At long last, I am finally able to upload some pictures so you can "see" our move and our new place here in Brazil!
Okay, here is what my mom's van looked like on the way to the airport, heavy-laden with our eleven seventy-pound suitcases, the absolute max we were able to carry with no extra charges. We had to ride in a separate van. It was a LOT to travel with! It was, however, not really a lot when you consider packing up a household for six people to start a new life with. Basically, it included winter and summer clothes and shoes for all of us, homeschool curriculum plus books to read - for us and the children and for ministry, a *few* kitchen items, one set of sheets for each bed, some supplies of herbs and vitamins, our computer, my sewing machine and a bit of miscellaneous. Here we are at the airport, writing out eleven luggage tags on the airlines tickets, plus some for our carry-ons. Then there was the checking of eleven passports (everyone but me has two), and all that paperwork. To add a little excitement to our day, they could not find our reservations in the computer for the longest time! I don't know what the problem was, but they did finally find us. Thank you, Lord! Then I held my breath as each bag was weighed. We had weighed them at home, but there could have been a discrepancy in scales. But, again, thank you LORD, none were overweight. Now that all of our bags were checked, we just had to get through security. This is also no small feat with four kids, stroller, blanket, and carry-ons. Each kid had a backpack, and Fabio and I each had two carry-ons. Plus we all had to take our shoes off! And put everyone back together on the other side.
Spending a few last precious moments with Mom. Dominique and Israel both cried so hard when we had to say goodbye. That made Mom and I start crying too.... The trip went fairly well. Our flight out of Dallas was delayed about two hours because a generator had to be replaced, but we arrived safely. Then, from the Sao Paulo airport, after claiming our luggage, we had a four hour bus ride back to Fabio's folks in Santos. (Sorry some of this is a bit redundant of my last picture-less post.)
After a week in Santos, we took that ten hour bus trip back to Camboriu, our new home by calling. I have written more about all of that in the previous post, so I won't repeat. Just a few pictures:
This is the hallway on the outside perimeter of the church building on the third floor. So, it is basically outside, unprotected from the elements. If you go down the hall a bit, you will get to the door to what was our room, on the left side. Continue straight and you will be in the kitchen.
Here is Fabio in the kitchen. The name of the game is creativity! He couldn't find any pan or utensil to warm up his bread with, so he was using two butter knives to heat it "over an open fire"!
Once we had rented our own place, I began to pack up some things we had accumulated in the kitchen to take along:
While the two little ones napped in the afternoon, Joshua and Dominique (and Fabio and I) couldn't do much. They wouldnt sleep if the lights stayed on, and it was too cold to let them play on the veranda. So, they would spend about two hours each afternoon in the bathroom, coloring or doing some project!
I wrote in the previous post about how all our stuff had gotten moldy in our absence, and after I washed it, it started raining and the wash would not dry. Well, after three days of rain, and the clothes not drying, i brought them into our room and hung them around any way I could. Three MORE days hanging INSIDE our room, and they still were not dry! The air was just too damp. I couldn't believe it! So, here was the last day in our cold little room, and boy were we excited to move into our new place!!!
The day of the move was the first time we had seen the sun since arriving in Camboriu! Thank you, Lord! It was like His favor was just shining down on us! Here is our new place - the green one - just so you can't miss it! It is a townhouse, but a house none the less! I had prayed very much for a house, so we could have some kind of yard and not have to worry so much about neighbors below or above, the children making noise, etc. The truck and motorcycles belonged to those that helped us move.
The moving team: L-R: Cefas, Beto, Claudio, Fabio and Nelson.
Bringing in the beds. We were so thankful they gave us the beds we had been sleeping in in the church!
The Lord also granted me the one other main thing I had asked for in a place to live: that the living area be visible from the kitchen! I end up spending a lot of time in the kitchen, and I wanted to be able to keep an eye on the kids while they played or did school, from the kitchen. This place's layout is great! This is the view from the front door, living/dining room to the left, and kitchen back where Fabio and Cefas are standing. There is a half bath downstairs and the stairs to the right lead up to three bedrooms and two more bathrooms! We wanted to be sure to have space to host people who come to visit us as well! (We are trusting that many of you will come!!)
The first night in our new place! Here you can see the front door to the left. The kitchen was behind me. We had bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner for several days during the move! We had no way to cook anything else.
This is the kitchen. The church let us take the "spare" fridge until we get something else. They only use it for special events. And this little stove was in storage, so they gave it to us as well. The tricky thing in Brazilian houses is that the kitchen cabinets and even the kitchen sink are considered removable furniture. So, it had *nothing* in it. That hole in the wall above the chair is where the kitchen sink's faucet is supposed to go! Brazilian stoves work with a propane tank attached, which we didn't have either, for the first couple of days, so we could not yet use the stove. Actually, Brazilian houses typically don't come with anything - no closets, no towel racks or toilet paper holders, not even toilet seats. So, we had our work cut out for us! It is an investment getting all those "little" things that are so necessary - curtain rods and curtains, etc.
Once we were moved in, we were thrilled to have our own place, but felt rather stranded. We were much further from things that we had been at the church. Not far if you have a car, but too far to walk. It was challenging to be able to get the things we needed for the house without a car. Then, a few days later, a guy from the church let us "borrow" a car he was trying to sell us - kind of an extended test drive!
We felt like we had wings with wheels to get us places! And another chance to practice family togetherness with the tight space inside the car!! However, about a week later, the radiator went out, so it turned out to be an expensive rental car for the week! It did help us do some running around to get some of the things we needed to get started though. (We decided not to buy it, by the way.)
I took this picture from our bedroom window. Horses are a common sight around here, and sometimes there are loose horses wandering around grazing. This neighborhood is not really "in the country", but we are a bit out of the center of the city. Most of the men who drive horse carts like this one are garbage pickers/scrappers/ recyclers. Somehow they scratch out a living doing that. This guy was picking up some cardboard boxes someone had dumped across the street.
This next pic is one week after moving in. We now had gas for our stove and were able to start cooking. We found this table really cheap, used, and got it to have some work area in the kitchen. And behind me, you can see an old desk the previous occupants had left in the yard. I brought it into the kitchen to put stuff on, temporarily. We were still waiting for the arrival of our sink and cabinets, but in the meantime, we got busy making cakes to take the neighbors. We have taken six plates of cake to six neighbors so far, to get to know them and shine our light in this neighborhood!
And here it is! The cabinets! Fabio is putting them together, and you can see the one that will eventually have a kitchen sink on top of it! I could not stop dancing!!!
LOOK AT THAT!!! We have a sink! It was Day 10 in our new home, and I had never enjoyed doing dishes so much! Not to mention having a cabinet to put our stuff away in. With an active toddler in the house, I did not like having all our kitchen stuff (food, plates and even knives), in boxes on the floor. Whew, yay for organization!
We still have a ways to go before we are "set", but we have come a long way! The Lord has been faithful all of this time, and we know He will continue to provide for all of our needs! We feel that the first few months of being in Camboriu, it was most advantageous for us to live in the church, cramped as we were. This gave us a chance to be an integral part of many different ministries, and also we were able to get to know the church people and leadership best that way. We were right there all the time! However, for the long haul, we felt it was very important for us to get out own place. The disadvantage, long-term, of being in the church building is that our time often was consumed with "a little of this and a little of that". We feel that for this next season, the Lord has given us some specific things to focus our energies on, and being slightly apart is helpful for us to be able to organize our time according to the priorities God has called us to.
If you would, please pray with us especially that He would provide a car for us. This is our most urgent need right now. I am anxious to get back to the PETI school, and we would like to be able to get back to the center of the city for street evangelism again as well. Plus the fact that even practical things like groceries are quite challenging with no car. Just for fun, this is how it looks to depend on rides from people :-) .....
Yes, we did get TEN people in this car. :-)
Snapshots of the mission field!
I feel led to share a piece of my heart here. While we were in the States, we often heard from people how they also longed to serve the Lord with everything, to see God move in powerful ways, and live for Kingdom purposes. Praise God for that! May He send more workers into His harvest fields!
A few days before our departure from the States, I went to Wal-Mart for one last time to cross the last items off my list. Problem was, we no longer had the suitcase capacity for most of the items I had hoped to buy to take back with us. Not only that, but in the last few days as we finished packing, we also had to remove various items we had hoped to take as well. Honestly, it was hard. Not that we were SO attached to specific things, but we just knew we would have to either do without in Brazil, or purchase everything all over again if we didn't take it.
So, back to Wal-Mart. I was walking up and down the aisles, trying to de-stress from the packing process, and looking for a few items I planned to buy. Right then and there, the Lord began to speak to me. Did this world truly have NO hold on me? Could I honestly say that this world has nothing for me?
I passed the comforters. Our comforter was one of the things we had removed from the suitcase. Was I really willing to give it ALL up? Was I really willing to leave everything behind for the sake of the Call? Did I really believe HE was everything we needed?
And right there in Wal-Mart, I began to weep. I touched some of the comforters, some of the towels, some sheets. It was all so nice (yes, even at Wal-Mart!), and SO cheap! Even if we bought a comforter in Brazil, it would either be of a far inferior quality, or it would cost an arm and a leg. And in America, such nice things are sold at such an accessible price! Anyone can have just about anything!
And I wept. I wept, not because I wanted my comforter so badly, but because I was ashamed to catch a glimpse of my own heart. Could I honestly say that this world has nothing for me? My foolish heart was attracted even by so silly an item as a nice comforter!!
Then I began to hear the voices of so many that had told us while we were in the States, saying things like, "I wish I could do what you are doing! I want my life to count for something!" And here I was, living their dream, and my dream - and my adulterous heart was being foolishly drawn aside by such ridiculous and temporary worldy goods.
As I wept and kept walking up and down Wal-Mart aisles, the Lord kept ministering to my heart. "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit." *
And my heart began to cry out in response to Him, "YES, Lord! I want to be that grain of wheat that falls into the ground and dies, but only let me be a part of the harvest! What good is it for a grain of wheat to dies if it does not produce fruit? Let me not lose sight of WHY we are doing all of this - it is for YOU, to KNOW You, and to make You known!! Let us see the Harvest, Lord!!!"
*Please read the whole passage: John 12:24-28