Saturday, February 23, 2008

Blog Makeover?

The super fun people over at are giving away 5 free blog makeovers - go visit them!
They have some really cool designs.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Change of Address notice

12/13/1910 - 2/18/2008
Anna Mae Louise Wollerman has moved to heaven.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Once Upon a Time -- Inside the Union Tornado

This amazing testimony is from a student who was at Union University the night of the tornado. This was circulated to me by email, but it appears to have been a post to her blog or a mass email. I have removed her name to protect her privacy.

Well, most of you have probably heard by now, my school, Union University was hit by an F4 tornado this past Tuesday night (Feb. 5, 2008). Thanks for all the calls and messages. I will try to talk to you all as time and my emotional state allows. I don't know what reports you have read, but I was one of the 15 students who got trapped in the wreckage. I was in my dorm room with one of my roommates (K), the 3 girls from upstairs, and my mentor from church. About 2 minutes before the tornado hit, my other roommate (who is an RA) ran in and told us to get in the bathtub. We barely made it. Our ears popped, my mentor (J) looked at me and said, "We have to get in, NOW!" -- then the lights went off. I was the last one in. My legs didn't quite make it before the building collapsed on us. I have not yet found words to describe the actual tornado, the noises, and the pressure. Maybe one day I will. We felt our bodies being compressed and compressed, and then it stopped. I couldn't move. We made sure everyone in the tub was alive. It felt like we were miles from outside -- it was pitch black . My initial thought was, "this is where I'm going to die -- there is no way the rescuers will get to us in time". Then, I assessed my physical state. My body was twisted and contorted into a position that I plan on never attempting again...I think God placed me in there just so, because I don't know how else I could have fit. I had a pocket of air against J's legs. I couldn't feel my legs because they were pinned between the edge of the tub and all the debris on top of us. I thought through what my death was going to be like. I realized I was probably going to pass out first, and then I would be with Jesus. I've always wondered what my "last thoughts" would be. As one who has struggled in the past with doubts about salvation, I have always wondered what my last moments would be like. All I can say is, God was there. I knew He had me. And I knew He was either going to save me unto Himself or He was going to save me for a little more time here. I began to pray aloud, I prayed for peace, for the ability to trust Him. I started accounting for everyone who was in the tub.

At that point I realized that someone under me was near the point of death (from her breathing). Then, I called out J's name and realized it was her. My heart sunk at that point. I didn't think my heart could bear losing another friend. I started praying for her out loud, telling her to keep breathing, God was with her. I was so afraid she was going to die underneath me. I think I even asked God to take me if He took her. Every time I moved, she either couldn't breathe or she had excruciating pain. I tried to stay as still and calm as I could. I know God was managing my thoughts for me at that point. I could NOT panic...and by His grace, I didn't. I found out later we were trapped for 45 minutes. One of the other girls in the tub had her cellphone and was actually able to call 911. I honestly only felt like I was in there for 10-15 minutes. I don't know if I ever lost consciousness or if God just allowed it to seem shorter. I was told later the rescuers had to use a backhoe to remove the initial debris. None of us remember that -- again, that was by God's grace. We would have been terrified had we heard that. When the rescuers started digging us out, it was terrifying. J's neck was exposed in such a way that one wrong move and it would have snapped...she was still having lots of trouble breathing. At one point, the rescuers could see my face and I was screaming out to them...telling them I was not panicking but there was a girl under me and I could not move or she would die, and that they needed to lift the debris and not slide it. Once they broke through to us, they got everyone out in about 10-15 minutes. I was the last because my legs were stuck, and I couldn't feel them or move them.

J and I ended up needing to go to the hospital. But neither of us had to stay overnight. It was a night of chaos. And yet, God was in the midst of us. We were buried in a tangled mess of wreckage and yet He knew how each board, each piece of brick and rubble was placed. For example, right next to my legs was a ended up keeping just enough pressure off my legs so that I did not lose them. I haven't gotten all my feeling back, but I'm walking around.

I know I have mentioned God a whole lot throughout this note. I know many of you who are reading this do not know Him and may think I'm a bit odd. But it comes down to this, there is NO other explanation as to why I am alive today other than, God had His hand over us. He kept just enough pressure off. He didn't let me panic. Was I scared?? Yes -- terrified at first. But at one point, my friend K said "It's gonna be okay". And a sense of peace came around us. I know God was with us that entire time. And He did give me a sense of peace -- it kept me from panicking, it all owed me to speak up for J when the rescue started.

My life has been a little screwy recently. I've struggled with trusting God. I've struggled accepting the fact that He loves me unconditionally. But God was with me. He showed me how to trust Him in the rubble -- in the chaos. I know I have some long days ahead. There are sounds stored in my memory that I'm not aware of until I hear them again. I freak out at some very random times and I'm not sure what all the triggers are. But this is what I'm holding onto -- God is not finished with me yet. He still has a purpose for me here on earth a little while longer. And the One who sustained me through the nightmare of Tuesday night will continue to sustain me, to love me unconditionally, to comfort me, and to hold me when I'm scared. And knowing that is what allowed me to get out of bed this morning. He is a good God. If you don't know Him, you need to. He loves you.wants to know you intimately, and He wants you to know Him intimately.

Like I said earlier, I want to talk to each of you. I am quite fragile emotionally -- so it may be a while. I'm at home -- have some fabulous painkillers -- will probably not have to take them except for at nighttime today. So, my body is healing. Just feels like a building collapsed on it...:) I love each of you.

HT: Berdie Hope

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Friends, Acquaintances, and People I Stalk, Part 2

In my last post, I mentioned the members of FBC Blogtown, or at least those in my Sunday School class. Actually, I resided in this little shack on the backwoods periphery of Blogtown for over a year before I met anyone here who is NOT Baptist. (and Yes, non-Baptists, I AM aware of how creepy that sounds).

Anyway, this past November I ventured over into another area of town. I found it really interesting and now head for afternoon walks over there frequently. It all started when I decided to try to participate in NaBloPoMo and ended up joining all these groups of Mommybloggers, SuzukiMombloggers, HomeschoolingBloggers, IOnceLivedInHawaiibloggers, Expatbloggers, and so forth and so on.
Most of these bloggers had the sense to blog anonymously, so I don't know their names, but it has amazed my how interested I can be in their adventures.

Alison, a very nice soup-loving lady in San Diego, is trying to have a baby. It's amazing how complicated this can be nowadays. I understand almost none of Alison's modern-day medical acronyms, but the drama grips me nontheless.

M~ homeschools her kids and is one of the adherents of the Urban Chicken Raising movement, a phenonmenon I understand even less than Alison's infertility lingo.

Alice is one of many Erma Bombeck successors. Naming all her family members for Alice in Wonderland characters, she gets the award for most consistent use of a metaphor. Mrs. Fussypants, another, blogs over at The name pretty much says it all.

Paul and Lori Vernon are Four-Square missionaries in Thailand ministering to the Ankh people. I found them on Missionary Blog Watch and have really enjoyed praying for them and their ministry.

One of the reasons I wanted to begin blogging was to reconnect with old friends with whom I'd fallen out of touch. I haven't been able to do this but twice, but I've enjoyed the two chances I've had.

The Excogitating Engineer is an old friend from grad school who actually is Baptist(an IMB MK at that), but he fit more neatly into my category of "old school friends." He's passionate about adoption and has some great insights into life in general.

One thing I really have enjoyed in my meanderings in this area of blogtown is reading the thoughts of those that are decidedly Un-Baptist. My old college friend Tim grew up Southern Baptist, and boy is he mad about it! He got so mad he's off to become an Episcopal Priest! I enjoy Tim's blog, and those he links to, because of the viewpoints I don't often get in the conservative evangelical bubble that I live in. It's kind of like watching The West Wing, ya' know?

So, folks, there you have it. My RSS Feeds folder for all to see.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Friends, Acquaintances, and People I Stalk - Part I, First Baptist Blogtown

I LOVE my email program! In July, we got the new Outlook version and it has the best feature. It will check for me all the blogs that I like to read and put any new posts right in my inbox (actually, right in my Feed box, which is right near my inbox. . .but I digress).
Anyway, I thought I would share those blogs with you.
Since I live on the periphery of the backwoods of Blogtown, just across the river on the other side of the tracks, my neighbors are varied. I'll introduce you to them in the order that I found them.
The real estate developer who sold me a spot in blogtown is
Guy Muse
, because of his ingeniously visual use of the blog as a medium to raise awareness/prayer support of his ministry and people group. Linda is Guy's wife.
I would consider Dorcas Hawker to be my first "friend" in blogtown, although she couldn't really be called a neighbor because her real estate is in a much more swanky part of town. I met Dorcas because we were interested in some of the same issues that would come up in the Blogtown council meetings. She had some really brilliant contributions to the discussion. She has since changed interests, as has absolutely Everyone. Else. In. All. of. Blogtown., but Dorcas and I have continued to keep in touch.
Tim Sweatman is the real reason I'm excited to have a reader in my inbox. He only posts about every three months, and I got really frustrated typing in his address over and over. Now, if he should post I know it right away!

Of course, there are some friends in blogtown that I have actually met face to face. I'm speaking here of my IMB colleagues here in South America. It's always excited to spy on them to see if we can steal their ideas see how God is working across Brazil. Chris and Melody Julian work with students in São Paulo. I'm always glad to read their posts because they remind me how glad I am I don't live in São Paulo.
Pascal and Amy Stowell are about the nicest people you'll ever meet. Being from Louisiana, I guess that's to be expected. They serve in an interior area of São Paulo state and post a lot of videos of local folks and scenery.
Ron and Alana Greenwich work in social ministries in Florianópolis and are currently digging out from under a flood which recently hit their recovery center.
New Missionaries are the best, because everything is so new and fresh and exciting. They haven't had time to settle in and get complacent. Not that ANY of US ever do THAT! The Holemans, who I haven't actually met face to face, are Peru-bound, having just arrived in Costa Rica to learn Spanish. The Everetts are notIMBers but are ABWEers, are new to Porto Alegre and they have about 18 children. Or so it seems. . .
Kerri Hamilton is a mother of 4 and prolific blogger. She and her family are headed down here sometime next year, aiding Rio Grande do Sul to take the "Fertile Crescent" title away from the Amazon area--something which was inevitable given the arrival of cable TV up there (again I digress) and the arrival of the Greens down here.
Of course, no Baptist roll would be complete without a Pastor. Pastor Curtis Hill , aka CHill, is new to Ogletown Baptist in Newark, Delaware. I've learned a lot about Ogletown and Delaware by seeing them through his Georgia eyes.
Anyway, that's a pretty complete roll call for those attending FBC Blogtown, at least the ones I know of. I'll mention a few more residents in Part 2.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Homeschooling - Triple Time!

There's 51 days of summer vacation
and school comes along just to end it;
So the annual problem for our generation
is finding a good way to spend it!

I've mentioned before that I've been homeschooling our oldest son, Blake, in 3rd grade U.S. History this year. Blake attends an international school here in Porto Alegre, but they don't teach US history as a subject this early. Sonlight's two year US history curriculum was recommended to us by our regional educational consultant. We did the history curriculum, the readers and the read-alouds.

WE HAVE HAD THE BEST TIME! Blake finished the 3rd grade curriculum yesterday. We had started September 1st on a ten-day training trip we took as a family. Basically, he worked on Saturdays and holidays (we're in summer break now, remember) for 2-3 hours each day and we finished up just in time for the end of summer break!

We both learned a LOT of US history and some really good American values (that I never realized were American until I moved overseas) like productivity, independence and determination. I also think it really improved his reading comprehension skills, as he had to be ready to face my questioning at the end of each reading session!

It was also a great way to keep him stimulated though the summer break.

We had a party with toasts, homemade ice cream (chocolate peanut butter ice cream and grape juice DON'T go well together, by the way), a new episode of Phineas and Ferb from ITunes, our giving him 7 free hours of video game time, and hamburger and french fries for supper.
"It's like my birthday or something," he said.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Pioneer Woman, that's me!

"You need to make your own yogurt." I promised you, that's what I found myself telling myself one afternoon last month. Did you know that with about 30 minutes and Senhora Google, you too can become a yogurt-making expert?

All you have to do it take some milk (1 liter), warm it (if you're in the states and don't have MilkInABox, then you have to sterilize it first) to 120 degrees, put it in a clean glass jar and add a couple of tablespoons of yogurt. I then set it in a cooler that has some hot tap water in the bottom. I cover it and leave it for 12 hours. Then, I put the jar in the fridge and let it cool. After a couple of hours, I added some vanilla flavoring (about 2 tablespoons), and some sugar (about 1/2 cup).

It turned out great! It also supplies us with some lactase, that enzyme that helps us digest milk. Blake and Jeff loved it. Parker still doesn't recognize it as food, but he will soon.

I also made butter last night. I was getting ready for our "end of the homeschooling year party" and made some ice cream base. The leftover cream would have gone bad in the fridge so I put it in the mixer with some salt and whisked it into butter. It's really good.