Foz de Iguacu

In order to get the best price on the plane flight I flew in a day early and left a day after the conference ended.  Due to arriving early I was able to go to both sides of the water falls.  I really enjoyed my time at both sides but I have to say that I liked the Brazilian side the best because you spent lots of time at the base of some of the largest falls.  The water falls are actually named as one of the new seven natural wonders of the world.

Foz

Enjoying the Foz

I wish that I could share with you the raw power that I felt while standing at the base of this glorious water fall.  The mist kicked up by the water fall was so heavy that we got pretty soaking wet just standing at the base.

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You can feel the power of the Foz

There are something like 150-300 unique waterfalls which make of Foz de Iguacu depending on the water level.  Due to all of the different unique waterfalls the park offered many great viewing points.

Foz 1

Spectacular views

On Tuesday the entire conference went to the Argentina side of the water falls.  We were able to walk to a platform right above the Devil’s Throat waterfall.  It was amazing to be able to stand above the water fall and hear/feel the power of the water crashing over the edge.

Foz 4

The mist was unreal

The Devil’s throat is the highest of the water falls.

Foz 5

Looking at Devils throat

We also were able to walk along the edge of many of the water falls.  It was spectacular to be able to see all of the unique falls that we saw.

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So many waterfalls

On the Argentina side of the water falls I brought up the end of the group so the picture below was often my view.

Foz 3

My view of our group

 

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All Brazil Conference

My first all Brazil conference was a great experience.  It was about a week long and had all of the ABWE missionaries from Brazil who were not on furlough.  It was great to have all of the visitors from the states there.  One church even sent 7 individuals to serve us at the conference.  There were also 13 other people who came to serve us at the conference.  I am so thankful for all of the different ways that these servants blessed us missionaries.

Conference

Introductions to the team from Bethesda that served us

We had a great time singing together during the conference.  It seemed like we would sing before and after each session.  It was the first time in 9 months where I was able to sing each song that was played during that part of the worship service.

Conference 2

Worship as a group

4 mornings during the week we had a training session for at least 3 hours.  The topic of this conference was Essential Mission Components 2.  During EMC 2 we learning about holistic ministry, networking, partnerships and some other topics.

Conference 1

EMC 2 in the mornings

At EMC 2 all of the different teams worked at different tables to go through all of the different topics.  It was a great opportunity to get to know my team better and to work as a group to better understand our region and how to strategically reach Rio Grande Do Sul.

Conference 4

Singing before each Session

One of the ways that us missionaries were blessed was all of the different candy that was brought from the US.  Our table especially liked the Reeses Peaunt Butter Cups.  I had some fun with our answer paddles on the table.

Conference 3

Fun with the answer boards

One evening we got to hear a story of how Al Yoder almost crashed his airplane once.  He was a great storyteller with not only great verbal inflections but also fantastic mannerisms and expressions.

Conference 5

Listening to Missionary Stories

A favorite part of the conference was talking with many of the veteran missionaries.  I was extremely blessed to have them drop some serious wisdom on me about missions and some practical tips specific to Brazil.

Wisdom

Receiving Wisdom from Veteran Missionaries

 

Culture Learning: Churrasco

One of the things that any missionary has to do is to learn the culture of the people and country where they are going to serve.  I have had some difficulty learning Brazilian culture but this time it was a joy.  An important aspect of the South Brazilian (Gaucho) culture is that of Churrasco or BBQ.  One night at the church they decided to make Costelas (Large Beef Ribs) and I had an opportunity to learn about this part of the culture from some of the men in the church.

Culture 1

Preparing the Meat (Costelas) Gaucho Style

It was great to be able to talk with these guys about some of the cultural differences in Churrasco in the United States and Brazil.  The simple difference is that in Brazil they like to really taste the flavor of the meat and only season it with salt while in the United States they like to add different flavors and sauces to the meat.

Culture 3

Learning from the Guys

The other thing that I really like about the Brazilian culture is that they cut slices off of the meat and snack as they cook.  I really enjoyed being able to sample the sausage and some of the meat that has already been cooked.

Culture 2

Snacking on meat

After the meat was cooked it was cut of the bones and into chunks before it was served.  These men are much more skilled with their knife work than I am but at some point in the future I hope to catch up. After reading this I am now hungry for Churrasco again and hope that you are too.  P.S. If you ever visit me we will definitely have to do Churrasco.

Culture 4

Costelas are served

 

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.

Bonsai

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.

Bonsai 1

Trimmings from the tree

 

Cooking Brazilian (Pastel)

I have not tried to cook many authentic Brasilian food in my time here except for churrhasco.  For a while I have been thinking about cooking a Pastel but have not tried until now.  A pastel is a baked or fried pocket filled with sweet or savory stuffing.  I decided to make a savory pastel.

Pastel 1

Savory meat sauce

The most important part of a pastel is the sauce.  I made a meaty sauce with onion, bell pepper, garlic and a tomato base.  It would be a great sauce and was specifically made nice and think so that it would not run out of the cooked pastel.

Pastel

Pre-baking pastel stuffed with cheese and meat sauce

I purchased the pastel dough and stuffed it with motzerella cheese and the prepared sauce.  I then placed it on top of a metal rack so that the bottom of the pastel would be crisped while I baked it.

Pastel 2

Post baking pastel

The pastel turned out great with the filling piping hot and the dough nicely browned.  It was great to have the pastel dough nice and crisp and the correct liquid content in the stuffing so it did not flow out of the pastel after I cut it.  I will definitely have to make this again because it turned out great.

Pastel 3

Yummy Dinner

 

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.

Real 4

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.

Real 3

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.

Real 2

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.

Real

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.

Real 1

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.

Baptism 2

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.

Baptism

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.

Baptism 1

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.

Baptism 3

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.

Night

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.

Night 2

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.

Night 1

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.

Importance of Friends

During the very quick trip back to California I was able to spend a couple of meals with some friends.  Unfortunately I was unable to see and meet with every friend in the area.  One of my oldest friend’s Ken and his wife Sherrie happened to be visiting my parents at the same time I did.  It was great to be able to have breakfast with Ken and my Dad.

Friends 1

Dad, Ken, and Me

I was also able to have dinner and catch up with two dear friends of mine.  Matt and Josh are also old friends of mine.  It was great to have a meal with them and their family one evening.  I am so thankful to have faithful friends who support me.

Friends

Josh, Matt, Seth, and Me

No missionary is an island unto themselves.  I was reminded of this during my visit to the United States this past week.  I am so blessed to have many friends all over the United States who are faithfully supporting me in many ways.  I wish that I could have spent time with all of my friends who contacted me about visiting when I was in the States.  I think that I will need at least 6 months to visit everyone when I return again in about 3 years.

 

Grandma’s Memorial Weekend

It was great to drive up to Lake Tahoe to scatter my grandmother’s ashes.  My father and I drove up to the cabin before all of the others arrived to help prepare for the arrival of the rest.  I was excited to see snow on the side of the highway and on the top’s of the mountains.  Lake Tahoe is just as beautiful as I remember it.

Memorial 2

Beautiful Lake Tahoe with Snow on the Mountains

The majority of the family was able to gather for this event.  It is clear from this picture that we all enjoyed our time together.  I am so thankful that I was able to take a week off and travel from Brasil for this precious weekend.

Memorial 3

Checking to see that Grandma’s ashes are in the box

There were a couple of times this weekend where we had to make sure that we had grandma’s ashes to scatter.  This time I caught my cousin’s husband, Justin, checking to see that the ashes were in the box.

Memorial

Family Picture before scattering the ashes

Over 5 years ago our family scattered my grandfather’s ashes in Lake Tahoe and this weekend we were able to scatter grandmother’s ashes to join his in the lake.  After my father scattered the ashes into the lake we were able to take some time and share some memories of grandma with each other.  What I shared was a phrase that I always remember my grandmother sharing, “Try to learn something new each day.”  This speaks to her desire for knowledge and how she knew so much even without ever going to college and moving to the United States after marrying my grandfather when she was 19.  I have tried to emulate her by learning at least one new thing each day.  I was touched by all of the other memories that was shared by the other family members.  It was a very emotional time.

Memorial 4

Grandma’s ashes joining Grandpa’s ashes in Lake Tahoe

I really enjoyed getting spending time with the family.  There were multiple children running all around and the adults had a great time playing cards and chatting.  My grandmother would have really enjoyed seeing the entire family spending time like this together.

Memorial 1

Kid’s running around and Adults Playing Cards in the cabin