First Visitor

I had the privilege of hosting my friend Wagner this past week.  Wagner is my first visitor from the United States and is looking at the possibility of returning to Brazil as a missionary.  Got to show him some of the missions opportunities in here in South Brazil.

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Wagner and Friends over for Lunch

It was a blessing to have Wagner visit.  Wagner is a Brazilian who speaks very good Portuguese.  I am so thankful that he had the opportunity to share with the Youth Group.

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Wagner preaching at the Youth Group

There were other brothers who also were visiting South Brazil to look at the opportunities in South Brazil.  It was great to be able to spend some time with Wagner, Ronaldo and Justin.

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Wagner, Me, Ronaldo and Justin

Wagner’s visit also provided an opportunity for me to preach as he was able to translate the sermon this past Sunday night.  It was a blessing to be able to share with the body.  It was a great blessing to be encouraged by Wagner during this visit.  I look forward to more visits from friends.

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Wagner translating as I preached

Missionary Difficulties: Death in the Family

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Grandpa and Grandma 1949

When I left the United States to be a missionary in Brazil I knew that there would be some difficulties that would happen.  One of those difficulties I thought through was “How do you deal with the death of a family member?”  This has already happened to me.  On July 9th when I woke up to a message saying that one of my grandmothers had passed away.

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Grandpa and Grandma with their 3 children 1963

I had thought through two different options: Stay in Brazil or Return to the United States.  This is a real issue that I am thinking through again.  I absolutely love my grandmother and always thought it would be an easy decision but now that I am facing the decision there is no easy answer.  No matter what I decide I will have some regrets.

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Grandpa and Grandma as I remember them

As a missionary there are difficulties in the course of life that we will face.  “The death of a family member” is a difficulty that I expected to have happen during my time as a missionary but I did not expect it to happen so quickly.  Being away from family at this time provides a clear opportunity to trust and be comforted by Christ.  I am struggling with my love for my earthly family, specifically my grandmother, and my longing for being with my heavenly family.  Longing to be with my heavenly family has brought me to be in Brazil.  As I am struggling with this difficulty I have had to find comfort in the scriptures.  Specifically, I find peace that the scriptures that say leaving your family is worth the cost to share the gospel and follow Christ.  Matthew 19:29, Mark 10:29-30, and Luke 14:26 all very clearly teach that being a missionary in another country is worth the cost.  The difficulties and hardships are very real but so is the comfort that I find with knowing these scriptures.  I am also comforted in knowing that my family is not limited to only those who are flesh and blood.  The scriptures say that when you become a Christian you gain more family.  Matthew 12:30, Mark 3:35, and Luke 8:21 all say that the Christians family is those who are doing the will of the Father.  I am comforted by the knowledge that I am getting to know more family here in Brazil.

Culture Shock: Cube vs. Ball

When I was getting prepared for being a missionary I read a story about the cube culture and ball culture.  There was a cube from the cube culture who wanted to reach the ball culture with the gospel.  Over time the cube tried to adapt in order to reach the balls in the ball culture.  Years after trying to adapt the cube visited the cube culture and found out that he was not like the other cubes, he had changed.  The other cubes looked at him like a ball and upon returning to the ball culture they looked at him like he was still a cube.  When the cube looked at himself in the mirror he found that he looked similar to a cube and similar to a ball but unlike either one.  The cube had turned into an egg.

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Picture of Cube Culture

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Picture of Ball Culture

I think about this story represents me right now.  Not that I have changed into something different yet but I feel it coming. I would say that I am definitely feeling like cube in my mind right now.  I want to reach a different culture but am having difficulty do to language and cultural differences.

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Picture of the Cube reaching the Ball

My current battle is in my mind and thoughts.  I definitely think like a cube and am noticing some of the differences in the way that I think and act vs. Brasilians think and act.  When I see a difference I have to remind myself not to judge the difference as being negative or positive but to simply acknowledge the difference.  This battle is centered in my mind and thoughts right now and I am working on trying to not let my negative or positive thoughts influence my reaction.

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The Cube having some edges knocked off.

 

Love from the States

It is so encouraging to know that there are many people in the United State who are praying for me and care about me.  I know that every missionary enjoys to hear from the people who helped send them to their final destination.  There are four specific ways that I have felt encouragement from those back in the states.  The most simple was is the e-mail and phone communication that I have received from supporters in the United States.  I really enjoy reading all of the e-mails that I get in response to the prayer letters and updates that I send out on a monthly and quarterly basis.  If you want to receive the monthly prayer letters and quarterly updates please sign up here.

The second way that I feel encouraged is by the communication that I have gotten from my sending church.  I have gotten messages from different leaders who are my friends.  One of the other major ways that I have felt encouraged over the past couple of months is a Skype call that I have received from my sending church pastors.  I remember talking with another missionary who had been on the field for over 11 years before getting contacted by their sending church.

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Skype with Placerita Church Pastors

The third way that I have been encouraged is from receiving gifts from different families in my sending church.  These gifts have normally come in the form of different items placed into a white envelope.  Each envelope contains different items which represent the individual or families who have filled it.

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Contents of a Gift Envelope

The fourth way that I have felt encouragement from the states is to have my sending church and many others lifting me up in prayer.

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Sending Church Updating the Body

 

 

 

Travel to Brazil

Last week I traveled from San Francisco, California, USA to Ivoti, Rio Grande Do Sul, Brasil.  It was a long trip, about 30 total hours, filled with lots of luggage and plane flights.  I was dropped off at the airport in San Francisco by my dad at 5 am on February 8.  It seemed like a very short 2 hour drive to get from Sacramento to San Francisco.  My dad and I unloaded all 11 bags and my backpack.  It only took two baggage carts to bring my bags to the check in counter.  When we approached the counter the lady looked scared but she was able to check in all 10 bags which weighed 70 lbs or less.

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Waiting to Check in at San Francisco International Airport

After checking in I boarded the Air Canada plane for the first leg of my trip, San Francisco to Toronto.  It was a blessing to not have to pick up my checked baggage in Toronto.  The Toronto customs asked some of the hardest questions on this trip but in the end the customs agent decided that I was safe to admit into Canada.

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Thankful for extra leg room on the first leg. Even if it was only 4 inches.

The second leg of this journey was from Toronto, Canada to Sao Paulo, Brasil.  When I boarded the plane there was no going back at even if I wanted to.  I was excited and nervous because the next airport represented the part of the trip which I feared the most, Brasilian customs.

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My feet flew business class during this flight.

I arrived in Brasil with great excitement and lots of nerves.  I flew through immigration and then picked up my bags without any problems.  I didn’t even get one question about why I was coming to Brasil in immigration.  The next step was to pick up my bags and face customs.  My size and 2 carts filled with 11 bags created a HUGE target and I was expecting to get stopped.  On my way out, while pushing my 2 fully loaded carts, an airport employee, who was escorting 2 young ladies, noticed me struggling with the carts and offered to push one for me.  When we walked by the customs inspector he waved her off and pushed my cart through.  I am so thankful for the LORD’s provision here through the airport employee’s help.

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The plane which brought me to Brasil.

After getting to the main airport in Sao Paulo I was greeted by two ladies from the ABWE team in Sao Paulo.  It was great to meet Sharon and Meta when I got out of customs.  They were able to help me push the carts with my bags and get me to the correct part of the airport. Thank you, Sharon and Meta, for welcoming me to Brasil.

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My ABWE welcome team in Sao Paulo.

After arriving in Sao Paulo I had one last flight to take.  This flight from Sao Paulo to Porto Alegre would be a little adventure in it’s own right.  On this flight I had no extra leg room and the gentleman in front of me insisted on pushing his seat back.  We had a short conversation before he realized that there is no room for me to move my knees.

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Last flight, I can deal with my lack of leg room.

I arrived in Porto Alegre without incident and was greeted with the smiling faces of my new team mates.  I was excited to have arrived at the final airport knowing that only a short hour long drive was waiting for me.  As I finished this part of the journey I began to think, “This is home now?”  It was a very weird thought and still remains so today.

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The bags all fit into the Fiat Adventure.

 

Quilted with Love

It seems like every time I leave for a major life change it is marked with a quilt.  By the time that this posts I hope to be on the plane to Brazil.  I will travel from San Francisco through Toronto and Sao Paulo, and then to Porto Alegre.

The first quilt that marked a life change was given to me by my parents bible study when I left for college.  This quilt has lasted very well over the years and still reminds me of all of their prayers from the Sacramento Area.

 

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Quilt Two: Marking the Transition to Tennessee

The second quilt was given to me when I left to help plant a church in Tennessee.  This quilt has traveled all over the country and still reminds me of all of the prayers from friends in the Murrieta Area.

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Quilt Three Title Block

The third quilt marks the transition to being a missionary in Brazil.  This gift was an amazing and completely unexpected provision.  The quilt reminds me of my friends and their prayers from the Santa Clarita Area.

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Quilt Three: Marking the Transition to Brazil

As I write this blog I am amazed that 1) I would have friends who would quilt 2) Each quilt marks a specific massive change in my life and 3) Three different networks of relationships which have helped shape me and continue to do so.

Packing for Brazil

As I think about leaving for Brazil I experienced something that I didn’t expect to while packing.  In packing one of the first stages is to sort what is going to be staying, leaving or coming with me.  There are items which will be staying in California with my parents.  Other items will be leaving me, these will be either sold or given to the Salvation Army.  The last category of items is those who will be coming with me.

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Rough Pack from Southern California

When I arrived in Northern California on January 17 I thought that I had roughly packed everything that I would need.  I thought that I would have to just go back through and list everything that I packed and I would be ready in a short time.  Boy was I wrong.  I went back through every bag and not only listed what was in each bag but normally added to the list of items.  This took me to the point where I know everything in each bag and now I am able to fine tune what I am taking with me.

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Final Packing Count

The final packing count is 11 total bags which I will be taking with me.  Each is packed with a variety of different items which I need/want.  I have also been slowly adding to what I am bringing because of the slowly growing list of items that I did not have. I am now packed and ready to go.  The next step will be to unpack after I arrive in Brazil.

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6 Large Bags, 4 Medium Bags, and 1 Small Bag

 

 

Wind and Rain on the River

On January 18 there was a massive storm of wind and rain that hit Sacramento.  I was in complete awe of the storm and what happened.  One neighbor had part of their roof torn off and another had a massive pine tree fall right next to their house due to the 60+ mph gusts of wind that whipped through my parents neighborhood.

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Massive Tree Branch hung up

These gusts actually broke off two branches that would have destroyed my car if I had been home.  One branch was easily removed from the driveway while the other got hung up in the tree above my dad’s 57 Chevy.  After the storm blew past my father and I pulled the tree branch off of the other branch that it had been caught up upon.

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Before we pulled the branch off

After pulling the branch off, without damaging the ’57 Chevy underneath, we cut it up into pieces to be burned or tossed away.  The branch was so big and heavy that the sawzall could not cut all the way through it so we had to take a large axe and hack it apart.  I was so thankful that I had my towing straps and sawzall available so that we could easily deal with this situation.

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After we pulled down the branch and cut it up

 

Last Meals: Wiener Works

When I was growing up I used to go to Weiner Works before almost every Sacramento Kings Game that I attended.  It was here that I would get wonderful 14 inch long hot dogs with a great snap.

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Wiener Works

My favorite hot dog was the number 38, 14 inch long dog with meat chili, cheese, and red onion, Yum.  The next best part of the meal was the fries which were home cut and HUGE.  I ordered the tiny fries when I went this time and they were still over 1/4 of the tray.  I was so thankful to be able to visit this place one last time before I leave for Brazil.

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14″ Dog and Tiny Fries