I'm sorry I haven't been updating as often as I would like. Frankly, just adjusting to life here has been a fulltime job. I think we are making progress, though! Thank you, SO MUCH, for praying for us! We have felt your prayers and SO appreciate them and you for remembering us!
UPDATE ON NIELTON:
We are very happy to say that the fellow we met at the coconut water stand has come to church both last Sunday and yesterday, in spite of the fact that he had to come by bicycle, very far, and it was raining both times. He has not made a commitment to the Lord yet, but he is seriously seeking and we feel sure that it will not be long. Keep praying for him!
From left to right: Fernando, Fabio's brother, Pastor Evandro, Neilton, Fabio, me and Johann
We continue to meet people as we go places, and we continue to seek opportunities to share with them about Jesus. Two others in particular: an Italian man Fabio met at a store, and a lady I met at the park named Margareth. We feel sure these were also divine appointments, and pray for their salvation!
Fabio and I both have also been giving informal Bible studies here at the house, Fabio with his cousin who is a new believer and in great need of discipleship, and me with my sister-in-law and another friend of the cousins. We ourselves are also always blessed by sharing the Word in this way and I think it will be a time of growth for the family as well.
Another thing that both Fabio and I think is "weird" is that Fabio keeps getting invited to preach! He had preached four times since we came here, in three different churches. We have never sought these opportunities, nor tried to "market ourselves" as ministers as such, but the doors to minister keep opening up. And the times Fabio has preached, the Spirit of the Lord has accompanied the Word with power and it has really ministered to those present - even me! =)
We are starting to learn our way around here, even though we don't know if we will end up staying on in Santos or not. Either way, it is nice to have some sense of orientation in our present location. I still feel lost a lot of the time, but not as much as in the beginning. Walking is good for us, I think. We are getting used to it too. Our feet hurt most of the time for the first month, but both Fabio and I commented yesterday that for the past week or so, our feet have not been hurting at all! I guess we were more out of shape than we thought!
The children have been troopers, and yet it has been challenging for them as well. One of the greatest challenges is living in a apartment with neighbors downstairs, so they cannot run, jump, walk with heavy feet, or make noise in general. It gets tiring for us also, to keep them occupied during the day with quiet activities when they have explosive energy! We often have to just leave the house to get out - somewhere, anywhere! LOL. They are doing well, though. Their Portuguese has improved drastically, and this is our third week of trying to accomplish schoolwork here. It is going relatively well.
Here they are having "fun" with their cousin Leo:
On Saturday, they were having some beach games for kids sponsored by Nickelodian (yes, they have the same programs here too!). Joshua entered a surfing contest and actually won it! We were surprised and excited for him. He won a talking bull dog - that speaks Portuguese. ;-)
For me, I have had a hard time finding my groove in someone else's house! Actually, I don't think it will ever be possible and that has been difficult. Not that I thought it would be easy... I just have to keep reminding myself WHY we are here and that YES, it is all worth it!
Last Monday, I had a "moment". It had to do with laundry. For the most part, washing our clothes by hand has been working out okay. It has really just been a matter of changing the way I think about it. Rather than a once a week all-day ordeal, it becomes more like a morning chore, like the breakfast dishes! And it does have to be in the morning, first thing, because it rains almost every afternoon or evening, so it has to be dry by then.
Anyway, because of helping to plan Fabio's brother simple wedding (more about that later), I had not washed clothes for four days. Times that by the six people in our family, and it is a LOT of clothes, plus the towels needed to be washed too. Fabio told me not to worry about washing clothes all day - we could just take them to the laundromat to catch up. Whew, what a relief! I knew I had seen signs for laundromats here and there, so I thought it would be a wonderful idea. So we started to ask around and call around to find the best, closest, cheapest place.
Imagine my disappointment when we learned that laundromats, as we know them in the States, do not exist in Brazil! What they call laundromats are more like dry cleaners. You drop your clothes off, and they wash and dry and iron them for you and you pick them up the next day or whenever. You could even take regular clothes to a place like that, but they charge per item, and even a pair of underwear turns out to about $1.50!! So, it was simply out of the question. I remember thinking, "There is NO way out!!!"
By the time I learned that, it was too late to do it on Monday, so early Tuesday morning I had to buckle down and get it all washed by hand. Whew. Once the mission was accomplished, I breathed a sigh of relief and started school with the children. And I hope to never let it pile up for FIVE whole days again. Ever. :)
Looking on the bright side, this is a good way to learn to be more disciplined in areas like this and not get lazy and leave things for later. Also, I actually think the clothes get cleaner this way, scrubbing each item individually. I have gotten out every single stain and I know the machine would not have done that. Then, the hardest part - wringing them out. It is making my arms buff. :)
Sorry to rattle on so long about our laundry, but this is a major part of my life now, so I thought I would share the joys and the struggles. :)
Now, as promised, more about Fabio's brother's wedding. His only brother, Fernando, met his wife Carol in Japan and they got married in papers shortly after. Since then, they have both gotten saved and the Lord has been doing an amazing transforming work in their lives! They decided that they wanted to have a simple wedding ceremony now, to say vows to one another before the Lord and before their loved ones, and seek the Lord's blessing on their marriage. It was beautiful! They had a simple ceremony on the beach at 7:30 in the morning last Sunday, and even at that time, it was HOT! I had the privilege of photographing their wedding, and I posted more pictures of it here, if you are interested.
One more prayer request: Before coming here, we applied for and received my residency permit to live in Brazil. The Consulate in Chicago simply took my documents and explained nothing to me. Upon arrival here, I learned at the airport that I needed to go register at the Federal Police Dept within 30 days to receive my ID card.
We did go, although with the holidays we didn't make it there until the first few days of January, and we had until January 9th. We were then informed that we needed a particular document "that the Consulate had sent us". I had NO recollection of such. So, long story short, we contacted the Consulate, and they had "forgotten" to send me the document!!! My mom had to go to Chicago for us to pick it up and send it registered mail, which takes 2-3 weeks. And, we have to pay a fine for every day after the 30 day mark that we are in Brazil without my ID. Ugh. Also, we cannot travel to Santa Catalina until we get that taken care of. Sooo.... please pray that it gets here QUICKLY! and that everything else will go smoothly once it arrives.
Whew, I think this post is worth ten! Hope I didn't bore you to death. We thank you again for your love for us and for continuing to remember us in your prayers!