Saturday, January 25, 2014

Four months into this adventure...

It's the little things in life that really make me smile.  Like ground black pepper from the States.  Taco sauce (little packets and a BIG bottle of it).  Sleepytime tea.  Lavender satchels.  Curling spray for my unruly hair.  Stickers and erasers for my students.  Pajamas made with love from my mama. A sweet new Tim Horton's mug all the way from Canada.  And precious encouraging notes from a friend. 

Yes, Christmas presents have arrived.  Doesn't matter that it is almost the end of was Christmas in my home this past week!  Two packages within three days.  I was one happy camper.  And a new computer was delivered to my office yesterday!  The blessings are pouring in.

All of these tokens brought a smile to my face...but even more so were the smiles of the students when I got back to work this past Monday.  It's been a wonderful week back getting back into the swing of things.  The kids seem excited, the teachers are's like the freshness of a new school year all over again!  I suppose that happens when you have a month off for Christmas.  Yes, you read that correctly.  A month off!  And it was an interesting month to say the least.

Both of my roommates left for the states which left me with an apartment all by myself!  It had its positively glorious moments, and it's horrible ones as well.  I had quite a few ugly cries during the first week (with it being Christmas and all)....just simply missing family and friends.  But thankfully, a family here would not let me sit at home for Christmas all by myself and they came and kidnapped me on Christmas Eve and I stayed over at their house that evening and all of the next day.  It definitely helped cheer me up watching their three kiddos and the excitement they exuberated during the holiday!  And hey...we even decorated Christmas cookies...and had a southern-style Christmas dinner!  :) 

After Christmas I then had about a week to myself.  I had great anticipation of making my way around my little neighborhood and had a great to-do list of things I wanted to try.  Needless to say...none of it happened.  I sat in my apartment and watched movies and Netflix, and read books most of the time.  I just simply enjoyed being able to stay in my PJs without anyone having to see me.  I was simply storing up my introvert time and enjoying every minute of it.  I did spend New Year's Eve with quite a few people from BIS and was able to go and watch fireworks by the JK Bridge. 

January 3rd.  Now that was what I was waiting for.  Rio de Janeiro!  Yep.  I traveled (flew) with the same family  I had stayed with at Christmas to Rio for an entire week.  I soaked up the sun, the beach, the hot hot air, the sand, jellyfish, crab, the Redeemer Statue, more sun and beach, glorious sunsets, sound of the waves, and good books.  It was a beautiful vacation with an awesome family.  They even let me devour three books in just a couple of days (Divergent series....check it out!).  My favorite time of the day was dusk as I would sit on our balcony (did I mention that our hotel was right on the beach?) and just watch the waves as the sun died down and Rio came to life.  And....I even visited a Starbucks, and bought way too may "Brasil" mugs from there, and ate at Applebee's!  For a little bit, I almost forgot about my language issues...since Rio is touristy, people speak broken English...matching my broken Portuguese!

Reality hit when I arrived back in Brasilia and prepared for my roommates to arrive home.  I slipped off to work the day before they arrived and along my walk was stopped by a lady asking directions...and I had no idea what she was saying.  Then when I stopped in "our" bakery, the guy asked about my "amigas" (hey, I understood that!).  And I did my best to tell him that they were on their way back to Brazil, but the conversation ended with both of us shrugging our shoulders, smiling and having no idea what was being said!  Then.....the lady at the counter tried talking to me and again...I was lost.  Yep.  Back to reality.  And this simply made me realize just how much I want to try to learn the language so I can communicate more!

Once the roomies arrived (on the same flight), the apartment was buzzing with life again as I was able to hear stories from the States, as well as receive goodies from them!  Bless them...they brought Oreo's, Reese's Pieces, hair stuff, and macaroni and cheese!!!  We were not able to enjoy the apartment for long as we were headed out to a staff retreat in Pirenopolis.  Yes...a staff retreat.  With everyone!  For three days!  I was thinking how this would all look and was pleasantly surprised at how smooth it went.  I kept thinking what it would be like to put all of an American school staff together like that for three imagination made up some pretty crazy stories!  But with the staff here at BIS, it was a time of prayer, encouragement, vulnerability and honesty so that we can come back refreshed and ready for the second half of the year.  Along with our time spent at the retreat, we did venture out to the town of Pirenopolis for dinner one night.  Beautiful little town!'s a first....saw a Wandering  Brazilian Spider. ...and I hope to never see one again!

And now that brings you up to date.  I still struggle, still have my moments of difficulty, but if there is anything that I have learned recently (especially during my time alone at Christmas), is that God is always there.  He is at work.  He is orchestrating even the painful times for His glory.  Things are looking up, my walk with Him is deeper than I ever imagined, and I am excited to finish the race out here in Brazil with His help.  I am even looking at taking a Portuguese class so that I can do more than order food (which is a HUGE accomplishment!).  But I would like to be able to actually converse with the bakery guy, the people at the Brazilian church I visited (and want to visit again), or even the taxi driver.  But it is one step at a time.  One step in the direction that God leads.  Because wherever He leads, is where I want to be.

Blessings my friends!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Bolta Faith

Cancer has not won.  God HAS won!

It may not seem like it to most people that when cancer slowly takes a life away, that God has won.  We are often asking:

Why do You allow this evil to steal lives, God?
Why hasn't the healing come?

But the reality is that with this family, God HAS won. 
Healing may not have come in the form that we had wanted, hoped and prayed for.  But healing has come.  I have watched and read testimony after testimony from the Bolta's on how even in the many valley's they've experienced, God is victorious and all glory has been given to Him. 

Just because God did not act in a way that we wanted does not mean He hasn't healed and hasn't responded to the many prayers said for this family.  Thousands of lives have been impacted by their walk, by their faith.  I am just one of the many that can say that I have been encouraged, challenged and drawn closer to God because of what they have been through. 

We have been praying for healing for John.  Crying out in prayer for healing.  But think about this Acts 3:1-11 is a story of a beggar.  Lame from birth.  Carried each day to the city gates to beg for his food and for a living.  When Peter and John walked by, the man did what he always did...beg for food.  But Peter offered him something greater.  He offered him healing.  The man was healed and his healing was a testimony to many about the works and glory of God.  The simple lesson I see in this example is that we are not to be afraid to ask God for something...but just keep in mind that He may answer in a way that we don't a way better for Him so that His name can be proclaimed.

I don't pretend to have all the answers as to why the healing has not come on earth for all those in pain.  But I do know that watching the Bolta's, John is healed.  He is walking with the Savior that he lived for, the Savior that he proclaimed was good no matter what.  And in the healing that came a different way, I've seen many people encouraged, challenged and humbled by John and Schelli's faith to remain strong in the midst of it all.  I have watched as Schelli has written from her heart...raw emotions for all to see.  Raw tears spent as she shared their life with us.  And in this, lives were changed for His glory.  In this, His Name has been proclaimed from the rooftops and all over the world. 

Inasmuch as we wanted John to remain here on earth, I believe that  even with his death, John would want all of us to keep proclaiming God's faithfulness.  Proclaiming that God is good, He does heal, He does provide and that He does love each and every one of us.  John's testimony is that God has won, not cancer.  God is still good in death.  We need to embrace Bolta like Faith and live each and every moment for Him, looking for ways to give Him praise and glory and choosing the faith that proclaims His goodness and faithfulness.  If we become angry and bitter, then yes, cancer has won.  But that is not the message that John and Schelli would want.  Look for ways to be thankful, for ways to lift your hands to Him in the midst of your darkest pain, look for ways to live each moment in His light and glory....because then He wins and John's battle was not fought in vain. 

Choose Bolta like Faith.  Because God HAS won, and always will.

John....thank you for living out your faith and for choosing to serve Him!  Your legacy lives on!