Friday, February 26, 2016

My Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

It's not on the roof, and the roofs around here are tile, not tin.  But isn't she pretty walking up high.  Sometimes she meows like she's in need of help getting down!  I was very hesitant to have a cat here in Brazil.  Seems there are so many stray cats and I wasn't sure if one would actually stay at home. Our cat does wander some, but never too far.  She's a funny delight to our days.

The video below is not exciting at all just shot from my Front Porch for this Friday post.  I think it's interesting because all three of our new pets, the two new dogs and the cat, are all playing around together.  For the most part they get along and when the cat wants, they play together - sort of tag game!  I nip you and run away, and you nip me!


Lost and Broken Down

For a while it seemed that any time we traveled in the old big red truck we were sure to have something go wrong.  Uncle Byron even got in the habit on really long trips of taking along some spare parts just in case - like a water pump, fuel pump, brake pump - you know, just the basics. Running out of fuel was a frequent problem as well since the fuel gauge was broken.

One year Uncle Byron went every month to another state and city to speak for a missionary who was on furlough.  The missionary worked out a schedule of speakers for the time he would be away.  Secretly that missionary was hoping that Uncle Byron would like the church and the city and want to go there to work as we were looking for a new place to minister as the school in Fortaleza was closing soon.  Sometimes Uncle Byron would go by himself and go by bus.  Once or twice we went with him.  The story I'm going to tell today is from a trip when we all went together.

Our trip was going to take about 8 hours.  I packed a big box with lots of food and had a cooler full of drinks and two big cold water jugs.  The boys had lots of car activities - toys, games, books.  We were all set to head out in the early morning and we did get off to a fine start.  Before we ever left the city limits of Fortaleza the big back door of the big red truck decided to start opening whenever we hit a big bump.  Let me tell you - there are a lot of bumps on the roads in our part of NE Brazil.  Finally Papa Byron decided it might be good to just tie it down, so he stopped and took care of that.  Off we went again down the road.  On the next big lombada - Poof!  Up with the hood!  I'm not sure if Uncle Byron laughed or cried as he came to a slow stop and got out to tie that down, too.

Estrada para Campina Grande, Paraiba
It should have been a sign to turn around and go on back home while the gitting was good, but we on we went to our destination.  A few hours outside of Fortaleza while going through the outskirts of a small city, we heard a bad noise.  Uh-oh!  This time it was a problem with the fuel injector pump.  No, we didn't have one of those in the trunk.   Luckily enough, in that little city lived a missionary we knew.  We were able to get in touch with  him.  He came and got me and the boys and took us back to his house.  He helped Papa get a part and stayed with him while he fixed the car.  Thankfully, Uncle Byron knew just how to pull the one off and put the other on as he had just recently replaced one but a small gasket needed replaced.  And off we went again.

Bridge near Aracati, Ceará

By now we figured we might just have to spend the night somewhere, but we had left very early and we're hoping to still make it to our destination by night time.  We had lots of food and water and everything was okay.  When we got to our next turn on the map, things began to look sort of odd as the highway sort of came to an abrupt end.  Seems our map had the road marked as finished when it had never been.  We asked some questions of some passer-byers and stopped to look at a giant kiln for making bricks before turning around to find another way.

This trip was getting more and more unusual!  We got back on the main highway and went down to another place to turn to go to the town we wanted.  Just after we made our turn there was another noise.  Errrkkk!  Now the car was running hot - water pump problem!  No, we didn't have one of those either, but later Uncle Byron took one on another long trip!  Well, we needed some water, and there was not a house in site.  Uncle Byron saw a pond in a field and decided to get some from there but he needed a lot.  So I took everything out of our cooler and he and William went over a fence to get to the pond.

As William was getting back over the fence and holding onto the cooler while Uncle Byron came over, ants started biting his feet.  He was very brave and did not let go of the cooler.  Now, we decided we better turn around and go back to the last little town we had seen as night was coming and Uncle Byron didn't feel too good about going on with car problems and dark, and William needed a good bath.  We all needed something to eat, and a water pump!

Açu, Rio Grande do Norte
 We turned around and went back to the last town.  We found a place to stay first and something to eat and while we were out eating near the hotel, we saw an open garage.  Uncle Byron talked to the people there and they were able to take care of the car right away.  The next day we hit the road again and had no more problems.

Was God trying to turn us around?  The missionary in the town where we were going to visit had really hoped we would decide to come to that town and help him in the work there.  As it turns out, we did leave Fortaleza at that same time of our ministry but we went to the camp in Bahia.  Sometimes we let bad happenings guide our decisions about where to go and what to do.  That's not what happened here, but it is rather interesting!

Lessons learned:  carry spare parts when traveling in old trucks in foreign countries and carry lots of water and snacks - and Benadryl. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

View from My Front Porch - February 19

Some very happy cows chowing down on a neighbors cut grass thrown out in the field in front of our house.

What Do You Think?

not a great photo but good to see the beautiful blue color

Dalton found this snake on the island during a retreat in 2010.  The boys decided it was some sort of tree snake and not truly poisonous.  Seems most tree snakes have rear fangs.  They swallow small birds, bite with their fangs to inject a little fast-acting, paralyzing poison and then swallow them down.

What do you think?  Poisonous to boys?  Or not?

Look back next week for a longer story.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

What Goes Around

Perhaps you've heard the old saying:  What goes around comes around?  Quite a few years ago we met a special couple because of the island camp.  They had met on the island and after they were married, they traveled back once a year to participate in retreats.  One was an American and the other a Brazilian.  They had married and moved to the U.S.A.

Their shirts say, "I met my spouse on Treasure Island."

This year when they made their annual trek to Brazil they came to "see" us in spite of our lack of an island camp.  They came with a whole team of workers and helped our congregation realize a three-day Vacation Bible School here in Sobradinho.  Since there has been no island, they've come back each year since and participated in missions work.  We were very glad to be included on their agenda this year!

We had a great event with lots of participation on the part of our young people and some of our adults as well.  Each day we saw more than 50 children present.  We hope to see some of these back for our regular afternoon Sunday school and other church activities.

A very special THANK-YOU to Dan and Suzy Ullman and all of their gang from Faith Baptist Church of upper New York state!

Friday, February 12, 2016

View from My Front Porch

Today starts the beginning of a new series of blog posts.  Every Friday I plan to put up a single video or photo shot directly from my front porch here in Sobradinho, Bahia, Brazil.  

Today's clip is from last week.  I was actually standing on the sidewalk and not technically smack on the porch, by the way.  Our region of Brazil is very dry and receives a limited amount of rainfall every year.  Once every forty years or so, that amount shrinks substantially making for extreme drought conditions.  We have been in a drought of about three years.  Imagine living in a place where it rains about one time on one day once a year.  This January we had some of the biggest total annual rainfall of the past five years - yes, all in one month's time!  There was much flooding to say the least.  And our grass began to grow again after how many years?  We water it minimally with run off water from the washing machine.  But we rarely have to cut it.  So for the first time in about three years, Byron had to cut the grass!  And that's the view this week from my front porch!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Hit and Wait, The End

Last week I told you the rest of the Hit and Wait story.  After hours of waiting, being hungry and thirsty, the police finally gave back all my documents and said we were free to go.

A few days later, someone called our house asking for me.  It was the beer truck man!  I was never sure how he got our number.  I don't know if he had written down my name, or if I had given him a tract, or if I actually gave it to him for some reason or another - I don't think so on the last one.  Anyway.  He said that he had some expenses for medicine and wondered if I would pay for the medicine.  Ok.  Hmmm. And what to do now?  I talked to Uncle Byron who suggested that perhaps we should and that the amount wasn't that much so it didn't sound like a trick.  I agreed to meet the man.  I said that I would meet him at the beer plant where he worked.

I took David's mother with me.  I had asked the man to tell me the name of his supervisor.  When we arrived at the place, I asked to be taken to see the supervisor.  I explained who I was and why I was there.  The supervisor called for the man to come to the office.  He fussed at the man for having called me.  I said that it was okay and that I had come to give some money to help with medicines he had to buy.  The supervisor told the man that he was never to call me again and told me that if the man did to let the company know.

And off we went.  I don't think David's mother cried on that trip but she was rather nervous.

That is the official end of that story.  We never heard from the man again.  After that I made more hospital and doctor trips with David and his mother and thankfully his legs finally started getting better.  But, we never really got a truly good diagnosis about his problem.  This is common when working with the free doctors in Brazil and sadly even with regular doctors where you pay money.

People in our church prayed and prayed for David.  His mother did physical therapy with his legs every day and started giving him only whole foods and lots of fruits.  Together we went to see many different types of doctors.  In the end, we feel the only thing that really made a difference were the prayers of  many people.  Today he is about 21 years old, very faithful in his church, and will soon get married to a wonderful Christian young lady - and he walks just fine.

Don't ever forget that prayer does change things.  Sometimes it may take awhile, sometimes it may seem hopeless.  But we should never give up.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Hit and Wait, Part 2

Here's a photo of David's family.  He was a little older than this when he had the problem with his legs.  I took his mother all over Fortaleza to all kinds of doctors and for all sorts of examinations as we looked to find the reason for his problems.

Well, last week I left you hanging and ended my story with me arriving at the hospital with the man who jumped out in front of my car.  Let's be careful here not to say that I hit the man or that the car hit the man, because in all reality the man hit me.  These little details are important.  Especially when you find yourself in front of police.  And, if you boys remember, police in Brazil often walk around with machine guns and can be very scary.

And that is exactly where I found myself as soon as we arrived at the hospital - with two gun toting police men with full body armor waving me down and asking for my documents.  The police men said we would not be allowed to leave the hospital premises until the man had been seen by a doctor.  They took my documents, asked some basic questions about who I was, and asked where my car was parked.  And yes, David's mother started crying again. 

It was close to lunch time and we had very little money between us.  I had some little snacks in Greyson's baby bag but not much.  We also did not have a cell phone to call any one.  I'm not even sure if Uncle Byron had a cell phone yet, but I think he did.  I did not and it seems neither did Claudia.  I dug around in my pocketbook and found a old phone card that you put in a slot in the public phone to make call.  You have to buy the cards.  We called the girl at my house that was with the other boys to let her know to give the boys something to eat and that we would be a while longer.  I may have tried to call Uncle Byron, but I don't really remember.

And we waited... and waited.  Public hospitals aren't known for being real fast in seeing their patients and our little man must have been at the end of a great big line.  We were really hungry.  Claudia bought some "salgados" from a little vendor and a soda pop for us to all share.  At one point one of the police offered us some water and said he would try to speed things up a little as baby Greyson was getting a little cranky.

Finally the hurt man came out.  He had some bruises on his shoulder but other than that he was fine.  The police fussed in front of all of us saying that he was never to bother me again, that I had done what any good citizen should have done in such a situation and that I owed him nothing else.  He suggested the man call his company's office and see if someone could come after him.  The police gave back my documents and said that I could leave.  I asked if there was anything else that I needed to do or know and they kindly said no and told me to come back to them at that post if I had any problems with the man.  They had a little umbrella and table where they were posted to take care of such matters right there at the hospital and told me they were there everyday.

Whew!  Finally we were on our way home.  I drove very carefully and very slowly and took the main big avenue to get back to our neighborhood!

There's one more little part to this story that I'll tell you next week.  We did hear from the man again!

Crazy Experience

And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you,  he shall by no ...