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.

Bonzi 1

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.

Bonzi 2

My Bonsai

 

 

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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

 

 

Time to Read

For a long time I have enjoyed reading,  I can remember hiding under my covers witha  flashlight to finish reading a book after my partents told me to go to bed.  During the past few months I have had more time to read than I normally do.  Reading has been a great help for me here in Brazil.  First is that it provides some comfort because it is very familiar to me because it is in English.  Second it provides something to do that is not studying Portuguese.  Third,  I am rereading lots of books that bring back great memories for me.  The series pictured is the Redwall series which I first read as a child with my dad and then reread multiple times as I grew up.  I have great memories reading these books at the house I grew up in, while in college and now in Brazil.

Reading

Redwall Series

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

Conversations in Portuguese

My skills in Portuguese seem to be growing every day.  I am a slow learner but try to learn something new every day.  I have seen my conversation skills grow markedly every week recently.  When I listen to Portuguese I have a simple inner monologue going.  I first am listening for all of the words that I understand which have been said.  Then I am telling myself the different possibilities of what was said based on the context and words I recognized.  The next part of the monologue is normally do I understand enough to respond.  If I do then I will think to myself do I have the vocabulary to say a response that makes sense.  Finally I think about if I actually want to respond.

conversations 3

Past Portuguese Understanding

This internal monologue has gotten better each and every week as I understand more vocabulary.  Here is some of the progress that I have made.  When I had only been in country about a month and a half I went to a wedding.  At this wedding we had some great table conversation which I really didn’t understand much of at all.  I was able to pick up a few words here and there but I do remember two specific words that were actually only one word.  The words were “de coracao”  which means “the heart”  I thought that they were talking about the heart of the matter in my internal monologue.  It lead me to actually respond that I understand.  Later I was told that the word I heard was “decoracao” and actually means decoration.

conversations 2

Current Portuguese Understanding

A few months later the internal monologue is different when I talk with a guy after the church service.  We were able to talk about cooking food, talking about missing another missionary on furlough, and how nice the church/dedication service was.  This conversation went so well that when I expressed how my Portuguese has not been progressing as well as I wanted.  During this conversation making a story to accompany the words that I was able to follow was easier.

conversations

Future Portuguese Understanding

One day in the future I hope that I will not have to fill in as many words in the stories that I tell myself during a conversation in Portuguese.

Things I Enjoy about Brazil (#1-5)

There are many differences between the United States and Brazil.  Some of them I enjoy and some of them I find very frustrating.  I would like to begin to list many things that I enjoy about Brazil.  Some will be trivial and some profound but all are my opinion.

  1. Having a light switch at the head of my bed that controls the light in my bedroom.

    Likes

    Easy to Reach Switch

  2. Coke is better in Brazil.

    coke

    My Stash of Coke and other drinks

  3. I know my Butcher.

    Butcher

    My Local Butcher, Ze, hooks me up with quality meat

  4. Brazilian BBQ is great and is built into most homes.  Mine is located in my family room, makes it easier to grill.

    BBQ

    Built in BBQ Pit

  5. One of the things that I get frustrated with using the English language is the lack of a plural you.  The Portuguese language has the plural you in the language (Voces) and I intend to put it to good use.  Those of youall in the south know what I am talking about.

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

Missionary Difficulties: Death in the Family

Death 2

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.

Death 1

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.

Death

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.

Building Dedication Service

Dedication

Outside of Church Building

Last Saturday evening we had a building dedication service.  It was a great event that is the culmination of lots of work but the beginning of lots more.  The building is awesome.  When I visited South Brazil in 2015 the church was in the process of purchasing the land for this building.  I can remember talking with the missionary about his dream for the building.  I think that this building is different than his dream but it is still awesome.

Dedication 1

Pre Service Conversations

The dedication really showed off how large the church building is.  There was plenty of room to have 200+ seats for a service and then to also have enough room to have an after service hang out area.  It was very encouraging to see people from 5+ churches attend the 8 pm Saturday night service.  I was so encouraged to see all of excitement that the church body had at this dedication.

Dedication 2

Packed House – Church members brought their own chairs

I am looking forward to all of the different ways that this building is going to be used.  It is my prayer that the LORD would use this building for his glory and many opportunities for ministry would be facilitated through this building.

Dedication 3

Someone Wanted a Picture with Me