Friday, June 30, 2006

The Wheels of the Bus

Today in an effort to broaden our culture horizons and compare the cultures with which I have had the most experience, I will talk about public bus system.

Both Brazilians and Japanese rely on the bus system much more than we do in America. That´s an understatement. But for my daily life in both countries I have become a patron of the bus system. Generally I really like this, because I don´t like driving, and I really don´t have a desire to drive in either country (Japan because it´s backwards, Brazil because it´s kind of crazy).

In Japan, the bus stops are clearly marked and there are schedules telling you the exact minute that your bus will arrive. In Brazil you´ve got to have an inside source to help you figure out where the stops are and as for schedules... well you just stand and wait. :) My experience with buses in Itu has been much better than it was in Campinas. We could wait like, 45 minutes there for a bus whereas here the most has been about 15 minutes.

In Japan the bus is freaking expensive. For me to go to my school each was about $5. And they charge by the number of stops you stay on the bus. In Brazil it´s about $.80 and you can stay on as long as you want.

One superficial, random fact is that in Brazil you board the front of the bus and exit out the back, and in Japan you board the back and exit out of the front.

That´s all I can think of now. Yay for public transportation!


In strange news, why is the top CNN and MSN headline that Bush and Koizumi are going to Graceland together? Am I in bizarro world?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

More pictures

Well here we go with part 2 of the picture post, if Blogger will cooperate today.

This is a picture of the church choir. I love it! We performed Saturday and Sunday at the inaguration of a new church plant from the Itu church in the neighboring town of Salto. Our fearless leader is in black on the left.

Since it´s my blog and my pictures, here´s another photo of the soprano section.

Speaking of work in Salto, this is the minister, Joncilei, his wife Karina (I think), and their son Joab with the LST team from San Angelo-- Josh, Kristen, Cindy, and Jared. They were fun and we all enjoyed them!

Then on Sunday I was honored to see the ceremony of Antenor Gonçalves being made an elder at the church here. To know Antenor (or any of the Gonçalveses) is to love them. Antenor is second to the right. The other three men ar the current elders.

This is my precious friend, Jandira. She is a lifesaver. Last week I was stressed out, so she kidnapped me away to the farm thing where her mom lives. This is us in front of a waterfall you can´t really see.

Maybe I´m the only one greatly amused by this church, but I am. Translation: Second Baptist Church.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Finally, my people, I am able to bring you what I have been promising for weeks. Pictures! So without further ado, here are some of the faces I´ve been seeing a lot lately. Haha... :)

This is Jonathan, who for the record is not my husband-- haha. :) It was lots of fun to have him here for the first week I was here! Saudades, querido!

This is Yesky, the English school I work at that my friends own. Yay for orange and green! :)

This is just a pretty picture of me at a place called Monte Sião.

It´s Copa time! These are three sweet guys-- Rafael, Guto, and Jonathan-- at the first game.

My cool peeps in São João da Boa Vista-- Elaine, Oseias, and Thiago.

I have more pictures to post, which I will soon. But Blogger is being onery. Blah! Love you all lots!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Your Side of the World

The other day I was listening to my Steven Curtis Chapman, "All About Love" CD (which is fabulous by the way), and suddenly this song started. It´s about cross-gender communication, but this time I heard it in a different way-- in the context of cross-cultural communication. So today I dedicate this song to my beloved Brazilians who I am trying so hard to understand. :) Maybe some of you folks can relate.

Your Side of the World by SCC

So here we are we're standing face to face
And yet we seem to be a million miles apart
This world can feel like such a lonely place
It all depends on what you see from where you are
So please, please tell me what you can
'Cause I want to understand

How does it look from your side?
How does it look from where you are?
How does it look from your side,
From your side of the world?

So tell me the color of your sky above
Paint me a picture of the things that make you smile
Show me your fears and what you're dreaming of
Take me to where my heart can see across the miles
And please, please tell me what you can
'Cause I want to understand

How does it look from your side?
How does it look from where you are?
How does it look from your side
From your side of the world?

Don't be surprised to find I'm not too far away
'Cause what we are both in search of is one and the same
So please, please tell me what you see
'Cause I really want to be the one who understands


By the way, unless you´re living under a rock or in America, you know it´s world cup time! Yesterday was interesting because it was the Brazil vs. Japan game. Everyone picked on me, asking who I was rooting for. :) I liked it because I could cheer for everyone! And, as I think everyone kind of expected, Brazil whooped Japan soundly, 4-1. Brazil´s in the playoffs! Hexa!!!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I Heart Food

I think I´ve mentioned in every email I´ve written to people that I am eating very very well here. And it is true, people! I keep saying that I have yet to have a bad meal here or even a mediocre one. I LOVE BRAZILIAN FOOD. You know those verses in the Bible where it talks about receiving back 10 times as much that you give up for Christ? It´s as though with every meal I have here, God is saying, "I´m so sorry for all that crappy food you ate in Japan." (except the cooking of my amazingly talented friends there!) :)

Some of you may be wondering what exactly Brazilian food is. Well, the basic staples are beans and rice. That may sound boring, but it is seasoned to perfection with onion and garlic. Beans and rice are usually eaten at least once a day with a meal. I love it. Also, of course, Brazilians eat a wide variety of fresh fruit, especially apples, tangerines, bananas, mango, papaya, pinepple and passion fruit. They also often drink fresh juices from these fruits. Grilled chicken and beef are also served a lot.

Some Brazilian foods you may not know about (but will wish you did) are things like churros (maybe these are available at some places in the states, I don´t know), brigadeiros, and pasteis. Churros are possibly the most sinfully delicious food in the world. It´s a pastery about the size and shape of a paper towel roll, fried like a donut, rolled in cinnamon and sugar, and then filled with a cream called "doce de leite". Doce de leite (literally sweetness of milk) is a lot like caramel, only smoother and creamier I think. Yes, this is a sinful dessert. I can only handle maybe one a week. Then there is the brigadeiro, which is also a marvelous Brazilian invention. It´s like a little chocolate-caramel ball that is rolled in chocolate sprinkles. Yuuuuummy. Finally is the pastel (plural is pasteis), which is hard to describe in a way that makes it sound as good as it is. It´s like a fried pie with meat and cheese and onions and good things like that. Very yummy. And cheap. I love how cheap stuff is here.

And on top of all these wonderful things, everyday I have the joy and pleasure of eating lunch at the house of my boss/friend/brother in Christ, Jorge. Jorge´s mom, Isabel, is an amazing cook. She makes everything from scratch and it is so amazing. Even foods I normally despise are amazing. For example, the other week she made spinach. Gross, right? Well it was amazing. Yesterday we had cauliflour (I have no idea hwo to spell that, and spell check disappeared from my blogger thing). I normally hate it. But it was so delicious I had a second helping. Then today we had kale. I think it´s called kale, at least. I don´t know the English name for it, because typically we´re not crazy enough to eat the stuff. It´s kind of like seaweed. And normally I hate it. But as you guessed, today it was delicious. Isabel is precious for many reasons, including her cooking (as well as her bubbly personality and incontrolable urge to pamper anyone who walks in her door).

Ya know what else I have become addicted to? I don´t think we have this exact product in America, but here they have something called a Hersey Cookie and Strawberry bar. I know we have the cookies and cream bar in America, with the little bits of cookie in it, but here it´s a milk chocolate bar and the little cookie bits are flavored with strawberry! Lord have mercy. I love it.

Yes. I love food. It´s a good thing I´m walking so much, because if not I am sure I would be morbidly obsese by the end of August.

I´m sure there will be more food blogs in the future. :)

Monday, June 19, 2006

There´s a Stirring

Sorry I´ve been blog-absent lately. I´ve been busy, and last week when I tried to write a very big blog, the internet ate it. I was not amused. But consider it a hidden blessing, because it was kind of long-winded and a little too detailed to be interesting. I´m trying not to make this a day by day account of my time here, so I am going to try to write on different interesting (I think, at least) topics I encounter here.


Despite the vows I made after my campaign in 2004, I am in a choir again. The main difference is that this time it seems that most of the people actually don´t want to throw their songbooks at the director or each other, which is nice. Anyhoo, so I´m in this choir. And it´s lots and lots of fun. Our first performance is going to be at the inaguration of a new church plant the Itu church is supporting in the neighboring town of Salto. I´ll write more about this after it happens, because I think it´s so exciting and wonderful, but this really isn´t the subject of this blog.

In case you don´t know, a popular method of procuring religious hymns and praise songs throughout the world is translations from the English versions, much like we English speakers derived many of our older hymns from Latin, German, or Italian. Sometimes the translations go well and sometimes they´re awkward.

My friend who is the choir director had written me a few months ago and mentioned that they were learning the Portuguese version of "There´s a Stirring." I think everyone who knows the song would agree that it´s musically beautiful, but I have always found the words kind of... weird. So I wondered how the Portuguese version would turn out.

Well to my pleasant surprise, it is WONDERFUL! Much better than the English version, (click to see the lyrics) in my opinion. So I present to you the Portuguese version with my translation into English. Please forgive any bad translation for those of you who know-- my translation is awkward and doesn´t do justice to the beauty of the language. I´d love to give credit to the translator, but I don´t know who did it.

Uma voz vem sussurando no profundo do meu ser
A voice comes whispering in the depth of my being
Insistente está chamando, é preciso responder
This calling is insistant, and I need to respond
Deus agita minha alma, tenho que obedecer.
God stirs my soul, I have to obey
Manda, "Venha mim."
It says, "Come to me."
"Vou, Senhor, vou sim!"
"I´m coming Lord, I´m coming!"

Eu me prostro, me prostro
I bow down, bow down
Quero me dedicar a Te glorificar
I want to dedicate myself to glorify you
Vou sempre Te servir e honrar.
I´m always going to serve and honor You.
Uma voz vem sussurando.
A voice comes whispering


Big thanks to Dan Lovejoy for fixing my silly false quasi-cognate. :)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

My Father´s Daughter

Tomorrow´s father´s day, and like many years in recent times I will once again be a continent or so away from my dad. So in honor of the occasion, I will do what any child of the modern age would-- write a blog. Haha!


I know I´m my father´s daughter when I--

  • would swear on all things holy that "green box spaghetti" is simply the best
  • actually argue for the validity of the sports of hunting or Nascar
  • can truly appreciate a good recliner
  • am responsible
  • am fairly positive that there´s no way I could be wrong about something. ;)
  • check the oil in my car (back when I had one)

Happy father´s day, dad! And all other dads, grandads, and father figures out there!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Nossa Senhora!

Well I finally did it. I read the DaVinci Code. I actually wrote a blog on the DaVinci code about a month ago after my parents´church had a special class on "Decoding the DaVinci Code". I was mostly critiquing the Christian community´s overreaction to this whole phenomenon. But I pulled that blog off a few hours after I wrote it because I thought it was probably not a good idea to speak as an expert on something that I hadn´t even read. So I read it!

This might not make sense if you haven´t read the book or seen the movie, so forgive me if you aren´t in the know.

First of all, Dan Brown wrote a great story. Great as in... entertaining. Very suspenseful and such. Good book candy. But now I can better understand why everyone is in a tizzy over this (although I still don´t think it deserves the hoopla it´s getting). If I were Catholic, I´d be pretty POed about this book. While I´m all for freedom of speech and art and everything (in fact I fall quite heavily on the side of such things), I do believe that this was written with some malice against the Catholic church and Christian tradition in general, whether overt or covert. Anytime you write a "fictional work" about an actual institution or actual people (especially in the world of religion) that paints them in a pretty bad light, you´ve got to expect some anger. It would be like if I wrote a "fictional" book about my beloved alma mater, Oklahoma Christian, and said that it was a lying, murdering, manipulative, oppressive institution seeking to gain only power and glory for itself. I can call it fiction all day long, but people would be rightfully pissed off.

As for the conspiracy theories that the book proposes, I agree that Christian tradition and really the world in general has a rich history of misogyny, and that is an issue that needs to be dealt with. I don´t think it is beyond possibility that there were evil leaders who could have distorted the story of Christ to benefit themselves. I wrote about the book "Captivating" a couple of months ago, and one of the ideas that the book proposes is that the prevalence of oppression of women throughout the history of the world is evidence that there is a greater evil seeking to destroy femininity. I am a firm believer that the traditional Christian idea of God as an exclusively male entity is a destructive lie. At the creation of the world both Adam and Eve were created to embody the fullness of God. Adam alone was not sufficient. So... all that rambling to say that I do think there is some creedance to the idea that Christian history has been destructively oppressive to femininity.

But I also think the DaVinci code takes it way too far into the realm of goddess worship. It´s that darn pendulum I keep referencing. It swung from misogyny to goddess worship! Geez louise people, let´s find the happy medium. :)

I think it´s safe to say that I don´t know if Jesus was married to Mary Magdelene or if he had kids. Perhaps it´s so deeply ingrained in my psyche from years of teaching and assumptions, but I tend to think he probably wasn´t. One of the arguments the book makes is that Jesus would have been an anomoly to be a middle aged, Jewish, umarried man. Maybe I guess, but, Paul wasn´t married. He was kind of a woman hater himself, though. Haha, no hate mail please, that was a joke. :)

The bottom line is that above all, I have faith in God. I have faith in his grace towards me in my ignorance, and his concern for my soul.

Alright, I´ve talked enough about this. In my effort to get Dan Brown more money, I suggest you read it. And I plan on seeing the movie ASAP, too. But my final word on this is that I think Dan Brown and his publishers are marketing geniuses. Get the Christian community in an uproar and you´re guaranteed at least double the publicity and profits. In an effort to cash in on this phenomom, I think I will write a book on the life of Paul called "The He-Man-Woman-Haters Club". Ha! Any other good names for books you can think of?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Thoughts on Learning a Language

Oi do Brasil! Things are still going great. I was hoping to blog a picture post today but I am afraid that isn´t going to be as simple as I hoped, so for now I will talk about a subject that has consumed my life the past week-- language acquisition! I think I am fairly safe in talking on such a nerdy subject because I know my blog readership has experience with these types of things.

Coming to Brazil this time I felt more confident than times before because I have actually been studying Portuguese for the past few months. Thanks to the Spanish classes I´ve taken, Portuguese has never been completely foreign to me (unlike a certain Nihon-go). And since I´ve been reading a lot of Portuguese over the past few months I was feeling a little better about coming and being able to have a slight head start.

But as I´ve discovered (re-discovered) since I´ve been here, learning language via immersion isn´t that easy. My current frustration is that it almost seems like people don´t want me to learn Portuguese. Of course I know that´s not true. I´m pretty sure everyone would be tickled pink if I knew Portuguese. But not many people seem to be wanting to help me much. Maybe some of you can understand some of the situations I´m about to describe.

I am a visual learner, which means I learn best by reading and studying rather than hearing. So, because of this and because I have been far removed from being able to hear and speak a lot of Portuguese for a few years, most of my practice has been reading and writing. Reading, writing, speaking, and listening are the four components of language learning, and they´re kind of like muscles. You going to be a lot stronger in the areas you exercise than the ones you don´t. And my speaking and listening muscles have atrophied. :) So that´s obviously a problem. I think my poor friends who I have been writing to in Portuguese are so confused because they obviously have gotten the impression I can speak Portuguese as well as I can write, but that´s just not true right now.

Also, maybe I´m just a little sensitive because I´m an English teacher and have had a lot of experience talking with people who speak English as a second language, but it seems like a lot of people are not wanting to help me learn. Some people speak so fast that I can´t possibly understand. Some people don´t speak clearly or mumble. Some people use strange words. And it´s not that those are insurmountable problems, but the moment I ask them to slow down, repeat themselves, or tell them I don´t know a certain word they either give up on me or switch to English.

Ha, of all ironies, you know what I need? I need Let´s Start Talking in Portuguese! Someone to practice with me and speak on my level. I´m going to talk to the minister here to see if there is someone in the church who maybe would study the Bible with me in Portuguese like that.

I really do understand most of what I hear, but I´m just so darn shy in Portuguese. In case you are a person who has never been out of your element, let me tell you how it feel at first. It´s humiliating (not like in the dream where you´re naked at school, but in that you are severely humbled)! You´re reduced to the level of a child because you really need help with almost everything. It really helps me see my own problems with pride, because I just want to hand my resumé or my college transcript to everyone and say, "Look! I really am an intelligent human being!" But right now I feel like a lot of people can´t see that because I am.

Another issue is that in language acquisition there is almost always a time called the "silent period." It even happens when children learn their first languge-- there is a time when the child is physiologically able to speak, but they have a time when they just need to absorb for a while. I am absorbing now. I am a sponge. :) Ha, but to try to explain that to the people here is not simple.

So here are my tips for you, the readership, if you are in a situation in which you come in contact with a person who is trying to learn your language--
  1. Speak slowly and clearly, please. That doesn´t mean you have to speak to them as though they were stupid, but be clear. Don´t go 100 miles an hour.
  2. Use basic vocabulary. This may take some training of the mind. It also may require that you yourself actually study a foreign language so that you can better understand which words are commonly learned by beginners.
  3. Synonyms! I am the self proclaimed queen of synonyms. Whenever I´m teaching or talking with a person trying to practice English, if I use a word that may be new or difficult I follow it up with 2 or 3 synonyms. This helps because maybe if you keeping using similar words, maybe you´ll hit on a congnate or a word that they have learned. Get a thesaurus. ;)
  4. Animation! Use your body language and facial gestures to help convey what you mean.
  5. If you think they´re not understanding you, be patient and whatever you do, don´t start talking about them in front of them. They may not be as dense as you think.

That´s all from Professora Ann Sensei. Have a great day!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Day 4

I promise that all of my blogs won´t be titled the number of days I´ve been here, but right now I am completely at a loss for a creative title.

I have some free time and internet access so I thought I´d fill you in a little on what I´ve been doing. Friday and Saturday were great times of catching up with the Graves and the Duttons. I love them so much!

Sunday was such an emotional day. I was so happy to be back at the Guanabara church and see all my beloved friends, but at the same time it was the Graves´ last day and that was very sad. Then we had a traditional lunch of McDonalds with the Duttons (hip hip hooray for Tyler...) and just played around the rest of the afternoon.

Then last night Jonathan and I came to Itu! My stomach was turning backflips the whole way here I was so excited to see everyone. And luckily they were having a choir practice when we arrived at the church building, so I got to see most of my good friends here! I wish I could tell you how happy it made me. I´m still kind of floating in a happy daze.

We went to a festa juninha last night and then hung out at my friend´s English school. I haven´t laughed this much in a long time!

My Portuguese is coming along alright. I draw some satisfaction from the fact that I know a lot more Portuguese than most gringos that come here. Of course Jonathan is putting me to shame, though, even though he speaks like a Carioca. ;)

Like I said before, my heart is overflowing from all these happy reunions and my stomach is full from a LOT of good food! That´s about it! I´m going to try to put some pictures on here sooner or later. Thanks for all your messages! Love you lots and lots!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Chega de saudade!

I made it here early early this morning. It´s been a fun day of happy reunions and great food. I´ve probably already gained a pound. :) Now I am exhausted... so BOA NOITE meus queridos! Love you all!