Thursday, November 25, 2010

"A Thankful Heart is a Happy Heart!"

Living in a country so far from everything that you have always known can have its ups and downs. While I absolutely LOVE Brazil and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the people that the Lord has blessed us with as friends, holidays can be hard.

The last few days I have been dealing with a really bad attitude concerning the holidays. I really did not “feel” like trying to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas this year. I had about a million excuses why I didn’t want to celebrate - “Why go through all of the trouble of making a meal if it isn’t going to be anything like the normal Thanksgiving meal.” Our little grocery store here in Rio Vermelho does not have turkey, ham, cranberry sauce, stuffing, pumpkin pie, or really anything that I would normally make for Thanksgiving. None of our friends were going to be celebrating Thanksgiving, as it is an American Holiday. It just seemed like it would be easier if we just pretended like November 25 was just like any other day.

Thankfully the Lord convicted me of my bad attitude and reminded me just how blessed I am and have been this past year. This year I have seen the Lord perform miracles to be sure. He blessed us with our three newest additions, He brought us through those first few hard months when I was living in the U.S. with all six kids without Nate, He miraculously provided for the adoption as well as our plane tickets home, and HE has continued to care for and grow the church in the midst of all of this going on. On top of all of these blessings the Lord reminded me of my greatest, and your greatest blessing –
WE HAVE THE HOPE OF HEAVEN! At one time I was lost but now I am found, and I am going to live with HIM, the King of kings forever! Wow.

After the Lord convicted me and I repented we had a great day. Nate drove to the next town and he was able to find a HAM (well, sort of ☺), the makings for a crustless apple pie, sweet potato casserole, broccoli, garlic potatoes, and some yummy cheese bread. I spent the entire day in the kitchen preparing but it was so worth it. We invited a couple from church over at the last minute and we all had a great time. The kids just could not believe that we would totally let them pig out on all the sweet stuff!

About half way through the day it hit me that this was our first Thanksgiving as a big family. I missed the first 6 Thanksgivings of Josiah’s life, but I am so excited to be able to share in his Thanksgivings in the years to come.

I am now looking forward to Christmas. I am choosing not to dwell on the negatives. If we do not have a tree that is fine. If we are not able to buy the kids the gifts that we would like to give them they will be O.K.. We are going to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas. We are going to remember our God who gave his only Son to die, so that I a sinner would have the hope of heaven, and for this I am thankful! ☺

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Six Year of Bliss and Craziness Part 2

Six Years of Bliss and Craziness Part 2 -
On the Friday after the conference was over we packed up the van and got ready to head home. Right as we were buckling the last kid into the last car seat it started to rain. But the time we were about to get on the interstate we knew that there was no way we could go any further. It was raining so hard we couldn’t see out the window and the wind was pushing our van so hard we were scared it would get pushed right off the road.

We decided to head back to the bible college, but because of the rain we missed the sign to turn. Nate tried to turn around, but we just slid in the mud onto the side of the road and got stuck.

So there we were, stuck on the side of the road in pouring rain with our 6 kids in a van up on two wheels with the other two wheels stuck in the mud. We were scared the van might roll if the rain did not stop soon. Our phone was not working (again!) so Nate took off his shoes and ran about a mile in the pouring rain and mud, to the bible college to go get help.

I was left to try and keep 6 little bodies from wiggling around. I really thought that if they moved at all we could roll the van. The kids and I all took turns praying and I must say it was one of the best prayer times I have ever had with my kids. After about twenty minutes of praying together our prayer meeting turned into a tooting contest and the kids were having the time of their life! They had no idea how bad the situation was.

My friend Talisa drove by and tried to come to our rescue, but much to our despair she also slid to the side of the road and got stuck.

After awhile Nate and a friend came with a tractor. After lots of prayer, and few more times almost rolling the van we were free!

We spent another night at the bible college and on Saturday morning we were on the road again.

Everything went as planned for the first few hours and then the van broke. We found a mechanic, and after 3 hours of waiting we were back on the road again. We thought that the van was running fine, but out of nowhere the gaslight turned on. We pulled into an abandoned gas station and asked an old man how far until the next gas station. The guy told us about 26km.. He said that he had some gas and Nate went with him to help him get it. As soon as Nate left I locked all the doors and told the kids to be quiet. Right as I locked the last door I look up and stared straight into the eyes of one of the sketchiest dudes I have ever seen. I really don’t know what it was about him, but the way he was looking at us just made my skin crawl. The guy kept staring and called for another guy from inside the building to come out. After the second guy came out he called for a third. I didn’t know what to do but pray that my husband would come back quickly and that the Lord would keep us safe.

After a few minutes Nate did come back and I knew that something was wrong. He looked totally shaken up and was only speaking to me in Portuguese. The only time he ever speaks to me in Portuguese is when he doesn’t want people to know that we are American. The old guy poured some gas into our van (while smoking, yikes!) and we took off!
As we were driving away I asked Nate what happened. He said that after he went behind the gas station the old man took him to a room to get the gas and when he walked into the room there were 15 guys all with their shirts off sharpening some big sticks with huge knives and machetes. Nate said that when he walked into the room they all looked up and stared at him like they were going to kill him, but for some reason they didn’t.

I was surprised to see my husband so shaken up. I mean yeah, it was scary, but we have had so many other crazier things happen! I have lost track of how many times drunk or stoned people have come to our house in the middle of the night. Some have brought guns, some knives, some angry with other people, some angry with us, but none of those felt quite so heavy. Anyway, we knew one thing – the Lord protected us!

Maybe those three guys that were staring at the kids and me saw six scary looking angles instead of six little kids and decided that jumping us would not be a good idea. We will never know how or why but the Lord hand His hand on our family and He kept us safe. ☺

The bad gas got us a few miles up the road and the van died again. Once again we prayed, and once again Nate had to leave me and the kids on the side of the road to run and find some help. He found a farmer up the road, and after lots of begging from Nate the farmer agreed to give Nate a ride to the gas station. Nate returned with the gas and we were on the road (again!). We found out that there was something wrong with the gas line because we were using over twice the amount of gas than we should have needed.

At some point in the day Nate and I realized that it was October 16th, our six year anniversary! We laughed a lot when we remembered. Never in a million years would I have thought that we would be spending our six-year anniversary on the side on the road somewhere in South America with our 6 little kids!

As I look back on the crazy trip I am thankful. I am thankful for the Lord’s protection, His provision, and His opportunities. We were able to share Jesus with three people that day- the mechanic, the farmer, and a gas station worker. Who knows what the Lord will do with those little seeds in the years to come. Plus, I had the opportunity to sit with my sweetie for 16 hours talking, laughing and looking back on all of our memories that we have had in the last 6 years of bliss and craziness!!

Six Years of Bliss and Craziness Part 1

Six Years of Bliss and Craziness Part 1 –
As promised I finally found the time to write about our adventurous travels going to and from the Pastor Conference in Campo Mauro, Brazil.
*I have to add a side note here to say: “Dad, if you are reading this remember that we are already home, safe and sound. However, just to be on the safe side you might want to make sure you take your blood pressure meds before reading any further.” ;)

Our trip started out well, we rented a van from a friend and we left with enough time to make it to Campo before dark. We estimated the travel time to be about 10 hours. Boy, were we ever wrong! We got lost for a few hours in Curitiba, which is about three and a half hours away, and by the time we finally arrived in Campo it was so dark we could not find the road that led to the bible college. At 3a.m., after 16 hours of driving we decided to call it quits and check into a hotel. It was so frustrating. We knew we were so close but we just could not find it. The only phone number that we had was for the bible college office and that was closed. So into the hotel we went, spending our entire gas money that we had set aside for the trip home.

The next morning we woke up and tried again. In the daylight everything went so much easier! We found the road, we found the bible college, and we were all rejoicing!!

The conference itself was in a word AWESOME! We were so incredibly blessed by the time in the Word, time in worship and time with friends. Personally I was so very blessed to be able to sit in every bible study! Going there with six little ones I doubted that I would even be able to sit in one, but there was a sweet girl there who took care of our kids and did a great job! It was also so awesome to feel the encouragement from the other pastors and their families.

When the Lord first told us to adopt our kids we were a little concerned about what our Brazilian friends would think. Would they think we were taking on too much, would they think that we were crazy, I mean it is pretty far from normal to have six kids in Brazil? That being said, we were SO blessed by their almost overwhelming support and encouragement!!

On the last day the Lord just blessed our socks off by providing the money for the trip home. It was truly a miracle and a reminder to me that I never know whom the Lord is going to use to provide for our needs. No one could have known that we literally had NO money to make it home, but He provided the EXACT amount that we needed in R$ (Brazilian money) to get home, plus some American money that we would later change to help with some other needs that we had!! What can I say? Our God is faithful!! He knows our needs, and He provides.