Buying meat here means going to the meat counter and asking for what you want. Yeah, so, that means you have to talk. A few weeks ago I went up to the meat counter (with a little fear and trembling) and asked for a half kilo of lingua. The meat man just smiled knowingly and asked me if I wanted a half kilo of linguiça. “yes,” I quickly affirmed, “I want a half kilo of linguiça. (that would be sausage) I don’t want any lingua (that would be tongue). Thank you.”
Then, last week, I made some cookies and took a plate of them over to the apartment of three single girl students. They weren’t home, so Cali, Karina, and I left the cookies on the counter in their kitchen. Then we walked to the vegetable market. And at the vegetable market, we met the girls we had been looking for. So I told one of them, Tamara, who loves to laugh, that I left something sweet on her bocão for her to try. She looked completely baffled, so I slowed down and repeated myself, thinking about each word to make sure that I had the verb conjugation right and that everything agreed in gender and quantity. “I. left. something. sweet. on. your.” She still seemed to be tracking, until I said the last word again, “bocão“. And then she just stared at me, wide-eyed and confused. Finally she said, “you know that a bocão is a big mouth, right?”
“Oh no!” But of course. Boca is mouth, and if you want to make anything bigger you can put the -ão ending on it. Yes, so I had been telling her that I left something sweet in her big mouth.
“No, no” I hastened to describe her kitchen and the big flat spot next to the sink where you can put stuff, and then the light went on in her eyes.
“oh, you mean my balcão!” she laughed.
Yes, that’s what I meant. And now I will never forget that word again. It was the joke for the rest of the week. Every time I saw her I asked if she had enjoyed what I had left in her big mouth, and she always burst out laughing again. When I told her that I had accidentally asked the meat counter man for a half kilo of lingua, she laughed even harder.
“You do know that some people really do eat tongue, don’t you?”
“yeah, I know,” I said, “do you?”
She shook her head emphatically, with those big wide eyes punctuating her “no.” Apparently its not the typical, everyday Brazilian cuisine.
Well, learning a language can be humbling, but it can be a lot of fun laughing at yourself, too.
F is for Flexible in both languages, actually – Enlish and Portuguese (“flexivel”).
We are moving again. This all happened really fast and we just found out last week, during Encontro, that we were being asked by leadership to move to another city in another state of Brazil and finish our NCLA (National Culture and Language Aquisition) there. We will probably get plane tickets for a week from Monday so we need to get packed up in a hurry.
It’s cool how God can prepare your heart, though. My mom had promised me a kindle book for Christmas and my friend Laree had recommended “Calm my Anxious Heart” by Linda Dillow. Jevon had just downloaded it for me before we left for Encontro and so for 4 days, every time I laid down next to Isaiah to help him sleep for nap or bedtime, I read that book. For 4 days I had been thinking about contentment and a quiet heart based on faith in our God who is the Blessed Controller of all things. And so when, Wednesday morning, our NCLA director came to us and said, “I know this is a bad time but we need to talk to you right away,” my heart was already prepared for whatever God had – even another upheaval.
The reason for this move, to make a complicated story short, is our NCLA directors are moving so they can be a part of the Brazilian missionary training center, but they are still going to be NCLA directors (because they are really good at it and they have a passion for it and there is nobody else to do it at the moment), so the whole program, (and by implication, us who are already in the program) are going with them. Sorry for the run-on sentence.
One really cool thing about this is that we will be living at the Brazilian training center, surrounded by Brazilian students speaking Portuguese who will be future co-workers on the mission field. This should be an excellent situation for language learning and building relationships for the future. Another plus is that there will be space for the kids to play outside (something there isn’t here), calmer traffic, smaller city, more pleasant climate, and just an overall nicer living environment. So there’s a lot to be thankful for.
And now that we are leaving we suddenly realize how many friends we already have in Manaus. My neighbor greeted me with a big hug when we got back from Encontro, and I didn’t have the heart to tell her yet that we are moving now. And the missionaries who live and work here in this region are sad to see us go…but we keep telling them “we are coming back as soon as we speak Portuguese better! and how good that we already know you so when we get back we will come back to friends!” We also have already come to love and respect our field leadership here in this region of Brazil, and gained some serious perspective on the needs for workers here.
Not for one second to we regret our months here in Manaus, and we look forward to what God has for us farther south in the coming months.
Here is a regional map for people who love visuals:
In the green part of the map (the North), you see the state of Amazonas. That’s where Manaus is, where we’ve been.
The purple part of the map (Central West) is where we’re going, to finish our language and culture learning.
NOTHING has changed of our plans or ministry goals and our immediate job right now is still NCLA; we’ll just be doing it in a different place.
Thank you for your prayers as we wrap things up here:
- pack in a hurry
- break our lease and internet/phone contracts and pay the appropriate fees
- say goodbye to people who have befriended us and invested in us here
- shepherd our children through another transition
The sooner we get settled there, the sooner we can get back into formal language study.
Sometimes Cali says she doesn’t want to live in Brazil because she thinks it’s dangerous. That’s when we remind her of the time we drove past a tornado on the Montana freeway and the time we slept with poisonous spiders in Kansas. Who kept us safe then? God. Who keeps us safe now? God. We try to be smart of course, because God gives us responsibility, but the reality is that most of life is beyond our personal control and safety is from God. And it really doesn’t matter whether we (or you) are here or there; danger changes form from one place to another but the same God has us in His sight in each place.
Crazy bus driver:
Let’s just say that traffic in Manaus is different. Different than it is in the States. Different that it is in the rest of Brazil.
Also using public transportation with 3 kids is different than driving in our own mini-van with 3 carseats and seatbelts for all. But sometimes it’s AFTER you meet your fear that you start to feel safer…
One time we were riding home on the bus with Isaiah on Jevon’s back and both girls with me. Jevon saw our stop coming up and pulled the string for a stop. He wasn’t the only one; a crowd of people started pushing toward the back of the bus. Alot of people were standing because all of the seats were full. I was at the back of the line getting off because Cali and Kiki are a little slow at pushing through crowds. I saw Jevon get off with Isaiah. Just as I reached the top of the stairs, something stopped me. I had already noticed that the bus driver seemed kind of tense and was being really pushy to other traffic, and something in my heart said not to trust him. This was the moment of decision. I had one girl in one hand, the other girl in the other hand, and no free hand to grab onto anything if the bus lurched forward. If I stepped over that yellow line onto the steps toward the open door, and we fell, we would fall onto the street, NOT back into the bus. All this went through my mind in one second. In that one second, I had paused and did not cross that yellow line. In that one second, the bus driver, without looking in his mirror, without thinking about passengers, without closing the door, stepped on the gas.
I stumbled backwards (still on the bus) with the two girls and the whole back of the bus erupted in a yell, “Ei!” glaring indignantly at the back of the driver’s head. He braked. I caught my balance, picked up Kiki and fast as I could got my two daughters of the bus. As our feet hit the pavement Jevon reached for our hands, wide eyed and shaking his head.
But I tell you the truth: I walked away from that bus stop feeling safer than ever. Why? Maybe partly because I had seen the other passengers on the bus speak up on behalf of our safety. That was cool. Up till then I didn’t know how people in this city feel about other people’s safety – caring or indifferent. But mostly because I knew God was with us. God can give us that feeling that says “wait a second; something’s not right here.” God can do whatever He wants. And he kept us and all three kids safe.
Motorcycles in the Wrong Lane:
Another day, I was walking by myself home from language session. I had to cross a certain intersection at a time of day when it is almost always nearly impossible. There is no crosswalk there (which is too bad, because Alfredo says if a motorist hits you in the crosswalk it hurts less than if you weren’t in the crosswalk). And traffic doesn’t wait for each other all nice and polite like. They just keep pushing through and blaring their horns at each other. I had learned to wait and watch while the crossing traffic slowly pushed their noses into the intersection, bumper to bumper, until the oncoming traffic was forced to stop due to the blockade of cars crossing in front of them. At that point I always used their blockade as my moment of opportunity and walked across the street.
It was the same on this day. I crossed the first lane looking left, as one should, toward the coming traffic. The blockade was bumper to bumper and no vehicle was passing through. When I reached the middle line I looked right, as one should, toward the traffic going the other way in that lane. That lane was emptier and of course they would be stopping anyways because of the blockade. Suddenly I heard the roar of motors on my left (where i wasn’t looking) and the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I spun my head that way and there 4 or 5 motorcyclists had pushed through the blockade of traffic and were roaring towards me IN THE WRONG lane! To my right a car in the correct lane was coming and to my left 4 or 5 motorcyclists coming in the wrong lane and I was in the middle. Just then the one motorcyclist, who would have hit me first, saw me. All in that same second I leaped backwards onto the middle line, and when I landed on the middle line that first motorcyclist was screeching to a stop in the exact place where I had been standing. I was close enough to his ear that he surely heard my “whooooooaaa” even above the roar of his motor. The bumper to bumper blockade had moved past the intersection so traffic was flowing both directions in both lanes now as well as the 3 or 4 other motorcyclists in the wrong lane buzzing around other cars like they do, and all I could think was “get out of the road, get out of the road, get out of the road”. I stepped quickly around the stopped motorcyclist who was regaining his cool, hopped and dodged and thanked the Lord when my feet landed on the sidewalk-ish-sort-of-thing on the other side.
Safety is from God. When I cross the crazier streets in Manaus I always pray first “God give me wisdom; help me know when is the right moment to cross.” And I’ve already seen that even when people are breaking the rules that we depend on for safety, even when I guess the wrong moment to cross, even when I think I know what I’m doing but it turns out I can’t predict what other people will do…God is in control.
When I first got here to Manaus my stress level usually spiked to an 8 or 9 every time I crossed a street, especially if the kids were with me. After those two incidents, my stress level pretty much stayed level for crossing streets. Let’s be real: people do die in traffic, even the States where everything is usually pretty nice and orderly. Even missionaries who are trying to serve the Lord in another country. But until God decides its time, we are right here and never outside of His sight. Never for a second does He guess wrong or miss something that was going to happen. And I don’t think it’s our time to go yet…somehow I doubt we are getting off the hook that easy.
Traffic isn’t the only situation where we’ve seen God’s protection in the last few months. Wiring isn’t always super secure here, and neither is anything grounded, so we’ve felt a little nervous about our toddler running around the house finding trouble. But it wasn’t Isaiah actually, it was Jevon, who rubbed his arm up against a bundle of bare wires. He had unplugged something in a hurry and then reached down behind some furniture to grab something, and didn’t notice that when he unplugged it the whole outlet had gently pulled out of the wall and dangled there with all the wires exposed. Coming up from behind the furniture, he rubbed his arm right across it. Nothing happened. Nothing at all.
We said “Thank you, God,” and went on with life.
At Encontro we heard alot of stories from other people of how God had been good to them. By far the most dramatic was that of Vanginho (that’s his nickname but we don’t know his real name because everyone calls him that) and Paloma, who live and work at PQQ right now. They get back and forth from PQQ and the city by speedboat. One night Vanginho was coming home from Manaus with two of his three little boys – Jonatas and Davi. It was already dark and was pouring down rain, and the boat was overloaded. Thank God the kids had lifejackets on; not everyone always uses lifejackets here where river travel is such a part of life. But this time the kids had lifejackets on.
Well the overloaded boat flipped. Vanginho grabbed his two boys in the water but they were panicked – climbing up on his shoulders and pushing him under along with them. The river was very cold and so was the rain. At this moment Vanginho thought of his wife and said “she won’t lose all three of us in one night.” what could he do? He couldn’t swim to shore with both boys clambering on him. So he decided to save at least one of them. He threw his chubbier one a little ways away (in his lifevest), but he right away went underwater right in front of Vanginho’s eyes, and Davi started screaming “Daddy where’s Jonatas?” His mind was completely at war because he couldn’t save both sons but he couldn’t watch his one son sink either. So he thought “I don’t want Paloma to lose us all three at once but I am going to get my son.” He dove underwater and pulled up Jonatas. And told God, “I’m ready to die here with my two sons if it is time to die.”
“Is it time God?”
“no, it isn’t time yet.”
“Is it time now, God?”
“no, not yet.”
Suddenly he saw a closed suitcase floating in the current. He put the boys on top of the suitcase and was able to get them to shore. One of the boy’s lungs had alot of water in them, but in the end they were both okay. And when Vanginho knelt on the ground crying and thaking God, Jonatas was saying “it’s okay, Daddy, it’s all okay.”
They thanked God for that suitcase in the water. By the way this whole story is translated and some details might be missing because I miss parts of stories in Portuguese still. But I understood perfectly well at Encontro when Vanginho told us all “no matter where you are, out there alone in the jungle way interior, or wherever, you are never out of God’s sight. Never out of his sight.”
Safety is from God.
I don’t tell these stories for the sake of drama but because people have often asked us about the safety issues. And I want to give glory to the God who has all of us in His sight and Who is the Blessed Controller of all things.
Conference was a stretching time for our Portuguese, as we were listening to all of the sessions, talking to people in the dining hall, and also had to write and read our testimonies all in Portuguese. We feel like its been good for us.
It was also super good to mix with coworkers who are working all over this part of Brazil. There are alot of really neat people on the team here. Our field leadership has vision for the tribes to have God’s Word AND they care about their people on the ground here working. It’s very cool. But it really hit home to us again how MUCH work there is to be done here and how few there are trying to do it. 7 or 8 teams are struggling along with only one family and praying for coworkers. Others feel like they are spinning their wheels just trying to live in isolated situations with health problems and have been trying for years to get the language. And of course there are many more tribes that don’t even have missionaries or anyone bringing them God’s Word. So this is a shameless plug for more workers: if any of you are asking God what to do with your life, maybe you could ask Him about coming down here and joining the team!
And here come the pictures:
There were sessions morning, mid-afternoon, and night. But there were free hours in the afternoon to rest or play. The kids were thrilled to have lots of green space!
Isaiah got lots of attention from the other missionary kids.
Jevon and Isaiah checking to see what’s available in the snack shop.
Some kind of puffed corn snack.
People watching volleyball.
People playing volleyball.
Kiki learned to climb and go down the old fashioned kind of slide all by herself.
We took a short family hike in the jungle.
From up on the bluff we could see the lighthouse in the Amazon river.
And a band of little monkeys shaking the trees a ways down the hill from us. (too far away in too thick foliage to get a recognizable picture)
Chugging water – part of the hike.
Jevon making a whistle from a reed.
Cali trying to blow it. Apparently its harder than her Daddy made it look.
It’s hard to get pictures of the meetings because, for one thing, it’s kind of dark indoors, and for another thing, we are trying to pay attention and understand the Portuguese with Isaiah thumping around beside us. But there was plenty of good singing, testimonies, teaching, and preaching, some of which we understood, and some of which was over our heads.
Boys in the puddle together.
Lined up in the dining hall.
Good place to talk.
Carl and Andreza…very cool co-workers.
The ladies had a tea one afternoon, and lots of women shared stories of how God had answered prayers from last year or how God had intervened in trials. But the story that stuck with me most of all was from a new missionary who recently went into the tribe with her husband. A lady came to her who spoke a little bit of Portuguese (just enough to go into town and buy things). This Indian woman had visited the Assemblies of God church a couple of times and didn’t really understand anything, and wanted to know about God. The new missionary woman thought for awhile, stretching her brain to find the simplest words possible, and gave the Indian woman the story of God, man’s sin, and God’s salvation in Jesus Christ, in the simplest Portuguese she could think of. Finishing, she asked “do you understand?”
“I didn’t understand almost anything you said, missionary.” the lady responded.
It’s just a wall – the language barrier. You hit it and you can’t get through. For this reason we learn languages, however long it takes.
“we will learn your language,” the Brazilian missionary woman promised, “and when we tell you God’s message in your language you will understand.”
God, please help them learn the language so people can understand and know You! And help us learn Portuguese so we can join a team and START learning a tribal langauge!
Cool tree pictures.
The açaí grows in bunches at the top of the palm trees.
Jevon climbed up the tall, slim trunks with his pocket knife to cut the palm fruit down.
The other guys caught it all at the bottom.
Climbing down. You can see the rope he tied around his feet to help him climb.
Throwing out the stalk and picking up the berries that fell.
Pouring hot water over the fruit and letting it sit for half an hour. The water needs to be hot but NOT boiling.
Pounding the fruit so the softened outer husk gets beaten off into the water. That’s the part you drink. It is very flavorful
Pounding some more.
Straining the juice pulp through a sieve and throwing out the seeds. This is Gilvan. Making açaí is old hat for him and for Jevon. To me it was a new cultural event.
The generator goes off and lights out at 10:30 here at PQQ. So we finished by flashlights and headlamps.
Camera flash to show the spectators and flashlight holders that gathered.
Straining the seeds through one more time with a teeny bit more water to make sure we got all the good flavorful pulp, and then we put it in the fridge to chill. Tomorrow, we will mix it with sugar and drink it…that it is IF we wake up and get to the kitchen before it mysteriously disappears.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” no matter that we weren’t home yet and were still in somebody else’s house with no privacy, Cali had just realized that Lais and Leticia were not coming back to Manaus with us, and she was going to yell. And cry. And scream. And wail. For awhile.
“I left all my friends in Wisconsin! all of them! And we’re never going back” (“never” and “always” are words she uses when she’s despairing and doesn’t even want to see the light of day) “Never! and now Lais and Leticia are leaving to! And I don’t have anyone! I don’t have any friends!” She wailed some more.
I was pretty much at a loss for words…Cali often leaves me at a loss for wisdom and calling to God like Moses (except he had a few million and we only have 3) “what I am supposed to do with the people you gave me, Lord? This was your idea to bring them out here, right?”
The next day we got on the plane back to Manaus. We got home late, and there was no food in our house except a little chocolate and some oatmeal, so Jevon went out to find food while I putted around putting things away. Isaiah slept, and Karina played happily in her familiar room, reunited with her toys. Where was Cali? I saw a silent shadow out on the dark veranda and stopped to look at her. She sat down on the rocking chair with her head bowed, silent. “Cali? Are you sad?”
“yes. I’m sad right now Mom. And I’m scared. I’m just really scared. I’m scared that it will be too long before I ever see Lais and Leticia again. And I’m scared that Marilyn won’t be there anymore when I get back. And I’m scared that the Halverson kids will all get stung by bees in the play house.” ?????what????? where does she come up with these fears?
Well it is dead of winter in Wisconsin, so I assured her she didn’t need to be worrying about all five Halverson kids being stung by bees. But I figured that wasn’t really the point. So I sat down in the rocking chair and she sat in my lap, and I tried to convince her to talk to God about the way she feels.
“I can’t, Mom. You just pray for me. I can’t.”
She never prays when she’s sad or mad or scared. “why?”
“I can’t. I’m too scared and sad.”
So I talked about David for awhile, who always told God exactly how he felt and even wrote songs about his anger or sadness, but he always finished up his song by singing “but I trust you, God, and I’m waiting to see what you will do.” (paraphrased, of course). And finally I just prayed for her.
Jevon came back with some pasteis for supper and we sat down to eat. He asked Cali to pray, and I thought she would say no. But suddenly, much to my surprise, she was squeaking out the words with a tremor in her voice “God please keep Lais and Leticia safe, and please help Marilyn to still be here when I get back, and please help the Halversons not to get stung by bees, and please help me not to be alone,”
I looked up at Jevon; he looked puzzled and slightly disturbed (especially about the irrational bee part), but I was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO happy! what a huge victory! she actually talked to God when she was sad and scared!
That night as I tucked her in I prayed that God would give her friends here in Manaus and that she wouldn’t be lonely.
The truth is, Jevon and I had our own questions…having left behind the ones who took us most thoroughly under their wings when we got here…now what? Manaus looked alot different without them. We still had friends…Rachel, the Ottos, my language helper Marcia, and all the people at the mission…but what Brazilians lived close by now? Who would have time in their full lives to be our friends and teach us outside of class? Without friends to converse with, practice language with, and do life with, we can’t do much real life learning and growing in language and culture.
Well the next day, we were all little tired from traveling, staying up late for Christmas and New Year’s, and traveling some more. So we were just feeding the kids an early-ish supper with an early-ish bedtime in mind (as in the normal bedtime they used to have, once upon a time).
Then the phone rang.
Sometimes God sends answers…really fast.
Next I knew we were over at Franci’s and Marcio’s house, having a second supper. And playing cards with the adults while the kids watched movies in Portugese. Turns out playing President/Scum is a great way to practice verb forms – actor persons and tense: (I pass. Did you pass? I passed. Did he pass? He passed. Are you going to pass? I am going to pass.) Cali started out really sullen when we got there, (she’s as scared of new people as she is attached to old people) but next thing we knew she was being scolded for exuberantly pillow fighting with Franci’s little boy. “olhe” Franci whispered to me, “Dânica, God is answering your prayers!” Cali was even laughing.
My time clock must have been messed up from all the late nights and travel, because next thing I knew Marcio was letting us know that whenever we were ready, he would be happy to give us a ride home, but that there was no hurry. It was almost midnight.
The very next night was Tuesday night meeting, when all the missionaries in Manaus get together and worship and share. Usually Jevon and I take turns staying home and putting Isaiah to bed while the other one goes, but why bother? we had been on a late night schedule so long, what was one more night? So we all went. And all the Manaus missionaries greeted us like long-lost friends and started up conversations. Meanwhile, Cali and Karina were running around with other kids…
Best of all: that night after Cali got a bath to wash all the happy Tuesday night sweat off of her head, I was kissing her goodnight. “Cali, I’m so glad God answered our prayers that you would have people to be with.”
I half…no, three-fourths, expected her to contradict me and reassure me that she was still very lonely and sad…but instead she sighed and rolled over on her pillow.
“yeah” she said contentedly, “Now I know that I won’t be alone. At first I didn’t know that; I thought I would just be all alone. But there’s Jonatas, Nicolas, Elena-Julia…and just lots of people. There’s just lots of people.”
Thank you, God. Now she knows. And I know, too. You will provide.
Christmas decorations in downtown Rio Branco.
Playing with a new friend at our host’s house in Rio Branco, while waiting for the taxi to take us the rest of the way to our destination.
Our longest taxi ride to date – 3 1/2 hours.
Paved road part of the way, clay road part of the way.
In wet season.
Alfredo and Fabia and the girls gave us a very warm welcome into their new home.
Let the fun begin:
Everybody waiting eagerly for coloring pages to come out of the printer.
Jevon and Alfredo learned to drive a motorcyle. They only dropped it once or twice. After a little practice, they took it on the clay road to visit the people group that Alfredo and Fabia will be working with. It was an insightful visit for Jevon, as the people were VERY different than the people he grew up with and the people Alfredo worked with before.
Well…sometimes it was easier to start than others.
Alfredo and Fabia’s front fence and coconut trees. The yard is too wet to really walk in, though.
this couple was chillin’ on somebody’s roof across the street.
look at the parrots, Mom!
Lais’s birthday…two days before Christmas.
The crowns are because Fabia told the kids the story of Esther…God’s princess who was beautiful not only on the outside, but especially on the INSIDE. She had me translate for our girls to understand…and thus it became my first official translating job for a speaker. Good thing it was a story I already knew well.
The moment we’ve been waiting for: CHRISTmas Eve!
The girls in their pretty Christmas dresses, waiting for the Christmas service to start.
I was very excited to understand alot of what the pastor said about who Jesus is and what He does.
A new thing for us: eating the Christmas meal lat at night OUTDOORS in a nice warm breeze on Christmas Eve.
Alot of Brazilians traditionally eat the Christmas meal at midnight.
Isaiah slept…graças a Deus!
Kiki wasn’t so far behind him.
Trying to mix it up with people, but it was hard to hear in the crowd, and hard to think in Portuguese that late at night.
The kids woke up to a few treats from Daddy and Mommy in their little socks, and to a present from Tio and Tia at the foot of their bed.
Our kids also got a present from Grandma Studtmann before breakfast.
Christmas dinner – Santos and Rich family style…in the daytime.
We finished our Christmas day with a family meeting…with a couple songs in Portuguese and a couple in English. Alfredo spoke to his family and Jevon spoke to his…about how Jesus left his “chiqui” (fancy) home in heaven and chose to be born in a very simple context that was far from chiqui, even though He is the King.
Everyday Life Together:
okay so this picture is really dark but it has a good story. That is Cali below, standing on three flipflops and hopping up and down. She is trying to kill her first cockroach sized bug…which turned out not to be a cockroach, but was just as hard to kill (or harder) than a cockroach. She is standing on three flipflops because the first one…and two…did not work. lol.
reinforcements…her faithful friend Lais came on the scene with a broom.
And half an hour later we find them…still killing the bug. Eventually it did get demolished and swept off the porch.
where is the basin?
who took this picture when i wasn’t looking? 12 days after getting off the plane my ears still hadn’t equalized pressure. the worst thing about it was it made hearing harder, and while being immersed in a second language on the fourth month of study, hearing is REALLY important. it’s not like i couldn’t hear sound, but everyone sounded far away, and similar sounds were difficult to differentiate. sometimes I don’t understand the things God does…even in the small stuff like that, (“I thought I was supposed to be learning lots of Portuguese, here, God!” but we trust Him always. i thought the reason for the ear problem was probably because of sinus congestion and a complicated cold…thus the towel and pan of hot water.
eventually after a few more days and a culture-shocked trip to the small town doctor and yet another couple of days…God answered prayer and popped my ears open. oh sweet sounds of Portuguese!…clear as bells.
bedtime rough-play for the little boy, with Daddy and Tio
floating canoes in the yard (it is wet season!)
books. Cali reading to Lais in English. and Lais patiently listening.
talking on the back porch
stringing beads. (those are dyed açai seeds.)
clean up crew
did we mention that our friends live in Venice?
just kidding. it’s only wet season in Amazonas.
Jevon shaved for New Year’s Eve…what do you think?
New Year’s Eve
everybody all dressed up…quick! get pictures while we are waiting for the church meeting to start!
The Alfredo and Fabia family – one of the answers to prayer God gave us in the year 2012.
Feliz Ano Novo, Amor da Minha Vida!
dancing in pretty dresses with friends in the back of the church, happily waiting for the meeting to start.
and 4 out of 5 didn’t last much longer after the church meeting started. Only Cali stayed up with the adults until midnight. There was a big meal in a different building after the service..but we didn’t want to split up our families, so Jevon and I with Alfredo and Fabia ate together by flashlight in the dark room where our kids slept. we took turns going out to fill plates and wish other people Feliz Ano Novo. Life is a little different after kids than before, but none of us were sad. We have each other.
One thing I wished I had a picture of was the streets outside, packed with people…cars and motorcycles weaving slowly through the crowd of people standing around in the street in their pretty summer dresses and shorts, under the starry sky with music blaring and fireworks going off here and there and people calling to friends on other people’s porches. Where I’ve lived, the cold streets were always pretty empty and people’s parties were mostly indoors.
New Year’s Breakfast
Our two young families enjoyed a much more lively New Year’s morning than Eve…:) with a special breakfast of our American egg casserole and their traditional Brazilian holiday bread – big fluffy yellow round loaf interlaced with smooth chocolate cream.
I meant to go to a lady’s meeting at church and listen to Fabia give a very good devotional in Portuguese, which I was able to get the jist of, more or less.
I did not mean to end up in front…but after agreeing beforehand that I wouldn’t speak because I can’t speak Portuguese yet, the Pastor’s wife called me to the front in the middle of the meeting, anyways. So I was really on the spot and did a terrible job because I didn’t even have a chance to write anything down and have it checked by someone who speaks Portuguese, but my best guess culturally was that it was probably better to fumble around trying to speak than to refuse the Pastor’s wife’s insistent invitation to come up front. I asked the pastor’s daughter, Jamili, to stand beside me and I asked her for phrases I couldn’t figure out how to say. Fabia was laughing for joy at my distress and taking lots of pictures. lol. what a good friend.
the ladies of the church…muitas gentes boa!
oh and um…Isaiah got a new style.
Walk around Town – Fruits and Flora
Guava tree and ripening fruit.
Cashew fruit…there was a prettier one but Jevon ate it before I got the picture. no amount of protest could make him regret it…lol. “it tasted good.” he said. I personally have yet to be convinced that they are even edible…they pucker the skin of your mouth so sharply.
Jevon getting an “acetona” for each of the girls…he will almost for sure get chiggers for this but for love of his daughters and commitment to their Brazilian experience …
i’m not sure what these actually would be called in English because they are not olives, even though everybody calls them olive in Portuguese: “acetona”.
this street is lined with açai trees. and it is wet season, as you can see.
close up of açai berries on the palm.
banana plant…can you see the baby bananas growing?
somebody’s sugar cane garden.
did I say yet that it was wet season?
Our ministry assignment right now is learning Brazilian culture and Portuguese for the purpose of serving well on an international tribal missions team. This is what we spend our time and energy on. So what’s the best way to learn? Immersion! That’s exactly what we’ve been up to. I spent 12 days helping a fellow MNTB missionary reallocate to another tribe. What a perfect opportunity for immersion while rubbing shoulders with a Brazilian missions team and feeling a part of the fellowship in serving Christ in the tribes. For all who have prayed and partnered with us financially, I hope you feel a part as I share some photos and captions.
Getting off the plane with our brother Alfredo in “Old Port” Porto Velho.
A peaceful flight on a beautiful ship.
A note on Brazilian culture: Even if you are just visiting a church before getting on a connecting flight, and even if you do not have appropriate clothes for preaching (very important for Brazilians!), you are most likely going to be asked to preach. It’s OK if you borrow the Pastor’s clothes! Note to self: when people begin to think you know Portuguese well enough, have a sermon or two ready to deliver at the drop of a hat!
Getting off the plane in Rio Branco at midnight. A brother picked us up and took us to his parent’s house to stay a couple nights while we prepared for the jungle.
7:50am Nov. 28 Speeding up the Purús with a 13 hp Honda rabeta. (Outboard motor with a long piloting drive shaft)
We had the privilege of securing safe passage for a lady and her three week old baby to her home two hours upriver. Her husband’s boat was too dangerously loaded for her to be on board.
Unfortunately two hours turned into three with motor trouble.
We passed several boats and launches close to town. Two diesel rabetas on the back of this launch
We took turns at the stern every tank filling, approx: 2 hours…
and wildlife all day. These woven baskets hanging from this tree are oriole nests.
Famous Blue Morpho of the Amazon that landed on me. Wind was too strong to display it’s blue for the camera.
More Motor trouble. We stopped 3 or 4 times trying to unclog the carb and trying to stop a leak without a new gasket.
After a hot day in the sun we were refreshed by a tropical torrent that soaked us to the bone.
We were expecting to arrive around 7:00 pm which would have been just after dusk.
But God knew we were going to need a full moon and powerful flashlight to steer around looming logs and…
floating debris fouling the Purús from the Madeira river. This is a poorly restored photo of the Madeira.
Note: all my photos and video were deleted from my camera by accident. Some photos were reconstructed, but none of the video was recovered.)
We arrived close to 10:00 pm and enjoyed a quiet night’s rest in the jungle. We were served yummy food off the land in the days that followed.
A meal with Alfredo’s co-workers, wonderful family.
fish for lunch and chicken soup for supper… don’t worry; we didn’t eat this hen… just an old layer.
Two Answers to Prayer– the Highlight of my Trip seeing God’s Power and Provision
1.The rise of the lake to allow portage between river and lake.
2. Not just one, but two vessels large enough to carry all of Alfredo’s belongings.
All in perfect timing after we had dismantled and packed up everything.
Carrying down to the launch in the heat… storm clouds rolling in on the right
All but one item stowed away and a refreshing rain fell.
Who said missionary work couldn’t be fun? All of us “basked” in the cooling rain.
The launch making it’s way to the winding creek that usually only allows small canoes through during the dry season.
Slowly navigating to the river
This guy loved hanging with the guys. While I was eliciting tribal phrases, he asked me to write down some English ones.
It was hard saying goodbye to friends. Alfredo did a good job explaining that he could no longer stay because of his back disease, but that the others that were staying had a VERY IMPORTANT message for them and that they should help them learn their language.
The trip back to town down the river was a breeze, praise the Lord!
just an interesting boat closer to town
We visited the museum of Tribal art and folk lore in Rio Branco, just a taste of culture to help me understand these people better.
The most terrifying Mapinguari: strong enough to shake you from the safety of a tree. They say, “Don’t cut rubber on Sunday and you won’t encounter him.” The only way to kill him is with an arrow through his belly button or through his eye; otherwise you’re a dead hunter.
They say, “You better know your way through the jungle, lest you be led astray into the vast jungle by her..”
These are jars of clay… some tribes use a specific ash to keep the pots together during the firing process.
Some tribes make large pots, thus the gesture I’m making.
Um… I believe that large snakes are more than just folk lore here.
Teresa, the “yummy food” hostess in town!
We enjoyed a missions presentation from a single missionary lady heading to Mozambique. Alfredo was invited to speak next Sunday.
Waiting single file to fly back to Manaus, this time without my friend Alfredo to accompany me.
God blessed me with a beautiful sunrise shining through the turbo prop.
Preparing for Daddy to come home.
Home at Last!
Excited faces to see Papa.
and a beautiful wife
All the waiting is over! Life is back to normal!
Thanks Rachel for all your hard work and love. We wouldn’t have made the decision to make this trip without you!
Thanksgiving is not a Brazilian holiday, but we celebrated it anyways, with one American friend and four Brazilian friends. We had Brazilian lombo recheado com calabresa instead of turkey. Alfredo prepared it for us and it was delicious. But it’s not which kind of food that makes it a Thanksgiving meal, right? It’s eating together and being thankful that makes it a Thanksgiving meal.
We started the meal with an empty table and only five kernels of corn on each plate while Jevon told a story in both English and Portuguese. And then we ate together.
Thank you, Rachel, Alfredo, Fabia, Leticia, and Lais for sharing Thanksgiving with us!
Thank You, God,
for our family
for the food on our table
and a home to eat it in
for the friends who are with us
and for the friends who are not,
but thank You, most of all, for your Son.
Because most of all we needed a Savior.
a gift from my friend Fabia.
“which is the best place to live?
In the arms of God!
Here you find peace and security.
All that you need is here!”
And I even could read it! Which was very exciting to me.
Kiki’s birthday in Manaus: a mixture of old and new fun.
Brazilians really know how to decorate for a birthday party.
Four years old.
Playing with homemade playdough. I didn’t know to adjust the recipe for the extra heat and humidity here, so it ended up a little sticky. But the kids had fun anyways and they all got to choose a color to take home.
Uncle Phil and Aunt Julie, your playdough toys gift from a couple Christmases ago is still well loved and played with.
Jevon and Isaiah making us smile as always.
Jevon made popcorn and kettle corn for everybody.
Hm, yes. Popcorn balls and playdough at the same time.
Like I said, the playdough turned out a little sticky.
After everyone’s hands were washed..it was time for cupcakes! And the birthday song – in English first and then in Portuguese.
Viviane lifted her up so she could reach to blow out candles.
Every birthday Jevon prays a blessing for his children. This year he prayed that Karina would discover that God is the same, even though her house has changed, food has changed, and the friends around her have changed – God is the same. May this be a joy and comfort to her, and may He become her greatest treasure.
She’s peeking over at the cupcakes.
Time to open presents:
Cali couldn’t wait to give Karina the card she made – with hearts to say “love” and a four candles to say how hold she was.
The other girls also brought notes for Kiki, which they had worked hard to spell in English.
All the kids scattered to play with the presents.
The adults watching them play:
The last thing we did was bring out the big birthday balloon with candies inside. Tio Alfredo popped it and…
Here is the scramble that followed:
A really special moment for me was when Karina grabbed two candies and stood still, beaming with contentment. Her cup was full…she didn’t think to scramble for more candy until the adults encouraged her to get in there and get two more. I’m sure over the years the competition will teach her to scramble for more…but oh may God preserve the contented heart.
Oops. Isaiah got the right idea that this was candy all over the floor, but he didn’t know you have to unwrap it.
Things that went without pictures but meant alot:
an e-mail and skype call from Grandma Studtmann, an e-card from Karina’s Marilyn, a skype from the Halverson kids who sang Jesus loves me with Karina because she’s been missing singing the songs at Salem with the other kids. And a happy birthday wish from Mr. John Ailee, to which Karina responded, “oh, well that’s special.”
I think somehow this first birthday in Brazil filled Karina up and reassured her that life will continue being beautiful in new ways in our new home, and that we will stay in touch with the people we love back in the States.
Thank You Jesus…you are the Lord who took time to touch the children, put your hands on them, and bless them. Thank you for filling Karina’s heart with happiness and reassuring her with love.