Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A PLEASANT SURPRISE


Here is proof that I haven't opened the windows in the guest room in a while. I rushed into the room to close the curtains one day and heard the sound of wings. When I looked out the window I saw a robin trying to extricate herself (himself) from between the partially closed wooden shutters. Once he or she was gone, I couldn't believe my eyes. This is what I saw wedged between the corner of the window and the shutter...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

SHEEP NEED A SHEPHERD


This is Pat and my first attempt at pastoring a church in Brazil. It's a lot more than standing behind the pulpit on Sunday morning with a polished sermon and a harty handshake at the door. Here's a typical example of the day-to-day work of a pastor. Tonight was a couples' get-together. It had been decided beforehand that our three Bible study groups would divide the book of Song of Solomon into three parts and each group would decide how they wanted to develop the text into something practical for the group. Here's what transpired:

Mid-afternoon the telephone rang and I heard snatches of a conversation that went something like this:

Voice on telephone: I heard the meeting was canceled tonight.

Pat: Why would that be? Who told you it was canceled?

Voice: M. said she wasn't going. She and her husband had a fight about their group's presentation. She said she's not going. (M. happens to be the leader's wife of one of the study groups.)


Pat then had to call M. and later M.'s husband to try unravel what was going on. She affirmed she wasn't going.

M's husband was working and couldn't stop for a long conversation.


Later, the lady who was to have prepared something to say representing our group talked to Pat on the phone.


Lady: I heard the meeting was canceled.

Pat: Who told you that?

Lady: M.S. told me.

Pat: Well, that was an idea off of someone's head.

Lady: Well, I didn't prepare anything because I thought the meeting was canceled. I thought it strange that no one called to tell me, but I figured someone had tried, but couldn't reach us because our phone line was occupied by the internet.


But, in the end, it turned out to be a good meeting. Our group didn't have the greatest presentation. The Lady from our group backed out at the last minute and didn't go. M. and her husband didn't show either, but God used his word and it was wonderful to see how each group presented something relating to the same theme--without collaborating. And that theme was praising and complementing one's spouse...verbalizing one's feelings and sentiments. And in the midst of all the bungling, mistakes and misunderstandings---the "sheep-ness"--if you please, the Holy Spirit shone through and the sheep left edified. Praise God for the Holy Spirit! Baaaaaa!

MARVELOUS MONDAY

Monday was our day to be together--no work allowed. We had brunch about ten then left the house for the day. It was "my pick"--whatever I wanted to do! We drove into Porto Alegre and began our day walking in a huge park in the downtown area. The park is full of huge, old trees, paths and fountains. There was even a mini-zoo with monkeys, vultures (!) and a few odd birds. From there we went to see the Christmas decorations in the big shopping center, Praia de Belas. (The decorations were a disappointment!) While there we popped into Pizza Hut and shared a small personal pan pizza and topped it off with an ice cream cone at McDonald's. We had a lot of catching up to do and one of my favorite things after Pat gets back from a trip is to listen to all his stories...he always seems to meet up with interesting people and go fun places. This time the highlight of his trip was the river boat up the Paraguay River.
We picked up a movie on our way home--Don Juan--a film I'd never seen and a story I'd never read. Well, there were two versions of the movie and we picked....the bad version, recorded in French, dubbed into Portuguese. It was maybe one of the worst films I've ever watched. haha! But that didn't dim the marvelous Monday we spent together!!!!!

Friday, November 23, 2007

DAY 8: AN UNCERTAIN RENDEZVOUS

Sunday afternoon I was absorbed with preparations for entertaining the guest speaker and his family later that day. I set the table, fussed and fumed, paced like a cat, then took a shower. I figured they would arrive between four and five o'clock, but by 4:30 I was agitated and needed to know for certain. I reached them by cell phone and my heart sank when he said, "We've just finished Sunday dinner, and we'll be on our way soon." I looked at my table laden with delicious-looking breads, brownies, cold cuts and cheese and thought my labor had all been in vain. They wouldn't be hungry at all. My only consolation was that I'd invited my neighbors over as well, and surely they would have an appetite.

The speaker and family arrived and graciously pecked at the food. (My neighbors enjoyed it). We went to church and heard a great message that blessed us all. Then several of us went to a member's house to surprise him for his birthday. All this time my cell phone was on waiting for a call from Mr. D. About 10:30 p.m. , while still at the party, my phone rang. It was Pat and he was already at the airport in Porto Alegre. My friends looked questioningly at me and asked, "Are you going to the airport by yourself?" It's probably not a good idea for a woman to be alone in a car at that hour of the night headed for Porto Alegre, but I didn't feel I could ask someone to go with me and sped off into the darkness relieved that he was only a short distance away now. Since it's about a half hour to the airport, I kind of expected Pat to be standing on the sidewalk waiting for me, but he wasn't. I parked and walked in to the "arrivals" section, my eyes scanning the crowd for a kind-looking gentleman with a gray goatee. He wasn't there. This airport isn't that big, so it doesn't take long to look at everyone. I walked outside thinking we had missed one another and he was waiting at the curb. No Pat there, either. Back inside I went for another look. That was when I began to doubt myself. Had we given one another mixed signals somehow? Had Pat expected me to already be there on his arrival and now where was he? I called his cell phone...it was turned off. How were we to find one another?? Frustrated, I turned to go outside for another look...and HE HAD SUDDENLY MATERIALIZED!!! My relief at seeing him masked my joy of having him back. But his hug felt wonderful, and no, I hadn't gotten my signals mixed. Thinking it would take longer for me to arrive, he decided on an impulse to go up to another floor to look around-- apparently just as I arrived. My world suddenly looked bright again.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Day 7 Ramblings

I woke up to another glorious day of blue skies and sunshine! How I'm loving this November spring weather. I discovered several baby mangos coming out on the tippy top of our mango tree. I love them!

Today was baking day. I started out making granola, then brownies, but before the brownies were half done baking the stove ran out of bottle gas! And by the time the gas man came with a new tank the brownie dough had cooled off and later when I took them out of the oven they looked different--the top had formed a crust. Then I tackled sweet roll dough. To make a long story short, I am having the guest speaker and his family over for coffee before church tomorrow night.

My friend never called about the book I'm lending her, so I took it over to her house on my way to the grocery store. I'm praying and praying that God will do something in her heart. She told me she is definitely moving to another neighborhood. I will miss her. She also said she ran into an American from California at the University and told her about us. Maybe I'll get a call one of these days...

I finally identified the feeling I've been carrying around these days that I've been by myself. It's called loneliness. I'm ready for my hubby to come home.

I had several nostalgic moments today. Every time I hear the drone of a small airplane it takes me back to the farm in North Dakota on a summer day and I am a kid again. And my sister and I run outside to see the airplane and watch it until it is out of sight. It's a lonely feeling because we didn't live close to any neighbors and my Mom was often working during those long summer days. That's how I felt today. Someone must have been practicing his flying because the plane circled around many, many times today. I found it up there in that blue sky only once, even though later I actually ran outside to look for it, but the tree blocked my view!

I'm tired. Good night.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Day 6 Alone

I left the house for my daily walk at 5:30 p.m., rejoicing in the still beautiful day even though the sun would soon be starting its descent in the west. I headed down to a new neighborhood that we literally saw being born. I used to walk there often and pray for whoever would one day live there and walking the now populated village brought back a certain nostalgia. Back in our neighborhood, I stopped to visit a new neighbor. Her daughter has hosted our church's Bible study group on different occasions and I knew the mother was from an evangelical church. Our talk roamed from a time she worked in the home of a muslim family on the border of Brazil and Paraguay while her husband worked on the famous Itaipu Dam to her helping out in her church's soup kitchen to help our town's Indian population. She is 55 years old, but seems somehow older than me (!) and she's excited because she and a group of older women are studying. She knew how to read, but didn't really know how to write correctly. Now she loves practicing writing names in her agenda and proudly showed me how she was doing. "I only studied until the 2nd grade," she said. "I had a family to take care of and had to work." One day in class the teacher asked the women to draw stick people. "I had never drawn before, but I was the first one done and the teacher gave me a 100!" Other women didn't even know how to draw a circle for a head.
Her daughter complains that Mother is never at home, but how can she help it? Her sun is rising and she has a new lease on life!

My Heart Instructs Me

I fell asleep last night meditating on Psalm 16. The verse "I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me," caught my attention because I have been laying a decision before the Lord that must be made within the next 12 days and I thought it would be nice of the Lord to just tell me in my dreams. And I usually don't remember my dreams. But I awoke with a start around 6 a.m. after dreaming I was driving a car up an immense, granite, bare rock that rose at an almost 90º angle, and there was a Volks bug in front of me, spitting and sliding, but I wasn't afraid even though the rock seemed insurmontable and I knew I would make it. That was my dream. Before that, I remembered I'd had an almost nightmarish dream about dozens and dozens of cockroaches coming out of everywhere, and after the rock dream I fell asleep again because it felt wrong to get up at 6 o'clock and I dreamed it was Michelle's wedding day (she got married in l999) and she left the house at 7 a.m. to buy earrings for the wedding and she wasn't a bit worried about the time. I was. Then I realized it had never occurred to me to buy a new dress or earrings for her wedding and waves of regret washed over me until I remembered the dress I bought in Camboriu in September this year that I haven't worn yet and I felt better. But the new dress needs altering, so I started sewing and then I woke up! So, heart, what are you trying to tell me?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Day 5 Alone

Today is a Brazilian holiday--the Proclamation of the Republic-- and I didn't eat turkey leftovers. It was a beautiful day-- bracing cool wind with sunshine--perfect for a walk with a husband were he not hundreds of miles away. I worked on some Christmas projects and finished a great book, "The Burden is Light" by Eugenia Price. What struck me from the book was how she and her friend learned how to take God at his word with the resulting beautiful answers to prayer they share. She writes, "By then we were catching on to the art of "expecting" and then praising. He gives when we plead, but I believe His Heart longs for our expectancy." And that's where I fall short too often. While devouring the book I managed to devour two hamburgers and as soon as I finished I thought, "I must loan this book to my neighbor." The thought was so strong and insistent that I'm sure it was the Holy Spirit. I called her almost immediately on the phone and she told me she was needing something to read and thanked me for offering. "Can I give it to you over the fence in the backyard?" I asked, so anxious was I to get it into her hands. But she thought it was too dark to see and said she'd call me on Saturday when she was at home. I have prayed for her salvation since we moved to this house in l997, but have had few opportunities to talk about Christ. O, God, may her heart be ready to receive the truth.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Home alone!

This is Day 4 of being home alone! After an early Thanksgiving on the 10th I am still eating leftovers! Right now I'm working on the turkey soup. It's not fun to cook for one person so I'm glad for all these leftovers. Tomorrow is a holiday here so I'm breaking out of my turkey routine and going for....chicken! Wow! What a great relief that will be!

Friday, November 09, 2007

CREATIVE LEFSE-FOOD KIDS CAN PLAY WITH











Which kind of lefse is the best? a. The pale ghost, b. the sun-burned ghost, c. the "al naturale", d. the peek-a-boo

BEST KEPT SECRET


Now I know who discovered potato chips--the Norweigans. It happened when Lena was baking lefse on the iron range and before she knew it, the edges had become crisp and crunchy. I realize that "most" Norweigans (and maybe Swedes for all I know) like their lefse with sugar...BUT that day Lena had a senior moment and mistakenly put salt on the lefse instead of sugar and VOILÀ! She had made the first potato chip. I know because this happened to me on Wednesday when I was frying lefse. So, you see, the Norweigans invented the true baked potato chip and it was probably the French--who like everything fried in oil--who came up with the greasy, fatty, unhealthy potato chip most people eat today.

A MUST SEE

video

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Choice

Faith isn't a euphoric feeling that wells up inside. It is a choice to believe. To believe what God says. To believe what God says even though I don't feel like it. To believe what God says even though all circumstantial evidence points to the contrary.

Without faith it is impossible, that's right, impossible to please God.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Tapioca


I remember tapioca as little, hard white balls that needed to be soaked before cooking them into a delicious pudding. I didn't know, then, as a child in far-off North Dakota, that tapioca came from the manioc root. On vacation we saw a sign advertising "Tapioca--made to order" and decided to have some. The girl serving us was from Bahia, a state famous for its tapioca. She had come to southern Brazil to go to college and one of her school projects was making regional foods from her state. The project took and she is still living in the south making food.

The way she made the tapioca was to fry it, and fill it with the traditional filling of coconut and condensed milk. It looks like a pale taco shell. It was oh, sooooooo yummy!