Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sunday Funday End of October

This has been a lot of our October:
And I am so grateful and excited to once again be a part of planning and discipling and carrying out and getting sunburnt and all that goes along with Children's Day and sharing the gospel with over 300 children. 
Caid and his choir recorded this and had a lovely evening at our house last week:

If you did not get the Living Stone's e-newsletter on Friday--let me know!

Reads from the Interwebs:
1. I am really enjoying Craig Greenfield's writing! As we talk politics- take a look at this: Five tips for dealing with corruption. And yes, I voted this week!
2. What a sad thing it is, when we show someone our heart, and they turn away, or say what we are feeling is wrong. I need to learn how to listen. WHITE PEOPLE in general--we are not listening. Not really. We have to change this, one relationship at a time. 
3. The other day I was wondering if I was becoming more of a feminist. I think reality is that I am connecting and understanding the problems feminists have been talking about. This is something the church needs to be talking about. And racism. and homosexuality. I am not okay with ignoring these things anymore. 
4. The difference between leaving for missions and coming back from missions: a big dose of humility. Well, I hope so, at least. Coming full circle on really understanding the things you say you believe. Quite scary stuff, actually. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sunday Funday Preaching

The vlog this week is mostly all about Ana Sofia. Her favorite foods are green olives, beans, and cheese. She is crazy in love with all animals, especially dogs. Her favorite word is "Daddy," but she also says "shoes" and "boca" (which is mouth in Portuguese). Today, while talking to Grandma Ferguson, she also said "vovo" which is Grandma in Portuguese. So basically, she says whatever language is easier to pronounce. 
If you haven't (or have already), check out our website, which has the other video I did this week, and awesome new graphics, which I am learning to do. Caid preached today in Cajueiro Claro, and it was such a blessed time. This weekend was the last of our Children's day parties: 5 celebrations, 8 communities, and around 300 children: it's been awesome and tiring (as most good things in life). Here are some of their lovely faces:

A read from the Interwebs (and then a rant from Rachel): 
"Why is it Always about Money?" It is a good general question, but specifically it lists an article I posted here recently (What's Wrong with Western Missionaries?) that I can't get out of my head. This whole idea of interdependence and reciprocal relationships and what that means. The thing is, I have mostly been thinking, as the article says, about money. What about everything else? 
I have also been wrestling with how to balance deeper relationships with "working myself out of a job." These two objectives that we have as missionaries seem to be warring against each other: are we hear to set down roots and create meaningful relationships, or are we hear to train, cheer on, and then let local leaders fly as we quietly step back? Paradoxes and promises and a lot more to think about. 

And then there is going home, "Home." Someone (graciously) brought up if our supporters knew that two able-bodied people would be returning home for a year for personal reasons, and if we would be working full time. It was done in a kind way, but it still hit me a bit. My first reaction was to throw back facts: Yes, they know. Yes, Caid and I clock in around 70 hours a week (I am part time, as am a full-time mom), and will continue to do so, working for World Renewal International while in Indiana. 
I wanted to explain how I am conflicted with this "personal reason" of going home, and Zika and children and diseases and natural birth and money...and how I wish my child would be Brazilian, but we feel this is how God is leading. I wanted to share how missionary furloughs, or "home assignments" as we call them, are great and wonderful and really, really complex and difficult. How the transitions get complicated with children. 
I wanted to explain so much because I wanted to justify myself. It sounded like the person didn't trust that we work hard, or that our work is valid. It sounded like they were saying we were taking a year of vacation, and were not fair to our supporters. I know this person trusts me. They wanted to make sure it didn't look bad to others who might not know me. And it might. Anything different from a 9 to 5 job is often misunderstood, especially when it involves other people's money. 
There are awful people who have taken the label  "Missionary" or "minister" and then abused it. Accountability and transparency are important. Working hard and serving with quality is a must. I have, and always will work to be a trustworthy missionary. That is one of the reasons why we have started doing weekly vlogs: we invite you into our daily life as a missionary. The old way of doing missions, where you get a report once every four years, needs to change: that is not enough support or accountability for either side (the missionary and the supporter). We feel that it is part of our calling to have reciprocal relationships with our supporters, and so we open the door for you to see our lives through video. We invite you to come to Brazil. We send you more e-mails than you have time to read. And we are excited to have more time in the USA to cultivate those relationships in person. How much of it counts as official "work time?" That is a tricky line to walk. 

There is another side to giving. When I give money to churches, or people, or ministries, I don't give because they "convinced me it was a good idea." I give because I feel like God is asking me to. In a very real way, I am giving it to God. And while I work hard to give responsibly, I also give without strings attached. My rational, practical self says, "Hey, if they misuse it, God will get 'em" which is completely wrong doctrine, but you get the idea.
Unfortunately, just like we blame Disney for our relationship problems, I blame all those missionary biographies for this "Spend no money and never take a vacation slave missionary" idea. I say this in part jest, part seriousness (and I still read and recommend missionary biographies and Disney movies). I know I put missionaries on pedestals so much, it took me years to call myself a missionary. So we get to the bottom line: who decides if we were careful enough or worked hard enough? God, or the people who give us money? 
I hope all our supporters trust us (and from their responses, they overwhelmingly do!), but I hope even more that they gave/give to us not because we deserve it, or have a pretty prayer card, but because God wanted them to. I hope beyond hope it isn't because I guilted them into it with a really passionate presentation. I want them to give because God told them to, and that is its own reward. No strings attached. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sunburn Sunday Funday

We had an amazing Children's Day party with 80 kids and 3 communities and many people coming together to make it happen. I also forgot to put on sunscreen. Oh well. This week I got my library card in Brazil! This has been a long time coming, and is very bittersweet:
I also put together my thoughts about voting, as I will be sending in my absentee vote soon. From the internet:
1. BE the change! love how Ann Voskamp just goes and does things instead of preaching it.
2. This was right on. Wish I had written it: how to encourage your overseas worker

Saturday was Teacher's Day in Brazil, and we get to celebrate it tomorrow:). Happy Teacher's Day to all you amazing world-changers out there!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Never Ever

If you are #neverhillary or #nevertrump, I understand. If you think through and decide you can't vote for a man who treats women like poo, I understand. If you vote for Hillary just because she is a woman, I understand. If you vote Trump just because he doesn't sound like all the other politicians, I understand. If you vote third party because you don't want to have to tell your daughter you voted for either candidate, I understand. If you refuse to vote third party because it is a wasted vote, I understand. 
If you don't vote because you don't like the candidates, I don't understand. If you don't vote because it is a hassle, I don't understand. If you don't vote because you don't want to have to deal with facing crap, I don't understand. Struggle with it. Disagree with me. But please don't be lazy. Figuring out your political views is taking time to care about the future you are giving to the next generation, even if your political view is to get as far away from government as possible. 
Here is the dirty truth: America isn't the center of the universe. The rest of the world, including many countries with leaders that make our choices look like saints, have and will continue to function. We will continue to function. How you vote is simply a reflection of who you are- and it should reflect your conscience, not mine. How we act the day after the election is a reflection of who you are as well. I want to see beautiful, creative things.
If you have decided how you are going to vote: good. If you want to share why: Okay. If you really feel others should agree with you: sounds normal. But watch where you go after that. It is never your job to change anyone. Ever. 
Here is the ugly dirty truth: I am not the center of the universe. It is not my job to make people agree with me. But Rachel, aren’t you a missionary? Isn’t converting people to your religion your job? Thankfully, No. It isn’t about me at all. I have found this most amazing gift: salvation. I have this most intimate friend: Jesus. And He has made my life better. He has changed me. And so I post on Facebook about Him all the time. I think that everyone I know should be a Christian- because I want them to be happy and find what I have found. But it is not my job to change anyone. Ever. I will not save anyone. Ever. I will only share what I know is true and hope others get it. Thank goodness there is the Holy Spirit to change hearts and minds! 
It is important to warn someone if they are about to hurt themselves. It is important to share the truth, and dispel lies. But it is not my job to control them (unless they are my young child who is trying to burn herself on the stove. I have a little bit of control there. But any parent can tell you that control is very short lived). And it is never my job to change them. Ever. The best shot I have is to live my life in such a way that they will say "Hey, I want that- how do I get it?" 
Sharing your political view is natural, because anything you believe in, you want others to believe in as well. Especially if you feel it will really make a difference in your/their lives. 
Using mean, cruel words or actions to try to change someone's mind is crossing the line. Guilting them into changing their mind is shameful. Anything that is not love is wrong. Confused about what love is? Read 1st Corinthians 13 again. It is never your job to change someone's mind. Never ever.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Sunday Funday Cooking

This week's video was the third Authentic Brazilian cooking video. Sharing about another culture shouldn't be reduced to talking about food--but it sure is a fun part about learning some place new! Here are the videos and amazing (first time put down on paper) recipes:
Traditional Brazilian Rice Recipe: (Video 1)
3 Tablespoons of grated carrot
Small onion, cut small
3 cloves of garlic, diced
2 seasoning packets (or bouillon cubes crushed)
Sauté with 2 Tablespoons of margarine or butter
Add in a kilo of rice and continue to sauté
Add 8 cups of boiling water (add more if needed)

Traditional Rio Brown Beans Recipe: (Video 1)
3 chunks of chaque (salted meat)
½ an onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves
2 Tablespoons of oil
5 pieces of meat/bones for flavor
4 bay leaves
2 Tablespoons cilantro
Greens, as desired
1 Tablespoon coloral (optional)
1 Tablespoon cumin
2 seasoning packets (or 2 bouillon cubes, crushed)
½ a kilo of beans that was soaked in water overnight
6-8 cups of water
Put all ingredients into the pressure cooker and turn it on. Once it is hissing, let it hiss for 15 minutes and then turn off the stove.
Open the pressure cooker (ONLY WHEN ALL THE AIR IS OUT AND IT IS NOT HISSING!) and add your vegetables. Suggested:
Chunk of pumpkin
½ a head of cabbage
6 stalks of okra
Close the pressure cooker, turn on the stove. Once it is hissing, let it hiss for 15-20 minutes, and then turn off the stove. Once the cooker is cooled off/air out, it is done.

Galinha Guisada (boiled chicken) Recipe: (Video 2)
1.5 kilos of chicken
2 garlic cloves
small onion
1/3 cup cilantro
1/4 cup parsley
2 seasoning packets/ bouillon cubes 
Coloral (optional)
Water to cover it all
Keep adding water as it boils. once you see the meat is cooked, stop 
adding water and let it cook a bit more

Coconut Fish Recipe: (Video 2)
A whole fish (Tilapia or other)
Make sure the scales, fins, digestive tract, and weird stuff in the head are removed. Slice in 1-2 inch thick pieces, and then the head. Cover each piece in flour and fry in ¼ an inch of oil. Mix together following ingredients:
Tablespoon oregano
2 garlic cloves
small onion
1/3 cup cilantro
1/4 cup parsley
2 seasoning packets/ bouillon cubes 
Coloral (optional)
A green pepper
6 cups coconut milk (open one large coconut, get all the “meat” out and put in the blender with water) 
Put with the fish into a pot and boil for 30 minutes

Chicken Stroganoff Recipe: (Video 3)
6 cups chicken broth (she just used the broth from the Galinha Guisada)
1 ½ cups milk cream (crème de leite, which you can get at a Mexican grocery store)
A squeeze (Tablespoon) of mustard and mayonnaise 
3 Tablespoons of ketchup
BLEND in the blender and then boil, stirring occasionally. In a large dish put:
8 cups shredded chicken (she just used the chicken from Galinha Guisada)
1 cup canned corn
1 cup canned peas
1 cup of milk cream
Stir everything together, add the boiled sauce, and then add mayonnaise and mustard to taste

Lane’s Rice Surprise Recipe: (Video 3)
1 small onion, chopped
1 small tomato, chopped, 
1 Tablespoon green pepper, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Saute the above ingredients in 2 Tablespoons of butter, and then add:
1 cup of coconut milk
2 cups of chicken broth
Take off the burner and add:
4-5 cups of rice (or shredded chicken and rice) until all the sauce is soaked up
2 Tablespoons of milk cream (to make it creamier) 
Layer rice/sauce mixture in a glass pan with cheese
Put in the oven until the cheese is melted

Here are some reads from the interwebs:
1. Must READ for Missionary hosts and future short-term mission trippers!
2. Yes please! The problem of pain is so big. We need art. We need to emotionally work things out.
3. Getting to the root of the matter and focusing on what matters in parenting/disciplining
4. A look at "Tent-making" missionaries. 
5. Statistics to kinda-sorta maybe understand global poverty a little better. AKA realizing that Americans got it good. 

I am currently having many controversial thoughts about voting and police brutality. Yes. Eventually, I hope to be able to blog about it. We had a wonderful week, celebrating and sharing the gospel with more children for Children's Day (actual Children's Day is October 12, so next week is the bulk of our celebrating). Lots of pictures on Facebook, and videos to come!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

October Sunday Funday

This week I got super excited about the "Baby Abroad" idea that I had. I have been asked a lot, and I know others are interested in what all goes into having a baby somewhere else. And I wish I could have seen these videos before having Ana Sofia--they would have been so helpful!  So, hoping they are helpful to someone else:). Part 1:
Part 2: 

Part 3: 

It was a lovely week, and it is now October! Two months from today we will be in the USA! If you or someone you happen to know has (used) extra winter clothes for a girl size 12-18 months, we could sure use it: all of Ana's clothes are summer clothes. Also a car seat for the same age range. 
October 12 is Children's Day, but we have already started celebrating--and will continue every weekend this month! 
Reading around the Interwebs:
1. What I wish I could Hear from a Politician. So true! We received our absentee voting ballots...and I am still at a loss as to what to do. 
2. An interesting and perceptive look at black men in America and showing emotion
3. Almost All White Working-Class Evangelicals Think ‘Christian Values’ Are ‘Under Attack’. The thing is, THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE! If we are living life right as a Christian, we are supposed to be going against the grain of the government of this world. If we are under attack, then why are we complaining about it instead of praising God that we might just now be starting to get something right?
4. Finally! A fun magazine-style survey for missionaries! 
5. Sacrifice is so tricky! I know I am supposed to be doing it...but how quickly do my motives shift just enough that it isn't for Christ anymore?
6. What big thoughts: "Shame dies when stories are told in safe places." and “Don’t you think the things people are most ashamed of are things they can’t help?”― C.S. Lewis
7. This sort of broke me. I have a lot more thinking to do about this: Who's writing this Story?