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

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

One More Birthday Video

If you are thinking that Ansley forgot Carys' birthday at the beginning of this month you'd be wrong.

She made a funny video. Kind of Animal Planet style. She gave Carys, and all of us, lots of smiles and giggles with this one.

Enjoy:

Monday, March 26, 2012

21 Continued

My girlfriend and I are blessed because our kids love each other.

How do we know?

You can see it in the video, below, that Ansley made Bronwyn for her birthday. Living on two different continents can't stop them from sharing their love for each other.

I'm biased about our kids but Ansley has a gift for stuff like this. Now that I think about it that's not bias, it's a fact.

Check out her birthday present to her big sis:

Sunday, March 25, 2012

21


Hard to believe but today we have a 21 year old.

That's right, it's Bronwyn's birthday. It's time to celebrate.


You guys know what we do on these special days.

Here we go:

Giovanni:  (an exact quote)  "Happy Birthday. Dear God thank you for this day, for the presents and Amen."

Anderson: "Bronwyn is like the best oldest sister ever! She is nicer than the other sisters and I love her SOOOOOOO much! (I'm sure he meant no offense Ans and Carys) And thank you for dating Stephen because he is also awesome! Happy Birthday!!"

Carys: "Bronwyn you are one of the best sisters ever and i love you and miss you so much, and i miss watching movies and musicals with you"

Garrett: "Bronwyn, Bronwyn, Bronwyn what can I say about you? You ares the bests sisters in the whole worlds, I thinks that you ares awesomes in everything you do, you are the bests, you ares my macho sister, you ares my supers-hero! Happy Birthdays Bronwyn!!"

Ansley: "Bronwyn, aka my best friend... Is it bad that I am scared at how fast we are growing up? Do you remember when it was just you and me, the two troublemakers (well, I was a troublemaker...)? I cannot believe that today you are 21 and I will soon be 19. I LOVE you, I hope you have an awesome day and I hope you eat lots of ice cream for me :) I will see you very, very soon. Love you! Feliz cumplea├▒os!"

Girlfriend:  "Wow, Bronwyn.  I can't believe you are 21 today.  It seems like yesterday that you were born and they handed you to me.  You were so beautiful, and you still are.  God has blessed you with so many things - compassion, kindness, intelligence and just plain ol' goodness.  All of these things make you so beautiful on the inside and it shows on the outside in your sweet smile.  I love your goofiness and how you can laugh at yourself.  You don't take life too seriously, yet you are deeply spiritual.  I am so very proud of you and so excited about everything God is doing in your life.  I love you!  Mom  (p.s.  I O U one (at least) coffee date when you get home!)"

Me: "Hard to believe that you are 21 today. I was talking to a friend today (here's your hint on who it was: "Why does she want to be a nurse and not a doctor?") and told him that in some ways it seems like it was yesterday that you were born and in others in seems that it's really been 21 years. Me and mom have loved every minute of being your parents. You are an amazing person. I love that you have always known who you are in our family, among your friends and in God's kingdom. You are strong in your faith and that is such a blessing to us. You are a great big sister. You love to spend time with each of your brothers and sisters and that's been a great example for the rest of the kids to see. You've had a lot responsibility dumped on you, sometimes unfairly, because you are the oldest and you've always handled it in a very mature and graceful way. I also love the example you've been to your friends (both in Brasil and the U.S.) and your house church family here. I know lots of people will be in heaven because of you through your actions, example and your words. You aren't afraid to step out of your comfort zone for Jesus. What more could we ask for? We thank God for you. So enjoy your birthday and go celebrate with a cold one. Hey, you are 21 now so go have fun (It's always fun to get Grandma riled up). I love you!"

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Help Needed!


Yesterday Bronwyn sent us an email and asked if we would post something here from her. She's asking you guys to read this and to prayerfully consider blessing people who are fighting cancer. Here is what she asked us to share with you:

I was really lucky to get to pledge a social club last semester. I have so much fun with them! It's just a bunch of goofy girls who do fun things, and I love it. I've gotten to know a lot of girls really well, and get to be a part of their lives. This semester and last semester we have had a lot of girls with family members and friends that have been diagnosed with cancer. Some have even passed away, like a friend's grandma and a little 6 year old boy at my church here in Abilene. One of my friends has three family members that are fighting cancer right now. So we decided to do something. Our club is participating in Relay for Life in a few weeks in Abilene. Our goal is to raise $1000. Since there are so many girls, each of us only has to raise around $20 or $30, but I hope we can raise so much more. This is the website for our club's fundraiser page:


I really hope you can help! Thank you!

So there you go readers. How about we bless this cause?!

Thanks, in advance, for reading this and praying about it. Every little bit helps. I love that these college girls are not only talking about it but are acting to make a difference. My prayer is that we/you guys will act with them as they fight for their loved ones.  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I LOVE YOU!!

This is Anderson (the little boy of course, not the super cute girl).

You all know him.

If you don't, he is our happy, super talkative 7 (almost 8) year old.

He has never woken up a day in his life unhappy or grumpy. He wakes up happy every day. Every day. He brings so much joy to us and blesses our entire family because of his happiness.

He is also our man of extremes. Every day, when I pick him up from school, I ask how his day was because I know that it was either the "Best Day of School Ever!" or it was the "Worst Day of My Life!" There is no middle ground for him.

So a couple of weeks ago he got his new soccer uniform. He trains in it at every practice and uses it when he plays in games.

The soccer school where he trains is affiliated with our favorite soccer team. Our team's colors are red and white.

Last year, I have no idea why, his uniform colors were yellow and black.

This year his teams colors were super close to the professional team. Red, white and gray.

The soccer school is run by a man named Emerson (who actually used to play for our team) and his wife Michelle.

When Michelle gave Anderson his uniform it was like she had shared with him the Good News of Jesus for the first time. Like she had given him free tickets to every Inter game for the rest of his life. Like she gave him a free pass on brushing his teeth forever with no future cavities or dentist visits. You get the picture, he was super excited.

When Anderson gets super excited, since he is a man of severe extremes, everyone around him knows it.

We are accustomed to his extremes so I sat next to Michelle and watched Anderson look at his uniform, smile, look at Michelle and smile and then look at me and smile. He then just had a kid on Christmas day smile go from ear to ear. I  knew what he was thinking......"This is the OFFICIAL team uniform of my favorite team and I'm on the team." We've had those conversations before. That's how his brain functions.

So I sat back and smiled as I watched it all unfold.

One thing we love about Brasil is the way people love on kids. If you've lived here or visited you know what I'm talking about. We love how everyone interacts with all of our kids and do so lovingly. We are used to it.

I share that to share something that Michelle did after watching Anderson's reaction. It was one of the coolest things I've ever seen.

She just sat there and smiled at Anderson. She then called him over to her, put his face in her hands and pulled him close to her face. She looked him in the eyes and said, "I LOVE YOU!" He just smiled. She then said, still eyeball to eyeball, "Do you understand me Anderson? I........LOVE..........YOU!"

What an incredible blessing, as a dad, to see this.

Anderson just does that to people. I'm biased, of course, I'm his dad but I've seen it so many times that I can't count them. Anderson just melts people with his goodness.

He is a blessing to so many and I can't wait to see how many people will be in heaven with us forever because of how Anderson will continue to share the love of Jesus with everyone he meets.

When he got home from practice he blessed one more person. He gave Giovanni (who definitely looks at Anderson as his role model) his old uniform from last year.

They both were very happy.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Need a good nurse?

This, as you know, is Bronwyn.

If you didn't know, she is our oldest kid and she's in school in Texas. She's a pre-nursing student.

She emailed us yesterday to tell us that she had been accepted to nursing school. She got accepted on her first try. Very cool. So as of this fall she is a nursing major. Put the "pre" in the trash.

Honestly we weren't surprised. Bronwyn is very dedicated and is a great student but we definitely celebrated this good news.

Feel free to leave her a comment here. I know she would be encouraged.

Way to go Bronwyn! We are very proud of you.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Back to School

Giovanni started going back to preschool about 3 weeks ago.


Yes, he is cute.

Last year he struggled for the first month or so of school. I mean really struggled. He cried a lot, didn't want to go and just hated it for the first few weeks. The language difference just killed him.

He gradually started liking and then loving school. Mainly his two teachers Janette and Talita.  Janette was also Anderson's teacher when he was 3-4 and she really is awesome with the kids.

When Anderson was a baby we were blessed with a Brasilian woman, named Vera, who came to our house to help cook and clean. She is like our Brasilian mom and grandmom. She doesn't speak English so she only spoke to Anderson in Portuguese. So when Anderson started preschool he was knew a lot of Portuguese. So the language wasn't a big deal for him.

A few years ago we could no longer financially have Vera come and help us. Whenever we have extra money we ask her to come help out. Sometimes she just shows up to help and doesn't want money. I can't tell you how many times she's done something like that and said it was because she loved us and didn't want our money. We love Vera.

Anyway, because Vera wasn't around Giovanni didn't have the luxury of listening to Portuguese every day in our house. When Brasilians aren't around we don't speak Portuguese in our house.

So, imagine sending your 2-3 year old to a school where they don't understand anything. Needless to say it's a little shocking on their systems.

But, like I said, Giovanni got to love school last year and got really good with his Portuguese.

Then we had to take him out of school to go to the states.

We ended up staying in the U.S. for 3 months which was 1 month longer than we've ever stayed before.

In those 3 months Giovanni lost all his Portuguese.

Surprisingly when we told him it was time to go to school this year he happily went on his first day. My girlfriend and I sat outside the classroom for the first 3 days and he never came out looking for us. They usually have a 1-2 week adaptation period for the kids before the parents begin to just drop them off.

On the third day his class went to the playground and he saw his old teachers Janette and Talita. After that he didn't want to go back to school anymore.

We think, in his mind, he just wanted to go back to their class and he didn't want to go back with his new teachers anymore. He has great teachers right now but they aren't his first loves.

So it's been a bit of a struggle every day to get him back in the groove. Not as bad as last year, but you can tell he isn't happy about going every morning. The worst part now is when his teacher speaks to him in Portuguese (like "Giovanni, it's time for everyone to clean up their mess.") he looks at me and says, "She's being mad at me." I have to reassure him that she isn't getting on to him and then I have to translate.

So, I type this as I sit in the corner of his big classroom. We've had to come back into the classroom so he can come around the corner every now and then to see us. He did this last year, but it went on for a month at least.

And even though we are back in his classroom, we can already see a difference this year compared to last.

He doesn't come around as much to see us and today I actually sat outside the classroom again a couple of different times, for 15 minutes each time, while he played. We've been here 3 hours and, honestly, I think he's forgotten about me. That's a great thing and a big improvement from even last Friday.

We are getting there but not understanding Portuguese is his biggest problem. But even that's gotten much better over the last few days. And we know it's for the best. We actually got off the plane in 2002 and 1-2 months later all of our kids began school at an all Portuguese speaking school. Carys was 3 and understood no Portuguese. None. That was tough, but they didn't complain and now our kids speak portuguese as well as Brazilian kids, with no accent at all.

Kids pick up another language so quickly and we aren't worried about Giovanni.

So, for now I am back in preschool. For how much longer I don't know, but I don't think it will be much longer.

We can also tell that he's getting more used to the fact that he's back in school. This morning he gave my girlfriend his customary kiss goodbye and, as we walked to the door he said, "Goodbye Benay."

I think he's getting more comfortable.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

My afternoon with Anderson


Bronwyn and Ansley,

I took Anderson to the Inter-Juventude game today.

Just me and him. So you know my ear was bleeding when we got home. It's always fun with him and, as you know, he talks the entire game.

Thought I'd give you some highlights. Those that I remember.

As soon as we sat down in our seats I got this:

Like they say in Brasil "Ordem e Progresso."

First half comments:

Anderson: "Man! When are they going to start the game?"
Me: "It started a minute ago."
Anderson: "Oh." (he missed it because he was talking but the sad thing is he was looking at the field when he made the comment)

Anderson: "Do you love history?"
Me: "I love history!"
Anderson: "Do you love it more than you love popcorn?"

That juiz makes me so mad. I won't say I hate him but he sure makes me mad!

Second half comments:

Which stadium in the world does the most waves?

Which stadium has less fans than Beira Rio?

Anderson: "When can we go to another stadium?"
Me: "What do you mean? Like gremio?"
Anderson: "NO! Like Barcelona."
Me: "I don't know dude. That costs a lot of money."
Anderson: "Victor got to go to Barcelona stadium AND he parachuted into it."
Me: "He parachuted into the stadium?"
Anderson: "Well not into it but into the city of Barcelona? He said it was awesome!" (Victor is 7)

The second the game was over:

That was the best game EVER! It was SENSATIONAL!!

On the walk to the car:

Anderson: "What's your favorite food?" 
Me: "Pizza."
Anderson: "You want to know my top 3?"
Me: "Sure."
Anderson: "Number 3: Pasteis. Number 2: Coconut milk. Number 1: Doughnuts. THE traditional food."

The game, by the way, was awesome! We won 7-0. Imagine what Anderson was doing with each goal.

Here are your highlights:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Update

A couple of weeks ago we shared about Garrett and soccer. If you missed it you can click here.

We asked for prayers for him. 

The other day my girlfriend told me that I needed to give everyone, except for a certain grandparent who is getting regular phone call reports, an update since I haven't mentioned anything since. 

Since practice began he's been on a team of about 35 guys. 

We were told that only 25 will make the junior pro team. 

He practices 4 days a week for 2-2.5 hours per practice. 

He also has had games each weekend. 

My girlfriend has a board that she marks what's going on during the month. We do a lot of soccer.

On the weekends they have two games. One on Saturday for the main starters. And one on Sunday for the substitutes to start and play most of the game.

Anyway, for the weekend games, they only invite 20 guys to play in the games. 

The first weekend he was the 18th person called. I only know this because Garrett told me after practice after the coach called out each person's name. 

Garrett played about 5 minutes in the first game. He was disappointed he didn't play more but played his best for those 5 minutes. 

The first weekend, when he played 5 minutes, he was with the starters. 

Last weekend he played on Sunday. Right before the game he was given the number 10. Which is a huge honor. The number 10 is usually given to the playmaker on the team. 

Garrett said he played terrible. He felt like he needed to call the coach and apologize for how he played. 
I'm sure it wasn't as bad as he thought. 

Yesterday they played a scrimmage and Garrett didn't start with the starters or the subs. He came in and played only 5 minutes. 

He got in the car after practice and was mad. He said he played so little because of how bad he played on Sunday. 

I tried to encourage him and even told him that some coaches do mind games at times to see how their players would react. Maybe that's what happened yesterday. Who knows?

So basically after almost 3 weeks of practice we have no idea where Garrett stands in making the top 25. And even though he is bummed about the last game and last practice that all could change at today's practice. 

He is enjoying it and tells us it's the hardest training he's ever done. We like that. He's getting stronger physically and playing good and, whether he likes it or not, he's getting stronger mentally. 

Thanks for praying for him and please keep remembering him in your prayers. One request we have is that he will play with joy no matter what happens. 

This is, so far, a great experience for him. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Last Night

Hey Bronwyn and Ans,

Here are some highlights from the Libertadores game last night. We didn't go because Garrett had a big test today and he had to study. We missed out.

The Spanish is just for you Ans. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

An example of why all politicians make me puke

I don't do politics on this blog. It's your business and I really don't care.
I do, however, hate hypocrisy and that's the main reason I don't follow politics very much anymore. Too much lying, cheating and hypocrisy.

I don't post today's article to get responses. I don't care if you are Democrat, Republican, Independent, whatever. It's up to you to vote the way God tells you to. You vote your conscience. I'll do the same.

I do post the article because it immediately made me roll my eyes when I read it. It's why I'm sick of politicians. All of them.

They talk out both sides of their mouths.

I think the article is funny, sad, and, in my opinion, typical of politicians everywhere.
Judge for yourself:

Vice President Joe Biden addressed 87 wealthy Democrats last night attending a fundraiser at the home of Sen. John Kerry in Georgetown. As they dined on grass-fed New York strip steaks and white truffle mashed potatos underneath a outdoor tent, Biden criticized Republicans for being out of touch.

“These guys don’t have a sense of the average folks out there,” Biden said according to the pool report, “They don’t know what it means to be middle class.”

87 guests paid a minimum of $10,000-per-couple to attend the dinner.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Still Hot

We are officially ready for cooler temps. Here is what we are looking at for today and tomorrow.

Porto Alegre, Brazil Weather

Updated: Mar 12, 2012, 3am Local Time

RefreshUPDATE DATA
Right NowNext 36 Hours
FairTodayTonightTomorrow
Mostly SunnyClearPartly Cloudy
FairMostly SunnyClearPartly Cloudy
75°F96°70°95°
Feels Like: 77°
HighLowHigh
Past 24-hr precip is only available for the contiguous U.S.Chance of Rain:
0%
Chance of Rain:
0%
Chance of Rain:
10%
Wind:
From NE at 2mph
Wind:
NW at 8 mph
Wind:
NE at 7 mph
Wind:
WNW at 11 mph
Short-term forecast summary is only available for the contiguous U.S.Sunny to partly cloudy. Hot. High 96F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph.Mainly clear skies. Low around 70F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph.Intervals of clouds and sunshine. Hot. High near 95F. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 mph.
We wake up in the middle of the night sweating in our bed. We take 2 cold showers a day to stay cool and take the sweat off our bodies.

I'm up now because of the heat. It's 4 a.m. and it's 80+ inside our house.

It's our 10th summer here so, honestly, we are used to the heat. We are used to no air conditioning. We are used to hot/humid summers. We know how to deal with it and survive. Doesn't make it any more comfortable but we know how to stay as cool as possible.

Do we wish we had central air? Sure. Do we wish it was cooler? Sure. But here we are pushing into the back side of March (like September for our Northern Hemisphere friends) still with daily temps close to 100.

So we've had enough. We are waving our white hankies. The sun/summer wins. We give up.

Side question for our teammates who used to live here: Do you guys remember it being this hot in the middle of any March that you were here?

My girlfriend says she never remembers these temps this deep into March. I say maybe once or twice but not this consistently hot. Just curious what you guys remember.

Anyway, we know we are supposed to be content in all circumstances and not wish for the future but I'll confess that Wednesday's high temperature of 80 with some rain sure does sound good.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

One More Teenager

It's hard to believe but Carys turns 13 today. Hard to believe because in my mind she always looks like this to me:

You know our birthday tradition. Here we go:

Giovanni (as translated by my girlfriend):  "Ank you, Carys, for making everything fun for me.  When I fall down, you give me a snoopy bandaid.  When I have to do something I don't want to do, you make it into a fun game.  You are a great big sister!  I love you!"

Anderson: "Carys, you're the best sister EVER! And you make the best breakfast EVER! And I LOVE YOU!"

Garrett: "Happy birthday Carysss!! I love you so much! You always tell me dumb jokes that are really funny!! I love you a lot Carys!!! And Happy Birthday!!!

Ansley: "Carys, I cannot tell you how much I miss you sometimes! You are so funny and happy and I just really miss you. I hope you have an awesome birthday!! I love you and will see you in a little
while :)

Bronwyn: "Keka!!! Happy Birthday! I hope you have a really good day and that you make everyone else do what you want to do. I love watching movies with you (duh) and I love it when you leech on me. I really wish I could be there with you today! I love you and miss you a lot!

Girlfriend: "Carys,  what a blessing you are!  I love you so much and just enjoy being your mom.  You are funny, sweet, brave, and crazy.  Thanks for bringing sunshine to our days.  Thanks for liking girly things so I don't go crazy in this mainly boy household that we have now.  You are an awesome girl and I know that you will just grow prettier and sweeter as you get older (but don't grow up too fast!!).   I love you!"

Me: "Vivi, I can't tell you how much fun it is being your dad. You are just like your picture from above. You always look for the fun in everything and that blesses everyone around you. And you have an awesome laugh. You have one of the funniest laughs I've ever heard. It always makes me laugh. I love that you are a daredevil and I love that you aren't afraid of anything (like when you asked last week if you could jump out of your second floor window because you "KNEW" you could do it and not get hurt!). You are one very cool big/little sister and you bless me and mom very much! But the most important thing about your life is that you follow Jesus and are a great example to your friends. Me and mom could not be more proud of you. I love you Vivi!"

Happy Birthday! We love you!

Sunday, March 04, 2012

It's Back!

We thought we were done with the heat. We were wrong.

Porto Alegre, Brazil Weather

Updated: Mar 4, 2012, 6pm Local Time

RefreshUPDATE DATA
TonightMar 4Mon5Tue6Wed7Thu8
ClearSunnySunnyPartly CloudyPartly Cloudy
ClearSunnySunnyPartly CloudyPartly Cloudy
--High95°High95°High96°High91°High
70°Low70°Low70°Low69°Low71°Low
Chance of Rain:
0%
Chance of Rain:
0%
Chance of Rain:
10%
Chance of Rain:
0%
Chance of Rain:
10%