Thursday, May 6, 2010

Campanha Rio-Niteroi: Eu Me Importo

Hello, everyone! Quick update...We are leaving tomorrow morning to go to Rio de Janeiro. On Monday, April 5th, Rio received the heaviest rains it has seen in four decades. This downpour lasted for a few days and caused lots of flooding and mudslides. The people most devastated by this were those who live in the hillside slums, or favelas. Favelas are basically shanty towns built out of wood, garbage, and anything else they can find. Many of these homes were completely demolished as a result of the mudslides. Our team (Mark, Ali, Barbara, Carioca, and I) will be joining a team in Rio to distribute aid to the victims, gather information for a census study, and participate in evangelistic activities. We have been collecting donations for a few weeks and watched four pallets of donations roll away to Rio on an 18-wheeler this morning. Please be praying for our safety as we travel and that we are able to be used as the hands and feet of Jesus on this trip.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


So, after being in Brazil for a month and a half, I've noticed some things...

-I am considered a blonde here.
-Crosswalks are merely randomly placed white stripes on the street. Pedestrians do NOT have the right of way. Ever.
-Schedules change constantly. If a plan is made, expect it to change at least two more times.
-Wanna lose weight? Come to Brazil! Rice & beans + walking everywhere = hot bod!
-Brazilians are crazy drivers but the world's best parkers. We should all take lessons in parallel parking from them.
-Brazilians are the nicest, most welcoming people I have ever met. Yes, even more than Texans.
-Portuguese is really hard.
-I want to have fruit trees in my yard like they do here when I get a house someday.
-Only 1/4 of the pregnant women here have natural births. Everyone else has a C-section, regardless of whether or not they medically need one.
-Onion and garlic is used in almost every meal. Yum!
-No one has air conditioning in their house. Doors and windows are left open so the breeze can come in.
-Brazilians turn into completely different people when watching their soccer teams. Complete mayhem/intensity/nervousness/excitement/loudness. Hilariously entertaining. I could learn to love soccer here.
-There are stray dogs everywhere.
-Kids only go to school half a day.
-Manicures and pedicures are really cheap. If you want both, it will only cost you 20 reais, which is about $12.
-I've decided I want to learn how to salsa dance.
-You know a soccer team has scored if you hear fireworks outside.
-Time is not a factor.
-Mark, Ali, & Barbara's dogs are bilingual. Sometimes I'm jealous of them.
-Skype might be the greatest invention ever.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sao Paulo

Yesterday, Barbara, her mom, and I went to Sao Paulo! Sao Paulo is about an hour from Itu and is the 6th most populous city in the world. About 20 million people live in the metropolitan area and it is considered the NYC of Brazil. Barbara's mom needed to be back at the bus station to go back to Belo Horizonte that night, so we made a day out of it and went shopping on a street called Jose Paulino. They had more shops in one area than I had ever seen in my life...we didn't even see the majority of them. Also, this is where store owners to go buy merchandise for their shops, so everything is pretty cheap. We spent a good 7 hours walking the streets and bought lots of great stuff! Here are some pics...

This is Avenida Paulista, the Times Square of Sao Paulo. There are all sorts of financial and cultural buildings on this street, as well as museums and places to shop.

My first time on a subway! It got pretty crowded at one point I literally could not move because there were so many people packed in there.

Barbara's mom and I at the Subway station.

This piano sits outside the subway station and is available for anyone to play. Basically, the sign says that in October of 2008, there was a project called "Touch Me, I'm Yours." For 10 days, 8 pianos were scattered throughout the city with the idea that everyone could participate and show what they know. At the end of the project, the company that runs the subways received two pianos and set them up at two different stations. This piano stays at this station, so whoever wants to play can play. When we walked up, this man was playing a Christian song.

This is the beginning of the street with all of the stores. It goes on and on and on...

I loved the front of this shirt and wanted to buy it, but turned it around and this is what it said! I saw lots of shirts throughout the day that had incorrect English on them...please, pay me to help you!

OK, our mannequins at home aren't much better, but these in Brazil are on a whole different level. There's something about matching Marilyn Monroe mannequins that just freaks me out...

This is the Tiete Bus Terminal, the largest bus terminal in Latin America and the second largest in the world behind the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York. You can basically get anywhere you want to go in Brazil from here, including international destinations like Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

Sao Paulo was lots of fun and it was neat to be in the big city for a while. My feet are paying the price today! More blogs to come...big things are happening here!

On another note, please be praying for my aunt Cheryl. About two weeks ago, she went to the doctor and they found five masses on her liver. They are thinking it is ovarian cancer that spread to the liver. She is currently undergoing treatment and will receive chemo every two weeks for the next eight weeks. Please pray that the chemo will eradicate the cancer cells without harming any of her other organs. Thank you so much!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I'm Still Alive...

Hello, world! So, I'm a horrible blogger. I'm so very sorry. :) I will try to be better from now on. Lots has been going on in the past three weeks. God is moving, working, leading. It is so fun getting to have a front row seat to what He is doing here in Itu. He is up to something...

Hmm...where to start?!

A couple weeks ago, I went with Barbara to her school. She is taking some classes at a university in Salto and she invited me to come with her. At one point, the teacher gave the class a break so we went to explore the campus. We walked into the Fine Arts building and started looking at all of the art that the students made. This building is also where the journalism students take classes, and as we were walking out, we were stopped by a couple of people wanting to interview me for their school blog and newspaper. I sat down with about 5 students and they asked me questions about why I'm here, what I like about Brazil, the food at home, etc. So basically, I'm famous.'s a picture of all of us. They were all very nice and it was fun talking to them!

Every Wednesday, Barbara and I go to an orphanage in a nearby town. It is called Lar Cristao, which means Christian Home. The children are beautiful...they are happy, healthy, and love to play. I am now known as tia Sarah (aunt Sarah). :)

This picture cracks me up! It reminds me of my brothers and how close they sat to the TV when they were little...Ha!

Barbara and I also help organize their donation closet. Lots of clothes to fold!

Alright, that's going to have to be all for now. Blogger is being weird and won't upload pictures. I'll have more later! :) Love you guys. Thank you for going on this journey with me!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Oi from Brazil!

I made it!

After a tearful goodbye and a long plane ride, I am finally in Brazil! I have been preparing for this moment for a long time, and I'm so excited it's finally here. We hit the ground running when I got here, so let me catch you up on the past couple of days.

After saying goodbye to my parents, I flew to Dallas and met three of my very best friends for lunch at the always fabulous Central Market. My friend Lauren gave me a special scrapbook filled with encouraging letters from friends and family to read when I need a little extra boost being so far away from home. If you wrote one of those letters and are reading this, thank you so much. I went through them all last night and felt so loved and encouraged! Thank you for going on this journey with me and being there every step of the way. It gives me peace knowing you all are praying for me everyday.

My friends were nice enough to go back to DFW with me to see me off, and Whitney got to experience the DFW airport for the first time ever. Exciting, I tell ya. She was pretty concerned about security because she had mase and a knife in her purse...good job Whit.

The plane ride was as good as 9 hours on a plane could be. I had an extra seat by me, so I was able to lay down. That made a huge difference and I was able to get some sleep. When I got to Sao Paulo, I was greeted by Ali, Barbara, Debora, and Carioca! When I saw them, I instantly felt at home. The adventure began right there!

I was able to go rest for a few hours when we got back to Itu, and then it was time for youth group. Every Thursday night, the youth comes over to Mark and Ali's for a devotional. They were extremely open and honest during group, and that was very refreshing. We talked about maturity and how it is the different experiences, struggles, and events in our lives that make us mature. Several kids gave very personal examples of times where they experienced themselves growing and maturing. This is a special group of people, and I am excited about the conversations we will get to have over the next few months.

Fast forward to today...I got to experience my first homeless lunch! Every Friday, Mark and Ali prepare lunch and invite the homeless of Itu to come eat, take a shower, and get fresh clothes. We had about 20 come today, and it was very powerful watching everyone interact. There is no judgment when they enter here. They are allowed to be themselves and be listened to. They are building a beautiful community at these lunches. I think this is something I will look forward to every week.

This weekend, I'll go to a young professionals Bible study and a drama club that the youth group has. (Start laughing right now, Andrew.) I'll go worship with the Itu church on Sunday. I'm very excited to see old friends and be back at that great place. The new building is looking so beautiful! Oh...big news...they're building a Wal-Mart right next to the church. Itu is playing with the big boys now. Next up, a Chuy's? Pei Wei? Taco Bueno?

Alright, I think that's all I got. Here are a few prayer requests to keep in mind:
-That I will strengthen my relationship with God and learn alot about myself.
-That God will open doors and plant ideas in my head of things he wants me to do while I'm here.
-That I will be able to learn as much of the language as I can and communicate well with those who don't speak English.
-That He will deepen my relationships with the friends I already have here and build new ones with new people.
-Safety and health for me, my family, and friends.

Thank you for your love, support, and encouragement. I love and miss you all!


Friday, June 20, 2008


This is Corey, the sweet son of one of our janitors at church. Denise was able to convince Jackie (Corey's dad) to sign him up to go to VIP Camp with us this year. I don't think I've ever seen a child get so excited about everything during a camp! Corey completely soaked every part of it up! It was so much fun watching him sing, play games, and learn about the Lord. He was one of the favorite acts in the talent show because he did a really awesome dance to a Christian rap song. He was even asked to do it again for the closing ceremonies! This picture was taken on Thursday night after the evening devo. Corey came up to some of the adults and asked if he could kneel at the cross and pray for his dad, and of course they said yes. Josh saw what was going on, so he snapped this amazing picture. Corey has an amazing heart and is so eager to learn more about God. His family was affected by Hurricane Katrina, and they fled to Austin after the storm. His family is not in the best situation right now because his mom is back in New Orleans right now with his sister and refuses to come back. It is just a sad story about a mom who is being selfish and seems to not care very much about how much Corey needs her. Jackie is doing the best that he can, but he is very lonely and ends up drunk most nights. God is doing some mighty things through Corey, and He is tugging at his little heart. If you have a second, please pray for Jackie, Tracy, Corey, and LaTonya. Pray that God would reunite this family and that His love for them would be evident!

Friday, June 13, 2008

VIP Camp

We got back last Saturday night from VIP Camp, which is a 4-day retreat for 2nd-5th graders. I was the head counselor for the precious 2nd grade girls, so we got to experience VIP Camp for the first time together! The retreat was held at Camp Hensel, which is a typical outdoorsy retreat center in the beautiful hill country. It was SO hot, but we still had lots of fun!

This is an overhead view of Camp Hensel, taken from the top of the little mountain that we climbed on Wednesday night. There were three crosses at the top of the mountain, so we had a little devo there and got camp off to a great start.

We (the interns, children's ministers, and youth ministers) got there early Wednesday afternoon in order to finish setting things up and claim the beds across from the air conditioners. :) The campers finally started to arrive around 4:00 and kept dribbling in until Thursday morning because some did not finish school until then. On Wednesday night after dinner and singing, we all hiked up a little mountain to the three crosses I mentioned before. We had a little devo up there and the kids learned that they would be carrying their own crosses all week. Each cabin had an 8-foot tall wooden cross that each team of counselors had decorated that day. (Each cabin had a head counselor and anywhere from 3-5 junior counselors.) Each child had to have a hand on their cross and use teamwork to carry it everywhere they went. My girls did a good job of complaining the first day, but we took care of that at our nightly cabin devo with a talk on encouragement and how we are all one body, one team that cannot function if one team member is lost. After that they did a much better job, especially being little 7 and 8 year olds! After we got back from our hike, we took showers and went to bed. I slept terribly because I just knew I would wake up and have a little girl standing by my bed crying for mommy or about to throw up. Thank goodness neither happened, and half of my girls were so excited in the morning that they were ready and dressed by 7:15! Silly, silly girls.

Thursday morning started by having a lovely pancake breakfast and singing fun songs like "Hip Hip Hip Hippopotomous" and "Cast Your Burdens." After that, the junior counselors took them to their first Bible class while the head counselors stayed for a meeting with Denise, the youth ministers (Christian and Josh), and the camp nurse, Cindy (also my Austin mom!). This time was spent going over how our cabins were doing, mentioning any homesick kids we had and who to watch for, who was ill, and what we had planned for the day. By the end of the week, these meetings just turned into us being stupid and laughing deliriously at anything and everything. Great memories. After our "meetings," we just hung out, held the teacher's babies, and waited for our kids to come back from class. After they came back, the head counselors took them to their second Bible class while the junior counselors had a meeting and break time. At the end of the second Bible class, the kids were to make up a short skit about what they had learned. These turned out to be pretty cute because they made them up themselves. Lunch was after that, and then the girls did crafts while the boys swam. No mixed bathing! The crafts were a big hit, and they made things like pinch pots, autograph books, melty bead creations, woodburning crosses, and bookmarks. Then, it was our turn to swim! We rode in the beds of trucks down to Cow Creek. No joke, and it lived up to its name. We didn't care how gross it was because it was cold and refreshing and wonderful. They had a rope swing that the kids enjoyed, but the big hit at the river was being thrown in by the adults on the dock. Needless to say, swim time was a very anticipated event everyday! After we got done swimming, we hopped back in the trucks and went back to our cabins to shower and get ready for dinner. After dinner came some more singing...and then the real fun began. Every year, the kids take part in the ever popular Wacky Records. Wacky Records are fun games like jello slurping, basketball hoop, softball hit, hula hooping, jump roping, banana eating, and grape tossing. Every event is judged and awards are given at the end of the week for best times, most grapes caught, longest hula hooper, etc. Definitely a highlight of the week!

Banana eating contest-Each child was given two bananas and they had to eat them as fast as they could. The winner was a fifth grade boy who downed his bananas in 1 minute and 15 seconds.

This is one of my 2nd graders, Beth! She finished fourth, and as she was walking back to me, she yelled, "THAT WATH AWETHOME!!!!!" with her cute little lisp. She was hilarious all week long!

Here is a picture of the Jello Slurping contest. Meredith, who is the daughter of one of my mom's friends from Colorado, won this event! Beat the boys and everything. I got to meet her the next day and talk to her for a little bit. She has such a compassionate heart and is a great leader for her grade. I'm glad I got to meet her!

After Wacky Records, we had a neat devo led by the 4th and 5th grade boys. Then, it was time to go back to the cabin and go to bed. This was the head counselors' night off, so after we got our kids down, we got to go up to the mess hall to hang out and laugh. It was a great time to get to know some people from the church better and just relax. We also shared stories about funny campers, and that was alot of fun too!

Friday was the exact same as Thursday up until after dinner. After we sang some, we all headed to a big field to play capture the flag! Then, it was time for the head counselors vs. junior counselors volleyball game. I was informed that the head counselors have won this event for like 7 years straight, so I had to pull out my amazing 8th grade 'B' team skills. We pretty much smoked them and won bragging rights for another year. After the game, we started getting our cabins ready for the talent show! One of my junior counselors, Catie, took on our cabin's talent show act and wrote a really cute skit! Our decorations in our cabin were all sailor-themed, so our girls had blue bandanas with anchors on them and we had cute shirts that had "Captain Sarah" or "Junior Captain Catie" on them that she had made before camp. So, our girls started their act by singing a cute song and then they all pretended like they were working on a ship. They each took turns saying something like "I really like being a sailor, but I really want to be a veterinarian, gymnast, teacher, etc." Then at the end, the last girl to talk said "Yanno, as long as we find our identity in Christ, we will be able to do anything we want to do." The girls were SO cute, and they got alot of compliments on their talent! That was our cabin act, but we also had another amazing performance given by three of my girls.

That's Beth, Laura Kate, and Mallory. They burped their ABC's!!! It was AWESOME. Everyone was laughing and amazed that such good burps could come out of such little girls. They got a standing ovation, and I was proud to say they were my 2nd graders. :)

After the talent show, we set off with our crosses to a secret event. The girls carried their crosses around to different sections of a field and gathered parts of a verse. They then put all of the parts together to find out what the verse was. We then had a devo under the stars and listened to Josh speak. Everything was going great and the kids were being quiet. Then, one child let out a huge fart. Like, it was long and really really loud. I immediately put my hand over my mouth, but it was over for me. I was standing in the back by the other head counselors, and we all lost it. We had to turn around and walk away to gather ourselves. We were still laughing during the prayer. It was so, so, so hilarious. Anyway...after that we had a big bonfire and sang some songs. My girls were begging me to take them back to the cabin to go to sleep by then. Poor girls, it was way past their bedtime! We all got back to the cabin, took showers, and fell into bed.

Saturday morning, we woke up and got ready for our last day of camp. Everything was the same as Thursday and Friday were, up until lunch. We had a giant waterballoon fight, and then it was time to swim and have a scavenger hunt. After those fun activities, we went back to the cabin to clean and pack. Dinner was after that, and then we had the awards ceremony with the parents. I hugged my girls goodbye, and they was over!

I loved every minute of camp, even though it was stinkin hot. I'm so glad this camp was towards the beginning of my stay in Austin, because I really think it helped me get to know most of the kids in the children's ministry. It was so much fun, and it got me really excited about what the rest of this summer holds. I am so blessed to have this opportunity, and I can't wait to see how God is going to reveal Himself to these sweet kids!

Here are a few more pictures from the week...

The end!