• Shall We Dance? – The Ups and Downs of Learning a New Language

    These last couple weeks there hasn’t really been anything super exciting or earth shattering to write about…I’ve just been doing this dance I like to call “Learning Portuguese”. I’ve been doing this dance for 7 weeks now and I must admit I’m getting better at it! I’ve learnt some of the basic steps and I’m starting to understand how this dance works.

    My new motto for learning Portuguese!
    Optimist: someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it’s a cha-cha. ~Robert Brault

    It has been fun to see my knowledge and understanding of Portuguese grow, but some days I don’t see it. Here’s how the dance goes…some days I feel like I’m really getting somewhere…a step forward! The next day my brain just doesn’t want to register anything and nothing seems to make sense…a step back! So I’ve decided this week…I’m going to call this the Portuguese cha-cha!! If I keep at it eventually I’m going to be an expert…maybe not tomorrow, but one day at a time. I’m continuing to build on what I already know and just because one day things don’t go so good…it doesn’t mean I’ve lost everything I’ve learnt. I’m thankful for all the great “dance partners” I have here…helping me along with some much kindness and patience. I truly am blessed and definitely couldn’t learn as well without them!

    Amazing what a change of perspective can do…after all I’ve always want to know how to cha-cha! Now on the days where I’m tired and my brain is exhausted I just need to remember….it’s not a disaster…it’s just another step in this dance I’m learning. With continued practice…I’ll get all the steps down…after all I’ve only been here for 7 weeks and I sure know a lot more than when I came!
    Today has been one of those days I need to remind myself of this. I haven’t been feeling well all day…sore throat and body aching all over…so mainly resting and not much studying….kinda feels like a step back. But tomorrow is a new day…and who knows what step I’ll learn then…

    Thank you for all your prayers.
    Please pray especially for my health. I really don’t want to be sick…I want to be able to maximize this last month I’m here.

    Decided a needed a change of scenery as I studied yesterday…so I took the books outside, where I could watch futebol practice and study. I could actually understand what was being said at futebol practice…pretty fun!

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    These books and I spend a LOT of time together…maybe I should start taking pictures with them everywhere I go! Although I’m sure that would be pretty boring for all of you…

  • Beautiful Beaches of Santa Catarina

    Most of my time I spend studying, studying, studying Portuguese…especially now Earl & Ruth are gone and its just me! In the midst of all the books and studying, I got to have a change of scenery a couple weekends ago! Believe me it was a welcome and beautiful change…and I got to learn a bunch of new words, etc in the process. Words I love like…beach, sand, waves, sunrise, sea….and so on. It was a wonderful 4 days away from the normal routine…seeing Santa Catarina, a different state in Brazil. For me, the beaches were the highlight! I don’t know what it is but being by the ocean just does something for me…it refreshes my soul. I love it. I even got up at 6AM one day to go to the beach and watch the sunrise! For those of you who don’t know me…I’m a night owl…the person who says, “If God wanted me to see sunrises He would’ve scheduled them later in the day!”…so it was a pretty big deal, but totally worth it! The whole trip was an amazing blessing to me and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to go.

    Let me share the beauty!

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    Sticking my feet in the Atlantic Ocean here in Brazil for the first time – Balneario Camboriu, Santa Catarina

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    I love the feel of the soft, silky sand in my toes…it was the consistency of baking powder!

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    The pink beginnings of a new day…

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    It’s the off season here…so there were hardly any people in the beaches…

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    Surfers riding the waves…so cool to watch them as we ate lunch.

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    We did see lots of other things on the trip…here I am with the city of Florianopolis in the background! A fabulous trip…I look forward to another one at some point before I leave for Canada.

    Well I’ve enjoyed doing this blog post and looking back on a nice warm, sunny weekend…today was far from that…it was a damp cool day. Here in Brazil we are heading into autumn and you can definitely feel the change in the air. I’m thankful for all the warm clothes I brought with me!

    Thank you for all your prayers. I’ve had some issues with my neck and shoulder on the one side…it seems to be improving though which I so thankful for. I just have to make sure I don’t sit at the table in the same position studying for hours on end. The adjustment to life here on my own is going not too bad…one good thing is I’m speaking more Portuguese now that I have to do all my own communicating! Believe me there are days this feels very overwhelming and I wonder if I’m learning at all. I know I am though. I was encouraged today…my Portuguese teacher told me I’m doing very, very, very good. She said people have been telling her how well I’m doing…I think I needed to hear that encouragement today. I’ve also realized I need to make sure I have realistic expectations for my self…and speaking fluent Portuguese yesterday isn’t realistic! So I’ll just keep taking one step at a time…now back to the books!

  • Visiting Cacador

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    On Wednesday two weeks ago, I had an opportunity to go with a group of people to visit Cacador. A very remote community about 40 km from Itaperucu, nestled in the mountains with only one very bumpy dirt road going in and out. To give you a little idea of just how bad the road is…it took us a little over 2 hours to drive those 40 km! The picture above is a view of the church and bit of the community taken from where the mission school is located. There are 53 families in the community and the closest school is 22 km away, where some of the children attend. However the buses don’t always run because the road is often impassable and so the children miss a lot of school. Needless to say there is a lot of poverty and need… We went to see how the school building is coming along, deliver a stove to the school and to visit some of the families in the community. It was so good to see the building that will provide an opportunity for children to go to school and the whole community to receive medical and dental care. Included in the school building, they have built an examining room for doctor consultations as well as a room with a dentist’s chair for dental care. Something many in this community wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
    Here’s a few pictures to give you an idea of what it looks like…

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    One of the classrooms

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    Supplies all ready for the school to open and lessons to begin!

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    A well stocked library

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    Doctor’s room – Nothing fancy but pretty great when there’s nothing!

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    The Dental “Clinic”

    It was a privilege to see what a very dedicated group of people have been able to accomplish…with lots of hard work and the generosity of people who want to make a difference. I tell you it takes dedication to be willing to give your time on a Saturday, endure the crazy road…all to bring hope to people who may otherwise be forgotten.

    One of the families we visited really touched my heart. The father hadn’t been able to work for the last two months, because the pickup truck he and another guy had bought for going to and from work was stolen at gun point. He had sold the small car he owned to go in on the pickup, so he has no transportation to get to where the logging jobs are. He has tried to find work close to home, but being in such a remote area…there isn’t a lot of work. They have been living on credit from the small local store to feed their children. God placed it so strongly on my heart to give them some money…which I did. I didn’t know a lot of the story until after…because they were talking in Portuguese. But just that morning he had been praying and didn’t know how they were going to make a payment on their account and feed their children. Then we showed up! It still brings tears to my eyes as I think about it. I may never see them again and I know the money I gave won’t solve all their problems, but I was so glad to be a vessel to show God’s love. The fact that He saw there need and sent me…all the way from Canada!

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    Here is that family with Earl and Ruth – their youngest two children are twins!

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    Another house we visited

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    Once the school opens this little girl (and many others like her) will be able to receive an education…and then who knows the opportunities her future will hold.

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    At the same house pictured above…this was the “laundry room”! Seeing it was a HUGE reminder to me of all the blessings I have in my life….so much to be thankful for. On the way to this house we walked past a small mud creek…which I was told was where the family bathed. I’m so grateful for these opportunities to see these things…because it helps me to realize again what’s important in life. Often I take so much for granted, think I need the latest and the greatest thing…forgetting how blessed I am… LIFE is an amazing gift from God! There’s no greater joy than being able to show God’s love and bring hope to others. Each of us has a part…and I was privileged to see how people here are doing exactly that in this small little community of Cacador.