Monday, July 31, 2006

Festival de Artes

As I think I mentioned on the blog, the last two weeks have been a festival of arts here in Itu. I took part in a community choir and had a blast! We had a few performances last weekend and I get to show you some pictures now.

On Saturday night we performed in probably the most beautiful church in Itu (Catholic, of course, because we know that Churches of Christ aren´t exactly world renowned for their aesthetic beauty). We sang several fun songs, two in Latin... I don´t know the technical word for them, but they´re churchy, and two traditional Brazilian songs, and one South African song.

This is us singing Dona Nobis, one of the Latin songs.

This is us dancing to the South African song, called "Tambores de Minas." KO KOM BA!
Please note the colored blouse mentioned in an earlier post. :) Yay for not looking like a street walker in the church!

Sunday night we sang with an orchestra, and it was SO AMAZING. I loved it! We sang Va Penseiro, part of an Italian opera, and the Hallelujah chorus in Portuguese, which here is the Alelulia chorus. :) I have no pictures of that performance, though. :( Maybe I´ll procure one sometime. We dressed all in black and let me tell you, we were hot.

Here´s a picture of me and my friends Leandro and Ivan.

Also, on a personal note of saudades, yesterday I said "tchau for now" to my beloved friend Pamela, aka the Canadian. She is precious to me and was a lifesaver and will be sorely missed, but I´m sure our paths will cross again. LOVE YOU SWEETIE!

Friday, July 28, 2006

I´m Lovin´ It...

Awwwwwwh........ :) :) :) A picture´s worth a thousand words, huh?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Trying to Shop

I love it here. I am having a great time and a lot of fun and learning a lot every day. I think you´ve gotten that impression via the blog. But because this blog practices honesty in writing, you should also know that it´s not always easy and that there are almost daily cultural things that frustrate me. Here´s one example.

For the choral concerts this weekend our uniform will be black pants/skirt and a colorful top. A solid colorful top. Problem is I didn´t bring one of those with me! So I had to go shopping this morning.

On the one hand, shopping isn´t too bad here because things are generally really cheap. And it´s not impossible to find my size without going to a store for the morbidly obsese (cough cough, Japan, cough cough).

On the other hand... Brazilian women don´t wear clothes like American women. I have to buy clothes two sizes too big just so they fit the way I want them to. I know this is a generalization, but women here usually wear clothes really tight and really revealing. And after a few experiences shopping here, I can understand why.

Because that type of clothing is pretty much the only type available to buy! I went to about 5 stores today trying to find a simple blouse that wouldn´t make me look like a prostitute (pretty much all of them were super low cut or super tight fitting or designed to accent certain parts of a woman´s anatomy) and wouldn´t cost a fortune.

Isn´t that a great irony? Only the wealthy can afford to dress non-suggestively? To a degree this is true in the states, too. If you are a young woman who has tried to shop in the juniors´ sections you know it´s a nightmare.

I´ll admit that I was pretty tempted to just buy one of the plentiful suggestive blouses and blame any inflamed lusts on overstimulated males. But the higher sense of good won out, and I finally found a really nice blouse for not a fortune.

That was just today´s experience. Lord have mercy, I still laugh when I think about the first time I tried on a pair of jeans here. I found a really cute pair of pink jeans that I thought looked like they´d work, but when I tried them on I was mortified at the thought of going into public with half of my butt hanging out of the back of my pants. They fit, but Lord, they didn´t fit. At that point I pretty well decided that Brazilian women are anatomically different than American women. I guess we have all the same parts, but they´re definitely arranged differently. :)

So there you go. Shopping in Brazil.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bus Spirituality

So as I was fuming this morning, waiting entirely too long for my bus, I started thinking about how public transportation buses are a nice metaphor for life or spirituality or something. Bear with me, I´m still working this out.

First there is the waiting. Sometimes in life you have to wait. And (at least in Brazil), you never really know how long you´re going to wait. But you wait, because you have no choice. If you don´t wait, you´ll never go anywhere.

Related to this waiting is that you´ve got to know what you´re waiting for. Buses will come and go, and they´re all going somewhere. But you´ve got to know the one you need to get where you´re going.

So you get on the bus, and maybe you´re in a hurry to get where you´re going. But the bus reminds you that you´re not the only person in the world, because there are other folks who want to get on and off the bus to get where they´re going, too. So you´ve got to learn to work with others through the process. You´re not the only one going somewhere.

What other metaphors can I draw... There are only X number of seats on a bus, and sometimes other people who get on the bus need them more than you do. Sometimes you´ve got to sacrifice your privledge in an act of mercy to others.

On the bus you have to trust the driver. Period. Even though that´s scary at times.

Mistakes on the bus aren´t the end of the world. They´re annoying and inconvienent, but recoverable. (see earlier post about being lost on the bus)

I don´t really know what I can say about getting off the bus. Seems like it´s kind of morbid. Hmm...

Well that´s all. Clearly I spend way too much time waiting on the bus, on the bus, and thinking about buses. :)

Friday, July 21, 2006

On Respecting Each Other´s Insanities and Hobby #2

Last night I guess I started my second hobby of the week after the baking thing. Side note-- I tried to make brownies this morning but something went horribly wrong. Oh well! Anyhoo, this week and next week is an arts festival in Itu, and part of that has been having this superstar singer come in and give vocal technique classes and another singer teaching a choral that will perform at the end of the festival. Since some of my good friends are singing people, they invited me to go along.

I was scared to death as I went, because a) I don´t sing that well, b) I don´t speak Portuguese that well and c) these folks are serious singers. Oh, and did I mention we were walking in a half hour late? So... I was scared.

It went fine. It was actually really really fun, although it´s scary to have a world class singer standing in front of you while you sing scales. It was really good and I think I could learn a lot, but I´m not sure that I want to go back to the vocal technique class because learning the technical aspects of singing is hard enough, but when you don´t understand a lot of what you´re hearing, then it´s even harder. So we´ll see

But the REAL fun was with the choral class. I get to sing alto, praise the Lord, and I´m kind of a novelty because I can actually read music, so even though I don´t know the songs, I can sing along. It´s nice. Plus I get to meet cool new people. So that´s going to take up my nights for the next week and my extra time as I try to memorize these songs in Portuguese, Italian and Latin.


Since being involved in the church choral and now these classes, some of my friends have said things to the effect of that they like singing, but they don´t like it when people are crazy about it-- you know, perfectionists and such. Point taken. I have felt like that at times (cough cough, campaign 2004, cough cough).

But I would like to suggest that we´re all crazy about something. I dare say that even the most laid back people have one thing that they really care is done well. I have friends who love to sing and sing well. I respect their "insanity" on this issue because it´s their passion, and if I´m involving myself with them in this issue then I´m not going to say a word. I would identify my own insanities as probably political correctness and proper grammar. It´s my deal, yo. I know you´re crazy, too. It´s just a matter of admitting it and figuring out what your own insanity is. :)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Pode casar!

I baked pretty often in college. I liked to bake and take things to my friends-- my specialites being chocolate chip cookies and brownies. Yum!

Anyhoo, in Japan I had no oven, and most of my time after Japan in America I was in no shape to cook, so I haven´t really baked in a long time. Until yesterday!

I hung out with my friend Pamela and she made some banana bread (hence the previous post). That inspired me! So yesterday I made a couple of batches of my own version of banana bread. Although I am allergic to bananas, I am able to eat cooked banana (thanks for that tip, Traci!). I don´t think my version tasted very banana-bready, because it had a lot of cinnamon and chocolate, too. But the people seem to like it!

When someone... I guess especially a girl... can cook well, they say "pode casar", which means roughly "now you can get married." Two people said that after they tasted it, so we´ll see. :) Haha...


Also, please be praying for my friend Stephen and his family. His grandfather passed away last week, and this week it was discovered that his dad has a life threatening bacterial infection.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Sometimes we all hear strange things. Especially when you´re in a different country. I just had to share two moments I had on Monday that totally cracked me up. Maybe they´ll give you a chuckle, too.

Scene 1-- trying to explain banana bread to my friend

Ann-- It´s banana bread. It´s like a cake.
Confused friend-- Is it like a pie?
Ann-- No, it´s like a cake.
CF-- Is it like... a pudding?
Ann-- No, it´s like a cake.
CF-- Is it like... a mousse?
Ann-- No, it´s like a cake.

At this point we both cracked up because we were clearly missing each other. Please realize that he speaks English well and there are definite differences in all these things. And he was seriously confused, I think! Oh Lord. :)


Scene 2-- This is a solitary quote that my Brazilian friend said to my Canadian friend who he is going to visit in Canada this Christmas. They had been making a list of things he wants to do while there.

Funny funny friend-- Oh! While we´re in Canada can we go milk the penguins?????

Holy freaking cow. I laughed for HOURS at this as the scene from "Meet the Parents" flashed through my head and I envisioned Ben Stiller imitating the milking motion of a cat. "You can milk anything with nipples..." Holy mackrel. DIED laughing. For the record, he knows full well there aren´t penguins in Canada, and they can´t be milked. :)


Attempt at posting at least one more picture!

This is funny because I don´t even know how to describe it. My second day in Brazil I went to the street fair in Campinas and this ugly guy was doing some kind of modern art type presentation, I guess. At first I thought he was a statue, but then he moved. Turns out it was an old guy covered in mud. If you left him a tip he would give you a Bible verse, so my friend Otavio (at the left) did that. Then the ugly man saw me and beckoned me to him and indicated he wanted a picture with me. I look nervous here because I didn´t want to get muddy-- he was dripping!

MERCIFUL DESTROYERS! This is my small group from camp. We named ourselves the Merciful Destroyers because the theme of our camp was Mercy. We were also known as the "old people group" because we were the old people group. :) It was great and I love them all dearly.

Well folks, blogger´s only allowing two pictures today! Thanks for tuning in! :)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Cidade Nova part II

...So as I look out the window and see the city of Itu behind us, I think to myself, "myself, you are in a situation now, aren´t you?" Then I started laughing. The problem was that I wasn´t going to get off the bus at that point because the bus stops were in the middle of nowhere! Only grassy fields to be seen! Don´t ask me where the people who got off at those stops went, because I have no idea.

So, I´m thinking that I´m probably headed to the next town and praying that we´ll stop at a bus station. 45 minutes later we do and I jump off the bus and look for a phone. I called my friend Marúsia and our conversation went something like this:
Lost Gringa- Hey! Where are you?
Má- I´m at XYZ, where are you?
LG-- I DON´T KNOW! I got on the wrong bus and went to a different town!!!!!
Má-- What?!?! What bus did you get on???
LG-- 47.
Má-- Just get back on bus 47 and come back to Itu.

So that´s what I did. Turns out I went past a little town thing called "Cidade Nova," which is quite ironic since it literally means "New City." I got back on the bus for another hour and ended up downtown, then RAN to the church building and got there at 5:45pm. And it was deserted. I was so sad. So I sat on the doorstep to the church and pouted. But then I called my friends and they came and rescued me and we all got a good laugh out of the whole thing. :) Ya live, you learn, hey? A lot of living in a new culture is not so much learning what to do, but learning what not to do. :)



This is one of my favorite pictures-- all people I adore! Marúsia, Leandro, Ivan, me, and Guto at the movies. Leandro is so precious; he and Marúsia met at university and he´s been really involved in all of our church activities since. He starts a Bible study tonight with Marúsia so please be praying for him!

Well, I wanted to post more pictures but Blogger is being buttheaded. Story of my life, huh?!

Beijos pra todos!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Cidade Nova part I

Yay for more pictures! Today I´d like to thank Pamela, the local Canadian, for her contribution to my picture pool. :)

This is Thiago, one of my favorite people here. I say that about a lot of people, but he really is. :) And he´s a blog reader! Oi Thiago!!!! Saudades. :)

Miriam, me, Marúsia, Bruninha and Ivan at camp. What a good lookin´group. Owww.....

This is Pamela, who I love dearly, because she understands me and helps preserve my sanity on a weekly basis.

As you´ll notice in the photos, my hair continues to grow into an Afro-like state. I don´t know what to do with this mane anymore! Thank God for mousse!


Yesterday I had an adventure. In my family, at least, when we say "adventure" we mean "I got lost."

It started rather innocently. I was going from my house to the church building yesterday afternoon for choral practice, which requires a bus. I´ve gone by bus to church plenty of times, so it shouldn´t have been any kind of problem. But all the sudden when I got there I could not remember which number bus went to church-- 6 or 8. Well an 8 came and went with me being indicisive and time was drawing near for practice to start, so I thought I´d just get on the next bus that I thought would go in that direction. Try to understand here that the bus is pretty close to downtown, so any bus going downtown would have been okay for me to take.

So the next bus I see is number 47, and it´s little descripter says it´s going to "Terminal." I always just assumed that "Terminal" was the same as the rodovidaria, or bus station. That makes sense, doesn´t it? Well the bus station´s downtown so I got on that bus.

It seemed like I´d made a good decision, because we started heading downtown, but suddenly I realized I had a problem when the bus veered and the next thing I know we´re leaving Itu...

~to be continued~

Friday, July 14, 2006

Good or bad?

Time for another good idea, bad idea:

First up:

A cocktail made with fresh pineapple juice, wine, and condensed milk.

I think it´s either going to be really good or really bad. What do you think?


Apparently US passports are going high tech.

Good idea or bad idea?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Pictures from Camp

To further prove that I went to camp and had fun, I have for you some pictures! None of these are actually pictures I took, so many thanks to Vitinho for sharing his. :)

This is me (sporting the OC shirt, sunglasses and do-rag) and my boss/adopted sister/dear friend Marúsia (on the left in lime) competing in one of those three-legged races. I´m not sure who I am trying not to get killed by, but just so you know, I was running backwards at this time.

This is me choreographing during one of our many, multi-hour choreography parties we had at camp. Yeah. :)

This is Reid, Soraya, and me. Reid was great because he was another gringo willing to butcher Portuguese to try to communicate with folks, like me! Soraya is 1000 times cool, and one of many reasons for that is because she can sing the entire soundtrack to "The Sound of Music" (which she, Pamela, and I did the first night of camp-- we´ll be starting our worldwide tour this fall-- haha!)

I love this picture because I think it captures a glimpse of how much fun my small group had. We had the best group ever! YAY MERCIFUL DESTROYERS!!!!!!!!! What a name, huh? ;) This is me, Jefferson, Fernando, and Jandira.

(group picture will go here when Blogger decides to behave)

This is the obligatory group picture. Lots of fun. Many thanks to everyone who poured blood, sweat, and tears into it.

There ya have it! As I procure more pictures from other sources I will probably add more later.

Friday, July 07, 2006

In Other Weirdness...

So today as I attempted to type in my blog address I ended up at a strange place. Apparently I typed, and if you click the link you´ll see where it goes. I tried to read it and find out if I know who this person is, but I couldn´t figure it out. So if that person reads this blog, I would like to ask you to please leave me a comment and explain why you are trying to snare people from my blog. Thank you.


FRANCE!?!?! Seriously!?!?!? Last Saturday was a sad day, because as some of you know my beloved Brasil´s hopes at a 6 time Copa championship were dashed by France. FRANCE?!?!?! Yeah... it was pathetic. I don´t know what team was playing against France, but I know Brazil didn´t show up. Oh well. Misty asked if Brazilians were as dispondent as the media is claiming. I doubt it, although I am sure some folks were crying into their Guaranas on Saturday. I was sitting next to a friend of mine from church, and I saw him quietly wiping away tears when the timer ran out. It wasn´t that he was dying over it, but it´s a big disappointment. I can relate with how I felt when my beloved Elliott was eliminated from American Idol. It´s just disappointment. But we´re moving on. Ready for 2010 in South Africa! :) Oh yeah, by the way, the finalists in the Cup are France and Italy. Uh, yeah, we´re cheering for Italy. My friends and I have voted them the "hottest" team in the Cup. :)

Church Camp

Sorry I´ve been blog and email absent for a while, but I have been at church camp for the past week. Ben Thompson, if you´re reading this I can hear you laughing. Yes, people, I went to church camp. I went to church camp 2 years in high school, and let´s just say I was underwhelmed by the whole thing, and my general opinion of church camp has not been terribly favorable over the years (anybody up for a re-baptism?! haha...).

Anyway, I could say a lot about camp and perhaps I will over the next few days, but let me summarize it for you. Highland Church in Abilene (home of the blog-famous Mike Cope) sends a group of about 50+ Americans down here to run a camp for Americans and Brazilians (and a Canadian, haha). It´s completely bi-lingual. I was a little wary before camp began due to the aforementioned opinions on church camps, but this was really a great experience.

Just one thing I want to talk about now, because I have LOTS to do today. There was a praise band at camp that played every night, and they played two songs that I already loved but meant something so special to me this time. The first was "Blessed be your Name". This has been an anthem of sorts for me over the past couple of years, but seeing as how the past couple of years have been kind of crappy, I always focused on the parts about blessing the Lord when times are hard. But this week I was able to praise the name of the Lord "when the sun is shining down on me, and the world´s all as it should be." The second song was "This is How We Overcome", and I could say with all my heart that God has "turned my mourning into dancing, and turned my sorrow into joy." To sing that song with my beloved friends, at a beautiful camp, in the country I love, with a healthy body was truly a moment where I felt the Grace of God.

I´ll write more about camp later. There are some funny stories to tell, and you American CoC people are going to get a kick out of some of the things we did. Hahaha... ;)