Monday, September 30, 2013


Half-way through my normal Friday schedule I was kidnapped in a closet and told to change clothes. I was then led out to the car and we started driving--SURPRISE! Bachelorette party! Why so early? I am not getting married until November 9th.
Well, as someone was remarking, "It is because she is pregnant." Then, luckily, it was announced that LINDSAY was pregnant, not Rachel. whew. Lindsay is due in a couple of weeks, and post-baby is no party, and going-into-labor-during party isn't very fun. Besides--this way, I was completely surprised.
Picnic at Olinda
Alice: the rabbit, mad hatter, Alice, cheshire cat, and playing card
Down the rabbit hole
Good, amazing food--sugar high
fun, goofy games involving toilet paper
And finish at the beach:) whooo! 
It was amazing to just sit back and know an incredible time was going to be had. It has been a long time since I haven't had to plan, control, or figure out what was going on--and this was perfect timing to just let go and enjoy some of my favorite people in the whole world--Thanks you guys:) 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Listen to the things that break your heart

I read it in an old magazine in the bathroom. One sentence that pulses over and over in my heart, "Listen to the things that break your heart."
I don't want to listen. I want to ignore. I don't want to listen, I want to push past. I don't have time.
I went shopping this morning, and between one corner and another I picked up a follower. A skinny, scraggly brown and white mutt. The typical small, delicate, almost wild-dog looking creature. And she decided she wanted to be mine.
Most dogs in Brazil ignore you. There are dirty, dingy ones all over, some looking sick and ready to die, others looking for a pack--but they know the deal: they are ignored and they ignore. Brazilian street dogs act like cats. I all of my jogging adventures, I've been chased by more cows than dogs.
In another life, at age seven, I thought I'd become a vet to save all the strays. Somewhere around age 17 I realized I only had one life, and not enough time: I needed to choose between saving animals or helping children. I chose children. But I still have a soft spot for dogs.
In the store shop window, I saw the reflection--the little dog following faithfully a couple steps behind me. I still ignored. I spoke under my breath, "Go away, I don't want to stop, I don't want to feel this now." I got copies, and no one questioned my follower. I finally sat down and looked her in the face: "Wrong time, little friend--wrong time--I am leaving."
I passed a dog food shop and bought some food--her ribs were showing. I put the food in a little corner and than ran to the grocery store. But a minute later, while in the milk aisle, she found me again. Dogs in grocery stores. My heart began to worry that she would stop following me. I began the casual glance behind me.
It wasn't until I crossed the street that I looked back and saw the dog almost get hit that I sat down, patted her softly, and said, "You can't do things like that--you are making me worry about you, and I can't have something more to worry about."
I walked briskly the rest of the way home, determined to not look back, to not worry, to not feel, because once I got to my apartment door, there was nothing else to do. And somewhere around the last corner it worked. And I put away my groceries in silence.
"Listen to the things that break your heart." I am a little overwhelmed right now, planning a wedding, planning literacy programs and Children's day celebrations for the Living Stones kids. Learning how to work through little annoying habits with my fiancee and finding I need to invest more in some key relationships that I want to last forever--but they don't last forever left on their own.
There are a million little pin-pricks to the heart every day, different "coulda-shoulda" or "what if" or just plain hard things. Listening to the things that break my heart makes me face my brokenness, but I want to think I have things all put together. I don't. And it hurt that I couldn't help that little dog--it hurt because I know there are so many other little dogs. It hurt because there was no one else to help that little dog. It hurt because I knew I could make a difference if I really wanted to--but I didn't have the time and in the end, it wasn't a priority. And sometimes it kills me that in making a decision to say "yes" to one thing, it means saying "no" to so many other things.
Deeper than that, it hurt because it reminded me I am leaving. This phase of my life is me getting ready to say goodbye to being single, goodbye to the life I've been living for the last 30 years, goodbye to the amazing people in my life who live in Brazil. It is saying yes to the man I love and the life I know God has for me, but it is still a hard step. "Listen to the things that break your heart."

Monday, September 23, 2013

World Vision in Alagoas

In May, my friend, who is a World Vision sponsor, came to Brazil and wanted to visit her kid. I wrote pages about it here:
And I made some new friends in Alagoas, the next down in Brazil. They are doing an amazing job working with 3,500 children in this impoverished town that is suffering horrible drought. For the past three years, they've only received 25% of the yearly rainfall needed. Rainy season just ended, and people are worried because there is no more water reserve to get through the rest of the year.

Inhapi was the small town where World Vision is centered. Carina called it the Wild West. It is known as the Sertao in Brazil. In the 1980s and 90s, a million people from this region died from lack of proper water and its effects. Many campaigns were made to make sure each family had a cistern to collect and save water. Unfortunately, if the rain doesn't come, you can't collect it.

Since World Vision had invited me back (with an open job offer), we took them up on it. They put us right to work, visiting 4 schools in the town, sharing a little about English, about ourselves, about how their American sponsors wished they could visit--but we would have to do for now. 
It was a special opportunity for these children, most of whom have sponsors and have written letters, but have never met an American before.
"Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" is now commonly sung
(notice Caid cheats while touching his toes) And try to find us in the sea of kids:
Before we were done, Carina had a marriage proposal, Caid was singing Bob Marley, and we had talked to well over 1000 children. That night, walking down the street we were joined by random kids, and even had our picture snapped during dinner. Such is the price of fame:). 
We not only enjoyed our opportunity to love on some amazing kids, but were able to take part in some of the World Vision projects. They have literacy, computer, sports programs, and we tried our hand at some Capoeira:
They also have amazing agriculture projects, like a seed bank, an organic farmer's market, fruit cooperative, and animal raising programs--all to help the families become self-sufficient and make ends meet. We met this amazing woman:
Who has this little piece of heaven
that is sustained by this well/pump. It is amazing what a consistent water supply can do! 
We also met Rafael (next to Carina), who is 19 and is going to make a difference in the world.
World Vision has a year long class for 16-26 year olds who are interested in learning more about making a difference in their community through agriculture. It is an intense program, where they spend each weekend at one of the student's homes, practicing gardening or raising chickens or goats or implementing new irrigation ideas--and then move on the next weekend to a different home. Each student is responsible to then continue their project. Rafael had a beautiful garden, using new irrigation ideas, as well as making use of regional species of plants often overlooked. He has decided he wants to go to college to study agriculture and make this his life. Incredible. 
It is great to see other people with the same vision really making a difference where it is desperately needed. It meant a lot that we could come and bless them--and be blessed ourselves. Oh, and Caid made Carina pick cotton. 

Monday, September 16, 2013


I work hard to take care of my health before I get sick. Because I hate being sick. I fear getting sick. Sick means getting behind, missing out, and not completing your responsibilities. And it is something you can't control.
Ha (God laughs).
I started turning black a couple days before Caid came to Brazil. We weren't sure if it was a rash, burn, or some kind of reaction to something...little bubbles popped up on my skin and it alternated between red and brown and itching and not and every day I'd try to assess if it was growing or not...
And then came this zit-like thing on the side of my foot. It kept growing, and people wondered if it was staf infection (that grows into a huge boil/crater). Whatever it was, it wasn't healing. It just oozed puss constantly. 
After living in Brazil since 2004, I went to the doctor for the first time. And they told me I was fine, which made me happy. And they didn't charge me, because their daughters were my English students, which made me very happy. 
The foot zit thing finally stopped oozing and started healing after a couple weeks. It scared me more than I thought. I've always gone to the dump, to rural places, to dirty places and gotten in the dirt and mud with the kids without thinking twice about it. This time, some random something got under my skin and created a wound that wouldn't heal, and I didn't know why. It was a wake-up call to know that I can't control things--and WOW has God protected me over and over from unknown parasites and scary things that I come into contact with--that my children at the dump have to live in. 
The hand rash thing turned out to be a burn caused either from lemon (I squeeze it in my tea and then go out in the sun), tie-dye dye (forgot gloves), or a mixture of the two as well as long exposure to the sun while playing with the kids. I have a cream for it, and the new skin will eventually take over and return my hand to its original color. Healing would probably go faster if I wore gloves, but REALLY?  Funny--for awhile, my hands were the same color as Caid's legs. You know what they say about couples starting to look alike...
So don't worry (Mom, because I know you are reading this), I am fine. 

Life Happens

I shouldn't be complaining that I spent three hours sorting pictures for Living Stones this morning...I should be so excited that we have so many amazing pictures to document what God is doing. But sometimes I complain anyway.
Sometimes relationships feel like this:
And sometimes they are that overwhelming feeling when you do something incredible for the first time, and you look next to you and see him experiencing the same thing.
We had an incredible opportunity to share our testimonies and about Living Stones at the Baptist church in Carpina. They gave us the whole service to sing and share.
And these are the moments of our lives

Friday, September 13, 2013


Scuba diving has been on my bucket list for awhile.
It was so special to be able to do with friends as well.
As soon as I got underwater, I wanted to talk talk talk about how incredible it was. The one thing I couldn't do. It was overwhelming to not only be able to do this dream of mine, but to share it with this amazing man. 

I like being alone. I like it even more when I haven't had time to be alone for awhile. When I took the test, I wasn't sure how I turned out so completely interpersonal and intrapersonal. One letter difference, a whole life  style difference.
Right now I just don't like people. Perhaps, my friend points out, this is an upside to PMS. You just don't care anymore, and you say what needs to be said (and you eat what needs to be eaten). "I like being alone for extended times on daily basis." I tell him. "Why are you just now telling me this?" He responds. And I have no good reason.
I just didn't want to be rude? I just wanted to be nice and do what he wanted to do? I just didn't know? Whatever. For whatever reason, now it is said. "Tell me what you want to do, instead of giving me a list of options and then hope I choose the one you want." Is what he says, and that sounds good to me.
I read this in the bathroom this morning, where all good reading is done: "I take pride in being competent, responsible, and able to take care of's easy to believe the lie that depending on others will always lead to letdown, rejection, and disappointment. I like to have well thought out and logical reasons for my actions. I like to understand and control my reactions."
"In the mirror of intimacy I am invited to acknowledge parts of my heart that I have chosen to ignore or have been unable to see. As I invite others into the deepest places of my heart, they reflect back to me both the most broken and most beautiful parts of me. A pointed question uncovers fear that I didn't realize was controlling me. A moment of vulnerability give me the strength to acknowledge my own brokenness. As I tentatively open my heart to intimacy I begin to see a clearer reflection of myself."
"As I choose intimacy, I also say a hesitant "no" to autonomy and independence. I timidly say "no" to guarding my heart and tentatively say "no" to control. Yes, it is breaking me down, and it hurts. However, that brokenness is drawing me toward intimacy." (By Melissa Hayward in The Cry,