodbyes lately, including one of the former members of the cell group we led while in Joburg who died suddenly. We were able to attend the funeral and visit with her family. Scott then preached on Sunday before we hurried home to continue packing.

The past two days have been spent doing more packing and moving boxes and furniture to storage while we are in Brazil. The photo below doesn't do it justice, but our driveway is very steep, adding a bit of difficulty to moving. The truck had to park on the street while furniture and boxes were carried up, or transported in the back of our truck. God has blessed us with so many people who have helped out with moving trucks, trailers, meals, and muscles!

With one day left until we have to move out, we'll be up early tomorrow to finish clearing out the house. Scott's uncle wisely told us to wait a week to leave for Brazil after moving out, and now we are so thankful. This will give us time to pack for Brazil and finish up all the last minute details!

Thanks so much for your prayers and emails! They mean so much.

Blessings!

Lisa

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Making a list and checking it twice


We're down to the final countdown, with only a handful of days until we have to be out of our house, one week from today. I declared it a school holiday, as it's impossible to do serious packing and monitor schoolwork at the same time. The kids didn't mind at all even though it rained all day. A perfect day, really, for packing.

The school we will be attending in Brazil has been wonderful. They even offered to pick up a few groceries so we'd have something to eat the morning after we arrived. That had been one of my late night additions to my list: Buy something portable that can be taken on the plane so my kids aren't hungry before I can find the nearest store and manage to buy something in a language I can't speak or read. Something else crossed off my list!

It's something to remember. God really does care about every little thing in your life that's happening right now!

Our house is looking very empty. Boxes line the front of the house, the kids are all sleeping in one room on mattresses, and the last room to pack is the kitchen.

These photos are of the view across our back yard. Even in the drizzling rain it's beautiful. I'm definitely going to miss this part of living here.


Blessings,

Lisa

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Orphan Relief Praise!


What an exciting journey it's been to see how God cares so deeply for His children! Many of you have been a part of the effort to take food to our orphans in Zimbabwe through both prayers and financial support. The response, in fact, was so overwhelming, that we now have enough money to supply food for them through most of next year. Already, they have received 7 tons of maize, and we are getting ready to send high nutrient food packets that can be prepared as a soup. These packages have been specifically manufactured for food shortage situations.

Last week, God put us in touch with a group who has a permit to take food into the country. This is a huge blessing, because without this permit there was always the chance that the government would confiscate any food we took in. They will be taking the food up later this week. Last night, several of our friends came to help pack boxes with the food to get it ready for transport.

Please continue praying for these sweet children we will be taking the food to, as well as the thousands more who are also in desperate need of food.