Sunday, November 26, 2006

What's up with me

Hey people! Still reading? Good for you!

Well here's what's up with me. Thanksgiving was great. I ate some of the best food of my life and got to see my crazy, yet much beloved, family. As perfect a holiday as I could ever imagine.

What else... well I've been scrapbooking. Scrapbooking is probably the leading cause of insanity in crafters. Wow, I can't wait to be done (and I think I'll finish tomorrow). In the future I'll show off some of my pages...

One interesting thing I've had the opportunity to do since I've been back is doing Bible studies at the Juvenile Detention Center. It has been so incredible. I'm not sure I've ever enjoyed a Bible study more. I've worked with the same 5 girls the past two weeks. The oldest is probably 16, and the lives these girls have had... man. I know this makes me sound old (and I am, I know), but these are just kids! They shouldn't have to have dealt with the situations they've been in at such young ages. Anyway, this isn't to bemoan society or whatever. I loved the studies because the girls are so honest. None of the churchy façade that so many people put up. They talk about how faith is hard, and being good is hard, and they have such hope for their futures. I love it. Pray for these girls, please.

Readjustment is alright. Some times are better than others. A lot of times I'll remember some joke or quote or thing that happened and laugh to myself, because I know no one else would understand it or even if I explained it, think it's funny. And sometimes I want to talk in Portuguese and I find it rather hard to comprehend that no one here understands what I'm saying, even when I say something simple. I've gone nuts. :) And sometimes I'll think of someone I miss or something I miss and just let out a sad moan or a big sigh. But really it's not as hard as I expected. Then again, I'm only a week and a half into re-entry. :)

I'm off to OKC this week. If you're there, leave a message and vamos combinar fazer alguma coisa... sorry, I mean let's plan to do something. ;) haha...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Real Thanksgiving Thursday

I know I've been blog absent, but let's face it, my life here isn't as exciting as it was in Brazil. :) Actually, I did have an exciting experience last weekend. I'll write about it later.

Tomorrow is the honest to goodness Thanksgiving, so here's the mother of all Thanksgiving lists. These may be repetative, but they're the big ones that I'm super grateful for.

  • Mexican food, chocolate, Dr. Pepper
  • Good books and good music
  • The Bible
  • Amazing opportunities I've had
  • Medical technology that has allowed me to live long enough to have those opportunities
  • Internet and airplanes
  • The fact that I am lucky enough to call several places in the world "home"
  • My friends and my family-- how can 5 words do this one justice?
  • Grace, courage of conviction, and the body of Christ being lived out in this world
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Arrived and Thanksgiving Thursday

I am thankful for--

  • sweet goodbyes and the wise words of Gandalf-- "I will not say 'Do not weep,' for not all tears are an evil."
  • people watching opportunities in the airport-- I saw a Buddhist monk, an orthodox rabbi, an Amish family all in the Sao Paulo airport, and I saw Santa Claus in Washington DC.
  • Taco Bell, Dr. Pepper, American sized drinks with ice and free refills, and Three Musketeers
  • getting to see my family again
  • being able to shop for clothes I understand
  • memories and pictures
  • the kind emails and notes and calls I've gotten from people thinking of me during the past week
  • instant messaging programs
  • courage to stand up for what I believe in
  • hope for the future

Oh love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee.
I give Thee back the life I owe that in Thine ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller be.
--George Matheson

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Oh babe, I hate to go...

Well, in about 3 hours I`ll be leaving Itu, and this time tomorrow I´ll be in Texas. It´s so strange how you can get on an airplane and in a few hours be completely around the world. Freaky.

Goodbyes are heartwrenching, but I have been praying for the past week that God would give me peace and good opportunities to say bye, and appropriate emotions (not too hysterically devistated, but not cold as ice). And God has graciously answered all those prayers in force.

I don´t know how I`ll be about blogging in the upcoming week or so. I might put some pictures up, might have a reflective post, might not.

It´s hard to say goodbye (or tchau for now), but I really can´t complain. I have been given amazing opportunities and experiences, and with the incredible joys I must also accept the difficulties. It´s also like that with the most worthwhile experiences, right?

Love you all. Please pray-- with thanksgiving for the amazing expriences I´ve had here, for your brothers and sisters in Christ working in Brazil, and for my travel and readjustment to the US.

Blog you from the flip side. ;)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

More pictures

This might not be interesting if you don´t know these people, but hey, you know me. I just wanted to post some pictures of people I love very much.

Ann, Ivonete, Jandira-- Ivonete is so precious. She showers love on everyone she meets, and every week I look forward to seeing her at church because I know that she will be genuinely happy to see me. She is so beautiful, inside and out. All my girlfriends here want to be like her when we´re her age. :) For reference, for those who "know" Ivan from earlier posts, this is his mom.

Kária, Joab, Ann-- Kária is the wife of Joncelei, the minister of the church in Salto (planted by the church in Itu). Kária is too precious. She always calls me "Annie," and when she writes my name she writes it "Anny". :) Joab (pronounced Joe-ah-bee) is one of the cutest kids ever. He loves my chocolate chip cookies and draws me pictures. I adore this family!

The other day, to my utter horror, I realized I had no pictures of me with this boy! This is Victor, AKA Vitinho. I love Victor-- he has a joy about him that just makes you happy to be with him. He´s an amazing friend and one of the people I respect most as a young Christian leader. And he´s hilarious-- he is, in fact, the penguin milker. :)

Eu amo Itu! :)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Dinner Nights

A few months ago 3 of my friends and I started this tradition of coming over to my house once a week and eating a nice meal together. Doesn´t the Bible say something about breaking bread together? ;) I love to cook, and so it was always a joy for me to share that with my friends. Last night was our last "dinner" of this year... but rest assured one day they will continue! Jandira, Aníbal, Ivan and I have shared a lot of laughs and a few tears. They are true friends, and I am blessed beyond measure that God put them in my life.

Here´s a little slideshow thing of some pictures of us at our dinners.

Get Your Own! | View Slideshow

True friends


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bento Gonçalves-- Misc Pictures

So this was a great trip. Wonderful to get away, see new places in Brazil (I almost wrote "meet" new places in Brazil... if you speak Portugese or Spanish you understand), and meet great people.

Here are some miscellaneous photos I want to share to wrap up.

This is funny-- let me translate. "Witch Market-- Parking". I´m really not a witch. :)

Pretty good looking group, huh? :) I think it´s funny that of all the amazing photo opps and beautiful scenery, my friends chose to take our picture in front of a group of stragley rocks.

Me and Jéssica

Ivan and I

Fountain of wine!

This is me drinking the green tea the south is famous for. I don´t know why I´m making this face; it was really quite good! Just like the REAL green tea in Japan! :)

Us with Tia Tânia, the owner of the hotel where we stayed. She was SO WONDERFUL to us!!! If you ever go to Bento Gonçalves, you HAVE to stay at the Villa Dei Fiori! :)

So sad to go home! :(

"Carry this special place in your heart with the hope of your return", or something like that. :)

And to wrap it up, I leave you with yet another video of Ivan and I making fools of ourselves doing the toothpick trick in a mall. This time in Bento Gonçalves. If you knew how Brazilians feel about toothpick etiquette, you´d realize how stupid we are. :) Please note Ivan piercing his lip.

Thursday Thanksgiving

Last week I was in an airport all day Thursday, so I missed my TT. But this week I am extraordinary thankful.

I am thankful for--
  • the past 5 months here in Brazil. What a gift.
  • the support of my friends and family in following my dream, although I am sure it looked truly insane for me to be buying a plane ticket the day I got my feeding tube out.
  • the true miracle from God that I came from writing a blog like this a year ago to being where I am now, healthwise.
  • every experience I have had here-- both good and bad-- because I have learned so much about myself, people, friendship, and ministry.
  • the remarkable capacity for humans to learn a second language.
  • my Brazilian family, who have loved me without fail and without question-- Ivan, Jandira, Aníbal, Jéssica, Marúsia, Jorge, Leandro, Vitinho, Joncelei, Kária, Joab, Soraya, Antenor, Phyllis, Renato, Ivonete, Regina, Iara, Seu Zezo, Zezé, João, Ivete, Thiago, Thauana, Felipe, Alessandro, Rafael, Jonathan... and there are many more, I just don´t think I can keep my composure if I continue.
  • a confidence in God that goes beyond what my human fears try to tell me... that no matter how confused or hurt I am, God is working His vision for my life.
Oh, the depth of the richest of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor?
Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever!
Romans 11:33-36

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bento Gonçalves-- Trains and Italians

Saturday in Bento Gonçalves we took a trip on an old steam engine named the Maria Fumaça. It was pretty darn fun. :) First, we took old timey photos of us dressed like Italian immigrants. Here is a picture. I was trying SO HARD not to laugh, which was hard enough considering how we looked, but then the photographer lady kept tell me to look down the train track sadly, and reminding me how I miss "Mateo" and "Giovanna" back in mother Italy. Oh my goodness, I don´t know how I kept it together. I am clearly a horrible immigrant. I like to laugh way too much! Oh wait, I AM a real live immigrant! ;) Ha, we modern immigrants can smile. We have email.

So on the Maria Fumaça, what happens is that you ride on the train and different performers come through singing and dancing. It´s all Italian themed, and it was SO wonderful! They´re dressed in character and they were really such a joy. Ivan´s family is very Italian and he said it was just like being at home with them. :) Here are some pictures.

The little old lady asked Ivan to dance :)


Dancing with the old, singing, Italian man on the train :)

(You can push play, I don´t know why the imagine thing is having problems)

I love the colors in this picture. This was at one of the stops where we´d stop and drink wine or champagne or grape juice.

It was so much fun! It was funny, though. That train went SO slow... probably because there were people drinking and dancing on it. It took 2 hours ride, then we all got on a bus and it took us 15 minutes to get back where we started. :) Ha! Man, Italians are great fun. Mama mia!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Bento Gonçalves-- Vineyards

Aaah, now for the most incriminating blog I may ever post. :)

I have said that Bento Gonçalves is the wine capitol of Brazil, so of COURSE we had to take advantage of the 28 vineyards there. Actually we just visited three. Someday when I return I´d like to spend a week there and try to visit a lot of them. They were so so beautiful-- flowers and grape vines and mountains. And of course, we got to taste a lot of wine. :)

So here are some photos. Lots of photos. :) Enjoy!

Jéssica at the Aurora winery display. This is as close as she got to wine-- she´s only 17. :) Although she didn´t drink of her own will. I am positive no one would have stopped her. In fact, it was quite the opposite! Brazil is very lax about this. :) Oh, and she was our designated photo taker throughout the wineries. :)

You can´t really tell here, but these are HUGE barrels of wine... each was about as tall as me.

This is at the Cordelier Vineyard-- my favorite. At each one we went through a tour of how they make wine. That part was boring, but I´m feigning excitement here. :)

The best part was after the tour, we got to taste a lot of their wine!

Opening champagne with a sword

No comment :)

Jéssica finally gave into the peer pressure. Hahaha... just kidding :)

My beautiful friends

The scenery was beautiful.

This is at the Miolo vineyard. Ivan was pretty excited about the wine. :)

Ha, I was pretty excited about the wine, too! :)



Drink wine, it's what remains of the harvest of youth, the season of roses and wine and drunken friends. Be happy for a moment, that moment's your life.
-- Omar Khayyam


I took a ton of photos, which can be found in my webshots album in the link on the right.


I am leaving Brazil a week from today. I´m not going to write about it until after I get back, okay? I just wanted to let you know and petition for prayers.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Bento Gonçalves-- Getting there

Hello my people! I have returned from the land down under-- Rio Grande do Sul! (this is the southern-most state of Brazil) Like I said last week, I went for a trip with some of my dear friends to the city of Bento Gonçalves, the heart of wine country in Brazil. This will be a multi-part blog series for your reading convience and leisure. And it will be mostly pictures.

We left Thursday. In a great coinkidink, it was probably one of the worst days of the history of airlines in Brazil. The entire country was an absolute mess with delays and cancellations. We were one of the very lucky ones who left only two hours late (and I really am very thankful). We were flying to a small city called Caxias do Sul. But as we arrived and were landing, the pilot came on and said, "Welcome to Porto Alegre. The weather was bad in Caxias do Sul, so you have been diverted here. We have arranged transportation for you."
So after arriving there we boarded a bus for two hours to our original location. It was really a beautiful route that I mostly slept through, and when I wasn´t sleeping it made me carsick. But we arrived at the Caxias airport, then got on our van to go to Bento Gonçalves. We arrived about 5 hours late, but hey, we arrived.

That´s all for today´s edition, because it´s late and I´m tired. Here are some travel photos for you.

Jéssica´s first flight!

Jungle survival kit.

Ivan was not feeling photogenic by the time we were put on the bus in Porto Alegre. This is saying a lot if you know what a ham he usually is. :)

The general sentiment at this point in the trip.

The trip there was rough, but it was definitely more than worth it. Stay tuned for the rest of the series!!!!!! :)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Vamos fugir desse lugar... ;)

Tomorrow I´m going on a trip! I´m going with two of my favorite people to the state of Rio Grande do Sul, the far south of Brazil. The area we´re going to is popular for vineyards, Italian influence, wine, and trains! Should be lots of fun. You can bet I´ll take a million pictures, so look forward to that on Monday! TCHAU!

BWC-- On Swearing

I just stumbled on this website today, although as a Donald Miller fan I should have been here long ago. It might be the Daily Show for Christianity. :)

Here´s a glimpse--

On Swearing