Sunday, March 27, 2016

Nine Months of Ana

So THIS girl:).
1. Didn't let me pee privately today
2. Chews everything with her two teeth
3. Looks at me and then dives for my (insert whatever I am using)

She is sleeping SO much better since we got back to Brazil and she has her own room (she gets up only once or twice a night, compared to every two or three hours in the USA). This makes me a much happier mother and person. She loves beans (yesssss!) and eat everything, but sometimes randomly doesn't like fruit (WHAT?????). She is doing a great job and loves going to the Living Stones programs with us. 

I forgot how much more dirt is in Brazil (this sounds weird, but it is true), and I thank Jesus that she spent the three months we were in the USA learning to roll, move, and crawl around everywhere, because now she mostly stands up and likes holding hands to "walk" everywhere, which is so much more clean! She can stand on her own now, and we are waiting any day now for the walking to begin. She got her first tooth on leap year (nice and easy to remember that!) and the second tooth followed in without me noticing it until she bit me. 

Thank you for your prayers for our transition back to Brazil! 

Easter Sunday Funday

Isn't that beautiful? I got it from this article from Velvet Ashes. Happy Easter! He is Risen!!

My daughter will never be normal: What being a TCK is about
Short Term Mission Trips can be done really, really wrong. This is from a secular perspective of "voluntourism" but also has some "instead, try" tips. btw, STMTs can also be done really, really well.
Her blog is so pretty. And this has some really good tips for tidying
This is one cool momma:): you must really love your kids.
This has some really good points and this is a really needed discussion.
Looking at failure and "giving up" from a different perspective

So my team (awesome husband, great brother, and cute daughter and I) were able to share the Resurrection Eggs--having the kids tell the story, and small Easter egg hunts with kids in Guadalajara, Mussurepe, Trash Dump community (with Lindsay and Leo--thanks!!!), and Cajueiro Claro.
Funniest moment? When I lost the praying hands to represent the garden of Gethsemane and so I put in leaves instead. Unfortunately, the only leaves I could find were cilantro leaves from my fridge. The kids were SO confused with what cilantro had to do with Jesus.
Best moment? When an older, harder boy at the trash dump (too cool to sit with us, but still close enough to listen) blurted out an answer to the question before he could stop himself. 

You know what? It is pretty incredible to tell the Easter story to kids. They kept asking me questions about things I had no clue about--like what Jesus's new body looked like, and how it could have holes in it...

Thursday, March 24, 2016

John's Update Week 1

So for you that don't know, my lil (taller than me) brother is here in Brazil with us! He has been a great help (helping me paint and put up shelves), and took all the pictures you've been seeing recently (especially in Mussurepe). I am trying to make sure he puts together at least a small update every week. He has also posted on Facebook some interesting things he had seen, like this:
"So far my time in Brazil has been great. I got to see all of the people who I met last time I was here and catch up on what has been happening here. We have gone to most of the Living Stones ministries and did stuff for Easter like telling how Jesus died and rose again and having egg hunts. Another one of the things that at least I have been doing is helping Caid and Rachel settle into their apartment and also now that Ana can move around. The weather is hot but most of the time it is cloudy since this is the start of the rainy season. Over all I am adjusting well and I miss everyone from home but I know that they are praying for me."     -John

Missing Mussurepe

This little town is just far enough off the grid that I almost put it into fairy tale status. When we drive there I take a breath of fresh air. When we have woman's prayer meeting grandma Isabel transforms into Deborah, who "arose up a mother in Israel." (Judges 5:7)

I told Caid that if he dies I want to move to Mussurepe for awhile - just to be away and find myself through the sorrow. Mussurepe is all my Anne of Green Gables and Little Women books combined. My friend said I described it as a forgotten city.
A friend in the ministry was talking with his wife and she asked if they could live good, fulfilling lives if they were just "normal" people who go to church on Sunday and have jobs like everyone else (I think every person in ministry has had this conversation at one time or another). He said yes- yes they could- but they wouldn't see so many miracles. They wouldn't see so many impossible doors open. That describes it well. But the door goes two directions, and you doors open and close a lot in ministry.
The public school (k to 4th grade) in Mussurepe is a mess. They do not have consistent funding (or even consistently paying the teachers), so most years, they will have a full day program for a couple months of the year, and then the promise of a full day program the rest of the year. The quality of teaching is way behind, and most of the boys drop out at 12 or 13 since they can't read well, they have to be bussed to school after 4th grade, and their parent need income now to provide for the family.
 (downtown Mussurepe...a church, a school, a health clinic, a soccer field, and a new playground with Wi-Fi...really?) 

We had a living stones program there in 2012 and it was amazing. The kids are so bright and eager and ready. In 2013 the public school had the full day program, so the kids were busy and learning- and we were excited for them. But it didn't last long. By the time it stopped it was too late for Living Stones to start up again. Same thing in 2014 and 2015. And now, in 2016, they are only doing morning classes, squishing the kids into overcrowded classrooms.

It is ripe and ready and needing ministry. But the workers are few. Grandma Isabel is just that: a grandma that is going to visit her grand kids in Italy until July. And we are Americans who assist, but don't lead new projects (this is a learned lesson).

But my heart aches for Mussurepe  and not going back until July. We were able to go before Easter to share the story and then games and mothers prayer meeting. Over 30 kids showed up (to my 12 plastic egg Easter egg hunt) and were so hungry to learn. I sat next to a mom who couldn't read, but I still shared my bible with her anyway, and she still looked at it anyway.
(egg hunt)

I will miss those ladies and those kids and those men in the community who refuse to come to anything we do...I will miss Mussurepe and hope that the door swings open again to work and live and love these amazing people in my forgotten little town.

(pictures by John Winzeler)

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sunday Funday Brazil

We are back in Brazil and the last of our luggage caught up with us last night. I couldn't help but compare our return this year from last year...both years our friends made sure the dust and grime (that compile after a week, let alone a couple months!!) was gone, but this time we were coming home. We had already made it ours. This time was simply about adding and organizing a couple of things in each room, rather than making each room from (Pinterest) scratch. This time I have a baby getting into everything, rather than being pregnant. I had no idea how many wires we have. Baby proofing is my next adventure.

I also have an "insta-son," as my brother is living with us for 2 months. He has done a great job so far, washing dishes and helping with Ana, and in general, following Caid around everywhere. It does change dynamics to suddenly have a 16 year old living with you too (it means we order TWO chickens on Sunday).While we are finishing raising the funds for the car, Steve is generously letting us use his for a bit.
It was great to be in Cajueiro Claro this morning again! So different from some of the churches we spoke at in the USA
The best thing I have read about politics lately...and explains my attached detachment or whatever it is while being away from the USA...

Ana Sofia has done really well in all the transitions. She slept much more than mommy and daddy did on the plane! She enjoys running around in her diaper (especially while waiting for her suitcase to arrive), and loves climbing around on our bed (surrounded by two walls and our bodies). Her second tooth has popped out one of these days, and she is standing more (while not noticing). It means the world to me to know that this is her "normal."
Happy Palm Sunday! Easter week is coming up, and I am excited to find some ways to make it extra special and thought-full of Jesus!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sunday Funday March

We are packing and working and sniffling (I have a bad cold) and getting in time with special people and there are so many special people...
When faced with suffering over and over: this is one of my biggest challenges in life
The sensual needs. Working to stay in love is not just for marriage
This is a mom in the trenches, and I appreciate it even if I don't agree with everything she posts
The point of sports/hobbies/music/whatnot lessons for my kids
Stuff and being from the USA...reading this as we carry six bags of stuff with us...

There were many interesting things I have seen on Facebook lately--some of them funny as well--politically wise...but I am refraining from posting them. Just because. Truth be told, I am glad to be able to physically leave that part of the USA in a couple of is easier than trying to figure things out (impossible). But it isn't an excuse to stop praying and bringing to Jesus these deep and important issues and the implications they have about and on our society.

I have come to realize that worrying, arguing, criticizing, (and whatever adjective you want to add) about politics is a privilege--one that many of my friends in Brazil do not have. Those in poverty (or still in a poverty mindset from a lack of education or relationship with Jesus) are in survival mode--making sure to get from day to day. It is easy to look down on them for "selling their vote" for a meal or two, but I have never walked in their shoes. I will try to use my privilege wisely.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Stop and Breathe

We leave for Brazil in a week. Stop and breathe.
It is really easy for me to get really stressed really fast the last two weeks before leaving. Stop and breathe.
Ana Sofia has decided to wake up every two hours the past couple of weeks. She has her first tooth. She is scared of grass and soccer balls. Stop and breathe.
Here is something really beautiful written about it. Stop and breathe.

It has been an incredible furlough--or better said--home assignment. As my mom put it, we squeeze a year's worth of work into 9 months in Brazil, and then squeeze a year's worth of work into 3 months in the USA. If you want to know more about furloughs:
Since Christmas, we have
  • Traveled: We spent almost a month speaking at churches in Ohio and Illinois, as well as visiting Connecticut and West Virginia (seeing friends, family, and supporters).
  • Trained: We were able to get training in almost every area that we serve others in: Caid was able to go to a counseling conference and have music training with my amazing voice teacher, we were able to observe and get training teaching English, and Craig Olson (Thank you!) spent a long time with us, giving us training on tech and websites and vlogs and how to all kinds of things. 
  • Gotten Resources: Our bags are already full to bursting with the kindness and generosity of so many people (and we haven't finished packing)! Story after story about God providing--even down to soccer jerseys for Cajueiro Claro--our hearts are as full as our bags. We are fully prepared for an amazing time of ministry in Brazil, and even have a new Living Stones Website, and our own website: 
  • Visisted: We have been able to meet with lots of people and churches about Brazil. We have been able to share our vision and be encouraged and be fed spiritually. We have had amazing time with friends and family, and we thank each one of you! It is never long enough--at times it is only a "check in" with people instead of getting down to daily, dirty, daring life: and if we missed you this trip...let's make it happen next time! 
One last thing...we are still working toward getting a car in Brazil--we still need $8,000. Once we get to Brazil, our ministry is crippled without a vehicle to get to the places with the kids: more time is spent trying to get places than with the children. If you would like to support us, specifically our car, go here.