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.

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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.

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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.

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Game Time

 

 

15 Reasons Why I am Unable to Sleep

Normally I do not have a sleeping problem.  I used to think that I could sleep well everywhere.  I have normally had trouble sleeping for a night or two in a new place but it only lasts until I get used to all of the new sights and sounds.  Over the past few weeks I have not been able to sleep well at all.  5-6 hours a night are normally enough for me to function but I have been averaging 4-5 hours a night recently.

The inability for me to sleep has led me to reflect on some excuses that my cousins child had to not be sleeping.  Here is a partial list of his excuses: his was thirsty, hot, needed socks, he saw a cat pooping on the lawn, his parents didn’t kiss him goodnight, he misses his mom, he love his mom, he needed to give one more hug, he heard his sister kicking the wall, he is not tired, he is cold, and he want’s his back scratched just to name a few.  While he had many excuses I also have a few of my own.

Sleep

Nice Bed to Sleep In

I have had enough time to analyze why I have not been able to sleep.  Here are a list of reasons why I have not been able to sleep recently.

  1. The bed is not comfortable.
  2. It is too cold in my apartment.
  3. It is too cold in my bed.
  4. I can hear the refrigerator running.
  5. I can hear the windows rattling in my apartment.
  6. I can hear the rain pounding the window.
  7. I have acid reflux from eating too late at night.
  8. I have acid reflux from eating to much sugar.
  9. I have too much on my mind to sleep.
  10. I am worried about language school.
  11. I am just not tired.
  12. There is lots of caffeine in my system.
  13. I took a long nap that day.
  14. It is stuffy in my room.
  15. I am so tired that I can’t sleep.

I have done my best to deal with all of the excuses that have stopped me from being able to sleep at night.

  1. The bed is comfortable.
  2. I turned on the heater.
  3. Put on new blankets on the bed and purchased another one.
  4. I closed the door to my room.
  5. I closed the storm shade.
  6. I stopped eating right before I go to bed.
  7. I have changed my diet from eating as much sugar.
  8. I have tried to get more exercise each day.
  9. I have tried to stop drinking as much caffeine each day.
  10. I have tried to get on a schedule of when I go to sleep and when I get up.

One of these days I will either get too tired to stay awake and start to get some consistent sleep or I will figure out a way to actually get some regular rest.

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.

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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

Church Building Dedication Service

Lots of work has gone into completing the church building for Ministerio Biblico Ivoti.  I have had the joy of helping with many different parts of this construction.  I am looking forward to the dedication service which will take place on July 8th.  However before the dedication service the church will be hosting a missions conference on June 30-July 2.

 

building

Dedication Service Poster

 

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.

culture shock

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.

 

Portuguese Learning

There are two major difficulties which I have faced in learning Portuguese.  The first is figuring out how to study a language again.  I did not begin with the best language learning skills or abilities.  I believe that I have let that color my study of Portuguese.  It is easy to come up with excuses as to why I am not doing as well.  However,  I have begun to embrace studying more.  There are a couple of ways that have really helped me in my language acquisition.  The first is the use of quizlet.  Quizlet is a free app which has allowed me to study vocabulary by typing in the words and mixing up how it is presented.  Working with this has helped me more than traditional flashcards.  The second is the use of white boards to write out the different things that I am trying to learn.  If I can see and hear the words than I tend to remember them better.

Language 1

Conjugating verbs in class

Besides how to study I have also had a great difficulty learning one specific section of language school.  That section is groupos.  Groupos are a series of questions and answers that I have to memorize and repeat in a time limit.  There is a catch,  I only have to remember the groupo until I have completed it.  I find it very difficult to memorize, perform and then forget.  I am thankful for my current teacher helping me with this by giving me flash cards to match.

Language

New Groupo Study techniques

 

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.

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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

Church Building Construction Continues

Over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to work on different parts of the church building.  I have enjoyed constructing some of the cabinets.  I am so thankful for having the tools that I brought with me from the United States they have been very helpful.

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Constructing Cabinets

The second floor is a great place for ministry.  There is a huge room which is great for ministry.  The picture below also shows the two offices on the second floor.

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Second floor Ministry Room

One of the most beautiful parts of the new building construction is a mural which was painted by a short term missionary.  I know that the little kids and especially the teachers/parents are going to love viewing it.

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Mural in Kid’s Room

There are two beautiful bathrooms in the building.  It is great to see the church coming together.

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Beautiful Bathrooms

Portuguese Learning

The highest priority that I have right now in Brazil is learning Portuguese.  It has been a difficult road so far and will continue to be more difficult.  I have struggled so far with learning Portuguese and I don’t expect it to change much.  However, I am not going to give up.

language

Scripture Memory

I am determined to persevere in learning Portuguese.  I appreciate some of the new sugguestions which have helped me to learn.  One of these is to write out what I am trying to learn so that I can visualize it.

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Portuguese Class

It helps me to be able to see the words and concepts.  The other thing which is helping is being able to hear the words/sounds properly in my head.  I feel like I can imitate words and speak Portuguese better when I can see and hear the words/sentences in my head.

Portuguese

Visual Explanations Help