July 31, 2008
It has been a while since we have had one of these. This picture is courtesy of Pastor Jeff Bartz, who took it while here with his team of young people from Grace Baptist Church, Batavia, NY.
Hopefully the "captioning" skills of our readers have not gotten rusty after all this time. Have at it!
July 30, 2008
Thanking God when Stuff Goes Wrong
This evening we had our prayer time once again with the young people of our church--after about a month-long hiatus. One of my goals with this group is to avoid getting into a "rut" at all costs. So, that being the case, we tried something different.
I mentioned to them 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ("In all things give thanks..."), and talked about how rare it was for people to thank God for something that went wrong. Then I had them think back to things that had gone wrong for them over the last month. Then we prayed, thanking God for those things. Not for what we thought He might be doing through our problems--but for the problems themselves.
Much on my mind were my brother and sister-in-law, who are going through what must be one of the most emotionally wrenching experiences possible right now. Their attitude of praise and trust has been encouraging and humbling to me.
It was a sweet experience to hear our young people thank God for the disappointments and trials they are facing. After the service one young lady came up to me and told me she had never prayed that we before. I think in our prayer times we are going to do that a lot more often.
The Home of the "Coronel"
In a previous entry I mentioned some interesting points of historical interest in the city of Santana do Cariri. I just received the pictures from my friend Cicero, and so now I can tell you about them.
For me, the most interesting part of our time in Santana do Cariri was the mansion pictured below.
It belonged to one Coronel Felinto da Cruz Neves. Felinto was born in Juazeiro, but came to Santana do Cariri--where his family owned pretty much everything--at an early age. He entered politics and was elected mayor of the town five times.
As we toured his home--now a museum run by the city--we came upon a trap door.
Our guide explained that the trap door led to underground chambers that served to protect the owner and others in the city.
At that time political rivalries were often settled with guns. Powerful "coroneis" would hire the services of bandits--called "cangaçeiros"--to attack a pillage the towns of their rivals. Coronel Felinto built his house to serve a fortress in the event of such attacks. It served this purpose often.
Upon receiving word of an attack from his chief rival (who happened to be his cousin) he, his family, and the townspeople would gather in the basement of his home.
The basement also contained a large space which served as the dormitory for Felino's own "cangaçeiros".
Let's examine the front of the house a little more closely:
Those round holes are gun portals. When under attack, the defenders would shoot at the enemy from those holes.
Coronel Felinto was elected a sixth time as mayor, but his victory proved fatal. He was shot shortly after the election results were known. His wife, Generosa, assumed office--thus becoming the first female mayor in the state of Ceará and the second in all of Brazil.
Another item of interest is that this happened in 1936, a year before our first missionary arrived in this region.
The Longsuffering Brazilian Teacher
A friend sent me these this morning. They are scans of actual answers given on tests by students here in Brazil.
Q. What is the principal function of the skeleton?
A. To invade the castle of Greyskull!
Q. Explain the political policy adopted by President Janio Quadros
A. Teacher, I was born in 1987, for this reason I will not be able to answer this question. However I am willing to go to the library and research the policy he adopted.
This one needs no translation. I can identify with this student.
Q. Find x
A. It's right there
(I actually did something like this in my algebra book...I bet my Dad could find it and send me a scan...)
The Real "Calvin and Hobbes"
I found this the other day while perusing Facebook. Thought I would share.
July 28, 2008
Santana do Cariri
On Saturday--our last full day of vacation--we went with our friends Cicero and Nice to the city of Santana do Cariri--about an hour from where we live. Santana do Cariri is famous for three things: fossils, a beautiful overlook, and a colorful history.
This is the city as seen from the overlook.
When we went to the fossil museum, the following two fossils amazed me:
Both of these depict fish (which in and of itself should tell you something, since these fossils are found at about 900 meters above sea level) fossilized in the act of eating other fish. Perhaps it's just me, but this seems to scream "major cataclysmic event".
As to the town's colorful history, I will wait until Cicero sends me some pictures he took which have to do with that. For now, I leave you with this--by far my favorite picture from the day's activities.
A Little Twitter
I have been doing more with Twitter of late. At first I could not see the use of it, but now the idea of people receiving up-to-the-minute reports of our activities seems like a no-brainer--from a missionary standpoint.
If you are into Twitter go ahead and subscribe to our profile. If you do not know what Twitter is, you might want to check it out. The cell phone feature is really nice. I also use a Facebook app called BlogIt to sync my "tweats" and status updates.
July 27, 2008
I got welcomed back from vacation by this video...thought I would share.
July 21, 2008
The above is a Brazilian expression that means "I'm outta here!"
Vacation officially starts now. No computers have been invited, cell phones are being turned off. Just me, my family, some books, and some games. For a week.
Random Pictures from the Batavia Team
Before I start this entry, let me just explain that when groups from the US come down I do not have much time to be taking pictures. Hence I rely on those taken by the group. The pictures that follow were taken by Pastor Mark Hurlbut, who kindly gave me permission to use them here.
The group from Batavia had a unique experience as they arrived at the airport. A "quadrilha" group was performing in the lobby.
As this group was from Upstate New York, the beach in Fortaleza was a major attraction.
One of our first stops after the group arrived was our camp. This is a shot of the team on the bridge which spans the lake.
Pastor Jeff is the youth leader for the church, and is possibly the most adventurous person ever to come visit us. Here he is with a rather large frog. Later we ate at a "rodizio" where we were served wild boar, capivara, and frog meat. Jeff was definitely in his element at that point.
Here is another group pic, taken from the top of one of the ridges that surrounds our valley.
This is Pastor Mark Hurlbut preaching...and Yours Truly translating.
The Batavia group had some great interaction with our youth group, and administered a fantastic English camp. Many of the team members are already talking about coming back.
Late Breaking Video
I just came across a couple videos posted by a camper from last week. The first one is of the "battle cry" of one of the teams, named "Sarrabulho".
These teens REALLY get into their competition.
The second one I was really glad to find. It was of an improvised choir the speaker put together...using an arrangement they came up with as they practiced.
After that service I commented to the speaker how I appreciated the American blues feel to the tune. He said "Yes, we did that just for you." I was touched.
More Pictures from the Most Recent Filming Session
In my report on the visit from the Cortland group I included a picture of their participation in a filming session for the Cidade Feliz project. Here are some more shots from that day.
John helps to prepare the set.
Lifting the rock.
Ben and Jake do a scene.
Peek a boo!
I am looking forward to being able to show you the finished product once we get this edited...but it is going to take some time--probably about a month.
July 20, 2008
This one is a "highlights reel" of teen week.
I am back from camp, nursing a nasty cough and sore throat, and trying to catch up all that I can before vacation next week.
One thing that needs to be caught up is blogging. There are pictures reports from the two missions teams that were with us, as well as from two weeks of camp.
I thought I would start out with this little music video put together by some of the staff and campers last week. What I find amazing is the quality of the video given the fact that they all they had to work with was a handheld camera and a laptop.
July 18, 2008
I have made three runs to the hospital in the last twenty-four hours. All of them for the same camper. On the first run I broke my time record from camp to the emergency room (7 minutes). That was exciting, but after that it got kind of old.
Based on some of the comments, perhaps I should add a few details. The camper in question was a young lady who suffered from low blood pressure and a broken heart. Trip number one was made with her in the back seat of the car in convulsions. One of our male counselors was restraining her, and the object of her affections was in the front seat next to me.
Trip two came after she had returned to the camp, and at that point informed us that before fainting she had fallen and hit her head. Fearing a possible concussion, we took her back to the hospital. This was at about 2am.
Trip three was the next morning. She had come down to watch some of the sporting events and had a small fainting spell. This was due more to lack of eating breakfast than anything else. We put her on strict rest and made sure she ate.
On the way back from trip three she asked all kinds of questions about how her boyfriend had responded to her crisis. She was evidently satisfied with the answer, and--coincidentally I am sure--demonstrated a marked improvement from that point on.
July 15, 2008
Long Time No Blog
I am sorry for the lack of information on this blog over the last week or so. It is not for lack of activity--rather it is for excess of it. On Saturday I will be back home, and I hope to post a couple updates at that point, before taking off for a week of much-needed vacation.
July 1, 2008
Random Pictures from the Cortland Team
Here are some shots taken by members of the "Amigo para Amigo" group that is visiting us from Bible Baptist in Cortland, NY. No particular order here.
The team with a few of the teachers from the American English Center. I'm in there too.
Brad signs an autograph.
Jacob on the raft.
The team participates in a puppetry filming session.
Kids at the church where we ministered in the city of Exu.
Scene from a quadrilha.
Me translating for Dad.
Firepower in a local museum.
New converts being baptized in Exu.