Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Against all Odds

When Pat said he needed to get a visa for Paraguay, a plethora of negative emotions washed over me, reminding me of his aborted attempt in 2005. This time the secretary was nice on the phone, he'd said to me, canceling someone else's appointment to get him in at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday. So we got up at 4:30 a.m. yesterday morning and drove to the Porto Alegre airport and it was 5:30 a.m. when I fell back into bed, only to be awakened two hours later by the phone. It was Pat. He was still at the airport and his news was sobering: The airport in Curitiba (his destination) was closed. His flight was being redirected to São Paulo, then back to Curitiba, only arriving in the afternoon. He would miss his appointment. Would I call the Paraguayan consulate and see if he could get another appointment that afternoon?
You'll have to talk to Melissa, the secretary told me when I called, because she's the one who set it up. Our office closes at 4:00, 4:30 for visas and passports. She won't be in until 10:30 this morning.
I called back at 10:45 and asked to speak to Melissa. She had already been briefed and her response was curt and polite. I can't see him this afternoon. I made an exception for him to come in at 11:30. I canceled another person to put him in. We close at 3:30 (!) He could come in tomorrow. I tried to explain that we had made our best effort to get there, getting up at 4:30 a.m., but things were out of our control, that tomorrow wouldn't work because he already had a ticket for São Paulo. She gave me another rehearsal of how nice she'd been to get him the 11:30 appointment. I'll have him call you, then, was my weak response, and hung up. I had not expected this, thinking they would be more accomodating, more understanding of the situation. I felt "serf-ish" and didn't like the feeling. My prayers throughout the day were pleading, whiney! I didn't fit in with the heroes of faith.
It was close to 10:00 p.m. when the phone rang again and Pat's voice beamed over the line. "I got my visa! It was a miracle! That's the only explanation for it," he said. His plane had finally landed in Curitiba at 2:30-ish, and the only baggage Pat had checked in was a box of books he was bringing as a favor for someone else. But where were they? He waited and waited, checking his watch as the minutes ticked away. Finally, in desperation, he said, "Just forget the books. I'll come back for them later," and that's when they showed up. But Pat was discouraged by this time and felt like giving up on the visa. It just didn't seem like it would work. He started thinking about the cost of returning--another $100 by bus, $260 by plane...and then another thought won out-- just try it anyway. After inquiring about a taxi and told it would cost him almost $30, he decided to take a bus for $5, even though he lost another 15 minutes. He walked into the consulate at 3:40 p.m. The secretary was there, pleasant and agreeable. The main secretary had left word to call her back when Pat arrived. There were forms to fill out and a pile of papers to be notorized at another location. Back to the consulate he flew, and the secretaries were still pleasant, not once threatening to close the office, not acting disgusted or irritated by the hour. And it was 5:50 p.m. when he walked out the door--with his visa in hand--totally amazed at what God had done!!
As Pat's words tumbled out over the phone, like the Psalmist David, my "mouth was filled with laughter, and [my] tongue with shouts of joy; then [I] said among the nations (to the Brazilians who were at my place for our cell group meeting when he called), 'The Lord has done great things for [Pat].' The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad." Psalm 126:2,3

Ático Restaurant! Check this out!




It looked impossible, but there it was--a huge eucaliptus tree hanging from the ceiling of the restaurant, its roots exposed. The tree is about 45 years old and weighs 20,5 tons, and if you want, you can walk right under it. The sinks in the bathrooms are made from a huge log as are chair and benches outside the restaurant. The wood obtained for the buildings was from trees in reforested areas and from fallen trees whose wood could be utilized.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Lacemakers

One day on our vacation we drove to Lake Conceição. There are several little shops where the "lacemakers" work. They make tablecloths, table runners, blouses & slacks, and other things. The lady in this video told me her mother taught her how to make lace when she was 10 years old...and, she added, that was 50 years ago. She is making a bookmark in the video.
video

Silent Movies

This movie was filmed by an "old" camera bought in 2003. I hope this works!
video

In Camaquã







Grandkids are great. Here´s some of the things we did while in Camaquã to celebrate my birthday.

Monday, October 22, 2007

On The Other Side

I figured it was about 7 p.m. last night that I actually turned into a senior citizen. The night before I was happy to remember that I had been born in the afternoon which gave me a few more hours. But the best part was remembering that there is a time difference between Brazil and the USA, giving me another three-hour reprieve! About 7 p.m. I was eating Mexican food--my first time in Brazil (and it wasn't all that authentic) when it happened--without pain, without great emotions. God's grace is always there when we need it.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Surprise! Surprise!

Yes, my family pulled off a surprise party for me this afternoon! Pat called me to come sit on our front steps, and soon church people began appearing from many directions all at once carrying presents, flowers and cake and singing "Happy Birthday." The best surprise was that my two daughters and two grandchildren were among them, even though for them to get to our house, they had to ride a bus, a train, and a car.

I'm trusting that these expressions of love will help me over the threshold into the 60sssssss, although, as I write, I am still 59! I am still 59! I am still 59! I am still 59! I am still 59! I have 30 minutes left to be 59!

59 and slipping...

slipping, slipping...the big moment is only HOURS away when I will metamorph from a middle-ager to a senior citizen. Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelp. (I think I exaggerated on the eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees). To ease the pain, my neighbor called me yesterday inviting us to their house for lunch today and my husband is taking me out for coffee and CHOCOLATE this afternoon and I will have this next week at the beach to wither in the sun until I am prune-like and can fit into my new role more comfortably. Oh, yes, and maybe I'll have time to look for a dashing cane when I'm not prostrate on the beach.

Was this a depressing blog?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Me and the Israelites

Was it a coincidence that this morning I read the account of the Israelites trapped between the Red Sea and the approaching Egyptian army and this afternoon received an e-mail informing us that our health plan would be canceled as of November 30?
The biblical account states: "As Pharaoh and his army approached, the people of Israel could see them in the distance, marching toward them. The people began to panic and they cried out to the Lord for help." (Ex.14:10) How easily I criticized the Israelites this morning for their lack of faith. How blithely I condemned them. Didn't God say He would deliver them? So why didn't they just believe it? But this afternoon was different. I was tying my shoes, getting ready to go into town to do my walking when the "health plan" news came thundering into my ears like the pursuing Egyptian army and the $$ needed to get a new plan mounted like the waves in the Red Sea. I began to panic, too, and to cry out to the Lord for help. Later, walking the city streets, an old chorus came to mind and I began to sing outloud, "I believe God, I believe God, Ask what you will and it shall be done, Trust and obey, believe it and say,
I believe, I believe God, " and as I heard myself singing, I began to believe that God would indeed take care of us. After all, He always has.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I Lived to Tell About It


Hanging out with young people makes one feel younger. (I think I know what I have to do, now, to deceive myself into believing I am young or, young-er). The campout was a great success--it was a rainy evening so everything happened indoors, but no one seemed to mind. After singing, hearing a timely and inovative word from I John 2:15-17 by Pat, they devoured hot dogs and then started on the games. By this time it was midnight....and the games and fun continued until about 4 a.m. I wasn't around for that part, although when I fell into bed around 1:30 a.m. my eyeballs wouldn't shut and I was serenaded by the sounds of laughter, occasional singing, and loud talking from below our bedroom. There weren't enough mattresses to go around, but the kids didn't mind sleeping on top of blankets and when I woke up, silence reigned. After a rowdy breakfast and more singing, I invited them to gather around my computer to sing "Happy Birthday" to my Mom via skype. (Today is her 93rd birthday). It was so cool...we singing from so far away and Mom hearing us in North Dakota. She was laughing and enjoying how they said her name,Deely.

Would I do this again, you ask. You betcha.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Will I Survive This Night?

Tonight the youth group will descend on our house for an overnight, indoor campout. I've never done this before so I don't know what awaits me. At last count there may be 15 young people here to spend the night. Should be interesting, to say the least. If I don't write tomorrow, check the obituaries.

D-Day - 10

I'm on a countdown to my last days in this decade...it's a bit scary and, at times unbelieveable, that this is really happening to me. Where did my life go? I'm trying to come up with something significant to do these last 10 days! What shall it be?

Monday, October 08, 2007

GET SOME REST!

That's an order from Jesus..."Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and GET SOME REST." (Mark 6:31b) It doesn't seem like a difficult order to obey, but have you ever tried jumping off a roller coaster?
Today I feel the need to get some rest after an intense week of preparing for Missions Month in church that officially began last night. Some indicators that I needed to rest: (1) I didn't wake up when my hubby had a coughing fit in the middle of the night, (2) When he couldn't go back to sleep and turned on the TV, I didn't blink an eye, (3) While reading the Bible, I kept waking up with my chin resting on my chest , (4) I decided to lie down to read a great chapter on faith and reason by C.S. Lewis and woke up at 11:30 when my hubby came upstairs looking for lunch. (We eat--supposedly--at 11:30 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays because I leave for my water aerobics class at noon.) My afternoon was a bit more productive, but I am looking forward to a relaxing evening--in a prone position, of course.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Prayer of a Righteous Man











Today I participated in the Jesus March held in Porto Alegre. Hundreds of Christians marched down the streets singing praise to God, and together we interceded for our civic leaders as we stood in front of the Governor's Palace, the city hall and the state supreme court. James 5.17 says that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Imagine, then, the power of hundreds of people praying together for God's intervention in our city. Like Solomon prayed at the dedication of the temple, we pray "Hear from heaven...and forgive the sin of your people..."
These happy young people are part of our youth group who participated today.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Ownership











I can't get enough of spring's flowers. I often feel like my neighbor who told me, "These flowers are so beautiful I could eat them!" These deliciously fragrant purple & white flowers grow on the same bush...how's that for ingenuity on God's part? I call these red flowers bottle brushes, but instead of being stiff and bristly they are surprisingly soft and give your nose a gentle tickle.And then, these purple flowers are from a very tall tree not far from home. Each branch holds out a bouquet and the total effect is absolutely stunning. The orchids dispense commentaries.
It's natural to want to own the beautiful things we see, but I've found that I can enjoy the beautiful things all around me without owning them. In fact, years ago on a trip with our band we were put up in a beautiful lake home complete with a row boat. I immediately began "wishing" I owned a place like that. Then God very lovingly whispered in my ear, "I'm letting you enjoy these beautiful things without the worry and work that comes with owning them." It was a liberating thought that day, and it still is.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Luxury of Rose Petals







How much do a dozen red roses cost? I just did a quick count on my climbing rose bush that graces our front gate, and I found nearly 100!! This spring they've gone wild with beauty...and it's all free. The rose petals strewn on the ground are a sign of abundance, of God's generosity, of His loving provision of even non-essentials. Did not our Father say, "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow (He might have said roses...). They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these..." Mt. 6:28-29)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I Do, I Do!!


Our friends just got married. They're both 51 years of age and his is the biggest wedding band I've ever seen!! They started dating when they were in their teens--she was his first girlfriend; he was her first boyfriend...but the marriage never happened. A lot of life has been lived, mistakes made, lessons learned,and now they tied the knot for good! Congratulations! We went out to eat after the civil ceremony and I fell in love with these birds. They are made out of a vegetable called chuchu. Isn't their nest just the cutest??

Monday, October 01, 2007

Spring brings chicks and...


BABIES! I'm going to be a Grandma again for the 6th time. And the parents are.....


PATRICIA AND NEVAL!!!! Congratulations!


"Sons are a heritage of the Lord, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." Psalm 127: 3-5a