Monday, December 30, 2013

2013...The Year of Faith

As one year closes and another one approaches, I can't help but think back to this past year.  So much happened in just a year!  And if you had told me at the end of 2012 what was awaiting me this year, I would have laughed at you (or yelled in disbelief)!  Everything that I had thought would happen in 2013, did not.  Yet I'm grateful because the lessons that I've learned this year have dealt with deep things that broke me to the core...but the year is ending with a greater faith and love for God.  God truly knows what He is doing when He does not allow my plans to happen. 

This has been the year of faith.  Right from the get-go.

The very first day...January 1st. 

I was rocked out of what I had hoped for and I was left broken.  What a way to start 2013....broken down.  But when you are broken to pieces, God can sure put you back together the way He wants.  It just takes a little faith that He knows what is best for you. 

Over and over this year God brought me to the story of Abraham.  Abraham went through so much, and he was human and made mistakes...but he had faith to believe the impossible.  Whether it was choosing to believe that he and Sarah could have a child (as old as they were), following God to an unnamed place, or laying his son Isaac upon the altar...every single piece required faith from Abraham.  Each time I read the story of Abraham, God kept speaking new things to me regarding faith and trust. 

This was no longer just a word to me, but an action.  An action that He was calling me to walk out.  Even in the deep pain, I was to choose to have faith in God's grace and goodness. 

I had no idea where that faith would lead.  No idea what awaited.  But God did.  He had it all under control.  So, I chose to trust Him and began to jump out in faith at the things He placed upon my heart...even though it hurt to do so.  It required me to turn from my desires, my comfort, and even some of my friends.  Nothing made sense to me anymore, except His Word and His truth.

In faith, I turned in a letter indicating my desire for a one-year leave of absence and then began the process of applying to teach overseas.  A couple of months afterwards, I was offered a job to teach in Brazil.  And obviously I accepted.  ;) 

This new move in my life would require even more faith but in different areas.  No matter what I was doing, the story of Abraham was always close to my heart.  This new move brought me to the faith it required for Abraham to leave his country, his father's home and go to a land that God would show him (Genesis 12).  I began the process to close up my life in Montana for a year and follow God to a new land.  Faith was now being put into action. 

Waiting for my visa to clear challenged my faith and perseverance to hope for things that He promised to me.  And after staying in Kansas City for 2 1/2 months (a little vacation...thanks Heafner family!), I was finally on my way to Brazil.  But living out faith did not end there.

Once I arrived here in Brazil, I was not only living out this faith but I was losing all control that I once thought I had.  Living in a foreign country requires trust, faith and a humbleness to ask for help.  It has been difficult to learn that I cannot do things on my own.  I need others.  I need God.  With this journey I am on, I have to be willing to depend upon others.  Whether it is help interpreting for me, getting a ride to a doctor's appointment, having someone call to make the doctor appointment for me (that was fun), or relying upon a team of people to help me learn to love this place.  It all takes faith in God that He has placed these people in my life to help mold me into who He needs me to be. 

Yes, this has been a year of faith.  And just because I am entering a new year does not mean this lesson is over.  It shall continue, for all of my days.  But I also am beginning to sense a new lesson that God wants to instill in me this next year.  I'm not sure I'm ready for it...but I guess He believes I am.  So even though I may have ideas of what I would like to have transpire in 2014, I give it all up to Him and simply say "Your will be done". 

Bring on the New Year and may I be able to look back at 2014 and see God's handiwork in it all....just like I can see it in this past year.

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be."  Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead...Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
Romans 4:18-21

Happy New Year!  Be blessed, my friends!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

It's picture time!

Sometimes pictures are better than words....or it's just that I'm too lazy to think of something clever to say! 

Feliz Natal!!!!

 Staff Christmas Party
 Beverly and I
 First 5K ever...and it was the Color Run!!
 Mia and I at the Créche
 Making Christmas Cookies!!!
 Scenic boardwalk in Brasilia
A little Christmas fun on the last day before break!
That's it folks!  Have a marvelous Christmas with your family and friends!  Blessings to you!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Just keep swimming!

Now that the holiday's are drawing near, it is a bit strange to be in another culture and environment where I'm not surrounded by the American way of Christmas.  I would love to be able to put into words exactly how things are different here...but I can't seem to figure out how to describe it.  It's just different.  Not bad...just different.  That seems to be my phrase while I'm still learning how to live here.  Well that phrase as well as "it's Brazil".

Since the last time I wrote, I've gone through a time where I really struggled with life here.  I was drowning in the language and the lack of independence.  This has been a very difficult lesson to learn, and one I feel that will continue throughout my time here.  I still have my moments and sometimes days, where I simply struggle but I am learning to adjust to the constant change that occurs.  Flexible is a word I'm learning to embrace....ever so slowly.  But I'm getting there and God is working on my stubbornness and my heart in all of this.

I did venture out to a coffee shop the other day ALL BY MYSELF and was able to order a sandwich and coffee...but is it cheating if the waiter spoke broken English to tell me they didn't have any French Press Coffee?  But still....I did it!  I'm learning to step out little by little.  And all the guys around our block are getting used to the "crazy American girls".  The water guy who delivers our water for us, the Yellow Shack guys who cook delicious Brazilian hamburgers and hot dogs, the people at the market, our guards, and even today...the guy selling whole barbecued grilled chickens on the side of the road (and he spoke English...having learned it while living in New York for 15 years).  And the grilled chicken....totally going to have to go back there each week!  DELICIOUS! 

So life is beginning to have rhythm and I'm learning to ebb and flow with it all.  I'm not always graceful with it, and I make blunders all the time, but I'm trying the best I can. 

As for all the other crazy things that occur and give cause for's a list that I've compiled so far:
  • no left turns when driving - I'm not kidding? It's a constant round-about sort of driving world.  If you had wanted to turn left once you get off of the "highway", you go down one round about, get on another and then I think you are pointed in the direction you had wanted to go. 
  • toilet paper goes in a garbage can...not the toilet - gross but true
  • hot water:  for the showers, the water is heated by some sort of mechanism on the shower hose, which is good for a house with three girls...we don't share a water heater so we always have hot water for our showers.  But there isn't any hot water for dishes.....unless you want to heat some up on the stove and who's got time for that?!
  • Portaeao:  guard downstairs who lets us into our building
  • We don't have squirrels, but we do have monkeys!
  • When at a restaurant you have to ask for the check when you are done, otherwise they don't bring it to you.
  • Part of the highway is closed on the weekends so that pedestrians can walk/run/bike on it
  • People wear sweaters when it's 80 outside
  • There aren't any drive thru coffee places....good and a bad thing
  • Drive thru at McDonald's is not automated.  You pull up to a window and order from a person, then pull to the next window to pick up food.
  • You go to the same stores and places to build relationships, not because of cost
  • People are all about relationships here...building friendships and connections with people are top priority....
  • so is hugging and kissing on the cheek
So when I come back to the states I might have some trouble with the whole left-turn thing, and my precious "bubble" may exist no more.  Let's just hope I don't go up and try to kiss some American on the cheek...that could get awkward!