Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

This is my family! From the left, my brother-in-law James, my parents Buddy and Jeanie, Jeff holding Parker, me, Blake, and my in-laws Jim and Jean.

We hope you all had a very merry Christmas!

Jeff, Blake, Parker and I head back to Brazil on Friday!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sowing and Reaping

Several months ago, God impressed upon me the notion to be very careful how I acted towards others. The Bible says in Galatians 6:7 that whatever we sow (plant), that is what we'll reap (harvest). He impressed upon me the need to pray every day to only sow desireable things in others' lives.
I've seen these past months many folks who have harvested undesirable outcomes--sometimes immediately, sometimes years later. Some of these have been very mature believers. Almost all of these people have been totally unaware of what they were planting when they acted the way they did.
Some have ripped people off. Then gotten ripped off.
Some have tried to silence another's ministry. Their ministry has been silenced.
Some missionaries have tried to get others sent home. They are home now.
Some missionaries tried to force families to live in unsuitable housing conditions. They then were moved into unsuitable housing conditions.
NONE of these people realize how they planted the seed of the harvest they recieved. Most of them thought they were doing the right thing at the time.
I once heard Josh McDowell teach the three laws of sowing and reaping:
1. We reap what we sow. You can't plant rhubarb and harvest roses.
2. We reap after we sow. We plant, then there is a waiting season, then the harvest.
3. We reap more than we sow. It multiplies before we collect it.
When I pray my daily prayers, I often ask God to help me not sow anything undesirable. When I find something undesirable happening in my life, I do make it a matter of prayer to ask how I sowed it. (I rarely get an answer on this one, but I thought I'd throw it out there anyway).

On a more positive note, this truth means that we need never be afraid to give. We will not find ourselves diminished in any way, only blessed.

Monday, December 11, 2006


I covet your prayers as I board a plane tomorrow with my two young sons to head "Over the amazon and across the Carribean to Grandmother's house we go . . ."
Jeff will follow us on the 20th, but I'll be on my own to get us there on Wednesday.
While I'm more worried about in-flight temper tantrums or diaper shortages than hijackings, I have been thinking alot about them lately. My husband had one in his ministry this past week.
It's the second one he's faced on the mission field. He handled it so well, with such grace and a Godly attitude. I was so proud of him.
While almost inevitable at times, ministry hijackings can be extremely disheartening. The first ministry hijacking I ever saw happened to my mom. My mom had served a small women's prayer group for about 15 years. Every week, without fail, she unlocked the doors of the meeting room, set up the chairs, waited for the other ladies to arrive, and led the meeting. One week, a lady visited. That lady then decided that the group needed a good Bible study teacher and she invited Women-to-Women to send a teacher to lead the group. They did and BAM!-hijacking! The ladies in the prayer group were too polite to tell their new teacher what had happened, so they sat and listened, for YEARS! The visitor lady never returned. WTW teachers came and went, my mom continued to go, unlock the doors, set up the room and listen politely. I'm sure that she wrestled some with God over the loss of that ministry, but overall she was very mature in her attitude toward it.
We have to remember Solomon's story of the ladies fighting over the baby in I Kings 3:16-28. The real mother loved the baby so much that she would rather give it up than see it harmed. The false mother would split the baby in two rather than give it up. We have to be careful to protect the babies in our care from the crossfire of other's territorial wars.
That's what my husband did this week. I was so proud of him.
We also need to remember than hijackings are always humbling, and it's the humble that God can truly use. I do believe that how we handle them frequently determines our next assignment from God. Now I'm praying for my husband as he awaits his next assignment. Did I mention how well he handled it and how proud I am of him?

Monday, December 04, 2006

WWDE? part 2

Well, I'm into the last week of my "Daniel Diet". Sunday, all bets are off. I already have the ingredients set to make that celebratory Chocolate Mousse.

You're probably wondering how Thanksgiving went. I don't know exactly how to evaluate or explain, but I'll do my best.

It was harder to do this while we were traveling than I thought. We drove about 9 hours to Florianopolis, an island city where all the IMB missionaries from the south of Brazil spend Thanksgiving weekend. Getting there was easy, we made one stop at a truckstop with a buffet with lots of veggies. The Thanksgiving meal was easy (I don't care for turkey and there was nothing chocolate, which helped tremendously).

I tried doing what I had suggested doing in my original WWDE post, which is praying as I decide what to eat and not eat and choose accordingly. That worked AMAZINGLY well, as long as I did it. I did this for a couple of days.

Then, I started to look for "patterns" and make "rules" for what I could and couldn't eat, based on the leadings I had been getting over those couple of days.

This is hard to write because in my earlier post on fasting, I recommended that those wanting to fast decide on rules, write them down in advance, and stick to them.
Ahem . . .

I got all confused and all tangled up in the rules and the prayers and the leadings and the food. I don't think I was successful, but I'm not even sure of that!

Anyway, here's what I learned.

1. A fast with rules is ok, the rules need to be Spirit-driven.
2. A fast under the Spirit's leading is ok, too, but most likely to be successful if:
a. You remember the reason for the fast--to humble yourself before God and get closer to Him. Keeping that in mind will ward off a lot of temptation.
b. If you're doing a Daniel-type fast, you study Daniel's fasts beforehand, to know as best you can, WWDE.
c. You don't try to mix the two methods.

Also, Bill Bright wrote a booklet "Your Personal Guide to Fasting" which I found on the internet and has helped tremendously with the practical aspects of this.

So, there's the Thanksgiving update for ya'.

On another note, I'm so excited to be headed home for Christmas! The children and I will leave on Dec 12 and Jeff will follow on Dec 20. I hope I get to see many of you. You know when you see me because I'll be the one with chocolate mousse on my face.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Kids Build Toy Favela

Some children in Rio created a toy favela (slum) in a vacant lot in their neighborhood. Here is a very interesting article with photos.

Apparently, the main benefit to the kids (now older teens) is the opportunity to learn video shooting and production skills from the documentary folks who have come to cover their art. They have begun producing animated videos for Brazil's Nickelodeon channel. Here is a sample of one of their episodes which, at less than 1 minute, is presumably MUCH shorter than the Nickelodeon show.

Monday, November 20, 2006

WWDE? What would Daniel Eat?

Or, When a "Foody" Fasts

I've been on a fast lately. Jeff went to the states on November 2 for 2 weeks and I couldn't help noticing that that was exactly 40 days from when I leave for the states on December 12. Combine that with my recent interest in fasting and a great little book I read on the subject and I'm off on a 40-day adventure.
Today was day 20. I actually started a few days before Jeff left. This was really good because I really needed the moral support those first few days.
The plan was the following:
3 days water only.
2 days juice/water.
2 weeks of water, vegetables, whole rice, melba toast.
Then I added tea, bread, and some oils (like in peanut butter).

The water and veggies only deal is what some call a "Daniel fast," based on Daniel's fasts in the Biblical book of the same name. He and his friends, afraid of eating non-Kosher food in Babylon, restricted their diet to vegetables and water. Later in the book, he went on a three-week fast when he ate "no rich foods." This is currently a very fashionable way to fast, because it's less painful and can be used for extended periods of time. So, basically, I'm doing my own version of a Daniel fast. I'm calling it a Daniel diet, although my goal is to get closer to God, not to actually diet.
Some observations at this point:
I've lost 4 kilos. This wasn't my intent, but I'm not complaining!
I spent days 2-4 in horrible pain. I'm so glad I didn't try and do a water-only fast for a longer time period. Apparently, some important mineral (potassium?) washed out of my cells. It was awful.
I did a lot of research on fasting before I started and it turns out this is really dangerous stuff. I'll never do a water-only fast without hearing directly from God! I'm pretty sure I was supposed to do this one, but it sure was hard. Apparently, the most dangerous part is when the fast is over. You can actually go into kidney failure if you're not careful!
I have had some pretty significant spiritual "markers" since beginning, and gotten some ideas for works, but I expect the main results to come after the fast is completed.
Anyway, my biggest surprise was what an awful faster I am. When I was younger I fasted a good deal. But then I was in college and grad school and food was not a big deal.
So, what happens when food preparation is your hobby and you put rather bizzare restrictions on your diet? You spend your days inventing delectible recipes that conform to these restrictions! Stewed plums. Grilled Portobello mushrooms. Sushi (OK, I bought the sushi). Quinua grain from the mountains of Bolivia. The World's Best Oatmeal.
I've had a blast.
I don't know that Daniel would have done it this way, tho.
I think next time it may be simpler to ask before each menu plan, "Would Daniel eat that?" Rather than try to lay out every little rule to follow in the beginning.
Anyway, that's what I'm up to these days.
If you think of it, pray for me to honor God in this venture, or maybe just to make it through Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Prayer Request

This from our fellow IMB missionaries here in town:

Dear prayer warriors,

Because of an unfortunate auto accident here in Brazil on Friday, we need to ask for your urgent prayers for a complicated situation. Whether this should be viewed as an attack by the evil one or just unfortunate circumstances of life, we know that God can work on behalf of our and your prayers to resolve this. After having spent three days driving to arrive in Campinas, São Paulo, during which Mark had two very encouraging meetings with Brazilian leaders who are excited about being a part of Project Sedi, Mark was in the process of preparing the studio for doing the beginning taping of the project. He realized that he was dangerously tired, so he asked the pastor who was working with him if he would be willing to drive the car. An unlicensed and undocumented motorcylist ran into the side of the car, and was taken to the hospital with a scraped leg. In Brazil, because the motorcyclist was injured, he becomes the victim and our pastor friend, Vladmir, is considered to be the agressor, even though the young man was clearly in the wrong. Here is where it gets complicated: This young man could file suit against Vladmir, since he was the driver of the vehicle. Also, as the owners of the vehicle, the mission is not cleared until the driver is cleared. And finally, our supervisor said that as a foreigner in this country, Mark’s career as a missionary in Brazil could be jeopardized. We ask that you pray that Pastor Vladmir be exhonerated of all responsibility for this accident. Pray that the motor cycle driver would heal quickly, and that no legal action would be registered against Vladmir, the mission, or Mark. As you know, we are preparing to fly to the US on Tuesday evening to attend our son’s wedding. Tuesday morning Mark has an appointment to meet with the police to do the final paperwork for this accident. (Friday the photographer was not “in” at the police station, and Monday is a holiday.) Please pray for a speedy and complete resolution of all these issues.

Gratefully yours,
Diane Ellis

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

TV Preachers and CPMs

Shortly after his release from prison and the release of his autobiography, I had the chance to sit down with Jim Bakker at a convention in Los Angeles. I was working for a radio station at the time and convinced the news crew to let me do the interview. I wanted to give Bakker the opportunity to tell his side of the story.

I told him how I’d seen his ministry change, from a simple, sincere morning interview program to a media extravaganza complete with Christian shopping malls and time-share condominiums. I opened with the obvious question: “WHAT HAPPENED?!!”

He told me that the ministry outgrew his capacity to keep up with it. That, by the end, they were having to raise 1 million dollars a week* just to keep it going. The pressure was tremendous. The focus shifted from the people being reached to the money needed to reach them.

I’ve seen ministers rationalize that type of thinking. “We stress X% growth and we count numbers because each number is a soul.”

My husband, Jeff, has been working for the past year to plant a network of house churches in the working class suburbs of Porto Alegre. The problem now is that the leaders want a church building. Never mind they don’t have but about 15 people to put in it. Never mind that no one has the funds to pay rent or mortgage, or even a power bill. They want to be “official”.

I don’t begrudge these folks a building, or respect in their community. I go to a church that meets in a building, always have. My fear of the building is that the focus will shift from those people who need to be reached to the need to fill up the building and pay the bills that come with it. It’s almost inevitable.

I had a surreal conversation with a fellow missionary (not IMB) the other day. I asked about their new church plant among the upper-class here in town. She described how they were moving the time of their weekly service to Sunday morning, from Sunday evening, because they thought people might find that more convenient. She continued to tell me who all they had talked to and how they were trying to attract them to this weekly service.

I just wanted to take her by the shoulders and shake her and say: YOU DID NOT GIVE UP YOUR LIFE AND MOVE TO BRAZIL TO GET PEOPLE TO ATTEND A ONE-HOUR WEEKLY CHURCH SERVICE!!!


There was a time when we equated church attendance and Christian growth. In the early years of our marriage, we spent HOURS strategizing on how to get young couples to attend church. We had events, we went to conferences, we lost sleep, we prayed.

I see now that the problem was likely that our focus was on the attendance, and not the people. We had no idea that was what we were doing.

I hope this group doesn’t lose their focus.

*My memory may be faulty here. It may have been per day or something like that.

Friday, November 10, 2006

My Buddy George

Jeff is in the states for two weeks taking a doctoral seminar. I'm here in Porto Alegre with the kids. We've had a really good time so far--and we've past the half way point. Jeff returns on Wednesday.
While Jeff has been out, I've been spending lots of time with George . I don't know how many of you have a George Foreman grill, but they can be extremely useful. Especially when you're alone with small children and don't want to cook. George makes grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers, toast, steaks. The only drawback is he's a bear to clean. Newer Georges have removable plates that go in the dishwasher -- so don't let this turn you off if you don't own one already.
Jeff hates mushroooms, so I've taking the opportunity to eat Portobello mushrooms for supper almost every night. Simple recipe, just spray the mushroom (both sides) with Pam (or brush on oil) and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill. They're great on thick slices of toast.
On a side note, I thought I was rather high-tech with my kitchen. Most of my recipes are on the computer or the internet, as is my shopping list. But this takes the cake (or should I say the "steak")

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What to wish?

A month ago, I posted asking for some ideas of what to get my husband for his birthday. I got some great ideas. He ended up getting an Ipod. He's loving it. I bought it on Ebay and a team brought it in for us. He's got LOTS of really old Petra on it and some man reading various books of the Bible. Honestly, it kind of creeped me out to hear some strange man's voice reading scripture coming out of my computer, but he reads along in his Bible and really enjoys it.

I also learned how NOT to buy something on Ebay. See, I actually bought a used Ipod! How embarrassing! But, the memory was twice the size of the one I thought I was getting, so it worked out well.

Anyway, now it's come around to my birthday. Jeff is leaving for the states in a week and will get back right before my birthday. The problem is that I don't have the benefit of the US advertising industry to tell me what I want.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Googling, part 2

One of the most interesting things about administrating a website, or a blog, is being able to see who visits your page. When I post regularly, I get anywhere from 15-25 hits a day, a pretty pitiful amount, but they come from all over the world. I don't know how they find me or why, but folks from, literally, all over the world visit.

Some folks I do know how they find me--those who have arrived through an internet search for some topic I cover. When we first got Parker's diagnosis, my doctor told me to google the words to find more about the condition. Apparently, may other people do this, because a lot of folks have landed here through typing "hydrocephalus" or "ACC" into the search engines. I don't have anyway to find those people, all I can do is pray for them.

On the lighter side, many folks find me by doing food searches. I don't know the Canadian who's looking for a "cheddar cheese store in porto alegre." If I did, I'd tell her that the Big Hipermercado on Sertório has real imported cheddar from a dairy in England.

I wish I could email the new missionary looking for "easy recipes for missionaries in Brazil" my recipe folder.

One last question, what is a "Thug Cam" anyway? And what makes Google think I'm one?

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Ralph Moore, the original Hope Chapel guy, has seen tons of churches planted. He says in his book, Starting a New Church, "A new church can be a magnet that attracts disgruntled Christians who have a history of conflict in other churches. My observations over the years tell me that more new churches fold from an inability to confront disruptive people than from any other cause." (p. 37)
So, how do we train our people to deal with conflict? How do we train them to confront the disruptive among us?
My husband is thinking of developing a curriculum for training church planters. Has anyone run across a source for a class on this topic?
Also, an admonition to those of you training church planting teams--don't leave this important instruction out of your "curriculum"--however formal or informal it may be.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Well, I've made the plunge! Thursday I became not only a soccer mom to Blake, but a Suzuki mom to Parker. No, I didn't buy a very expensive 4-wheel-drive station wagon. No, I didn't buy him a tiny little motorcycle.
What is a Suzuki mom? The Suzuki method of music education is a method geared toward the very young. From the reading I've done, you're apparently supposed to begin at about 4 months gestation. The method adopts the principles used in language-learning to the learning of music. It uses LOTS of repetition and LOTS of listening. Basically, the child learns to play by ear.
Parker and I are terribly excited.
My Little Twinkler and I go every Thursday morning for a group music class, where 8-10 2-4-year-olds sing scales and songs, dance, and bang away on children's instruments. Parker loves it. On Thursday nights, we'll go to concerts and see older children play "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" OVER AND OVER AND OVER. . .
At home between classes, we listen to CDs of the songs used in the classes. One song at a time, OVER AND OVER AND OVER. . .
In a year or so, we'll choose an instrument for Parker to begin learning. We can choose violin, viola, cello, guitar, piano, flute, or recorder.
I resisted the idea for awhile, because I didn't want to turn into the Martha Stewart of motherhood (a typical neurotic perfectionist) or push my kids too hard. Actually, it's not like that at all. The whole method is based on encouragement and celebrating the tiniest accomplishments.
Parker and I are terribly excited. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to put the CD on REPEAT . . .AGAIN.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Cat and the Rat

Paul and Lori Vernon are a couple of Four Square Gospel missionaries working with the Ankh tribe in Thailand. This story from them made me laugh so hard I cried.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pizza night

Tomorrow is pizza night. The come around quickly nowadays. See, we decided to make Fridays pizza/movie night here in the fam. Since many missionary kids have a problem developing a concept of time, I thought it would help Blake to get the concept of a weeks and months down. [A week is the amount of time between pizza nights; four pizza nights is one month, etx.].
After almost a year of pizza nights, I've got it pretty much down to a science. But it still takes all Friday afternoon. Two dough recipes and three pizzas-pepperoni, Canadian bacon/pineapple, and banana. The boys (all three of them) absolutely love it.
My favorite dough recipe is Basil Parmesan. I like it not only because it is beautiful and good tasting (in that order), but it's very easy to handle. I also get a big ego rise out of using my own fresh basil and grating parmesan cheese. It also fits perfectly on a rectangle pizza stone. I put pepperoni on it.
In addition to this, I use Jay's Signature Pizza Crust from allrecipes. For some reason, I have to use 5 1/3 cups of flour instead of Jay's 3. But, then I divide it in half and make the banana and Cannadian bacon/pineapple.
To make a banana, I roll out the crust and coat it with a heavy layer of cinnamon sugar. Then layer banana slices to cover and coat with another heavy layer of cinnamon sugar. Then, layer just a sprinkling of mozzarella, and yes, even more cinnamon sugar. Basically, the more cinnamon sugar you use, the better. If it's low-moisture mozzarella like in the states, I spray the bananas with some Pam to keep them from drying out. Bake as usual.
Since I use fresh pineapple for the Canadian bacon/pineapple pizza, I microwave the pineapple for a few minutes and try to get some of the moisture out. I do the same for the Canadian bacon.
One unanticipated benefit for me has been that it has really helped with menu planning. Since we eat the leftovers on Saturday, that's two less days for me to have to plan.
So, anyone have a good movie suggestion?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

"To be a missioner is to go where

you are needed,

but not wanted,

and stay until you are wanted,

but no longer needed."*

that's pretty much where we're at right now.

This quote, from a Catholic missionary to Hawaii, appeared in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin upon the closing down of a beloved mission in Honolulu in 1997. I do not remember the man's name or the details, but the quote has stayed with me ever since.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Taco Salad

Here is a version of Taco Salad that my family loves. It's a little on the sweet side.

one large chunk of onion,
one garlic clove,
2/3 cup of oil,
2/3 cup of ketchup,
1/2 cup of sugar,
1/2 cup of vinegar,
into a blender. Blend well. Congratulations! You've got Catalina salad dressing the missionary way!

1 1/2 pound ground beef. Drain and rinse.

¼ cup water,
1 small onion, finely chopped,
2-4 Tbsp. Chili powder (How much depends on how long you've been on the field and, therefore how old your chili powder is),
and the blender mixture to the ground beef. Mix well and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.

Layer on a plate:
Chopped tomatoes,
Grated cheddar cheese (or the substitution available in your country).

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Back after July Break

You may have noticed, we took a break for the month of July. Actually, we took a "pretend vacation." Since we've been on the field a year, we decided it was a good time to refresh and regroup. It was great. We cut out a lot of our superfluous activity. Blake was out of school, so I didn't volunteer at school. Our weekly team prayer meetings were cancelled. Bible studies and house church worship continued as usual, except for our annual mission meeting in São Paulo. We slept later, I cooked less, I let the house get dirtier, we read more. We didn't blog hardly at all, or spend much time on the computer. It has been very refreshing and now we're ready to go at it another year.
Jeff has returned to blogging. You'll be interested to see his updates.
Blake has also posted some, as has Parker.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Sesame Street Personality Quiz

I took The Sesame Street Personality Quiz and this is what it told me:
You Are Bert

Extremely serious and a little eccentric, people find you loveable - even if you don't love them!

You are usually feeling: Logical - you rarely let your emotions rule you

You are famous for: Being smart, a total neat freak, and maybe just a little evil

How you life your life: With passion, even if your odd passions (like bottle caps and pigeons) are baffling to others

So, who are you?

HT: Dorcas Hawker

Monday, July 24, 2006

A Mother’s Heart

The Bible says, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45).


You see, we have a small family. A compact family. I have my two small children who are always well-groomed and frequently we dress alike as a family. We don’t confuse our children’s names. We don’t even have a dog (too much spittle), we have a cat (a ragdoll, named Montana’s Café com Leite na Praia). That’s who we are.

We know those families with 4+ children who always have someone ill, who at any given moment have someone bleeding, who are known by name in the emergency room. But we are not them. We know those families who when you talk with them you have to guess to which child they are referring because they generically insert names because they never can remember the specific name of any one child. We aren’t them. (They all live in the Amazon, where there's no cable TV).

THOSE are the families who are always sick, not us. We only have two. We’re the compact family. Until this week.

We were startled late Thursday night with the sound of Blake throwing up. It took me awhile to figure out what the noise was because this has never happened before. The problem with a 6-year-old who’s never thrown up is that he doesn’t know how. I have never thought of vomiting as a learned skill before. Concepts like: “Lean over the toilet, dear”, “Don’t put your hands in your mouth, honey”, and (most importantly), “Precious, don’t turn around to talk to Mommy right now” have to be taught.

About 20 minutes into Blake’s episode, the Cat decided to show some solidarity and she began throwing up. So, we had vomit at each end of the house.

They both got better until Saturday night, when, after rationing him crackers and water for two solid days, I decided Blake was ready for meatloaf. NOT!

Parker got in on the action last night and after three hours, two baths, more chunks of Kitty empathy, more Pinesol, and MANY more wipe up rags, we got to bed.

I called the doctor this morning. He says we’re almost over it. Two more days of eating carefully and we’re home free. I’m so thankful.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to go make some applesauce and Jello.

*I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Southern Baptists who have provided, through generous gifts to the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, such floors, walls, and bathroom fixtures as can easily be cleaned. God bless you.**

**Really. I mean it.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Everything I Know About Fasting--A Really Short Post

Fasting can add another dimension to our spiritual lives. We can be more aware of God’s presence with us, we can have more insights into His workings, we can have more power in our prayer lives. I don’t know how it works, but here are a few tips that I have if you’re interesting in adding this discipline to your prayer life.
Fasting is mentioned in scripture, but we aren’t told a lot about how to fast. Most of our modern day teaching on fasting comes from Matthew 6:16-18 when Jesus said,

“Moreover when you fast, don't be like the hypocrites, with sad faces. For they disfigure their faces, that they may be seen by men to be fasting. Most certainly I tell you, they have received their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face; so that you are not seen by men to be fasting, but by your Father who is in secret, and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.”

We can see two things from this: 1. Jesus expected that we would fast (His use of the word when) and 2. that we shouldn’t brag about our fasting. I think it’s this number 2 that makes teaching on fasting so rare. We’re so afraid of bragging that no one even admits to fasting, much less gives others hints on how to do it. So, teaching on fasting becomes almost taboo.
I feel the need to say here that I am not a frequent faster. I was when I was single, but I’ve found it more difficult as a married woman who needs to get 3 meals daily on the table for the family. I’m making it a priority to learn how to fast and be Mommy at the same time. So, these tips are some I learned “on the job” in my earlier years.
Tip #1: Determine the length and conditions of the fast at the beginning of the fast, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. You won’t be able to maintain a fast that isn’t Spirit-led—and who wants to fast in the flesh anyway? I find it best to write these down, to help myself remember and not rationalize. It’s very easy to feel led to break a fast when you’re hungry, but if you’ve written down a specific day and time to break it, you’re less likely to give in to hunger pangs.
Tip #2: Start small. If you aren’t accustomed to fasting, don’t begin with a forty day water-only fast. Skip a meal. Spend that time in prayer. Gradually work your way up to longer periods of time.
Tip #3: Not all fasts involved the elimination of all foods. God may lead you to drink only liquids, including juice, or He may lead you to give up TV for a time. One of my most common methods of fasting has been to avoid solid foods for a period—anything I had to chew I didn’t eat. Juices, yogurt, puddings, were okay. Once, I ate only white foods. This tip is particularly suited for those who can’t follow a complete fast for physical reasons (nursing mothers, diabetics, etc).
Tip #4: Don’t be “religious” about your fasting, be Spirit-led. I’ve tried many times to have a regular fasting schedule, and never with good results. It may be that God leads you to have a schedule, it’s just never worked for me.
Tip #5: Remember, you’re fasting to spend more time in the presence of God. Don’t get so distracted trying to take your mind off of food that you forget the MAIN THING.
Tip #6: You probably won’t get your “answer” until after you end the fast. I have, personally, never gotten an answer for whatever I was seeking until sometime after the time of fasting had ended, usually a couple of days later. This may be because fasting can make you a little “loopy” and you’re more clear-headed after things get back to normal.
And that, literally, is Everything I Know About Fasting. Please remember that these posts are just my experiences, not taken from scripture and are neither infallible nor universal.
Next post, an awesome and easy chicken soup recipe and back to more missions-type stuff.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Everything I Know about Prayer, continued

Discretion in Prayer
As you begin to pray under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, God will begin to show you how to pray and things to pray about. When people realize you are an intercessor (someone who prays for other people), they’ll begin to share their prayer requests with you. These things you need to keep to yourself, for several reasons.
First of all, you want to spend your energy praying, not talking with others. I think we’ve all been to “prayer” meetings when the entire time was taken sharing requests and no time was left in the end for the actual prayer. We can exhaust ourselves talking to others, and feel like we’ve accomplished something; but actually the only thing we’ve done is exhaust ourselves.
Another reason is that, whether it is from God or another person, you’ve been entrusted with that information and you’ll want to show yourself worthy of that trust.
I’ve found that the best way to keep a confidence is to never let others know there is a confidence being kept. If you have a prayer partner, don’t go around telling folks who it is. If you have gotten a prayer request, don’t tell anyone there’s a request to be investigated. This will save you a lot of evasive, or not so evasive, answers and eliminate the temptation to say more that you should.
Several years ago, I got an email by accident. It was a communication sent from one of our top mission leaders telling a friend of his upcoming resignation. By the time I figured out it was not intended for me, I knew the content. I knew that God had caused that to happen so that I could pray for that family during that transition. I also knew I could never tell anyone I had gotten that email. Fortunately, I was deep in backwoods Brazil at the time and so the temptation to blab was not as great as if I’d had colleagues around me.
A final reason to keep things to yourself applies to those things you’ve heard from God—you may have heard wrong. We never know if we’ve heard accurately from God until things do, or don’t, happen as we heard. Sometimes we never know for sure.
If you feel like God has shown you something, you’ll never go wrong by talking to Him about it. You may go very wrong if you talk to others. Just think of the trouble Joseph would’ve saved himself if he’d kept his mouth shut about his dreams (Genesis 37:5).
So, these are my “stream of consciousness” ramblings about prayer. I apologize if I’ve been too elementary for those of you who are seasoned intercessors.
I’ll make one more “Everything I know” post on Fasting and then head back to more missions specific topics.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Everything I know about . . .prayer

Since I've found it so hard to think up topics to post on, I've decided to do a series on Everything I Know. We'll start with prayer and see where that takes us.

The first thing I've learned about prayer is that you learn it "on the job." If you commit to being an intercessor (someone who prays for other people), God will show you how as you go along, especially if you ask Him. Remember when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray and He responded with an example of a prayer--the Lord's Prayer (See Matthew 6:9-14).

One thing God will do is He'll impress upon you what He wants you to pray in a given situation. He leads us in prayer, just like He does in other areas of our lives. Ask Him, and then get really quiet. He'll show you what He wants prayed. For example, my mother prays a great deal for our ministry. We had a new convert recently and when my mom read about it on my husband's blog, she felt led to pray that this young believer would have a strong confirmation of the certainty of her salvation, that no one in her family would be able to dissuade her from her decision. So, we're all praying that for this girl.

Another thing God will do is give you "prayer assignments." Some people call this a "prayer burden", because that's what if feels like-a real heaviness of heart about someone or some situation. It's almost like being worried about something, without the anxiety. Just a feeling that you must give your attention to the situation. If that happens to you, then pray and pray and pray until you no longer feel the urgency, or heaviness. This happened to me a few months ago in regard to some of our mission leadership. I felt that "burden" and began to pray. God led me to go to the internet and do a particular search to get more information (Yes, I am aware of how bizarre that sounds, but it's true :). I found the information I needed to know to pray and I began to pray. For about 2 months I felt this need to pray for this situation. I prayed morning, night, and whenever I thought about it during the day. Suddenly, about 9 weeks after I was given "that assignment", the burden went away. Just as quickly as it had come it was gone. I knew I had prayed enough on that situation. This is often referred to as "praying through" (I guess it's like going "through" a tunnel, you come out the other side). Often, when we no longer feel the urgency to pray, we feel guilty. We feel we should still keep praying and should still feel the urgency. That's when we need to just thank God for the opportunity to participate in His work and move on.

Those are some things I've learned about prayer. I'll continue this next post with some thoughts on the role of empathy and emotions in prayer and the importance of discretion in our prayer lives.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The ONE Thing I'm Learning This Year

We've been in Porto Alegre for 9 months today. As I look back on those months, I can see one certain lesson that God seems to be wanting me to get. It's been repeated over and over and over since we got here, not in scripture, but in my life. That lesson is "Hard things get easier with time and practice."

Blake started 1st grade here this year. This was a surprise to us since we expected him to be in kindergarten. You would believe how difficult those first few weeks of first grade were! Take spelling, for instance. He got a 10 on his first spelling test. Every Monday, we had spelling homework to make a sentence with each word. It would take over an hour, I'd have to sit there and coach him in sentence ideas. The first month he cried every Monday. I didn't know if I could face 9 months of that. Now, he makes a perfect score on every test and is writing his sentences without our coaching.

Blake is in physical therapy for his "toe-walking." Basically, we're doing stretches and strength-building exercises on his calves. Each time he gets a new stretch, he yells and cries and protests in agony. After a week or two, he's saying, "No problem, that's easy!"

When Blake saw us setting up our blogs, he decided he needed one of his own. Those first few posts were absolutely ARDUOUS! It took FOREVER for him to think up 3 sentences on a topic. Now, with just 9 posts under his belt--he writes them all by himself, I just come in and quickly correct his spelling--30 minutes max.

We're walking a lot here. We live in an apartment that's close to lots of things and close to bus routes. One day, shortly after our arrival, Parker and I decided to walk to the Blockbuster. It was SO FAR that about half way there, I really regretted the decision to walk. When I got there, I was ill. I didn't know if I could make it back. Today, as Blake and I were walking to physical therapy, we breezed past the Blockbuster and I wondered if someone had moved it closer to our house!

Housecleaning and cooking on the field were the same way. First term, I ruined about 2 out of every 3 dishes I made. Now, suddenly, I'm a pretty good cook. I thought I'd never be able to keep my own house clean. I was exhausted for the first four months we were in PoA. Now, a schedule has evolved, I work the schedule and it's done!

What's hard for you right now? I have two things right now. Blake's Portuguese homework frequently leads to tears, not only for him, but for me as well! Also, there's the whole dinner/bath/bedtime chaos that every American family knows so well. Jeff's ministry is taking him out more and more nights and I'm on my own for the challenge.

So, what do we do? We dig on our heels and do it hard and everytime we do, it gets easier. Remember how much closer the Blockbuster is now.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Apple-Raisin French Toast Casserole

Overnight company? Morning breakfast meeting?

This recipe has saved me many a time!

Apple-Raisin French Toast Casserole

Friday, May 19, 2006


I'm about to get his with a tripple whopper, folks! June contains not only my 11th wedding anniversary, but Father's Day and Brazilian Valentine's Day. And so the big question for the day:

A video game isn't romantic enough, a good Christian book isn't big enough, a sweater is just too practical, I don't have time to learn to knit a scarf.
I need your ideas. There are about 350 of you people reading this--someone is bound to come up with something.

Leave your ideas in the comments page. To do this click on the word "comments" below and type your comment in the text box that pops up. The easiest thing is then to check the "anonymous" button and hit the "publish" button. You can always sign your name in the bottom of the comment if you don't want it to really be anonymous.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Our Little BIG Miracle

"I won't need to see him again." With that short statement, Parker's neurologist released him.
Those of you who have been our prayer partners know
Parker's story. Twenty-three months ago, EXTREMELY pregnant and in the depth of Backwoods Brazil, I began to have problems and, after two trips to the emergency clinic, I hopped on a plane to the states. We had been planning to return home for Parker's birth anyway, I just left a month earlier than expected.
During my first ultrasound in the states, the sonographer was strangely quiet. There was too much empty space in the brain cavity. Something was missing. The readings indicated a missing corpus callosum, a bundle of nerve fibers that connects the two hemispheres.
I called Jeff that evening. He and Blake had remained in Brazil to pack up and settle things at home and in the ministry. We prayed and cried together on the phone. It was terrifying.
For two weeks, we struggled with computer equipment to try and get word out to our prayer partners. I returned for regular untrasounds, each time expecting a divine healing--each time being told there was no change. Finally, we found a way to get word out to our prayer partners.
With intense prayers from our partners, we began to see the measurements inside Parker's brain change. Each ultrasound showed a little less empty space.

When Parker was born, scans indicated he had a fully developed corpus callosum. This was our first miracle.
However, he also had some mild hydrocephalus (water on the brain). We moved to Delware to be closer to the specialists at AI DuPont Children's Hospital and got on the emotional rollercoaster that was Parker's first year. The ride went something like this: see the doctor, get a scan, get a good report, rejoice, calm down, get nervous about the upcoming doctor visit, see the doctor, get a scan . . . . and so on.
The most common remedy for hydrocephalus is surgically installing a mechanism called a shunt. Having a child with a shunt means NEVER going more than 4 hours away from good quality neurosurgical care. Having a child with a shunt for a missionary family means NEVER serving in Backwoods Brazil again, and possibly NEVER serving overseas again. The doctor we had at AI DuPont just 'happened" to specialize in less invasive treatments.
At 8 months of age, Parker began to show symptoms of pressure in his brain. To make a long story very short, Parker had reached an age when he could have an alternate procedure performed that didn't involve the installation of a shunt. (Note the second miracle). On February 15, 2005, Parker had brain surgery. The surgery he had was successful and completely fixed the problem. The roller coaster was slowing down.
Our mission did not feel comfortable sending us back to Backwoods Brazil,however, and so we did have to transfer to Porto Alegre to be able to receive follow-up check-ups from a pediatric neurologist. We were confident that Parker would remain healthy, but we did feel that God was using this incident to move us south. We moved to Porto Alegre and Parker continues to develop normally. After 3 visits to the neurologist, she has released Parker. Now that we're over the shock of the realization that we moved about 2500 miles for just 3 doctor visits, we're rejoicing. We're so grateful to God for His provisions during this long ride. We're so grateful to our prayer partners for lifting us up during it. We so grateful for our families for riding the roller coaster with us and not screaming even once!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Grace, Determination, and Faith

Following is a memoir from a retired missionary, Ann Wollerman, who served in Brazil for about 40 years. She is 91 at the time this tape was made. The tape was then transcibed and posted on the internet. I'm posting the entire transciption here because I found it so inspiring. It's long, but worth the read. As you read it, notice
1. Her astounding faith.
2. Her extreme determination.
3. The abundant grace of God made available to her as she lived in a really difficult place.

You can go along way on the mission field with those three things.


It is so good to be back with you again. The hugs and greetings! And I want to thank Pastor Dale and all of those who make the program for giving me this wonderful opportunity to once again share with you the great, miraculous things that God has done in my life. And I do it humbly giving all the glory and all the praise to Him. And I want to encourage you in your walk with Him. So I will just touch on three of the most memorable days in my 91 years.

Of course the first one was the night when I was born again. I had been born on December 13, 1910 but when I was twenty_six years old the Holy Spirit convicted me that although I had been brought up in the church, I was a lost sinner. I had one foot in the world and one foot in the church. But that night as a guest in a little Methodist Church with my sister and her fiancé' I found Jesus and I accepted Him as my Lord, as my Savior. I asked Him to forgive me of my sins, to cleanse me, to change me, to make me a new creation as this book says He will do. And he did. He made me a new Ann.

And so that night I made the first vow that I have ever made to the Lord. I said Jesus, from this night on I will be what You want me to be. I will go where You want me to go. I will do what You want me to do. And so my wonderful life of walking by faith began.

Of course I realized that to serve Him I would need more than my high school education. But how could I go to college and then to a seminary when I had no resources whatsoever? So He began His miracle in my life, an unheard of thing I was able to secure a full work scholarship for my college training and for the seminary.

During that period I came to know what His plan was. What He wanted me to do was to go to Brazil, not to stop along the coast where other missionaries were and where our Baptist work at that time was very developed, but to go way out there into the interior of Brazil where very few missionaries of any denomination would go. To live with the people, love them, and to share with them the glorious gospel.

And so when I graduated from the seminary with a Masters Degree in Religious Education I thought I am ready to go to Brazil. But God thought otherwise. I was not appointed by the Foreign Mission Board and I was crushed. I made the second vow of my life. I said Father if You want me to go to Brazil I will go with Board or without Board, but You have to open the door. I will not go around knocking on doors trying to force it. So God instead of sending me to Brazil at that time sent me to Corpus Christi, Texas. And you will hear later in my testimony why that step was God's plan, not mine.

At that time the big city church was the First Baptist Church of Corpus Christi. It was right after Pearl Harbor that I went there in 1942.The staff was composed of the Pastor, the janitor and me. We were it. So I had ample opportunities to serve the Lord, to mature and to devote myself to the young people during those early world war days.

Then in God's timing He led me back to Arkansas to the college or the university, as it is today where I graduated. This time I was a professor and I was director of all of the religious activities on the campus! It was there and then when I was 36 years old He opened the door, this wide, a little crack. I was not appointed, I had no sponsorship but I remembered my vow and I knew I had to go through that little crack. When I resigned and declared what I was going to do, people thought I had lost my mind.

And so I made my third vow to the Lord. I said I know Father this is Your plan and You have opened the door but so all of the people will also know it I'll make a vow to You I will not ask anybody to support me not even the work that You will give me to do. I will never make a speech and ask for money. I will never write a letter and ask for money. I'll bow my knee and ask You and You will provide.

And that is my testimony until this day.So at age 36 for twenty_one days I traveled on a heavily loaded freighter at sea from New Orleans to Rio de Janeiro. Then one whole week of arduous travel from the eastern border of Brazil to the extreme western border of Brazil by truck and a wood burning train.

Finally, I arrived in the big interior state, called Mato Grosso, (which then included Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul), which means the big woods.Well, I didn't know any Portuguese, and had no orientation, or language studies. But as soon as I could I went to Campo Grande, the largest city in that area. There I lived in a little Brazilian rooming and boarding house.

There were no other Americans around to help me. I had a wonderful, intelligent, young man to be my teacher. He didn't speak a word of English. He only had a little high school English. I didn't speak a word of Portuguese but our miracle working God after six months, before I had been in Brazil one whole year, had me open a school teaching the whole primary curriculum of Brazil in the Portuguese language to His people.

But after my language study I found a little place that God had sent me to. It was called Amambai, Mato Grosso. It was not on any map. There was no church there, no school there, no doctor there, no banks; I didn't have much use for that anyway. Yes there were no banks, no post office, no electricity, and no bus line linking it with the nearest town where those things were available. But there were people, beautiful, wonderful people who were waiting to hear the Good News of the Gospel that I had to share with them.So of course all of the children and young people came to my school.

I taught one group in the morning, one group in the afternoon and at night the young people. I told all the children now Sunday will be Sunday School and bring your parents. So Sunday we had Sunday School and all of them came. In one year God worked His marvelous grace. There were enough converts to have a Brazilian Pastor come, baptize them in a little creek, organize our church and become the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Amambai.

Well one day I was riding my horse that was my transportation. I was not a very good horsewoman but he wasn't much of a horse either! So we got along just fine! So one day I was riding the horse, God was blessing and yet I felt so little, so isolated. I said Father I have given You my life but how can this one little life make any impact on all that need here and beyond. And He said to me, Ann put your life into the lives of your young people and they will do what you cannot do. Oh, I wish I could tell you about the young people who came out of that insignificant little place, where they are, what they are doing today! But I must go on because when that little work was strong enough I moved on I lived in six different places to begin from scratch or to enlarge what little work was already there.

I even was the first missionary to go to the state capitol, Cuiaba. It was a very forbidding place in that big area and it was the last state capitol of all of Brazil where there was no Baptist witness.So God blessed me as I went into little towns. At this time I had a pickup truck with a loud speaker on it and a gasoline motored generator so I could show a filmstrip on the main street of town at night. I'd get out my accordion and I'd stand on the street corner, Richard (speaking to the church song director), and I can't sing but I'd play my accordion. I was always accompanied by some of my young people and they would sing.

That's the little seed just planted and God prospered. Before I knew it I was sixty_four years old and I knew that I only had one more year there in Brazil before I would be retired. It was the retirement age set by the Board, and by that time I had been appointed. At this time my little mother needed me. She had been in a nursing home for four years because I couldn't come home. I had no way to maintain my life in Brazil and so when I could retire, I came back.

And so I told the Lord, I said, I will go but who is going to educate my young people? And He said once again to me, Ann, I want you to start a Bible Institute right out here in Mato Grosso, and your people can be trained here instead of having to go to other states and places for their preparation. Well I could do most everything but to begin an institution frightened me to death, but He provided. We built three little, very meager, frame buildings on a lot that the church gave us and walked sixteen blocks back and forth to the church for classes but God honored and blessed it.

I went back to Brazil shortly after my little mother went to Heaven. The first thing I did when I got back was to dedicate a great big track of land that we had been able to buy very cheap with the little offerings that I had been able to send while I was here. On the day of the dedication the young people played their guitars and they sang and we worshiped and praised the Lord. I was to give the dedicatory prayer. I reached down and got a handful of that red dirt, there is just brush and nothing out there on that land, I don't know what I prayed that day but I know I reminded God that my people were poor. They did not have resources to build, I did not have any resources and I had my vow that I would never ask for money, but I said, Father we can't but You can.

One month and a half later, you will see why I had to go to Corpus Christi before I went to Brazil. I got a letter from the Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Corpus Christi saying Ann, Harold and Caroline Kellum have been prospered by God and they are sending you through the church $150,000 for your work. Now Harold and Caroline were young people way back then when I was ministering in the church of Corpus Christi. They were ordinary little young people who had a very special place in my heart. So $150,000 scared me to death, but we began building the seminary.

They have continued until today. Not one dollar was ever raised by a campaign, not one dollar ever came from a foreign mission board, the bulk of it came from that one couple in Corpus Christi. We have ten buildings; six of them are two story buildings, a beautiful campus. The seminary is fully licensed and recognized to give degrees in Theology, Religious Education and Sacred Music.And along the way over my great protest many times they named it for me.

So there is a Seminário Teológico Batista Anna Wollerman in the heart of Brazil. It is a monument to what He has done. And so now I'm 91, almost, and I am on my last great assignment. I believe God has asked me to record on tape the wonderful things that He has done. Somebody called it my life's story, no it is not my life's story, it is His story, History.

So I am committed to taping this wonderful life He has given me in English and in the Portuguese language to send to Brazil for use there. In order to do that I had to make a dramatic change in my life style.And so God opened the door for me to go to a beautiful Christian retirement center way over on east Broadway where I have a lovely apartment, house cleaning, all my utilities paid, dining, transportation and quiet, safety and a beautiful environment. There I can devote myself for at least as long as it takes to doing what He has given me. I believe this is my last assignment before He comes. So pray for me, continue to encourage me, to love me, to thank God and be what He wants you to be and to go maybe across the street, across to your neighbor, go where He wants you to go and to do what He wants you to do.

God bless you.
Ann Wollerman
December 9, 2001

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Adventures in Centro

Folks, I'm tellin' ya' --you haven't lived until you've explored the central shopping district of a major South American city! I went yesterday to Centro Porto Alegre.
Every city in Brazil has a Centro. Centro is the oldest area of town. It's where the bus lines all end. It's where the working class does their shopping. It's also where the thieving class does their thieving. So whenever I go to Centro, I try to walk, look and act very thug-like. It's very difficult to drive to Centro and so you have to take the bus. It's a real adventure.
It's cold here in Porto Alegre and, seeing that it's time to put the down comforter on the bed, I went to the "sewing notions" district of Centro to get some snaps to make the comforter cover. YES! -- an entire DISTRICT of sewing notions stores! About 4 blocks of beads, pins, needles, zippers, pin cushions, measuring tapes, and literally TONS of yarn! If you can imagine it, it's down there somewhere and if you can remember the word in Portuguese, you can buy it. Of course, I had no idea of the word in Portuguese so I had a blast laughing with storekeepers at my attempts to describe snaps attached to bias tape and sold by the meter.
I made two friends that I plan to visit again. Ines is a saleslady in a notions wholesale store (yes, notions in BULK!). I also met an older man who runs a diner, it's like stepping back into the 50s. He lived in Chicago for 37 years, but his English was unintelligible. He couldn't believe I actually choose to live in Brazil. I hope that Jeff and I can go together and explain better to him the Reason we live here.
It was a real victory of a day, as I returned home with 2 sets of teeny, tiny long underwear (size 2 for Park), 2 thimbles, a tomato-shaped pin cushion, and 10 meters of snap tape (bought from Ines, of course). I even found the right bus to get me back home! I can't really be proud of this, as I'm sure it was Divine intervention.
Anyway, that's my great adventure for the week. And, yes, I do realize how very dull this is for those who don't get excited about sewing notions, so I'll post a recipe shortly.
Have a great weekend,
Your Centro-exploring, busroute-navigating, sewing-notions-shopping missionary,
Thug Cam

Spiced Peaches

This is a great, easy recipe to copy those wonderful spiced peaches you get in the states.
3 1/2 cups peach halves
3 (6-inch) sticks cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 tbs. vinegar

Combine ingredients, heat to boiling. [I took the peach halves out of two cans and then poured in syrup to make 4 cups, plus a little more liquid.] Simmer 5 minutes, drain and chill.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Rest of the [Chocolate] Story

[Continued from post below: . . .and my God shall meet all your [chocolate] needs . . .]
At that point, I knew I could make it on that muddy little island on the Equator. God had met not only my needs, but my wants and, despite the pity-party I had thrown for myself, He had reached out to me in a way I could relate.
We frequented that little chocolate shop for the few years that we lived there. I told the owner the story of how God had touched my heart by putting him there (I doubt that he, with his broken FrenchPortuguese understood such a flaky story told in my broken EnglishPortuguese).
Two years later, while we were on our first furlough, our son Parker was born. Parker had a mild case of hydrocephallus that eventually required surgery and the mission doctors decided that we couldn't return to the Back Side of Nowhere.
We were offered the chance to move to South Brazil. We weighed our options and felt God's leading to Rio Grande do Sul. God gave me so many signs from Him during those months confirming our decision. He also was very gracious to confirm that His will was for us to move. I felt a lot of guilt at leaving those impoverished souls on the Back Side of Nowhere. I said to my mom before we left the states, "I know it's self-centered, but I wouldn't be surprised if we got back to Brazil and found that little chocolate shop had closed up and moved to [my street in Rio Grande do Sul]."
After we got back to Brazil we were packing for the move one afternoon and I slipped out with the car. I passed the neighborhood and wanted to check on my French chocolate shop. When I got to where it had been, I was amazed at what I found. Not only had the shop closed, but the whole building lay in ruins. It had not been, but it looked as if it had been deserted for 15-20 years. The yard was overgrown, some walls had tumbled down in front. I knew then that time in the Back Side of Nowhere was over and there was no going back. I said goodbye to my little chocolate shop and came home and cried.
Oh yes, the ending of my sappy little story. Do you know where the chocolate capital of Brazil is? That's right--Rio Grande do Sul. There's a little German chocolate shop right down our street. They specialize in truffles of all sorts.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

. . .and my God shall meet all your [chocolate] needs . .

It was early May 2002. We had been in Brazil for a year and a half and, after a heavenly year of language school, surrounded by fellow missionaries and wonderfully supportive Brazilians, we had been shipped off to the back side of nowhere. We had been there for about 7 months and I hit a crisis point.
My dear mother-in-law sends me books and at this particular time I was reading what is referred to as a "culinary mystery"--a Miss-Marple-type mystery wherein the starring sleuth happens to be a chef who provides detailed descriptions of wonderful gastronomic creations. These should be read sparingly, because you always want to eat when you read them. Anyway, this particular sleuth was a chocolate confectioner. Day after day, I read descriptions of these amazing chocolate creations that, eventually, would aid in the capture of a murderer.
A week or so into my reading, it became time to shop for Mother's Day presents. I had waited too long to send anything from Brazil and so I went online. Godiva seemed the obvious place to start and so I spent several hours pouring over the Godiva, See's and Hershey's sites aiming to please two mothers and two grandmothers.
It was at that point I hit the crisis. I missed good chocolate. I missed a lot of things. I wanted to GO HOME! As Mother's Day got closer and closer, I got sadder and sadder. Then God did something for me I'll never forget.
A sign appeared in the median across from our apartment building: "Delicias de Paris" had opened. Two chocolate confectioners schooled in France had, upon graduation, decided to move to the back side of nowhere and open a chocolate shop. They specialized in truffles of all sorts.
My husband found it and on Mother's Day I received a half a pound of the best truffles I've ever had.
To be continued next post
. . .

Thursday, April 27, 2006

M is for Mommy

SPLASH!! I'm diving into the blogging world, just one small drop is the present flood of missionaries who are discovering the value of blogging.
Let's jump in with some FAQs:

Who am I?
My name is Cam Dunson (the Mommy in the picture) and I am a missionary sent by the Southern Baptists in the US to Porto Alegre, in the far south of Brazil. My husband, Jeff, plants churches in the greater metro area of 4.5 million and I spend most of my time and energy running a household and caring for him and our two children, Blake (age 6) and Parker (age 1 1/2). If you're not familiar with the world of missions, you may find it easiest to think of me as an ex-pat soccer mom.

Who are you? (To whom will this blog be of interest)?
I suspect that this blog will be of most interest to my mother (and my dad if I include photos of the grandkids :) but, other than those two, I expect this to be of value to:
--Our prayer partners, those folks who have committed to pray for our ministry.
--Other missionary/expat wives, mostly because of the recipes I plan to share.
--Other soccer moms, whatever their country of residence.
--Anyone contemplating missionary service or planning an overseas move.
--Anyone interested in learning more of the daily life of missionaries in general.

What will you post?
--Recipes, recipes and more recipes. It can be quite an adventure recreating Southern US cuisine with the ingredients available in other countries.
--Anecdotes and adventures. Life overseas with small children can be very, uh, interesting!
--Candid thoughts about God and my relationship with Him.
--Prayer requests regarding our ministry and family.
--Anything that readers indicate would be interesting.

Why call it "M is for Mommy"?
"M" is short for "missionary" in most religious blogging circles, code used because of the "undercover" status of many of our missionaries who serve in cultures hostile to American/religious influence. Because of the present ages of my children, most of my time is taken in the role of Mommy.

Well, that's about it. Thanks for visiting. I welcome your questions and comments.