Our first two weeks

We’ve had a nice first two weeks.  The parents have wrestled with adjustment and fatigue, the kids have run and played and seemlessly have dived in to their new home with zeal.  There’s been many smiles and much laughter with them.  Much time on the trampoline and tree swing.  There’s been a pickup soccer game, I Love Lucy shows on the computer, family reading time (we’re on our third Narnia book), Homegroup, our first church service, communicating with friends via internet, playing legos with new friends.  Ellie ventured into town with mom to shop (by themselves, with little ability to communicate other than hand signals).  Bets and Ellie had the experience of purchasing gas and being told that they wouldn’t take her credit card.  The police showed up sporting a machine gun and Bets had to figure out how to communocate and pay though  she didn’t have the cash.  She handled it well and she was able to contact the Mission and someone came to her with the cash.  It was one of those moments she likely won’t forget!  We went to the town’s annual fair (it was just like the Morrow County Fair without the animals) with two other families one evening and the kids had a blast.  I was a bit concerned by the nuts and bolts lying near some of the rides but all went well.
Mom’s been getting acquainted with the other women here (they’ve been so supportive) through walks in the morning, and lunches and dinners with the other missionaries; making a list of needed items for our new house (apartment), and figuring where everything will go; being a supportive and loving mom (imagine that!), and even helping with the labor (sanding, etc) of the house; figuring out how to tolerate her husband in the midst of all this change (she is so worthy of admiration!); and dealing with leaving in the states the most precious friends one could possibly have.  She’s been so encouraged by your emails.
Dad’s been mainly working on the house.  So far, sanding, painting, cleaning, hanging ceilings.  I likely broke my little finger while being struck by a falling board.  Pretty mild injury and a simple splint (applied by my wife–I practiced NO medicine!!) works well.  We had our doors delivered by a horse and a flat-bed wagon and our electricians arrive by bicycle, sometimes in the pouring rain.  We will live with many Gecos and various other critters as they have already made our house, their house.  Our apartment will actually be quite nice.  It will have two bedrooms, a bath and a kitchen and a school room.  The rooms are nicely sized and will be comfortable.  In the picture, Bets and i are in what will be the school room and the other window is in what will be the kitchen/living room.  We are going out tomorrow to purchase a washer, a stove, and a fridge.  We will also be looking at beds and wardrobes and cupboards as the dust is really something and all things need to be enclosed.  We have savings to use for the purchases as well as some of the money sent by our wonderful supporters.  Appliances and electronics (imported) are very expensive and carpentry and wood products (made locally) are pretty inexpensive, relatively speaking.  It looks like an end-of-the-month move-in is realistic.  Its a bit overwhelming to outfit a house in this culture.  Especially when down the street there are small, one-roomed, dirt-floored homes.  The struggle with being culturally relevant in looking at our “needs” will be a lifelong challenge.  We want to live like our neighbors but …   Our purchases and our house reveal in us a sensitivity as to how our neighbors live and what they do without.  Its also humbling to know that some of what we will spend is paid for by your hard work.  This settles in us such gratitude but also is a humbling and sobering and joyful reminder of our partnership and that this work is a work of His body.  One day we will all be able to share in His, “Well done.”
We went to a homegroup last night in New Colina.  It’s a “town” just outside of Altamira, next to miles of real jungle, and consists of probably 80-100 “new builds”.  Each house is the same and  is about 20′ x 20′, on a dirt or wood deck floor witout electricity and running water.  It is located below sea level and will flood during the rainy season.  This has already begun and the mission’s truck got stuck in a two foot deep “pot-hole”.  At one point the trucks’ headlights went underwater while driving through what looked like a small pond of floodwater.  Some houses are built on stilts and whether they’re built high enough will soon be revealed as the rains continue.  The homegroup consisted of about 30-40 people, most of whom are hearing the Gospel for the first time over the past several weeks.  There was worship with a guitar, three light bulbs on a wire attached to the truck battery for llight, cookies made by Angie (one of the missionaries), and a brief message by a local Brazilian pastor.  A pretty good storm hit while we were leaving and there was such a sense of vulnerability to the elements in this place.

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