Saturday, September 27, 2008
Tonight we had the third and final night of a three-week-long competition among the young people at church. The competition has involved Bible trivia, sports, skits, jokes, impersonations, silly tasks, music, etc. When Roberto and Osmildo were first planning the competition, I playfully whined that they needed to include a category for English so that Lacy and I could fully participate. Then they actually did. So tonight was my shining moment, I had the chance to go up there in front of everyone, in the final event of the competition, and answer computer-generated questions about English. Questions so easy that the non-English speakers were getting some of them right. English so not hard that the Brazilian guy who competed in the English category for the other team scored 50,000 points by getting like 10 questions in a row right. So there I am, headphones on, heart pounding because I can hear my team cheering for me, and feeling a bit like I'm in the hotseat facing Regis on Millionaire. So then it comes, the 5000-point question. And I totally got it wrong. Yes, that's right. I got the fifth question wrong and won my team a measely 500 points. It was not one of my prouder moments...
Posted by Cris at 10:58 PM
Monday, September 15, 2008
However, part of that "getting better" is what I'm here to tell you about today. The day after Francisco's baptism, he went to tell his friend, Geraldo. Geraldo has been a friend to Francisco when no one else would, often times taking him into his home to give him a roof to sleep under and food to eat. He has let Francisco work with him, selling peanuts on the street, to make a decent living. Francisco couldn't contain his joy following his own baptism and wanted to share it with the one person that had always been there for him. Geraldo began studying the Bible with John and was baptized last night! His whole family was there, including his wife and five or six kids (I haven't been able to get an accurate count...they're pretty active and look very similar.) He is excited about his new life and we pray that as he continues to grow he follows Francisco's example and shares the Gospel with those around him!
Posted by Cris at 12:59 PM
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
This past weekend about 15 of us from the church participated in a retreat for young people put on by the churches of Christ in Fortaleza, the capital city of our neighboring state to the north. The theme was "Facing Giants" and the classes and talks were centered around the story of David and Goliath. The retreat was EXCELLENT, and I came away from it with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to the Word. It was wonderful to get away and relax for a couple of days but to spend that time with my closest friends. Highlights included: learning new Portuguese worship songs, a Bible Bowl-type competition complete with pie-in-the-face penalties for the losers, a spider on my bed frame the size of a softball (not exaggerating,) cold showers, 6 am wake-up calls, and a quick trip to Pizza Hut. This was my second opportunity to travel to another city and participate in a retreat for young people planned by young people, and once again I was blown away by the organization and quality of the program. I hope, dream, and pray for the day that our church in Natal will be big enough and have the resources to plan our own retreat and invite our friends from neighboring states. It was a fantastic weekend and I look forward to the next retreat we get invited to! And now, pictures.
Posted by Cris at 11:44 AM
Thursday, September 4, 2008
One year ago today I woke up groggy. I wondered where I was, and then my eyes immediately filled with tears when I realized that I was on an airplane, somewhere over South America, destined for a place that I thought I knew but really didn't know at all. I wished that the plane would make a U-turn and just dump me back in Miami. I cried and cried when I realized that I wouldn't be having any family dinners any time soon where Kelly and I laugh at things our mom said, and that I was going to have to make friends all over again, and that I was going to have to figure out how to speak Portuguese, and that when I got off the plane I couldn't just turn on my cell phone and text "I made it." For the next year...or two...(or 3 months, I thought, in my state of despair) I was going to have to build a new life, all by myself. What had I gotten myself into?When I finally got to Natal after 30 hours of travel (it may be beautiful but it is NOT easy to get to!) I stepped off the plane and looked for the nearest bathroom-- I thought I was going to throw up. I couldn't stop smiling but I couldn't contain my nervousness. Were these people going to like me now that they were stuck with me? Was I going to like them now that I was stuck with them? Would I be able to communicate? Would I be good at my job? Would I have enough readers? I got my bags and stepped out the doors. I saw the missionaries and we took this awkward picture:
The last year has done everything and more to completely dash all of those scared, nervous, anxious expectations. I have learned more, grown more, served more, been served more, shared more, loved more, been loved more, been humbled more, made bizarre mistakes more, lived simply more, laughed more, experienced true JOY more, than in the previous 22 years of my life. The last 12 months, the last 366 days (leap year, remember?) have exceeded my expectations in every possible way. I could never have imagined that day that in just one quick year I would be an entirely different person, a person who cries at the mere thought of ever having to leave this place. God has blessed me beyond all measure with this experience, and it is my prayer that as He continues to bless me here, He continues to use me to bless others in His work. Words don't do the past year justice, but all of you know that I sure will try. :) Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, support, contributions, blog comments, Facebook messages, photo comments, and stories from home. The year has been wonderful, but it hasn't been a breeze. Without you and your prayers I literally would not have made it. I'd like to leave you with a few photos of the past year, highlights from each month. Thanks, again, for your support, and please continue to keep me and the work in Natal in your prayers! More next time on my plans for the future...in Natal. :)
Becoming a part of the Signoretti family at Roberto's birthday lunch
OCTOBER 2007My apartment!
The original advanced English group class...RIP.
NOVEMBER 2007Youth retreat in Joao Pessoa, also my first time to speak only Portuguese for three straight days...
Thanksgiving feast for readers
DECEMBER 2007Sarah's baptism!
Christmas at the beach
Fernanda and Caio passed the Vestibular, the Federal University entrance exam, and celebrated by shaving half an eyebrow (girls) and his head (boys)
Family vacation with the Signorettis
Apparently I didn't take a single picture in February. I guess I was recovering from the previous 5 months...
ENOCA conference in Sao Paulo
Meeting up with childhood friends from Brasilia
My first Brasilian wedding! (One of my readers', NOT my own!)
Advanced group class meeting for breakfast at my apartment
Dune buggy ride with the Jewells and Toni
Duck Duck Goose at the LST Birthday Party
Celebrating my birthday LST style!
My parents and Jacob's LST team with the missionaries!
LST Baseball party, teaching the Brasilians the wave!
Great turnout at one of the English worship services
Family dinner the night before my American family went home. :(
Westover LST team in front of the church building with the missionaries
Posted by Cris at 8:33 PM