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

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Happy Easter from Brasil

May you.....
.....your bunny friends.....
........and super hero/villain friends........
.......all have a blessed Easter.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Sexta-feira Santa

Sexta-feira santa. It means Good Friday in Portuguese and as you know that's today.

We live in a culture that is dominated by the Catholic church.

There are tons of Catholic churches. We hear the church bells (I love them!) all the time and see people going to mass.

The Catholic church has a long history in Brasil.

Over our 11 years here we've, obviously, met many people. Some we've gotten to know deeply, some are good friends but the friendship doesn't have deep, spiritual roots and some people we've met we've only had passing, superficial conversations with.

One thing we've noticed is that quite a few people will say they are Catholics but then will tell you that they've only been in a Catholic church for their baptism as a baby and for their wedding. I love their honesty but their Catholicism is kind of like me saying I'm an American. I had no input in the decision. I was just born there. Many people are born into Catholic homes but they don't have their own faith. Their Catholic faith is not their own. There are no real faith roots.

Another group of people here is Evangelical Christians. This group is a fast growing group in Brasil but, from what we've noticed, the faster growing churches reach out to the poor and many times twist God's word to their benefit. We've heard of a preacher, not long after we moved here, that told the church family, the majority of who were very poor, to give their tithe abundantly so that they could have a dental plan in heaven. Sounds too funny, or sad, to be true right? Yes but many of these preachers are super rich. More than one church leader, just since we've been here, has been caught red handed stealing money from the tithe and even laughing about it. And yet they still run these massive churches.

I realize you can't broad brush any certain group and say they are all the same. I wouldn't want anyone to do that with our small house church family. It's not fair and, more times than not, it wouldn't be true. So we don't share about these groups to judge but to share some things we've seen in our decade plus of living here. If I were to judge I don't think I'd put evangelical christians down. We are such a group.

Anyway, my girlfriend and I know there are many Catholics who have a deep and intimate faith with the Father. They walk with Jesus and we know heaven will be full of our Catholic brothers and sisters. We can't wait to spend eternity together.

We also know that not all leaders of evangelical churches are thieves and liars. We've known some people who go to those churches I've mentioned and they walk with more grace and peace in their lives than I do. They would never do anything to mislead or lie to someone.

We have a dear friend in the states who told us once that wherever the name of Jesus is spoken God shines His light there and smashes the darkness. We believe that and have seen that here in POA. We've seen it in the middle of both of these groups.

I even hate to share about two different groups. If you call on the name of Jesus as your Savior you are my brother. You are my sister. I don't like group names. I don't even like seeing names on buildings where the family of God meets.

So why share?

The reason we share all of this is to share about the new Pope. Pope Francis. If you don't know he's the first pope chosen from outside of Europe. He's from Argentina.

Last week, in house church, our discussion turned to him.

My girlfriend and I were asked what we thought about him. Like I said before, Catholic roots have and will always run deep in Brasil so the topic of a new Pope is a big one.

I shared that although I have a huge problem with the way people look at the Pope in an almost godlike way, I really liked the stuff I was reading about this new Pope. He seems humble and really wants to do the will of God. He has a servant heart. He doesn't seem to want all the pomp that goes with the title of Pope. He lived a simple life in Argentina and he wants to continue with a simple life.

One of the main complaints that we've heard over the last 11 years about the Catholic church is how much money they have and how little they seem to do to help. Their complaints start at the Vatican and the money they see there and how those riches could be used to bless.

I shared with the group last week that this Pope has the chance to, literally, change the world if he continues living and encouraging the message he is sharing. He said he wants the Catholic church to be a "poor church for the poor." I like that.

I've included a couple of articles that will tell you more about Pope Francis.

The first one is about him shunning the fancy living arrangements at the Vatican. Click here to read that. 

This one is about him washing and kissing the feet of some young inmates in a juvenile detention center. Click here to read.

Please pray for Pope Francis. That he will allow God to use him to lead as the Spirit leads and to share the love of Christ to millions around the world. This world needs more simplicity. More simple faith in Jesus.

We pray that your Good Friday, your Sexta-feira Santa is a good one.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Easter Present

Hey Grandmommy,

Guess what came in the mail today?
I'm just now noticing Anderson's face. It wouldn't be a family picture without one of the kids being goofy.

Carys and Anderson were excited about their birthday cards and candy. Gi loved his stickers. They plan on taking the candy to a movie tonight if it actually lasts that long.

Benay was really excited about the egg coloring kit. They were planning on getting up tomorrow to color eggs so it was perfect timing.

Thanks for always sending the kids stuff. We know it doesn't always make sense especially when you pay more to get it here than the stuff in the package costs. You have no idea how big a deal it is for the kids to open a gift from the United States. It makes their day/week/month. They know your handwriting so they know immediately who it's from. That just shows how much stuff you send our way.

Thank you for taking the time to do it so often! It really makes our day and we don't take it for granted.

We love you!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Hey girls,

Thought you could use a little bit of this today....
.......and this......
.......and this......
.......and this.....
........and this......
........and this.
Not much longer.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Reading is very important.
We can't just exercise our bodies. If we did we'd be all buff but have mush in our brains. We need to exercise our minds as well.
Even Superman needs a mental work out. And yes, it's still exercising your brain even if you are reading your own biography.

Don't judge him.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Birthday Dork

Today is this Goober's birthday - the pretty one on the right:

You guys know what we do. 

Giovanni: (with the question: "What do you want to tell Bronwyn?) "Batman. A little Batman that moves. A little Joker that moves. And a Batman house. (We then asked what he wanted to tell you for your birthday.) Happy Birthday!"

Anderson: "Bronwyn, happy birthday! You are one of the coolest sisters of the universe of the world of the world of the universe. It's hard to believe that you are 22 now. Wow. Happy Birthday!

Carys: "Hey Pony happy birthday, i love you so much and i want you to try to have the best birthday ever even though I wont be there, i miss you so much and when you get back we are going o watch all our musicals together while we eat popcorn with M&M's, i love you soooooooooooo much bjuuuuuus"

Garrett:  Bonniiiii parabeens guriaa! Happy Bday bronwyn! I just wanted to say a couple of things about you (other then you being an awesome sister). You are really good at pretty much everything you do, it seems like you are nice and love everyone even though someone could have been mean to you... ok enough with the girly talk beneath the clothes there is a man and beneath the man you find.. his nucleus. I love you! Have a great day!

Ans: "Brah-wee, Can I just start by saying how THANKFUL I am that we go to college at the same school?! I am so blessed to have you be here for me any time I need you. I love your food, I love going to church with you, I love it when you call me and my Asian ringtone makes me laugh, I love it when you ask me to help you with things, I love it when you let me vent to you about everything. Thank you for being literally the best role model I could have asked for. I want to be everything God has made me to be because you are everything God wants you to be - and that is awesome. I love you SO MUCH!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!"

Almost Husband: "This is for my sweetheart: You are my favorite. You are my best friend every day. I love life when you are in it. You make me love life because you love living so much. Thank you for your joy and the life that you bring to those around you. I SO PROUD OF YOU BRAWRIE! SO OWLD! That makes me cool that my girl is old you know. so thanks. Happy 22 Bronnie!"

Mom:  Happy Birthday, Bronwyn!  I have loved every last minute of being your mom these past 22 years - which have flown by faster than I could ever imagine.  You are sweet, joyful and kind.  I love that you don't get all out of whack about stuff and can take things in stride.  I love that you are goofy and have no problem laughing at yourself.  Oh, and also athletic - a gift you inherited from me.  Anyway, you are just perfect the way you are and I am so proud to be your mom.  I hope your day is super fun and special.  I can't wait to see you soon!!! I love you!

Me: "It's been really cool watching you grow up. As the first child you had to deal with a lot of stuff as me and mom learned how to be parents. We are still learning. You've shown me grace as I've goofed up more than I'd like to admit as a dad. You just rolled with everything and just kept forgiving my faults. . You've always been a great big sister. When you were two and Ans came home from the hospital you seemed ready for that. When you were seventeen and got to be with us in the delivery room and see Gi be born you were ready for that. And all the additions in between, you were ready. As the oldest you've had a lot dumped on you over the years (responsibilities, etc.) and you've always just rolled with it. Didn't like it always I'm sure but never complained. Maybe sometimes I took that for granted. I'm sorry when I did. You've been an amazing blessing for so long in how you take care of your brothers and sisters. Thank you. You are kind, compassionate and really care about everyone you meet. That's a rare thing today. That's a straight blessing from the Spirit. I've always admired how you just seem to be focused on the important stuff in life. The stuff that really matters. You are a great example to your family and to your friends. I love you and am proud to call you my daughter! Have lots of fun today and make good choices :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Acuña, Mexico

When my girlfriend and I were growing up we didn't know many people who went out of the country to do mission work.

I, honestly, didn't know anyone who felt called to move to another country to share the love of Jesus. I knew the missionaries when they came to visit our church family but I had no real relationship with them. I wasn't close to any missionary. 

I didn't have a world view back then. I didn't know many people who talked much about stuff in the world or carrying the love of Jesus to other countries.   My personal world revolved around the U.S. and, more importantly to me at that time, Memphis, the city I was raised in. 

My parents showed me the country. I can remember trips to New York, West Virginia, Washington D.C., Florida, Arizona, Colorado and Illinois. I can remember me and my dad doing "guy trips" together. Football games in Knoxville and New Orleans. Final Fours in New Orleans and Lexington. Baseball trips to see the Cubs and Yankees. I won't ever forget those trips. 

I don't, however, remember being too concerned about visiting other countries. To get to know them, the culture and the people. And I never thought about going to share Jesus with them. Just being honest. 

I can remember in college our school had a study abroad program. I remember thinking leaving the fun of campus to go to Europe for a semester was completely dumb. And it was dumb. Dumb of me not to go and have that experience. 

I never left the country until I was 27. I went to the Ukraine on a short term mission trip. I went with 4 other people. It started out as something terrifying for me but ended up, literally, changing my life and the life and family tree of my family. 

My girlfriend didn't go out of the country (other than a quick visit to the Canadian side....what's up Tanya and Amy!.....of Niagara Falls in high school) until she was 34. We then went to Cancun. Not exactly a "non American" experience. 

You get the picture, we weren't exactly world travelers and that was okay. We could have been happy living in the states for all of our lives but God called us to Brasil and I'm so thankful He did. 

I'm obviously happy because we get to share His love with our Brasilian family. It's a very hard and discouraging and incredible and awesome thing all at the same time. I would not trade the last 11 years of our lives for anything. 

Our kids all know 2-3 different languages. Spanish, German, English and Portuguese. I absolutely love that! I remember growing up and hearing, and thinking, that if you came to the United States you better know English because we don't speak anything else here. 

Being the foreigner in another country and having to learn the language definitely takes some of that "has to be this way or else" out of your system.  It was very cool when we first moved here and met Brasilians who went out of their way to patiently listen to our horrible Portuguese and those that tried to speak English with us.

I wouldn't trade how growing up in Brasil has impacted our kids. They have all traveled internationally by the time they were 15-16. Garrett and Carys will be making their first solo trip to the U.S. in May. 

Bronwyn went to Rwanda for a couple of months after high school. Ansley spent 5 months in Ecuador last year at an orphanage. 

Our kids are seeing it all. Extreme poverty and kids that aren't wanted or loved on. People who think very differently than and sometimes even don't like Americans. They have learned how to deal with all types of people and places. They are learning how to not live in a bubble. 

I remember the first time I went to the Ukraine I had a conversation with one of our translators who was around my age. I was taught in school that everyone in the former USSR was our enemy. I shared that with her. I asked her about what she thought of Americans. She was taught that we were her enemies as well. All we needed to find out how wrong we were was to spend a little time together. My time with her changed my worldview. I never laughed so much in the Ukraine than when I was with this sister. I know the world would be different if we all took a trip to another country and got involved for a short trip/long trip or a move to another country. Nothing breaks down barriers like living together. 

Through my time in the Ukraine God gave me His "world view." He took away my "American view." I saw people who literally had nothing, but smiled and laughed more than I did. They grew crops in the summer so they could have food in the winter and they laughed on the way to their summer gardens. I, embarrassingly, complained if I had to wait too long for a Whopper at Burger King. Seeing all that there messed my world up. In a great way. 

Our kids have been blessed to see the world in a much different way than I did growing up. I had an amazing childhood. Amazing parents and friends. I grew up in a Christian home. A home that prepared me for where we are today. But I wasn't able to see the world differently until much later in life. 

My kids get to live that all the time. Just yesterday my kids worshipped and shared in the Lord's Supper with 3 former alcohol,cocaine and crack addicts. They (these brothers and my kids) hug on each other, laugh with each other and are real church with each other. It's an amazing thing to see and I wonder if our kids even realize how cool it is. I think B and Ans see it more now that they are out of the house and on their own but sometimes you don't see things when you are up close to it. 

Our house church isn't perfect but we are trying to live as close to Acts 2 as possible. It's isn't easy. Family never is. It isn't always pretty. Family never is. The world (both Christian and not) tell us to be superficial. To just show up and get your shot of adrenaline at Sunday worship and think it's all good. We are trying to not live superficially. We confess our sins and confront in brotherly love. It's tough but so good. 

Our kids have seen that and are living that. They aren't afraid to be with the poor. They aren't afraid to sacrifice for Jesus and they are learning to be okay with being uncomfortable in a situation if that's where God has put them. Even if it's not where they thought they'd be or even wanted to be. What more could a Christian couple ask for their kids than that? We are very thankful that they aren't afraid to get out of their bubble. To get out of their comfort zone. 

So....Why in the world was this post labeled Acunã, Mexico? 

Great question. 

This week Ansley was, once again, asked to go out of her comfort zone. God has chosen to put Ansley in Acuña, Mexico. She was asked to help with a mission team, on their spring break, as a Spanish translator. 

We would love your prayers for her and this team. That they are able to bless and share God's love with many people this week. 

And as you pray, be daring and ask God to get you out of your comfort zone. Don't question, just go wherever He tells you to go. 

I speak as someone who was pretty comfortable in his comfort bubble before God blasted me out of there. You won't ever regret going where He sends. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

It is much easier for me to imagine a praying murderer, a praying prostitute, than a vain person praying. Nothing is so at odds with prayer as vanity. 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Friday, March 08, 2013

Today we have a birthday girl. Carys. 

You guys know what we do on birthdays and we'll do that but I wanted to share a little about Carys' story first. I woke up thinking about it and wanted to share. 

In 1998 my girlfriend and I had our first miscarriage. It was one of the hardest things that we've ever gone through together in our married life. Most people, honestly, could not relate or understand or help us in our grief. It's one of those things that you have to experience to really understand. 

To some people it's hard to understand how that can be so devastating. We never held our child. We never loved on him or even saw him but it was our child and we loved him as we love all of our kids. 

We were on a family vacation when it happened. We've never wanted to go back to that city again. Too many bad memories. 

My parents came to the city where we were and picked up Bronwyn, Ansley and Garrett and took them home so my girlfriend and I could spend some time together and grieve. 

It was a hard time. It was a dark time and I felt a shadow over me. After a few days we went back home. I went back to work. My boss was amazing. My co-workers were awesome. They took care of me but I felt like I was walking around in a daze. My boss told me to go home and take more days off. I felt like I needed to work to help with my sadness so I stayed. I think my boss was right. I broke down at my work and a nurse I worked with took me out of my patients room to comfort me. I can remember walking the parking lot just so I could cry. God and I had some long conversations. 

At church I can remember getting furious with a brother who tried to help with his words but said the most incredibly insensitive thing at the time. I know he meant well and any other time it probably would not have offended me but at that time a silent hug would have done so much more for my well being. 

I remember being in the funk for a while. Feeling like only my girlfriend and myself could understand the feeling. 

After my girlfriend left the hospital we were told, by her MD, to not try to get pregnant for 3 months. Honestly, the thought of getting pregnant again wasn't anything we thought we'd ever want to do. Who would want that kind of pain again?

But God began to heal us during those 3 months. Really heal us. He did His best work spiritually. 

When those 3 months were over we both knew in our hearts that God wanted to grow our family and almost one year to the day of when our baby died our Carys was born. 

It was the most perfect thing God could have done to heal our hearts. It was so obviously His doing that we called her our "miracle baby" for a while. Here was this little healthy, smiling, spunky, fun, adventurous and happy child and she stole our hearts. 

She brought so much joy and happiness into our lives and we all instantly fell in love with her. 

That continues today and here is what we share with you, Carys, on your very special day:

Gi: "I want to play Emblem 3 dolls, The Wanted dolls and One Direction dolls with you. You are a great sister. You are a great sister. I love you! That's all." 

Anderson: "Carys I love you. Even though we fight just remember that I'm always going to love you. You're funny. You're brave and especially happy every day of your life. Happy Birthday!"

Garrett: "Happy birthday Carys! You are so awesome! I hope you have a great day! I love doing pretty much everything with you, especially wrestling (even though Im way stronger than you)! Muitos gatinhos pra ti! Just kidding, I loveee you! Happy B day!!"

Ansley: "CARYS!!!! It's adwee here. I miss you so much! I am so sad I'm not there for your birthday, but I know you're having a BLAST with your friends:) I loved talking with you on the phone the other day, I miss talking about cute boys and nice friends and music with you!!! I hope this birthday is the best you've ever had! I love you, thank you for being YOU! Don't ever change!! LOVE YOU AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" 

Bronwyn: "Hey Keks!!! Happy birthday!!! I know I say this for every birthday, but I can't believe that you're this old. At least I'm still taller than you. Whatever. Anyway, I know you're going to have an awesome birthday today! I so wish that I could be there with you...I love you so much! When I see you in a few weeks, in return for missing your birthday, I allow you to leech on me for 5 minutes, and I'll give you a piggy back ride and give you ice cream. Okay? Okay. I love you and I think you're so sweet and cool and awesome! Believe me, you are way cooler than I was when I was 14. If you don't believe me, just ask mom and dad to show you pictures of me. Way to be cooler than the rest of us! I love you Keka!! Have a good birthday!"

Stephen: "Carys, first of all thanks a lot for getting your family hooked on One Direction. The saddest part is that I think I'm starting to like them. Sooooo what do I think is awesome about you...definitely your wrestling skills. I still have nightmares about you beating me up from almost 2 years ago!! I also think that you should appoint yourself family ninja/biter/leech to get the dirty work done that your ninny brothers are too scared to do. Keep being awesome! Happy bday teen teen!"

Girlfriend: "Happy Birthday, Carys.  I seriously can't believe you are 14 today.  I guess in my mind you will always be my funny little baby girl.  NO MORE GROWING UP!  Seriously, I love that even though you are a teenager, you are still fun-loving.  Your laughter is my favorite. I love to hear you giggle.  You are super talented - you sing well, you are a great artist, and you are good in sports.  I know God has big plans for you because you are a person who everyone loves to be with and He will use you to help a lot of people.  I love you so much and love doing things with you.  Hope your birthday is super special!"

Me: "Happy Birthday Vivi! Thanks for being so much fun, for having an awesome laugh (you tie with Ans for best family laugh), for being way cooler than Bronwyn and Ansley (okay that's not so hard to do) and for being such a good big/little sister. Me and mom love all your friends and I love the example you are to them. People love to be around you and that's because you are so much fun. You live for Jesus and that draws people to you too. I love how you aren't scared of anything. You are my family daredevil. Maybe one day we can skydive together. That would be cool! I hope you have an awesome day today and have a bunch of fun with your family and friends. You are the coolest 14 year old that I know!! I love you and am proud of you!"

Happy Birthday Carys! I fixed the picture and made it way better just for you!

Thursday, March 07, 2013

One Last Time?


Guess what we did last weekend?
Sorry. Don't mean to rub it in. Okay I do a little.

It was 95 degrees so we thought we'd take advantage of the pool.

We had fun. And we thought of you guys. Okay, not that much.

Don't know how many more days it will be hot enough for us to go again.

On the way home we stopped at a party they had at Sogipa and Gi got some cotton candy that was huge.
 He was one happy dude.
Lots of heat and swimming can make you tired so it's good to have a bud to hang out and watch tv with after you get home.
Life was pretty good last weekend.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Want One?

Hey Girls,

Our boy had a little write up on his business.

Click here to read about it. 

Pretty cool huh?

Does it make you miss family night?

I may eat one just for you guys this week.

Maybe "American Cookies" will be the next place this guy writes about. Who knows?

Tuesday, March 05, 2013


Hey girls,

Thought you'd like to see what happened on Sunday.

Thought you might be missing it a little bit.

Forlán is going crazy this year!

Monday, March 04, 2013



Today was Gi's first day of school. Thought you'd want to see it. He was happy to pose for you guys after I told him I wanted to take some pics to show you.
He also wanted to show you his pack pack....
......and his new Hot Wheels toothbrush.
He was very happy to see his buds and he got to see Ariane again.
I think that's a pretty awesome first day pic.

We think he's kind of cool.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

When a people prays, there is the church, and where the church is, there is never loneliness.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Saturday, March 02, 2013

For the Brasilian Goobers-Part 2


I promised my new favorite song and you guys probably already know who it's from. 

Sorry Ans, I know you aren't a big fan of Jota Quest. And sorry B, Skank was a good guess though. 

You guys probably heard this song when you were home but I don't remember us talking about it. 

I love the beat and I love these guys.......even if they are old guys Ans.

I tried to get a better video but all the other ones wouldn't allow me to post it on the blog because of copyright stuff. The only one I could find was this live version from Rádio Mania. You might get some chuckles (the announcer really wants you to remember that it's a special from Rádio Mania) and see some stuff that makes you miss home :) but the song still sounds good.

You'll have this in your head all day so go ahead and turn it up! 

Here's the best version if you want to listen to it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_lOUriuFWA

Friday, March 01, 2013

For the Brasilian Goobers


It's been a while since I shared any music from home. Here's one of my new most hated songs from Gabriel o Pensador. Normally I LOVE the stuff from Gabriel o Pensador. Not this time. I've heard it way too much already.

Let me know if it also makes it into your top ten hate list or does it just want to make you go surfing?

Tomorrow I'll share my new favorite.