Archive for October 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Independance Day Parade

I just love a parade! And in Brazil, they really know how to do parades. Every year, on Brazil's Independance Day, all the schools in the Maragogi/Sao Jose area get together and have a parade down main street. They pull out all the stops. Everyone dresses up and makes a celebration like nobody's business. Our school, Escola Biblica Crista, always makes a huge effort, including elaborate costumes and floats. It's quite a sight to see all the students dressed up and showing off some of the things they've learned in school.
This year, just like every year, the school represented things like Science and Poetry, Band and Bible. In this picture we see a whole horde of "Isrealites" crossing the Red Sea right down main street Sao Jose!Here come the Egyptians, right behind them.Looks like these boys are ready to fight!Pharaoh is not too pleased to see his Isrealite slaves going free.....and then there is the pre-school and kindergarten classes playing their part as Noah and the Ark
Don't they come up with some great floats? I think the Art teacher must be busy for months getting this whole parade together.....what with Noah and his wife.....all the mice and rats.......can you imagine how HOT this must be for this kid?!

Don't forget the sheep......

and the bees.......

and the blue teddy bears that were surely in the ark!Another highlight of the parade is the marching band.
This band is named after the first Mission Aid worker who worked in this area, John Kuik.

Check out these FINE trumpets! Generously donated a few years ago by Credo Christian High School.

I think this smile says it all.......what a grand parade this was!

The band sets up in front of the grand stands for their great big finale, playing a number of Genevan tunes for the local city mayor and his special guests.
Isn't that just a HOOT!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fun in the Brazilian sun

Remember the other day when I talked about how to get an ice cream in Brazil......well, I have to tell you what REALLY happened that day. Things didn't turn out quite the way we had hoped.

Early in the morning, we all gathered on the terrace of our lovely hotel in Japaratinga to have a bit of breakfast before going out on our ice cream adventure. We had a fairly big group, what with the missionary families being so large. Pastor Ken and Tamara (yes, we share the same name, even though it's a rare name!) have 4 kids and Pastor Julius and Karen have 5 more. Add in Grampa and Gramma, visiting from Vernon, and 4 more adults along for the ride, we totalled 19.

Just before hopping into one of two 15 passenger vans, Pastor Ken reads a passage from the Bible for all of us. The twins, Titus and Joel, love to answer Uncle Ken's questions after the reading. They are balls of ENDLESS energy :) Poor Grampa has a hard time telling the twins apart. I heard Grampa talking in the van to Joel, unaware that he was calling him Titus, his brother's name. When Gramma corrected Grampa with a gentle "Grampa, that's Joel, not Titus", Grampa disagreed. "No, Gramma, this IS Titus!". Joel looked staight at Grampa and said "You're right GRAMMA, I'm Titus" with a mischevious grin.

After a bit of organization as to who sits beside who, we set off in a caravan of BESTA's to Ponto de Pedras where we could catch a ferry to the ice cream store. The sun was hot. The ferry boat driver was sent to get the bigger ferry so both vans could cross the river at the same time on the same boat. Time passed. Some more time passed. We began to really feel the heat. The ferry returned but it was not the bigger ferry. What to do? Do we wait another hour before they finally get the bigger ferry into action? Or do we WALK onto the ferry that is about to cream is waiting on the other side of the river......we hop on all together. Everyone squishes to one side of the boat. The kids are excitedly chattering away. Shall we have Vanilla or Chocolate ice cream? Man, is that ice cream ever going to taste GOOD!

As we near the other side of the river, it appears that something is not quite right. Can you believe it? The ice cream store is CLOSED today! I guess we'll have to make do with cold pop and some suckers. The kids don't seem to mind too much. But, because the ferry took so long in coming, we're late for our lunch reservation at our favorite restaurant, Caiuas. We have to hurry to get back.

The return ferry fills up quick. So quickly, in fact, that we have to make a speedy decision. Either the kids have to jump on the ferry which is already a foot away from the shore.....or take the small ferry. The Big Guy decides without hesitation and has already found himself a seat for the return trip. He encourages everyone to hop on. No lifejackets? No problem. The river's not that deep. All the kids encourage the little ferry boat driver to race the bigger ferry to the other side of the river. Pastor Ken decided that it was wiser not to have both missionaries on the same ferry, just in case one of them sank to the bottom of the river. It's better if just one missionary drowns than if both go at the same time. He's the fellow in the bright blue shirt with the goofy looking hat, watching as the big ferry sails off without us :)

Our lunch at Caiuas is being prepared when we arrive. Since it's not quite ready, we go for a walk on the beach. The Big Guy decides to try his hand at fishing......can you BELIEVE he caught this big fish?!

Actually, he found it dead and floating belly up. But the picture turned out good, didn't it?

Look at this fantastic table, set right against the ocean side, just feet away from the warm waves. The food is absolutely delicious. Those of us who like fish sit on the right side of the table and those who like chicken sit on the left.......never the two shall meet!

Look at this posse of kids, devouring Brazilian chicken fingers and fries. What a fabulous feast.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Pastor Thyago.... and a gift for YOU!

I bet you were you wondering if we actually made it back safely, weren't you? Did you worry that we might want to stay in Brazil, enjoying the warm ocean and the even warmer people?

Well, we are finally home again after a busy but fun time in Brazil. All the meetings are over and the delegates have gone back to their respective countries. They came from all over, from Europe, North America and South America, to sit together and discuss the issues confronting this new federation of reformed churches in Brazil. Much counsel and advice was offered each day again. Financial support issues were dealt with as well, in an attempt to aid this fledgling church in it's growth here in a country where poverty and the absence of family values is the norm. The big guy and I were very honored to be able to participate in a small way. But time away from home has also filled us with renewed appreciation for our own church and family here in Canada!

I thought that this week, just for fun, I would dedicate the next few posts to giving a little bit of an idea of what life is like in Brazil......from my North American perspective, of course. But, in order to make it just a little more fun, I decided to bring home a small, handmade gift from Brazil to give away to one special person who reads my blog.......and that person could be you! But, before I tell you too much more about this little give away, let me introduce you to a very special Brazilian Pastor......

This is Pastor Thyago. He's about 26 years old (sorry, I don't remember exactly how old he is) and single. He has been a minister of God's word for a couple of years now.Pastor Thyago grew up in the small town of Maragogi, Brazil.

Here are is Mom, Elizabete and Dad, Moises. Bete works for the city and Moises is the principal of our christian school in Brazil.

This is a photo of Thacianne, Pastor Thyago's sister and Joao Guilermes, Pastor Thyago's nephew.

Pastor Thyago works as a missionary, called by his home town church of Maragogi and supported by funds from North American sister churches. This is Pastor Thyago's home in Barra Grande. He lives right beside the church in that town. They just celebrated their 7 th anniversary in Barra Grande and Pastor Thyago, along with the members of the church, made a grand party of the event. There was enough baking and goodies to serve an army!

This is a picture of some of Pastor Thyago's colleagues in Brazil. Each one of these fellows has a most interesting story to tell, for example, the new Pastor from Cabo Frio who has just joined the Brazilian Reformed Church federation along with his entire congregation. He's standing in the back row with a beige shirt, looking like the flash of my camera is a little overwhelming. Actually, he has lost his sight in one eye and is struggling with a severe infection in his other eye but he was so very excited to show us pictures of his congregation and tell us the story of how they first heard the story of "Salvation by Grace alone". He showed us photos of his youngest son who suffered a mysterious illness for the first 5 years of his life, in and out of hospital on a regular basis until just a year or so ago. He was deeply grateful for having heard about the Reformed faith via Pastor Ken Wieske and then, receiving financial assistance from Mission Aid (in Canada) finally finding the cause of his son's illness which turned out to be a severe auto immune deficiency. Now, not only is his little boy healthy and well but his congregation is thriving under the exciting news of the gospel! And, he was excited about the amazing food the ladies from the church provided all the delegates every day the meetings lasted :)

Here's another picture of Pastor Thyago's nephew, Joao Guilermes taking a bath. I just can't resist a baby taking a bath, can you? Here's a picture of Uncle Thyago performing the first baptism of his career.......baptizing his nephew, Joao Guilermes!

This is the congregation of Maragogi, the church where Pastor Thyago grew up. He preaches and teaches here along with the other pastors, elders and deacons who work very hard to build up the brothers and sisters in these small congregations.

One night, after doing a bible study at a small outlying town, the Big Guy and I invited Pastor Thyago and his family out for supper at our favorite restaurant along the beach. Caiuas Restaurant is a lovely rustic restaurant that serves 5 star dishes while the patrons sit right inside the kitchen where the food is prepared, enjoying the sights and smells of the ocean and the cooking all mixed into one. Moises looks like he's running out of steam but.......Thyago made sure to finish off all the leftover's. Good thing he was there because the rest of us couldn't eat another bite!

On another night, while the Big Guy and I were walking back to our hotel on the beach, we happened upon this crowd, singing in the city square. Actually, they weren't singing when we arrived and they wouldn't sing for us when we asked them to, but they insisted they were practicing some Genevan tunes in 2 voices. Pastor Thyago is right in the middle of the whole crowd, laughing and teasing in his endearingly shy way. What a joy to see this young man be such a blessing to so many in his home town! If you get a chance, you should drop him a note of support. You can email him at

Ok, now for a little bit more information on the gift I brought home for YOU! In North Eastern Brazil, there is a very special form of lace making that is done by hand, the old fashioned way. I got this quote from the Fatima Rendas website, describing this fabulous craft: "Renaissance Lace is made with a common sewing needle such as the ones used to sew buttons, together with very fine thread. This beautiful and delicate Art has been a part of the Xavier Mergulhão family for many generations, where the Love and Respect for this work and tradition is instilled from an early age. " For the next week, everyone who leaves me a note will have their name put into a jar. On Saturday I will pull one name out of the jar and that lucky person will receive this beautiful decorative hand towel with hand made lace from Recife, Brazil. Your little gift is wrapped and ready to send, so just drop me a note and enjoy the fun :)