This Blog Entry is dedicated to all those friends of mine who have said, “Betsy, why don’t you ever write a blog? We want to hear from you too.” You have to admit, it’s not easy following Tim’s blogs! So, consider this just “a letter from a friend.”
Here’s just a bit of the every day that’s happening around here. We ran out of gas last week – literally. We use propane gas for our stove, and you buy the tanks like you do in the US for grills. We usually have one extra ready to go, but I failed that task, so when we ran out of our second tank, Tim went to buy one…and the city is out! This is one of those times when you learn to be thankful for the little things. No popcorn, no baking, no hot water. Isn’t it interesting that the whole city could be without? Well, we found one to “borrow” until this week when they will hopefully get them in.
As I sit to write, the smell from the neighbors behind us is drifting in. Their outhouse is about 10 feet from our windows. Otherwise, it’s a breezy, somewhat nicer day today (mid 80’s). The rains have started to come more frequently – so welcomed! All around Porto de Moz, people are building. Building new houses, adding on, building on to their stores, making them bigger, brighter, cleaner. We don’t know where the money is coming from, but we think the government is loaning it to them. We are hoping this means the economy is improving, or will improve. It’s exciting to watch. Here’s news (for me anyway) – a new store opened and it carries a kind of cheese that we have never been able to get here. Now that’s news!
Oh, here’s another “only in Porto de Moz” for you. A big deal this week was the arrival of the Nestle Barge. It is literally a big barge (boat) that stops at our dock, and has inside it an air conditioned store, selling Nestle products. (You’d be surprised at what all they sell.) The biggest treat is the ice cream. In Porto de Moz, we aren’t able to buy ice cream in tubs like in the states. But they have it in 2 L. tubs and not really that expensive. Mer and I went to the store and I spent R$87 ($50 US)! Yikes! On ice cream mostly, and a box of chocolate cereal. The ice cream was $R16 for 2L, so that’s about $9.50 US. But it was such a treat. The kids left for Youth Group and Tim and I each grabbed a tub of ice cream and sat down and ate it! I’ll have to see if the boat has left yet…
Ellie has been working hard. She is doing a Home Economics class for homeschool and has been “learning” to cook, though she is already great at it. So this week she made a fruit salad, salad, and stew. All to our benefit! She loves to cook and bake, so this is no problem for her. She is busy though, and I don’t know how she fits it all in. This morning, she raked and cleaned up the yard in front of our fence, which is usually a dumping ground for everyone’s garbage. It looks nice. (This was an extra job she did to earn money.) I’m sure that Ellie and I will be doing some baking this week, making Christmas cookies. Mer and her friend Amanda decorated sugar cookies this week too. It was fun to do something Christmas-y. Our traditional cookies are chocolate kiss cookies (had to bring the kisses with us from the states), sugar cookies, “santa” cookies (which are sugar cookie hearts upside down). That’s about it, unless we make Grandma Kubacki’s Chocolate drop cookies! I usually make a plate of treats (American style) and deliver to some of the stores that I frequent, and to some friends. The challenge is getting the cookies to stay looking good with the humidity the way it is. They tend to “melt.”
Ben and Luke have been running quite a bit more. Ben runs about 3-4 miles/day and then once in awhile up to 5 miles. It’s great to see them enjoying the challenge. Ben’s got this friend who goes with him sometimes, even if it’s just to follow him on a bike. Luke, unfortunately, somehow managed to get a stress fracture in his leg! So he has to lay off for 4 weeks. He likes to remind us that he “has a broken leg” when it’s convenient for him. He is able to continue to work out with straps he received from his cousin, which works the upper body.
Mer has pre-teen-age-girl-itis coming on. And if she doesn’t get enough sleep (often) its worse. Ah, you know that saying…”if looks could kill”? And there’s the cries of “no one ever believes me.” “You always…!” stomp, stomp, stomp… But she is still the most affectionate of the four; and forgets she’s mad pretty quickly. She has been the one that is already shopping for everyone for Christmas and made Ellie something. She is also the one who is campaigning that we all get up at 5 am to open presents. She has to persuade all these teenagers who don’t have the motivation to keep that tradition alive. To be the youngest! It’s a big job in this family.
Luke is working hard and loving being part of an “on line” school in Lincoln, NE. He has turned in quite a few papers and they seem to love them. It is so good to see. As a homeschooling mom, you never quite know if you are grading fair or not. I always thought he was a good writer, but now I have someone else grading, and they like him too. Whew! Luke has been looking into colleges, thinking about the future, money (and the jobs that pay it), cars, etc. When the time comes, he will be more than ready to get out on his own. He is also sporting a new look (when does Luke not have a new look going?) Anyway, he hasn’t shaved in over a month, nor cut his hair. Not a look you see in rural Brazil much. It’s great! And he likes it. (When has Luke not liked his look?)
With the mission, Tim and I have been going to meetings, teaching, meeting one on one with people. (Well, Tim does all that, I haven’t as much.) We spent last Saturday at the camp with about 12 of our leaders, (called TLC – Training Leaders in Community) and Tim taught on Paul’s words of “when I am weak, He is strong.” What’s cool is the following Weds I went to Women’s Group and the leader taught the same thing, passing along Tim’s teaching. It was well received and everyone said the TLC was “the best ever”. Our friends here love to tease Tim and quote “Tim’s verses” as though he has a section in the Bible all his own. Such as, “God loves using screwed up, messed up people.”
I am working in the office, trying to get the finances all straightened out. I would like to have it well organized when I leave. We have hired a Brazilian gal to help, and she has alleviated so much from my job – I love it. The mission office was robbed a couple weeks ago, and the guy who did it (everyone knows him!) got away with the whole safe! He then chopped it open and got away with a good chunk of money. (We had just made a withdrawal.) The mission will be okay financially, but it just feels so invasive! I’m so glad that it was at night and no one was hurt. We are changing our methods, and getting an alarm. The police have been pretending to help, but I don’t have much confidence in them. The money is gone, I’m sure of it. This guy has been a problem for our city a long time. I wish they would just put him away! Well, one of my goals was to get the cash account to balance, so it’s balanced now. It easy to count to zero!
Christmas is just two weeks away; our last Christmas here. The artificial tree has held up pretty well, and surprisingly, our lights still work! After Christmas, several families from Altamira (missionaries) are coming to Porto. They like to come here because they can truly have a break, and we have a beach for their kids. Also, Chelsea and Julia Newton, (Chelsea is a missionary in Altamira and Julia is her sister Luke’s age, visiting) will come and stay with us for a week. They will enjoy the “family” as they are away from theirs. Our nephew Zak also arrives at this time, to stay for 7 months. We are excited to have him back. He’ll live with us until he finds something of his own to rent. That’s the news for now! See you at the next “Blog from Betsy”.