Sunday, March 30, 2008

Get Together With Other Missionaries

Good To The Last Drop!!!

Bro. Hart - Missionary to Mozambique

Ms. Kathy Hart - Missionary to Mozambique

Ms. Diana Pollard - Missionary to Portugal

The Loops - Missionaries to Portugal

Thank you for helping us pray about our paperwork. We've had to send some documents back to The States for verification and we're supposed to try again after we received the documents back. It's not over yet, so please keep praying.

The Pollard family, Missionaries to Portugal, invited us to attend their daughter Brianna's birthday party. We had excellent food and fellowship. Our children really enjoyed playing with other kids who spoke English. (And I enjoyed talking with other English speaking people!)They became fast friends, exchanging addresses when we left. I've posted a few pictures from the party.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Our Last Sunday in America


With all the hustle and bustle of getting here, I neglected to post a few pictures from our last Sunday in America. We already miss our church. We miss all the churches that were such a blessing to us while on deputation. We've already received 3 "care packages!" Some containing peanut butter, some ranch dressing packages, some kool-aid and other gifts. Everyone has been so kind to us.

Today, we made our 2nd trip to the immigration office here in Portugal. We have to go to the next city. It takes us about 40 minutes to get there if there isn't road construction, oxen in the road or cyclist in front of us. There we accomplished nothing! Last week we went with another missionary family that spoke Portuguese. When we got there, there was a 6 hr wait! No way....not with 5 kids who needed lunch and a nap! So we left and decided to try again today. We got there before they opened, got number 3, and was sitting at the desk within 15 minutes!! Wow, I thought..this is going so much better than last week. The kids and I waited in the sitting area while Michael tried to speak Portuguese to the man. Within 10 minutes Michael was back by me saying he had to wait on the boss who spoke English. The boss came to the desk shortly thereafter and she wasn't very pleasant. After about 30 minutes of talking to her, she determined our paper work was of "no use to her" as she flipped it back in our face. We must start from scratch. Get new pictures, get new copies, get new documentation, and of course, pay new fees. We spent the remainder of the day buying ink to make copies, trying to find a place to make passport pictures and learning multiplication facts. We will try again tomorrow. If all of you who view this post in the next 15 hrs will pray for us and about this situation, I am convinced that the Lord is capable of handling this in such a way we will all know who did it!! That would be such a blessing to me. To see God's hand work again in our lives. Would you say a prayer for the Andrzejewski family and our necessary paperwork that needs to be approved. Thank You...and God bless you!

Thanks Danielle & Todd, Lindsay & Todd and King Cove Bible Chapel!!---It's been like Christmas around here with all the peanut butter, ranch dressing, kool-aid and cheese!! You guys are great!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter from Portugal

Our Easter has been interesting thus far. I guess it started yesterday when Michael walked down the street to get a few errands taken care of. While there he wrote to me on the phone and asked if I needed any meat from the butcher. I wrote back that I had some for our evening meal, but that maybe he could surprise me and bring home some meat for Sunday. When he got home he pulled out what we thought was a Ham. I thought, "Great! perfect for Easter!" Michael said he wasn't sure it was a ham, but we both agreed that it looked like a ham. Michael went on to describe how the butcher brought out the entire leg of the pig and put it up on the block and with one hard "whack" cut off the part he brought home. My stomach feels a little queasy now as I recount this.

After everyone had baths and was ready for bed we made Resurrection Cookies. You know the kind. The ones where all the ingredients have something to do with the Gospel story and you put them in the oven, seal the oven door with tape(like the tomb..only not with tape) and on Easter morning you open the tomb to find the cookies are hollow on the inside (also like the tomb!). If anyone is interested in the recipe leave a comment and I'll type it up.

All the kids were put in bed, and I finished up the usual Saturday evening things. I was the last to get to bed at about 11:45 pm. Just as I was about to doze off I heard what sounded like the beating of drums on the roof. I laid there trying to determine which direction it was coming from, all the while trying to remember if all the doors are locked and if maybe one of the girls is sleep walking. After a few minutes it stopped. "Good. Now I can get some sleep." I thought. Then again, the beating started, only this time it sounded even closer. I jumped out of bed, and opened our bedroom window to find the night sky filled with the lights of what looked like high powered fireworks! Everyone, all across this land was shooting fireworks. Not the normal 4th of July kind, but the kind like someone is in distress on the highway. Almost like flares, only they go on and on and on... Finally it dawned on me. At midnight it had turned Easter. I guess this is a usual way to celebrate Easter in Portugal. As I type this it's almost 3:00 pm on Easter. The "fireworks/flares" are still going off. The picture above is of our neighbors out shooting theirs this morning.

Last Friday, Good Friday, Michael and I carried the kids walking down the center of town here in Barcelos. Lots of people were out and about. Most folks were off from work and there were activities for the kids and the grown ups shopped and ate lunch at little cafes along the way. Since arriving in Portugal I've wanted to go inside a Catholic chapel to see what they were all about. Well, the doors were standing open to this chapel:

and Michael said, there is your chance. So I walked in. I wish I could have taken a picture, cause I cannot describe what I saw as well as I want to. Everything was very beautiful in an old, sort of way. But right up front was a life sized "dummy" laying down with blood on him and a white sheet draped over his body. It was supposed to be Christ after the crucifixion. As I looked over at a gentleman standing beside me he clasped his hands over his mouth as if it were a very disturbing sight to him. I wonder...well...I wonder about a lot of things....but I wonder about that man. What was he thinking? Does he know Jesus as Savior? Or only as a weak, pitiful man who died. I wish I could communicate...I wish I had all the answers....or at least more than I have now.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Flowers & Furniture

I have no idea what kind of flowers these are, but aren't they pretty? They're out behind our house.

Getting furniture delivered here is like pulling teeth. They bring it when they feel like it. Here are a few pictures of the coffee table and shelves being delivered. They didn't bring the chair they were supposed to bring. And they didn't have the right drill to install the shelves. It was 4 days later before they came back with the chair and correct drill. I guess we are the only ones in a hurry in this country!

I don't think I've experienced "Culture Shock" yet. Or maybe the denial of said "shock" is evidence of it....Who knows? But truly, I love this country and I'm humbled when I think about the work we were called here to do. Learning Portuguese isn't my favorite thing to do, but I know I have to learn it. I study when I can, which isn't often enough. Our teacher, Olinda laughs at me a lot. I don't know if that's a good thing or not...let's just assume it is.

Monday, March 17, 2008

School in Full Swing

School is back in full swing. We've been back at the books for a few weeks now. I am really enjoying school, believe it or not. I am so thankful to be at home everyday instead of in a suburban driving down the highway with 5 sick kids and McDonald's for lunch again. We have a nice multi purpose room we use as a school room (not pictured above). I have a desk, and right now the kids sit on the floor, but they don't care. Hopefully we can find them a table or desks to work at.

The last few days have been interesting. There was a circus in our village this weekend. You could see the tent from our front porch. We thought with it being a "dinky" circus and not the Ringling Bros that we could afford to take the kids. Well, after we inquired further, we realized that we could NOT afford to take everyone, so we opted for a Saturday at the park. Everyone enjoyed it. Probably more than we would have enjoyed the circus anyway. Later that night after the kids were in bed, we could hear the music and lions roaring from the circus. I got scared just thinking about being there. So I am very thankful we didn't go.

Our battery has been trying to go out on our van. The last few times we drove it Michael, Brooklyn and Faith had to push me down the road so I could "pop" the clutch. What a sight we must have been to our already curious neighbors! "The Americans with 5 kids make their kids push the car down the road. " I can just hear it now! We replaced the battery today, so hopefully we won't have to do that anymore.

Faith has really enjoyed playing with the critters found in our yard. The picture above is an example what she's been playing with. I suppose she doesn't realize girls are supposed to think slugs are nasty! She lets these slimy things crawl up and down her arm! She names them and when they die, she gives them funerals. (Well, it's usually when Trinity steps on them.)

Friday, March 14, 2008

You've Got To Be Kidding...

While my husband was pastoring in Lagrange, Ga, he used to struggle to keep the yard up. Well, it was several acres, not the average yard. The church has a parsonage right next door and the previous owners of the house really liked flowers and rocks. Sort of a weird combination, Huh? Well, Michael doesn't care for flowers and he certainly doesn't like rocks in the yard especially when there are several acres to mow. He used to say that people didn't need anything in their yard that they couldn't eat! --

Today, Michael went outside to try to get play-doh off Justices shoes. While he was there, he struck up a conversation with our neighbor, Vino. Vino told him all about the different trees we have in our yard. We already knew we had lemons and oranges, cause we've been eating them for the past 3 weeks, but we weren't sure what some of the others were. Some are just now starting to bloom and get leaves. Vino told us we have:

2 pear trees
3 olive trees
3 fig trees
1 cherry tree
1 peach tree
1 plumb
1 nectarine
4 orange trees
3 lemon trees
1 tangerine tree
1 clementine tree

Would you believe that there isn't one tree in our yard that does not produce fruit? My, my...what a might God we serve! Isn't it awesome when He shows out like that?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Typical Trin

Kids will be kids, no matter where they are!

I think all my kids went through this stage. The "I hate taking pictures" stage. If Trinity hears the words, "say cheese!" She immediately starts crying. Organized pictures are a major headache in this family. As you can tell by the look on my face.

I wasn't going to post this picture but after sharing it with a few people they though it would be a good idea. It helps you to see the "real" us. If we had audio for this might hear things like.....

"Trinity..stop crying!!"
"Why do you do this every time we take pictures?"
"This is supposed to be a pretty picture!"
"If you smile, Ms. Lora will make you more pop corn!"
"I'll let you play in the water if you stop crying!"
"Look, Justice isn't crying!"
"We need the "Mighty Trinster"...not the "Wimpy Trinster".

I laugh as I write this...but it wasn't funny then!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I Did It For Her

Since the second day we were in Portugal, we had the date set to begin language school. The date we set was Tuesday, March 11th. That was today. I didn't want to do it. I wanted to stay in bed and mope around a little more. I didn't even get out of my pj's yesterday, I was considering doing the same thing today. I wanted to continue to morn. After all, how could I focus on language school when my Grandmother's funeral was today? How could someone expect me to be "worth a dime" today? I was doing good to have school with the kids and make sure they had meals prepared for them. How could anyone expect anything more from me, especially today?

I mentioned to Michael that "I wasn't up for it yet...could we push it back a little?" He replied, "We've already waited too's past time to begin." I thought, "We have been here 3 weeks today! Barely enough time to find the grocery store and to locate the sour cream....what do you mean we've already waited too long?!?!" "We still have furniture that's not been delivered..and to top it all grandmother died!" I thought this, I didn't say it....I wanted to though.

This morning as I was getting dressed, I had a conversation with my grandmother. (No, she wasn't standing in my bathroom....again, this was all in my head, and in my heart.) I told her all about how I wasn't ready for language school. I told her how I wanted to mope around and not get anything accomplished today. I wanted to stay in my pj's and I wanted to only think of her all day long. Do you know what she told me? She said, "Nina, the quicker you learn that language, the sooner you can tell the Portuguese people about our precious Savior who died not only for our sins, but for their sins as well." She told me, "Go, and do it good." (This was one of the last things she told me during my last conversation with her.)---It was then that I realized, I had to do it. I didn't have a choice. That's why I'm here. That's why my dear husband said it's already been too long, because there are souls in the balance. We have work to do! My Grandma was thrilled for us to be here. She would want nothing more than for me to get dressed, take care of my family & learn Portuguese so I could tell others about Him. Even if it was the day of her funeral. I'm sharing my heart with you tonight...I didn't want to do it, but I did it for her. Now, after it's all said and done with, I'm glad I did and I'm looking forward to our next class. Even more so, I'm looking forward to when I can lead someone to Christ!

When I was a rebellious teen, I had a little note taped up on the inside of my closet door that said, "Who Cares?" It was a sign of my attitude toward most things in life. I didn't really care who I hurt, or how I hurt myself. One day, while looking in my closet for clothes, I noticed where my grandmother had taken a pencil and had written, "Grandma does" underneath it. That note hung in that closet until my mom and step dad sold that house a few years ago. ---I will always remember her. She was so precious to me. Grandma always cared. Even if I thought no one else did, I always knew she did.

Thank you to everyone who has shared an encouraging word with me. For the calls, the emails, the comments you left on this blog and pictures you've sent. My cousins have been so precious during this time. They really made me feel like I was a part of everything. Oh, how I wanted to be there. Only God knows how much.

"I love you Grandma, and I'm going to miss you terribly."

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Grandma is in Heaven

Grandma passed away this morning. I've been trying all day to write a post in her honor....but I just can't do it....all I can do is cry....

If you click Here you can read the one my husband wrote.

Please keep praying for me....I feel so very far away.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

You don't know coffee til....

You've been to Portugal!!

Things have been well. There is still a major effort being put into getting the yard under control. The house had been unoccupied for some time and weeds were taking over. So with little help outside of a hoe, rake and the kids hands we are slowly getting it back into shape. (You can't really count the dinky lawn mower and toy weed eater as help..we ended up hoeing up all the weeds) It's amazing how old-fashioned the Portuguese are. They are not afraid to work.---After we worked hard for a few hours, we could tell it was getting supper time, cause we all ended up around the tangerine bush eating tangerines. I finally came inside to prepare supper and of course I had to slice some oranges and we ate those as "snack" after supper.

Thursday, Michael met a veteran missionary couple at the airport. Bro. and Sis. Hart were missionaries in Portugal for about 18 years, if I'm correct. The Lord has since moved them to the Portuguese speaking nation of Mozambique, Africa. The Harts daughter, Dawne who will be working with us will arrive in Portugal in late May. The Harts have come to Portugal to finalize their business here and to help Miss Dawne prepare for her arrival in a few months. They spent the evening with us. We asked lots of questions. Ms. Kathy was her usual helpful self when I asked questions like, "Where can I find sour cream?!?!" I am so glad to know that I can actually get it. They call it "fresh cheese". That's why I thought I couldn't get any here. I'm soooo ready for a baked potato!

Before they left on Friday we had lunch at a local restaurant. We walked down the road and had a delicious meal. You don't order what you want, they bring you what they have! (Well, they had a very limited selection) But everything we ate was delicious. After the meal, the cook came from the kitchen and asked the girls if they enjoyed their meal. She said she asked the kids, cause the kids would tell the truth.

Some of our furniture was delivered Thursday. The girls now have beds to sleep on. We are still waiting on other furniture to be delivered...nothing happens quickly around here...I feel like I've said that before....

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Sunsets, 5 Kids & Language Lessons

I am always putting the pretty pictures on my blog. I guess no one wants to take pictures of the ugly places, but they are here too, just like they are in the States.

Yesterday was our first day in Portugal without a helper. I took Ms. Lora to the airport yesterday morning at 3:45 am. She was such a blessing to us while here. We praise the Lord for working everything out so she could come with us. Thank you Ms. Lora for being a willing vessel.

When we needed to run errands yesterday, the kids went with us. Heads turned everywhere as we walked through the electronic store looking for alarm clocks. Several folks stared at us, some tried to not appear to be staring, but others just didn't care. When we went into another store, the owner just came right out and asked about our children and wanted to know if they were all ours. When we confirmed they were and we rattled off every ones names and ages, he replied how unusual that was. He asked if he could take a picture and he pulled out his phone and took pictures and videos of the kids.

Tonight I made homemade chicken noodle soup for supper. It was a comfort food that everyone loved. I thought we'd have enough for tomorrows lunch, but there wasn't anything left over. These kids have been hard to fill up since we've arrived in Portugal. As I walked to the small grocery store today to get some eggs to make noodles, I passed several folks along the way. A lady was fertilizing her garden and the stench was just about unbearable. Two men leaned against a car parked right in the middle of the very narrow road. I couldn't decide if the one man was upset or if he was always that animated when he talked. Once in the store while I was looking at school supplies, I knocked a few notebooks to the floor. The young clerk ran over speaking quickly in Portuguese while trying to help me get them all picked up. He was very kind. Even though I've never seen him there before, he knows us. I think everyone in this village knows us. They've been talking to one another. Probably each sharing of their own encounter with us. We've tried to make contacts with our neighbors and the local shops. Michael does much better at speaking Portuguese than I do. I just smile a lot right now. I nod my head and greet everyone I pass. I try to communicate and ask for help from them. Today, when I stopped in the coffee shop for a coffee and a breather I asked to borrow a pen, Only I didn't really ask. I made the "invisible writing" motion with my hand and he came back with a pen. I then asked him the Portuguese word for pen and he told me. I repeated it several times and he congratulated me on a job well done. I smiled, said "thank you" in Portuguese and went on my way.---I hope that encounters like these will help soften hearts so that after some official language training, we'll be able to return and eventually share with them God's Word.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Please Pray For My Grandma

This is "Grandma". She is in need of our prayers. The Dr. seems to think she may have lung cancer. They will do a biopsy on Monday. Please pray for her. ---Normally, she is the one praying for everyone else. ---This is hard for me....I'm across the Atlantic Ocean and not in the hospital room with her...pray for me too.

First, thank you for your prayers for Grandma. She has been in very good spirits this week as she waited for surgery to determine if she had cancer or not. Her testimony has been an encouragement to all who've had the opportunity to talk to her. She'd be the first to tell you not to worry about her cause her God is in control and she is ok which ever way this thing goes. God showed her just a little glimpse of His Glory! Revealing to her His omnipresence...He can be anywhere in the world at the same time. Hearing the prayers of people in Portugal, India, Alaska and Alabama at the same time that He is wrapping His arms around her as she lay in the hospital bed. And for this, I am eternally grateful.
The doctors confirmed today that she does indeed have cancer. We're waiting on a visit from the oncologist tomorrow to find out more information. Please know how grateful I am for your prayers thus far, but please don't stop now as her struggle, and ours, is just beginning. God Bless each of you.

2nd Sunday in Portugal

2nd Sunday in Portugal
Our tiny electric mower
Lady selling chickens at market
Oh, my...isn't he handsome?!
We had a very good day today. Thought you'd like to see some pictures we've taken the last few days.