Tag Archives: snapshots

Love in Focus (July)

Oh hey. It’s August, isn’t it??
I guess that means I was TWO months behind. I guess that is what happens when you have been teaching addition, multiplication AND division all at the same time for the last 2 weeks.
I guess you get a second post in one day, because we can’t leave out July…it was our month break, and it was lovely!

10452833_10201120453612814_1665382905203689776_oWe had a dear family visit us for a week. We met this couple at NTM Orientation in Florida a year ago, when we were both headed to Brazil. They teach at an MK school right on the Amazon. We had such a fun time catching up with them–swapping missionary life-stories, laughing and crying about the adjustments we’re making. Plus, our kids had a blast with theirs!
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Getting ready for Jubu’s sweet SIX, I asked him what he wanted for his birthday. He said a Lego Star Wars set (knowing those are $100+ down here), I said “what else?” He said a ring pop (since they don’t have those here), I asked “oh dear, what else?”
Well…what a surprise when our friends showed up (having NO idea about that conversation) with a Star Wars Lego set and ring pop for his birthday! How amazing is that?!!
The Lord has been so faithful to supply all of our needs (and even a lego set and ring pop 🙂
He continues to strengthen, encourage, comfort and provide. His mercies keep us going.
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There were lots of tears when our friends left. The entire time they were here, our kids played nonstop from morning to night–no problems. [I mean, these two played in these boxes for hours.] I guess none of us realized how much they’ve missed having kids their age who also speak english! What a timely gift it was for them.
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Thankfully, we had an upcoming trip to grandparents to look forward to (and distract).
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AND thankfully, they have the two best friends in the world…each other. Brothers!
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I love watching the friendship between these 3 grow. Definitely something we have to work on, but something that is so worth it! I just can’t say how special it is to turn around and see this.
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Fun for the entire fam at grandparents–exploring, fishing, dog-hugging, adventuring, reading, hydrating with coconut water by the kiddie pool, trip to the zoo, dates!! and nightly games of chicken foot.
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This handsome had a birthday! Been quite a few years since he was “home” for his birthday, so one cake just wasn’t enough. Plus, he is pretty much our everyday hero.2014-07-14 13.06.022014-07-17 15.11.072014-07-17 15.21.332014-07-17 16.41.55

That, folks, was our break. Our school recently switched to a module system, which means André teaches three modules (two classes per module) each semester. It shortened our breaks, so this winter (your summer) we had a month off. It went all too fast. Just enough time to finish up grading last semester before preparing all the syllabi for this semester.
But, it’s a good thing we like what we do. And work with a staff who does things like have a cookout the weekend before class started…just because.
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Love in Focus (June)

Just like that another semester is in full swing! André is teaching a new semester-full of classes, and this will be my 3rd week homeschooling a 1st, 4th AND 5th grader!

So, before all this gets lost in the shuffle, here’s a bit of our summer…winter…whatever…
break! 🙂
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We had a little homeschool kindergarten graduation (formatura).
As one friend put it, “there’s nothing better than graduating in your socks.”2014-06-06 15.22.28

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This was our first “end of the semester” here. We quickly learned that means classes finish up. AND there’s a party everyday.
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Feijoada! This was a first for me and it was love at first bite. (Who knew pig snout could make black beans so tasty?:)
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Our kids got to play some basketball for the first time in a long while. It was a little different–shooting the ball through the hula hoop a guy is holding–and pretty funny to watch.
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Another first: chickens running around campus in the morning=galinhada for lunch!
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2014-06-16 12.30.36Our Jiggy turned double-digits in June! Funny. Curious. Smart. Tender. Adventurous. Kind. Passionate…so much more…but never dull. We celebrated the life of this TEN YEAR OLD, and all the liveliness he adds to ours! 2014-06-12 13.22.41For his birthday, he wanted lemon pound cake, Brasil to win their World Cup game, to play Checkers with me, and go fishing…of course 🙂2014-06-19 16.15.452014-06-12 13.25.10 2014-06-12 15.33.10 2014-06-12 16.52.23World Cup games were definitely a highlight of our June/July. Watching them with students made for a very lively (loud:), fun and memorable afternoon. 2014-06-12 16.57.32Our boys were born in US, have dual citizenship (US/Brasil), now live in Brasil–there may have been a bit of an identity crisis knowing who to cheer for. 2014-06-16 19.11.552014-06-01 20.30.272014-06-04 14.36.022014-06-23 17.05.58
I love how some things have just become normal–living on a dirt road, evening walks around campus to visit with people, church service at night, everything in portuguese, stumbling upon an empty catwalk, living so much of the day outside (even though this is “winter”). 2014-06-23 11.21.49Our boys opened up a restaurant for our neighboring cows, called “Radio Flyer Buffet.” Word spread quickly and there has been quite a demand, much to our boys’ delight.2014-06-23 11.52.21

Last but not least.
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This was my first time sitting in on an entire Prof André class, and I loved every minute! Here he is teaching through Ephesians. 1 1/2 hours at a time. All in Portuguese! I mostly post pics of my side of life here (homeschooling, learning portuguese, mothering, an occasional catwalk:)

But that’s not what brought us here. And it certainly isn’t what keeps us here!! It’s this. This guy getting to teach and prepare students for ministry to the nations. I have never seen him so alive, loving what he does, and doing it so well! But still, this isn’t about us. It always was and always is about our Conquering King and that coming Day when we stand before Him, and every scorpion or parasite or lonely night will be worth it.
To God be the glory, great things HE is doing!

Love in Focus (May)

May ushered in celebrations for our favorite 11 year old!
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He requested a Minecraft cake and a trip to the mall. We were shocked to see BBQ Pringles (his favorite) here on the day of his birthday. It was a birthday miracle! And feels like another Milestone, as we celebrated one more holiday and found ways to make it special here2014-05-01 17.24.09 2014-05-02 14.11.41 This sweet gal came over to make pão de queijo together. I’ve been making these gluten-free Brasilian cheese bread ball thingies for 13 years now, but it was fun to learn from a brasileira. And, encouraging to manage to hold a conversation for the entire 2 hours in portuguese (who knows what all I said 🙂 ) 2014-05-09 15.43.36 For Dia das Mães (Mother’s Day), the boys took me out for ice cream in town. It’s no Winona, but still charming and quaint and really growing on us. 2014-05-11 16.11.39 After the boys’ “restaurant” had a few large trees cut down on top of it (in the background), they have been working on rebuilding and making it better than before. Now serving cake, coffee, sodas, mashed potatoes and cat food. I love my kids!! 2014-05-22 17.03.09 Each year, the undergraduate students put on a banquet to honor the year’s graduates. I think I lucked out with the best dates! 2014-05-05 21.04.29 This year they chose an Oscars theme. In honor of the verse 2 Timothy 2.15: Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2014-05-05 21.22.58 We have had a blast getting to know this group of students. For this month’s time together, I wrote names of people on masking tape on their foreheads and they had to ask yes or no questions to figure out who they were. 2014-05-26 20.45.07Of course we made one “Gina” who has been the face of Brasilian toothpicks since 1947.  gina

The Bible Institute where Andre is teaching just switched to a module system this year, which means they have three 45-day modules in one semester. The school took 10 days off in May between modules. It was a much-needed break for our fam. photo (11)With this only 4 hours away, we just couldn’t help ourselves to spend a few days here.photo (39)Brasil considers this “winter” – not sure why because it was 80 degrees. But hey, we had the beach to ourselves!photo (38)Just so thankful that he not only knows how to work hard (and does! getting up most days before the sun to prepare and grade). But when given a break, he takes the time to play hard!photo (12)

You know, something occurred to me in May. We moved here 6 months ago never having met any of these people we now call coworkers. Guys, that could have been bad! Like really, really bad. And yet, we have already grown to appreciate these people. This is most of the staff here at Peniel (professors, wives, maintenance, finance, cook). 2014-05-27 21.09.32 We love getting to know them. And feel so honored to be a part of the team.


Love in Focus (February.March.April)

When one month passed, I knew how to explain the delay. Now that it’s been 3 months, all I can say is that when I started homeschooling, some other things had to give. Posting our month in pics was one of them. But everyday I’m taking pics of life here and not scrapbooking them…nor printing them. So, rather than scrapping posting snapshots of these months, these pics will just have to do most the talking 🙂

February DSC_0010 Classes started in February. Which means this is how André spends his mornings. 2014-02-05 05.31.18 And this is how I spend my mornings. I am surprised by how much I love homeschooling. It’s quite a balancing act to figure how to do everything else. But these faces!
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You would have never known the Olympics happened..still only futebol on TV here. 2014-02-11 12.13.51 Care packages from the States = Happy boys!! This one even smelled like grandma’s house. 2014-02-20 17.54.52 2014-02-14 09.05.182014-02-14 10.31.42  2014-02-22 17.50.38
We had to cancel our Valentine’s Party because Jack and Jude got really sick. They were ok enough to decorate salt dough ornaments, eat heart jello (with some tylenol).
And when they got better, André and I escaped to our favorite juice place. 2014-02-23 15.28.28
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This little mutt found its way to our home, and quickly into our hearts. We weren’t sure how our allergies would do, but gave it a go. But when the hives started to appear and noses wouldn’t stop running, she had to go. Sad sad day. But, happy happy memories.
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March and April brought visits from both sets of grandparents!!
(and many sweet memories)
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Coffee doesn’t get any fresher than this. Straight from grove to roaster to grinder to mug!
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There’s our last 3 months, folks!

You know that’s not even close to the half of it, but some of the beauty that makes up our days. I would feel bad leaving you with the impression that it’s always so picture-perfect over here. [Which is why I’ve written about some of our very own struggles that come with adjusting to a new way of living life.] But it also wouldn’t be right if we only focused on the difficulty….because there is SO much good we would miss in doing so.

One thing these last months have taught me is that sometimes deep loss and grief over life as we once knew it can [and does!] co-exist with thoroughly enjoying and rejoicing in this day that the Lord has made. So yes, sometimes the pain of missing loved ones seems almost unbearable. But then, I look out the window at my 3 boys playing soccer in the sunset and think today is such a gift. If we numb ourselves to the loneliness and heartache that comes from being away, I wonder if we then wouldn’t be able to fully feel the excitement and blessing that comes with being here. The whole earth is full of His glory! 20140308_170725

Love in Focus (January)

You know the year is gonna be good when it starts with a churrasco!!
We were still with Andy’s parents for New Year’s. His Uncle Ben, Aunt Karen and Uncle Bill, Aunt Jean also work at the NTM headquarters in Brazil and live in the same town as his parents. So, we celebrated the New Year with cousins and steak!
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It is rainy season here, which means it can be beautiful blue skies one minute and downpour the next. People here keep saying it was such a hot and dry January. Meanwhile, the midwest had an extremely cold and snowy January. Our bodies are so confused. Doesn’t feel like January, but we are enjoying it…rain or shine.
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January 6th holds a special place in our hearts, ‘cuz we celebrated 13 years!!! We usually do a night getaway in Chicago. I really missed that time away from kids and cares, but we’re here on this adventure. Together.
As wild and unpredictable as our life can be, it is also fragile and precious. And I don’t want to take a minute for granted. So, we celebrated. With these guys and the first Starbucks in 6 weeks!!
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We may not have our snowsuits and sleds, but we do have tropical grass and cardboard!
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Oh yes, and we have an above-ground pool!! Try not to be jealous 🙂
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Rainy season= Mud.
Rainy season + 3 Boys= Lots of Mud.
Rainy season + 3 Boys + Dirt Road and No Grass Yet= Lots and Lots of Mud.
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We all have ups and we have downs. Sometimes, the best thing you can think of is packing up a carry-on and venturing into the mountains of a country where all you know how to say is: “Hello, how are you, my name is, what is your name, would you like to play at our house, thank you, goodbye.” Thankfully, every breath is a second chance.
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Our family has been meeting Sunday mornings to read, sing, pray together (footwashing above). Then we have been visiting Brasilian churches (they meet in the evening). This man and his wife are some students here at Peniel. He spoke at a church we visited, and I was just so struck by the Portuguese translation of The Lord is my Shepherd: O Senhor é meu pastor.
It’s easy to feel lost in the transition of looking for a church we can be involved in, but not understanding what the pastor is saying anyway. I was just really thankful for the reminder that we still have the best Pastor (Shepherd) of all! I have everything I need (Psalm 23).
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Our boys had a blast at some friends’ birthday party here. Cotton candy may be listed as one of their highlights in Brazil so far 🙂

We are moved in!!! (More to come on this later.)
But cannot tell you how good it feels to be moved. Unpacked. Settled. Home.
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The Lord continues to show His banner over me is LOVE. All day. Every day.
The verse that keeps coming to mind is Lamentations 3.22-23:

Because of the Lord’s great LOVE we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
GREAT is Your faithfulness.

Most nights I collapse into bed, exhausted. Wondering how we will do this again tomorrow. Homeschooling 3 boys…Learning Portuguese…Getting used to things taking longer (no dishwasher or dryer or pre-made foods)…Did I mention mud?? 🙂

BUT every morning, the Lord wakes me up and we do this.
His compassions never ever fail.
SO great is His faithfulness.
Again tomorrow. And again the next day. And again forever!2014-01-16 10.21.46
Oh yeah. AND we saw the ocean. Because when it’s 4 hours away, sometimes you just have to leave it all behind and splash in the waves for a day.
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2014-01-16 17.56.09Plus, I had to snap some pics as incentive for friends to visit 🙂

Love in Focus (December)

January is almost over. But we finally have internet!! Not good enough to skype yet without cutting out every 4 minutes. But good enough to recap December.

I wonder if I’ll ever be able to look at these pictures without a lump in my throat. We said the hardest goodbye ever on December 2nd. My parents are such a huge part of our lives. For months, I dreaded this goodbye. But I am so grateful for the years they have only ever viewed living 4 hours away as “we can be there in 4 hours.” And as the boys skyped with them again this morning and received emails from them this afternoon, I just marvel at how they continue to be such a blessing in our lives.
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Our boys had such a blast on the plane. At one point, Jude had coke in hand, was chewing bubble gum, and told the stewardess “this is a pretty great place to be!” Jack entertained us with barf bag puppet shows. Miles keeps telling people only to fly Delta.
They love to fly, and it shows. 🙂
What greeted us on the other side will always bring a smile. We have been welcomed with open arms. We continue to be served by these people we came to serve. And, the view!!!!

One big adjustment for me has been re-learning how to cook here. And grocery shop. I have to be careful to read labels to make sure things we buy are gluten-free, but it’s a bit more challenging when all the labels are in Portuguese. Making my first gluten-free pizza with tapioca flour (which is readily available here) instead of GF flour mix was a HUGE victory!
And thus, needed documented.
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We miss our church. We miss our friends. We miss family. But, I am so proud of how eager our boys are to adjust. Excited to meet people and use the phrases they know. Eager to learn new phrases. We still deal with childlike behavior. Because, they are kids. But when I think about all they have been through this month…really, they are champs.
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We have so enjoyed stumbling upon new favorites, like this coffee shop in town.
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Or, this little waterfall.
Leave it to the Americans to introduce Brazil to butter and sugar frosted with butter and sugar sprinkled with sugar (aka decorating Christmas cookies!!!!) 

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The boys enjoy entertaining guests inside (and outside) our home.
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We traveled to visit Andy’s parents for Christmas. They live 12 hours away from us. It was such a blessing to be with family for our first Christmas away from home. And the boys enjoyed motorcycle rides with grandpa (much to Andy’s delight and my chagrin :))

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Our New Year’s Eve tradition is a fondue party. It’s fun to look back through the years at the different people who have joined us for this tradition. This year, we were still with Andy’s parents, so they fondue’d with us as we rang in the New Year.IMAG2319
And boy, does Brazil know how to bang in a New Year! (With enough bangs to wake your sleeping kids up and think we’re in a war…)

Just like that, a year is past.
And another one lies before us.
I hope you are finding 2014 to be one ripe with opportunity.
To seize the day. And make it count. By counting all there is to love along the way.

Love in Focus (November)

I know November is long gone. But these memories are still fresh on our minds and I don’t want them to get lost in a dropbox somewhere in cyberspace.
So, here’s some of our November.
It went far too fast. Full of family, friends, fellowship, and as much of our favorite American foods as possible 🙂
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That broken heart pic was handed to me in the car after saying some difficult goodbyes.
We all feel it.
But I am glad that goodbyes came at a time when we make a holiday of giving thanks. Even in the hardship of leaving, there was much to be thankful for. I’d rather it be hard than easy to leave. For it means we are blessed to know some truly amazing people.
We never quite know how to say thank you to all who have loved and cared for our family.
But, we would love to say you are welcome!!
You know… Well, come!!