Iglesia…Igreja…okay, got it, CHURCH!!

Last night I went to church with Cintia and Eduardo. We went to a big church close to Edir and Josefina’s house. The service was THREE hours long — 7pm to 10pm. I didn’t realize it was going to be so long or I would have eaten beforehand. I was so hot and hungry I thought I might pass out in the sanctuary. They had a visiting pastor preaching last night. I’m not completely sure where he’s from, but he spoke Spanish. They had a translator up there with him. It was cool, because I got two chances to try and understand what was being said. If I didn’t get it in Spanish I would just wait for the portuguese translation. I understood most of what was said, but it took so much brain power! I was surprised to see that it was easier for me to understand the Portuguese than the Spanish. I could understand a lot of the Spanish, but I am so used to hearing Portuguese now that it was weird to Dios instead of Deus and to actually hear “r’s” and then “muy bien,” instead of “muito bom,” little things like that…I actually started getting a little confused later when I was speaking! The man sitting next to me in church was so annoying. He spoke Spanish and Portuguese and was highly critical of the woman translating the sermon. He kept leaning over to me telling me that she should have used a different word and blah blah blah, it got on my nerves. Then he later he kept on elbowing me and rolling his eyes. It was cool to hear Spanish again. It made think of all of those Spanish poems Señora Mosher made us memorize…”Escribame una carta Señor Cura…” Haha, that was one of my favorites!

JJ

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Fortaleza Santa Cruz da Barra

Yesterday was seriously one of the first full days of sunshine that we’ve had all month. It was a little warm, but the breeze kept me cool. We had originally planned on going to a different fort, but it was closed because of the situation in Rio. The fort was founded in 1555 by the French and later taken over by the Portuguese. It was last used as an active military fort in 1955. It’s still used by the military, but not as a defensive fort. It was really cool and I enjoyed the tour.

The Cat

The Cat

I found this picture tonight and smiled. Yes, I love this particular picture of me and my dear friend, Rachel with this poor dead cat on my garage floor. Haha, it brings back fond memories of dissections and brain extractions…Oh, dear me, high school…umm it sure wasn’t ever dull. Seriously though, I had a lot of fun with all of my dear study buddies and of course, Mac will always be my favorite partner. Although, I’m really not sure why, because he wasn’t much help with the labs.

Lots of things to say…

NOTE: I wrote this post yesterday, but was unable to post it because I lost my internet connection…story of my life in Brazil 🙂

Happy day after Thanksgiving! I can’t even begin to describe how much I hated missing this very special, American holiday. I hope you all enjoyed your delectable feasts of turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, bread, pumpkin pies and whatever else I missed.

My Birthday Cake!

Yesterday I went with my tutor and now dear friend, Ana, to talk to her English class about Thanksgiving. I showed them pictures of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and other family pictures. I finally used my history degree in a classroom and taught them about the history of the holiday and then told them a little bit about my life in the states. It was a lot of fun and the students were inquisitive and bright. I enjoyed it a lot. After I finished talking to the class they brought out a delicious chocolate cake (homemade!) in honor of my upcoming 22nd birthday! I couldn’t have been more surprised or happier! It was so sweet of them to help me celebrate my birthday. They really were a delightful bunch. They asked me lots of questions. It’s always a relief when students actually have good questions to ask, it makes my job a whole lot easier. Last semester when I was a TA for Judaism in America, well, let’s just say I felt like I was talking to a wall. It was awful. Anyway, Ana told them at the beginning that certain questions were off limits — like asking me to teach them bad words (they think that it’s hysterical to learn the really bad words), or inquiring about my relationship status (haha), and other things that they were all just dying to ask (why, I don’t know) but would seem inappropriate or intrusive. It cracked me up because Ana knew exactly what they would all ask if she didn’t give the little speech. But they were all so sweet! Afterwards they all wanted me email address so that they could practice writing in English to me. They were great!

the whole class

Everyone here is so kind and generous. It’s been a great few months. I’ve enjoyed the sights, sounds, smells (for the most part…), foods, colors, it’s all been a great experience. I love watching “Araguaia” with Josefina. The other night, Edir, Josefina, Lucas, Davi and I had our own version of American Idol. Davi won with his popcorn song.

Life here is different from home, but I am trying to appreciate and learn from the differences. Of course, there are some things that I most definitely, without a shadow of a doubt, prefer the American way. But there are things that I love here that we Americans do not have.

Oh, so this week I’ve ben a little wary of using the public transportation, but Cintia (the only person I ever use it with) doesn’t seem to be worried, so I just don’t say anything. Right now there is a sort of war going on between gangs and the police. Buses are being set on fire and thieves are roaming the streets…haha, okay, that might be a little dramatic, but from what I saw on TV and the little that I could understand it’s not far off base. The students yesterday said they’ve just gotten used to the violence and aren’t too afraid. Cintia assured me that all this is going on in a different part of the city from where we are today. It all makes me a little uncomfortable…

Okay, so this is kind of gross, but I’m going to share it anyway. So, last night I was at church and I was greeting everyone (with a kiss) and this woman leaned in to greet me and exhaled and I thought I was going to pass out. Yeah, all I could think of was “Is that your breath, or did you just fart.” Uggh, it was disgusting. This morning there was another incident. I was sitting on the bus on the way to work with Cintia when a woman got on the bus and stood next to me. Fine, no problem. Then she raised her arm to grab the handle to steady herself as there were no seats left. Problem. Her disgustingly hairy armpit was in my face. It was slathered in powdery white deodorant that was quickly sliding down her side with sweat. It was enough to make my instantly start gagging.

On a different note, last night at church a nice woman led us in a Thanksgiving prayer and then immediately after we started singing a hymn. She decided to take the microphone back to her seat and sing at the top of her lungs. She reached notes that no human ear should ever have to endure. I thought the windows might bust out. It took all of the strength in my body to hold it together and not start hysterically laughing. It got so bad at one point that I considered escaping to the ladies room.

This is going to end up being a really long post, I think. I am sitting here at Cintia’s work with almost nothing to do. I was using her friend’s laptop to access the internet and was reading the news and my very favorite blogs. But, everyone here is in the process of moving into a new building and the wireless service was cut off a few minutes ago.

I’m just sitting here rotating my iTunes library back and forth from Adventures in Odyssey, Father Gilbert and my Christmas playlist, yeah I’m kind of a loser. Oh yeah and I’ve won about ten games of solitaire in a row. I am seriously addicted to solitaire. Who knew it could be so fun and entertaining? Oh and my friend Pedro gave me some candy, that was nice of him. But seriously, my favorite friend is the one who always loans me his laptop when I’m here. He’s pretty awesome. It gives me something to do while I sit here in the office for nine hours while Cintia is working.

12 days until I board a plane to go home. I am seriously looking forward to it. Do you know why? Because I can’t wait to see all of your beautiful faces again! I’ve missed you dear family and friends! I am thankful for each and every one of you.

I keep forgetting that it’s now Christmastime. I mean, I know it’s on its way, it’s November after all, but the weather tells me that it’s summer. Okay, so I’m probably not making any sense at all. What I mean is that I associate Christmastime so strongly with cold weather, coats, fireplaces, snow, gingerbread lattes, the colors red and green, and other wintery things that I almost can’t believe the calendar. It’s hot, humid, and bright colors surround me. No hot cocoa or gingerbread lattes here, instead I’m drinking lots of tropical fruit juices. Last night when Cintia said she needed to buy some gifts for the boys, I asked for what? When she said Christmas, I thought, “oh yeah, duh.” I felt dumb.

Weeping for North Korea

Weeping for North Korea from the Desiring God blog.

via Weeping for North Korea.

North Korea has been on my mind a lot this week in light of the November 23 attacks on the South Korean Island of Yeonpyeong. I was born in South Korea and the country holds a special place in my heart — I have many dear friends who call the country home. When I first read about the attacks I certainly did not feel compassion towards the aggressive and combative North Koreans. I couldn’t even finish reading this without being moved to tears and compassion. This article was written by Michael Oh, a South Korean, and now a missionary to Japan. Read the article and pray.

Oh November

Hello, Friends. I am sitting here at Cintia’s workplace very thankful for her friend, Jo..? who loaned me his laptop. We left home around 9am and won’t leave here until 8pm. I finished the one book that I brought and was dangerously close to filling up my last moleskine journal! I’m especially thankful because Eduardo needed his mini modem back this week, which means that I won’t have any internet connection until Friday at the earliest. I was sad. I am sad. But thankfully, my new friend saved the day and I am able to catch up on the news, the blog some emails, etc before I go into solitude for the week. 🙂

Saturday was a lot of fun. Josefina, Yuri and I went to Plaza and did some serious shopping. No, really, we beat that mall into submission. I have never done so much shopping in so little time. We had so many bags and poor Yuri had the task of carrying all of them (he didn’t want my help) and making sure I didn’t get lost in the crowd. Haha, he did a good job though. I got a lot of practice using my portuguese! Neither one of them speaks any English, so I had to use a lot of brain power to communicate, but it was rewarding and very good practice.

Later that night I went out to dinner with Cintial, Eduardo and a couple of their friends. We went back to the Creperia in Sao Francisco. Love that place! It was really nice and then Sunday we went grocery shopping…believe me it was quite the event. Hours and hours of shopping for food. Then we went out to dinner with Eduardo’s mom.

Yesterday was cloudy and rainy. We went out to the Japanese restaurant where Cintia and Eduardo started dating and then went to an old military fort. However, it was a holiday, so it was closed. Yeah, another one. Saturday was also a holiday–Black Consciousness Day. Yesterday was only in Niteroi, it was like the anniversary of the founding of the city or something. I’m not really sure though.

Thursday is Thanksgiving. It’s pretty much my favorite holiday. I am quite sad to be missing the time with family and the huge feast that they are going to be enjoying. I am going to go with my tutor, Ana, to talk to her English students about our special holiday! I’m going to show them some pictures and use my history degree to tell them about the pilgrims  and then tell them how we celebrate today. It should be a fun time.

What else…I am going to be 22 years old soon. It’s really weird, I totally feel like I just had 21st birthday. I remember that day — I sat in class from 8am in the morning to 8pm at night. It wasn’t exactly the best birthday I have ever had. My sweet family tried their best to make it special and I did enjoy the delicious breakfast my mother made for me at 6am!

Okay, well, it won’t be long until I see all of your beautiful faces again! Two more weeks…:)

I guess I’ll be back this weekend…until then, tchau!

J

My Reading List

My time here in Brazil has been so wonderful in so many different ways — I’ve gotten to meet some amazing people, spend time with Cintia and get to know her family and have them become a part of my family. I’ve eaten lots of wonderful food, I’ve been to some beautiful places, learned about the culture and the language and last, but certainly not least, I’ve had lots of free time to read great books. The latter came as a big surprise, I knew that I would have some time alone, but I had now idea how much time I would have on my hands. It’s been hard sometimes, but overall, it’s been a huge blessing and I am thankful for the time. Who knows when I’ll have this kind of time to read, pray, think and study again?? Maybe never. Well, here’s a taste of what I’ve been doing with my spare time!

“When People Are Big And God Is Small,” by Ed Welch This is the first book I read after arriving in Brazil. I had already read it once over the summer, but it was a quick, cursory read and this time I got to take my time and really enjoy it. It’s an excellent book for anyone that has ever been influenced by peer-pressure, codependency or the fear of man. And that means everyone. It’s a practical and biblical book that looks at the fear of man and it’s one and only cure — learning the fear of the Lord. I highly recommend it. It’s really readable and so helpful.

“Jonathan Edwards: Lover of God,” This is the first of five small books on different aspects of Jonathan Edwards. This is a great introduction to Edwards. It makes him and his work so accessible. While I definitely enjoy reading his books and find that pushing through them has been so rewarding, sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down and discouraged reading his work.

Jonathan Edwards: Lover of God takes a close-up look at the life of Edwards, from his days as a young child at home to his early death from a smallpox vaccination. It contains samplings of Edwards’s philosophical contributions, his sermons, and his personal and theological musings, revealing his thoughts, mind and heart. Edwards wore many hates — philosopher, father, preacher, college president, theologian, husband — and yet, one of them stands out among them all, Edwards: Lover of God.”

“Spectacular Sins And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ,” by John Piper. Here’s what Matt Chandler, Pastor at the Village Church in Texas writes about the book, “The weighty truths about the sovereign wisdom and power of God unpacked in these pages created in me an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and ultimate safey. To be reminded of his might over everything is priceless, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to preach the same again.”

This is a little book, just eight small chapters, but it has a lot of truth packed in. It was encouraging to be reminded that God is sovereign over all, “God did not just overcome evil at the cross. He made evil serve the overcoming of evil.” It’s lines like this one that make you think and then make you stand in awe of the greatness of the Sovereign One. Great book.

“North and South,” by Elizabeth Gaskell. I received this as a birthday present from a dear friend a couple of years ago after watching the BBC miniseries over New Year’s Eve. I LOVED the movie. And I read the book immediately after receiving it and I liked it. Well, I re-read it here and it’s safe to say that the second time around it made my favorites list. I don’t know why, but it was 100 times better the second time. I don’t want to give anything away, so all I’m going to say is that you need to read it. So GOOD!

“Conversations with Myself,” by Nelson Mandela I bought this book along with “Committed,” by author Liz Gilbert of “Eat Pray Love,” at a bookstore in Niterói after running out of my own books to read. There certainly were not an abundance of choices in English. It was this and “Committed,” along with a Justin Bieber biography and a Miley Cyrus biography and then a handful of Twilight books.

This book was interesting and I enjoyed it. It’s really just a compilation of lots of different notes, journal entries and letters from Mandela’s life organized into different sections. I think that Nelson Mandela is absolutely fascinating and what he did for his country is amazing, but his personal life was one disaster after another. In the end, no matter how great your accomplishments here on earth, none of it matters if you do not believe in Jesus.

“The Geography of Bliss,” by Eric Weiner

A friend gave me this right before I left to come to Brazil. It was a highly entertaining read about “one grump’s search for the happiest places in the world.” Basically this man travels all around the world going to the happiest places, as calculated by a happiness professor. It was interesting and I enjoyed reading about places that you typically don’t think about traveling to everyday.

This was a little bit disappointing for me. I loved the movie, “Eat Pray Love,” and was hoping that this would be a great book. It wasn’t. It was more a book about the history of marriage than about her own personal journey. I thought that she was unfair in her generalizations, her history was questionable in some places and her conclusions about marriage are completely contrary to what, I as a believer, think about the subject. Not really worth the time…

Well, I’m having internet issues, so you will just have to wait until later to see the rest of my reading list! Tchau, amigos!

JJ

Undone

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filed the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;

the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive. Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts and turn and be healed.” Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people and the land is a desolate waste and the Lord removes people far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak whose stump remains when it is felled.” The holy seed is its stump. –Isaiah 6

When my parents found out I had run out of good books to read they were very quick to offer to send me more along with my new power cord for my computer. I am so glad that they did! I’ve been enjoying “The Holiness of God,” by RC Sproul. It’s been a fantastic book to read as I’ve been going through the Old Testament. This passage has been on my mind a lot since beginning the book.

It’s Sunny? Ok, Let’s Go!

I woke up this morning to sunshine. It was literally streaming through my window waking me up with it’s warm rays on my face. It was lovely. Josefina had already left to run some errands. So I got up and got ready and ate my breakfast. She got back and started to make lunch. Then Edir called. He said that we couldn’t waste this day and that we need to go to Pão de Açucár today. So, we ate lunch super fast and got ready to leave in a big hurry. We caught a bus into Rio and then Edir picked us up at the bus stop and we made our way to Sugar Loaf! I loved it! It was so beautiful and the cable cars were really cool. It was a little hazy at the top, as you can tell from the pictures, but the views were still breathtaking. The weather was perfect for going out — sunny and warm with a nice breeze to keep you cool.

There were so many tourists from all over the world. Lots of Italians, Germans and Americans were there today. Every time Edir heard someone speaking English he went up to them and told them that I was American and told me to go talk to them. Haha, it was kind of funny. I’m not one to go up to strangers and just start chatting and he really didn’t understand that. But I met some nice men from Utah and Idaho…then there were the Italians. Edir loved talking to them about his trip to Rome. It was a lot of fun. I’m so glad that we finally had a pretty day here !

Tomorrow we are going to go to shopping and I think that Yuri is going to come with us. That should also be really nice. I have lots of things that I need to buy to take home with me!

xoxo,

JJ

PS: thanks to everyone who has been praying for me. I’ve been sleeping much better the last few nights. I’ve been taking the natural herbal remedy that Wander gave me and I’ve started drinking caffeine free tea instead of coffee when we have our afternoon snack.