December 31, 2004

Brazilian Town Honors Arafat

I found this article a little scary.

Newsday.com - AP World News

Brazil Town to Honor Arafat With Statue


By STAN LEHMAN
Associated Press Writer

December 31, 2004, 2:18 AM EST

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- The New Year's Eve celebrations in the small community of Paraiba do Sul will honor a figure the town's mayor says hasn't been honored anywhere else in the West -- the late Yasser Arafat.

Moments before the clock rings in 2005, a fireworks and light show will serve as a backdrop to the unveiling of a life-sized statue of the Palestinian leader holding the traditional symbol of peace, the olive branch.

Now let's just stop right there. When did Arafat ever hold out the olive branch? He was a terrorist, and deserves to be remembered in history as such.

The 5-foot, 7-inch bronze statue will be part of an open-air memorial that includes a marble map of Palestine and a replica of the Palestinian flag, also in marble, Paraiba do Sul Mayor Rogerio Onofre said.

"It is the first time a memorial in Arafat's honor has been built in the Western world," Onofre said.

"We decided to build the memorial to demonstrate our solidarity with the Palestinian cause," Onofre said by phone. "We hope the memorial will encourage people to discuss the Middle Eastern crisis, which is the cause of all the violence and turmoil afflicting the world today."

Onofre acknowledged that the Arafat memorial has raised a storm of protest, "from representatives of Brazil's Jewish community."

"I have received more than 200 angry e-mails protesting our memorial," he said. "There are a lot of people who simply don't understand that the memorial is a call for reflection and peace. Peace represented by a man who for some was a terrorist but for others was a liberator."

Well, yeah. Adolf Hitler was seen as a liberator by some people as well. Let's make a statue to him as well. Oh, and why not a statue to Osama Bin Laden while we are at it.

One of the angry e-mails, posted on the Web site Paraiba do Sul's City Hall was from Abraham Shapiro, a leader of the Jewish community of Londrina, in southern Brazil.

The memorial, Shapiro said, is an "affront" because it honors a man "whose life was stained with blood and corruption."

Onofre said he supports a peaceful coexistence between Israel and the Palestinian people.

"Israel has the right to live in peace within internationally recognized frontiers and the Palestinians also have the right, and need, to an independent state," he said.

The protests of the Jewish community are counterbalanced by the "praise we have received from the Arab community," Onofre said.

No kidding.

"The people of the West Bank are aware of the homage that will rendered to Yasser Arafat and are extremely pleased with this recognition," read an e-mail sent by Hassan Elganal, president of the Palestine Movement of Brazil.

The New Year's Eve inauguration of the Yasser Arafat Memorial will be Onofre's last public act as mayor of Paraiba do Sul, a town of 37,000 people 250 miles northeast of Sao Paulo.

During his eight-year tenure, he has unveiled statues of Cuba's revolutionary icon Ernesto "Che" Guevara and Cuban President Fidel Castro, as well as Brazil's late Communist leader Luiz Carlos Prestes, among others.

Onofre, a socialist, said the people he decided to honor are "individuals who fought for their ideals."

As long as those ideals were leftist, of course.

Asked if referendums were held so that the citizens of Paraiba do Sul could decide which personalities to honor, the outgoing mayor said: "No. I and my cabinet made those decisions."

How very populist of him.

Onofre said that if could remain in office a few more years he would erect statues to former President Jimmy Carter, Mother Teresa and Mohandas Gandhi.

So Arafat got a statue before Mother Teresa?

If you read Portuguese, you can see the Mayor's official response to his critics here. It is as convoluted as his reasoning for puting up the statue. He starts out by saying that the attitudes of his critics should be "eliminated from the world", and then goes on to say that he is excercising his "free speech" in erecting the statue. As with most leftists, freedom of speech only applies to him and people that agree with him.

Posted by Andrew at 2:39 PM // Comments: 1 //
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Brazilian Cartoon Character Speaks Portuguese "Chat"

Brazilian cartoonist Mauricio de Sousa just announced the introduction of a new character to the popular "Monica's Gang" series. His name is "Bloguinho" ("Little Blog") and he only speaks the Portuguese online "chat" jargon--the equivalent of our LOL and BRB.

Here is a picture of the new character, coming out of Cebolinha's computer screen:

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As you can see, he is talking in the chat abbreviations. The ":)' is fairly universal. The "blz?" is short for "beleza?" and means "is everything ok?".

I chat online with Brazilians quite frequently. Here are a couple the abbreviations they use, complete with English equivalents:

kkkkk=lol
kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk=rofl
rsrsrs=hehe
vctb-u2

Some of the Portuguese chat lingo (or "chats", as it is called) is actually a rewriting of words to avoid the use of accents, which are difficult to type.

Thus no (no) becomes naum, aqui (here) becomes aki, and so on and so forth.

For those of you for whom Portuguese is not a problem, here a few Brazilian blogs that reported this story:

DotDotDot
Marmota
Alexandre

Posted by Andrew at 2:00 PM
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Happy New Year

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May 2005 find you closer to God, impacting your world for Him, and prospering in all you do.

May it find us (the Comings family) in Brazil, doing the work God has for us there.

Posted by Andrew at 1:26 PM
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December 27, 2004

The Tsunami

When I turned on the computer this morning, the news was all about the tsunami in Asia. Two blogs that I read on a regular basis are from that part of the world. Irene and Joe Missionary both have informative articles about the tragedy. We need to be in prayer for the people who have been touched by this devastation.

Posted by Andrew at 12:41 PM // Comments: 1 //
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We Aint Got No Musings

The following is a public service anouncement. The site Got-Musings, in which several of my articles have been published (and which, coincidentally, is administered by my youngest brother) is temporarily down. According to well-placed sources, it will be back up in about 10 days.

Posted by Andrew at 12:04 PM
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A Comings Family Christmas

I thought I would put up some pictures to show you what went on Christmas day at the Comings household.

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Itacyara and I decided that one of our family traditions would be a creative telling of the Christmas story. This year, it was flanelgraph. Next year it may be puppets, or some other form of story telling. Our goal is for our kid(s) to be as excited about the story as they are about the presents.

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This was our fifth Christmas together, but it was the first that we celebrated completely as a family unit, without going anywhere else. The lovely and talented Itacyara outdid herself with Christmas decorations, and with the food spread you see above. Not pictured are the Brazilian snacks (cochinhas and pasteis) that we had on Christmas Eve.

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Michael was thrilled with the presents he received, including this Lego table, complete with Legos.

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Itacyara bought me The Last Juror by John Grisham. I finished it that day.

We had a marvelous Christmas together, and hope you all did the same. Whatever the case, let us not forget that the whole reason we celebrate is because God gave us the greatest gift of all, salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Posted by Andrew at 11:36 AM // Comments: 2 //
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December 22, 2004

Texas de Brazil

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Yesterday I spent the day with my family in Orlando. Most of our time was spent at Disney, but we did find time to stop by the Brazilian Supermarket off of international drive. We also drove by a new Brazilian restaurant in town called Texas de Brazil. The name is a little awkward (should be Texas do Brazil, and technically, Brazil in this case should be spelled with an "s" and not a "z"), but from what I understand, the food is outstanding. I also get the impression that it is quite pricey, as suggested from this picture of the dining area at their Orlando location.

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I hope to make a stop there one of these days, on some special occasion. When I do, I will give you my impressions.

Posted by Andrew at 3:42 PM // Comments: 3 //
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Merry Christmas...and I mean that!

Over at my brother Daniel's site, I found a link to the article below from the Jewish World Review. It neatly expresses the way I am feeling this holiday season. I hope the ACLU sits up and takes notice

M - - - - C - - - - - - - -, if you know what I mean

Kathleen Parker

Let me begin by saying, "Merry Christmas." And, by the way, "Merry Christmas." Oh, and did I mention, "Merry Christmas"?


Let's just say the "Merry Christmas" backlash has officially begun. After years of politically correct "Happy Holidays," and the annual assault on all things Christian in the public square, many Americans are declining to turn the other cheek.

I have been noticing such a backlash in our community here in Lakeland, Florida. In fact, I have been participating actively in said backlash. Every time someone wishes me Happy Holidays, I reply with a smile and a "Merry Christmas".

The MC backlash isn't only for, by or about Christians. It is a quintessentially American revolt against absurdity, the inevitable result of narcissistic, nihilist ninnies pushing too far.

Narcissistic, nihilist ninnies. I like.

By now the list of complaints against Christmas and Christian symbols is familiar, from prohibitions against nativity scenes on public property to the banning of Christmas carols in public schools. The nation's Capitol doesn't even have a Christmas tree anymore; it's a "holiday tree."

Of course, certain religious expressions are fine. If a tribe of Aqualishes wants to boil rhino horns in frog saliva on the National Mall to honor their deity, we'd have a commemorative postage stamp ready by next December. But let a Christian mention the baby Jesus to a kindergarten class and the ACLU wants an exorcism.

"Merry Christmas" means different things to different people, obviously. To devout Christians, the greeting conveys a profound spiritual connection to the seminal event in Western civilization. To non-Christians, the words at worst evoke a season of music, decorations, shopping and gift giving; at best, they bespeak a vacation day.

Absent religious content, Merry Christmas otherwise is a universal expression of our best stuff: charity, forgiveness, generosity and hope. What's to complain about?

I contend that the complaining is because of a fundamental problem that the world has with Jesus Christ. Argue with me if you like, but I have never heard anybody use Adolf Hitler's name as a swear word.

Oh, you know, people acting goofy under mistletoe, those interminable Christmas carols. All those beautiful tacky trees and fat Santas. Salvation Army bell ringers collecting coins for the poor. Reindeer, snowmen, elves, nutcrackers, wreaths, colored lights, parades, happy children, parties. A regular nightmare if you're an Ebenezer.

Which reminds me, Target here in Florida banned the Salvation Army bell ringers from their stores. I did no shopping in Target this year. None.

Like perennially adolescent adults who rob teens of their right to rebellion, the anti-Christmas brigands have even taken the fun out of "Bah, humbug!" Who wants to be a curmudgeon when everybody's a Scrooge?

Clearly not Jews, an increasing number of whom are leading the charge to defend Christmas. In the past few days, two prominent Jewish commentators - Jeff Jacoby and Dennis Prager - have written columns defending the traditions and spirit of Christmas.

Jacoby, a columnist for the Boston Globe, wrote that he finds the sights and sounds of Christmas reassuring: "They reaffirm the importance of the Judeo-Christian culture that has made America so exceptional - and such a safe and tolerant haven for a religious minority like mine."

Excuse me while I mumble, "Amen."

In a piece now circulating on the Internet, Irwin N. Graulich, a Jewish ethicist and child of Holocaust survivors, wrote that public creches are beautiful sights that mean "people have gone to the trouble of sharing lovely visuals with all of America, expressing the beauty of their heritage and its spiritual message to humanity."

If not for the marketing of Christian holidays, Graulich wrote, "Chanukah would probably have gone the way of Shavuot, a more significant Jewish holiday which few Jews celebrate because there is no popular Christian holiday surrounding it."

This spirit of mutual respect and generosity is also finding expression among Muslims. Waleed Aly, a lawyer in Melbourne, Australia, and member of the Islamic Council of Victoria, has written that he is more offended by efforts to restrain religious expression than he is by nativity scenes. "This is where political correctness loses the plot," he wrote. "What purports to inspire tolerance instead inspires hostility and intolerance. ... Denying the Christianity in Christmas or, worse, doing away with it altogether helps no one. This is not multiculturalism. It is anti-culturalism."

Perhaps this yuletide backlash helps explain why I've been hearing "Merry Christmas" more in the past two weeks than I have the past 10 years. Suddenly everybody's saying it, and yes, I'm a perp.

In Washington earlier this month, I made a point of saying "Merry Christmas" to everyone, including cab drivers who were more often than not Muslim or Hindu. Without exception, they swiveled around, smiled and said, "Merry Christmas to you, too!"

Maybe it was just sugarplums doing the rumba in my head, but I could swear I detected appreciation and relief in these exchanges. Appreciation for the freedom that permits such expression and relief that somebody said it without apology.

Christmas may not be for everyone, but the spirit of Christmas is a non-discriminating, equal-opportunity messenger of goodwill. So Merry Christmas, everybody, and don't smile.

The good thing about this, from a Christian perspective, is that perhaps believers and non-believers alike will begin to think about what Christmas really means. From this could come some outstanding opportunities to share Christ.

Posted by Andrew at 3:04 PM
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Recent Arrivals

Many of you know by now of the birth of my newest nephew and niece, Christopher and Elizabeth. They were born to my brother David and his wife Judith on November 30, 2005 (yes, I know I am way late posting this). Christopher was born at 5:57 am, weighing 4lb 4 oz, Elizabeth was born at 6 am weighing in at 4lb 5.6oz.

Here is a picture of them. I have no idea which is which.

twins.jpg

Posted by Andrew at 12:53 PM // Comments: 1 //
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New Visa Restrictions

This report comes from Brazzil Magazine.

Brazil Gets Tough on Visas for Foreigners


Brazil's Immigration Council has announced a series of changes in its norms. There will be new criteria governing the concession of visas for foreigners who come to Brazil to work as administrators, managers, directors or executives.

Investors will be required to link their activities with the creation of jobs. Contracts involving technology transfer may be refused if they result in Brazilian workers being displaced by foreign workers. Visas will be valid for only one year; extensions will be granted for an equal period if need is shown.

According to the president of the council, Nilton Freitas, "The new measures will protect Brazilian workers, eliminate tax fraud and put an end to the present situation where foreigners can work in Brazil for up to four years without paying any taxes."

Another measure announced by the council will ease the requirements for investment activities by foreign companies.

Thus, the minimum amount a foreign corporation is required to invest in Brazil has been lowered from US$ 200,000 to US$ 50,000, allowing small firms to open branches in the country.

Companies that set up business in Brazil will have to create at least ten new jobs within two years after they begin operating.

According to a council spokesperson, these measures will mainly benefit the tourism and hotel sectors of the economy.

Posted by Andrew at 12:40 PM
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Brazil's Iraq

This is an interesting update on Brazil's military involvement in Haiti.

Caribseek Caribbean News | Brazilian FM Threatens with Pulling Out Troops from Haiti - Prensa Latina

RIO DE JANEIRO (PL) - Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim has threatened with pulling out his countrys troops from Haiti within six months if the international community fails to take part in the reconstruction process of this tiny Caribbean nation.

In remarks from Port au Prince where he will hand over snacks for 30,000 school children and sign cooperation agreements on agriculture and other fields on Tuesday, Amorim said that "if we notice that obstacles are great and repression is the only expectation among Haitians and the international community, then we will have to weight our involvement in the mission," he warned.

If everything goes well, I think that we will be there until elections (late 2005), Brazilian FM said.

I think Brazil needs to take a page from G.W. Bush's play book here. If they truly want Haiti to have elections, then they cannot go around saying things like "we will have to weight our involvement in the mission." Statements like that from national leaders are a sign of weakness that the enemies of democracy--in Haiti, Iraq, and around the world--rightly interpret as a sign of weakness.

Brazil sent at least a 1,200-strong battalion of naval riflemen and other support to Haiti in order to join the UN-sponsored reconstruction effort there.

Just a note: "naval riflemen" are marines. They are not people who shoot from their bellybutton.

He said the task has not been easy. The islands economic situation and politically-motivated street violence have hindered the UN mission"s work.

Economic situation and politically motivated street violence. Sounds alot like Iraq.

UN troops in Haiti are not complete as some countries that promised to contribute forces failed to do it. Only 790 troops have landed in Port au Prince, from the 6,700 originally expected.

Also sounds like Iraq.

At least 90 percent of the troops are expected to be in the country by year-end.

We are optimistic but not naive, said Amorim referring to the operation success.

Meanwhile, the US-installed Prime Minister of Haiti Gerald Latortue said August 18 has been declared Peace Day, a national holiday.

That date Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was visiting the Haitian capital to attend a football game between a Brazilian and a local team.

But despite Brazils solidarity gestures and the presence of troops from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Iraq, tension prevails in the Caribbean island.

And tension will continue to prevail as long as Brazilian leaders send mixed messages to the enemy.

Posted by Andrew at 12:18 PM
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December 20, 2004

Answer to Prayer

The following letter was received from Jim and Julie Leonard, colleagues in Brazil, on Saturday:

Dear Prayer Partners,

God's grace has been sufficient over the past day. He has been especially good to us.

Julie went in for surgery around 8:00 yesterday a.m., and was through at around 3:00 p.m. The surgeons met with me after surgery and said that they got all the tumor. Her left auditory nerve was cut, so she won't hear with her left ear. The left balance nerve was also cut, so she will be real dizzy for a few of days. They think her facial nerve was left intact, so she can still smile, wrinkle her nose, taste, blink, etc. That was our biggest concern. Praise the Lord!

At 5:00 p.m. today (Friday) she was moved from the ICU surgery recuperation station to a regular hospital room where she will stay for a few more days. Her next challenges will be to eat (just Jello at first), and to get out of bed so that she can begin walking.

Thanks for your love and prayers,

Jim

Thank you to all of the readers of this site who have been praying. I just talked to Jim on the phone, and he said that it looks like Julie will be discharged soon.

Posted by Andrew at 12:06 PM // Comments: 1 //
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Japanese WWII Holdout Honored In Brazil

The Japan Times recently ran the following article which I found interesting:

Brazil Honors Tenacious Soldier who Emigrated

RIO DE JANEIRO (Kyodo) Former army intelligence officer Hiroo Onoda has become the first Japanese to receive the Santos-Dumont Medal of Merit from the Brazilian air force, Brazil's highest civilian award.

Onoda, 82, was stationed on Lubang Island in the Philippines during World War II and continued living in the jungle nearly 30 years without knowing that the war had ended.

Onoda returned to Japan in March 1974 and emigrated to Brazil in 1975.

The Brazilian air force decided to honor Onoda in recognition of his military record and for his service to Brazil.

In a ceremony earlier this month, Onoda said he was glad that his military record was recognized by the military of a foreign country and that he wants to do whatever he can to further promote Brazil-Japan relations.

Onoda was sent to Lubang Island in December 1944 after graduating from the Nakano School of the Imperial Japanese Army, an institution to train intelligence officers.

He became a cattle farmer in Brazil and has been actively involved in the Japanese community there, setting up a Japanese association.

Posted by Andrew at 11:10 AM
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December 18, 2004

Family Pictures

Here are a few pics we had taken today at Wal-Mart studios. The photo versions are still being developed, but we have the digital ones already.

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Posted by Andrew at 3:20 PM // Comments: 8 //
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Two Steps Forward...

...one step back.

Today I discovered that the insurance we are required to have with Baptist Mid-Missions has gone up again, thus effectively raising our needed monthly support by almost $100. This puts us back down to 55.5% of our support.

Sigh.

Posted by Andrew at 3:14 PM
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December 15, 2004

Camping Trip Pics

Here are the pictures I promised of our recent camping trip:

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This is in response to someone who questioned whether or not I could set up a tent

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This is our little encampment at the height of it's growth.

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And of course what good is a camping trip without marshmallows.

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One of the many denizens of the forest we saw on our trip. Un-photographed were a gator, a raccoon, and a tree full of buzzards.

Posted by Andrew at 4:55 PM // Comments: 1 //
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Guilty Pleasures

I feel as if I must come clean. The other day, I bought on e-bay an i-Mac DV, blueberry edition. This is a computer for my wife, but I have been having quite a bit of fun with it myself. You can see a picture of it below.

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Now I am aware that this is not the most recent version of the i-Mac, but I must tell you that it is a very fun computer to play around with. Today I went over to CompUSA, and checked around in their Apple section. I was immediately confronted with what has to be the most beautiful machine in the world.

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This has got to be the most beautiful computer ever made. It has zoomed to the top of my wish list (even replacing a Hummer!).

Of course it is not in my budget right now, but someday...

Posted by Andrew at 3:18 PM // Comments: 2 //
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December 11, 2004

We're Back

Just got back from our camping trip. We had a wonderful time. Photos will be forthcoming (probably not before Monday).

Now I am busily preparing for our ministry tomorrow at Gateway Baptist Church in Kissimmee.

Posted by Andrew at 6:04 PM // Comments: 2 //
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December 9, 2004

Getting Back to Nature

I won't be blogging for the next couple of days, because I am going camping with my wife and son, as well as my brother and his wife.

I'll be back sometime next week, hopefully with pictures.

Posted by Andrew at 10:36 AM // Comments: 2 //
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December 8, 2004

Missionary Conference, Mexican Style

As I mentioned in the previous post, we spent most of last week at the missionary conference of the Iglesia Bautista Maranata, a Spanish language church here in Lakeland, FL. It was an unbelievable conference, and we came away extremely blessed. Below are some pictures of the event, with my commentary.

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A picture of all the missionary families who were in attendance at the conference.

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Missionaries on the bus on the way to our field trip.

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This little boy stole the show during the youth choir number.

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One of the many special numbers we were treated to during the week.

Posted by Andrew at 4:51 PM
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Brazil Ministry Update

The following is a portion of a letter I received today from Jim and Julie Leonard--missionaries in northeastern Brazil:

Dear Prayer Partners,

Psalm 40:5 reads "Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward .... if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered."

Let us list just a few of God's wonderful thoughts toward us, and His works here in the Cariri Valley of Northeast Brazil.

Last Friday we celebrated the end of the school year at the Cariri Baptist Seminary by graduating 24 young people. The graduation ceremony was one of the most beautiful services we have ever had, with over 1000 in attendance. Twelve of these graduates have accepted ministry opportunities in and around the Cariri Valley. The others will be going out to various parts of Brazil to serve the Lord.

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2004 graduates from the Cariri Baptist Seminary

In the past two weeks we have seen people saved at the Grace Baptist Church in Crato, at the Source of Light Baptist Church in Juazeiro (the church we are helping with a building program), at the New Jerusalem Congregation (the one we are helping to search for property), and at the Muriti Congregation, where we are also giving some assistance. Praise the Lord for the response to His saving truth.

Last Tuesday we celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary. Though we had planned to wait and celebrate next week with our trip to the United States, the kids took us out to a nice restaurant, then left us overnight at the adjoining hotel. A good night's rest in an air conditioned room sure felt wonderful after all the heat we've been experiencing.

The Lord has wonderfully provided for our trip, and for Julie's surgery in Los Angeles next week. We (Jim & Julie) will be leaving home this Sunday, and if all goes well, should be checking in to the "House Ear Clinic" the next afternoon, December 13th. The tumor is in a very delicate spot between Julie's inner ear and the brain, just on the inside of her skull. Because the tumor is growing near and around many sensitive nerves and vessels, we are trusting God to guide the surgeons' hands. The surgery is scheduled for Thursday morning, December 16th. After she is released, we hope to spend a few weeks in Minnesota with family where she can recover from surgery before returning home.

Josiah, Joy Anna, & Jennifer will be staying at home in Brazil. They will still have some school work to finish up for this semester, under the supervision of Jean Peterson, one of our co-workers. They will be able to enjoy the end-of-the-year activities at our church in Crato, the NE Brazil regional missionary conference, and then a couple of weeks with Uncle John (Jim's brother) and his family who live a couple of states to the southeast of us.

Posted by Andrew at 4:12 PM
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Brazil and Pollution

The following article appeared in the Yahoo News headlines today, and pretty much captures the conflict that exists in Brazil with regard to the Amazon rain forest.

Yahoo! News - Amazon Burning Makes Brazil a Leading Polluter

BRASILIA, Brazil (Reuters) - Burning of the Amazon and other forests accounts for three quarters of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions and has made the country one of the world's leading polluters, a long-delayed government report showed on Wednesday.

The report is the first official recognition by Brazil of the vast scale of burning of the Amazon, the world's largest tropical forest and home to up to 30 percent of the planet's animal and plant species.

Environmentalists said the report would probably make Brazil the world's sixth largest polluter. They said it could give impetus to rich countries' calls for leading developing nations to share in the burden of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, which cause global warming.

The report, or inventory of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions, showed Brazil produced 1.03 billion tons of carbon-dioxide equivalent in 1994, up from 979 million tons in 1990.

"That figure represents about three percent of total global emissions," Science and Technology Minister Eduardo Campos said, adding that the responsibility of slowing global warming "substantially" falls on rich countries.

Brazil was obliged to produce the inventory as a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol to curb greenhouse gas emissions, but as a developing country it does not need to cut emissions under the treaty.

GREAT TRACTS UP IN SMOKE

Still, the report is likely to ratchet up the pressure on Brazilian authorities to find ways to curb destruction of the Amazon that has reached alarming new levels in the past few years. Initial data shows that this year alone, an area the size of the U.S. state of New Jersey was destroyed.

"The effort by the government to fight deforestation has to be significant to hit illegal activities," Environment Minister Marina Silva said.

"We are not escaping from our responsibilities, we have our own internal targets," on environmental protection, she said.

Still, environmentalists have criticized the government for doing little to enact a promised plan to fight deforestation.

"This is the most serious ever," said David Cleary, head of the Amazon program of the Nature Conservancy in Brazil.

"We haven't had three consecutive years of this level of deforestation since the middle of the 1980s, and even then it was slightly lower and that was at the height of the bad old days of Amazon destruction."

The fact that Amazon burning is also responsible for most of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions is likely to accelerate calls for measures to reduce destruction of the forests.

In Brazil, pollution from industry is relatively low because of the country's wide-scale use of clean hydro-electric power. In some parts of the Amazon during the burning season, however, thick smoke hangs on the horizon.

Brazil has long argued that rich, developed countries need to make the greatest sacrifice to cut greenhouse gas emissions, as rich nations started the process of polluting years ago with the industrial revolution.

The United States has not signed the Kyoto Protocol, saying that big, developing countries like China, India and Brazil need to assume commitments to cut pollution as well.

United Nations climate change talks are taking place in Buenos Aires this week where Brazil will present its inventory of greenhouse gas emissions.

Posted by Andrew at 3:20 PM
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December 6, 2004

I'm Going to Mexico!

We just got done attending an awesome missionary conference at the Iglesia Bautista Maranata here in Lakeland. I will have more about that conference later, but I just wanted to mention that it looks like I will be in Monterrey, Mexico the last week of March. I will be speaking and presenting our ministry in Brazil to a couple of churches there. I never thought that deputation would take me outside the US.

Posted by Andrew at 10:16 AM // Comments: 1 //
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December 2, 2004

Support Increase

We are pleased to announce that West Windsor Baptist Church, of Windsor, NY, has joined our family of investors. With their financial commitment, we are currently at 56.8% of the funds needed for us to go to Brazil!

Posted by Andrew at 4:28 PM // Comments: 4 //
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Solidarity with Terrorists?

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Here is a cartoon I found on a popular Brazilian site. I think it pretty much represents the feeling in Brazil right now as to Israel, the Palestinians, and the US. The Portuguese text at the end says "November 29th, International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People...if only because nobody knows who could be next."

Notice who is the villain, and who is the "hero" of this little animation.

Posted by Andrew at 4:05 PM
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December 1, 2004

Brazil and Linux

And this just in, for all you open-source fans: another installment in the ongoing saga of Brazil's love affair with anything that is not Microsoft.

Linux News: Open Source: Brazil Court Adopts Open-Source Software

Brazil's federal district and territories court (TJDFT) has decided to migrate to an open-source platform having implemented a database system supplied by local software firm InterSystems, according to a TJDFT statement.

TJDFT's migration is aligned with the current government's policy of stimulating the adoption of open-source technology.

Posted by Andrew at 5:30 PM
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This Should Be Interesting

An article in the MercoPress carries the following headline:

Former Brazilian president back in the political ring

This got my attention right away, because I wondered which former president they were talking about. Could it be Fernando Collor, the first democratically elected president in that country after years of military dictatorship--who was impeached for corruption.

It was not him. Instead, the article is talking about Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who was president before Lula took office.

Former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995/200) accused his successor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of having no proposals to end the problems and challenges facing the country.

Now this is interesting. Brazilian law prohibits Cardoso from serving more than two consecutive terms, but he could conceivably run again and serve two more terms.

It is apparent, from the article, that this is what he has in mind.

During a seminar of his party, Brazilian Social Democracy, in Sao Paulo this week, Mr. Cardoso launched his attack on the Lula administration and called on the opposition to criticize the ruling coalition.

"Without the need to be infamous, but without velvet gloves on, so the people can see that this administration has no proposals", underlined Mr. Cardoso who is considered a presidential hopeful for 2006.

My overall impression of Mr. Cardoso is that he was a tremendously competent president. He beat the current president twice, once without the need for a runoff. Mr. Cardoso introduced the Real, which has been Brazil's currency since 1994, and been relatively stable. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Posted by Andrew at 11:38 AM
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Brazilian Wildlife

Yesterday, courtesy of our Pastor, we were able to spend the afternoon at Loughry Park Zoo in Tampa. We had a great time. I decided when I went that I would take some pictures of any animals we found that were native to Brazil.

brazilianwildlife01.jpg

I do not remember what the name of this bird is. But that does not matter, as whatever name was posted in the zoo is certainly different from what it is called in Brazil.

brazilianwildlife03.jpg

Poison tree frogs found in the Amazon. They were standing very still, and my wife insisted that they were plastic. She kept insisting, until one of them started hopping around.

brazilianwildlife02.jpg

More poison tree frogs.

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Another kind of Brazilian frog, for which I do not remember the name.

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And finally, the absolutely most beautiful Brazilian creature that was in the zoo that day. And, I got to take her home with me! (To avoid any misunderstanding, it should be noted here that she is my wife)

Posted by Andrew at 10:47 AM // Comments: 3 //
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