Saturday, June 28, 2008

On the road again...

By the time anybody reads this post we'll be on the road, again. And for those of you who have never traveled in Brazil that means we'll be traveling anywhere between 30-50 mph, dodging pot-holes the size of tapirs for 2 days straight (tapir was my animal of choice so you'd have to look it up if you don't know what it is! well, that and they are rather large animals which helps give a better idea to the naive Americans who don't know what a real pot-hole looks like. ha! Maybe I'll take a few pictures of the beauties we encounter along the way for future posts).

We were supposed to be on the road today but it is taking much longer to load up our trucks and trailers than anticipated. We're helping my dear sis-n-law, her hubby and baby move to the small town they will be working from these next few years. Our latest plan is to leave early in the morning. We'll see how that goes! I guess you'll know if I don't post again tomorrow:-)

Cristy had this amazing idea to make a playpen out of boxes! It was great. The kiddos played in there for about 2 hours!

As busy as we've been Jonathan always manages to find time to spiff up his green baby. Karis loves to help. Isn't her left butt-cheek so cute hanging out?

Can you tell her bathing suit used to be mine and that the elastic is a bit stretched out? She didn't's always exciting to have a duck on your belly (even if it's supposed to be on your chest).

Friday, June 27, 2008

Ministry Trip Continued...

Before I write a little bit more about this past week I have to let whoever is reading this know that there is this awesome new web-site that is giving great promotions on all kind of fun photo "stuff". It is When you sign up you automatically get one free photo book and 400 photo prints for free! Now I just got an email that if I order some photo books before July 7th I can get up to 10 free with a special discount on shipping! If you are wondering what a photo book is you should check it out. I've been making our family albums on-line for the past few years on (which is another great site but not as cheap as ArtsCow!). For those of you who don't have time to do creative memories but like to be somewhat creative and would like to have your photos preserved in a professionally bound book...well, this is for you (I should get something else for free from ArtsCow for this special bit of advertising, huh?). They have other fun stuff besides photo books too. My sister (who told me about ArtsCow) ordered a watch with a custom photo IN the watch for only $7. You can't beat that! Ok, onto other things....

So Saturday was the first day the clinic was open and it was only open in the afternoon (1-5). I was rather overwhelmed at that point but even more so at the end of Sunday (the clinic was open all day Sunday). There were so many new words I don't even want to know how much time I spent looking in my dictionary or consulting with somebody else who speaks better Portuguese in those first few days. I've been able to get by just fine the past few years but because we speak a lot of English on the base and are around a lot of other English-speaking people there are so many basic words I haven't needed to know in Portuguese (like blood pressure, etc). The girl I was translating for would die if she knew the kinds of things I was saying those first few days just to get by! Here is how a basic conversation would go...

Me: Good morning! You can sit down right here.
Dr: Ask him which issue is causing him the most problems.
Me: Which of your many problems is the worst?
Patient: Chest pain.
Me: Can you explain what kind of chest pain?
Patient: Chest know, it hurts, right here.
Dr: Ask him if it's a sharp stabbing pain, a pricking pain or a dull/sore pain.
Me: Does it feel like the pain you get when you're bit by a bug? Or does it feel like someone is standing on your chest, like it's really tight? Or does it just hurt a little bit throughout the day?"

And so it would go...if it seemed like I really wasn't getting the main idea and also seemed important that I get the main idea I would go consult with someone who could help. But thankfully by the time Monday rolled around I had learned a majority of the words I needed to know, or at least had them written down so that I could cheat a little bit!

There were some specific patients who just tugged at my heart. With so many issues yet had no choice but to continue working long/hard really got to me. In our culture most of those who are overworked are overworked by choice, driven by the desire to live a better life materialistically or just driven to make a name for themselves (not all the time, but for the most part). It was so humbling to come into contact with people who live in pain day in and day out yet for the sake of surviving only, they continue on. I was convicted how I've let my life of ease and comfort affect decisions I've made and how I've spent my time. I've been on missions trips before and I've seen the poor (I've seen those who are even poorer than these folks) yet when you talk to them everyday about all of their struggles...well, I think I got much more of a glimpse into their lives. And still I know that I don't really understand what life is like for them. I can't understand, until I live among them on a day-to-day basis. Perhaps the Lord has that for us in the future...maybe this was just a stepping stone for something else. Either way, I do think my life has been changed forever in some respects. I found that before I went on this trip I was thinking a lot about the house we might live in when we move, how big it might or might not be and other things along those lines. By the end of the week I was rather convicted to be consumed with so many earthly/material thoughts.

Because we have so much to do today before we leave tomorrow I'm going to speed this up a bit and put some more of the pictures I took. Some of them may be rather random...

This is one of the men who really tugged at my heart. He's on so many medications already for Schizophrenia, etc. He had that look in his eye, like something deep down was really wrong and he didn't know what to do about it (he probably needed the Lord). They also found that he had some major heart issues that needed to be addressed.

The dentist dept. probably stayed the busiest! They weren't able to do fillings but they did a lot of cleanings and pulling teeth.

After the first day they realized that they should move the teeth-pulling chair to a different room after a few of the kiddos made quite a scene. The children outside who were waiting for a teeth cleaning decided they did NOT want to enter that room after they heard the screams of children not wanting to get their teeth pulled.

Another cool thing that they did was give glasses to those who needed them (and probably to many who didn't need them but wanted something that was free or something that made them look sophisticated:-) One of the ladies after trying on a pair of glasses exclaimed "I can see! I can see! I see you!"

Even though there were a ton of patients waiting outside our room to be seen I had to stop and have my picture taken with this lady. She was so much fun! With 6 fingers on each hand, a few teeth and a lot of personality (she was so animated) this is someone I won't ever forget. She was probably one of the poorest of the people we saw (this is just a guess) but she was cheerful and a lot of fun. She didn't seem to mind the hard life she had lived at all. So here's to a random picture...

Another random picture. As we walked through the neighborhood each day on our way to the clinic there was almost every time someone in this family holding their parrot out on the street corner. I couldn't figure this one out. Do they love their parrot that much? Or did they know when we'd be passing by and enjoyed the attention they got from the interesting white people? Who knows, but it was a cool parrot.

So now onto the GOOD news of the week! (this is for you Mary...this will make up for those tears I causes yesterday:-) As sad and humbling as it was to be in contact with hurting people each day, a good number of them came to know my Savior! It is wonderful and great to see their physical needs being treated but I also know that their earthly life is like a breath compared with the eternal life they will face. Every patient was sent to a room where the Gospel was presented to them after they had been treated. Out of the 400-500 patients that were seen each day almost everyday over 200 received the gift of salvation (over 200 per day!). That calls for some Hallelujahs people!! What an exciting, exciting thing to witness. One of the ladies that my friend Kim interpreted for just cried and cried because of the anxious/nervous feelings she felt on a daily basis. She received Christ and came back the following day saying that night was the first night in years that she had slept through the night. Her face was beaming and she testified of the peace that had come into her life the day before. Amen! Of course the main purpose of this clinic is to open the doors to an on-going ministry in this small community. I really hope that I can go back next year!

I don't even have time to read this over and make sure grammar/spelling are ok or that it makes sense. Maybe next week I come back and clean this post up a bit:-) Gotta run to the store before we pack and load up several trailers for the trip tomorrow.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Back home....for now.

Poor Karis may need some Tylenol to help with her sore cheeks after our reunion last night! She has the most kissable cheeks ever:-) As happy as Jonathan and I are to see each other again he doesn't have quite as much patience to endure the pecking so I save that for Karis, 'til she's old enough to be annoyed herself. Ha!

There is so much to share about my week, I don't know where to start! Overall it was a wonderful, wonderful experience. Challenging in some ways that I didn't expect yet easier in others. I am completely exhausted but so encouraged, challenged and blessed that I thank the Lord for this opportunity and am so glad I didn't give into the temptation to cancel since I was overwhelmed with the move going on here! It may take two different blog posts to tell about everything (well, not everything since that would take up about 10...I'll try to weed out the non-essentials) but I'll go ahead and start.

The team arriving from the good ol' U.S. of A was made up of 30-40 Dr.'s, nurses, dentists, med students, and even some evangelists. Those of us participating in the interpreting department arrived at the hotel before anyone else (it was a 3 hour drive from where we live). The team was arriving from Alabama and Tennesse and they had missed their flight in Sao Paulo, which delayed their arrival at the hotel and didn't make it in 'til almost 10pm (almost 48 hours of traveling for them!). The hotel had an amazing supper ready for everybody (we had incredible food all week, as expected). After the amazing food it was only natural for everybody to hit the hay!

This picture is of the first morning after we had unpacked the many suitcases they had brought full of medicine, equipment, bandages, etc. and planned to use at the clinic. I'm not sure if this pictures accurately shows how much stuff there really was! We spent the entire morning organizing and dividing up pills into separate zip-lock baggies to be able to hand out to the patients at the clinic.

This picture is out of focus but it gives an idea on how organized the temporary pharmacy was after only a few hours of set-up! I was very impressed. It was run by one pharmacist from the U.S., one from Holland and several other med students from the U.S. They stayed incredibly busy as there was always a long line waiting outside and they had to make do with only 1 or 2 interpreters!

After that morning of organizing the medical supplies and setting up the clinic (I wasn't involved in the clinic set-up so I don't actually know what all took place in that dept.) we opened the clinic that same afternoon!

This is what it looked like outside the gate every morning or afternoon before the clinic opened! Brazilians are very accustomed to waiting so the long lines and time spent waiting didn't seem to bother them at all. They were so grateful for the services that were being provided!

When they came in the gate they were sent to waiting area #1 (I think they were given numbers and only let in so many people at a time so that things could stay organized and run smoothly).

When their number was called they were then sent to a table where there was a Dr. (or nurse) and an interpreter (hence the incredibly stylish and bright orange vests).

They were asked a series of questions regarding their health and had their blood pressure taken before they were taken to waiting area #2 (which would either be for dental, general medicine or eyes. In many cases patients needed to be attended to in all three areas!).

This is just outside the room where I interpreted for a med. student and my friend Kim interpreted for a different Dr. (the room was divided in half by a sheet). This was during a lull where only 5 or 6 patients were waiting to be attended to.

These are the familiar faces I was privileged to see for many days in a row! The four of us shared the room seen behind us.

Although not a flattering picture, this gives an idea on how things worked. I would go out to the door and call the next patient. He/she would come in and sit down in front of the dr. and begin to explain the many problems he/she were experiencing. Sometimes I thought a certain patient couldn't possibly have one more thing wrong with them, yet those thoughts only lasted for about a day as I soon realized how many of these people were desperate for any kind of medical attention (not all of them, but a good portion of them).

Here is a picture of the front of the room where my friend Kim and Dr. Riley were attending to patients. You would think that these older patients who have experienced incredibly difficult lives would be somewhat bitter from their circumstances, yet that definitely was not the case! They were for the most part cheerful people who were extremely grateful for the services we were providing. One really fun and animated man told me "In all my 60 years I've never seen a foreigner before. Now I get to see all of you foreigners! You all are wonderful...I love foreigners!"

I feel like I'm just barely getting into the basics of how everything went yet I have loads of laundry waiting for me as we prepare to travel on Saturday! I think the last thing I'll share for today is how humbled/encouraged I am by this experience. It is indescribable to tell you how thankful I am to have now experienced how the Holy Spirit works in our lives when we put ourselves in uncomfortable situations in order to serve Him. I was a little nervous before, wondering if I'd be able to love these people how Christ would want me to. Yet a higher power took over as I interacted with these people, who are so loved by Him. When a patient sat down and brought a rather strong body odor with them (probably can't afford soap or worked up a good sweat on their long walk to the clinic) it came natural to smile, touch, hug and encourage them. It was obvious that the love I felt for these people was nothing of my own. How can I express how awesome it is to be able to sit down and watch as the Father works through me? In many respects this was a first for me. Many more thoughts are running through my head yet I better attend to other non-bloggy things for now:-)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Headin' out...

Just a quick post before I head out on our trip today. We leave at 1:30pm and will have about a 3 hour drive...all of the activities begin tomorrow! For the most part there are a lot of unknowns to me because this will be the first trip of this kind that I've ever been on. What I do know is that....

1. 30-40 medical Dr.'s have arrived from the States....
2. We're headed to a poor community for the Dr.'s to serve. The churches who have organized this group have been to other communities and they do this a few times a year but the location we're going to is a new one.
3. Saturday will be the first day of interpreting for the Dr.'s as well as the patients.
4. The days will be long but we will get fed fabulous food 3 times a day (a great motivator for me!)
5. We will be staying in a hotel and the medical clinic will be held at a school.
6. By Sunday I'll be feeling rather desperate to see my dh and dd.
7. We will come home Wednesday/Thursday.

The morning has already flown by so I better wrap this up. I've accomplished most of what I needed to do which included making a huge pot of rice so that J & K can live off of stir-fry for the next 6 days!

I am really excited because I know the Lord is going to stretch me in new ways. Please pray for us if we come to mind...that we will be used as instruments of Him and that those who are receiving medical treatment will also have hearts soft and receptive towards the Gospel. It will be great to see what the Lord does!

So for now, farewell. I expect to see lots of new comments on my later posts when I am home and can continue in my blogging addiction:-)

Here is the version of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" sung by Karis last night...

"Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb....Mary had a little lamb it's fleece has a big hole".

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Lemons anyone?

Wow, what a sour post I wrote on Tuesday! After re-reading it I realize how absolutely pity-partyish it seemed. Now honestly, I am the world's best at throwing pity-parties....really...but that actually wasn't one. I think it was a combination of sleepiness, anxious feelings and the desire to try and be funny (that always gets me into trouble). So for clarity of mind I would like to explain....

1. As much as I love and admire my mom and want to be like her in a lot of ways, I don't feel bad that I'm not her (multitasking is a trait I admire and respect but I think you're right Meg, that some of it can be acquired over time!). Remember how I have strong tendencies to make fun of myself? (thanks to my siblings!). This would be one of those occasions. If Stace reads that post she'll be like "haha, you're so can't do any two things at the same time!" and we'll both laugh and try to remember stories where I tried to accomplish two things at once and miserably failed (is this not normal or something?). Either way, thanks for your encouraging comments, Meg-n-Debbie:-)

2. I really am ok with friends not enjoying my chili. Of course everybody wants their guests to enjoy the food you cook for them but I do realize that the most important thing is the fellowship around the table (and I'm secure in my chili-making abilities...I just realize some people aren't huge chili fans and suffer from heartburn...I've never had heartburn so I have no idea how miserable that can be). Also, if anybody reading this ever eats at my house (most of you have a very long way to travel and even I don't think my chili is worth it. ha!) I don't want you to feel like you need to shower me with compliments or feel awkward if you don't like my food. Honestly, I'd prefer you make fun of it so that we can laugh about it! I guess it got to me more the other night because I saw how much they were suffering when every bone in my body wanted to say "It's ok! Really, it's ok...don't eat another bite. Can I get you a pb&j?" Yet knowing that they'd be embarrassed knowing that I know....well, I just thought it'd be better to let them suffer and then feel like polite human beings afterward (just for extra credit, my husband tells me I'm exaggerating and that one of them even used the word "good" when thanking me for supper. He's probably right.)

This does lead me onto the subject of being picky when it comes to eating. I had no idea how many adults out there are picky eaters! (and for the most part don't eat what they don't like since their mom isn't standing over them making them). How can this be? I guess I am blessed/cursed with the gene where you can place anything in front of me and not only will I eat it, but I'll probably enjoy it (which is great in a lot of ways but it also gives me that strong tendency to eat just for fun). So I've spent a lot of time pondering this subject. How can this be? These are the thoughts that come to mind.

1. Do we taste things differently? If I could jump in your body and eat spinach would I not like it then?

2. I wholeheartedly believe that we need to do everything we can not to let our children become picky eaters. I'm sure if you're forced to eat a variety of foods growing up that this helps out in some way (not that you'll grow up enjoying everything, but I think you'll be more open-minded to try new things). The starving children in Africa aren't picky, that's for sure. We were pretty poor when I was young so I don't think mom ever had to force food on us...we were happy if there was enough for seconds! (correct me if I'm wrong, mom).

3. Junk food/processed food alters our taste buds.

4. Perseverance pays off. When we moved to Brazil the one fruit I just couldn't get used to was Papaya. It tastes how moth-balls smell (will somebody please tell me they know exactly what I'm talking about?!) Yet because they are so plentiful and inexpensive here (and I'm sure they're good for you) I worked 3 long, hard years to learn to like them (kudos to me) and now I can say that I do! I appreciate the ones that have less of that moth-bally taste but even that doesn't prevent me from buying them and enjoying them at this point. When we move I'm even going to plant some of my favorite kind of papayas in our yard! (they grow on a tree).

Anybody else have opinions on this subject? Thankfully at this point my munchkin is much like her parents and rarely says no to any sort of food. I'm curious to see if her future younger siblings are as easy as she has been...did she catch "the gene" or have I just done an amazing job at forcing things down her throat at an early age? :-)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Daughter of Wonder-Woman doesn't multi-task.

I've never been a multi-tasker and yes, I am Pat Weso's daughter. How did it happen? I have no idea...all I know is that the only two things I can do at the same time are chew gum and talk (which I haven't done in quite a while since smacking gum is number 1,897 on Jonathan's pet peeve list). I'm realizing that besides multi-tasking I have a hard time focusing on more than one thing in my life at a time. For example, we're about to move...I wish I could just think about packing up and moving. But I have this anxious feeling deep down inside. I don't even know why because it's not that I have too much on my plate, it's that I have too many different things. Yesterday I worked a little bit helping the base pack up. Today I packed up some boxes in my house. Tonight I entertained some friends who are in town this week (who were not fond of my chili. FYI, I can tell when people don't like my food. "Thanks Kelley for supper. It was very filling" is a good clue and in case you think I'm reading into that one comment there were a lot more signs people, I just don't want to chase this rabbit trail any further). So anyway, tomorrow is J's birthday will be a fun day trying to make it special for him. Thursday is more packing, supper with friends in town (who we haven't seen in a while). Friday I leave for a 6-day trip to interpret for a medical team coming down to help out a very poor community (again, I'm very excited yet nervous as all get out. What if I don't remember basic words in Portuguese, like kidney?). When I come back I'll have one full day to hug and kiss my 2-year old who I will never want to leave again (that goes for my husband too, of course!) before we leave town to help my sister/brother-in-law move to a different small town (hubby and baby will be coming with). It will be fun and memorable I'm sure. Then when we come back I'll pack up a bit more before Karis and I move without Jonathan so that hopefully we can find a house to live in. And because life has changed from week-to-week since we arrived in April I have to admit I'm a bit on edge as it is. Yes, I really am Pat's daughter and nobody can explain to me how this happened. I was confident that I'd automatically inherit the gene that eliminates labor when having a baby (along with the labor pains) yet that didn't work out really didn't work out.

On a more positive note living with a 2-year old is rather revealing. There are things I say on a regular basis and had no idea that I say at all! One of them is beginning a question with "shall we..." Karis has been saying that lately and today's example was in the grocery store when she said "mommy, shall we get cookies for tea-party?" It is SO cute hearing that come from a little squeaky voice.

I get to a see a picture of how I reprimand Karis by watching her talk to her baby doll (it is a great tool for motivating me to be a good mom. I'm sure she knows this and is using it as a tool for manipulation). Hopefully I can't take everything that she does or says to her doll too seriously...she's such a bossy little girl.

These pictures underneath are completely random and don't have anything to do with this post.

Karis poured her own milk for the first time and was determined to get as much into the cups as possible. Can you believe that neither spilled over?

Bossy yet cute.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Unshakable Faith

After 1.5 months of reading "Unshakable Faith" by John Perry I am finally getting to the end of the 372 pages. Although it is filled with a lot of details and a bit laborious at times I am coming away challenged and renewed by the exemplified lives of Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver (the book is a biography on the two). I admit that I find myself more in tune with the ways/personality of George Washington Carver, yet both were lovers of my Lord and were used mightily by Him. Three of the main thoughts I am challenged with are...

1.) Every group of people, whether believers or non-believers is bound to have "politics" involved, to some extent. Many times the stumbling blocks one can cause in another's life can be rooted in very good intentions. I am challenged to reevaluate all of my relationships with others and be open to correction if a "good intention" of mine has been a source of hurt for another (Washington and Carver were so different in personality that although they both loved the Lord Jesus with all their heart there were still areas of tension between the two of them during the time they worked together at Tuskegee).

2.) Our motives for doing good have to be rooted in something deeper than our heart-felt desire to "do good" or be praised by man. As Oswald Chambers says,

"If we are devoted to the cause of humanity, we shall soon be crushed and broken-hearted, for we shall often meet with more ingratitude from men than we would from a dog; but if our motive is love to God, no ingratitude can hinder us from serving our fellow men."

3.) Patience with a good dose of humility is the way to go. I am amazed and encouraged by the responses both Washington and Carver gave those who were belittling, insulting and rude towards them.

In the early 1900's the Tuskegee perspective was
"Do not stand still and complain, but go forward---mere fault-finders accomplish little."

One trait of Carver's that I can totally relate to is seeing God as the "Creator". He always placed a fresh flower in his lapel each day and found satisfaction in studying the creation around him. I love his perspective when he says...

"To me nature in its varied forms are the little windows through which God permits me to commune with him, and to see much of his glory, by simply lifting the curtain, and looking in. I love to think of nature as wireless telegraph stations through which God speaks to us every day, every hour, and every moment of our lives."

This is definitely a book worth reading (skimming on some parts?). I haven't read the biography of Booker T. Washington "Up From Slavery" but I would assume it's very good and maybe more to the point (although probably wouldn't include much on the life of Carver). Has anybody read it?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Mother #3

Lest any of you think I'm winding down in blogging now that the newness of has worn off I'm actually running around like a chicken with my head cut off (a plump chicken...can anybody tell me how you can go from spending winter in the States eating lots of Papa John's pizza then coming here to the intense heat, eating healthier and less quantity and even exercising from time-to-time and yet still gain weight? I'm at a loss on this one.) Anyway, yesterday afternoon was the first portion of time I've had at home this week and after I finished getting caught up on laundry, etc, I ended up spending time on some over-due phone calls...hence, I didn't get around to posting anything (and I just know that there are tons of people out there anxious to read another post on my blog:-)

I want to take this time to introduce you all to Mrs. Smith*. My new adopted mom who has brought unforeseen encouragement to my life!

First I'll tell you the story of how we met. While spending time in the States for furlough I had come with the expectation to reach out and bless somebody at some point during our stay (have you ever sat back and realized that so much of your life is about you, which causes that sick sort of feeling in your gut? I guess you could say I experienced that on a regular basis last year.) I had great intentions to practice being a Mother Theresa (who's biography I had just finished reading) and bless the nation with my presence. Thankfully, I already knew from experience that great intentions and extreme efforts mixed with some pride usually fail completely and end up giving me a portion of humble pie. I think I'm getting a little too detailed in this account...let's skip a few months time and get to the part where I felt the Holy Spirit's nudge when I read in our church bulletin that our church was hosting a birthday party at a local nursing home. I just knew this was it, and I was scared spitless (I know that's not a word). I have been to several nursing homes before trying to be an encouragement yet always feel lost and uncomfortable not knowing how to be/act. But this nudge was more of a push and I guess you could say I didn't have much of a choice. Karis and I joined the deaconesses of our church at the nursing home a few days later and to my surprise everything went wonderfully (having the most adorable little girl at your side helps in almost any situation!). So this is the part where we meet mom #3, Mrs. Smith. Although Karis and I made a few rounds around the room talking and visiting (it was a great experience) we ended up spending a large portion of the time with Mrs. Smith who said she would love to have us come back and visit her. You would think this would calm any past fears of mine yet when it the next week rolled around and I knew we should go back to visit I had lingering doubts "what if she doesn't remember me? what if one of the other residents yells at me in the hallway or something?" (isn't it crazy the kind of thoughts that can prevent us from doing something we know we should do?). Fortunately, for once in my life, I didn't let those fears make a decision for me and we went back. There isn't a lot left to say except that Karis and I have been blessed 10x more than Mrs. Smith has been blessed by us, I'm sure. She is a precious, precious woman who loves the Lord with all of her heart (and after getting to know her I realized she was in need of a friend outside of the home. This particular home is filled with many individuals who are not in a good state mentally, if you know what I mean). The only reason that Mrs. Smith is in the home is because she became legally blind suddenly and couldn't cook for herself, etc. You would think that her present circumstances would give her reason to have a negative attitude and yet I still haven't seen one hint of grumpiness on that woman's face. She is a light shining bright to those around her! I am so, so thankful the Lord brought her into my life.

So she is the one I spent most of my afternoon time with on the phone yesterday. I miss her so much! I also want to encourage any young moms reading this to find time in your busy schedule to take your little ones to a nursing home and find a Mrs. Smith (as I spent more time in the nursing home I found that there were several more individuals in the home who were in a great mental state and in desperate need of friendship yet were bound to their room, for whatever reason). There is so much we and our children can learn in this situation as well as bless somebody at the same time (and most likely receive blessings ourselves!). Here are a some of the benefits we've received through making trips to the nursing home.

1. Karis enjoys being around the elderly, calls them her "friends" and ministers to their hearts in ways that I can't (I've been around children who feel uncomfortable around the elderly and I don't want this for my children!)

2. Although showing physical affection is not one of my strengths I've definitely grown in this area as it comes a lot more natural when you can see the strong need for it (some of the patients were very much there mentally and in need of affection but couldn't communicate due to a stroke, etc. I was able to see the power of the human touch as their face would light up with a hug or a hand resting on their arm).

3. Listening to the older ladies share stories and laugh together is an unforgettable experience! I found myself laughing harder than I ever have.

4. Even though Karis is still very young I hope to teach her to live her life for others and instead of waking up each day thinking "what fun thing can I do today?" hopefully she will think of those around her who may be lonely or in need if something she can give. Spending time around those confined to a nursing home definitely helps one put life's priorities into perspective.

5. Lessons from the past...Mrs. Smith is filled with much knowledge and wisdom. She's lived life a lot longer than we have and therefore has been through many more experiences. She's given me some great ideas on mothering!

The list could go on and on yet I have a few open hours at home this morning so I better not spend it all on my blog post:-)

*Not her real name.

Monday, June 9, 2008


I'm sitting here wondering what I'm going to write about but feeling the need to write something since it' s been a few days and I'm determined to not give up on blogging so soon (Kimmy told me how she loves to read blogs but most of her friends do it for a few weeks and then quit, which makes me want to be one of the few and the proud).

Well, I can tell everybody how I'm feeling today (groggy!) and that I'm feeling that way because of something very dumb I did last night knowing I'd regret it and yet still followed through with my silly idea. It all started when I decided to take a Sunday nap...I hardly ever take naps...I try a few times a week but only succeed every few months. Yesterday turned out to be quite a success as I slept the afternoon away! Of course everybody knows what's coming now. There I sat (I was laying down, actually) in bed without any feelings of sleepiness. Midnight rolled around and knowing that I had an appointment to make at 8am and feeling frustrated over how tired I knew I would be if I didn't go to sleep I decided to think about a plan of action. What would make me sleepy? I meandered (Cristy uses that word all the time...I like it) towards the bathroom to see what kind of drugs I could find. Nothing caught my eye but the night-time cold/flu capsules. Yes, I did it...I took two of those huge green gel capsules, and against my better judgment. So two very large and majorly caffeinated cups of Brazilian coffee later here I sit shaky from the caffeine and still groggy from the drugs. The cool part is that I don't have an appetite (do I foresee a new diet plan emerging?) but the bummer is that it's our anniversary (7 whole years!) and I'm afraid I won't be much fun on our date tonight. Thankfully we're going to an early movie where I'll have an opportunity to get in a few hours of sleep before our dinner in town. Did I mention that I'm feeling a bit hebetudinous? (I added that for those of you who read Mary and Debbie's blog...I wanna be cool like them.)

Friday, June 6, 2008

House, Heat and Humor.

Yesterday we spent a bit of time at Jonathan's childhood home (here on the base). The individuals who have been living in it for several years just moved out so we stopped by to take a look (which gave Jonathan plenty of opportunity to reminisce and tell Karis and I lots of stories). Can you believe that the entire house is made out of mahogany? Back in the day it was super cheap and I think even cheaper to build a house with than brick! Close to where we are moving a cubic meter of mahogany sells for over $3,500.

Jonathan's dad planned and built the house himself back in 1970 ("somewhere in there" that is, Jonathan says)

An old favorite hiding spot of Jonathan's (back in the day) would probably be one of Karis' too if we lived in the house ("mommy I have hide and seek!" is becoming a daily request along with "I want to have a tea party").

I discovered a wonderful blog that is going to put some spice back into my life as far as the kitchen is concerned! Since we're in one of the hottest cities in Brazil (with NO a/c Mary...thanks for rubbing it in you have that to be thankful for. Ha! J/K we do have a window unite we crank up at night every once in a while to take the edge off)...uh, where was I? Oh yeah, so it is quite unusual for me to be happy about heating the oven up for lunch (our main meal of the day). Because of this I am always on the lookout for some new crock-pot recipes (if anybody has some good ones, pass 'em along, please!). Lately I've found success in making scalloped potatoes in the crock-pot and today I'm making a recipe from this blog that has sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese (although we can't get feta here and since it takes days to make I decided to try it with my home-made ricotta cheese...I know it'll taste a lot different but I'm hoping it will be good so I can add it to my incredibly small collection of recipes I make over and over and over again 'til we're all so sick of it we can't stand the thought of it anymore (I don't recommend getting into this habit). Here is the link if anyone is interested.

When Karis and I were in the process of our three song ritual the other night before I put her to bed she asked to sing a song called "Only a Boy Named David" she learned from her vovรณ (which is her grandma for anyone not well acquainted with Portuguese). I began singing it with her but neglected to do the motions since I was holding her. She corrected me quickly and said "No mommy, do the oceans. You need to do the oceans". Have I ever mentioned how funny I think my munchkin is?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Fly Lady Wannabe

I really shouldn't be sitting down to write since it's 10:30pm and I've been working hard on getting up earlier so I can have more time to myself before Karis wakes up. Then again, today was the first day without sugar for me and I just ended it with a bowl of ice cream. hmmm...anybody noticing a pattern here?

It's hard to resist posting when I accomplished something great today that the world needs to know about (my mother-in-law will be the most impressed, so really this post is for her more than anyone!). I organized my kitchen cupboards...and not only that but I labeled the food containers too! I hold lots of memories of my poor husband organizing the kitchen cabinets on a weekly basis the first few years we were married. I literally was dumbfounded thinking "what's wrong with this guy? why does he care if he can't see how many cans of spaghetti sauce we have?" The main problem has been that although I'm not a clutter person (I can't stand stuff everywhere!) I don't mind shoving it in cabinets since behind doors I don't have to look at it. It doesn't matter that things pop out of drawers when they're opened or things fall out of cabinets when they're opened because it only takes a split second to shove everything back in or throw it back on top (and shut the door, quick!). I've always been this way and thought it suited me just fine...until I hit the big 25, that is (I don't know for sure it was then I just know it was a few years ago). I began realizing how much time I wasted looking for stuff when everything was in disarray behind closed doors (Jonathan's been telling me that for the entire 7 years we've been married) and also the extra stress I feel when I can't make sense of what I see. I also haven't been a very detailed person when it comes to cleaning my house or very neat in arranging things. I will never forget the first time I saw my dear mother-in-law straighten up my dish cloth hanging up in my kitchen. Although it didn't bother me at all (this is not a bad thing) I have to admit my thoughts were along the lines of "aha, that's why he is the way he is...I still don't understand how but at least I understand why". I honestly couldn't comprehend why someone would care or even notice that a dish cloth was scrunched up on the oven door. How could someone notice that my light fixtures had a solid inch of cobwebs around them? I feel free to write all of this now because I am starting to feel free myself! Free from chaos behind closed doors, free from wasted time searching for things I really should know where they are (or things that I don't need or use...lots of clutter is out of my house completely), free from the yucky feeling a somewhat dirty house brings. What's fun is that I'm discovering how much more peaceful my home is when it's organized. It is also more inviting for others and gives me extra time to focus on other tasks that have been on the back-burner for, uh, 7 years. I am realizing that I have a long way to go and that I can't get too picky because there are definitely times when everything can't be in perfect order (like when Karis has lots of 2-year olds over to play...they aren't very respectful of my newfound freedom.) So without further ado, please check out my newly organized cabinets!!

Ok, so maybe the top of the snacks container is a bit dusty (I just got them out of storage) but anyone who knows me well will be impressed beyond words at this improvement!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Special Moments

Tonight I was unexpectedly inspired to tell Karis what a gift she is to long I had waited/prayed for a baby and how excited I was when I found out I was expecting! I was putting her to bed and holding her (we were about to begin our nightly ritual of singing 3 songs) and since she had missed her nap today she was unusually still in my arms, just looking at me. I was amazed at how well she appeared to be listening to my somewhat lengthy rendition of events leading up to her birth. I ended my touching story (almost with tears in my eyes) by giving her a kiss (ok, more like 5 kisses). She looked up at me, smiled and said "but mommy, I have a bug-bite on my foot". Yes, it was one of those special mommy/daughter moments she'll never forget, I'm sure.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Packin' up and Headin' Out

Today the last flight from the mission base took place (it actually left yesterday to pick up a missionary but was unable to return 'til today because of weather). Although I am not emotionally attached to the base like many who have strong roots here, I definitely sense the difficulty that so many face seeing this place being packed up and knowing that once we leave it will never be the same (it has been sold to a developer who will bulldoze everything and build condominiums). This is the base where Jonathan spent many of his childhood years. Actually, it is the base where his parents met for the first time!

About 1 1/2 years ago when the plan to move was taking place we would have regular meetings as a mission. One thing that was discussed over and over was how the move would take place and what the "last ones" living here would do for security, etc. I always thought "wow, I really feel sorry for whoever that is". Don't ever think that's very dangerous. Yes, those "last ones" happen to be us:-) It isn't that we're stuck here much longer than most (only about a month) but the hard part is seeing everything change, close down and people leave while we're still here. I can't imagine what a ghost town it will become in the next few weeks! It is very bittersweet. Change is a normal and natural part of life and even though all of us are confident that this big change is of the Lord, it is still a challenging time for many. The Lord has used this 100 acre tract of land to help bring His Word to many different indigenous groups of people for almost 50 years!

As of now the aviation dept., the school and many offices as well as about half of the families have already left. By next weekend it will pretty much be down to 3 families! Karis has no idea what's going on...I don't think she even notices that things are changing except that she gets to run around with me packing/moving boxes. And it doesn't matter to her! To Karis, her only real ties in life are to her mommy and papai (well, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends too, of course!) But now she'll go anywhere with us and adapt within a few days. It's only after we've lived a little longer on this earth that we begin to grow roots and often resist uprooting when opportunities arise. It reminds me how I need to keep a constant, eternal focus because this world as we know it isn't our home anyway. We're here for a reason and it isn't to sit back comfortably, sip our lemonade and enjoy the sunsets (although we sure do enjoy them when those moments come along!). I do pray that I will constantly cling to my Father, so that when He's ready to uproot me again I'll be as ready and willing as Karis is when we drag her around this world...and she really has been dragged around quite a bit! (Did I conjugate that correctly?)

Last flight coming in from a village today.

One of Karis' first words was "airplane" and she's still fascinated by them!