Sunday, May 22, 2011

We've Arrived!

   We've arrived - In Brazil, that is!

   Finally after everything the Lord has brought us through in the past years, on May 19, 2011 we arrived at our new home and place of ministry in a suburb of Cuiabá, Mato Grosso, Brazil!   After an all-night flight and two more flights inland, we landed at 1pm.

   It was so wonderful to be met by our co-workers and fellow laborers who ministry in the Cuiabá area.  It was wonderful to re-unite with the Lockharts, the Duarte's, the Doolittles, and the Raehls!

   We quickly gathered all of our luggage, rejoicing that every piece had made it, and loaded it into Pastor Duarte's truck and trailer.

    We have just been so blessed by the absolute kindness and generosity of all the other missionaries here. We have so much to learn and we are thankful for these others who are taking the time to help us as we get settled in.

  Two days after our arrival, the mission church here (Pastor Duarte) had a welcoming service for us.  I was amazed as I realized that this welcoming service was held on May 21st, exactly four years after the day that we left Brazil from our survey trip, which was when God confirmed this call on our lives.  He has definitely been faithful to us through those years and we are so thankful that He has brought us back to minister here.

   At the end of the service, the men of the church gathered around to offer prayer for us.

Thank you Mrs. Duarte for the photo!

    And then we were showered with house-warming gifts and then treated to a wonderful time of fellowship and refreshments!

Thank you Mrs. Duarte for the photo!

    What a blessing the folks here have been to us.  We hope that some day we can be a blessing to them as they have been to us.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Flying to Brazil

   After packing our belongings and driving to Orlando, Florida, we finally were ready to make the long flight to our new home in Cuiaba, Brazil!  By driving to Orlando, we were able to board directly onto the Brazilian Airline and avoid paying for our extra luggage twice.
    I'm sure we were quite a sight as we made our way through all the airport security and terminals.  Through the airports we took with us: two strollers, two car seats, three backpacks, a diaper bag, and a laptop bag!

   The initial flight left at 9:10pm and was in the air about eight and a half hours.  Theoretically, everyone is supposed to sleep the entire flight, but they forgot to tell Johnathan!  He was so excited that he was bouncing in his seat and looking all around until about 2am!  Finally he slept for a little bit.  We were relieved that neither child cried much or disturbed the other passengers!

  When we arrived in Såo Paulo, Brazil at about 6am we knew we had alot to do to meet our connecting flight.  However, we saw prayers answered as they opened a new line and sent us immediately to the front at the Federal check-in and then again as we went through customs!  We had a number of airport helpers to help move all of our boxes through security, but we were so relieved as they waved us through without having to pay any import fees at all!  Praise the Lord!

  Then we finally made it to our check-in for the connecting flight, and again they opened a new line and sent to the front!  We made it to our gate with enough time for me to go and buy breakfast for the family and enjoy a few minutes of relaxation before we had to board again.

   On this next flight (which touched down once before arriving at our destination) I was glad to be able to let Johnathan sit in the window seat - he loved it!  On our first flight, we boarded the plane through a walkway and so Johnathan never saw the outside of the plane; but for this flight we actually had to climb the steps and go into the plane, so he was finally convinced that he actually was inside the plane!  By this time it was light enough to see outside, so he thoroughly enjoyed his first "real" flight!

   By the time we were about to land at our final destination, he was so tired that he fell asleep and could hardly be woken up to get off the plane.  He sure did enjoy it though and I think it made a deep impression in his memory.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Packing For Brazil

    Ever since we first knew that we would be moving to Brazil, we also knew that we would have to get rid of almost everything we own before we could actually make the move.  Since we could only take our belongings as extra baggage on the airplane with us when we moved, our choice of what we could take was very limited by both size and weight.

    I had readied myself (Omar) for the pain of getting rid of all kinds of junk and even much of my clothes.  But the hardest thing, and it was much, much more painful than I ever would have imagined, was the process of departing with the majority of my library.  However, I picked through my books and saved the ones that I knew I could not part with, and then I took the rest to Ambassador Baptist College and sold them to the students for rock-bottom prices.  At least I know that those books will be put to good use!

     Well, we finally got rid of almost everything we owned.  We gave away our furniture to a few newly-weds and friends (much of it had been given to us by the Maietta missionary family when they moved to Italy).  Once we had given away everything we knew we couldn't take, it was much easier to pack the things we knew we needed to take.

      We spent many, many hours squeezing as much as we could into each of those plastic totes.  I guess during that time, we did more than our share to keep the local $5 pizza shop busy!

      I was very proud of Tracy as she condensed our belongings down to such a small amount.  It kind of gave you a strange feeling to look at a small corner of stacked boxes and to realize that basically all of your earthly possessions were contained in those few boxes!

     Finally, on the morning of May 16th, we left our home and our church in Shelby, North Carolina, to drive down to Florida where we would fly out of Orlando.

    Two days later, on May 18th, 2011, we would board our TAM Airlines flight and leave the United States for a whole new life in Brazil!


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