• 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…

  • 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.

  • Let me introduce you to…

    Halister, the little boy that I’ve sponsored for the last few years. Isn’t he just the cutest?! This picture was taken the first time I met him. Something I’ve been looking forward to since I knew I was coming to Brazil.

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    Halister lives in a home with his mother and other siblings. He’s the youngest and will be 6 in December. It’s a sad story as his mother is not very stable and possibly into drugs, so Halister often is neglected. When I hugged him for the first time I could feel how thin he was and my heart just broke. Many times the staff here at the school give him something to eat because he comes with no breakfast. Thankfully he also receives a lunch at school everyday. His father isn’t in the picture at all and is one of a few different men his mother has been with. His mother hasn’t ever bought a new uniform for him, so he just gets the hand-me-downs from the school and often doesn’t have shoes. Meeting him, hearing his story and where he come from I wanted to do something special for him. I wish I could just make things better and change his situation, but I can’t do that. So I decided something I could do was provide him with a new school uniform complete with warm jacket and shoes. Maria, a lady right close to the school here has a little shop and makes all the school uniforms. Ruth taught her to sew at the mission many years ago and now she has her own business sewing clothes and doing tailoring. She still isn’t able to read and write but she has the desire to learn and none of that has stopped her from carrying on. It was a joy to meet her and be able to support her as well. Wonderful to see how after all these years seeds that were planted have made a difference in lives.

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    Here’s Ruth, Maria (in the center) and her sister in her shop as we were getting Halister fitted for his new clothes. She didn’t have all the right sizes so we had to just place our order and come back a few days later.

    IMG_0080My handsome little boy with his new school jacket!

    Today I delivered all the clothes and shoes to him. There’s a hint of a smile on his face. He’s a pretty shy little guy…although the second time I came to his classroom to take him to get sized for his new clothes…he came running to give me a hug! Having him come running to wrap his little arms around me will be a moment I cherish for a lifetime!

     

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    I can only imagine what it’s been like for him…having this strange lady who doesn’t speak your language taking you places and making a fuss over you…then bringing you all these new things. My prayer is that somehow through it all he would know he is loved and cared for…not only by me, but by God who has a plan for his life. I’m truly blessed to be here and spend some time with him and to see how sponsorship is making a difference for children who need it the most. Without sponsorship…who knows if Halister would even be in school and he would probably be going hungry more often.

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    He has stolen my heart…but really can you blame me!

    Would you like to sponsor a child too…and give them hope for a better, brighter future??

    Click this link for more information: http://samministries.org/what-we-do/child-sponsorship/ or feel free to contact me if you have questions or what more information. I can get you hooked up!

  • Studying, studying, studying…

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    The last week and a bit I’ve been seeing a LOT of these books! I’m working hard to put all the information in my brain…now if I could just remember and access it when I need to communicate something to someone. At times it’s overwhelming to think of all I need to learn…so I try not to think about it and keep plugging away. I know it will make sense at some point! I haven’t made it there yet…but I sure can’t wait to get there. The sentence structure of Portuguese is not at all like English…and there are many verb conjugations to learn to just name a couple of things. I’m blessed to have so many people helping me along the way. They really do love any attempt you make to communicate with them…however poorly you do it. Lots of times I just have to say, “Eu nao entendi” or other times somebody will ask me something and my eyes will get really big because I have no idea what they just said! 🙂 This particular thing happened a lot last night as I was out on my own with 5 Brazilians…and no Ruth or Earl to translate for me. They’d just laugh when they’d see my big eyes! I muddled my way through not very well but at least I had fun. Taught them about a “photobomb” or intrusao de foto in Portugues. I sure realized how FAR I have to go yet especially when you’re on the spot to figure out what they’re saying and try to respond!

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    (Picture caption: One of these things is not like the others!)

    Another accomplishment in learning happened tonight: To continue to build my vocabulary I wrote out every word in a kid’s first dictionary…took me a while but I did it. Now I just have to learn and remember them! It’s only 49 pages! 😛

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    Thank you for all your continued prayers as I study and learn. I love the people here and I just want to be able to communicate with them!

  • Just a Little Shopping Trip to Rio Branco do Sul

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    This is what I looked like at the end of our adventure today! Ruth and I went to Rio Branco do Sul in the mission’s little puddle jumper car for the afternoon to shop and go to the bank. When we got there we picked up our Brazilian friend, Lilian and the fun began! We wandered around all afternoon looking in shops, trying on clothes and my favorite…SHOES! (I got away with only buying one pair) I always find it interesting to see the styles and fashions in other countries. I love experiencing shopping in a different culture…every store is a new adventure. At one point the skies opened up and in 30 seconds it was pouring! We managed to duck into a clothes store and waited out the downpour as we browsed the many racks of clothes.
    The trip included a stop in a little “restaurant” for a typical Brazilian snack, pastel de carne and fresh squeezed orange juice. A stop at the produce stand for some fresh fruit and veggies and then we dropped Lilian off at her house. As we were leaving Ruth asked me if I wanted to drive. I said, “Sure, why not!” The little puddle jumper is a standard with no power steering, but no problem for me! I got us safely to the Supermercado to get groceries before heading back home. When we finished shopping, it was dark outside and just starting to rain. We loaded the groceries…got in and out on the road to home. And then torrential downpour began!! I’m talking the water rushing down the street and puddles that looked big enough to swallow our car!
    Here I am…driving for the first time not familiar with the road…there are no lines on the road, big bumps and potholes everywhere…the car windows fogging up and I can barely see! You want to talk about adventure…it was almost a little more than I wanted my first time driving here! We made it the 6 km back to Itaperucu…which seemed WAY longer…at one point I had to pull over and stop to wipe the inside of the window so I could see. When we got back it was still absolutely pouring…but someone had to unlock the gate into the mission compound. Of course, we didn’t bring our umbrellas with us, so I took my sandals off (it was definitely a job for bare feet!), got out of the car and was immediately soaked to the skin! Why does it always take longer to unlock a lock in the pouring rain?! I jumped back in the car, drove it to the parking spot then ran back and locked the gate. Next was getting an umbrella for Ruth, so she would stay dry and then hauling our many purchases to the apartment. At that point, I didn’t even bother with an umbrella…I couldn’t get any wetter! Thankfully the rain was warm and I actually enjoyed running around in it bare feet and all!

    So that sums up our eventful afternoon in town…topped off by a brand new look for me…drowned rat! 🙂

  • Don’t Touch the Shower Head!

    As I was taking a shower this morning…I was thinking how thankful I was for nice hot water and a beautiful rainfall shower. How this is accomplished here is very different from at home…and I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t pass ANY safety standards!

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    I have to admit when I looked at the single tap in the shower the first time, I wondered if I was going to have to learn to take cold showers. Thankfully that wasn’t the case…and even though it may not be the safest method…I can have a hot shower every day if I want. And really it’s no big deal because…I only touch the tap to turn it on!

    Isn’t it amazing how things can be done different ways and achieve the same result?! One of the many beautiful things about living in another culture….JUST DON’T TOUCH THE SHOWER HEAD!

  • There’s No Place Like Home!

    We arrived in Itaperucu yesterday evening at the Mount Horeb mission base. Abel, one of the main people here at the mission gave us a tour of the school and was excited to show us all the changes and improvements that they have been making. It was wonderful to see! I really appreciate his heart for the mission here…it came through so clearly even though I could only understand a few words here and there! Earl and Ruth filled in some details for me every once in awhile along the way. The best part of yesterday was just being “home”…my home for the time I’m here in Brazil. The apartment we’re staying is right on the mission base in the same building as the office. On a side note…It’s a busy place (395 children are registered in the school) I found out early this morning when school started! Anyways…It felt good to unpack and get settled in! Ruth and I are already making plans of how we can clean up and improve the little apartment here…and possibly rearrange the furniture! I think we’re going to make a great team. Of course, Earl (aka Mr Fix-it) immediately began taking apart a light that wasn’t working to try to fix it… All of us feeling at home!

    Here’s a few pictures of our home:

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    The welcome mat outside our door!

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    From outside you come right into the kitchen/dining area…

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    Down the hall first room on the right is mine…

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    Looking back up the hall towards the kitchen…that’s the door to my room on the left. We get the best signal for the wifi in the hall so that’s why the chairs are there!

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    In the back part of the apartment are to bathrooms with showers…one other bedroom (not pictured) basically rounds out the place we’re calling home!

    I’m thankful to have this place to call home!

    Today Ruth and I ventured out to “downtown” Itaperucu, a city of approx. 25,000 people. However there are no traffic lights to be seen! Kinda crazy driving around…but give me a few weeks and I’ll be doing it. I figured today…being blonde, with white skin, blue eyes and only speaking English was enough of a statement! I forgot what it’s like to really stand out. 🙂 It was fun to see what’s available in the different stores and we were able to get the things we needed. Tonight I hope to get a good sleep…my schedule still feels a little messed up…so a good night sleep would be wonderful. All the joys of adjusting to change…I love the adventure and look forward to what tomorrow holds.

    Thank you for your continued prayer with making this transition and learning the language. My new favorite word is Ajuda!! (It’s Help! in Portuguese) I’ve said it a lot to Ruth and Earl today…they just laugh. 🙂

  • Ola Brazil!

    I’m sitting and typing this blog (while still half listening the the conversation going on), because my head needs a break! The immersion into Portuguese has begun…and my brain is just going trying to figure out what’s being said with my limited vocabulary and my Portuguese phrase book/dictionary. I pick up a couple words here and there, but just listening I’m getting a good feel for how words should sound. Next is to actually figure out what they all mean…and say them myself.

    Yesterday at 9pm Brazil time, we finally arrived in Curitiba…along with all our luggage! (Yeah!) The trip went pretty good. I had 2 empty seats next to me on the flight from Los Angeles to São Paulo so I was able to stretch out & get a few hours of sleep. The only little hiccup was in São Paulo, when it took forever for our luggage to come and we missed our flight to Curitiba. But what is a trip without a little added adventure! Thankfully Earl and Ruth speak Portuguese, so after going to one airline office and then the next…we were able to get on the next flight out at 7:55 pm, so it was only a few hours added to the trip.

    A friend of Earl and Ruth picked us up at the airport…and then next adventure was fitting 4 people and all our luggage in a mid-sized car! But where there’s a will there’s a way…Earl and I sat in the back with a suitcase between us, one on Earl’s lap and another bag at my feet…if it wasn’t dark I would’ve got a picture! After a short drive we arrived at our hosts home…they had supper waiting for us and two beautiful rooms ready for us to stay in. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to be finished traveling, eat a proper meal, wash up and go to bed. Ahhh…sweet sleep! I put in my earplugs and was out until 7:30am this morning! The time difference is 4 hours…so it was only 3:30am my time…so I rolled over and went back to sleep for a few more hours. You feel like a whole new person after a good nights sleep and a hot shower.

    Today we’re having a relaxing day, visiting (well let’s be honest…they’re visiting and I’m trying to figure out what they’re talking about!) and resting. Tomorrow we’ll head to the mission base in Itaperucu, my home for the next 3 months. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Brazil in the daylight and also seeing where I’ll be and getting settled.

    Boa noite!