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Dear Family and Friends,
Porto Forno Alegre. In Portuguese “forno” is the word for oven, so this nickname is a running joke all summer. As the polar vortex sweeps over North America we have had record-breaking highs. A few times the heat index has even reached 110 degrees Fahrenheit! We are truly on the opposite side of the world from where we once served in South Dakota!
We are so excited that our prayers were answered and we arrived here two days before the start of Brandon’s Old Testament Theology class. This was a two-week intensive course that concluded the semester before summer break. It is a tradition that after the final night of an intensive class, the professor buys everyone burgers at the restaurant next door. It is always a great time!
God has been faithful to us as we learn how to navigate our new home. We have a car, and our apartment is mostly setup. We have learned where the grocery stores are and how to get to most anything we need. We had a wonderful time celebrating Christmas as a family and with our missionary partners. During this summer break from school we have taken time to go on a couple of city tours as we try to soak in as much about this area as we can. We want to know the history of the city as this will help understand more about the culture and people.
We have been attending a small church in the suburbs of our city. The people there have been very welcoming, and we are so thankful for them. On our first Sunday in the country they hosted a surprise welcome party for us. They even worked hard to make signs that were in English. We took a church trip in December to a tourist city a couple of hours away called Gramado. We also had a church cookout with the traditional Brazilian grilled meats.
Both Monica and Olivia attended summer camp with other kids from our church at the Word of Life Bible Camp near our city. We are proud of our girls as they continue to be brave, not allowing language to be a barrier to relationships. We could all learn from them!
February brings an end to summer break and the beginning of a busy schedule for us. We have enrolled all three kids in schools here in hopes to speed up their transition by giving them a chance to meet friends and become immersed in their new language. Monica and Olivia will be attending a billigual school that has it’s classes taught in Portoguese, but also has an English class. Most of the students know some English. The school has had several other expat students who have come into the school speaking no Portugese, and they have helped them make that transition. Both girls are excited to go to school. The Brazilian schools are half-days, so Monica will be attending in the morning, and Olivia will be attending in the afternoons. Marci will be teaching one afernoon a week in the English classroom to help the students with their English pronounciation. We are enrolling Daniel in an international school. This option is a God-given blessing, as he is already halfway through his freshman year of high school. He can graduate from this school with a diploma that is acceptable at American colleges, while he will also have Portugese classes and tutors to help him with his language learning, not to mention Brazilian classmates!
Starting next week Brandon and I will begin an intensive Portuguese course at a language school here in the city. We are starting with 2 days a week, 3 hours a day for the first 2 weeks, but once the kids start school we will switch to 4 days a week, plus hours of homework and required practice with people around our neighborhood. Please pray that our minds will be open, and we will be able to learn Portuguese well.
Brandon is teaching one class at the seminary next semester, Contemperary Theology. His seminary load will be light through the language-learning time. We ask that you continue to pray for the seminary’s current students and future students. There is much work to be done in Southern Brazil, and we need committed faithful people to answer God’s call to serve established churches and plant new churches in this region.
We are thankful for each one of you who are such an important part of our journey here. God has truly blessed us with an amazing team of partners. You all are such a vital part of what God is doing here in Southern Brazil. Each one of your prayers and financial gifts are part of God’s greater story here.