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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Me Tarzan...You Jane; Learning the Language

It's the end of the day and my kids look like sugar donuts.  They've been playing in the sand of the volley ball court and the sand clings to their sweaty skin-they need to be scrubbed.

Luke is at the tippy top of the guava (goiaba) tree, his new 'jungle gym'.

"Luke, você tem das chaves?" I shout to him.
"Yah mom I have the keys!"

Apparently learning another language happens pretty naturally for kids.  Phil and I spend two hours a day in class to learn what he's learning just hanging out with his friend and listening to the other kids.  Oh to be eight again!

In the two weeks since we pushed 11 suitcases from Canada to Brazil (at least that's what it felt like) we have managed to unpack, make a kitchen out of raw wood and concrete blocks and have begun the process of learning Portuguese.  It's been a great ride so far.

We've settled in to a routine of working on the ongoing construction projects and homeschooling in the morning, language study and language practice in the afternoons.

Our kids are learning things too.  Like not to leave crackers in your Barbie house or it gets taken over by ants.

This is the first time for both of us to learn another language by being completely immersed in it and we're on a serious learning curve.  For two people who love to talk, get to know people and build relationships it can be a challenge but also a motivator.  We are eager to learn the language well and yes, maybe a little impatient.  We're a long way from fluency.

 Just today I was trying to explain something for which I had few words and I'm sure I sounded like a cave woman.

"I need do this.  You help me?"  or something like that....sigh...we'll get there.

Sometimes for fun we use the google translate app on our phones, speak a phrase of Portuguese into it to see if we're saying it right.  Either our accent is terrible or the app has some issues, the other night I was trying to say that I wanted to buy some ice-cream and it said I was trying to buy a transvestite.  Whoops.  I guess I better not go anywhere by myself for a while.

Saying all of that the buds of relationship with the Brazilian pastor and his wife Monica are starting to grow.  Monica is teaching us Portuguese and we seem to communicate enough for quite a few laughs, it's amazing what you can get across with a few words and a lot of body language and facial expressions.

Something that has been an absolute gift is seeing our kids flourish here.  It almost feels like we were trying to raise a pair of border collies in a tiny apartment and we just moved to a farm.  For any of you who know our kids you know they are full of energy, imagination and creativity and this rhythm of life, the amount of time they spend outside is good for their little souls.

Here are a few more photos of our second week.

Waking up 

Asleep in their 'pods' 
They had to wait for their eyes to open to hold them

Is there anything cuter than a new puppy?
There was a big grass fire on the property, this one was lit to keep the snakes at bay 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Week One-Unpacking and Settling In

It's a strange feeling to arrive in a new country and know that this will be where you will spend the next two years, and possibly many more.  It's even stranger still when it feels good.

Maybe it's too early, maybe the other shoe will drop next week, or next month but for now I'm riding the wave of feeling like we're exactly where we're supposed to be right now.

The team of women I am privileged to work with

We know there will be challenges, and language is just one of them.  The other is figuring out what to do with all of the 11 suitcases of stuff we traveled down with, when we don't have any furniture-it's a lesson in making due with what you have and resourcefulness!

We are looking forward to the weeks and years to come, to see where God will put us to work here where it's evident He is already changing lives.

Here are a few photos from our first week:

The looks better now

The hammocks are the kids beds for now

my boy asleep in his hammock 
The 'sapo' (frog)that lives in our bathroom

Lukes first day with the 11 and under soccer team
keeping up

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Long Way Down..with Lots of Luggage

After more tears in the airport as we bid farewell to my sister and brother-in -aw, my sister-in-law and our good friend Larry we made our way through the security gates.  

It took four luggage carts to push our luggage through the U.S. immigration, an action we had to do twice when we found out Phil needed a visa waiver.  Faith and Luke even pushed one cart each (weighing almost 300 pounds) for a little bit until we got to the conveyors to drop it off.  I wish I could say that was the last we saw of it until we arrived in Marabá, but unfortunately you have to collect it again when arriving in Rio de Janeiro, push it through the airport and then through customs before you can check it again.

When we arrived at the x-ray machine the woman asked why we had so much luggage, were we moving to Brazil?  I said yes, that we were to be missionaries.  She asked where and I told her Marabá, at which point the shock/horror she got on her face was something akin to the look I would expect if I had told her I was moving to the South Pole.  We had a good laugh and she stopped x-raying our luggage.

Exiting the customs area we were greeted with the welcoming sight of porters who helped us push the four carts over to the transfer area so we could quickly board our next flight.  

All our luggage, and ourselves arrived safe and sound in Marabá to a warm welcome from Art Rae and Deanna Bergen.  

We are happy to be here, and that the long journey here is done!  

Thank you to everyone who helped get us here, we are excited to get started, now if only I could find....anything!

Bittersweet Good-bye

On Sunday the Cambridge Vineyard, our home church and the place we have spent most Sundays for the past ten years, officially commissioned us as missionaries, and then formed two lines, and hugged, prayed, and cried with us as we said good-bye to our large extended family.

To say it was emotional would be an understatement. I don't know when in my entire life I have experienced such an outpouring of love.

As I walked and looked at all the faces, I remembered their stories, how God had changed their lives during the time we had known them.  It was an incredible expression and reminder of God's incredible power in peoples lives.

We left on Sunday emotionally spent but with hearts full.

Thank you to all of you whom we've built incredible relationships over the past ten years, we carry you all with us.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Travel Details!

In case you're curious, here's what our travel plans look like:

Departure Date: September 10th 2:45pm

Flight Path: Toronto-Miami
                   Miami-Rio De Janeiro
                   Rio De Janeiro-Belem
( we sort of bounce like a yo-yo in Brazil until we finally land in Maraba)

Travel Time: 23 hours 30 min

Luggage: 10 suitcases each weighing 70lbs (yes that's 700lbs)
                  4 carry-on suitcases
                  4 computer backpacks
                  2 pillows
                  2 blankets
                  1 purse
                  1 camera bag
                  2 Adults carrying most of the above
                  2 kids probably complaining about the one thing we ask them to carry

If you're thinking about us during that time period and could pray that our luggage is transferred all the way down without us having to re-check it at each flight change, and maybe that we have patience for our children and each other that would be great!

On the Cusp Great Change

After two years in Africa I realized I might never leave.  Well, actually I think I knew that after about two minutes.  I also realized I HAD to leave.  I was twenty six when I arrived, following and living my dreams.  But there was another dream that threatened to become impossible if I stayed.  I wanted a family.

I made the heart wrenching decision to end my time in Africa.  Little did I know the father of those children I wanted so badly was right under my nose.

36 Weeks 
Three years later when I was close to the due date of our first child there were a jumble of emotions churning inside of me along with a very active baby.  There was an awareness that when the moment finally came and the child I had longed for my whole life and waited for ten months for finally emerged, my marriage, my life, my body and myself would be forever changed.

I clutched my round belly and looked up to the heavens in prayer.  I was scared.  What if I wasn't a good mother?  What if I didn't have it in me?  What if I resented this little child for being the end of our globetrotting days?  And then I wept tears of guilt (oh how early the Mommy guilt begins!), and tears of grief, grieving the end of a life that was, and the end of Africa.  I prayed out loud to God, 'Forgive me for feeling this way, I trust you Lord, you know what is best for me." I surrendered everything I was feeling to God.

If only I had known.  Not that our traveling days were far from over, but about how much being a mother would fill me with a joy I didn't know existed.  That the minute I laid eyes on that wriggly, pink skinned, blue eyed boy that I would fall madly in love with another man and be forever changed,  that two years later when my husband mentioned us possibly becoming missionaries and living in another country, I couldn't imagine leaving.

Luke 1 day old
We are on the verge of another great metamorphosis in our lives, a transformation in our surroundings and I suspect over time, in my family and in each one of us.  I find I'm feeling a lot of those same emotions; excitement, fear, sadness, wondering if we have what it takes to succeed in this new calling on our lives.

There are a lot of unknowns, but the thing I do know, is that just as with parenthood although there will be challenges mixed with the joy, as long as our focus on the one who called us into this remains, He will give us the strength we need to endure and I hope to thrive.
Stay tuned.

Philipians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"

Saying 'I do' Again, and Good-Bye

After spending six hours in the emergency room at the hospital, I really wasn't sure we would be able to pull our vow renewal and good-bye party off last Sunday.  But, thanks to some good muscle relaxers and pain killers I was finally freed from the agonizing grip a severe muscle spasm had had on me since early Saturday morning.

As a light breeze blew and the sun dappled the grass under the trees I took my husbands arm and walked behind our kids to meet our pastor and say 'I do' again, ten years later.

What we are heading into is a huge transition for all of us.  Commitment to each other is paramount.

We were blessed with many, many friends and family who witnessed and supported us, some who were there the first time around.

Thank you to all who came, and all who helped make it happen, we truly couldn't have done it without you.