Friday, March 28, 2008

A simple reminder

It's been a crazy week here. We're down to four more weeks until we return to Africa. By the grace of God, I've somehow managed to make it to the advanced stage in language and will finish the 9-12 month program in under 6 months. This also means intense studying and lots of speaking while I try to master verb tenses and add to my vocabulary. (Portuguese has tons of different verb tenses!)

There are a lot of mixed emotions that come with our leaving. Brazil has taken hold of a piece of our heart and left us with life-long friends. I won't miss the noise of the city or even studying, but I will miss the people.

Four more weeks left also means it's time to start making plans for our return. The major issue at this point is a house to rent. We've just received some bad news on the house Allen found for us in Mozambique. Or rather, God gave us a resounding no. This means that we will probably live somewhere temporary for the time being. Add to that, we still don't have the final official document for our registration which means we can't officially move to Mozambique or transport our things.

More temporary.

Admittedly, this is tough on me. I want a house I don't have to move out of in a few months. I want my own bed, my own couch, and family photos for my walls.

Today I was working with Jayden on his memory work. In Matthew 6, Jesus says, "Don't worry. Don't say, 'What will we eat?' Or, 'What will we drink?' Or, 'What will we wear.' Your Father who is in heaven knows that you need them."

Don't worry.

It's a simple reminder. God knows both my wants and my desires. He's also told us not to worry. He's always taken care of us. Always provided.

So remember those two simple (yet often difficult) words today and take them to heart.

Don't worry.



Photos from our Easter weekend.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Birthday, Gabriel!

I can hardly believe that my baby's 11 today! We decided to celebrate by taking the bus to the mall and going bowling. We had such a great time! The bowling pens were hanging on strings, which was a bit funny, but the day was definitely a hit. We returned home, ate at Pizza Hut, then enjoyed a cake we'd managed to carry home on the crowded bus.

Happy Birthday, Gabe! We love you!


Friday, March 21, 2008

Prayers for a safe house

It’s been a tough week for one of my crit partners who lost her daughter this week. While she morns, the rest of us have done what we can to help her through this difficult time, which is mainly holding her up in prayer.

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do when friends and family face difficult situations. As many of you know, Zimbabwe is currently facing some extremely difficult times. Sadly, it’s often the children and young girls who suffer the most. We’ve seen this over and over as we work with our orphans, even when it means transporting food across the boarder to make sure they get enough to eat.

Janelle has been working on a dream of hers-- safe house for girls. In Zimbabwe, currently, there are hundreds of young girls in very vulnerable situations. Some of these girls are our orphans. We feel that it is very important to do everything that we can to help get these girls out of situations that are detrimental to them.

Last week, Janelle met with the staff who overseas our orphan program where they discussed the possibility of a house for our girls living in vulnerable homes. The staff was extremely enthusiastic about the idea and immediately discussed what would need to be done to secure a house, who would be allowed to live in the house, who would care for these girls, along with other important issues.

Janelle and those working on the many details involved in this ask for your prayers that they will be wise and that doors will open so they can move quickly. Please pray for the right house and the right woman who will work as the caregiver for these precious girls.

And speaking of houses, please pray with us this weekend that Allen will be able to secure a house for us in Mozambique. Time is getting short before our return, and he needs sign a contract for a house this weekend while he is in Mozambique. He is planning to meet with the owner of the house we feel would be best for us to rent, but has not been able to contact the woman so far. God is faithful, and we’re not worried, but it will be a relief to know that we have a house waiting for us. And especially one that will meet our needs so perfectly.



Thursday, March 20, 2008

Midnight excitement

From the first night we arrived in the city here in Brazil (after living in the African bush for two years) we realized we were in for a different experience. And while we've gotten used to cars passing in front of our house with their radios turned up so loud they literally shake our windows, and even the constant noise of mufflers backfiring, waking up to the pop-pop-pop of an explosion was something new.

After a few minutes of trying to figure out what was going on, I rushed to the bathroom window. The continual explosions sounded as if they were right outside our window. And as it turned out, they pretty much were. Fireworks! Now I'm not talking about fireworks you buy to set off in your back yard for the fourth of July. These were the ones you sit in your car and watch as the city puts on a display. Huge, colorful, fill-up-the-sky kind of fireworks with heart pounding explosions. . .at one-thirty in the morning! Go figure.

(Yawn)As for me, I think I'll go back to bed now.



Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A trip to the market

One of the places I love to visit here in Brazil is the open market. They are held in various locations throughout the city during the week, and are full of jewelry, crafts, flee market items and great food. We love the fried pastries filled with meat and cheeses that are a traditional part of the market.

This past weekend I took Sandy and Farrel to the market (for their third time) so they could buy some last minute souvenirs, and for me, some things for my upcoming taste of Brazil giveaway.

It was also a great place for me to practice my Portuguese as I translated for my in-laws and talked to the vendors.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friends, family, and God's open doors. . .

This week has been a crazy mixture of family, friends, Portuguese, writing, with a bit of fun thrown in.

On Sunday, we had a great time visiting with some of the friends we'd made at the church camp last month. One of the best parts, was hearing from several how much my Portuguese had improved, something I really needed to hear. I'm making progress! If only they'd agree to take out some of those verb tenses. The list I still have to learn doesn't seem to be shrinking at all!

We are also enjoying having Scott's parents here and are loving every minute of being with them. Granted, our schedule doesn't allow for tons of socializing, but we've managed to find time to chat, play Mexican train, and catch up on the past couple years that we've been apart. They have taken over the schooling for the kids during this time, and this has been such a huge blessing for me, allowing me to keep up with studying Portuguese and my deadlines.

Thank you, Sandy and Farrel for everything!

For those of you who have been following my blog the past few months, you might remember that six months ago, we weren't planning to come to Brazil for language learning. We'd found a teacher in Portugal along with a place to stay for our family, so with all the details set, we packed up our house in South Africa ready to go for six weeks.

Then we found out that our teacher had given our spots to someone else. It was a last minute scramble as we tried to figure out what to do. And I have to admit, we spent some time asking God why all our plans had just fallen apart. With few contacts, it was frustrating, and time consuming to have to start over with only a few weeks until we'd planned to go.

Then God began opening doors. We found our school in Brazil and a furnished house nearby in our budget. We also realized in talking with more people that six weeks would never be enough and decided on six months.

Four months into our time here, we continue to see that God's hand has been involved every step of the way. It's truly amazing. We need more families to join us in Mozambique to be a part of the work and are finding that the best place to recruit is here in Brazil among Christians who already speak Portuguese. God has opened so many doors lately. We already have two couples coming for a short period of time later this year to see the work and pray if moving to Mozambique is what God wants in their lives. Both of these couple are passionate for God and already involved in ministry here in Brazil.

Scott also flew to a nearby city Wednesday for an overnight visit to a group that facilitates Brazilians wanting to work with Christians in other Portuguese speaking places. They were so excited to hear what God is doing in Mozambique. This open door could well end up being the needed liaison we need here in Brazil.

Please continue to pray that God will send people to join the work and for the couples we are meeting with in these last few weeks of our time here.



PS. Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter here I'll be drawing a winner next month from that list for some really cool stuff from Brazil as well as a signed copy of my latest book!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Win a free copy of Recipe for Murder

My good friend Lena Dooley has just posted an interview of me on her blog with a chance to win a copy of my first cozy.

You can check it out here!



Friday, March 07, 2008

Facing the Giants

We spent a couple hours one night out in a boat while in the Amazon hunting for Camen. It was the job of one of our guides to jump into the water, grab one of the reptiles, then bring it into the boat for us to see. At first, I was sure this was some sort of set up as the girl dove into the pitch black water and came up with a camen.

But it wasn't.

She's been hunting for camen's for over a year after living her entire life on the river. With flashlights, the guides first searched the grassy waters for the reptile's eyes. They know what direction the animal must be facing, how big the animal can be and still be safe (She's been bit four times!), and how to grasp the jaw so it doesn't bite. It truly was an amazing feat.

I feel as if I've been facing my own giants right here in Campinas. Language school is definitely one of them. Every day to begin class we read a Bible story. Not from the Bible, but a children's story book. (A bit more my speed). The scary part, though, is that after we read it together and go over vocabulary, it's time for me to recite the story back to my teacher. I dictate, she writes it on the board, then we go over my work. It's very intimidating.

This week we read about Joshua going into Canaan. Now normally, when I read my story, I'm so focused on vocabulary, verb tenses, and of course the fact that I have to retell the story myself, that I don't glean a lot of Biblical truths.

But this day I did.

It struck me as I read how Joshua and the Israelites faced the literal giants of Canaan that they had a choice. If you remember the story from Numbers, twelve spies had been sent into Canaan to see what the land was like. Ten of the spies came back and told Moses that the people who lived there were powerful, their cities fortified and large, and that the people were giants. They were certain they couldn't overtake these people.

Joshua and Caleb saw things differently. They told Moses and the people that they could take possession of the land. They must have been remembering at that moment how God brought the Israelites out of Egypt and a life of slavery. How he had performed amazing signs before them including driving back the Red Sea and giving them manna and quail to eat. He was the One who protected them, gave them strength, and who had already driven out other nations before them. These were markers in their lives. Times when they could look back and see the powerful hand of God working in their lives and know without a doubt that He is real. That He cared for them. And that He loved them.

I've realized that I have the same choice. I can look at learning Portuguese, home schooling, and keeping up with writing deadlines and run. . .or I can remember God's faithful each step of the way and trust that He will continue to be faithful in my life.

So what giants are you facing in your life today? Think of markers in your own life when you could see God’s powerful work in your life. These markers can work like anchors to help us preserve our faith and hold to our decision to follow God no matter what is happening around us.

"I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13

Be blessed today!


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

An early demise. . .

After posting about how much we walk, I thought you might enjoy a photo of my shoe. These were brand new when I arrived in Brazil. Needless to say, I threw them away last week.



P.S. Be sure and sign up to receive my newsletter. I'm putting together a taste of Brazil box full of cool things from Brazil and will draw a winner early next month.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Taken for granted

Sunday was quite a day for the seven of us (including Scott's parents). I've never known how far we actually walk to different places, but Scott's mom has one of these step counters that measures how far you walk.

After walking to the bus, riding thirty minutes, walking to our house church and returning home she gave us the grand total. Seven miles!

That's when I started really thinking of things I've always taken for granted. Like having my own car. The truth is, though, that most of the world walks everywhere, washes their own laundry by hand, and even has to draw their own water from a well. Forget the ease of fast food, dry cleaners, and even a good education for their kids.

So instead of complaining about what I don't have (a car, dryer, hot water, etc) It was enough to make me stop and appreciate the things I do have.

Here's my list. (Though I know I could add TONS more!)

1. Health so I can walk everywhere
2. A washing machine (and sunny weather to dry them with)
3. A hot shower (the only hot water in the house, but at least I have that!)
4. Wireless computer access (What would I do without email :-) )
5. Great education experiences for my kids (so many kids don't have this)
6. A husband who does the dishes so I can write

And I could go on and on. . .

These are a couple photos from our walk. One outside the bus station where we grabbed a bag of cheese breads and waters. The second is Mariah with some of the Christians.

Rejoice in Him always!


Saturday, March 01, 2008

Piranha fishing and some great news!

First for the great news. Sandy and Farrel, Scott's parents arrived yesterday to stay with us for three weeks! This is such a blessing as it's been far too long since we have all been together. They will also be a big help with school which is a huge blessing for me right.

The second piece of news is a huge answer to prayer. The registration papers for our mission have just gone through in Mozambique! After waiting a year (we were told two weeks) everything is falling into place. Right on time! Praise God with us for his answer to this huge request.

Now back to the Amazon. One of the highlights of our trip was fishing for piranha. The first afternoon we headed out onto the river with a large group and stopped along the shore to fish. With a bamboo rod, a line, and a crud hook, we put on some raw meat and threw in our lines. It wasn't long before the rains came, which meant we were soaked, but when I caught the first fish, I didn't care! The kids enjoyed it so much, that they begged to go back the next afternoon.

This time, we ended up with our own guide (no rain) and headed into the bush (literally) to sit under a thick grove of trees along the shore. While the day before our group had only caught about nine fish, this time the five of us caught twenty-five! Our guide--who could catch a fish at the blink of an eye--patiently taught us a few tricks. We even got to eat out catch!

More photos soon!