• Leaving A Mark…

    My time in Brazil is rapidly coming to an end! The countdown as of today is 7. That’s right..7 days and I’ll be on a plane back to Canada. I can’t believe how fast the time has gone…and on the other hand I feel like I’ve always been here.

    The last couple of weeks I’ve been making sure I “leave a mark” so they don’t forget me! Last week I baked some banana bread (in a cake pan because I didn’t have a loaf pan) and shared it around. The ladies in the kitchen loved it and wanted me to show them how to make it. So one morning I went and we had a little Canadian baking lesson.

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    Rosane mashing the bananas for me

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    Whipping it up by hand…great exercise for the arms!

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    And….SUCCESS! Here at Mount Horebe, they call it bolo de banana or bolo de Janette! “Bolo” is cake in Portuguese…so it’s banana cake or Janette’s cake. Leaving a mark…

    I also baked some blonde brownies another day last week. Of course there was no way I was going to eat the whole pan myself…so everyone got to taste them. They aren’t familiar with brownies here…so it was fun trying to explain in my limited Portuguese what they were. Blonde in Portuguese is “loiro” so brownies de loiro (or bolo de loiro, because everything here is bolo!) is what they are called now. As a result of all this….another baking lesson was in order! I translated and wrote out the recipe so they could have it to make when I’m gone. One of the ladies told me, “I will remember you every time I make these!”

    While I’ve been here I’ve got to spend a lot of time with the ladies in the kitchen and they’ve become dear friends I’m going to miss seeing every day. Since April I’ve helped wash the dishes after lunch almost every day….and as a result have become very familiar with the words “lava a lou├ža” (wash the dishes). We’ve had many fun times and laughs together…they’ve all left a mark in my life.

    I’ve been literally leaving a mark in another way as well…

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    The new office they created with all the renovations needed to be painted. I really enjoy painting and I figured it was another way I could bless them here at the mission. Well when they discovered I actually could paint and knew what I was doing…they asked if I would paint the whole office! It took me 4 days…but the whole office now has a fresh coat of “Branco neve” (snow white) paint. I found it rather amusing that the Canadian was painting and the color was Snow White. I think it’s safe to say I know a thing or two about snow!

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    Concentrating hard!

    While I was in the process of leaving my mark on the office…I created another masterpiece on my clothes!

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    Needless to say this “masterpiece” will be finding a garbage can here and won’t be making the trip back to Canada with me!

    As I’ve been thinking about this whole idea of leaving a mark…literally and figuratively…my prayer is that my life has made a difference here for good. It’s not always about the things that we do, but the time we take to give of ourselves to others…developing relationships and friendships. I know for a fact Brazil has left a mark on me! The friends I’ve made here are forever in my heart and I’m sure in the next week I will cry lots of tears as I say many goodbyes…but coming back next time will be that much sweeter. I realized a few weeks ago it isn’t only the people who are in my heart, but the Portuguese language is as well. I’m really going to miss hearing it every day! Even as my brain struggles to understand all that is being said…life won’t be the same without it! I have never had such a strong desire to learn a language as I do with Portuguese. I think maybe it’s because I long to be able to communicate more effectively with the people so dear to my heart…both in Mozambique and now here in Brazil. Portuguese has left a mark on my life…and I’m surprised when I think I knew nothing when I came…and to realize how much I understand now. Absolutely wonderful!

    Coming back to Canada there are many new footprints that have left a mark in my life and I’m thankful for each one. My life is fuller and richer as a result. I’ve enjoyed so many wonderful moments and opportunities…of course…some of my favorites were making lots of footprints on the beaches of Brazil!

    Please keep me in your prayers this coming week…as I say many goodbyes and travel back to Canada. It’s going to be a full emotionally week I’m sure. But when I get back to Canada I look forward to seeing many of you and sharing in person some of the many stories and experiences I’ve enjoyed. And don’t be surprised if you hear the occasional Portuguese word mixed in with my English…it’s already been happening when I’ve been talking to people on Skype!

    Just had to end this post with another photo from one of those beautiful beaches I enjoyed making footprints on!

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  • Living in a Renovation Zone

    The mission here is a busy place with 396 children in the school, a busy dental clinic and all the personal required to keep everything running smoothly. During the week it is alive with activity and noise…I love it! Living right in the middle of all the action is wonderful…exactly what I like. When I go walking down my steps to go somewhere or do something…the children are calling, “Tia, tia” (Auntie, auntie). I’ve been here long enough they know me and I’m getting to know them. Now I can talk with them too which is always fun. Of course, I get lots of love and hugs too. Nothing makes my day better than that!

    The past few weeks have added new noise and activity as they’ve been renovating the apartment where I’m living. They are expanding the current office and creating a new larger location for the library. I’m discovering progress and change often require getting dirty. Anyone who has lived in a renovation zone knows exactly what I’m talking about. This process of expansion has meant busting through cement/brick walls creating new doorways, closing up old doorways…and a WHOLE lot of red dust and dirt! I have discovered keeping things clean is impossible…so I just make sure the door to my bathroom and bedroom are firmly shut. Thankfully I’ve managed to keep at least those areas mostly clean this way. It’s provided a learning opportunity for me as well…I now know the words for dust, dirt, and all the things that go along with what’s happening.

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    Tools for the job!

    This week Monday was moving day for me into another bedroom here in the apartment. They added a room to the apartment by breaking through the wall…so I moved into there. Monday was spent giving it all a good cleaning…then I moved my stuff including the bed I was sleeping on into the new room. Quite the job but I got it done.

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    The new room…where there’s no green paint is where the old door use to be and the new door on this side.

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    Nice and comfy for me…I think this is my favorite room…and I’ve had the privilege of trying them all out!

    Monday I moved and Tuesday morning the next stage of renovations began…breaking through the wall in the room I vacated to access the office! That room is going to became another office. By the end of the day…I had no trouble getting into the office to reboot the internet if need be. Before I’d have to go out of my apartment, down the stairs, around the building, up the stairs and into the office. Now I can simple walk through this big hole in the wall…

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    Currently as I’m sitting here retyping this blog I wrote last night and somehow ended up losing…this is the scene:

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    So as you can see there’s more cleaning in my future!

    As all this progress and change is happening around me, I too am continuing to learn and advance in my Portuguese. I have my lessons three times a week and spend many hours studying on my own as well. I’m feeling more comfortable and confident with the language. I’ve been conversing more and even initiating conversation (I’m using those terms very loosely!). I have to laugh because it never fails…I begin talking to someone only to realize I have no idea what the word I want to say is in Portuguese! So I say it in English while racking my brain to see if I can come up with the word in Portuguese. Sometimes I can, other times I have to try to use hand gestures or my wonderful Portuguese/English dictionary I have on my phone. Everyone bears with me as I stop and start throughout the conversation…helping me along the way if they can. It’s kinda messy…like living in a renovation zone…but a necessary part of progress! I don’t love a mess, but I’m discovering with learning Portuguese…sometimes you just have to get in there and get “messy”. It’s exciting to see be able to see change happening…and I can! Literally with the renovations and also in my ability in Portuguese. I look back to a couple months ago and I see how far I’ve come and how much I know now that I didn’t know when I came.

    Looking ahead….I only have 3 weeks left here in Brazil! The time has just flown by. I’m trying to spend lots of with my friends and continue to learn as much Portuguese as possible before I leave. I won’t be anywhere close to fully grasping the language, but I will continue my studies in Canada. My location may change, but my desire to learn this language remains.

    Progress…moving forward…speaking of which…here’s that doorway in the last picture now.

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    Thank you for your continued prayers, encouragement, emails, Facebook messages, Skype calls and letters! Many times they have given me the boost I needed to continue pressing on and reminded me why I’m here.

    P.S. To all my friends and family in Alberta…could you please try to make sure you’ve progressed to spring/summer by the time I arrive?!?!?! Or if not, can someone please bring my winter coat and boots to the airport! I arrive May 30th.