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

Monday, March 31, 2008

Brasilian Models

As most of you probably know, this is a picture of Gisele Bündchen. She is considered by most the world's top model. She is one of the highest paid models in the world. You may or may not have already known that. She also currently dates Tom Brady who is the quarterback for the New England Patriots (I hate that team). What you probably didn't know is that Gisele is from our state. Our state is Rio Grande do Sul. She is from the interior but when she comes back to the state she typically spends her vacation/down time here in Porto Alegre.I know, I know big deal right? What in the world does this have to do with us and what is going on with our family. Well, because of the great success Gisele has had in the world of modeling there has been an enormous influx of modeling agencies coming to Porto Alegre to find the next Gisele. Both Carys, a few years ago, and Ansley, just last weekend, were approached in different malls by people who claimed to work for modeling agencies and wanted them to come in for a photo shoot. They gave us their cards and told us to give them a call. Kind of creepy if you ask me but I guess that's how the modeling thing works. Don't know if you've ever paid attention to models but it always looks like they are making strange faces when their pictures are taken. You know the kind - really super cool looks or at least what they think are super cool looks. I've never understood it but that's what they do.

Anyway, after much searching, a local modeling company has recently announced a new ad campaign featuring something pretty incredible. Sisters that are models. Here are some photos from the recent photo shoots. What even makes this find more fascinating is that this modeling agency later introduced a campaign that features the two sisters and, incredibly, their mom. It's a first in the modeling industry. Here's a sneak preview of what's to come. Oh never mind.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Friday, March 28, 2008

House Church Easter Retreat

This is the first year that our house church family has gone on an Easter retreat. We normally have gone on a retreat during Carnaval (Mardi Gras) but this year, if you remember, we felt the Spirit leading us to get more involved in our community during carnaval instead.

So, last weekend we enjoyed spending time together remembering Christ's suffering and the victory he gave us through his resurrection. We had a really good time together.

There were 70 people that were part of the weekend. There were families from 6 different house churches that participated. Around 10 of those that participated were either visitors and/or people who aren't yet Christians. God really blessed our time together.

We enjoyed our times of fellowship together........

.....as well as studying and learning biblical truths together.

We encouraged each other (this is one of my favorite pictures because it is one Christian and two not yet Christian men praying together on our first night).................and of course we had fun (these are the teenage boys allowing Anderson to get in the soccer circle with them).Garrett and one of his best buddies Kjeld (pronounced Kel-jee). On Sunday we praised God together at sunrise. We wanted to worship together around the pool but it was raining so we stuffed almost 70 people in this little gazebo. Everyone enjoyed our time together as we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus.We had a great weekend. I think the highlight is that one young man gave his life to Christ and wants to be baptized in the near future. We will blog about him soon. He is an amazing guy.

Too many good things happened during this retreat. We could never do them justice by trying to write about and show each photo. So, we've made this slide show from photos taken last weekend.

It was a good, but tiring weekend.
P.S. Sam took his first road trip and enjoyed his new surroundings for a couple of days. It was a bit humble for his taste (notice the rocks we found on the road to use for his home) but Carys made it feel as much like home as possible.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Miss President

Bronwyn is in her senior year of High School. Her school is called Colegio Americano. It's the same school that Ansley and Garrett go to as well. It has grades from pre-school through high school. Bronwyn will graduate in December. She's pretty low key with stuff in her life. She makes really good grades but she never talks about it. Like all of our kids she has lots of gifts and talents, but if you asked her what they are she might not even answer. She is not a "toot her own horn" kind of a person. She is confident in who she is in Christ and that is good enough for her. That is why it didn't surprise me much when someone else had to tell me that she was elected student council president for all the students in the entire school (over 1000 students). She didn't even bring it up with me. It also doesn't surprise me that when I was at their school last week a friend of ours, who works at the school, came up to me and congratulated me on Bronwyn's day. Since Bronwyn does such a good job of keeping us up to date I got to say, "Thank you........for what?"

He then started telling me that Bronwyn had given a speech that day after she received the official transfer of power in her presidency. Pretty cool stuff. Since she would never tell you anything about this we decided to toot her horn for her.

Her school's website (it won't mean much to you but you can see it here) had an article about her day last week and here's what it said:

A presidente da atual gestão, Bronwyn Blume, demonstrou otimismo no discurso de posse. “Esperamos que este seja um ano bem produtivo e que nossa equipe consiga superar todas as expectativas”, comentou a estudante do 3º ano. Para 2008, Bronwyn destaca como principais projetos os eventos musicais Bio in Concert e Brasil em Cena, além de gincanas e atividades de voluntariado.

Okay, we'll translate:

This year's president, Bronwyn Blume, demonstrated optimism in her speech to the group. "We hope that that this year will be really productive and that our group will be able to do exceed all expectations," said the senior student. For 2008, Bronwyn highlighted as prinicipal projects the musical events Bio in Concert and Brasil em Cena, as well as carnivals and volunteer activities.

This is Bronwyn with Jussara (the director of the entire school....she's in the middle) and Angela (who is the prinicipal of the High School) as they commemorate the "transfer of power" (sounds cool) for the new president.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Carys's Five Day Birthday

One of the blessings of having so many kids is that they can adapt to almost any situation because well, that's kind of what our life is like. With 5 kids there is a lot of adapting. Carys had some adapting to do on her birthday a couple of weeks ago. She had a hard time getting to celebrate her birthday on just one day because of different things that kept happening and so she literally received presents and celebrated her birthday for 5 straight days. How good can a birthday be?

This is Carys the day before her birthday.

Note the swelling and redness under the left eye. She had to miss school because we had to take her to the emergency room and they then sent us across town to an eye specialist. Her eye was slowly shutting and all the redness and swelling was going down her face. The E.R. MD said it couldn't get any worse and that's why we had to see an eye MD. It was diagnosed as an abscess of the eyelid. The doctor prescribed some medicine and asked us to go see our pediatrician in the afternoon. Thankfully we have a good relationship with our pediatrician and she told us over the phone what kind of medicine to get Carys. Carys was very anxious. Not because she spent 4 hours in doctor's offices but because she had a big party in a local park the next day. She was really sad thinking about having to cancel her party. The Blume family day at the hospital also messed up some parents' plans to go out and buy the birthday girl some presents. We would try to do that after the party tomorrow.

Day 1
Thankfully God answered our prayers and her eye was much better on the following day and so you know what that meant.........PARTY!!! But first we had to celebrate with a good breakfast. Ansley likes to cook and she wanted to make something special for Carys's birthday. Carys was so excited about it that she woke Ansley up at 5:00 to tell her it was time to begin cooking. Ansley wasn't too thrilled but she got up and made Carys some muffins. This is both of them just as Carys is about to give Ansley a "thank you for the muffins smack" on the back of the head as you can see by her hand in the ready position. If I'd taken this 3 seconds later you would have seen a fight.

Then it was PARTY time! Here she is waiting to welcome party guests. She had her party at a big park near our house and this is one of the 9-10 entrances to this huge park. Carys and her classmate Aaron have birthdays just a few days apart and so they decided to have a birthday party together and invite all their classmates. Aaron and his family are also part of the church family that meets at our house and so we also had kids from the house church as well who came to the party. These are the cookie cakes that Benay and Jennifer (our teammate) made for Carys and Aaron. The bottom cake means congratulations. At the party the kids played games............bobbed for apples..........enjoyed cake.....(this is Aaron giving the thumbs up).....had a water balloon fight..........and, of course, opened presents.This is Carys with all her best buddies. We weren't able to go shopping after her party because Carys HAD to go to see our favorite soccer team play that night. She even invited two of Bronwyn's best friends to go with us because she really likes Bronwyn's friends. These guys HATE our favorite team (think Yankee fan going to Fenway Park and wearing a Red Sox jersey x10 and you get the picture of what these guys did for Carys) but agreed to go and even allowed us to dress them up in our team's colors for the game.
Here is our group heading out to the game:I'm sure you are wondering "Where is Carys?" About 1 minute before this picture was taken of us leaving the house for the game, she informed us that she was too tired to go. We still went anyway and had a great time.

Day 2

The church family that meets in our house and some other families from other house churches took the church on the road as we went to the waterfalls on the Sunday after Carys's birthday. She had fun and was given one more present. She understood why we couldn't shop on this day either and why she needed to wait one more day to get her family presents. She wasn't happy about it but she understood.
Day 3
Benay went birthday shopping with the kids, to buy some presents for Carys, and Garrett bought his present and was able to give it to her that day. It's this cute little puppy. She really liked it. Unfortunately, after Garrett bought his gift, Benay had an unfortnate run-in with a tall man in the mall, so the gift-buying would have to be suspended for another day.

Day 4
We couldn't have the family party today because we had to go to the hospital (twice) with Bronwyn to have some tests done. She's fine but for some reason she didn't want me taking pictures of her during her visit. Shopping would be put off for another day.

Day 5
We would not be denied today and we made a promise to Carys that today we would have her family birthday after school. Benay and I made the mad scramble in the morning (kids only go to school for half a day in Brasil) to get her gifts. This is Carys getting ready to eat her lunch on the "You are Special, Especially today" plate that's used for family special days.

This is our lunch of, Carys's choice, hamburgers and french fries. Notice the left side of the table and how hard it is to get everyone to "just smile."Then it was time for more presents. This is Carys getting her new soccer shoes. She goes to soccer school two times a week and loves it. This is Carys getting ready to blow out her birthday cake. On their birthdays the kids get to pick any kind of cake they want. The favorite is usually "Mammy's chocolate cake." Mammy is my grandmother and she has been making this cake for years.The only problem with it is that it causes severe cake addiction and makes you want to do crazy things. You've heard people say that something is "to die for?" Well, in the case of Mammy's chocolate cake it's true. We finally got to celebrate Carys's birthday as a family and it only took us 5 days. No better way to top off days of celebration than to hunt for lizards in the front yard with your little brother on a stomach full of chocolate cake!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Persecution of Little Brothers

When I was younger, I remember my sister and I dressing up our little brother in girls' clothes. We all thought it was hilarious. Well, here in the Blume house, the big sisters take it a step further. Check out this video of Ansley and Carys talking Anderson into shocking himself with a "shocking pen" (one of Carys's birthday gifts). If you listen closely, you can actually hear the shocking sound that the pen makes. I guess the desire to persecute the little ones never goes away - you can hear me, the responsible mom, allowing this to take place and cracking up in the background. Hope you enjoy a few of the many facial expressions of Anderson. You can't help but laugh!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Down But Not Out

This is my girlfriend. Yeah, I know she's cute. She took the three oldest kids to the mall last Monday to do some shopping. After being gone for about 20 minutes I got a call from Bronwyn saying there was an emergency with mom. I told her to put mom on the phone and she told me there was an accident at the mall. I told her to come home right away. When she got home I was met with this:Notice how the pinkie toe just doesn't look right? How it kind of goes away from his friends? Like he's kind of stuck up and doesn't want to be a part of the group? A big, tall guy in the mall happened to be taking a step back right when Benay was walking behind him and the side of her foot hit his heel. We decided it would be best to go get an x-ray done. Diagnosis...........Broken pinkie toe. She has to keep it wrapped for two weeks. Thank goodness she didn't need a cast. She is able to do everything except get her foot wet. This is Benay leaving the MD's office. She can even make a broken toe look stylish can't she? Don't worry about her. Like I said it's only for two weeks and she has lots of good helpers (helping her eat ice cream, helping her watch DVD's, etc) as she rests and keeps her foot up.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Grace's Home!

After three months in the states working for Universal Studios in Orlando, Grace came home last weekend. She was met at the airport with hugs.......Some of her best friends........and this homeboy......We missed her greatly and are thankful that her experience in the states was good and that God brought her back safely home to us. She is a blessing to our house church family, the Blume family and this city.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Church on Wheels

One of the great things that God is teaching us about "being church" instead of "doing church" is the creativity that the Spirit wants to bring to our daily lives. He is not boring and he has new and exciting things planned for all of God's children. We just have to listen and then follow through. One of those things happened last week. Our house church felt led to take a road trip. We felt God calling us to back to simplicity......calling us back to what He has created for us. So, we went to the waterfalls and enjoyed a day of worship, breaking bread together and having fun.

We invited another house church to join us. As we got closer to the day, some people were unable to go because of different reasons. That is another cool thing about house church, we can encourage the people that come to our house to go and visit another house church. One thing God has taught us since we moved here is that His quality is always more important than our quantity. We (humans) want to base success on "how many" people there were at any given "church" event. God is radically turning our world upside down on what is and is not important in how He wants to grow His family.

We still ended up with 4 cars in the caravan (one was our bus and it was full with 12 people) and had a great time together. Three of Bronwyn's high school friends (who haven't yet claimed Christ as Savior) came with us as well as three adults who also haven't yet given their lives to Jesus. It was really an exciting time to "be church" to these people.
Benay shared some thoughts and truths from the Bible about God and nature. Our brother João then prayed and encouraged everyone to look at God's nature during the prayer and thank God for it. One of Bronwyn's friends, Giu, noticed that sunlight broke through the trees when João began to pray and it stopped when the prayer was over. God has a way of adding some emphasis to a prayer doesn't He? Then it was time for lunch.................and, of course, lunch was followed by the mandatory game of how many fandangos (like a little round corn chip) can you shove in your mouth. This is Giu. Yeah, this is Bronwyn. She tied Giu for 1st with 36 in her big mouth. Maybe she should get extra points for having 36 chips and 3 different hands in her mouth.
We are so proud! We are praying there is a college who will give a full scholarship for something like this. She's very gifted. After we worshipped and praised God together, we kept the theme going as we went out and played in His playground together.

We swam through waterfalls. We sat under waterfalls.We walked on waterfalls.

And of course, we jumped off of waterfalls. This is Sascha demonstrating the spring jump. Ansley and the weeeeeeee jump. Giu and the running jump. Bronwyn showing her variation of the pencil jump (Blume family invention). Garrett and the spread eagle jump.
We also had the crouching spider jump by Carys. We had dads(João) who jumped off the big rock with their sons (Joca)......... .....and dads (Garigran) who took the plunge off the smaller rocks with their sons(Arthur). Throughout the day we took a break from fast paced city life and enjoyed what God has put around us for us to enjoy.............. ......and those He has given us to enjoy it with.During the day two people had bouts with sickness and there was a car that briefly broke down on the way home but we let nothing deter us from praising God as a family. Sometimes we just have to be intentional in making time for the good things and good people He has already surrounded us with.