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.


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.


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.


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.


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. 🙂



Memorial Day-Remembering My Father and Those Who Served

It is Memorial Day here in America. A day originally set aside after the Civil War to honor those who died fighting for our freedom and has also become a day to remember loved ones we have lost. When I was a child, Memorial Day was always on May 31st regardless of what day of the week it was on. It seems the further away we got from World War II, Memorial Day began to lose some of its meaning here, which I think is sad. Memorial Day was changed to be on the 4th Monday in May to allow for a three day weekend and it seems that now it is more about the start of summer. However, it is important to me to remember those who served fighting for our freedom. Our freedom did not come freely. Thank you to all who served and fought for our freedom.

My father served during the Korean War. I have previously written about my dad and how he came to Christ after I expressed forgiveness to him when he was in the hospital. You can click on this link if you want to read it- Forgiveness from me led to my father receiving forgiveness from God.

One surprise for me and something I would have never thought possible until it happened was that my father’s funeral was a Christian funeral with my pastor doing the service. He was buried with military honors.


When I visit his grave I see the graves of so many who served our country. It is a somber moment that also causes me to feel gratitude for their service and appreciate the freedom I have. Think about what the world would be like if the Allies had lost World War II to the Nazis and Japan. Think about how our former enemies in World War II are now our friends. Think about how much better life is in South Korea than in North Korea.

I appreciate our freedom in this life and the fact that in America I am free to worship God as I choose. I do not worry about government troops coming in to arrest people simply for worshiping Jesus. But the ultimate freedom is the freedom there is in Jesus, freedom from sin, freedom from eternal judgement, free to be who God created me to be. This makes me think of the praise song, I Am Free.

This Memorial Day let’s remember the reason we have the holiday and remember those who served as well as enjoy a three day weekend with picnics, barbecues etc. Let’s also remember the one who gave his life for all of us on the cross-Jesus.

Moms Are Heroes of the Common Everyday That Make Up Life

Growing up in a family with a mentally ill mother, Mother’s Day was always a day that I dreaded each year as I would see happy families celebrating their mothers. They always seemed so lucky and I would wonder why I had the one I had. Her moods were unpredictable and she was highly manipulative.

After coming to Christ, I began observing people in church and in life. I have always taken note of moms with their kids not because I was looking for a mom, but because I wanted to understand. What have I taken away from observations? Moms are heroes of the common everyday stuff where life happens.


Every weekday morning during the school year, I watch the moms in my class have the courage to study a difficult language to learn, English,  because they want to help their children. I am an eye witness of their daily effort to help their kids. They are low income, but they do the best they can to have a safe and nurturing home for their children.


I have a friend at church whose husband died of cancer and watched from afar her courage as she kept her kids going through extremely hard times. One of her sons just sang with his high school choir at Carnegie Hall. She has one son in college, one about to begin college, and one in high school the one who is in the school choir. My friend faced the day to day struggles of being a single mom and trusting Jesus in the struggles. She had to be the only ‘taxi’ driver in the family, the only one to take them to doctors’ appointments, the only one to discipline when needed and encourage when needed.

The list could go on to become several books if I listed each mother that has impressed me with the way she has faced the common everyday things in life, hardships, sickness, school problems etc that her children have had. Moms are heroes of the common everyday stuff where life happens and also heroes of the big things.

Moms know pain, not just the physical pain of childbirth, but also the spiritual, emotional, and mental pain of raising children in the down times. This makes me think of Mary the Mother of Jesus when Jesus was only 8 days old in his earthly life and a man told her, “a sword will pierce your soul too” to indicate that she would suffer grief and sorrow because of Jesus. She was there watching him die on the cross. She experienced great pain.

Moms know the joy of seeing their children grow and develop and the joy of seeing their kids succeed at something for the first time. Moms know the joy of adult kids coming to visit them after being gone for a long time. Can you imagine the joy Mary had when she first saw Jesus after his resurrection?

So if you are a mom and reading this, Happy Mother’s Day to you.


Moms Making A Difference

With Mother’s Day coming soon in the U.S., moms are on my mind. Not in the traditional go out and get flowers or be nice to mom kind of a way. Being nice to mom is important and celebrating the mom in one’s life happens hopefully more than one day a year.

Because I see moms making a difference while overcoming obstacles on a daily basis, that is what is on my mind much more as we approach Mother’s Day.

I see moms making a difference in their families every morning as I see my students come into my classroom to learn English in the hopes of helping their children. I know their stories and their struggles.

I have a mom/grandmother come volunteer each Wednesday to help my moms. Kathleen gives of her time, generously 🙂 , to help the moms in my class. In my mind, she is a example of the difference women make in our communities. My students love Wednesdays, which we call Kathleen Day. I watch as she patiently helps them with English. She even bought her own handheld dry erase board to write on while she helps the moms with English. It is meaningful for my students to have a woman come in to volunteer who understands being a mom and also a grandmother. They have a special connection that is somewhat magical. The best thing I do is step out of the way and let that magic happen.


Seeing my moms and Kathleen in action reminds me of a true story I heard at the National Family Literacy Conference in 2010. A man who retired from Microsoft went to see the world. In one country he saw the poverty and lack of education, so he paid for books and educational supplies and took them to a village in a remote area. He went back to look for progress and found out the village elders, men, sold the materials for money, so he returned and gave books and supplies to the moms. The moms made sure the materials were used for the education of all the children in the village.

This Mother’s Day my hope is we move beyond talking about who is there for the children when they are sick, have a skinned knee, etc. Those things are important and vital in a child’s life, BUT let’s remember that MOMS make a difference in so many ways.

There is also something VERY significant theologically speaking. After Adam and Eve sinned, it was the woman that God spoke about and said, “Her seed will crush your head” when God was speaking to Satan. Because Mary the Mother of Jesus said yes to God’s plan, a HUGE difference has been made for all people.

So let’s celebrate the difference moms are making in not only their families, but our communities as well.

Early Happy Mother’s Day to my readers who are moms. God Bless You 🙂

WWJD- Many Yazidi Refugees in My City/What Would Jesus Do?

Reading through the gospels something that stands out to me is the Jesus met people where they were. Jesus sought out people by visiting them in their homes and being at celebrations. In fact the first miracle by Jesus that we read is when he turned water into wine at a wedding feast. Visiting people from other cultures in their homes or joining them in their celebrations is one of the most enjoyable parts of my ministry and work.

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Briyani a traditional Yazidi food

My home city Lincoln has the largest number of Yazidi people in North America. I love spending time with my Yazidi friends. I have found them to be friendly and very hospitable. They have suffered terribly not just in recent years, but for centuries. The Yazidi people and Christians in places like Iraq have helped each other over the centuries during times of oppression.

This past week was the Yazidi New Year. On Sunday I went to their celebration in a park. I also went last year and had a blast. Last year I also visited my friend Rojgar and his family in their home. The food was plentiful and delicious. The friendships are meaningful. There is a lot of laughter when I visit Rojgar and his family. The picture is from before I found out I have Celiacs so my vanity makes me want to say it is before my weight loss. 🙂

with Rojgar in his home

This year their celebration was at a park, Holmes Lake, in the late afternoon/early evening. It was great to see my friends and many of my former and current students there. I joined their large circle dance for one time around. I don’t think anyone would accuse me of being graceful 🙂

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My desire is for my Yazidi friends to feel welcome because they have not felt welcome where they came from, and of course because I want to show the love of God. So I learned how to say hi, how are you in their language. In the evenings where I teach I walk around the small lobby area and greet my Yazidi friends in the their language.

Some years ago the WWJD, What Would Jesus Do, expression was popular. That has been my thought for a long time as I interact with other cultures. I am certain about what Jesus would do if he lived in my city, a place that has the most Yazidis in all of North America. He would spend time with them, eating with them, celebrating with them, and  loving them. I am grateful God has given me the opportunity to do just that, spend time with them, eat with them, and celebrate with them and love them. Sunday afternoon was another fun time to do all four. 🙂


Music Mondays- What A Beautiful Name By Brooke Ligertwood

First of all I want to thank those of you who are following my blog. In recent weeks my followers have grown to now over 50. That may not sound like a big deal for bloggers with a large following, but after the previous four to five years of living with Celiacs symptoms, one of which is foggy brain which shut down my creative side, to get back to this blog means a lot to me and so do those who follow me. SO THANK YOU!!!

Music has helped me through so many ups and downs in life. Last year was one of those times of mostly downs in my life as I went from doctor to doctor to find out what was wrong. I have had other periods in my life when worship music really helped me to keep my focus on God through the dark times in life. There have also been numerous times that God has guided me or shown me something as I have had my times of prayer, coming into his presence.


So I wanted to start doing Music Mondays for a way to share songs that have meant a lot to me. The songs might be worship songs, Christian music or secular, just me sharing something that has meant something to me in hopes it lifts you up on a Monday. Who doesn’t need a pick me up on a Monday?


If I share a link for a video, it will only be from the musicians website, from youtube via their website or ministry’s website, or VEVO on youtube.

The first song I want to share is one that perhaps many of you have heard. It is a song that is very fitting for this season of having just celebrated Easter. The song is ‘What A Beautiful Name It Is’ written and performed by Brooke Ligertwood of Hillsong.

When people are dying, they express what is on their hearts. I remember a friend from Korea who had cancer. I met with him to pray several times during the last four months of his earthly life. Each time he shared with me that he was no concerned about himself, but he was very concerned about what would happen to his wife and three young children.

In John 17 the prayer of Jesus before his arrest and subsequent trial, suffering and crucifixion is recorded. Jesus is praying to the Father. Jesus knew his impending suffering was about to begin. In his prayer we see what was on his heart. Jesus prayed in John 17:24- “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am,and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” Jesus himself said that he wanted us in heaven.

There is a wonderful line in the song “What A Beautiful Name’ that goes, ‘You didn’t want heaven without us, so Jesus you brought heaven down’. Jesus wants us to be in heaven with him, so he came to show us God the Father, teach us about God, and in fulfilling his mission to die for our sins and defeat death for us all because he wanted us to be able to be in heaven with him.

Think about it, Jesus WANTS you and me to be in heaven with him. He wants to share heaven with us. Last year as I went through a year of pain, doubt, confusion, and stress of many doctor appointments and tests, that thought helped me to not go down the spiral staircase of despair. That is why this first Music Monday I want to share this song with you. I hope it blesses you as much or more than it has blessed and continues to bless me.

I would love to to know what songs lift you up or what picks you up on a Monday.

Easter- Jesus Is Alive.

It is Easter Sunday, my favorite Sunday of the year. Why? Because the resurrection of Jesus means that his death for us did indeed accomplish what Jesus set out to do which is to die for all of our sins. Jesus took death and wadded it up like a piece of paper. Death had no power over Jesus. He is alive forevermore and he wants to share that with us!!!!

I am posting this on Sunday morning before I go to church. I am looking forward to celebrating Jesus’s victory over death for us. Because he conquered the worst that can happen to us, death, we have hope in every situation.

He wants to share the power of his resurrection with us for eternal life and also for situations in our lives now. I remember when my father was in Alcoholics Anonymous. There is a line in their ‘Big Book’ that says, ‘there is one who has all power, may you find him now.’ Jesus is the one who has all power and he wants to set us free from problems in this life like addictions, broken relationships, eating disorders, and other problems. He came to give us life. He came to give us his resurrection power so we can be free from sin in our lives, to be freed up to forgive, to live healthier lives emotionally, mentally, and psychologically.

I have experienced myself how Jesus can help free us. He freed me from addiction 30 years ago. He freed me from the tangled web of mind games in my family. He freed me from death when I was dying 25 years ago, so I could serve him longer in this life. There are so many other examples from my life of how Jesus shared the power of his resurrection to help me. As I write this, I pray for those who will read this to experience the power of the resurrection in their lives, to receive his love, grace and mercy.

I would like to share this music video by Kristene DiMarco with you. My hope is it blesses you.

God Bless and Happy Easter- HE IS RISEN!!!

Palms Sunday- Jesus Rode in Knowing All That Would Happen


Riding in on a white colt, Jesus heard the shouts and praises of “Hosanna to the Son of David” as people were excitedly welcoming Jesus by throwing palm leaves and even their cloaks on the road before Jesus. And why not? News had spread of his miracles especially his recent one of bringing Lazarus back from the dead. The people had been waiting for their Messiah, promised one, for a long time.

But Jesus knew what was about to happen in a few short days. He knew that the crowds would turn against him and cry out give us Barabas and of Jesus, crucify him. Jesus knew what was in their hearts, what is in our hearts, but he rode in to what he knew lay ahead- His Suffering for us.

Jesus comes to us in throughout our lives. He stands at the door and knocks and anyone who opens the door, he will enter. He comes to us knowing what is in our hearts. Knowing we will fail him, stumble along, sin, mess up, but he comes to us anyway. Why? Why did Jesus ride into Jerusalem knowing they would crucify him in a few shorts days? Why does he come to me each day and say,”It is a new day” and why does he come to all of us?

Jesus gave the answer days before his crucifixion when he taught his disciples in John 15, ‘greater love has no one than this, to lay down his life for his friends.’ Jesus rode in knowing all that would happen, he comes to us in our lives knowing our weakness, because- HE LOVES US.

Celebrating Freedom- A Karen Refugee and Yazidi Refugees- Their First 4th of July

In my morning Newcomer Refugee class, I currently have a student from Burma, one of The Karen People, and some Yazidi students. They all came here as refugees seeking freedom and safety. Yesterday we talked about the 4th of July and what it means. They all understood the word Freedom.

For my Karen student, freedom means not worrying about the military dictatorship that took over Burma which caused her parents to flee to a refugee camp in Thailand. My student was born in the refugee camp and has never seen her native homeland.

For my Yazidi students, freedom means being safe from the murderous criminals who were committing genocide. It also means they are free to practice their religion without being oppressed or discriminated against.

Freedom is so precious and yet taken for granted by us Americans. We do not have to worry about government troops or police coming into our churches to arrest us, not yet anyway. We are free to practice our faith or to not practice any faith. We do not have people with weapons pointed at us telling us what we must be.

I appreciate my freedom here in America. There is another freedom I look forward to even more than the freedom I have here. It is the freedom from the effects of sin in this world. For now my citizenship is U.S. citizenship. The day will come that either I die or Jesus comes back for us that I will more fully realize what the bible says- “but our citizenship is in heaven.” Only by God’s grace, I have been granted citizenship in heaven. I do not deserve it.

As I help refugees and immigrants here in my hometown, I am constantly mindful that I have dual citizenship- U.S. and heavenly. My desire is to help my newcomer friends with their new lives here in America. My desire is to also show them the love of God, whether it be in ways such as joining them for a meal, listening to them, or teaching them English. I realize that each day I can help them in a much bigger way that is not seen. I can pray for them. I can pray for them because in God’s grace, I have been granted citizenship in heaven and with that comes the birth right to talk to God anytime.

Where will the road go?




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.”