Bonsai!!!

I have wanted to purchase a Bonsai tree for the last 20+ years.  I have enjoyed looking at different Bonsai trees over the years.  I used to think about stopping to purchase a tree during college when I saw the Bonsai guy while driving home but I never stopped to purchase a tree.  Over the years of moving I determined not to purchase a tree because I never had a place to in my apartments.

Bonzi

Many Plants to Choose from

Once I arrived in Brazil I saw a sign for Bonsai trees along the road side and determined to purchase one.  One day I stopped by and there was no worker at the roadside Bonsai stand.  A few weeks later I was talking with a friend and he said that he wanted to purchase a Bonsai tree also.  We made arrangements to go together to purchase trees.  I looked at many different tree options to purchase.  Once I narrowed down the type of tree that I wanted, I then had to determine the age of the tree to purchase.

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40 year old Bonsai

The Bonsai pictured above is a 40 year old tree that is similar to the one that I ended up purchasing.  It is actually in the private collection of the owner.  I thought that the root ball and bark looked really cool.  I ended up purchasing a tree that is only 15 years old and has red flowers during the fall each year.  I really like the bark, root ball, branches and the red flowers that are characteristic of this tree.  One day I hope to see this tree at 30 years old.

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My Bonsai

 

 

Overconfidence

When learning Portuguese I feel like I am in a boxing match that I am loosing.  The first two to three rounds have been very rough.  Recently I feel like I have turned a corner and I felt like I was going to either win round four or at least break even.  I felt like I confidence that I would maybe win a round.  This time I feel like I got kicked in the nuts because I have not won this round but I lost yet again.  This loss cam while purchasing curtains for my apartment.  I went with a great family from church to get the original fabric and they graciously took me to the seamstress to get the curtains made.  The seamstress called and said that the fabric that I had purchased was not the correct size.  I felt confident enough to handle this without any assistance.  However,  I was mistaken because the fabric store ladies kept on saying that they gave me the right amount and the seamstress had miss cut the fabric on purpose.  They also said many other things which I didn’t pick up or understand.  I wish that I had brought one of the many people who have offered to help in times such as this.  Instead I felt that too confident and actually ended up purchasing the required fabric again.  I look forward to a time where I will be able to argue a little during situations like this.

 

Curtains

Extra Fabric from Curtains

I am so thankful that I was able to get at least one curtain made that fit where I wanted it to fit.  The other curtain does not fit because of some structural beams that I am not able to drill through.  I am so thankful for being able to finally get the curtains made for my apartment.

 

Curtains 1

Good Looking Curtains

 

 

Coaching Football

Over the past couple of months I have begun to help coach football.  There are some great opportunities which helping coach football provides.  The first is that of being able to practice my language skills.  I feel especially able to learn a simple phrase and then go to practice and use it repeatedly.  I also understand the game and am able to listen to what is said and pick up different words which will help me later during class.

Football 1

Beautiful Day for a Game

The second thing which is important is that I feel like I am able to get to know some people in a more organic way.  The guys know that I am here as a missionary and know that I don’t speak Portuguese very well but I am able to still help out.  There are mistakes that I make in speaking Portuguese but the guys are able to help correct me.  The most recent one that I can think of is that I told the guys that they should not have ice cream the day before the football game when I wanted to tell them that they should not drink beer the day before the football game.

Football

Watching them get ready to run the next play

The drawback to coaching from the sideline is that I am more emotionally involved with the game that is being played.  It is different than being on the field and being able to personally affect the outcome of the game.

 

Fellowship and Language Practice

A great way to enjoy some fellowship and practice my language skills is to have people over to my house.  It is a great opportunity to get to know some people from the church and to do that I need to speak Portuguese.  I have found myself able to speak Portuguese easier the more that I have people over.  One of the draw backs of having people over is that I get tired and after having people over.  It normally takes me at least an hour to wind down after having a family over for an evening but on the upside I normally get a good nights sleep after.

Practice and Fellowship 1

Fellowship with Families

Another bonus to having people over is that I get to cook for not just myself  Most single people I know find it difficult, to some extent, to cook for themselves.  Most recipes that I know are for 4 people  and you end up putting in the same effort even if you only make one serving.  However,  when I have people over I get to think about different foods that I am craving which I would like to share with my guests.  Recently I have been craving American comfort food (Bacon Mac & Cheese, with grilled beef) and Thai food (Chicken Satay and Curry Pasta) which are two of the recent meals that I made for my friends.

Practice and Fellowship

Fellowship with Couples

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.

Visit 2

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.

Visit 3

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.

Visit

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.

Visit 1

Wagner translating as I preached

4th of July in Brazil

The Fourth of July has always been about spending times with friends and enjoying a celebration of the freedom that we enjoy in the United States.  I think that I have almost always been in the states to celebrate.  This year I celebrated in Brazil.  I would say that the thing that I missed the most was the lack of fire works.

4th

Rehydrating beans for Chili

It was my responsibility to make the chili for the party.  This was the first time that I made chili without using canned beans.  I was surprised at how much moisture the beans soaked up when rehydrating them.  I also struggled with not having the normal spices that I would use to make chili so I had to make due with the spices that I had.  I was very pleased with the results.  The chili not only tasted like chili and my house smelled like chili, which was awesome.

4th 2

Crock Pot Chili

I celebrated the 4th of July at the Hangout.  We made chili, cornbread, and apple pie.  It turned out to be a great party.  Many of the Brazilians enjoyed the American food and it was the happening place to celebrate.

4th 4

Fourth of July at The Hangout

Playing games is a normal part of being at the Hangout and the 4th of July was not an exception.

4th 5

Game Time

 

 

Culture Shock: Battle for Control

I still battling culture shock on many different fronts.  One of the fronts which I have seen the war rage is that of control.  When I first arrived in Brazil I was warned by other missionaries that control would be one of the areas that I struggled.  I have strived in my life to be under control in many ways.  It actually scares me to not be in control.  In Brazil I am not in control in many ways.

food 1

Cheese Stuffed Bacon Avocado Burger

The lack of control has been difficult to deal with.  I find myself complaining when I am not able to control the situation.

food 2

Grilled Chicken and Pad Thai

I am able to control what I eat when I cook the food.  It is good to be able to cook different kinds of food that feel like eating.  I really enjoy using all of the fresh ingredients and great meat which are available around here.  The only draw back for all of this cooking is that I have to do all of the cleanup after cooking.

food 3

Steak with Bell Peppers and Onions

As I battle culture shock by exerting control I am continually reminded that I need to trust that the LORD is in control even when I am not.  I have found myself thinking of Proverbs 3:5-6 continually and trusting in the LORD to work everything out.  I am also thinking lots about Romans 8:28 where simple truths are presented that are a great comfort to me.  The truths which bring me comfort are “God is actively at work,” “God is working these events together for good,” and “God has made a plan.”

food

Chicken Fritters and Rice

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.

Sending Church

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.

May Gift

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.

Sending Church 1

Sending Church Updating the Body

 

 

 

Peanut Butter Cookies

This weekend I made some Peanut Butter Cookies.  The primary ingredient is peanut butter but the peanut butter in Brazil is very different than the US.  I think that the peanut butter in Brazil is less oily and sugary which causes the recipe I normally use to produce drier cookies.  This is the second time that I have tried to make Peanut Butter Cookies in using Brazilian peanut butter.  I think that I have figured out how to modify the recipe to my satisfaction.

cookies 3

Brazilian Peanut Butter

The cookie recipe is very simple with only four ingredients.  Peanut butter, sugar, eggs, and crushed peanuts are the only things that are needed.  The ratios are approximate but here is what I used 750 grams Brazilian Peanut Butter, 3 eggs, 150 grams crushed peanuts, and 500 grams sugar.  The most difficult part of baking this is the actual baking but the ovens here are a little temperamental.  200 degrees Celsius for about 10 minutes makes good cookies in one of my ovens.  However, in the other it is about 20 minutes of cooking at 200 degrees.

cookies

The recipe makes a couple of cookies.

I took these cookies to the church Agape fellowship meeting on Sunday.  I believe that everyone liked the cookies very much.  I got many compliments and then also had a few ladies ask for the recipe.  I even got one guy saying that my wife will like the fact that I can cook.

cookies 1

Cookies Pre Church Agape Fellowship

The best compliment that I got was that almost all of the cookies were gone by the time I got home.  I think that I will keep this recipe around.

cookies 2

Cookies Post Church Agape Fellowship

Joy’s of Hospitality

I have had the joy of having many people over to my apartment this last month.  When people come over it normally includes food, conversation and maybe some games.  I was warned by other missionaries that I should probably make American food or another type of food that is not Brazilian when I host people.  So I have tried to make only food that I have not found in Brazil or at least different flavors than similar dishes in Brazil.

hosting 5

Home Made Chicken Wings

I tend to make different types of food that I feel like eating.  One day I had a hankering for chicken wings so I made them, they turned out to be a hit.  Another day I desired Italian food so I made baked pasta and home made garlic cheese bread.

hosting 3

Italian Food

Not only do I get to enjoy good food but I also get to enjoy some great fellowship.  This is the difficult part of hosting.  Not being able to communicate even poorly in Portuguese is hindering some of my ability to host.  Even with this difficulty it has not stopped me from welcoming many people into my apartment.

hosting 4

Groups of Friends

A byproduct of hosting people is the ability for me to get to know different families in the church.  I really enjoy getting to know all of the precious families who have come over to my house.

hosting 1

Church Families