Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Snapshot of Our Days

Wake Up.  Eat.  Study Portuguese.  Eat.  Study Portuguese. Buy groceries. Eat. Study Portuguese.  Go to sleep. goes our daily routine...or at least it seems so some days.

Brothers can't wait to start!
Actually our daily routine changed quite a bit this week as Caleb and Nathan started school. Before now, both boys were attending class with us in the morning.  We then would return home around lunch.  In the past weeks, our afternoons have included shopping for school supplies (ALOT of school supplies), trips to the park and visits with some friends.

Now that school has started, we have entered into the routine that we think will continue for most of our days over the next six months or so.  Caleb and Nathan have both loved their first week at school.  Caleb has used the word perfect to describe it to many people.  When Nathan was asked what he liked about his first day, he answered, "Everything!"

David and I were musing about why this transition into a new school in which they do not speak the language was so easy when he made the comment, "You never know what having 200+ people praying for you will do!"

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making this first week of school great as you continue to pray for our boys!!
Big boy walking to school.

Wake up time is very early since the boys have to be at school around 7:20.  The school is a 15 minute walk, so we are out of our house shortly after 7 am.  While the boys are in class, we have our Portuguese lessons at the language school.  David and I finish up around 11:00 am and then we pick up the boys around noon before coming home to eat lunch together.

Taking it all in.

One might ask "Only class in the morning? Seems pretty easy to me."  While we only have class in the morning, you must remember we are practicing Portuguese every time we step out of the house...and sometimes even in the house.  Need to buy bread?   Practice your Portuguese.  Would like something special for dinner? Practice your Portuguese.  Meet new friends at the park? Practice your Portuguese.   Want to watch TV?  Practice your Portuguese. 

So happy to be starting!

In the afternoons, we will continue to live shopping, playing in the park, going on walks together, making new friends.  (As we get settled into the school routine, we also plan to do a little bit of schoolwork with Caleb to keep up his reading and math skills.)

Our afternoons seem to fill up quickly.  Often, simple tasks (like buying a lunch box or 35 buttons) can take on grandiose dimensions as culture/language/not having a car/ not knowing where certain stores are/all of the above adds to the mix.  

One of the things that is very different here is the amount of times we go to the grocery store each week.  At this point we go to the store almost every other day.  We walk everywhere and there are only so many groceries you can carry at a time.  Meal planning and grocery shopping are just some of the many things that we are still wrapping our brains around.

"I am so excited I think I will explode!"

Hope you have enjoyed (and not been too bored by) this quick snapshot of our daily routine!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

And Our Community...

Seeing this grow naturally is fun!
Now that we have shared a little bit about our apartment, venture outside with us into our community.

We are in the Cambui section of Campinas, Brazil.  For the size of the city and the amount of people who live here (about 1 million), it is really nice.

Beautiful, huge tropical trees line our street

The streets are lined with beautiful flowers and large trees.  As you can see in the pictures, the sidewalks have been artistically designed into various patterns.

Fun sidewalks run throughout the city

We live a short two block walk from our language school.  Within a short distance we also have our favorite bakery (Can you say fresh french bread? YUM!)  and a great park.

The playground from a distance
The boys love that the entire playground is a big sand box.

Looks like fun, right?

The park consists of sidewalks meandering around huge tropical trees and plants.  There is also a great playground that is always busy.  (This is where we had our water adventure and where the boys met their first Brazilian friends today!)

Beauty on every corner.
We also have found a church that is nearby and have enjoyed attending it the last few Sundays.  Although we understand little that is being said, it is great to worship together with the body of Christ.

The church seems to be very mission minded and is actually planning on bringing a group to Nampula, Mozambique (where we will be serving) in September.  What a great connection God made there! 

This weekend, we ventured a little further out from our neighborhood, walking to the downtown (Centro) area to order the boy's books for school.  We also walked quite a bit to a very large park and lake, Lake Taquarel.  In all this weekend, we figured we walked about 20 kilometers (12 miles for ya'll non-metric folks). No pictures this time, but we hope to go back and take the camera next time.

The local bakery
The local grocery store

Later this week, I hope to check back in with a little bit more about our daily routine...which will be changing big time next week as the boys start school. If you feel led, please be praying for us, the boys, their new teachers and friends this week.   

Até mais! (Until then!)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Little About Our (Little) Apartment

The days have all begun to run together a bit.  It is hard to believe that we have been here for nearly three weeks now.  We have been plugging away at our language study and trying to settle into this new Brazilian life.  I wanted to spend the next couple of blog posts introducing you to our home, our community and our daily routine.  (I hope this is interesting to at least two of you…)

The apartment which God has blessed us with for the next six months is two bedrooms and three bathrooms.  (Two full, one half).  It is about 600 square feet and we are still learning how to live together well in close quarters. 

The kitchen is well stocked with the normal appliances.  It has lots of great cabinet space.  (The entire apartment has several cabinets and closets which is great for a small living space.)  The laundry room has a washer, but no dryer.  We have this fabulous rope/pulley contraption on which we hang clothes to dry.  The boys love to help "put up" the wet laundry.

Boys' Room
One interesting thing about the apartment is that it has two entry doors, one to the main living area and one to the kitchen. 

We have been told this is because in earlier times, the door to the kitchen would have been the servants’ entrance and the half bath off of the kitchen/laundry area would have been the servants’ bathroom.  This area also has a door that can be locked that separates it from the rest of the house…in case you want the maid to come, cook and do laundry, but not enter the rest of the apartment.  It reminds us a little bit about segregated areas in the south, but like the south it is not used here like that anymore either.
Master Bedroom

The boys share a room.  We put up one of the beds during the day so they will have more space in which to play.  They have enjoyed having their toys out and they each have a shelf dedicated to "inventions" and Lego creations. The space is small for two energetic boys though and we have spent some time in "Portuguese study" watching Brazilian TV. (Who knew Dora spoke Portuguese?)

On days when the weather is nice it is great because we can go out for a walk or to the park nearby.  This past week it has rained off and on every day.  The rain most often does not come in a nice gentle shower, but in a heaven opens up and buckets pour down till it suddenly just stops kind of shower. We have been told this is typical January weather, although it is a little cooler than normal.

Living/Dining Area
One day last week, it rained all morning long.  The boys asked if we could go to the park and when we told them “No, it is too wet,” they asked if they could wear their swim trunks and go.  We reluctantly said yes.  (What were we thinking!?)  We got to the park (which is sand with no grass) and it was a swamp.  Although no one else was there, the boys had a blast playing and romping in the water.  Nathan especially enjoyed going down one particular slide that landed him in a puddle of water about a foot deep.

We got several looks while they played (which we interpreted as “Those crazy Americans!”)  When the boys left, they crowed about how awesome and fun the time had been and of course asked when could they do that again.  Needless to say, since both seem to have come down with some type of skin infection this week, I don’t think it will be again anytime soon. 

Our apartment is on the 8th floor of a 10 story building in a fairly urban setting.  While we walk to everything (class, the grocery store, the park, etc.) there is still a lot of traffic normal to a large city.  We have learned quickly to look both ways and to cross the road quickly.
On our way to language school
Hope you have enjoyed this quick tour of our humble home!  Next time hopefully we can share a little more about our community.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Small Victories

The addition of a new life into your family.  The passing of a dearly beloved friend.  Heartbreak.  Falling in love.  The union of a bride and groom.  New opportunities.  A new job.  Moving to a new country. Learning a new language.  All seasons of life, all with one thing in common.
Change.  Radical, sometimes even life shaking change.    

If you are anything like me, change does not come easy.  If you are anything like me you might find yourself fighting change with all of your might sometimes, will embracing it a little more willingly during other times. 

Two things have helped me get through our most recent radical, life-shaking change.  Foremost is having my heart set on the fact that God is unchangeable.  His words describes Him as unchanging, never shifting shadows. (James 1:17)  If He is unchangeable, ALL that He is- love, peace, hope- all that He is described to be is unchangeable.  

Secondly, as I go about living out days of much change, I begin to focus on and celebrate the small victories.  Honestly, the big picture overwhelms me.  When I focus on it, I become discouraged, fearful and anxious.  Instead, I have to remind myself to look to the little things and then to celebrate them as I am successful.  (Sometimes getting out of bed in the morning is enough of a small victory to celebrate.)

Big picture- Moving to a new country, learning a new language, finding schooling, learning to shop at a new grocery store?  OVERWHELMING.

Celebrating the small victories of life…

Lunch being made…

Fresh squeezed orange juice…

A load of laundry drying…

Boys amused (for the moment)…

Doable.  All little things, but all small victories worthy of our joyous celebration.  

Whatever season of change God is leading you through at the moment, remember to focus on the One who never changes as well as celebrate the small victories of life.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Oi Do Brasil!

Hi from Brazil!

Thank you so much for your continued prayers and encouragement!  We have now been in Brazil for about a week and are slowly settling in to our new “normal.”   The flight into Brazil was very smooth- until we landed in São Paulo.  As we landed, Caleb got airsick.  We then had to wait in the airplane for a gate for about 20 minutes.  Let’s just say, we have never seen a plane clear out as quick as that one did once the doors opened.  

The Boys' Room
We picked up our luggage, headed through customs and met our driver who drove us to our apartment.  The drive took us through parts of the city of São Paulo (which is massive) and into Campinas.  We drove through busy city streets as well as rolling green hills with lush, green vegetation.  

Our apartment is 2 bedrooms, but much smaller than we are used to.  We are still trying to learn how to live all in the same space without driving each other crazy.  The boys have enjoyed having all their toys unpacked and have rebuilt all of their Lego sets.  The apartment is in a great location- 2 blocks from our language school, 4 blocks from a great park and 4 or so blocks from the grocery store.  There is also a very yummy bakery and ice cream shop nearby.  

We hope to be able to share with you pictures and stories about our lives and what God continues to do in and through us as the weeks go by.  We do not have internet access in our apartment at this point so sending emails and doing blog posts is still somewhat difficult.  We have been able to do some updates via Twitter and Facebook.  If you have not become “friends” with us, and want updates more often, please do so.

If you are interested in sending us mail, use the contact button above to let us know and we will send it to you.  Please let us know if you are sending something so we can be on the lookout.  (We have been told it takes about 3 weeks for a package to travel between the US and Brazil.)

 We continue to be eager and thankful for your prayers.  Some of the ways that you can continue to pray for our family:

1.  We start our classes at the language school next week.  Ask God to open our brains to hear, understand, and learn Portuguese. For us to find the school God has prepared for the boys.   For them as they enter into a school in which they have no friends or understanding of the language. 
View from our apartment
2.   For communication lines to open up.  For us to be able to get internet in the apartment or to find a way to use the wifi spots nearby (at the bakery or language school). 
3.  For us to handle the stress of cross cultural living well.  For our words with each other to be gracious and full of love. 
4.  For God to use this experience to create in us hearts that glorify Him.
5.  For healthy bodies; especially for Nathan as he has had a junky cough since before we left Virginia and it is starting to wake him up at nights.

Thank you so much for your love and prayers for our family!  We continue to feel their power as God uses them to give us peace and joy even in stressful situations.  We love you and pray for you as well.  (Please let us know if there are specific things for which we can be praying for you or your family.)  
May the God of peace, love and grace hold you close as we are far apart.  

For His glory,
David and Wendi Richards

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