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

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Independent Research

Last week, as we were leaving the airport after dropping Bronwyn off, Anderson shared this bit of information with me:

Anderson: "I hope that guy doesn't get sick and die."
Me: "What guy?"
Anderson: "That guy (guy smoking a cigarette) over there."
Me: "Yeah. Me too."
Anderson: "Dad, did you know that 200,000 people smoke in Brasil?"
Me: "Really? I didn't know that."
Anderson: "Or it could be more. Or it could be less."

I don't know where he gets his information from but it's creepy how he knows exactly how many people in our entire country smoke.

He's good.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

One on One

One of the cool things Bronwyn did before she left was that she tried to spend some special one on one time with each of her brothers and sisters.

She and Ansley went to see a movie together. I would put a picture here, from that day, but they didn't take one even though they had a camera with them.  I found the one below. You can just pretend that they are at the movies together.

Bronwyn is a big meat eater and she loves churrasco (our bar-b-que). I had decided that my girlfriend and I would take her to a restaurant in our neighborhood before she left. It's fairly expensive and we can never take everyone there at the same time because of the price. My girlfriend thought it would be a good idea if I took Garrett instead of her. Garrett is a churrasco lover as well and this could be some one on one (with dad along) for Garrett and Bronwyn that they would really love.

In order for Garrett to go we made him show some affection to his older sister. His 13 year old "I don't like hugging my big sisters" mentality was overruled by his stomach who wanted some churrasco. So he caved and showed Bronwyn some love.
But not too much.

The food, as always, was great.....

.....and they had a great time laughing together.

I think Garrett would say the "hug sister for meat" swap was a good one.

Carys got her nails done with Bronwyn at a place in our neighborhood. Then they went to McDonald's for some ice cream.

Bronwyn and Anderson went to the mall to eat at McDonald's. Nothing is better for a six year old than a Shrek toy in your happy meal.

They then went to a book store to read some books and then decided to get some dessert. We have great desserts in Brasil and Bronwyn was excited to get something good. She shared the options with Anderson (cake, pie, etc). What did he choose from all of those options?

Cookie from Subway of course.

Bronwyn said Anderson told her the best part of their time together was when they were waiting for me to pick them up. They waited, in the rain, in a phone booth and played pretend. Doesn't surprise me at all that that was his favorite moment.

With Giovanni she just continued spending time with him in whatever way he wanted.

I love how she made a point to spend special time with each kid.

I hope this becomes a "Blume leaving for college" tradition.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Best Sunday EVER

If you've never read this blog before or haven't followed it for very long, I will let you in on our little secret.  Anderson is our child of extremes.

In Anderson's world, every day is either the WORST day ever or the BEST day ever.

And what makes it the BEST or the WORST day ever usually depends on some pretty deep and important things.

Examples:  He got to play, or didn't get to play, outside at school.  He got to go to soccer school or he didn't get to go because of rain. He did or didn't get to watch a DVD that he likes. He did or didn't get to eat a McDonald's happy meal if we went to the mall.

You get the picture.

It's always something different that defines his days (and every day is usually defined by him).

So when he told me on Sunday that it was "THE BEST SUNDAY EVER IN HIS LIFE!!!, I had to ask why.

Before we get to the reasons I need to share, because it's important to the story, that Sunday was our celebration Sunday. The last Sunday of every month all of the house churches get together and we have a worship time together. This past Sunday lots of people were asked to bring lasagna for our meal together.

Now, here was his list of why Sunday was so AWESOME:

1) He loved his bible class with Raquel. She was one of the best teachers EVER and his class was AWESOME!
2) He got to play with his friends at church.
3) He got to eat mom's lasagna and it was AWESOME! In fact, according to Anderson, she makes the best lasagna in the west AND the south. THE BEST! (I happen to agree. There is no better cook and I would argue that goes for the north and the east as well)
4) He got the last spoonful of mom's lasagna before it was all gone. (Her's was the first one to be all eaten....another affirmation that her lasagna really is the best in the west and the south.)
5) He saw the best soccer game EVER! (An Inter-Flamengo game in the rain. We won.)

On the way home from the game he was quiet in the back seat of the car. That usually means he's asleep because when he's awake, he's not quiet. I asked Garrett to see if he was sleeping. He said no. I asked if he was okay and I looked around at him. He had a little smile on his face. He said he was okay. He then said he was just thinking about how AWESOME that day had been. He asked what day it was. I told him it was Sunday. He told me it was the best Sunday OF HIS LIFE and he had his list of reasons already prepared.

He then came home, watched Sponge-Bob and talked to Bronwyn on skype.

For an extreme six year old I guess it really was the best Sunday ever.

P.S. I put words in bold to share the way he emphasizes when he talks about awesomeness. I did that so that people who know him but who aren't here (grandparents, Terry's, Aggies) can mentally hear Anderson while they read this post. They've been here and seen the real deal. For those who might not believe that Anderson's world is this extreme then you might just need to come and visit us. Anderson alone is worth the price of the airline ticket.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Travel Day

Bronwyn's last day in POA was honestly like most other days. No one was moping around and crying and being sad. I liked that.

We weren't ignoring the topic and not talking about Bronwyn leaving. In fact, we talked about it every day and talked about it on the day she left. We talked about every aspect of her moving to Texas.

It's just that we all know that the next, natural step for her is doing what she is doing. We weren't weepy on that day.

Sad to not have Bronwyn around every day? Of course. Sure we'd love to have her stay here and go to college in our city and stay close to us but we know she's following the Spirit's leading for her life. And that is all that we ever want for our kids. We couldn't be more proud of her and excited for her and because of that there were no buckets of tears at her leaving.

It also helps that she chose a university to go to where we have strong family ties. We've already received emails from people in her city and in other close-by cities telling us how excited they are to take care of Bronwyn.

God's family is pretty cool isn't it?

Back to the travel day. You'll understand better about it being a fairly normal day.

Ansley and Anderson woke up and made jelly filled (apple, strawberry, blackberry and raspberry) muffins for our breakfast.  Ansley asked me to not show this picture with her in it because she didn't like the way she looked. The ghostlike presence is where she used to be.

While they cooked, Giovanni parked it close to them and ate (with spoon and fingers) some yogurt. But he still had time to pose for a picture.

I'm pretty sure we all gained a couple of pounds because of those muffins.

My girlfriend, Ansley, Carys and I then had to go to Ansley's school to finalize plans for her school trip to Peru.  We ended up spending close to an hour at the school and didn't get anything done (not uncommon in Brasil).

We then went to the mall to get some lunch to bring home.

Bronwyn's flight left at 6:00 p.m. The check in process here is a little different than in the states. You don't have to get to the airport 4 hours early to go through security.

That's why around 4:00 p.m. I took the following pictures:

Carys and Anderson watching a movie on Ansley's Ipod. (notice the time on the clock)

Garrett was playing Nintendo while watching some DVD episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond.

Giovanni was taking a long overdue nap.

And Ansley was busy plucking Bronwyn and my girlfriend's eyebrows as well as painting Bronwyn's toe and fingernails.

Like I said, we weren't moping around and weepy. I actually laughed as I was loading up Bronwyn's bags at how laid back everyone, Bronwyn included, was. Moping around crying, I think, would have made Bronwyn pretty miserable and, honestly, it's just not our way.

Anyway, we headed off to the airport.

We left our house at 4:15. By 4:55 Bronwyn was all checked in and ready to board the plane. Not at all like the states.

When we got there we were met by some of Bronwyn's best friends.

It was only after seeing these guys that Bronwyn began to cry.

When I say we aren't weepy, it doesn't mean we don't get emotional and we are super stoic about everything. We aren't. I've seen everyone in our house cry about something. I've seen my girlfriend, Bronwyn and Anderson cry while watching a movie, reading a book or having a conversation.  We don't shy away from our emotions.

Bronwyn didn't cry until she saw her friends. Then it was tough for her to stop.

From left to right it's Ana, Giu, Julia and Fred.

Then Giu and Julia started crying.

One of the things I like about Bronwyn is that she can laugh while she cries. She never gets embarrassed about crying. She just lets it out. Sometimes we make fun of her when she cries (during a sappy movie) and she just laughs at herself and keeps crying. I like that.
Our group then got in a circle and our sister Leni said a prayer for Bronwyn. It was perfect.

Bronwyn then started saying her goodbyes.

As she was telling others bye, Garrett came up to me with a red face. He said, "I feel like I want to cry." I told him to let it out and don't worry about it. He put his head in my girlfriends's shoulder and teared up just a little bit.

I passed by a stone faced Carys. I asked her if she was trying not to cry. She said yes. I told her to go ahead and don't hold it in. Next thing I knew I was then holding my 11 year old like a small child as she cried in my shoulder.

Neither kid just broke down crying or cried for longer than a minute or two but they both just quietly cried as Bronwyn got into the security line.

We have a tight family. It was tough for all of us to say goodbye. Maybe tougher for Carys and Garrett because they won't get to see her again until December. My girlfriend, Ansley and Giovanni will be seeing her in a couple of weeks as they go to the states to take her to college. Amazingly Anderson (our super emotional child) didn't cry.

As she worked her way through the security line Bronwyn continued to cry.

Leave it to Giu (we call him our son and he calls me and my girlfriend mom and dad) to lighten the mood. He is super funny.

He started to call out to Bronwyn to not forget their love. To not betray him. To not forget him. He told her he would take care of their child until she got back. All kinds of goofy stuff that even had the security guard and another passenger behind Bronwyn laughing and getting into the conversation while Bronwyn was looking at Giu and saying, "Be quiet." Bronwyn's comments only made Giu yell louder. He did it, non stop, for five straight minutes.

Here's the guard laughing while Bronwyn tries to explain to the guy behind her that Giu is crazy.

It was exactly what Bronwyn needed as she got onto the plane.

After she left I began to think about Bronwyn's time in Brasil and who she has become in Christ and what she has done to grow His kingdom here on earth.

She was 11 when we moved here. She has seen the best and worst of being a "missionary." She's heard me say things and has seen me act in not very Christlike ways. In spite of all of that her faith has grown.

Her best friends are Brasilians. She gets "being church" instead of "playing church." She is a huge part of this ministry here. I actually have a weekly bible study with one of her friends. Because of Bronwyn.

We miss her but she's planted so many seeds here for the kingdom and we know that she will continue doing so in Texas and for the rest of her life wherever God takes her.

And that is all a Christian parent could hope for isn't it?

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Jesus' followers are not to be isolated avoiders, passionless nerds, or snooty critics. They're to be in the world, into it-sent into it, in fact-with it, engaged, alive, passionate-not out of it. "Whoever claims to live in him," John the apostle wrote, "must walk as Jesus did" (1 John 2:6). Jesus was in the world, engaged, alive, involved, making a difference. So must we be.

Jesus attended parties and so was accused of being a drunk and a glutton, companion of tax collectors and other sinners. Are we too isolated to be similarly accused?

Brian D. McLaren from the book Adventures in Missing the Point

Saturday, July 24, 2010

She Made It

We wanted to share that Bronwyn made it safely to the United States.

She had three great flights and spent only 1-2 hours in the São Paulo and Dallas airports. It was the shortest trip from here to there that she (or anyone in our family for that matter) has ever taken. No long, boring airport layovers.

It could not have gone any better.

She will now enjoy being spoiled by grandparents for the next couple of weeks before Benay and Ansley take her to college.

Thank you for your prayers for her safety.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

College Bound

We just put Bronwyn on a plane heading to the states.

We'll try to share more on the day tomorrow but for now we wanted to ask for prayers for her safety as she travels. Thank you.

Next stop.....college life in Texas.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Goodbyes and Cake Dreams

Last night we invited some of our most favorite people over to tell Bronwyn goodbye.

Those that could make it, from the house church that meets in our house, came by to give her a hug, spend some time with her and wish her well before she leaves tomorrow for the states.

Here's a picture of a few of the ones that were able to drop by the house.

Benay and Bronwyn made calzones and cake for our company.

You'll notice in the picture that Anderson and Carys are absent.  They both fell asleep before we could get to the cake.

When I picked Anderson up to take him to bed he mumbled something about not being tired and wanted to wait for the cake to get out of the oven. I then put him in bed and he was asleep in 10 seconds.

This morning he got up early. It's not uncommon for him to wake up at 5:00 or 5:30.

I normally get up around that time and usually even earlier.

This morning I was up a little bit before 5:00 and so I went into my "office" to read. My office is the only place I can go in the morning where it isn't freezing (thanks to a small floor heater) and where I can turn on a light that won't wake up anyone else in the family.

My "office" is our bathroom. My reading desk is the commode. Cool right?

Anyway, at 5:15 I hear the door to the bathroom being pulled open. I knew who it was. Our conversation went like this.

Me: "Good morning buddy. Did you sleep okay?"
Anderson: "Yes. (rubbing sleep from his eyes) So, was the cake good last night?"
Me: "Yes it was great. You know mom and Bronwyn don't make bad food. Do you want some?"
Andeson: "Of course."

So what does a six year old (who dreamed of cake all night) do at 5:15 in the morning after missing out on cake the night before?

He eats cake for breakfast, while watching the movie Underdog, of course.

I get the feeling that when Benay leaves in a couple of weeks, to take Bronwyn to college, that cake for breakfast might be the norm in the house.

There could be worse things. I don't think the kids will complain. Especially not a certain six year old.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Robots and Larry Boy

You might think that only Anderson says the funny things in this house and, in fact, he does say a lot of them.

But with six kids we hear many, many funny things.

The other morning it was Garrett's turn.

I (Kevin) wake up early. I've always been an early riser. We don't even use an alarm clock in our house because I'm always up.

So the job of waking everyone up to go to school is mine.

For the most part the waking up goes off without a hitch.

Sometimes kids whine about having to get up at 5:45 or 6:00.

Other times I get to hear something good.

A few days ago I went into Garrett's room to wake him up. He shares a room with Anderson and they have bunk beds. Anderson was already up when I went in and Garrett was still sleeping hard.

Here's how it went:

Me: "Garrett, get up buddy. It's time to get ready to go to school."
Garrett: "I'm not up yet."
Me:  "I know dude. That's why I'm waking you up."
Garrett: (lifting his head a little bit and looking at me) "Am I trading robots with someone?"

I had to leave because I was laughing so much. I came back into our room and told Benay who laughed so hard I thought we might have round two.  We didn't, but it was close.

I went back to take a picture of him but by that time he was already coming out of his stupor and was waking up so all I got was him turning away from the camera.

We had a good laugh. This was especially funny because Garrett is the most anti-robot boy you will ever meet. He doesn't play with them, has never played with them, doesn't talk about them and never has in his life. Robots and Garrett just don't go together. So we don't know why that came out of his mouth, which made it even more funny.

It reminded Benay and me of something he did about 10 years ago.

We were living in Mississippi at the time and Garrett's best friend was named Nathan. Even though we haven't lived in Mississippi for almost 10 years he still talks about Nathan being his best friend.

Anyway, when Garrett was 3 or 4 he came into our room at about 4 in the morning. He just stood there. We woke up and he said, "Nathan says I'm Bob and he's Larry-Boy. But, He's not Larry-Boy, I am!" He then quietly went back to bed.

If you don't know, Larry-Boy is from Veggie Tales and he looks like this.

We'll share again if Larry-Boy and robots ever meet in Garrett's dreams.

Monday, July 19, 2010


We've been very blessed so far with a fairly warm winter. It's our 9th winter here and probably the warmest one we've had so far.

If you haven't followed this blog very long or if you don't know much about Brasil then you might be surprised to hear that we have four seasons.  The northern part of our country is mainly warm and, during their winter, have lots of rain. We, in the southern part of Brasil, have four seasons and our winters can get pretty cold.

So we've enjoyed our warmer days but knew it was just a matter of time before the cold finally arrived.

It arrived last week for a few days.

Benay and I grew up very spoiled to the fact that if we were hot then we could go into the house and turn on the cold air and in minutes the entire house would be cold. If we were cold in the winter then all we had to do was turn on the heat and the entire house would quickly be warm.  Living in Brasil has been really good in reminding us that most of the world doesn't enjoy central heat or air - a "luxury" that Americans take for granted.

Here, we can buy space heaters, oil heaters or gas heaters. Honestly, they are expensive to use and only help for the moment. Why? Because houses here are not insulated like in the states. Your house is just a concrete building. So you turn on your heat and heat up a room. You have to turn it off after a little while because it's too expensive to run. About 5-10 minutes after you turn it off your room is freezing cold again. So sometimes we think, "What's the point"?

So, in the winter, the cold comes into your house and stays in your house. Sometimes it's colder in your house than it is outside. We use our heaters occasionally (on super cold nights) and we usually let the smaller kids sleep with their oil heaters on during those nights but the rest of us mostly just bundle up.

Something about being able to see your breath inside your house makes you even colder and want to go to bed early. I took the following photos last week at around 9:00-9:30 one night last week when it was really cold. The best way to beat the cold is to go to bed with lots of clothes on and pile on the blankets.

Bronwyn who konked out on the couch around 7:00.

Carys in her bed. Just look for the little brown patch of hair under all the covers.

Garrett and Anderson in their room. Garrett had fallen asleep, while listening to his radio, on the floor as he was waiting for the start of our team's soccer game at 9:50. He didn't make it. I can no longer pick him up to put him in the top bunk so it's sometimes a war to wake him up and get him to move. He's solid. Pretty soon he's going to be pounding me when we wrestle. Thankfully, that night he made it into his bed. They look warmer because we closed the door in their room and turned on the heat.  You can see the oil heater beside Garrett's head.

Ansley sleeping alone in her bed because her bunkmate was on the couch.

Giovanni in his bed.

And my girlfriend's forehead and eyeballs.

Our winters are tough. When it gets around 40 degrees or less it becomes tough to deal with in the house. We rarely hit freezing or below but occasionally we do. But through all the cold weather, we are blessed to have ways to try to deal with it. 

So many people don't have ways to combat it. We've already heard of some people, who live in the streets, that have died in our state because of the recent cold.

Please pray for those people and for all people in the world who die because they lack, what we would consider, basic necessities to survive the change in seasons.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

"If I say, 'Yes, I forgive, but I cannot forget,' as though the God, who twice a day washes all the sands on all the shores of all the world, could not wash such memories from my mind, then I know nothing of Calvary love."

Amy Carmichael (1867 - 1951) from her book If

Friday, July 16, 2010


A few years ago on this date my girlfriend said (before God and a bunch of people......so there are witnesses and it is legal), "I do" to become my wife.

Here is a picture of the young, good looking couple on that day.
Young, naive and dumb in so many ways.  But a good looking couple none the less.

Here's how they look now.

How can my girlfriend be even better looking today than then? Okay, I'm going to quit trying to using words I don't normally use to describe my girlfriend and just tell the truth. She's hot. There I said it.

Not only is she the most beautiful girl I know but she's also taught me that life is so much more, so much deeper than physical beauty.

She's taught me more about the grace of God than anyone I've ever known. She's taught me how to forgive people (even the ones that have hurt me or her or us deeply). Easy to say as a Christian but hard to do sometimes. She's patient with everyone. She's kind to everyone. She shows God's love to everyone. She's an amazing example of a Christian woman, wife and mother to our Brasilian family.

She isn't judgmental, doesn't hold grudges and isn't bitter towards others no matter what others might have done to her. And if I'm honest, that bugs me. Yes I read my Bible and yes I know what it says about judging others, forgiving others, and holding on to the bad junk that our enemy tries to put in our hearts. But there are times when I want to just choke someone's turkey neck for the way they treated me, my wife, my kids, other Christians, etc. Just being honest. It's especially during those times that my girlfriend calls me back to what God wants me to be. Even when I don't want to be that. She calls me to be, and has done so since the day I met her, a better man. A man who does his best to follow the will of God.

She has helped me, more than anybody, be the kind of spiritual leader that God wants me be to the family that He has blessed me with.

She's also fun. She loves to laugh and she laughs easily. I also love the way she easily laughs at herself. She doesn't take herself too seriously. She's super smart. And she is the best Bible teacher I have ever seen. Her ability to share biblical truths in a way that everyone can understand is amazing. A gift from God.

I am blessed.

I can't imagine life without her. She is my girlfriend, my best friend, my mentor and sister in Christ.

She's also an incredible mom. Best one I've ever known (no offense meant to our moms).

Did I mention already that she's hot?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

One last supper

Bronwyn leaves in a week to move to the states.

Last week she invited a bunch of her buddies over for one last time together.

We were going to grill out but the weather changed and moved the party indoors. So we moved some furniture and put a couple of big tables together and they enjoyed a supper together.

Benay and Bronwyn decided to make fajitas.

If you are reading this and you live in the United States then you probably think Brasilians like spicy food. Brasil=South America=Spicy food. You would be wrong.

Most Brasilians (in our part of the country) can't stand spicy food.

Side story: Our family rented a house in the mountains a few years ago with a Brasilian family.  We went during winter and Benay told them that she would make chili. Knowing that most of our friends don't like spicy stuff she made it very mild. Very mild. The couple had two boys. Neither of them wanted to try it at all. The wife ate about two spoonfuls and didn't eat anymore. The man ate two bowls and then, literally, had to open a window and let cold air hit his face because he was sweating. True story.

Back to last week. So Bronwyn had a good time watching these high school and college kids dip a fingernail in the salsa to taste it and then decide it was too hot. One guy only ate half of a fajita because he said it was too spicy and it might bother his stomach later.

Our family loves spicy food but last week Benay and Bronwyn made the mildest salsa they could make. We laughed later thinking of what they would do if they went with Bronwyn to a Mexican restaurant in Texas.

Another side story:  One time Benay and I went on a date when we lived in Abilene, Texas. We tried out a neat Mexican restaurant. They brought out our chips and salsa and a bowl of ranch dressing. That seemed insane to us that they would bring out ranch dressing. We quickly learned that after you ate the salsa you had to eat the ranch dressing to cool your mouth off. I think that after watching my friend's physical response to the chili, from the first side story, his skin might have melted off his body if he tried that salsa.

We were glad to have all of Bronwyn's friends over one last time before she leaves.

They had a great time, as always, together.

God has really blessed her with lots of good friends here.

Come to think of it, they have blessed our entire family over the years as well.