When God Arranges A Quiet Surprise

Saturday morning had an unexpected blessing for me. It was the kind of morning one walks away from and just says, “Thank you God.”

I went to my church for my Saturday morning group expecting to teach my ESL reading group and maybe meet some beginning English learners from Brazil to do a lesson. What happened was a pleasant surprise.

My new friends from Brazil came but instead of lesson time we had a get to know each other conversation. The surprise?

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We spoke in Portuguese the whole time. I had not had a conversation in Portuguese in a long time. I was a little rusty, but we had a good conversation. I found out they are Christians and we shared some about our faith. We also  talked a lot about their 21 year old daughter who has a disability and needs an electric wheelchair. They wanted to come to make sure the building would be okay for their daughter.

The last time I was in Brazil was June/July 2015 and due to economic problems in Brazil we do not have many students from Brazil at the university here. I also went through a 2 year period of struggling with problems with Celiacs until it was diagnosed and one of those problems was what is called foggy brain.

So Saturday morning’s surprise blessing for me was God giving me an opportunity to see that I have not lost my Portuguese with all I have been through. It was a boost to my spirit.

After my Saturday morning groups, I came home thankful for that conversation. I also have a renewed desire to return to Brazil to see friends and hopefully serve in ministry there. It was a quiet surprise, but it got my attention in a positive way.

Thank you for reading. God Bless

 

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My Honorary Job in Brazil

In the summer of 2015 I taught English at a university in Rio do Sul Santa Cantarina Brazil. It was one of the best summers of my life. I was the only American in the small city of Rio do Sul for most of my time there. I got so spoiled with all of the wonderful hospitality of my students and professors at the university. They took me to see places around the city, hosted me in their homes for delicious meals, and took me out to restaurants.

One Sunday I went with two profesoras to a different city for a music and food festival. One of them, Profesora Fabiane,  picked me up and we went to another small city on the way to pick up the other one Profesora Marlene. Fabiane pulled into the parking lot of a fire station, corpo de bombeiro, to wait for Marlene. Fabiane went inside and told the caption that she had an American professor in the car. He came out and invited me inside for a tour.

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I enjoyed the tour and at the end he gave me a t-shirt and we took a photo. Then I asked if I could put on some of the firefighter gear and he let me.

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My vanity wants to point out that this was before I lost 60 pounds after changing how I eat due to Celiacs and that this is a more recent picture. 🙂 lol

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Monday evening in class, I told my students that I had a new job in Brazil and would be moving there. I showed them the picture and said, “Eu sou um bombeiro aqui agora” meaning I am a firefighter here now. My students got a good laugh out of it and we all had fun. I try to use a little humor when I teach to reduce stress.

This week I have posted some posts that are more along the lines of thought provoking or perhaps I should say faith provoking, but there are times it is good to have a laugh especially in the times we live in. As it says in Eccleisiastes:

A time to weep and a time to laugha time to mourn and a time to dance

Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Thanks for reading 🙂

God Bless

 

 

 

 

A Frying Pan Teaches Not To Make Problems Bigger Than They Are

In June and July 2015, I was in Rio do Sul a small city in Santa Cantarina Brazil. I was there to teach English at a university there, Unidavi. For about three weeks of my time there, I stayed in the apartment of missionary friends who were traveling in other parts of Brazil.

The experience was awesome because I stayed by myself and took care of myself in another country. That included doing my laundry, going to the market, and making my breakfast. I spoke Portuguese most of the time I was there except while I was teaching and after class when I would go out with students or faculty for dinner after class.

Each morning I made my coffee Brazilian style.

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I enjoyed drinking my cup of coffee sitting in the balcony to see the view and on some days at dawn.

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I had fruit and yogurt for breakfast every morning, but one morning I decided to cook an omelet. The frying pan was no-stick with a white interior. I started cooking the omelet and want to check my facebook messages quickly. A friend in my home city was completing her application to medical school, so I helped her with a little editing and forgot the omelet. 45 minutes later I finished helping my friend and suddenly remembered the omelet. The frying pan was multi-colored on the inside mostly with black and brown. I soaked and scrubbed it five times to get it looking like this.

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I was worried about having ruined my friends pan. I looked at stores in the city but could not find one that was the same. And I mean I SEARCHED. The Director of the Language department took it home and somehow got it cleaned.

When my friends returned, I told them about my little adventure with the pan. The wife responded, “That old thing? I brought that from America a long time ago.”

So I was worried about something that she did not care about. I made the problem bigger than what it really was.

How often in life do we make problems bigger than they really are? Granted there are serious issues people can have, but I am talking about blowing small things out of proportion in our minds.

I think we can all learn from the frying pan the lesson of not making things bigger than they really are especially if we follow Jesus. 🙂

 

 

 

Never Too Old To Learn Part 2- Why I Studied Portuguese in My 50s

Yesterday I shared about how a trip to Ensenda Mexico in June 2010 led to me studying Spanish for one year in Never Too Old to Learn Why I Studied Spanish in my 50s. Well, 3 years later I went to Rio do Sul Santa Cantarina Brazil for ministry with Celivris Church in Rio do Sul.

I went to Rio do Sul to meet with teachers while our group of students visited classrooms. I also had the opportunity to meet people at a university in Rio do Sul, Unidavi. Because of meeting the President and the Director of  the Language Department, I had the chance to speak to university students at two campuses for Unidavi, one in Rio do Sul and one in another city Taio.

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While I was in Rio do Sul, I tried teaching myself some phrases in Portuguese using Google translate. Having studied Spanish a few years before helped me feel confident about trying to learn some Portuguese phrases. I practiced them with Brazilian friends at Celivris. One phrase I learned was- Talvez nos tenhamos neve esta semana- Maybe we will have snow this week. Of course they laughed and told me no way because it hadn’t snowed for 50 years there.

At this point I would like to mention it snowed there for the first time in 50 years a few weeks after I left.  🙂 haha

After my time in Rio do Sul, I visited some friends in Belo Horizonte Brazil. I knew them from when they lived in my home city Lincoln while they were students. We went out to a restaurant one evening and they told me I should order the food to practice Portuguese. I wanted to tell the server, Eu estou aprendendo Portuguese e fazendo erros meaning I am learning Portuguese and making mistakes because I wanted low expectations 🙂 . But I said, Eu estou aprendendo portuguese e fazendo arroz meaning I am learning Portuguese and making rice. My friends got a good laugh. The server looked confused. And I actually had fun with it.

So when I came back to Lincoln and as I was praying, I felt the Lord show me that I should study Portuguese. I had the feeling that there was more ahead for me to do with Brazil and Brazilian friends. This was easier for me to accept since I had studied Spanish a few years before. I registered for the Portuguese class at UNL and studied for one school year August 2013 to May 2014.

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Sure enough there were many more opportunities for me with Brazil and Brazilian friends. We had many Brazilian students come to the University in Lincoln for a few years and even a few families of visiting professors for one year.

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I arranged for a small group of students to come study English at my college for a few months in January 2014 and again in January 2017. I returned to teach English in Rio do Sul for four and a half weeks in June and July 2015.

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I have learned over the years that if Jesus shows us that he wants us to do something, it is to prepare us for future ministry or life. We don’t have the clear full picture, but then consider what he said to Abraham when he called him in Genesis 12:

“Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you”

How is that for a call. Go to the place that I will show you. In other words, start going and I will show you later where you are going. At a moment like that we might want to ask Alexa or Siri or check Google maps. The problem would be inputting destination as- God will show me. Our modern inventions would not be able to handle that data. 🙂

Stepping out to follow Jesus is not easy. It is a great adventure though and one that has eternal rewards.

I hope to keep learning and growing as long as I am in this life. If I get to the point that I can’t do that anymore, I would just as soon go home to be with the Lord. 🙂

 

June Adventures- BRAZIL :)

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in Rio do Sul

As I write this, I wonder if there will be a fun adventure for me this year. June has been a month of fun adventures for me. When I think of fun adventure, Brazil definitely comes to mind. I have had many amigos brasilieros, Brazilian friends, over the years and have had a lot of fun with the ones who came to the university in my city as students. So when Pastor Johny shared at my church in June 2012 that they had done many things for students, but want to do something for teachers, I knew it was something I wanted to do.

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Photo by Caio Resende on Pexels.com

My home church in Lincoln, First Free Church, partners with a church in Rio do Sul Brazil a small city in Santa Catarina. The name of the church is Celivris. Groups have gone there from my church in June for many years, but the focus has been on high school students going, so I did not try to go. When Pastor Johny said they wanted to do something for teachers, I was hooked. After all, I am a teacher. 🙂

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me with Pastor Johny

In June 2013, I went to Brazil for the first time. I LOVED being in Brazil. It was a great experience to meet teachers at their schools, show the computer teachers some free websites for English, and meet the wonderful people of igreja Celivris, Celivris church. We even watched a futbol match, soccer, at the church one evening.

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At the end of our time in Rio do Sul, we put on an English Camp. It was a weekend of fun and games in English and also some classes. I provided a seminar for teachers in the morning. One school I had visited was in Pouso Redando a small city about a 45 minute drive from Rio do Sul. The teachers there had been having a difficult year because of complications in remodeling the school. So I went to their school on a Wednesday evening to do a shortened version of the seminar for the teachers there.

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There were so many new adventures for me that came about in my life because of that trip, but more about that in future posts.

I will never forget my first evening there. I was tired after a LONG flight and wanted to go to my host home, but Johny told me he needed to do something at the church first. When I got there, they surprised me with cake for my birthday. It was also the first time I drank Guarana, a soda I LOVE.

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Landing in Brazil on my birthday that year was like the perfect birthday gift from God, through my church,  to me. The cake and Guarana woke me up for a little while, but then it was time to go to my host home.

The next morning after sleeping eleven hours, I made brigadeiro, a chocolate treat made from sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder and butter, for the first time, or I should say I helped stir it.

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still tired after 11 hours of sleep 🙂

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In all of my travels and among all of my friends from other countries, Brazilians have given me some of my best memories. I hope to go back again. My dream would be to travel around the country for several weeks to see friends in their home cities.

 

Brazil Gave Me My Best Friend When I Was A Child.

Maybe writing about being attacked by a dog yesterday made me think about my best friend when I was a child. Her name was Taffy. It was because of Brazil that I had my best friend Taffy.

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Taffy was a golden retriever, not the one in the picture above, and she was my best friend. It was because of a friend’s family moving to Brazil for his father to be a medical missionary that Taffy became part of my family. They couldn’t take Taffy with them, so the plan was for me to have some sleep overs with my friend from 3rd grade, Steve, so Taffy could get to know someone in my family.

The result was that Taffy followed me around the house when I was home. She slept in my bedroom, I brushed her, took her for walks, and fed her. We were inseparable when I was home. If I called her name, she came to me even if she was playing with my siblings.

Taffy was part of God’s grace for a boy in a crazy family life. I am not sure if dogs go to heaven, but if they do, I want to see Taffy.

During my last trip to Brazil, I spent time with my students or other professors on the weekends. Two of my students had a golden retriever named Maya. They thought it was a bit crazy when I asked to go with them to the park in Rio do Sul on a Saturday morning to help them walk their dog.

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I shared with them the reason why. When I heard they had a golden retriever, I just had to walk with them in the park. It seemed so fitting to walk and play with a golden retriever in the country that was the reason I had my best friend as a child.

It was a small life comes full circle kind of moment for me. When I meet Brazilians, I always seem to have an instant connection of friendship. I have several Brazilian friends on facebook and all I have to do is post something about Brazil and I will get at least 50 likes.

I am so grateful that God led me to teach English and meet people from all over the world. Brazil planted the seed of interest in other cultures a long time ago when I was child. The reason is that because of Brazil, I had my best friend as a child.

 

Where will the road go?

 

 

 
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He often used to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep and every path was its tributary. “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. “You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to.” A quote from Lord of The Rings that illustrates the thoughts I normally have as a new year approaches.

I often wonder if the Lord had shown me all that was about to transpire in my life when I stepped out to follow Him, if I might have backed off out of concern or from feeling overwhelmed. At times it may feel frustrating to not know the whole answer and be told to trust, but when I think about how in Psalm 119 it says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path”, I realize it is for the best to not know all before we step out. His light for us on the path guides us step by step. A lesson I have learned, and yet still need to learn, is that it is WHO is guiding us that is more than the path itself. If I can remember that it is Jesus who loves us and died for us who is our guide, it makes the experience of the journey more worthwhile.

One example is my involvement with my Brasilian friends. My interest in Brasil was peaked by my friends Isis and Eduardo from Brasil who lived in my city while in graduate school. Through my friendship with them and others from Brasil, I had the recurring thought that someday I wanted to go to Brasil. My church sends a group there each June and after hearing there would be interest in having a teacher go, the wheels were set in motion for my first trip in June 2013. As a result of that trip, I studied Português for one year at the University of Nebraska. This led to me meeting more Brasilians at UNL, continuing to practice my Português, and best of all enjoying friendship with many Brasilians at UNL. Following the path that God has before us is a process of letting it unfold as we follow His voice. My current involvement with my Brasilian friends portrays that so well. I met some friends from there, stepped out to go on a trip there to serve, ended up studying the language, and now many friendships and opportunities are part of my life.

As I write this, I wonder, where will the path lead this year as I step out my door. Where will Jesus guide me to this year. As Bilbo said at the end of the Return of the King movie, “I think I am quite ready for another adventure.”

Christmas this year makes me wonder what adventures lie ahead for me next year

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The picture above is from Ouro Preto in Brasil. It is a road with many curves. It reminds me of what a professor said once. God does not always lead in a straight line. He shared this in my Pentatuch class as he showed paths of Abraham’s journeys laid over a map of the bible lands. Abraham followed God all over the place in his journey to where he was called to go. Fitting that God first said to Abraham to go to the land that I will show you in Genesis 12. In other words, get going but you won’t know where to yet, just follow my call.

Each year when New Year’s is getting close, I wonder where God will lead me, more specifically, who will God bring into the path of my life. My Christmas Eve celebration portrays what I am trying to say very well. I enjoyed Christmas Eve at the home of friends from Brasil along with other friends from Brasil. Interesting for me is the fact that I did not know any of them last year at this time.

Last year at this time, I was preparing for guests to come from Brasil, had just finished my first semester of Português, and enjoyed spending time with some students from Brasil. Early last year, one student told me of Juliano a professor from her university that was coming here as a visiting professor and asked if I would be willing to help him. We skyped together a few times and messaged on facebook. Juliano arrived in Lincoln in August. I have enjoyed spending time with Juliano and his family.

I also had the opportunity to meet Rodrigo and his family in August. Rodrigo is also a visiting professor from Brasil. It has been a pleasure to spend time with Rodrigo and his family too. Rodrigo and I began meeting for lunch at the East Campus Student Union and through those lunches I met some undergraduate students from Brasil. That culminated in hosting a Thanksgiving lunch at my church with Brasilian food thanks to Juliano’s wife Wal and brigadeiro thanks to Rodrigo’s wife Flavia. It has been my privilege to get to know the students and to have lunch with them. The week of Thanksgiving, I was able to help one of the students with her mother’s visit. That made my Thanksgiving week a memorable one.

As I sat with my friends on Christmas Eve, I reflected on the the fact that I knew none of them one year ago, and yet, I consider them my good friends. Friends that I hope to visit in Brasil in the future. I also thought about all of the students I met through them. Then I wondered something. Who will God bring across the path of my life next year? What adventures lie ahead for me in 2015?

Worshiping Jesus crosses language and cultural barriers

This past few weeks  have had the pleasure of giving rides to a woman from Brazil who is here visiting her son and his wife. The first time I picked her up she heard the CD playing in my van from Jesus. It is from the musical My Utmost for His Highest. One of the songs if “Blessed is the Holy Name”. She smiled and said “in my church”. In her church in Brazil they sing the same song in Portuguese. we have talked about how she prays for her family. Today she told me that when her husband died she called out to Jesus and He came to her. She has a relationship with Jesus. She enjoys worship music and worshiping Jesus.

I have had the pleasure of worshiping in other countries and in church services in other languages  here in Lincoln . Each time I come away with the wonderful realization of how Jesus is for all people from every culture. It causes me to think about what the bible means when it says “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in Him should not persih but have eternal life”. God loves all people and showed His love through Jesus.

These experiences also cause me to think about that wonderful day in the future when as the bible says “every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord”.