"Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words." Saint Francis of Assisi

Monday, December 31, 2007

Christmas in Brasil

One of our favorite times of the year in Brasil is the Christmas season. Our first year here was a little strange because we celebrated in 90 degree weather, and during our whole lives Christmas weather had meant big coats. We have adjusted to the weather and the culture, and we get to experience things that have really become special family traditions. One of those things is to go to a town about 2 hours away from us to and spend a few days seeing all the shows they put on for Christmas. It's a town up in the hills. It's nice to go there to enjoy some calmer time together away from our big city and enjoy the beauty. We were able to take Benay's parents there last year and this year we took my parents. We hope you enjoy the photos of our trip to Gramado and Canela. We've got quite a few but you'll see we definitely had a good time.

Several photo opportunities with statues around town:
A Christmas Arts & Crafts Village. The boys REALLY enjoyed this place!

There were, however, some girls who enjoyed the shopping.
There were a lot of hydrangeas in full bloom everywhere.
These are some pictures of a place called the Black Lake where you can drive swan boats around the lake surrounded by flowers.


I don't want to brag but this is my girlfriend.
These are the rest of my girls.

Sometimes being around so many flowers just makes you want to meditate on things......or get into a Spiderman fighting pose.

At night, everything is lit up. It is so pretty. We enjoyed several different restaurants. This is a little house that serves German food:


One of our favorite experiences is eating fondue. They bring out 3 courses of fondue - cheese with bread and little potatoes, then a hot stone to cook small pieces of steak and chicken with a bunch of sauces for dipping, then finally chocolate with fruit. It's really good, but only something our wallets and our waistlines can afford once or twice a year.
Instead of warming up with a Christmas cup of cocoa, we cooled off with popsicles!

This is one of the shows we went to. It's a music/fireworks show on water. There were 4 tenors and 3 sopranos singing on top of globes which were on the water. In this picture you can see the women who were right in front of us and far behind them you can see one of the tenors on another globe.
This dark picture is of Ansley and her grandparents at the water singing show. Every year, during the singing of "Silent Night", candles are passed out and lit and everyone holds them while the singers are singing this song. It's become a family favorite during this show.
Here is our family waiting for the Christmas street parade to begin. The city closes down a couple of blocks 2-3 nights a week during December just for this big parade.
Dancing Christmas trees. You can see white stuff on the ground behind them. During the parade, white "snow" is shot out and falls on the crowd and the people in the parade. The snow is......um.......white foamy bubble stuff.
Santa and his reindeer.
Just wanted to show my pride and joy of the fact that Anderson's brother and sisters have already taught him how to cross his eyes right when his picture is being taken. Benay and I are very proud.
I think this is my favorite picture from our trip. As soon as the parade is over you can go in the street and this is a picture of the kids playing in the "snow".
After all the running around and seeing different things some of us had to catch up on our beauty sleep.......
While others.........

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas surprise

This is a video of my parents' arrival to Brasil. Our kids knew that they were trying to come and then my mom had some big problems with her visa. We had a few days where we didn't know if she would get her visa in time to make the trip. We asked the kids to begin praying every day that God would bless that and allow my parents to come visit us. When it began to look like it would all get worked out we told the kids we wouldn't know for sure until Monday night the 17th. This was the evening that my parents were to arrive. I told the kids I had to go help a friend move and they should go ahead and start the Christmas movie we were going to watch that night. I then went to the airport and picked up my parents. I brought them back to our street and dropped them off at the corner close to our house with instructions to wait 5 minutes before they rang our doorbell. I then returned home to watch the movie with the kids and Benay (who had all the kids together in a room close to our front door)but told them I had to fix our camcorder first. I was then able to film the reactions of all the kids when they opened the door and saw our visitors. We just love the different reactions of each child and think you will too. There is no better Christmas gift than a visit, especially a 5,000 mile away surprise one, from grandparents.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Look what the cat drug in


(Kevin) My parents arrived last week from the states. Their visit was a Christmas surprise for the kids and tomorrow we'll post a Christmas day video of just how exactly we tricked the kids. The grandparents are still adjusting to the 4 hour time difference, my dad being sick, as well as our family not giving them much of a chance to rest, but they are enjoying their first 'HOT' Christmas. It's been over 90 degrees every day. We'll try to get my parents to write a blog or two while they are here.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Anniversary, Again

Christmas is such a busy time of year and there are so many things happening that we could blog about. But I (Benay) didn't want to let this day go by without recognizing my parents, Berney and Jane Waite, who are celebrating their 45th anniversary today. Kevin wrote about his parents at the end of November, and I can't help but think what a huge blessing it is to have both sets of our parents celebrating 45 years of marriage. What a wonderful heritage!
December 22, 1962 (My mom made her dress!)

I want to thank my parents for loving me and my sister and brother the way that they did (and still do!) and for raising us to love God. They taught me so many things - the importance of family, the joy of being around children and sharing in their world, to love the church and Bible study, to love music and singing, and to do the right thing always, even when it isn't easy. I learned from them that wherever you are can feel like "home" if you make it special and the people you love are there. My mom and dad have been great examples to me and they bless our family and our children so much. It is hard to be far away on special days like today, so I just want to say....

Happy Anniversary Mama and Daddy. I love you and am so thankful that you are my parents.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Milan vs Boca 3-1 Kaka

The finals of all the world's soccer teams was on Sunday. This was the championship that our team, Internacional, won last year that transformed our city into a huge party. I've never seen anything like it. The most fun I've ever had as a sports fan. Okay, I'm done bragging about my team. Anyway, this years final was between A.C. Milan, from Italy, and Boca Juniors, from Argentina. Let's just say I don't like Boca Juniors for many different reasons that I won't get into right now. I do like A.C. Milan. They have many Brasilians playing on their team and this year they bought our (Internacional) best player. He's only 18 and his name is Alexandre Pato. He will be an incredible player for them. That alone would be reason enough for us to like them but we like them for another reason. They have another Brasilian on their team and his name is Kaká. His team, A.C. Milan won the world tournament (4-2), he was voted the player of the year in Europe this year and just yesterday he won the award for player of the year for the world. Pretty amazing year he has had. But those reasons don't make him our favorite player. The reason we love him so much is that he is our brother in Christ. In this world of hearing athletes thank God for everything and then finding out they have 3 girlfriends outside of marriage, use horrible language, spend their money on their drug habit, etc., Kaká is a breath of fresh air. He not only talks the talk but he lives the talk. Everything we've seen and heard about him shows Christ. He is not shy about sharing his faith, about his daily time spent with God and he even shared with this country how he remained sexually pure until his wedding night. Unless you have been to Brasil or know about this country, you have no idea how incredible that is. This is a country, in many cases, who encourages premarital sex in so many different ways (tv shows, newspapers, billboards, parents, friends). The sexually pure are often made fun of. This country needs a popular Christian role model like Kaká. We like him so much because he has taken on this role that God has given him and used it for the good of the kingdom. He is a role model to kids and adults alike. He is showing that living a life for God is not a burden or a life of 'can't do' lists but a blessing to live to the fullest. We understand most of you reading this don't pay much attention to soccer/futebol but we wanted to call your attention to someone who is using his gifts for the kingdom. That is why we can show this video of what he did after his goal and not want to throw up like we do when so many other athletes thank God after a big game and swear in the same sentence. Kaká is the real deal and he really wants to show the world (and this game was shown around the world) that he truly 'belongs to Jesus.'

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bronwyn's Jazz Presentation

Bronwyn just finished her second year of jazz class. At the end of every year the classes of jazz, ballet and dance do a presentation together. This was the same night as Ansley's 8th grade graduation and so we left Ansley to go with her friends to a party and we rushed to see Bronwyn's jazz presentation. Things in Brasil typically start later than in the U.S. The entire presentation didn't even begin until 9 p.m. and Bronwyn's part didn't happen until almost 11. Here are some pictures and a video.

Bronwyn in costume. She represented Africa in a presentation of different countries.
Carys trying to sneak a peek backstage.

Some of Bronwyn 's best freinds: (from left) Fredy, Bernardo, Lana, Giu and Julia along with little sister Carys in front of Bronwyn.
The blog below is a video of Bronwyn's dance. You have to wait for a couple of minutes before she begins. When she begins you will see her on the front row and all the way to the right.



Bronwyn's Jazz Presentation

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ansley's 8th grade graduation

Schools in Brasil only go to the 11th grade so their graduation from 'junior high' to high school takes place after the 8th grade. Ansley's graduation was last week and we wanted to share some pictures and a video of that night with you.

Ansley in her graduation dress.

The graduating class.
Ansley and some of her buddies. Ansley with her mom and little sister.
I just had to include this video. After being here all these years you can hear the great difficulty with which the Brasilians still have in trying to say Ansley Maye Blume. It's really funny to us but sounds normal to them.
video

Sunday, December 09, 2007

For the Men......Possible Entanglements

I'm currently reading a book entitled Fight on Your Knees....Calling Men to Action Through Transforming Prayer, edited by Dr. Mell Winger. It's a book that is, obviously from the title, about men and prayer. It is really good and it's been hard for me to put down. It has different authors writing each chapter. It calls us men to be the kind of spiritual leaders that God wants us to be. I read something yesterday about things that can keep our prayer lives from being fruitful and I wanted to share that part of the book with you. It made an impact on me. My prayer is that this will uplift and encourage you to be aware of these possible 'good gift' entanglements in your lives.

It says:

Satan can do much to keep us from becoming all that Christ desires. Sinful choices like adultery and addiction to pornography can certainly keep us from a vibrant prayer life. But I'm convinced that many men battle a more subtle entanglement than gross sin. Their prayer lives are weak due to the distraction that can come with God's good gifts.

You see, the greatest adversaries to our love for the Lord are not His enemies but His gifts. It is the pleasures of life that choke out the Word of God (see Luke 8:14). Now, understand that the pleasures of life and the desire for other things are not, in themselves, wrong or evil. But brother, when the gifts begin to obscure our relationship with Christ, then something is amiss. Eating food, biking, watching TV, playing sports, exercising, surfing the internet, talking on the phone, pursuing hobbies, studying, or reading mystery stories (all good gifts) can become hindrances to our prayer life. God has created us men to be doers. We like projects and tasks, and there is nothing wrong with that. But when we spend more time nibbling at the table of the world than at the banquet table of our God, our prayer life will be affected negatively.

If we don't take time to "be" with the Lord, then we will be caught up in the rat race of our day and begin to lose our sensitivity to Christ's presence. We must not allow ourselves to become entangled by distractions. The Lord encourages us, "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10, emphasis added).

Friday, December 07, 2007

Carys..........`Tis the Season'

For those of you reading this who don't know our family, you might think we just have 4 kids. Bronwyn went to Montivideo, Ansley took the chorus trip, Garrett broke his leg, and Anderson got painted up. We do actually have one more. Carys is our youngest daughter and when asked to describe her Benay said it best when she said that 'the world is her playground.'

Carys has an infectious, hilarious, deep laugh and laughs at many things. She has fun anywhere she goes and makes friends with anyone in about 5 seconds. She isn't afraid of very many things and has a very adventurous nature. Just to allow you to get to know her better I will share a quick example from when she was 5 (she's 8 now): We've had a small group bible study in our home every week for sometime now. At the beginning of the school year in 2oo5 (Feb/Mar for us) we began a new study for the year. Benay was in Rio de Janeiro for a women's spiritual retreat and I was here with the 5 kids. I also was fighting the flu that week and really wasn't upset when people began to call saying they couldn't come for various reasons. It looked like I would be able to go to bed early and rest. At the last minute one couple and their kids showed up in a taxi. While the adults had our study, the kids played outside. Our next door neighbors had some kids over that Carys had made friends with. They began talking to her through the fence. For protection and security we have about a 9 foot high fence around our property. Anyway, as we are studying I could see Carys talking to her friends through the gate and then she came running in asking if she can go outside of the gate and play with her new friends. I told her no. It was getting dark and I just didn't feel good. She went back out. I looked out again a couple of minutes later and she was OUTSIDE of the fence talking with her friends. I quickly left the study and went out and asked her how she did that since she did not have the keys. She, rather calmly, told me she CLIMBED over the nine foot tall metal fence. Remember, she was just 5. I asked her why and she told me because her friends were saying, "Faça, Faça." Which means, "do it, do it!" I share just to let you know how things work in Carys' world.







Carys has always LOVED Santa Claus. When she was 2 we lived in Texas and we were in the mall one day during the Christmas season. I was holding her as we were walking and I could feel her arm moving. I asked what she was doing and she told me she was waving at "Him." I asked, "Him who" and she said, "Christmas!" I turned around and saw that "Christmas" was a mall Santa Claus. Let's just say she always keeps us laughing.








She has always loved going to see Santa Claus and presenting her Christmas list. One year before she knew how to write, she drew pictures on separate index cards of all her requests and presented them to Santa. If other kids weren't in line she would, and still will, hang out on Santa's lap for as long as he allows. We asked the other day if she had made her list. She said no and immediately went to the computer where she stayed for over an hour looking at the Wal Mart website (by the way, we don't have Wal Mart in Porto Alegre) and making her list (photo on right). When she was done it only consisted of 43 things. That's all.

Later Benay was talking to her parents on the phone about different Christmas things. Carys overheard some of the conversation and came to me and asked if Benay's mom could send her the video game that she wanted.

Here's how the conversation went:

Carys: "Why don't we have Granna get me the Nintento DS that I want for Christmas?"

Me: " Well if Granna and Grandaddy get you that for Christmas, Santa Claus won't have anything to get you.

Carys: "Dad, I have 42 other things on my list."

Me: "Oh yeah. I forgot. Hey Carys, you need to remember what Christmas is about. It's not about who gets the most presents."

Carys: "I know dad."

Me: "Great."

Carys: "It's about who gets the biggest!!"

That's our Carys. Life is never dull with her.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Garigran

I would like to tell you about our new brother in Christ. His name is Garigran. I first met him at Carys' school. His son, Aaron, and Carys are in the same class and we were all together for a Mother's Day presentation. Garigran noticed that I had a digital camera and he asked if I could take a picture of his family. This opened up a great friendship. When he first told me his name he told me he was named after a famous American actor. I told him we didn't have anyone named Garigran. He assured me we did. We went back and forth a little bit before I figured out that this American actor was none other than Cary Grant. Garigran's parents named him after Cary Grant and put a Brasilian twist on it. A great first meeting story that we still laugh about.

Almost immediately, after our first real conversation, he started coming to our small group study during last year. He brought his wife and 2 boys (picture to the right is of Aaron, Garigran, Gabriela and Arthur). They continued to study with us and were part of the transformation that took place with house churches this year. Garigran and I began to spend some time together talking about spiritual things as we entered this new year. Right before our family went on our furlough to the United States this past June I asked the guys on the team if anyone would have time to continue meeting with Garigran while we were gone. Sascha Terry wanted to do it and he and Garigran had some great conversations that continued even after our family returned. In October Sascha felt led to just ask Garigran where he was in relation to Jesus. Garigran said he was ready to give his life to Christ and he wanted to show his faith in Christ through baptism right away. Sascha and I had the privilege of baptizing this new brother. It was an amazing blessing to be a part of. On the day of his baptism we praised God for how He used two 7 year olds to reach a family with the Good News of Jesus. Carys' and Aaron's friendship helped grow God's kingdom as we never would have met this special family if it weren't for them.

I asked Garigran to share his testimony with you in his own words and here they are (followed by the very important English translation):

"" Durante a maior parte da minha vida achei que minhas obrigações com Deus estavam resolvida. Eu havia sido batizado ainda quando pequeno em uma igreja católica e mais tarde também havia feito a primeira comunhão. Eu achava que não precisava mais nada.... Eu estava muito enganado....Eu levava uma vida incompleta...Eu sentia que faltava algo mas não conseguia descobrir o que... Agora que tomei o caminho de Cristo e principalmente após o meu batismo, percebo a transformação. É uma coisa difícil de expressar em palavras mas e plenamente compreensível para as pessoas que sabem do que estou falando. Realmente e maravilhosa essa nova vida em cristo. Garigran ""

"For most of my life, I thought that my obligations with God had been resolved. I had been baptized when I was small in a catholic church and later had participated in my first communion. I thought that I didn't need anything else. I was very wrong. I was living an incomplete life. I was missing something, but I didn't know what it was.
Now that I have begun my walk with Christ, and especially after my baptism, I feel a transformation. It is something difficult to express in words, but completely understandable for people who know what I am talking about. It is really marvelous, my new life in Christ. Garigran"
Sascha, Garigran and myself


Monday, December 03, 2007

Free at Last

Last week Garrett finally had his cast taken off. He spent 4 weeks in two different types of casts and after having an x-ray done this past Wednesday, the doctor said it was healed. He is now free to go back to soccer but only after 3 more weeks of strengthening and getting used to walking again. This didn't make Garrett happy but he understood after he tried to walk for the first time once the cast was off (as noted by the video below of his first walking attempt).

Garrett entering the MD's office to have the cast taken off. This would be the "before" photo.

The cutting begins.

When Garrett found out his cast had to be CUT off he was a little apprehensive but after he was told that it wouldn't hurt at all he was able to enjoy the tickling experience.

This is Pedro taking off the cast. The fact that we are on a first name basis with him should let you know how often our family has visited this orthopedic clinic and how often Pedro has applied braces, casts and different dressings.

The mixed response "after" picture. Happy to have the cast off but bummed that it's hard to walk and he can't play soccer for three more weeks.

A short video of gimpy:

video