• Time Marches On…

    Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest. ~Larry Lorenzoni

    Lots has happened since my last blog post…so I’ll do my best to catch you up! First thing…if you haven’t already guessed from the quote…I had a birthday! It was the second one I’ve got to celebrate in Mozambique (2012 was the first time). Getting older isn’t so bad when you’re doing what you love, surrounded by friends and overwhelmed by love and birthday messages from around the world and people don’t think you’re as old as you actually are by looking at you! We had a nice little celebration complete with cake and noise makers! 20141103-161116.jpgHere I am with my fun birthday headband which I wore all night so everyone remembered who the party was for! On October 26th, Dwight, Lynn and I took the mission plane down to South Africa for the annual maintenance and to do some other business. The most “important” business for me was buying myself a generator, so I can have power whenever I want out in the bush! I really enjoyed making the trip in the plane…last time I was in Mozambique we made the same trip and it took us two days to drive! Definitely quicker and nicer to fly! We flew from the mission to Vilankulos, where we went through customs before heading to Kruger Mpumalanga Airport in South Africa. 20141109-201141.jpg
    20141109-201216.jpgVilankulos is absolutely beautiful…and the weather was wonderful. Hot and sunny!
    20141109-201834.jpgThen we arrived in South Africa…it was windy, rainy and freezing cold! My teeth were chattering walking from the plane into the terminal. I regretted packing only one pair of long pants with me!
    20141109-201231.jpgIt was nice to see all my friends at Mercy Air again. I got to stay with a wonderful couple who live on a game reserve….the view and wildlife sights while sitting on the back veranda were wonderful! Here’s a couple kudu…they were having a shoving match just after I took this picture.
    20141109-201340.jpg A day trip to Kruger Park with Roger and Katy was one of the highlights of the trip. It’s fun to drive through the park with your eyes peeled for animals…you never know what might be around the next corner! Of course…there’s always time for a car selfie to record the event.
    20141109-201400.jpg We didn’t see any of the cats (lions, cheetahs or leopards) or rhinos, but we saw a whole lot of other animals including my favorites…giraffe!
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    IMG_0828 Another treat was going for a pedicure at a nice spa. A nice cappuccino and good company made for a very delightful morning.
    20141109-201510.jpg The day before we left to fly back home to Mozambique…the real prize arrived! My brand new red Honda generator! Believe me you have never seen a woman so excited to see a generator as I was. The smile on my face says it all. It means I can now have power whenever I want out here in the bush…and just adds to my quality of life here. If I want to stay up a little later one night or do things that require power or internet during the day on the weekends…I can! I’ve already been putting it to good use…and it’s working fabulously!20141109-201539.jpg
    Then in the evening when we arrived back at the house where I was staying…the zebras were waiting for us! Such a cool experience to be able to actually touch and pet a zebra. Their noses are so soft and velvety after a few minutes…they decided they’d had enough of us and moved on, but not before we got some blurry pictures with my cell phone.20141109-201557.jpg Selfie with a zebra! He was trying to eat my phone as I was taking this picture…Crazy!
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    The next day it was time to say good bye and head for home! We had a very successful trip…getting the plane maintenance done, picking up supplies for crafts for the children’s program we are running next week at the mission school and all the other odds and ends. Of course, all of the wonderful people at Mercy Air (one of our mission partners) made the trip so enjoyable. I was blessed to get to spend time with them and get to know them better. I’ve picked up some more adopted parents along the way too! Here I am with my “Africa” parents…they took very good care of me and I had a wonderful time staying at their home.20141109-201626.jpg
    All loaded and ready for the flight home!20141109-201700.jpg
    Flying above a blanket of fluffy white clouds…20141109-201732.jpg
    Dwight, the pilot pretending he was heading somewhere tropical!20141109-201753.jpg
    Since we’ve got back it’s been busy…getting back into the swing of things. This past week, I was sharing at morning devotions for all the staff, getting caught up on all the finance stuff, doing evaluations of all the Grade 5 students at the school and preparing the crafts for the VBS children’s program at the school next week. We’re talking about the armor of God. Here’s a sample…photo

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    Please keep us in your prayers this week as we have this amazing opportunity to share God’s love with the children at the school. These are a good majority of the children in the Sponsorship Program…so I’m looking forward to a fun week with games, Bible teaching/stories, puppets, music and dancing, prizes, crafts and most importantly a chance to build relationships with them!
    We are also having the bridge opening celebration on Thursday afternoon and the school closing awards and celebration on Friday, so it’s going to be another full week!

    Thank you each one for your continued prayers, encouragement and support. I love hearing from you…and when I get your messages, emails, etc…you don’t feel so far away!

  • Happy Thanksgiving!

    ~Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don’t unravel. ~Unknown

    If you look there’s always something to be thankful for!

    It’s exactly one month today since I arrived safely in Mozambique. I’m so thankful to have to privilege to serve here. Life at the mission has lots of challenges and adjustments, but also joys and blessings. You never know what the day will bring! Each day I continue to see God’s mercies and grace extended to me. One of my big personal challenges has been my one year visa application. I’ve been trying to get it sorted out since I arrived. I was finally able to submit the application on Thursday and I have to go back on Monday to see if it’s actually been approved. I have to keep reminding myself to continue to walk each moment in faith and trust.

    Already I’ve seen so many examples of this from the Mozambican people …life in the African bush is hard, but in the midst of it you find joy and thanksgiving! I’m blessed by them and also reminded of the verse. “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

    So much has been going on here the last couple weeks and there’s lots of things to be thankful for! I want to share with you some pictures of just a few of those things…

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    20141013-192537.jpgThis bridge was built in one week by a construction team from South Africa along with local Mozambicans…I even helped out a bit on it! Last spring, two of our school children were taken by crocodiles crossing this river which they have to cross to get to school. We shared the need and as a result the “bridge project” came to be! Many people have been involved in a variety of ways…Together this beautiful bridge has been completed. The children and the whole community can now cross the river safely especially when the rainy season comes. Our hearts are filled with THANKSGIVING!

    20141011-214625.jpgOne of my favorite moments from last week…enjoying the finished bridge with these boys! Thankful for our partners and teams that come and serve in many areas of the ministry.

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    Look at these cuties…I love going to the school! I’m thankful they are receiving a good meal every day!

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    Last week, I drove Pastor Mariano around to do the Widows and Orphans monthly food delivery. A fun adventure for me…driving for the first time since I’ve been in Mozambique…on the wrong side of the road, on crazy African community “roads” and with someone directing me who only speaks Portuguese! I’m happy to say we did great…and all the food got delivered safely! I loved every minute of it…the best part was meeting the people, blessing them with their food for the month and then having a chance to pray with each one. Hearts and lives are being touched by God’s love in practical ways and it’s wonderful to be a small part of it. I’m so thankful for all the people who are faithfully giving so we have the opportunity to provide food for others who may not have it.

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    Finally I’m thankful for our Mucombeze airport…much nicer to fly one hour than drive on African highways for five hours…and of course, the beautiful African sunsets that highlight the end of another day!
    Thanksgiving blessings to each of you!

    20141013-193709.jpgPhoto credit for this picture – Andreas Kuret

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    UPDATE: My visa application was approved today when I went into Immigration in Chimoio! My heart is filled with THANKSGIVING!

  • The Roller Coaster of Adjustment to Change

    “All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” ~Anatole France

    I’m so excited to be in Mozambique and settling into life in the bush! One week and a bit down here and it’s been a roller coaster with lots of highs and a few lows. The quote above really says it all…I enjoy change and new adventure but it isn’t always easy. Adjusting to change is something that takes time…and I have time. Already I’m finding more of a rhythm and getting use to things like only having power certain hours of the day.
    This week I jumped into the regular schedule at the mission….starting with devotions and organizing the plan for the day at 7am each morning. It was good to be involved in things and begin to get familiar with my new routine.

    Here are some pictures to give you an idea of the week:

    Monday and Wednesday is the staff literacy class in the afternoon. The class is divided into two groups – those who know how to read and write at least a little and those who are just learning the alphabet and how to write their letters. I enjoyed helping the group that was practicing their reading. We all took turns reading pages from Grade 4 textbooks and helping each other along the way. It was a great opportunity for me to practice and improve my Portuguese as well. I look forward to seeing them continue to progress and learn.

    20140921-155957.jpgCharles taking his turn reading

    Tuesday was a long busy day doing business in Chimoio. Chimoio is about an hour away and is the closest centre for banking shopping, etc. I needed to get some more paperwork done for immigration so I can stay here for a year, get a phone and SIM card and most importantly go grocery shopping. Of course there was all the other mission business to do…
    Wednesday I had my first visit to the mission school…it was good to be back there and see all their smiling faces. We had some children we needed to take pictures of and some we needed to write thank you letters for their sponsors. It’s always organized chaos when you’re trying to do anything at the school…everyone wants to see what’s going on and be part of it! Of course I stand out there and draw a crowd! I had fun taking pictures and talking in Portuguese with the kids….

    20140921-132027.jpgLet’s take a selfie!

    20140921-131846.jpgHey little man…

    20140921-131833.jpgCheck out the candy wrapper bandana!

    20140921-131818.jpgWorking hard on their studies

    20140921-204332.jpgMy little shadow…waiting for me to be done talking with the teachers

    20140921-204537.jpgThis same little guy is sponsored by one of my friends…and I had presents for him!

    Wednesday it was off to one of the women’s literacy classes that meets each week. Lynn and I shared a few words of encouragement and then Jenn gave a health lesson.

    20140923-202440.jpgBefore we got to the class the oil light came on, so I got to put all my years of working at the gas station in Niton into practice!

    20140923-202732.jpgWonderful scene…women with their babies and children studying and learning to read and write.

    20140923-202900.jpg I saw this beautiful burst of color as we were leaving the class

    Thursday and Friday I spent working on different things here on the mission base. There is always lots going on and no end of things to do! In the next few weeks we have a couple of teams coming…so we’re busy preparing for them. One of them is the construction team coming to build the bridge for the school. The supplies for the bridge arrived on Thursday and I got to help unload some of the pieces.

    20140923-204222.jpgThe first pieces of the bridge off the truck!

    20140923-204319.jpgAfter we offloaded all we could by hand…the backhoe did the rest!

    Saturday and Sunday were restful and relaxing! It’s generally pretty quiet here on the weekends…and after a busy full week it was exactly what I needed.
    Each day I’m adjusting more and finding my place here. I’m thankful to be able to serve the beautiful people of Mozambique.

    One item I’d appreciate prayer for is that I will be able to get my DIRE (which is a resident permit to stay in the country for a year). I’ve been trying to submit my application, but there was a problem with one of the documents…so now I’ve been in touch with the Canadian High Commission in Maputo and we are working through getting this sorted out. I have a month to get the application submitted…which is Oct 11th. Thank you all for the words of encouragement you’ve been sending me. I’m thankful for each one..they remind me that I’m not in this alone…I have lots of people supporting me and cheering me on as I continue forward fulfilling my destiny. God has been so faithful and I’m learning to lean on Him in new ways.

    I’m going to finish this blog with another picture of an African sunset. Just about every day we go for a walk at 5pm after the work day is done and on our walk we get to see the sun setting. I think I’ve taken a picture of the sunset almost every day…they are breathtakingly beautiful and the picture doesn’t even begin to do it justice.

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  • It Took Awhile but I FINALLY Made it to Mozambique

    20140913-163211.jpgThe journey to get here to Mozambique took a little longer than planned and had some interesting turns. I left snowy Edmonton at 6 pm on Sept 8th…arrived in even snowier Calgary about 7pm! I think winter wanted to give me one last taste of snow before I headed off for a year where there is no snow. Needless to say it definitely made leaving a little easier….with thoughts of warm sunny Africa filling my mind.

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    I boarded my overnight flight to London and was able to get a few hours of broken sleep. It was 2pm in the afternoon when I arrived in London…I knew I had about 5 hours before my next flight to Johannesburg. I passed the time watching people making the most of free wifi and relaxing in some quiet spots in the airport.

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    Before I knew it, 7:00pm came and I was boarding my flight…happy to once again be on my way. We had just settled into the flight, eaten our supper and one of the pilots came on to tell us that we had an electrical problem with the plane. They were turning around and heading back to London!! Well that set off a flurry of activity and speculation as to what was going to happen and what we were going to do…what about connections, would we be just changing planes and going again….on and on.

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    My thought was…”this is going to be an adventure and make this trip a whole lot longer!” We arrived in London safely and they had arranged hotel accommodations and transportation for us…telling us the flight was scheduled to go the next day at 5:10pm! I was so thankful to get checked in to my hotel room and have a nice hot bath. I used my 30 minutes of free wifi to let people know what was happening and then crawled into bed around 1:30am. It felt sooo wonderful to lay down flat in a bed and sleep. The morning came too quickly! I was still so exhausted that the thought of going and touring London was just too much. So after breakfast and another short nap I checked out and headed to the airport. I went to the special location to check in and find out what was happening with my connection in Joburg…they had rebooked me on the same flight just a day later. For the next 3 hours I got even more familiar with Terminal 5 at the London Heathrow Airport…finally it was time to head to the gate and board the flight. It was the same gate, I was sitting in the same seat and what do you know…we had the same crew! Kinda like deja vu or as we were all joking “Groundhog Day”! I got to know a few people as we were waiting to board…discussing where we had each stayed, etc…so interesting how people bond in these types of circumstances. I met one couple who were also catching a connecting flight and we made plans to hang out together while we waited in Joburg. You’ll never believe…when I got on the flight I was sitting with the same people!! 😉 What a celebration when we finally got on our way…after a couple more delays because 4 people checked in and then didn’t show for the flight so their luggage had to be removed. I got to know the ladies in the seats next to me and a couple of the flight attendants really well…it felt like I was traveling with friends. So cool and way more enjoyable especially on a 12 hour flight!
    We were the first plane to arrive in Joburg at 6am…I said goodbye to my new friends and headed through immigration to international connections to collect my boarding pass for my next flight. Simple, right?? Well not so much…when I got to the counter they said that British Airways had booked me on the flight but hadn’t issued the ticket…so I needed to go all the way back out, go through immigration again, collect my bags and go to the ticketing agent and purchase another ticket. At this point it was almost more than I could handle and being very tired didn’t help. Thankfully I had a lot of time and there was another girl with Mercy Ships heading to Madagascar that was in the same boat…so together we headed off to try and get this sorted out. After several attempts we finally got to the right place and British Airways issued our tickets so we didn’t have to purchase tickets and then get reimbursed! Then I just had to go recheck my bags, collect my boarding pass…and go back through immigration and security. Boy was I ever happy to see the Out of Africa store…it meant I was again on my way…

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    I found the couple I had arranged to meet, filled them in on the continuing saga and we enjoyed a coffee together. They are involved in mission work as well with the Anglican Church…they wanted to pay for my coffee and said, “It’s on the Church of England!” He just happens to be a Reverend with the church! It was so great to be able to share my story with them as well.
    I boarded my flight to Beira with a lot of excitement…I knew Andy and Jenn would be waiting for me with the mission plane and I was so close to the end of my journey! After all my long flights, a hour and a half flight flew by! I breezed through the unorganized process that is customs and immigration in Beira and soon we were on our way in the mission plane!

    20140913-164152.jpgWhat a blessing to be able to fly right to the mission…a one hour flight instead of the 5 hour drive I had to make last time I came here.

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    20140913-164710.jpgI felt re-energized as we made the flight…it was such an amazing feeling to finally be here!! The journey that I thought was going to take about 37 hours ended up being 65 hours!! I made it for a few hours before the “crash” came and I had to go to bed. I’m so blessed to be staying in Rick and Heather’s house while they are on furlough in Canada…wonderful to have a fully furnished place to call home for the next 5 months or so. Yesterday and today I’ve just been trying to get unpacked and get my bearings…and try to adjust myself to the time change…last night wasn’t the greatest. I was awake from about 1:30-4am and couldn’t get back to sleep. Maybe tonight will be better…

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  • Closing One Chapter & Preparing for the Next

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014 – a day I will always remember and one that marked a HUGE milestone for me…the closing of a chapter in my life. Over the past five years I’ve been walking a journey through cancer. At this point, surgeries and chemo treatments seem like another lifetime and life has moved on in so many ways. I’ve been so thankful for good health and strength. However I have never really been able to totally move on because I’ve still had to go every 3-6 months for checkups at the Cross Cancer. Having to go back and face all the memories again hasn’t been easy, but I’ve always been overjoyed to hear the words “Everything is good & we’ll see you again in 3 or 6 months…”. My checkup on August 20 marked 5 year since I finished my chemo treatments. At this appointment, once again I heard the words “Everything is good!”. But instead of being told…”See you again in 6 months.” I was told you don’t have to come back here again!! I can’t begin to convey in words what it felt like to hear that…joy, relief, a sense of freedom, truly being able to move on to a new chapter. As I walked out the long hallway to the underground parking that I’ve walked so many times…tears of joy filled my eyes. I’m so grateful for God’s faithfulness in my life and all of the amazing people who journeyed with me through this.

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    This picture is a look back to July 30, 2009 and the last of my 6 chemo treatments…with my chemo buddy, Suse who came to 5 of my 6 chemo treatments.

    A few days after my appointment I received an important item for the next chapter of my life…my visa for Mozambique. The timing of it couldn’t have been any better! To me it just signified the closing of one chapter and the opening of another in a tangible way. I had no idea I could be so excited about a Fed Ex package! 🙂 I was SO happy to have my passport back in my hands complete with my visa. Of course the moment had to be documented…here’s the picture.

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    These past couple weeks have been a blur of tying up loose ends…when you’re leaving for a year there are a lot of things to think about. But I feel like I’ve got everything pretty much taken care of…I know for sure I have the two main things in place – plane ticket & visa! Another big thing this week was immunizations…and my left arm is still aching a little as a result of my lovely typhoid shot! It is so nice to continue to be able to check items off the list…
    My days have also been busy (and will be until I leave)with meeting people for coffee, going for supper or just hanging out with friends…I’m enjoying all the moments and trying not to think too much about the fact I’m leaving in 9 days! So many conflicting emotions are swirling around in me all the time….sad to leave, excited to go, thinking “am I forgetting anything”…and the list goes on. I must admit I’ll be very happy to be on the plane really focus on what is ahead for me.

    I guess the main thing left to do is….pull out the suitcases and try to figure out what I’m going to take with me for the next year! Hooray for a new chapter!

  • A Whirlwind Summer & A Fast Approaching Departure Date!

    I don’t know if I could’ve packed much more into the last couple of months…between 3 weddings, a trip to Indianapolis, a couple trips to BC and visiting with friends and family around home the summer has flown by. Cherishing and treasuring time spent with people…

    Pictures of some of the highlights:

    20140813-131242.jpgA day at the World Waterpark at West Edmonton Mall with my niece and nephew

    20140813-131501.jpgGetting to enjoy 4 days of all things racing, including my first NASCAR race, the Brickyard 400 with my uncle!

    20140813-131752.jpgA pretty cool experience

    20140813-133712.jpgFour wonderful days spent on the Redneck Houseboat on Stave Lake

    20140813-133819.jpgNothing better than spending time surrounded by God’s beautiful creation

    It truly has been a wonderful summer and I’ve enjoyed it immensely. The coming year is going to be different than any other to date, so I’m soaking it all in!

    Now the fast approaching departure date – Sept 8th! Hard to believe it is less than a month and I will be on the plane heading to Mozambique! It’s actually happening…That reality has been sinking in more and more each day. Now it’s making sure I’m getting all the things checked off on my “To Do” list! One of the major things is my visa for Mozambique and I sent all my documentation to the Embassy of Mozambique in Washington, DC today! Hooray!

    20140815-131957.jpgNow I will be waiting with baited breathe for a Fed Ex package…

    This is a very exciting time for me filled with many new steps and changes. I’ve been pondering especially the last few weeks “how do you really prepare for a year in the Mozambican bush?” I think the same question is asked about many things in life and for me the answer (aside from all the obvious physical and practical things) is continuing to walk in faith and trust God. I can’t possibly know all the things I will face in the next year…but I know the One who does. He asks me simply to trust Him and walk with Him each day. As I look back over especially the last few years, I’ve faced a lot of days that I wasn’t “prepared” for, but God was with me in every one of those days. He was faithful to be everything I needed and more. Being able to look back and see His faithfulness gives me the courage and faith to move forward…Loving God and Loving People. I know God has good things in store and as I walk with Him I’ll be “prepared” for whatever comes my way…so bring on the Mozambican bush!

    Prayer Requests:

    *That everything goes well with getting my travel visa for Mozambique
    *For wisdom – there are so many little details to take care of in order to wrap things up here and be ready to go.
    *Continued health – I have another check-up at the Cross Cancer next week…Lord-willing my last one ever!
    *Continued provision – I’ve been able to raise a portion of my monthly budget, but still need a larger monthly support base.
    *For God’s grace and strength for me as I say goodbye here and transition to life in Mozambique. There’s so many emotions involved with any kind of change.

    Thank you for journeying with me!

  • Goodbyes, Hellos and Re-adjusting…the LONG Overdue Update!

    Hello everyone! No I didn’t fall off the face of the earth never to be heard from again…although it may have appeared like it. I made it back home to Canada safely on May 30th! As you may remember I got sick a couple days before I left Brazil to fly home on May 29th. When I arrived home, my head cold ended up turning into a sinus infection and since then I’ve felt totally wiped out. I’m very thankful to be feeling a lot better now…not 100% but pretty close.

    Now for the catch-up on events since my last post:

    My last days in Brazil were filled with saying lots of goodbyes…or maybe a better way to say it is see you next time. The night before I left a bunch of friends came to my little apartment at the mission for a goodbye party. We all crowded in and had a great time. I soaked in all the moments…listening to them talking, telling stories, laughing, taking tons of pictures (the paparazzi was out in full force) and enjoying being together. My heart was so full and of course the emotions were mixed. We ordered pizza because no party is complete without that! I didn’t want the night to end…but finally it did. I gave lots of hugs, cried a few tears but was able to hold it together… at least until everyone left.

    I wanted a picture of the whole group…so I set up my auto-timer and here’s the result!

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    Unfortunately more people came after the picture was taken, but we didn’t get organized to take another group shot…eating pizza was more important!

    The next day was more goodbyes…cleaning the apartment…zipping up the suitcases and heading to the airport in Curitiba to begin the 24 hour trip back to Canada. The trip home was a long one especially because I wasn’t feeling well at all. It also had some moments of adventure…like thinking for sure I was going to miss my connection in São Paulo when getting through immigration took me well past my boarding time! I ran to the gate at the far end of the terminal…there was hardly anyone around…I thought “Oh no!”. A few moments later they made an announcement that we would begin boarding our flight as soon as our flight crew arrived…they were still in Immigration! I was very happy to hear that news…and definitely breathed a sigh of relief. The thought of trying to figure out another flight etc wasn’t very appealing, but I didn’t have to worry about it. I also had the wonderful blessing of having a whole row of seats to myself on my two remaining flights…so I was able to stretch out, get up & move around whenever I wanted. I even managed to sleep a little, which isn’t the easiest for me on flights. A little detail that made the trip much more enjoyable.

    The best feeling though was when my flight touched down in Edmonton! It felt so good to finally be home…and to know soon I was going to be able to say Hello to friends and family and sleep in my own bed again! My luggage all arrived and finally I could walk through the doors to where my family was waiting!! As hard as it is to say goodbye…it’s so wonderful to say Hello! Some of my friends in Brazil had made me promise to take a picture as soon as I arrived for them…so I did and here it is:

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    Walked in the door at home and this was there to greet me!

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    It felt so wonderful to be able to lay down flat and sleep in my own bed that first night home! And enjoy some Brasilian coffee in my Brasil mug when I woke up the next morning…

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    Re-adjusting to life back in Canada has gone well…aside from being sick and in bed for the better part of two weeks. My brain has definitely enjoyed not having to work so hard to understand and communicate all the time. I’m continuing my Portuguese studies but it not near as tiring when you just do it an hour or two at a time! Its been so good to reconnect with friends and family as I’ve had the energy. I look forward to connecting with a lot more of you in the next couple months. Please contact me if you’d like to get together sometime…I’ve got lots of stories to tell, pictures if you’d like to see some and I’ll even talk a little Portuguese to you too! 🙂

    In the next weeks I will be meeting with Dwight, Lynn and some of the SAMM board to make plans in regards to what needs to be in place for me to go to Mozambique and the timing of it all. I will do my best to keep you updated on all the exciting developments!

    I appreciate your continued prayer and support as I plan and look ahead to what is next…

  • 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 louça” (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.

  • 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…