Friday, August 30, 2013


Caid has been in Brazil for a week now. So much has happened as I twist the ring on my finger. I haven't worn a ring in years. I kept forgetting which was the wedding ring finger and then getting asked when the big day was. Now people can ask. Because I know the day.

I wish I could go back to myself a couple of years ago and reassure myself that I WOULDN'T miss it. Two months before Caid and I started dating, my dad took me out for dinner. Frustrated, I asked him for guy advice. "You will just know" was all he said. I wanted to strangle him. Of all the things in my life, that was the one thing I NEVER knew. And now I laugh. Because I just know.

And that is so nice. I didn't miss it--"it" being the right one for me.
After 95% of our relationship being long distance, we are learning how to live side by side. It includes more funny faces, misunderstandings and talking-throughs, and food than I thought. I am finally understanding an active man's metabolism. I stand in awe. My "alone time" has been cut into minuscule pieces, and my desire to do anything besides cuddle on the couch is shockingly low. I've become one of those girls. And I don't mind a bit.
If this is what 31 looks like, I am doing just fine:)

Friday, August 23, 2013


He let me run all around Recife yesterday looking for a ring with him. While he jingled it around his pocket.
He did have to travel 7,000 miles first.
And set up a picnic on the roof. 
And he had recorded a song he wrote for me.
And got nervous and asked me.
Caid and Rachel got engaged August 23, 2013

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Time is so ornery. Going slow when I want it to go fast. Never pray for patience. God answers by giving situations you have to have patience in. Waiting for him to get on the plane and come here. Sigh. 

“What all women want—is simply this: she wants to be chosen. Looked at logically, marriage is a terrible proposition for a woman. She has to risk her life to have a man’s children, she literally loses her name, as she takes her husband’s name, as do the kids. She makes a man a home and assumes, even in our egalitarian age, most of the domestic workload. Why would any sane person agree to so rotten a deal? Because a man can give a woman the one thing her parents cannot. Her parents can love her. But only he can choose her. He can make her feel special and unique. He knows she is worth choosing no matter what that means. Love is not enough. She must be chosen. Choose her. The complaining wife doesn’t really care that her husband watches too much TV, or plays too many video games, or works too long, it is that he does those things instead of choosing her. The man who will regularly demonstrate to his wife that she is his top choice will be the man with an extremely happy wife. She just needs you to exhibit, with regularity, that you intentionally choose her. “ --Laugh your way to a better Marriage

I am ready to be chosen.

“Successful marriages are ones that duke it out in order to establish the rules of the relationship and to set up meaningful, mutually respected boundaries. I do not believe couples should “share’ everything they feel in some foolish attempt at “honesty.” One of the reasons I am still married to the same woman after thirty-plus years is that I don’t share everything I think and feel, because sometimes what I think and feel is not very kind. “

Oh long distance communication! 

“We willingly do “good” up to a point. And what is that point? Our personal happiness. Am I saying God would ask someone to stick in a marriage that makes them unhappy? You can’t secure a happy marriage if you’re willing to discard an unhappy one. Happiness dawns only when we are willing to sacrifice our personal happiness to do what is right. You will either fight to make your marriage work, or you will just fight, period." --Laugh your way to a better Marriage

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Mateus stood on top of the biggest pile of trash, with a look that said he was king of the hill. Eduardo sat a bit to the side, dangling one foot over, and swinging it back and forth. The wind was blowing in our favor, the opposite direction of our faces, so the smoke and putrid air was away from us. Henrique, 4 years old, stood in the midst of a circle of men who called us over to take him home. Home was down the muddy road, about a quarter mile from the stacks of trash, little more than a pile of trash itself.

Henrique’s eyes got even bigger, if that were possible, as I lifted him into my lap in the front seat of our kombi (vw bus). He snuggled against me, suddenly quiet and shy. I didn’t mind a bit. He fiddled nervously with the broken Strawberry Shortcake watch on his arm until we reached the broken shelter spot we call “our place” to work with the kids.

Today was tie dye, generously given by a wonderful couple who had visited Brazil. The kids went crazy with rubber bands, and all I did for a solid twenty minutes was say, “Hey! Back in line—one at a time!” for dipping their bandanas in the dye. Unforeseen problems included the fact that they wore the bandanas, still dripping with dye, instantly. They went over to the neighbor’s water supply and dipped their bandanas in it, and then filled their plastic gloves and started water wars with the now completely blue-brown water.
After apologies and laughter and reprimands and “DON’T put that on your head nows,” we headed home.  Entering the city, we passed a group of women with their groceries, walking back towards the dump (a couple miles away). Already late, Washington turned to me and said, “Mind if I take them home?” Mind? We had the same mind. Back out the city we went, through the trash and then I saw it. Only then.

The brilliant sunflower, proudly tall in the middle of the pile of trash. Growing up through the plastic sacks and remains of who knows what it grew. We stopped for a moment of reflection, the wind reminding us we were still in the middle of the dump. “I tried to plant sunflowers in my back yard and they never grew!” Remarked my friend. “That is because you already had all the blessings you needed,” Commented Washington, “And here, in the middle of all this grime, they needed one more blessing. One thing beautiful. It shows up clearest in the darkest background.” 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Other Side of Reality

Today I brought my laptop to the trash dump. In January, my family had the opportunity to go to Disneyworld. And I stood in the middle of the happiest place on earth and I cried. Because my children, my amazing wonderful children would never be able to go someplace like this. Because it was so far on the other side of reality. And when I am overwhelmed with irreconcilable things, I cry.

I wanted to take back a piece with me. Some enthusiastic Disney workers made some “Mickey Magic” and got me 150 bags, stickers, and maps (in Portuguese). I made a video of characters saying “Hi! How are you?” In Portuguese. I made a video for the children to find things on the map as they saw me walk through the park. And today I sat in the dirt, with kids swarming around my laptop, to see the magic.

The younger children waved back, at Donald, at Mickey, at Cinderella, as they waved and said hello. My voice caught in my throat again. Henrique, sitting next to me, would look at the screen and then look at me in wonder: “Is that you, Tia?” As he reached his hand up and laid it on my shoulder, half wondering if I was a movie star, and half wondering if I was really there with him, just then.

I wondered too. How both Rachels could be real. How I could ever explain that to those huge eyes of Henrique. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

My friend Luizinho

In 2005, I (Rachel Winzeler) met a boy who was just saved and excited about Jesus. I tried to teach him and his friends English, and they tried to teach me Portuguese. He grew up and started working at his church and then began a youth ministry in Carpina. I visited, and was excited to see God working in his life: he had truely become a man of God.
He has been working with Athletes in Action full time since 2012, assisting the basketball program in Carpina, and beginning, leading, and running the program in Guadalajara for over 80 children. When my mother visited Brazil, she kept remarking about this “Professor” and his gentle manner, patience, and love for the children.
Luiz, called Luizinho by everyone who knows him, has been working on a bare budget, often lacking enough money to go to the church by bus. For the first part of the year, he received a salary from a sports grant, but that ended in July. If it were up to Luizinho, he would continue, even if he had to walk to get there, but the leadership has decided that they are going to put the program on hold, and focus on raising support to make sure Luizinho is provided for. He needs $250 a month.

I understand what Luizinho is going through: it is one thing to ask for money for the children, it is another thing to ask for yourself. He is working hard to raise support in Brazil, and I hope that we in the USA can add our part. In the beginning of August, he had to announce to the 80 children in Guadalajara that the program was on hold until finances could be met. Please help us re-open as soon as possible! We have everything in place to expand the ministry in Guadalajara as soon as Luizinho’s support is raised. If you would be interested in giving to Luizinho, you can donate at:

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Rainbows and Sunshine

I have been told repeatedly to quit being all “rainbows and sunshine.”
When asking for relationship advice, but asking it to be for positive things, rather than examples of bad cases. Don’t be all rainbows and sunshine, Rachel.
When telling someone to please keep their negativity to themselves. Don’t be all rainbows and sunshine, Rachel.
When looking at the bright side, or encouraging others to find an active solution. Don’t be all rainbows and sunshine, Rachel.
I understand.
I had an innocent childhood. I grew up in a loving intact family. I received a good education. I was never abused or abandoned. And because of those things, I am in the top part of the top one percent of blessed people in the world today. I know this. But that does not make me all rainbows and sunshine. That makes me responsible.
Responsible to share with others the love and blessings I have been so freely given. But there is a line between critical thinking, and cynical thinking.
I have worked hard to find a balance. And it hasn’t been easy. In serving others, in doing what I know I have been called to do, I have been punched, strangled, and cussed out enough times it doesn’t phase me anymore. I have left my home, my family, my friends, my boyfriend to learn another language, culture, and way of doing things. I have ‘missed out’ on being normal, or having anything that resembles a normal lifestyle. I don’t regret one moment.
But it is not all rainbows and sunshine. I won’t pretend for a moment that the poverty I see on a daily basis is quaint or full of silver linings. I won’t hide the fact that sometimes, I curse those cynics who are “rainbow and sunshining me” as they sit on their tush and do nothing to make a difference in the world. That because of the waste, arrogance, and ignorance of so many people, children are dying. Children are suffering things they never should have to.
And that is cynical of me. I work my hardest to put down those thoughts and make the deliberate choice to think critically and optimistically. To dream about what could be instead of despair over what isn’t. Because otherwise I would fall apart. Because that is the kind of world I want to live in. Yes, I want some rainbows and sunshine. Because I know there isn’t enough of it, not because I am making them up or ignoring reality.

I am sorry for whatever made you become the person that shushes rainbows and sunshine. I am sure it was something ugly and unfair. But put down your cynical. That doesn’t mean give up critical thinking. It won’t be all rainbows and sunshine, but it will be trying to walk in the Light, as He is in the Light.