Monday, December 15, 2008

Welcome to Little Rock....

WOW.... I can not believe that my last post was way back in November! I have a lot of catching up to do, but am going to jump to the present first and then go back and post some of the photos from my final days in Florianopolis. The first thing I saw when I entered the mission home owned by the Immanuel Baptist Church was this beautiful Christmas tree. One of the Young Womens' Missionary groups had decorated the home AND left presents under the tree. I decided I would open one present a day...but that commitment did not last you can see...some were things I could use right away: shower gel, jewelry, gift card for Target...blessings abundant! I am going to save the Cracker Barrel certificate seen here for my first road trip because I love their breakfasts.

The home here is very lovely and comfortable...I am feeling spoiled with all the space, the food in the pantry and fridge, the TV in the bedroom, the piano and the heat! Here are a few photos from around the house:

....piano/Quiet time room..............bedroom with HUGE in spare bedroom....
Some of you will be shocked to hear this, but I have already made a crock-pot dinner and have made breakfast each day since I arrived. I was not able to put a lot of my Brazilian "lembrances" into my suitcases, but there are few things in each room:

"The Lord is my shepherd...........Gift from Homero and family.......three of my boats.....

Another unbelievable blessing is the car being provided by a Dentist in Searcy whose ministry is providing vehicles for missionaries on I am with my Ford Focus ......and eating my first breakfast in the mission home.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tiny Visitor

This is the overhead fan in my bedroom. I first saw this little fellow sitting on top of the blinds, but he was making it difficult for me to catch him at this point. I have a humming bird feeder outside the window in the living room and sometimes when two hummers chase each other, one ends up flying into the apartment.
I then have to try and catch them in my little plastic strainer and get them back to the window where they can fly away. Here is my little friend sitting on my notepad. He is safely in the window, but does not know he is free to fly away. I was letting him rest a little because his little heart was still pounding and he was exhausted from trying to avoid being caught. I was just happy that he did not have a heart attack while he was flying fearfully around my bedroom!

Over the past eight years, the many different hummers and small chickadees that have come to my feeders have been source of joy. Most mornings I would eat breakfast sitting on the couch so that I could watch them coming to feed. I have been fortunate to get a few excellent photos out of the hundreds I have taken! are two of my favorites:

Friday, November 21, 2008


I love that word because the sound of the word describes it's meaning...Mess! There will hopefully soon be order in the midst of this chaos but in the meantime it is driving me a little crazy. The process basically involves separating everything being donated into boxes for various ministries or missionaries while at the same time tossing out things no one old language school practice lessons....

The worst mess right now is in the kitchen where I am "placing" everything that will go to the Thanksgiving retreat next week where about 35 missionaries and their children will be able to peruse the treasures for items they can use. This collection includes things like footballs and baseball equipment that can not be used by schools or day care centers here since no one knows how to teach these American sports. There is also a lot of "beach" stuff which I probably will not need in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The goal is to have this huge mess gone by noon next Wednesday. Of course, I have to first get it all downstairs and into my car....

Now just to show that I have been working the past two days, this is the neat and tidy stack of boxes and plastic containers that are all ready for the men who will be preparing my things for the shipping container on December 1st. Of course, it has done nothing but rain the past two days and I no longer have cable what else was there to do?
My next task will be to pull out everything that needs to go with me on the airplane rather than in the shipping container which could take up to three months to arrive in Little Rock. This is a good mental gymnastics task because things like missing power cords or 2008 tax-deductible receipts can be serious problems if I do not remember to put them in the "do not crate" stack.
....So tomorrow is is supposed to continue raining....but I am not going to continue sorting and packing! It is time for a day off...with or without sunshine.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Alegria's Adventure

I knew that delivering Alegria (her name means "joy" in Portuguese) to her new home was going to be difficult, but I certainly was not prepared for the adventure that unfolded. The first time I tried to pack up Alegria's things, she figured out something was amiss and found a place to hide while I was putting her food and toys in the car. After searching for her for over 45 minutes, I gave up and called to tell the Brazilian woman that my cat was hiding from me. About an hour later, Alegria came out of hiding and tapped me on my back while I was sitting at the computer...just as if nothing had let me know she wanted up in my lap.
This time, she went into hiding as soon as I put her food container in a box in the living room, but I found her quickly as she chose to hide in a chair under a glass-top table. Not quite as smart as she thinks she is....

Our adventure began as I made a wrong turn while searching for the road leading to the small home being built by Elias and Joice. It is a very visible blue house, but could not be reached from the road I was on which actually came to a dead end. There was no room for turning around so I attempted to back out to a spot in the road that was a little wider. You can see the results of that decision....two hours later, with the help of five strong men willing to get down and dirty in the flooded road, my car came up out of the mud hole. At one point, Elias, who had come on his motorcycle to help, had to go find someone with a stronger car to help pull my car backwards as the men pushed.

So here is Alegria with her new "Mom and Dad" who have already figured out that she is a pretty loving and playful cat. This morning I received an email from Joice telling me that she had given Alegria an ice cube in her water....(something she loves)....and reported that she had indeed enjoyed it. I miss having Alegria beg me to get up out of my chair here at the desk to play, but I am thrilled that she is already bringing her style of "joy" to her new owners.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Surprised at Graduation

Our regular Thursday evening Bible study time was modified last week to allow our English students to invite their family and friends to hear what they had learned during their thirteen week conversational English class. "Windows to the World" is a curriculum which uses the "Jesus" film and clearly presents the Gospel throughout the course. During the evening program, the students sang two songs in English and taught everyone a short chorus which was sung in a round. Here they are singing "come, now is the time to Worship."

After the songs, the students reported on their assignment from last week: "Who is Jesus? Was He a liar, a lunatic or the Lord?" Here we see the second group explaining why they believe that Jesus was not a lunatic.

Finally the students received their certificates and Bibles. As you can see by their smiles they were quite surprised and pleased to receive both.

Then...the surprise! Another "farewell" party that had been a well kept secret by the students and my sneaky friends, Ron and Alana. My first clue that something was up was when Ron turned on the computer to present a financial report by the Pastor of the Mother Church and I saw my photo on the screen. I received a very special set of hand decorated towels from the ladies at the Drug rehab center and a personalized T-shirt with a photo of the beautiful Pinheira beach.

The Church had also kept a secret from Ron and Alana....they were also surprised with T-shirts!

Afterwards everyone enjoyed a huge spread of food which included some American treats..yes, I actually baked for the occasion and the brownies were quite good. Pr. Joao loved the fudge even though I messed up that "easy 3 minute microwave" version somehow and it was very soft fudge!

It was a wonderful evening and the Church was full of visitors which made the service even more special. I have really enjoyed teaching this class and pray that when I return for a visit, I will see many of these students actively participating in the Church.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Despedida: ( farewell) Festa de despedida: (leaving party) It was a party indeed! I expected the evening to be embarrassing, overwhelming and very sad. Yes, it was awkward to have so many friends snapping photos all evening and humbling to listen to folks say all the kind words, but the service and fellowship was uplifting, fun and full of laughter. I was so blessed to see and hear so many members of the congregation using their individual talents in such a creative and unified way to bless everyone who attended.

One of the highlights of the evening for me was the presentation of "Carry the Light" by a choral group from the Church, because the singers have come such a long way from the days when we were training them to stay on pitch and sing with faces that reflected the words.
The children from the congregation presented a song with a mission theme and as you can see each one dressed to represent a different country.

Even my cat, Alegria was featured in an original show put on by the puppet team from the church which included puppets representing Geny, Alana, Ana and myself.

Everyone involved with the service did a fantastic job and it was encouraging to see the results of everyone working so hard together for a common goal. My prayer for them is that they will continue to work in unity and use their creative gifts to bring the Gospel to their neighbors and friends, minister to the residents at the rehab center, and mentor the children from the Casa Lar.

My "Sweet" banner.........Homero, Nelci and Alesandra.....special gift from missionaries

The evening ended with food, of course...including a huge cake with chocolate icing and strawberries...yummy! I had to be first at the table and apparently did not take enough food because Geny took my plate and added about 5 more "salgados!" It was a wonderful I shall always cherish in my heart. the more surprise.. "now a few words from Loretta...." pretty sneaky..but no time to get anxious!

...Loretta with the puppet team and puppets.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Wrapping up the Team Sports classes

First trick this week was to navigate the mud holes going into Frei Damiao which are getting deep enough to cause serious damage to the underside of my car. By Saturday this road was even worse with little ponds everywhere. For our final week of lessons, the students practiced bowling and played American football on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I let them choose the activity and one class chose to play baseball and the other selected volleyball.

Saturday was a big day for all the athletes as they headed to the bowling alley for their "end of the term" outing. This is always a special treat and probably something most of these children will never have an opportunity to do again. My missionary friends, Ron, Alana, Malcolm and Dana were wonderful helpers today and as usual gave each child tons of encouragement and hugs.

 the bowling alley..............First semester Awards............bowlers with missionaries

After I presented all the awards, Meri (Director at the CADI) and the students surprised me with a photo page which they had all signed. I may not miss navigating the muddy roads, but I will miss the children's love of learning, unending energy and their sweet hugs.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Knick Knack Bubble Wrap and Pack Party!

No, that is not the title of new popular song in Brazil. It's my way of convincing my four Missionary friends that it would be fun to help wrap and pack into boxes my 90+ decorative items! It really did turn out to be a great evening with lots of talking accompanying the sounds of scissors cutting paper and fingers popping bubbles. I think the photos will tell the story better than my words could so let's just go right to the party. (click on photos to see a larger image)
.....Linda, Dinah, Alana & Dana....... Alana is quickly into mischief ........Linda is focused on her task

....."love these bubbles!" ................I was the messy one... .................The end result!

After about and hour and half of wrapping, taping and labeling, we declared the task finished, swept up the M&M's and straw and headed to Habibs for dinner...Hey, we earned it! Afterwards we all returned to my apartment where everyone browsed the "give-away" tables for things they could not live without. They did a great job of shrinking away my piles of "stuff"....Thanks ladies!

Dana and Alana "shopping" the give-away table
afterwards for goodies to take home.

This was a big task and I am very grateful for the help in getting it off my "to do" list. There is still much left to sort through and pack up, but little by little the mountain is shrinking and that is a good feeling.

Now...if I could just convince my friends to take a quick trip to the states when my container arrives in Arkansas......