Cultural Learning: Returns

I purchased a triple pot crock pot in November and had to return it after the first time I used it.  I figured that sense I purchased the item at Sam’s Club that it would be as easy as it is in the US to return a defective product.  However, I was pretty wrong.  I had assumed that I could just walk in and exchange the item or get the money put back on my credit card.  That did not happen.

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Crock Pot to be Returned

I found out that there were three options for a returning an item.  1) I get store credit that is only good for that day and can be used to exchange for the same item or purchasing other items, 2) I get store credit that can be used another day for a direct exchange or on other items only during that day.  This is a little different because they don’t accept the return until you decide to use the credit so you leave with a signature of the manager and the item you wanted to return, or 3) They will credit back your credit card but it will take a minimum of 2 months to return the money to your credit card.

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Two New Unique Experiences

This past weekend I had two unique experiences.  The first was that of driving on a car ferry and then crossing the mouth of a large lagoon.  It was really a bitter sweet time for me because I had to drive a girl who got sick to the local hospital.  It was very interesting because when we arrived at the hospital we found out that the doctors had gone on strike so that they were not receiving any patients who were not going to die.  So we simply returned over the ferry again.

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Car Ferry accross the inlet at the lagoon near Laguna, Santa Catarina

The second unique experience was that of riding inside of a car on top of a tow truck.  While on the way back to the rental property I noticed that my car was overheating very quickly.  When I got out of the car I could hear a hissing sound but could not find the leak.  I messaged my mechanic and he said to try and get the car back so that he could take a look at what was wrong.  Other guys at the retreat also looked at the car and could not find the source of the hissing. (It turns out that there was a leak in a hose to the radiator and that was fixed.)

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Friends Looking at the Car

Therefore I topped off the water in the radiator and tried to limp the car back to Ivoti which was about 380 km away.  I got about 2 km down the road when the engine over heated again and I had to shut it down.  We called the insurance company at about 8 pm and it was 10:15 pm before the tow truck arrived to take me home.

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Waiting for the Tow Truck to come

Being as there was 3  people in the car and only two could fit in the cab of the tow truck the driver allowed us to illegally keep two in the cab of the car on the back of the two truck.  It turned out to take about 7 hours to get us back to my house on the back of the tow truck.  That meant that we arrived home at 5 am on Monday morning.

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Arriving at 5 am Monday morning

 

Youth Retreat in Santa Catarina

I had the privilege of preaching at a youth retreat this past weekend.  I was so thankful for the opportunity which was presented to me.  I prepared to preach 4 different messages on Evangelism over the weekend.  The three messages were 1) Our Great Salvation, 2) The Gospel Messenger, 3) Preaching the Gospel, 4) Examples of Gospel Proclamation in the Scriptures.

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Awesome Retreat Housing

The youth message was well received by the majority of the youth at the retreat.  I heard that one of the non-Christians repented during the retreat and that many of the Christians were challenged by the different messages.

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Breakfast at the Beach

I enjoyed the various beaches we were able to visit while at the retreat.  I had a wonderful time at the great beaches with the youth group.  One of the cultural takeaways for me from the weekend was how much Brazilians enjoy their beaches.

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Beach Day

I also enjoyed talking with all of the youth at the retreat.  I was reminded of how much progress I have made in my Portuguese language skills and also how much farther I still need to grow.  It was frustrating to not be able to communicate at times and how I could only understand some of the general conversation topics and not all of the specifics.  One of the encouraging parts was listening to the translation and being able to understand most of the translation.

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Bonfire Preaching Opportunities

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Beautiful Beaches in Santa Catarina

 

Visiting Estadio Beira Rio

In this part of Brazil there are two soccer teams which people cheer for, International and Gremio.  In time I will have to choose which team I will root for but prior to choosing a team I have told everyone that I will need to visit each of the stadiums and experience what it is like to be a fan.  Visiting Estadio Beira Rio, Riverfront Stadium, was a great experience for me.

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Selfie at Estadio Beira Rio

The rivalry between the two teams is very serious and both fan bases are very passionate about their teams.  I don’t really know what to compare it to except for the Giants and Dodgers baseball rivalry in California.  Both fan bases believe that their teams are the best and don’t like the other team.

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Roberto, Bladimir, and Me

Going to the stadium was an experience.  I didn’t know that you could sell more tickets than seats for each game.  It turns out that you can purchase season tickets and get an ID card to use when you enter each game.  I am glad that I was able to experience the game with Roberto and Bladimir.

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Great International Fans

One of the things that really stood out to me was the passionate rooting of the fans at the stadium.  I was told that passionate soccer fans are called hooligans and it was amazing to see them standing up and chanting the entire time that the team was on the field.  I had never seen a group of fans stand for the entire first half chanting and waving their arms.

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Watching the Game

I have lots to learn about the game of futbol or soccer.  I still do not understand what they are doing at all times and what the players are trying to accomplish with their formations but I want to learn.  The best way to learn is to watch and ask questions.

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Players thanking the Fans

Before everyone thinks that I have chosen the side, I want to say that I have not decided on a side yet.  Once I choose a team I will write a blog about that but before I choose I still need to visit the Arena do Gremio.

 

 

Preaching in Portuguese

I am thankful that I was able to preach an entire sermon in Portuguese this past Sunday.  I not only prepared the message in Portuguese but I also prepared slides so that people could follow the message easier.

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Beginning of the Sermon

The message was written in manuscript form and was on Hebrews 2:1-4 with the title A Great Salvation.  There were three points to the passage, A Great Savior, A Great Message, and The Great Messengers.

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Looking Up from the Reading

There are many different errors that I can remember in my sermon.  Of the problems that I identified there were none that are not correctable.  I am so thankful for the gracious people who listened to my sermon and gave me many compliments after in spite of the miss prounced words, poorly contrasted slides, and poor reading skills.

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The Power Point needs work

I am so thankful that despite all of the errors this still represented great progress in my Portuguese language abilities.  I am also thankful for all of the kind words of encouragement from not only the members of the church but also from the visitors who came not expecting an American to be preaching.  Most of all I am thankful that the LORD will continue to do his work through his word even with the poor delivery from this messenger.

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Making an emphatic point

 

Car Problems

Last week I saw my check engine light come on my car as I drove home Tuesday night.  I contacted the mechanic and then took my car in.  When I got in on Wednesday I talked with the mechanic and he said that the car should be fine to drive until this week when I had an appointment to install a new engine head gasket.  On my way home I noticed that the engine seemed to be overheating.  As I pulled into my garage I saw the engine oil light start to flicker.  I took a picture and shut off the car.

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Overheating and Engine Oil Pressure Light

When I saw the engine starting to overheat I saw some wisps of smoke coming out of my engine compartment.  When I got home about 2-3 minutes later I opened the hood to see what was going on and I was greeted with smoke pouring out of my motor.  I took a video if it is you want to see just click on the link.  I got to learn that insurance in Brazil includes towing services which I used with the help of a Brazilian friend to tow my car back to the mechanics.  The mechanic checked out the car and said that I had burned up the engine head gasket and it would take them a week to fix the car.  So I had an opportunity to rent a car in Brazil for the second time.  It is great practice for me to be driving a stick shift around here.

I am very thankful for all of my friends and team mates who helped me with some of the very difficult phone conversations and in person conversations which are required with the mechanic, towing service, and car rental place.  Without you this would have been an even more sanctifying situation.

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Rental Car

 

 

 

Research and Trimming the Bonsai

I did some research on my Bonsai tree and found out may interesting things.  The first is that the proper name is the Calliandra Emarginata or Calliandra Haematocephala.  The common name is the Dwarf Power Puff tree.  One of the reasons for this research was that my tree seemed to be growing out of control.  The tree’s continued growth is great but it seemed to be really spreading out so that it looked like a T.

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Working on the shape

I found out that the time for trimming was during the spring and so I decided to trim the tree.  It is amazing to see all of the new growth that happened and how much I was able to trim back.  One of the things that I learned with trimming was that I should not trim off all of the new growth.  I hope that I trimmed the tree properly so that I get to see some red flowers later this year.

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Trimmings from the tree

 

A Missionaries Real Day

After giving my perspective on what I thought was the ideal missionary day I want to give you a picture of an actual day in my life.

I wake up early so that I can study, pray, and exercise before class.  After reading my bible I normally begin to do some studying before it get’s light enough for me to go and get some exercise.  The bible reading and prayer times are not as rich as I would hope for.  At times it feels like I am talking to a wall instead of the God of the universe when I am praying.

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How devotional and prayer time feel at times.  Just empty framework.

The day continues with me not understanding what is going on during my Portuguese class.  It seems like I am starting to understand what is going on during class but my mind is not functioning properly.

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Pictorial representation of the mess in my brain during Portuguese class at times

I get to go and have lunch after class with friend.  We talk in English and for that I am thankful.  At the end of lunch I forgot that I had a meeting later that day.  I check my phone for the time and figure out that I can actually make the meeting on time.

I get to my meeting and the person that I am meeting is going to be getting there late.  We had a great conversation and I eventually look at my watch and realize that we just spent 3 hours at the meeting and not 1 hour like I planned.

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Empty Parking Space means I get to walk to class

After the meeting I run to the auto mechanic to get car fixed.  The day before I noticed that my air conditioner was not working and my car wouldn’t two minutes after I turned it off.  I get to the mechanics and thankfully he is still there.  I then called uber for the first time in my life to get home.  I am now going to have to uber back to the mechanic tomorrow to pick up my car in the afternoon.

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Time to clean so I can study

When I get home I remember that I still have to clean and do laundry today before I begin to study for class tomorrow.  I am actually hungry and open my refrigerator to reveal that I have some pasta left over from earlier in the week and not much else in the fridge.

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Home to an almost empty refrigerator

I was able to study for 2-3 hours at night before I got too tired and began to watch the Thursday night football game until I went to sleep.

 

Baptism in Brazil

It was so exciting to be able to baptize two men this Sunday evening.  I have enjoyed watching these two guys grow in Christ during the 9 months that I have been in Brazil.  A few weeks ago we were talking and they both expressed interest in getting baptized.  On Sunday night I had the pleasure of baptizing Richter and Thomas.

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Pre-Baptism Picture with Richter and Thomas

One of the best parts of a baptism is listening to the testimonies of those who are getting baptized.  It was great to listen to both of these young men testify to the work that Christ has done in their lives.  After the testimonies I gave a short devotional in Portuguese about the purpose of baptism.  The worst part of giving this devotional was getting bitten by the bugs.

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Explanation of Baptism in Portuguese

The pool was a little deeper than I thought it would be but it made it really easy to baptize these two young men.  Thomas was the first man that I have ever baptized.

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Baptism of Thomas

I absolutely loved the fist pump that Richter gave after being baptized.  I look forward to more baptisms as the LORD works in the lives of many people in Rio Grande do Sul.  It was awesome to be able to get to baptize these two men.

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Baptism of Richter

 

Church in the Dark

On October 1st the storm in Ivoti caused the power to go out at the church.  It was a blessing to see the body still come together for worship.

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Fellowship in the Dark

The conversations that normally happen before and after continued as if there were lights in the building.  Even with the only lighting being emergency lights the fellowship was real.

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Singing in the Dark

Normally we have the songs projected onto the wall of the building.  This time we passed out song books and the worship band played a few songs while the church sang into the dark.

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Preaching in the Dark

Andreu still preached but it was very hard to hear him without amplification and with the rain pattering on the roof.  It was very difficult for me to follow what was being said without the amplification and also the slides which are normally on the wall.  I have to say that I was impressed that we even had church without power.  My first thought was to go home when I saw that there was no power but I am glad I stayed.