Monday, September 27, 2010

Couples Meeting

Saturday evening the couples from our Barcelos congregation were invited to share a meal with the couples from the Póvoa congregation.  The idea was to strengthen our marriages and the relationship we have between the two churches.  We had an amazing time!

We laughed:

We ate:

We laughed some more:

And of course....we ate some more:

I saw many couples holding hands as they listened to the message:

It was a blessing for this ol' missionary couple to witness.

"Thank you Lord!"

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The 'Super Missionary Family' - Revealed

I pulled out some old home videos the other night.  Mixed in was a set of dvd's of a missionary camp meeting we attended while on deputation.

I remember the time well.

I was miserable.

We were at an amazing church, but I felt like I was under scrutiny.  Like we were being forced to be a 'super missionary family' because they chose the missionaries that would attend their missions conference (guaranteed support) based on their attitudes/performance/servitude at this camp meeting. I saw some missionaries fall all over themselves, almost fighting to take the trash out.  Refill tea glasses and even sweep the kitchen when they obviously didn't even know how to sweep. 

Problem was that I had a child knocking on deaths door. She was so sick with an uncontrollable and very messy stomach virus that had lasted way too long. We were staying in dorms. I had all 5 kids with me and Michael was across the river in the men's dorm. I was overweight, stressed to the max, and hating missionary life. "The things missionaries do for support...." I remember myself thinking.

The dvd I watched showed all of us missionary wives come across the stage to receive shopping money (they carried the ladies shopping, but I had to stay with a sick kid). In order to get your money you had to say something about your husband...well....all the other ladies told about how their husbands were the best, spiritual leader, honest, trustworthy, yadda...yadda.....

I had had enough of all the gushy stuff and finally it was my time at the mic. I decided to mix things up a bit. I told them about the awful noise my husband makes while brushing his teeth! The entire place erupted in laughter. (thank goodness)

Why would I do something like that?  In front of about 500 people?  My husband shaking his head in embarrassment.

I wanted folks to know that missionaries are real people too.

Of course it's good if the missionary husband has all of these traits the other women talked about.  It would be good that ALL HUSBANDS, regardless of their calling in life, had these traits.

But, missionaries brush their teeth just like everyone else.  We cry, we scream, we fight, we cry some more.  We pray, we burn the bread, we wipe snotty noses and read bedtime stories.  We go to church, we learn foreign languages, and we embarrass ourselves when we speak in public. 

We're not to be placed on a pedestal.  We're not better than anyone else.  We're usually pretty humble, as life on the foreign field isn't the least bit glamorous.

Some of us even make that awful gagging sound when brushing our teeth.


P.S. We got invited back to their mission's conference!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back to School - Portuguese Style

"So....what's the difference" you ask?  "School is school, no matter where you go....right?"

Well, in part, yes.  But in many ways, no.

First, a few 'back to school' photos of my babies.....

Brooklyn, this morning before her first full day of school.  She was up, dressed and ready to go before any of us were out of bed.  She is going to Jr. high this year and will be riding the city bus to get there.  She was waiting on the front steps for a few friends to pass by the house on the way to the bus stop when I snapped this picture.  She was a huge ball of nerves.
Trinity, on her first day of school.  She wasn't very happy about going and wouldn't cooperate with the photographer.  She began the first grade last Friday, but is having a little difficulty shaking this continuous 'tummy ache' that appears each morning. She, too, is a big ball of nerves. 
Liberty, on the first morning of school.  She began the 4th grade last Friday and is doing exceptionally well.  She has the same teacher she's had the last two years and she has fallen into the school routine without problems.  School couldn't start soon enough for her!  No worries from my middle child.
Faith, on the first morning of school.  She also began the 4th grade and is enjoying the comfort of having the same teacher she's had the last two years.  (She and Lib are in the same class and we all adore Professora Fátima!)  She's my strong child.  Both physically and mentally.  She can handle just about anything thrown at her...and she does it all while laughing!
All three of my elementary school aged girls.  (Finally a little grin from Trinity.)
Ok..moving right along to the boy....THE boy.  He wasn't thrilled about a photo shoot before school.  He kept saying, "I don't want to go to school."
And the look on his face proved it....
He finally quit trying to be so tough, but refused to let his smile show.
....still trying to hide his grin....
"Okay Mom...this is the best I can do! do I still have to go to school?"

Okay...back to the differences...

Here are a few examples....

School schedule for everyone but Brooklyn:

9:00 - 12:00 - Class - I drop them off a few minutes before 9.

12:00 - 1:30 - Lunch at home.  I pick them up and we come back home to eat.  They relax a little after lunch cause three hours of school is tough on their young bodies....*notice my sarcasm* and then I take them back about 1:25.  There is a small lunch room at their school and they have the option of remaining there to eat....but..well...soup and rotten bananas are not real high on the list of favorite foods around here.  And taking your lunch is not an option.  My guess is about 25 % of the kids go home for lunch or to a grandparents house to eat.

1:30 - 3:30 - Class - I pick them up at  3:30.  Now most of the kids, I'd say about 95% of them stay at the school until at least 5:30.  During those last two hours of school they have all the extra curricular activities.  We noticed after the first year of school that it seemed to be two hours of glorified babysitting.  Since it wasn't mandatory to remain at school until 5:30, we chose to bring them home after the 'real' work was done.  There is also an option for the parents to pay for "after school care" and the kids remain at school until 7:00 each evening...and most of these kids that use this type of care were dropped off for school much earlier that 9:00 because of parents work schedules.

We also have to buy all of the books that the kids need.  They don't reuse textbooks.  Oh...and the school isn't climate controlled.  They burn up in the heat and freeze in the winter.  I think sometimes teachers bring portable heaters, but they don't use them very often, for strange reasons.  At least to me the reasons are strange. you have an example of what a country elementary school is like in northern Portugal.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Shoot Me! 3/52

At that crazy antique shop with the Medusa statue.

Shoot Me! It's time to stop hiding behind that camera of yours. Your family is missing you in the picture. So it's time to post a picture of YOU (yes, you) every Thursday with your child, your spouse, your friend, your dog, or even by yourself. Just get in the picture, you'll be glad you did! And just jump in now with 1 of 52, you can do it!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Happy Birthday Justice!

My lil' man turns 4 today!  We celebrated last Friday so Nanny and Papaw could be here for his party.
He is such a joy and he melts my heart.  Something about this only son.
When I asked him what kind of cake he wanted, he said, "The black kind."  I'm hoping he meant chocolate and he doesn't remember me burning a birthday cake in the past!  (Cause I never burn anything...ahem...) honor of Justice's 4th birthday I will list the top 4 things I LOVE about my son:

1.  He is one of a kind.  The youngest and only boy in a house with 4 older sisters makes him not only tough, but incredibly cute.

2.  He tells me daily, "Mom, I loves yous kisses!"  and he will fight his Daddy with all that is in him if he thinks his Daddy is going to 'steal' my kisses.

3.  He is my only 'cuddler'.  None of my girls really liked to cuddle when they were his age.  But they're beginning to see the benefit of cuddling with mom....

4.  He's mine!

"Happy 4th Birthday Justice!  You're my favorite 4 year old in all the world!"

Saturday, September 4, 2010


My girls got  a quick lesson in Greek Mythology the other day when we visited an enormous antique store.
They turned to me with noses crinkled telling about how that man was holding a lady's head.  I explained the best I could remember about the story behind the Greek myth of Medusa.  I asked them if the head had hair of snakes....
Trinity ran back yelling..."Mom...Ewwww.. It DOES have hair of snakes!

How'd you like to have that in your yard?!