Monday, November 30, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like....


Decorating for Christmas accidentally happened early for the week before Thanksgiving early.

That's just not right....I know.

But...we had a great time, even Daddy participated this year which was a rare treat! Usually, after he hears the first Christmas song played on my Bing Crosby CD...that ruins him for the entire season. ---I'm still not quite sure what got into him this year to actually plan a date to decorate the tree.....and that date being BEFORE Thanksgiving. But I'm not complaining!

In trying to keep with my frugal decorating habits, I proudly purchased my first ever can of snow! I excitedly opened up the package of stencils with beautiful snowy visions dancing in my head. But what I ended up with was a huge, wet, nasty, waste of money mess. Take my advice, spend a little more and get window stickers. Snow in a can is not worth the savings.

"Yeah....It's Christmas Time in The City....I mean ....Portugal....and Nanny and Pa Paw are coming to see us!"

Finally I've got kids tall enough to reach the top of the tree. I remember when all the decorations hung on the bottom third of the tree. I would leave them there, no matter how bad I wanted to move them around after the kids bedtime. It just didn't seem right to rearrange them.

I don't have to worry about that any more......they grow up so fast!

I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving. We had a fantastic time! After celebrating with three American basketball players that are here without family, we went on Friday about 1.5 hrs south of here to celebrate with three other missionary families. I forgot my camera...gasp! I don't have pictures. You'll just have to take my word on it....we had a great time!

Ministry opportunities are abundant right now and we are staying extremely busy these days. The services at both of the churches we are ministering in are going well, with two ladies accepting Christ as their Savior a few weeks ago!

I'm about to busy myself making baked goods in an attempt to minister here locally to neighbors and shop owners. We are so thankful and grateful for the friends God has placed in our lives these last 22 months. It's hard to believe it's almost been 2 years.

God is Good!

Love you all.....

Thursday, November 26, 2009

It Just Doesn't Feel Like....

Thanksgiving to me.....

but I'm not going to let that keep me from wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

It's business as usual around here. Sort of a sad day. But I want you to enjoy every bit of your turkey, family, friends.

Happy Thanksgiving from Portugal,

And now.......from my favorite guest blogger, my husband.

It's Still Thanksgiving

Imagine having a 23 year old daughter, fresh out of college, living half way around the world in a land where virtually everything is foreign, different, and strange. It would be difficult enough seeing her go that far alone, but the desire to reach out and hug her or kiss her on the cheek must grow exponentially at certain times.

If you were in this situation, as a parent, wouldn't you want someone to be kind to your daughter or son, especially during the seasons of loneliness and depression that creep up around the holidays. If during no other time of the year, when Thanksgiving and Christmas arrive, people are vulnerable.

Separation hurts more when we notice that almost everybody we pass has a place to go celebrate, to make festive. We, as social beings, need family and friends. We desire a certain familiarity.

Do you want to spend Christmas alone in a restaurant struggling to communicate, while choking down grilled sardines or weird smelling salted cod? Without a doubt, at times, exotic can be good, but nothing beats a turkey dinner with sweet tea, topped off with banana pudding for desert. It might not be mom's, but yesterday we tried to make it as close to mom's as we could.

All of that and more, is why my wife spent all day in the kitchen yesterday, cooking, cleaning, and cooking some more. It was the day before Thanksgiving, a normal day here in Portugal, as is Thanksgiving day, but we invited three professional basketball players to spend part of the day with us. All three are Americans in their 20s, and none of them had plans for one of the most important American holidays that exists.

No, Portugal does not celebrate Thanksgiving. Most of the Portuguese folks have never heard of such a thing and when it is explained to them, we can tell that such a holiday seems a bit trivial.

So, Victor, John, and Amaka came over and ate way too much before having to go back to practice that evening. We didn't have the Macy's Day parade, neither did we have the Detroit Lions or the Dallas Cowboys, but we did have one another. We all spoke the same language and we ate familiar food. We laughed and reminisced.

They played Uno with the kids and drank fruit punch kool-aid until no white could be seen inside their mouths. When everything was said and done, we doled out more kool-aid packets of the preferred flavors, stuffed sandwich bags with homemade brownies and then loaded up the van to take them “to work.” While getting ready to go, the lamentations were both loud and heartfelt. One of the guys said that after a meal like that all he wanted to do was go back home, relax, and use the bathroom! So much for running up and down a basketball court and having someone yell at him in another language.

Coach didn't get much out of the star Americans last night, but all three of them now know that they are loved and that they have a home away from home. Mom and Dad probably won't ever read this article, but if by chance they do, I'd like to let them know that they can rest assured that we'll take care of their “young-uns” as if they were our own. Christmas is right around the corner, and they won't have to spend it alone.

Monday, November 23, 2009

All In The Name Of Exercise is the situation.

This is a true story. I kid you not.

While exercising outside yesterday with my dog, he jumped up on my backside and pulled my skirt down to my knees!

In plain sight of the neighbors who were out enjoying the beautiful weather....and moon!

Moral of the story.....

-wear clothes that fit while exercising
-leave the dog inside
-rest on Sunday's like God intended

God does have a sense of humor.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Stupidity - Guest Blogger

Touch a gun, go to jail

Confessedly, I have very little to exactly no patience for complete idiocy. It forces my heart to pump so feverishly that my very capillaries feel as though they may explode at any moment. Idiocy alone has the power to completely refashion our society into a bunch of lemming-like yes men without any capacity to process information, assess a particular situation, and arrive at a proper, logical conclusion. It threatens the foundations of justice itself and is most egregious at the highest levels of government.

This week's case in point comes straight from the land of fish and chips, the United Kingdom. There Paul Clarke, a former soldier faces a minimum, yes, minimum of five years in prison for turning in an assault weapon at the local police precinct. There is no evidence that he either purchased or discharged the weapon. Neither did he threaten anyone. His only obvious crime was having a brain.

As reported by the daily, Surrey Today, Clarke found a plastic bag in his backyard, so he retrieved it and inside discovered a sawed off shotgun with ammunition. Next, he did what any reasonable, law-abiding bloke would do under the circumstances. He phoned the police chief, advising him that he would be coming to see him at the station. When he arrived and removed the shotgun from the garbage sack, placing it on a table facing the wall, (simultaneously showing that he understood proper gun safety and he intended no one any harm) he was immediately arrested for possession of a firearm.


Evidently all the city's public servants are muttonheads because the case actually went to trial. The prosecutor argued that Clarke's intent (to make his town a safer place) was irrelevant and that the moment he touched the weapon, he was guilty.

Come again?

Somebody had to have bullied that attorney as child because there is no other way that he could have possibly ended up being such a tool.

But, I get it, now. The powers that be really preferred that he do nothing but call and report the incident while leaving the short barreled killer for neighborhood kids to play with. Maybe he shouldn't have done anything at all so that the drug dealer who tried to hide it could return, retrieve it, and employ it in the next drive-by.

Sticking with the appropriate “sheeple” metaphor of everyone ground gazing as they shuffle toward the cliff, the jury of Clarke's peers followed in Orwellian lock-step and convicted him while only deliberating for twenty minutes. They must have been late for the Spice Girls Reunion Tour or Manchester United's latest row.

Now a good man, who faithfully served his country runs the risk of spending at least half a decade behind bars because practically everyone involved in the situation is an idiot.

Yes, it's a strong word, but I believe completely applicable and terrifyingly accurate in its definition.

We have a rule in my home that we don't use the S-word, ever. Not that one – a different one. We don't use the word, stupid. However, I'm breaking my own rule right now when I say that whoever arrested, prosecuted, and convicted Paul Clarke of Surrey, England is stupid.

Bottom line: I'm glad I don't live there, for if I did I would definitely have to move.

Written by Michael Andrzejewski

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Empty Classroom

My oldest daughter is home from school today. But it doesn't have anything to do with a runny nose, cough or pig flu.

Her teacher is on strike.

Not the whole school. Not the other three teachers in her tiny, rural elementary school. Just her teacher.

And the reason is this....

....she doesn't want to change classrooms.

Apparently, the "higher ups" told her to move her students to a smaller classroom and allow a group of kindergartners to have her classroom because it's closer to the library.

I guess maybe the smaller kids will get cold walking the extra 10 steps necessary for them to get to the library from their current location.

I mean, really...this school is tiny. My house is almost as big as the school. How much closer can the kindergartners get to the library. Maybe they should just have class in the library, that will fix the problem.

So, with tears staining her cheeks, teacher Gloria will remain home this morning until noon when the show off will begin. Teacher Gloria has had the same group of students since they were 1st graders, as the teacher advances with her classroom each year until they leave for middle school. She's had these kids for 4 years now, in the same classroom, at the same desks, taught on the same blackboard.

I think she's being a little too emotional, but us women are guilty of that from time to time.

So at noon, I will join with the other parents at the school in protest.

Us against the "higher ups".

Update: Teacher Glória gets to keep her room!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Running....Can I Do It?

For years now, I've secretly admired runners.

Those folks you always see on the side of the road that seem to run forever, never stopping.

I remember telling my husband back a few years ago about my desire to be a runner. It was the first time I said it out loud and I remember feeling like a dufus while telling him...the exact thing I didn't want to happen. Wishing I had just kept it to myself.

When I was a kid and had to run the mile in PE class, I was always one of the kids that finished last. It seemed like the entire class would be inside the track cheering me to finish before the 12 minute time limit was reached. Telling me that if I didn't hurry, I would have to run it again tomorrow, and it was supposed to rain that day.

With shortness of breath, pain piercing my sides and my pulse so loud in my ears it was deafening, I would finish the mile just shy of 12 minutes every time.

Boy was I glad when PE was no longer mandatory and I could choose art or photography.

I've never been a good runner, but I want to become one now.

This morning, with my husbands encouragement and my kids cheering me on, I loaded up my black Lab and the two of us headed to the coast.

Choosing a running partner that won't ever utter a discouraging word was a very wise decision on my part. He was grateful for a short run along the coast that ended with a little game of fetch before heading back home. We weren't gone long, but it was a start.

It was a small victory.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Winners Announced!

Candle in the Corner Winners!!!

571- Tracie- Taiwan

489- Lindsay- Portugal -- (Woo Hoo! Contact me Lindsay!)

602- Nancy- Paraguay

439- Mellie- Spain

402- Gena- Russia

462- Garry- Argentina

6- Maria- Brazil

135- Theresa T.- Botswana

42- Joyce- South Africa

620- Elaine (Extra entry for linking)- Montana

106- Maribeth- Uganda

415- Tanya- Indonesia

The total amount raised: $4065!! Praise the Lord! This amount will be split between all the missionary families that participated in this event!

Thank you to Heidi for all your hard work to make this event not only possible, but successful!

A very special thank you from my heart to those of you who gave! May God's abundant blessings shower you!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Playing Catch Up

Do you ever feel like you just can't catch up?

Like there is always something that needs to be done?

Well, that's how it's been lately for me.

We've just been so busy.

Last week, we had my Uncle and Aunt, missionaries on deputation to India, visit with us for a few days. It was such a joy and encouragement having them here with us. They were able to share a little with our congregation about what God has done and is doing in their lives and in the lives of the Indian people. Folks seems to be very interested and many made commitments to pray for them daily. My Aunt sang at the beginning of the service and I cried immediately, more so out of missing her and her singing than anything else. But I saw many crying during her song, which doesn't happen very often in the the churches here. I was so thankful to be a part of that service! You can view my Uncle and Aunts ministry presentation here.

These two people are very precious to us....

-My Uncle married Michael and I.
-My Aunt sang at the ceremony.
-Michael was saved after hearing him preach.
-Michael was his youth pastor and then associate pastor.
-My Uncle helped us dedicate all 5 of our children.
-My Uncle preached our "charge" message to us just days before leaving the States.
(you get my point?)

Today is the last day for Candle in the Corner Giveaway. Winners will be announced soon. Thank you to those who gave sacrificially so that God's work can continue on across the globe. Pray for all these missionary families as the holidays approach and the lack of loved ones, family and friends could make for a difficult few months.

God Bless You all.....

I've missed you all and soon hope to be back at blogging more regularly.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Only Two Days Left

Tomorrow will be the last day to give to the Candle in the Corner Giveaway.

You can scroll down my sidebar to see 11 of the 12 giveaway items up for grabs. The 12th will be revealed tomorrow.

You can also click on any of the pictures to learn more about the work being done in that country.

Don't delay. Donate and helps support a foreign missionary family today.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Photo Flashback

Back when I used to could say, "The Girls" when I referred to my children.

Before our little terror boy entered our lives and changed the world as we knew it.

These were the days of sweet, pink, little girl loves.... I cherish those days.

While carrying our fifth child I no longer prayed for the birth of a son, but for a fifth daughter. It was easier that way and I thought it cruel to bring a boy into the family after having 4 girls.

Little did I know, it wouldn't be him that suffered, but his 4 older sisters!! He can take care of himself, that's for sure. He threw us all for a loop, but it's been an amazing ride!

So...for Friday Photo Flashback, I remember the days of bows, lace and princess parties.

Without the disturbance of a little brother bombing us with army men and sweet grins. ;)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Man Purse - Guest Blogger

European Living – the Man Purse

Adapting to a different culture can be quite a humorous adventure. Even though western Europe is, in comparison to other parts of the world, a type of sister culture to ours in the US, there still exists between the two a chasm as deep and wide as the Atlantic Ocean itself. There are differences in demeanor, styles of government, theories of nutrition, and almost anything else of which one can imagine, including fashion.

Portuguese people think differently, act differently, eat differently, than any American I know. Sometimes that is wonderful and sometimes it is terrifying.

However, throw in the other types of cultures with ties to Portugal, and it becomes infinitely more interesting. Today, Portugal is infused with people from former Portuguese colonies from around the world. In our churches here we have those who hail from Asia (Macao), Africa (Mozambique and Angola), and South America (Brazil) but all have in common their native tongue.

Knowing the various cultures present and having a strong desire to adapt to our surroundings, my family and I have tried our best to put off many Americanisms and assimilate as quickly and as best we can.

Yet, very recently I found myself roundly rejecting a cultural staple of the younger Portuguese generation – the man purse.

I dare not guess by percentage how many Portuguese men under 50 walk around with what amounts to a lady's accessory over their shoulder, but believe me, it happens much more often than it should. Sadly though, it didn't really give me pause until a few weeks ago.

One Thursday night we were cleaning up the church after our mid-week service when I noticed something that resembled a camera bag, only different, draped across the back of a chair. It was small and green with some kind of funny emblem on it. Only one other family was left in the church, so I innocently asked the father if it was his two year old daughter's toy or play purse. Then, horror of all horrors, he responded, “No, it's mine.”

Go ahead, yuck it up!

Nina looked at me mortified, but reeling from the embarrassed shock, all I could do was mutter a partially intelligible “sorry” as my mind jetted off into an alternate universe. Like trying to calculate Pi to its conclusion, ever since that night I've been trying to reconcile the man purse with universal masculinity, and like the last digit of Pi, it's just not happening.

Though it's not good enough for me, I did come up with a partial justification for this crime against God given ruggedness. (Really, could anyone be tough and carry a man purse?) Again, I'm not buying into it, but several factors do play into the pro man purse stance.

First, standard pocket size on jeans and slacks in Europe is much smaller and shallower than in the States. Secondly, the size of the Euro bills increase as the denominations increase. A five is smaller than a hundred. Money is not all the same size here; therefore, wallets are also proportionally larger. Thirdly, belt clip cell phone holders are almost entirely non-existent, and finally a powder brush gets ruined when stuffed in a back pocket. Maybe I made that last one up, but the others are true.

Valid reasons they may be, yet none are convincing enough to cause me to sling a bag over my shoulder and go out in public.

Written by Michael Andrzejewski for the LaGrange Daily News.