Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Warm Welcome

The church gave us a nice surprise when we got here.  Someone just sent me a photo of the event, so now I can share it with you.  While we were still in the States they had asked us for a family photo.  They blew it up and hung it on the wall so they would all remember to pray for us.  During the first Sunday service we attended, they introduced us to the congregation and presented us with the photo and a hammock (over my shoulder).  
The kids were especially excited.  As you can see, Jonah held the photo up and Andy danced.  

The people in the photo (from left to right) are: Marisa Signoretti, Joanne (John's mom), us, Osmildo Braga, his wife Marta, their kids Jonathan and Catherine, Marisa'a daughter Andressa, and Marisa's husband Roberto. 

Friday, April 25, 2008

Youth Reaching Out to Youth

Remember when I told you that the young adults were planning an outreach program?  Well, it was a big success.  They ambitiously reproduced a play that has had a powerful impact on youth across the world.  If you haven't seen the Lifehouse drama that was performed in Knoxville at Winterfest 2006, it's well worth the download time. These were some of the players in our congregation's version:
I taped it, but unless someone can tell me how to get a video from a tape-based camcorder onto my computer, I can't share it with you.  If you watched the YouTube video, you may recognize this scene:
They had  twenty-eight visitors and plan to do more of the same in the future.  It's a very impressive youth group.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Preaching Debut

Since we stepped off the plane here in Natal, the church has been asking John to preach.  There are two families leading the congregation as full-time ministers.  The fact that those two men were in desperate need of a break coupled with John's good reputation as a preacher had them anxious to open the pulpit to him. 
 This past Sunday was the day.  He delivered a moving message - in Portuguese - on love.  The congregation responded warmly and the leaders have asked John to consider working into the preaching rotation.  For now, he has agreed to give them a break from time to time - at least until we are a bit more settled and have a better understanding of our roles here.    

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Please, Come In

I do read your comments and I have not forgotten that you want to see what the inside of our house looks like.  Let's take it from the top.  This is what the ceiling of our round house looks like:

The door in the middle is the door to the master bedroom.  The door on the right is to the boys' room.  The "window" on the left is really just for ventilation.  There is no air conditioning.

This is Jonah and Andy's room:
We are still waiting for our furniture to be delivered.  The kids will be getting a bunk bed.

This is their bathroom:

This is our bedroom:

The windows face the east and the sun rises here at 4:30am.  Our first purchase was blackout shades.

Here's our bathroom:There is no door on the bathroom and no door on the shower.  Using this bathroom is a family affair.

This is the staircase between the main floor and the upstairs:
The window is actually open to the outside.  It cannot be closed.  The geckos love that.

This overlooks the kitchen:

The vertical slats are also open to the outside, which make the bats feel welcome.

Next time I'll show you what's on the main floor.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dani's Baptism

I was so excited about this story that I just had to steal some photos from Sascha and Jennifer's blog.This is a photo of Alexandre, Dani, and their daughter Ana Luisa:
Dani was our team's Portuguese teacher when we first arrived in Porto Alegre in June 2002. She married Alexandre while we were there then had her baby while we were in the States. We have been thrilled that Alexandre and Dani have maintained friendships with the team and have even been involved in church activities.  Now we are very happy to introduce her, not just as a friend, but also as a sister.  She asked Sascha to baptize her last week.
We are so encouraged by this news and want to share it with you.  We wish the richest blessings on Dani's family and know God will grant them because of her faith.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Cooking Class

This is Claudet: 
 She teaches a cooking class at the church every Tuesday afternoon at 2:00.

This is the class:
As you can see, some are listening and some are not.  That's because the cooking class is as much of a fellowship time as anything else.  I did learn how to make a pretty interesting casserole.  It's about time.  My recipes page hasn't been updated since Thanksgiving.  As we settle in here, I plan to give you some good Brazilian recipes to make at home.  

Remember, you can subscribe to any of our pages by entering your e-mail address in the top, right corner of the blog.  If you haven't been keeping up with Jonah and Andy's page or my photo page, you're missing out on some good stuff.  And please, leave comments so we know what you think.  

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Rainy Season

This is the dryer section of our yard in the rain: 
The washing machine takes about 45 minutes to do a load of laundry then we get to hang it out on the line to dry.  As you can imagine, it's a lot of fun.  

This isn't officially the rainy season yet but it rains every day so I'm not sure what to expect.  Our clothes seldom dry efficiently and end up smelling pretty musty.  We went shopping and found a good dryer.  Then we came home to measure the space and sleep on it.  Dryers are quite a bit more expensive here and not something you want to impulse buy.  Anyway, we took out a cabinet to make room and went back to the store.  They informed us that they had sold the dryer and didn't have any more.  We have spent the last week looking around for another one. It seems the only other dryer in the city at this time is a machine the size of a small bucket that washes and dries the clothes for about $2,500.  Wow!   

Monday, April 7, 2008

The First English Service

I call this the first English service because, despite the fact that this was not planned, we have already decided to have more just like it.  We decided as a family to have English worship together before the service on Sunday evening. (The church doesn't meet in the morning - only evening.)  We invited the other Americans (LST teachers) to join us and they invited their students.   
We sang songs in English and John gave a message.  It was very good for some of us to worship God in our heart language and for others to have an opportunity for more exposure to English.
We plan to hold these services once a month.  The group has agreed to invite their English-speaking friends to the next one.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Lost in Cyberspace

We are trying to buy a car.  We have been trying to buy a car for over two weeks now, and for over two weeks now we have been renting a car like this (which would cost about $18,000 to buy):
for about fifty-five dollars per day.  Watching us all get in and out is a little like watching the clowns rehearse getting in and out of their tiny circus car.  It has been difficult to find a car.  We did a lot of research and had quite a time finding something affordable.  Keep in mind that we are looking for something 2002 0r newer that can fit John, his mom, me, Jonah, and Andy.  Our friends here have warned us that anything older may already be deteriorating from the salty air and rough roads.  Here are some of the cars on the market and their prices: 

2008 Toyota Camry = 165,000Reais or about $96,000

1996 Toyota Camry = 21,000Reis or about $12,500

2005 Toyota Corolla = 42,000Reais or about $25,000

2005 Chevy Corsa = 32,000Reais or about $19,000

2008 Fiat Doblo = 55,000Reais or about $32,500

2008 Ford Ranger extended cab = 120,000Reais or about $71,000

 This may give you an idea of what's available here.  I know it doesn't look very promising, but that's not even the problem.  We have actually found a few cars that we can pay cash for.  The problem is that we can't get to our cash.  It seems to be stuck in cyberspace and no one around here knows where that is.

John ordered a transfer from our account in Texas to Brazil about sixteen days ago.  The bank here said it should take three days, so when it wasn't here in five, he did some investigating. They told him the problem was that our CPF cards (that's the equivalent of a social security card) needed to be renewed every year (something we have never done.)  We did that, which took two days, then John went back for our money.  

They told him that the sending account, which happens to have his name on it, needed to be in his name.  We decided to cancel the transfer and start over.  That was about a week ago.  The money has still not shown up in our Texas account.  It seems our money is lost in cyberspace and can't be touched.  What this means to us is that we have to continue renting the clown car until we can get our hands on our money.  Even when it does get back into our Texas account, we still aren't quite sure how to get it to Brazil.  We do, however, have someone who works at the Brazilian bank on the case.  He assures us that our money will be returned and that he will help us to work this out.