Thursday, November 22, 2007

What Holiday are You?

In case you hadn't guessed, we're out of town. We're on our annual South Brazil Missionary Thanksgiving Retreat in Florianopolis, SC (motto: "Nothing says Thanksgiving like a beautiful South American beach filled with Argentinians")

Here's the post for today:

You Are Thanksgiving

You are a bit of a homebody who enjoys being in the company of people you love.
It doesn't take a lot to make you happy. You're enjoying life as it is.
You have many blessings in your life, and you are grateful for each one.
You believe that life is about what you *do* have. You feel like you have enough of the good stuff.

What makes you celebrate: Family, friends, and the changing of the seasons.

At holiday get togethers, you do best as: The host of the party

On a holiday, you're the one most likely to: Spend so much energy preparing that it's a full time job

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


And we're off!
We're off to our annual South Brazil IMB Missionary Thanksgiving Retreat in Florianopolis (SBIMBMTRIF-motto: "Nothing says Thanksgiving like a tropical beach paradise filled with Argentinians").
I don't think I will have internet access at the hotel. If I do, I have drafted a host of postjunk for your holiday perusal. If not, I may backdate it when I get back or just "keep moving forward".

Here are some pics, just to rub it in:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Urban Jungle! II

In an attempt to make it through NaBloPoMo, many folks are googleearthing their homes.
Here's ours:

And closer up:

Monday, November 19, 2007

Once Upon a Time -- Games People Play

Once upon a time I had a Boss Brilliant. A brilliant person and I really learned a lot from him. He was known far and wide for his people skills, his ability to work with difficult people and resolve conflicts. One day I sent an email to my co-workers at our office and apparently I came across as bossy. I was fully in my realm of authority to send the email, I had cleared it with Boss Brilliant (BB) and I was merely communicating a decision BB had made to everyone else.
Well, the tone of the email didn't sit right with one of my co-workers and he reacted. He responded by sending an email tirade to the boss about my dictatorial attitude.
What did BB do? My wonderful BB, acclaimed for his people skills and conflict resolution abilities? He forwarded the tirade to me and left on vacation.
He had to come in on his first vacation day to resolve the conflict between me and my co-worker.
All of a sudden I realized:
1. How did I know that my co-workers required someone of such exceptional skill to lead them? How did I know how very dysfunctional they were?
BB had informed me on the first day of the job.
2. Who was able to step in as the hero and solve these conflicts between these horribly dysfunctional people? BB--who had encouraged the conflicts in the first place.
BB had set himself up as the great peacemaker. The only stability amongst such incredibly unstable people.
I suddenly wondered how many of these heroic peacemaking opportunities had actually been conflicts started and fueled by BB himself.

The other day I had someone try to instigate a conflict between us and another family. When we said, "Please don't say that, it could lead to a conflict." He responded, "It seems you two families have a history of personality conflict and I just can’t get into that."
I wanted to say, "I've got your number, buddy, and I'm not playing that game. There is no history of conflict and there won't be unless you insist on trying to make one. I refuse to let you."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Big 4-0!

It's official. No more avoiding it. No more forgetting it. It's happened.
I'm 40 years old. Entering my 5th decade of life. Oh my.

I got such an enthusiastic greeting this morning, I just can't be sad about my age. Blake, my 8-year-old son really goes all out in celebrating Mommy. This is a wonderful result of living in Brazil where there is no shortage of enthusiasm and demonstrated affection. This morning he had made a banner, hung it himself, and painted face paint all over his body saying "Happy Birthday Mommy!!" (exactly backwards because he had done it himself in the mirror).
Align Left

"Look Mom, I did it myself!"

Saturday, November 17, 2007

NaBloPoMo--Half way there.

I can't decide if I like NaBloPoMo or if I hate it.
I've found several new blog friends, which is sort of a weird thing in itself, but really nice. My long backlog of "recipes I've been meaning to post" is getting shorter.
More folks are reading what I write, and I'm writing a lot more. The problem is

Prior to this month's challenge, I only wrote when I had something to say--usually.
Now I'm up til midnight frantically scratching out ANYTHING to just say I posted that day.
I feel like I'm really junking up my blog.

I'm not the only one who feels this way, either. I'm in good company.
Actually, the other folks who are saying this I'm still enjoying reading, so maybe it's not as bad as I think. . .

Or maybe it is. . .
I have a plan. I'm still going to endeavor to post every day. But, come Dec. 2 (I have plans Dec 1), I'm going to delete all the junk.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Unfortunately, Brazilians haven't discovered Mexican food. Most North American's think that all cultures south of the US enjoy that spicy, tortilla-based cuisine.
Nope. Not here.
So, we get a pastry dough (used for fried pies). We put it on a hot, ungreased griddle to get just a little of the moisture out, and top it with taco-flavored meat (we like chicken strips).
The taco seasoning mix I use comes from AllRecipes. I don't think I'll ever buy seasoning packets again.

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Urban Jungle?

These are pictures taken from our apartment. I like to pretend I live on Coruscant.

Monday, November 12, 2007


I love radio. Always have. I don't know if it's just that I'm too lazy to deal with CDs or what. I suspect it's my extreme passivity that prefers to be surprised by what pops up next on the radio.
There's also the "company factor." CDs are just music. Radio is someone playing music and listening with you. Commenting on it, making jokes, you know. Research shows that, despite the public's continuous cry for "less talk, more tunes", stations that do nothing but play music (no DJs, no commercials) don't get listeners.
As a teenager, I would spend hours cuddled up with the radio. Fine-tuning the AM dial after dark to see how far I could get. I dreamed of picking up K-Love from Chicago in my home in South Carolina. Never did, but had a good time trying.
I remember getting excited about the possibility of one day moving to Alaska and beaming radio into the Soviet Union.
In high school, I volunteered at the local radio station. It was exciting to get to actually see the personalities I had envisioned for so many years. I audited college courses on the radio. Dr. Belcher took us through books of the Bible. I remember sunbathing and diligently studying the book of James.
I went to work for the same radio station later on. There I made a startling discovery. Working in radio is EXCRUTIATINGLY BORING! If you're an on-air personality, you sit alone in a room or, worse yet, if you're a morning personality, you sit in a small room with the same one or two people EVERY SINGLE DAY. Day after day, month after month, year after year. You punch the same button at 6:32 EVERY SINGLE MORNING OF EVERY SINGLE WORKDAY OF EVERY SINGLE MONTH. You never see your audience, and when you do it's creepy. They know you and are thrilled to see you but you have never seen them.
I was not an on-air personality, I was in PR. I only had to do the same thing every single year. I lasted three years.
I do believe that radio and TV are excellent investments of our ministry time, efforts and dollars. I do believe that they are the most efficient, one of the most effective, and dollarsmart ways of reaching our culture today. I am probably the only person in blogtown who believes that the TV station of NAMB was a good use of missions money, even if it wasn't self-supporting.
I have lately fallen in love with internet radio. With the click of a mouse I can hear my station from back home, NPR, or an endless randomization of 80s hits. There's even an all-barouque station for the Suzuki mom in me! It's great!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Movie of the Year

We just saw the best movie this weekend.
"Meet the Robinsons" was a great, feel good flick.
We liked it so much we watched it twice,
once on Friday and once tonight (Sunday).
It's not due 'til midnight, I'm tempted to watch it again.

The basic idea is a follow-your-dreams, never-give-up kind of theme.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Why I Love T. D. Jakes

I love TV preachers. I guess it’s because I got saved listening to one of them that I like them so much. I love to just turn on the Christian TV channel and see what’s on.

“How can you say that?” you ask.
“Aren’t you concerned about their theology?” you cry in indignation.
You see, this is a pastime I call “gleaning.” Walk through, find what’s there, eat the wheat kernels and spit out the chaff.

There’s lot less chaff than you’d think.

There’s a place called that hosts shows (TV and radio) from Focus on the Family, Chuck Swindoll, Jack Hayford, Beth Moore, and lot of others. Those four I’ve mentioned are virtually chaff-free.

I saw Joel Osteen for the first time the other day. You know what he said?
Think about God. Give God preference in your life.
Not much chaff, there, despite what I’d heard about him.

One of my favorites is T. D. Jakes. I tell you, if you listen to that man, you’ll come away believing that God can do ANYTHING. It’s amazing how much power he thinks God has. He’s almost got me convinced.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Cheeseburger Soup

1 1/2 cups water
2 cups peeled and cubed potatoes
2 carrots, grated
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cubes beef bouillon, crumbled
1 pound ground beef
2 1/2 cups milk, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 pound processed American cheese, cubed
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine water, potatoes, carrots, onion, and bell pepper. Sprinkle salt and bouillon over the mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook beef until brown; drain.
Stir cooked beef and 2 cups milk into the soup and heat through. Combine remaining 1/2 cup milk with flour, stirring until smooth; stir into soup. Bring to a low boil and cook, stirring, until thickened, 3 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and stir in cheese until melted. Season with cayenne.

Source: Becky Taylor on

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Our Timeline

I have been homeschooling my oldest son, Blake, in 3rd grade American History. This is really the way to go with homeschooling: I send him to school all day to learn everything else and on weekends and holidays we read really entertaining books about American History. All the non-fun stuff (papers and such) we skip, because he gets that kind of thing in regular school.
We're having a really good time.
I'm particularly proud of our timeline that we're building. There were some pre-printed stickers that came in a package from the curriculum provider, but some stickers we had to make ourselves. I'm having Blake draw his own pictures for these. We've been pretty impressed with his artwork.

Captain John Smith

William Shakespeare

Magellan's Trip Around the World

Captain Kidd Becomes a Pirate

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

How Nerdy Are You?

I am nerdier than 67% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!

I was quite relieved to realize that, while I'm not prime nerd material, I'm still nerdier than 67% of people. Whew!

HT: Micah Fries

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Cinnamon Rolls

This recipe looks terribly overwhelming, but it's actually really easy!
The dough rises overnight, so all you have to do in the morning is roll it out and bake. It also meets my main requirement of yeast dough recipes: it's a very gratifying dough to work with. It never sticks and is easy to handle.
It's also easy to halve, which you need to do unless you have a big group.
It also has ingredients that I keep on hand, except for the cream cheese, which I have to remember to buy.

2 cups lukewarm water
2 Tablespoons yeast
1 cup oil
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
Bread flour (about 1 kg or 2 ¼ lbs.)

1 stick melted margarine or butter
1 cup sugar
1 ½ Tablespoons cinnamon

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons milk
¾ lb powdered sugar, sifted

Whisk together all ingredients except flour. Gradually, add flour and stir with back of a spoon. Knead. NOTE: I do all this with the whisk and dough hook of the KitchenAid.

Place in LARGE bowl, greased, and cover. Leave in the refrigerator overnight.
In the morning, mix all filling ingredients together well. Roll out dough into a large rectangle and top with filling.

Roll up, slice and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes. Mix together glaze ingredients. Remove buns from oven and glaze while hot.
This makes 2-9" X 13" pans.

NOTE: The pic is Alton's, but my recipe is easier!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Warmest Aloha

Early in our marriage, my husband and I spent a year in Hawaii. As a result, I have three pieces of advice for you readers:
1. If you ever move to Hawaii, never move away, and,
2. If you have to spend only a year in Hawaii, make sure it's at the end of your career and not at the beginning. Nowhere else compares.
3. If you've never seen Hawaii, FIND A WAY! Swim, if you have to. Every human should see Hawaii in their lifetime.

Some of the best things about Hawaii you could only experience by living there. The business culture in Honolulu was one of the most frustrating, and most rewarding, places I've ever worked. Like most tropical areas, professionalism is pretty laid back, if it's there at all. Then again, you don't have to be very skilled or accomplished to rise quickly in the companies there. We actually had a friend who was a high school graduate go from working as a maid to being a fairly high ranking banking executive in just a few years.

The church atmosphere was also frustrating and very gratifying at the same time. People were always leaving, so we were continually saying goodbye to someone dear. The church we served lost half of it's elder board the first two months after we arrived. Yet, this same frustration made it easy to give the church the "personality" that it needed to have. There simply was no "old guard" to battle with over the "way we'd always done it."

I'll never forget our arrival in the Honolulu airport that June night of 1997. I knew the minute I stepped out of the gate that part of my heart would be forever broken. I knew I would spend a year missing home and friends and family. I also knew that as soon as I left I would carry with me an ache for Hawaii and the friends and church family we'd leave behind.

I suppose that's the missionary's dilemma anywhere she happens to go.
I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Beef and Barley Soup

I have tried for the past couple of winters here in South Brazil to make soup once a week. I've gathered quite a few good recipes during these months of May-September. The problem is that I forget to post them during the US winter, December-February, when my readers are interested in making soup. I want to use this month as an opportunity to remember to post those recipes.
We just love this Beef and Barley Soup recipe. I use a cut of meat here called "musculo" (which I think is called "heel of round" in English. It just falls apart in the crock pot. But you can substitute any roast you like.

1 1/2 - 3 pounds beef heel of round
4 cups water
4 cubes beef bouillon cube
1/4 cup barley
1/4 cup wheat berries
1 bay leaf
3 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 (16 ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (28 ounce) can chopped stewed tomatoes
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

Put beef in bottom of crock pot. Add water and bouillon. Cook on high 3-4 hours. Add barley, wheat berries, and bay leaf and cook for another hour.
Let mixture cool some. Remove bay leaf and chop meat into small pieces, removing connective tissue.
In large stockpot, Saute carrots and onion in a little oil until the onion is done (translucent). Boil liquid and grains from crockpot, carrots and onion for about 20 minutes. Add frozen mixed vegetables and beef mixture and boil until vegetables are tender, adding more water if necessary.
Add sugar, cayenne pepper, and tomatoes and boil another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I use 1 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper).

I serve this with a homemade whole wheat bread, butter and honey.

NOTE: I should say the photo isn't mine, but mine generally looks like this.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Too late? NOT!

As missionaries, we spend one year of every five in the states recuperating, sharpening our skills and soliciting prayer support for our ministry. One thing that really surprised us was how very many people had felt called by God to be missionaries at some point, but never made it to the mission field. Almost every church we visited had someone who fell into this category.
I always wondered how they felt about this. Did they spend their entire life thinking they were one the wrong track? Did they feel guilty, or somehow inferior or inadequate? Did they think they had just heard wrong or imagined it? And, if they did feel like it was their imagination, why would they still be talking about it years later?
Here is the story of one lady who felt God's calling the missions as a child and now, years and years later, is on track for fulfilling it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Once Upon a Time I - Familiarity

Once upon a time (1989, to be exact) I was a manager trainee at Toys 'R Us. I was 22 and fresh out of college--a skinny thing with a big curly perm. Actually, the personnel trainer who hired me was later fired for hiring too many skinny little girls with big curly perms who couldn't get the job done. I lasted 9 months in that job--those employees chewed me up and spit me out.
The first week I was there I met a storeroom department head named Kirby. Kirby was an older guy whose life's dream was to be a mananger at TRU. He related well to the other employees, he had years of experience as a department head and knew that storeroom inside and out. He also hadn't the slightest chance of ever getting the manager position. Fortunately, he figured this out pretty quickly and was gone a week after I started.
Why didn't Kirby have a chance? Familiarity. The management in that area of the country had seen him as a department head for so long. Every mistake he ever made they remembered. They were never going to give him a shot at anything more.
I don't know what brought Kirby to mind this week. I've no idea where he is or what he ended up doing. I just wanted to share a small piece of his story.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


It's official. I've committed myself to NaBloPoMo. Apparently, this is National Blog Posting Month (motto: "Let's all post until the internet explodes"). This is an annual event wherein bloggers commit to post every day for the month of November. So, get ready for all the stuff that I've been meaning to post, but didn't want to take the time. That should get me at least to the 5th. From there you can expect recipes, silliness and the mundane.
I am also planning a series--"Once Upon a Time"--of random stories and observations that I think you may find useful.
If you join NaBloPoMo, please let me know here in the comments so I can subscribe to your blog and steal your ideas.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My Days

This lady has been reading my mail.

HT: Linda Muse

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ordered Steps (or All Roads Lead to the Mall)

I had a pretty typical Missionary Mom morning—typical for a first-year language student, that is. Since I'm in my 8th year of service, it was pretty frustrating!

You see, every morning I pray that our steps would be ordered by God, that he would order our day to save us time and cause us to be where He wants us at the right time. This morning Jeff had a meeting with the Big Important National Guy who's in town this week. I slept through our alarm and in our haste to get Jeff out the door to meet Big Important National Guy, I missed my prayers.

Jeff took Parker to school and then drove the car to his meeting. We agreed that he would call me if I needed to pick Parker up from school at noon. I realized about 11:00 that I would have to get Parker, as Big Important National Guy and the networking opps that would surround his visit would certainly last most of the day. That's also when I realized that Jeff had both strollers in the car with him. At about that same time a still, small voice told me I would be eating lunch at McDonald's. I chalked this last revelation up to my active imagination since, with no car and no stroller, McDonald's would be no fun.

It's only about a half-mile to the preschool and it was a pretty spring day, so I thought I'd walk and see if Parker could make the walk home on foot. I realized at the first stoplight this wasn't going to happen and, since finding a taxi at noon is nearly impossible, decided to try and catch a bus. There is a bus that turns the corner we were standing on and goes right by our house. This bus, I thought, was at the stoplight, so I flagged down the driver and we got on. Parker was thrilled, and we had great fun singing the Wheels on the Bus song. The bus didn't turn the corner.

Uh oh. Wrong bus.

I told Parker we'd be on the bus for awhile and, eventually, we ended up at the mall. I tried to explain to the driver that I'd gotten on the wrong bus and I needed to know which bus to get on to get home. He couldn't fathom someone trying to take a bus for a half-mile, since he probably walks that far to catch his bus every morning. He never understood my question and we both gave up.

We were, however, at the mall, which is where McDonald's is and I suggested we lunch at McDonald's.

Parker: NO! I want to get on a Taxi! Taxi Mommy, taxi!
Mommy: Don't you want a hamburger first, taxi later?
Park: NO! Taxi!
Mommy: You'd rather go home and eat soup than get a happy meal at McDonald's?
Park: YES. I wanna go home! I DON'T want McDonald's! NO MCDONALD'S!
Mom: OK (thinking it really must've been my imagination, and it's certainly more economical) we'll go home.

We get in a taxi. Give the driver the address and he sets his meter and pulls off.

Parker: Are we going to McDonald's? I want McDonald's.

I sheepishly asked the driver could we exit and catch him later, he agreed, and a very tired Parker and frustrated Mommy headed towards McDonald's. I vowed never to sleep through my morning prayers again, and never let the kid make another decision. No ordered steps for me today!

We had McDonald's and coffee. We did have fun, but I was feeling really guilty as this side trip probably meant that I wouldn't be able to work with Parker on the computer today. I've been trying to teach him how to use the mouse and get him comfortable with the computer. We have a couple of programs, but it's been really slow-going. They're either too easy (wave the mouse anywhere or get a response) or way too hard (read sentences and respond with complicated choices). Blake was quite proficient on the computer at this age and I was really feeling bad that we haven't given Parker the attention and opportunities we gave Blake to develop new skills. I pledged to do better tomorrow and took the opportunity to shop a little for Jeff's birthday. In the video game store we found a CD-ROM, not for Daddy, but for Parker. It's a Pooh CD, originally made in the US for reinforcing early reading skills, being marketed here as ESL practice for kids (cheaper than translating the program into Portuguese).

We finally made it home and after nap Parker remembered his new CD. We popped it in and he went at it! It was exactly what we needed to practice our mouse work! I was also amazed at how many letters he already knew. We worked together for about 45 minutes and then I actually left him to practice alone while I cooked supper.

Talk about ordered steps!!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

September Month of Prayer for the Gaucho People

As many of you know by now, my husband Jeff became Strategy Coordinator for our city of Porto Alegre in February of this year. He has designated September the Month of Prayer for the Gaúcho People. He has produced a series of video shorts, available on DVD for use by churches, Sunday School classes, and small groups during this month.

We are asking churches, small groups, and Sunday School classes to dedicate some time either on the Sunday mornings or Wednesday nights during September for a prayer focus for our people. There are 5 short (3-4 minute) DVD clips. We're also making available bookmarks featuring both the city and our team.

If you’d like to request these resources (completely free of charge), just email me here with “Video request” in the subject line. Include your mailing address and the number of bookmarks needed and our United States Support Team (USST), that is, Jeff's mom, will send them out to you ASAP. Please prayerfully consider stepping up and coordinating this special prayer emphasis for our people and our missionaries during September.

Where Have I Been?

Exhausted! That's where I've been these past few months. Our February - June was absolutely gut-wrenchingly hectic. You know, the kind where you spend weeks without a break from the adrenaline of GO-GO-GO. It was largely our own faults--certainly noone else's. Praise God it's behind us and I think we learned a few things about how to not get ourselves in those fixes again.
Then, we took a much-needed vacation in the states with our families. It was a great time and I really learned alot and made some decisions that I'm sure I'll be blogging about soon.
Now we're back, refreshed, and ready to go at it again!
More on that later. . .

Monday, May 28, 2007

Good Intentions

I got an email today from a very sincere, well-intentioned volunteer currently on a 2-week mission trip. Apparently, he had been told not to freely distribute Bibles as he ministered in a Muslim-run refugee camp. Deciding that those long-term servants who live and serve and know the area were trying to prevent him from sharing the Gospel, he did it anyway and now the presence of all the missionaries in the area is in danger of being suspended. This guy is so sold-out for Christ. He’s so very sincere. He is so very godly. However, in this instance, he was so very wrong.

We have never had a volunteer team’s visit go awry, but the missions journals and discussion groups of missionaries are full, FULL, FULL! of horror stories of well-intentioned volunteers who refused to listen to the resident missionary and ended up destroying much, if not all, of a career’s worth of work in just a week or two.

“OH NO!”, you say. “I’m about to go on a volunteer mission trip and I have very sincere intentions. How do I keep from messing up?”

The answer is easy: “Trust the missionary or team leader of your trip.”
Remember that they are a lot more motivated to see this people group come to Christ than you are. They are giving their whole lives for these people. Think of what a sacrifice you’re making of a couple of weeks and a few thousand dollars. Then imagine if it was your whole life and earning potential.

Remember that the missionary on the ground knows a lot more about the people and area than you do. He knows the culture and preconceptions of the people. He also knows the potential dangers around you.

Try to withhold judgment of the missionary, at least until you have more information. Ask questions if you don’t understand the reason for his decisions or behaviors.

One of the first things we tell volunteers is not to distribute candy, toys, or other goodies to children on the street unless we tell them that that’s a good time and place to do so. A few months ago, one lady named Jenna* get absolutely livid with us for this policy. “I love children and NOBODY’S gonna tell me I can’t show the love of Jesus to these children! I came all the way to Brazil to show love to these children and I most CERTAINLY will give them candy!” Actually, Jenna followed the policy all week, but she was not happy about it. During the week, we had an outside worship service and declared it was the time to freely distribute candy and other goodies to the children of the neighborhood. The thing about giving away goodies to large numbers of urban poor children who never get goodies is that they quickly turn into a mob. In just a few short minutes, our shell-shocked volunteers had been stripped bare of any desirable giveaways. As we left, I found Jenna, alone on in a corner, hiding and hugging a bag of candy. I said, “Jenna! What are you doing with candy left? Why didn’t you give it away?” “They mobbed me, they mobbed me . . .” was all she could say. I think she finally “got it.”

Have a great trip. Go ye therefore, heal the sick, cast out demons, baptize, teach, be innocent--but also be wise!

*Details have been modified to protect the well-intentioned.

Friday, February 23, 2007

God-incidence of the Week

One of my prayers every morning for myself, my family and friends is that our steps would be ordered by God (from Psalm 37:23), so I frequently find that I have gone to the store that has the cut of meat I need on supersale or that I run into someone I need to speak to.
Occasionally, I see a series of events come together and I know that my steps are ordered and my prayer is answered. It’s beginning to happen more and more often, which shouldn’t surprise me, but does.
This is the account of one such series.
1st event: Several months ago, our friends the Ellises purchased a piano for their son, Andrew, who at age 16, had been playing on a digital piano and was at the point where he needed a real piano to progress in his study. I had been contemplating putting Blake in Suzuki piano lessons and, when Diane Ellis offered to loan me their digital piano I took that as confirmation that we should. We moved the digital piano to our apartment and Blake began piano lessons in January.
I somehow knew that that particular piano was not a permanent fixture in our home. This is unusual, since it is my “default” to try and purchase items that already reside in Brazil and this is a great piano that Diane would probably be willing to sell me. Anyway, I just knew deep inside that this piano wouldn’t live here long.
2nd event: I began to look on the internet for pianos, “just in case.” I found a model of a Casio that weighed only 13 kgs! Hammer-action, weighted, touch sensitive keys, full-sized keyboard, and very reasonably priced. It got great reviews for sound and feel, which are really important for a beginning piano student. The list price was $600, which is really low for a piano with all those features, but really high for a 7-year-old with questionable follow-through habits. Anyway, I found a site at that sometimes sells returned items, or scratch-and-dent items, at lower prices. I prayed for God to help me find that piano on a scratch-and-dent sale before we needed it. Those scratch-and-dent sale items go fast, and I didn’t have the time to check every day. So, I prayed for God to lead me to it at the right time. I then forgot about it.
3rd event: I spent a harrowing week week-before-last trying to schedule flights for our vacation to the states in July. Jeff’s parents are bringing us home to visit and so Jeff can complete another doctoral course. FINALLY, I was able to get us flights in and out of Philly. This means that we know that we’ll at Jeff’s parents’ house in July.
4th event: Thursday night 11 p.m. Mark Ellis calls to tell us that they are moving to São Paulo in a few months.
5th event: Friday morning I wake up realizing that I need to be able to put this piano on a truck to São Paulo in a few months and, if Blake is going to take lessons, we need a replacement.
6th event: I go to my email and find an email from Musician' advertising a “stupid deal of the day” sale. Their emails usually get caught up in one of our spam blocking setups, so I was surprised to see one in my Inbox. The deal was a $15 mike stand, but there was a link beside it to a Casio piano. It was the 13 kg piano on a scratch-and-dent sale (read $600 piano for $300)! I knew I had, at most, a couple of hours before someone else snatched it up. Because we had gotten our tickets to Philly, I had an address to ship to.
7th event: We had “just happened” to have a surplus in our account and had just gotten paid for the month, so it would be easy to make the purchase.
8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th events: I still had doubts. I prayed and decided I had at least an hour (we’re 3 hours ahead of US time, so it was still about 5 am on the east coast). I prayed and looked at some customer reviews on the web. My conversation with God went something like this:
OK, I think we’re supposed to do this, but can we really get a full-sized keyboard to Brazil? What if I buy it and we can’t get it back here?
First review read: “We bought this piano because we were moving overseas and we could take it in our checked baggage. . .”
Ok, God, I know I can get it to Brazil. But does it sound good? How can 13kg really have the feel of a real piano?
Scroll down, second reviewer: “We purchased this item for my wife who is an accomplished pianist. She has a grand piano and has played and taught piano (private and college level). . . She is happy with the tone quality and action of the keys. The Casio will definitely handle most of the music that she would play.”
Ok, God, if it works for a doctoral level pianist, it should work for our 7-year-old. But it’s still a Casio, not noted for quality.
Third reviewer: “I was astonished by the clavier. To me personally I preferred this key-feel above the standard Yamaha feel. The piano sounds were ok; above what I had expected of Casio.”
After visiting another review site of professional musicians, whose only beef with this model was its lack of a computer interface for composing (whatever that is!), I decided this was our piano and ordered it.
The 12th, last, and perhaps most amazing event was that Jeff agreed that we should get it!
It’s in Delaware now, waiting for us in July! Grandma and Grandad tested it for us today (see picture)!
Now, if God can just work some on the 7-year-old’s questionable follow through habits! That’s my next matter of prayer!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

My Life

I got an email yesterday. A potential future missionary wife asked, "What is your life like?"

Ever tried to answer that question in a couple of paragraphs? It's hard. Took me a whole day just to realize how simple the answer is:
"My life is a lot like that of a housewife in the states."

Just like any mom to a preschooler, it can be mind-numbingly repetitive. I'm currently watching Barney plays Radio City Music Hall for the 1,000,000th time in 6 years. Then again, a numb mind can be a good thing sometimes.

My life's a little isolated. With laundry to do and kids asleep at 8:30 p.m. (Praise God!), I don't get out much at night. Then again, Jeff's office is here at home so, while he's out during second shift doing church planting activities, he's here during the day. That's really nice and good for the kids, too. Probably the language barrier makes me a little more isolated than I would be in the states, also.

I have chosen to make cooking a hobby, since it takes so much of my time anyway and my family loves to eat food "from home." So a lot of my time goes to trying to make American sauces and dishes with Brazilian ingredients.

Some things are better than they would be in the US. I can afford Pilates here (this doesn't mean I have, just that I can). I go to the mall once a week to get a cappuccino--twice now that we're in summer holidays. I have preschool for the two-year-old from 8:00-11:30 am starting in March. The ingredients that I can get for cooking are incredible (tomatoes with taste, fresh pearl onions, cinnamon from China, fresh buffalo mozzarella, Amazonian fruits--Alton eat your heart out!). I have granite countertops (see photo). My kids have year-round swimming and soccer.

Yup, that's my life. Sorry to cut this short, Barney's singing, "Do Your Ears Hang Low?" and it's my favorite--gotta go!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

My New Toy

I got a new toy for my birthday! No, it’s not a Treo or an Ipod, like some other bloggers I know.
Remember, it’s summer here. I got an ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid mixer!
I love using my KitchenAid mixer anyway. It makes me feel like a “real missionary” from the days when every missionary wife had one to grind the family’s peanut butter and make the Sunday morning sausage. It kneads four pizzas worth of dough every Friday afternoon. But this ice cream maker attachment puts it over the top!
It’s a bowl with really thick sides and a gel inside. It’s REALLY HEAVY (read, “hard to transport internationally). It lives in the freezer and I can have homemade ice cream in about 4 hours with about 45 minutes worth of work with no ice/rock salt mess. Most of the work is chopping delectable ingredients to put in the ice cream and most of the time is chilling the ingredients and curing the ice cream afterwards.
The best thing is that apparently Ben and Jerry had this ice cream maker in mind when they wrote their recipe book. So far we’ve perfected Cherry Garcia. Tonight we moved on to Chocolate Peanut Butter with Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chips (the peanut butter chips came air mail from Grandma).
The most difficult thing, and the reason it took awhile to perfect Cherry Garcia, is the math involved. You see, heavy cream or whipping cream in the US has a 36% milkfat. Heavy cream here has a 53% milkfat. So, I had to adjust the milk to cream ratio accordingly: .53x + .04y = .84 with x + y = 5. Remember those from high school algebra class? Well, I SURE DON’T! Anyway, with a little trial and error on a calculator I got pretty close. Wanna know how close? Come on over and try the ice cream!

Monday, January 08, 2007

WWDC? -- What Would Daniel Cook?

Somewhere along the way I lost my blog audience. Southern Baptists in the US who pray for missionaries and fellow missionaries around the world have gone elsewhere.

In the meantime, my readership has tripled. Why? Because this Daniel fasting is hot stuff. People from all over the western hemisphere are starting their new year with a Daniel fast and need recipes now! Individuals, churches, TV preachers, everyone seems to be into fasting right now. This spiritual discipline that was lost for many years is now being found by the church today.


I did have a few scattered thoughts from all I've heard and read and experienced lately.

I heard a TV preacher yesterday give a very elegant (simple and usable) definition of the Daniel Fast: "No meat, No sweets, No grains." I liked it for it's ease of use.

I heard of another public figure who fasts one day of each week, one week of each month, and one month of each year. Interesting, especially if you can look at it in a "first fruits" kind-of-way.

A very inspiring and yet practical booklet on fasting is The Miracle Results of Fasting by Dave Williams.

Bill Bright has a booklet on fasting that is posted here. It's also very practical.

Some things I particularly enjoyed during my recent fast:
1. Fruit juice concentrate made in the blender with a little less water than called for (don't defrost it). Throw in a banana. I used various amazonian fruits that I can get because I'm a missionary (na na na na naaaa na).
2. Grilled mushrooms. Can also be fixed in a hot frying pan and can be just about any kind of mushroom, although larger ones are easier to fix.
3. Baked sweet potatoes. Sold in my neighborhood grocery already baked. Microwaved baked white potatoes are good, too. So is boiled mandioc, if you're in a country that eats that tuber. After extensive deliberation with my husband, we have concluded that Burger King french fries are probably a "rich dainty."

One final thought before I stop talking about fasting in hopes of getting my SBC audience back:
Remember your purpose. It's not to follow a strict set of rules, and be more spiritual than the person in the pew beside you. It's not to lose weight. It's not to go on a hunger strike against God. It's to humble yourself before Him and spend more time with Him. In order to do this you'll need to turn off the TV, and most likely the computer also. (Probably the biggest mistake on my recent fast was not turning off the computer).

If you have experiences or ideas, please post them in the comments sections. Others from all over the US and Europe may benefit greatly.