Wednesday, July 29, 2009

You Can't Make This Stuff Up Part 2

In this week's edition of "Only in Brazil," I take you to a Brazilian shopping mall typically known for its higher-end customers. Like most malls you and I are familiar with, there is a central plaza area where, depending on the season of the year, there is some traditional display. It's the area where Santa and his elves sit at Christmas time and the area where the "Made in China" market set itself up a few months ago...wait, what? Anyway, it's THAT area, the one that you can look down upon no matter which floor of the mall you are on, and the one surrounded by the escalators and elevators and McDonald's ice cream stand.

Imagine my surprise today when I walked past this area to see a pool. A rather large pool. A very large pool in terms of circumference, but only about a foot deep. "Strange," I thought. So I bought my McDonald's ice cream cone and decided to check it out. Then I see a child, about 8 years old, inside of a large plastic bubble that is being filled with air from one of those giant firetruck-like hoses, the same kind used to fill a bounce house. "Strange," I thought again, considering more than once how unsafe it probably is to put a child inside a giant plastic bubble and fill it with air from a bounce house hose.

And then it all came together.

For a mere R$10, about 5 dollars, you can pay for your child to become a human gerbil. As soon as the bubble, which ended up being a huge ball about 6 feet in diameter, was full, the employee shoved the kid and his bubble onto the water, and for a good 10 minutes the poor thing climbed around the plastic bubble as it floated and bounced on the water. He tried endlessly to stand up inside the bubble, but all of his efforts were in vain as he just continued to fall down. Again and again. It actually seemed like a cool idea at first, as bounce-house-like environments are ALWAYS cool, until I saw what it actually was. It was uber lame.

And then, as though it weren't torturous enough, the parents decided it was the little brother's turn. The kid, probably about 3 or 4, went and climbed into a different plastic bubble and crouched down, just as his brother had, as it was filled with air. I'm sure the parents were thinking "this is great, our two boys will be out there together on the water, in giant plastic bubbles, and really just have the time of their lives." Except something went seriously wrong. Upon realizing that he was inside a giant plastic bubble, the 3 year old panicked. He started crying hysterically as the bubble grew to be 3 times his height. And then I found myself, still enjoying my McDonald's ice cream cone, watching a 3 year old absolutely flip out inside of a 6-foot-tall plastic bubble. His parents decided it would be a good idea to leave him inside the bubble and try to console him by pointing at his brother and how much "fun" he was having. The kid, probably terrified by the HUGE LOUD hose blowing air into the bubble, was not buying it and began the "stand in one spot, put your hand in your mouth, and make the most pitiful open-mouth cry you are capable of" tactic, the most convincing of all pleas for help, if you ask me. The parents continued to watch and point to his brother until the employee finally was sensible enough to turn off the air, open the bubble, and take the poor guy out. By the time I left the pitiful scene, big brother was gathering quite a large crowd of onlookers and he continued to tumble around his floating bubble.

I only wish I had had my camera with me.

Only in Brazil.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Out With the Old....

And in with the new!!

After almost two years of using a refrigerator with no freezer and a stove with one and a half available burners and an oven that worked sometimes, I finally splurged to buy these two beauties. You can be sure that I will now have a permanent stock of ice cream and frozen fruit pulp (to make juice) as well as actually making a meal in less than an hour every once in a while! (The "every once in a while" is in reference to the "making a meal," not the "less than an hour." Don't worry, I'm not kidding myself. I still don't enjoy cooking for one, and it's very unlikely that new appliances will change that.)

And, in keeping with the "out with the old, in with the new" theme, I present you with these photos:This is Old Relter

This is New Relter

Praying after his baptism

As you can tell, Relter has raised the average height of our church family by about 6 inches.

This is Relter (pronounced "Helter.") Relter has been coming to our church off and on for a few months. From what I understand about his story, he met a girl through the internet a while ago (a few years maybe?) and began a relationship with her. She is a member of the church of Christ in Maceio, a capital city about 8 hours south of Natal. Through their relationship, she shared the Gospel as well her faith with Relter. About a year ago, while she was here visiting him, she found our church and brought him there on a Sunday. Ever since, Relter maintained a low profile but showed up every so often to our church gatherings, including participating in one of Lacy's basic conversation classes. A few months ago Relter began to study the Bible with Osmildo. This week he made the decision to follow Christ through baptism! We had a small group present for a Thursday afternoon, but it was a celebration nonetheless! Please be praying for Relter in his new walk with Christ!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Question: What do these three images have in common?

Answer: What I saw during lunch hour traffic today.

As I drove through an extremely busy intersection, I saw a very normal looking gentleman standing in the median holding a phonograph with a "For Sale" sign. If only I had been able to take a picture...

Only in Brazil.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Women's Conference

With the flurry of activity we have had lately at Comunidade de Cristo (CDC), blogging has kind of been on the back burner. The two LST teams held very successful projects, six extremely fun parties, and spent well over 200 hours in individual Bible study sessions! If you are interested in looking at pictures, click here and/or here.

Last Thursday, I along with five other ladies from CDC, loaded up into a very tiny mini van to head to Joao Pessoa, the capital city of our neighboring state to the south. We spent 3 days at a hotel on the beach (rough life, I know!) participating in the 19th annual Northeastern Women's Seminar. There were about 200 women in attendance, from all over the northeastern region of Brazil, and we had a wonderful 3 days spending time together and studying under the theme of "Sweet Faith." The seminar (really, it was a retreat/conference, but in Portuguese we called it a seminar so I will, too) was entirely "sweets"-themed, and I must say that whoever thought of having a ladies' retreat centered around sweets is an absolute GENIUS! Each of the talks had a sugary title, and the best part was that we got to snack on sweets all weekend long!

The highlight of the weekend for me was my small group class on dealing with difficult church members. It had a good balance of lighthearted fun with Biblical teaching on dealing with difficult people, and I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to participate. It was an excellent class and I intend on sharing the class outline with pretty much everyone I know! It served well to teach how to handle difficult sisters as well as how to avoid being a difficult sister! There were three hilarious skits on "Sister Picture Frame," "Sister Campout," and "Bad News Sister." Sister Picture Frame was the sister who doesn't want to/have time to help out with any church ministries but claims to already have started a "Decorations ministry" by being just a pretty face. :) Sister Campout was the sister who comes to your house early in the morning but then stays all day, expecting to be waited on hand and foot without lifting a finger. Bad News Sister is the sister who calls just to share bad news and negative opinions...and more bad news and negative opinions...and more bad news and negative opinions. The skits were hysterical, but I tend to think that we found them so funny because we either know someone who fit the profile or have fit the profile ourselves at one time or another. :)

Much like in the US, these types of events are held at retreat centers or camps, but I have to say that staying at a beachfront hotel was pretty decent! We were well-fed, well-rested, and well-bathed, which isn't something you can always count on at retreats! All in all it was a delightful weekend, and I came back to Natal just a bit pudgier in my faith as well as my waistline. Enjoy the pictures! Click here if you want to see more!

Tania, Monica, Marta and I on our way to Joao Pessoa EARLY Thursday morning

This sign was hanging on the wall in the hotel lobby. It reads "It's great to do nothing and then rest afterward." I loved it!

The small group session I signed up to participate in. The theme was "Jawbreakers: Dealing with Difficult Sisters." The teacher was a hoot, as you can probably tell by her chef's attire, but she did an excellent job presenting the subject matter. It was one of the best classes in which I have ever participated.

Our group was asked to perform skits before three of the keynote talks. This skit was about a waiting room at the doctor's office, with the patients chatting with each other about life's difficulties. The skits were absolutely hysterical and were a huge hit at the seminar!

The view of the ocean from our balcony

Marta teaching a small group class on Unity

Monica, Tania, and I waiting on one of the keynote talks to begin

View from the back of the main meeting area

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Today I was joking with the LST team that is currently in Natal (ok...maybe not joking...I was pretty serious) that I have the best job ever because among my other duties, I am the one who takes them to the beach, shopping, to eat good food, and see anything and everything that may be of interest to them on their days off. Don't get me wrong, we definitely work hard during the week, but after working hard it's always nice to have a day or two to play hard and regroup.

Tonight at dinner they were asking me a little bit about how I ended up here, and I had the privilege of telling them the story of how God led me to work in Natal. I mentioned the part about how I never in a million years would have dreamed that I would be working as a full-time missionary with a semi-long commitment (for my age, a total of 5 years is a long time!) as well as the part about how God so graciously gave me this opportunity and I am well aware that He could just as quickly take it away. I'm ok with that. I'm along for the ride, and as long as He allows me to be here I will work as hard as I can to help lead others to His kingdom.

It's always nice to have a chance to tell that story, because I never want to forget it or get too distracted by the day to day details that I forget just how faithfully God has provided for me since Day 1. I know it sounds trite, but in all honesty I feel honored and humbled to know that God chose me for His work in Natal and to pour out His generous blessings. The past year and a half has been the most exciting, challenging, happy, joyful, incredible, and growing experience that I have ever had. I hope that I continue to have opportunities to tell the story of how I ended up here, because it is my testimony of how when we surrender our own will and desires to the Lord, He can do amazing things.

Please forgive my bad grammar and stream-of-consciousness writing. I have no excuse for it, I just ask for mercy. Goodnight!