Friday, December 21, 2012

A Final Goodbye...

This week we gave our final ESL classes.  Jake taught his last Sunday school lesson on Sunday morning, and then on Wednesday we had our beginner and intermediate class.  

I tried to plan a fun, Christmas-inspired lesson for the beginners.  I had them learn John 3:16, and from there I talked about how we can have joy at Christmas time, because God loves us, and sent His Son to die for our sins.  We listened to Chris Tomlin's "Joy to the World" and they had to fill in the blanks.  We had a little party in between the two classes, and I was brought to tears by a cake that a student brought.  It said, "Congratulations", and was in the shape of Brazil.  Although that class was the hardest one for me to teach, it was more difficult to say goodbye than I thought. The students kept saying that they wished we could have more classes together in the new year. 

I was encouraged by a conversation with one student, Lillian.  Before she attended our classes, she thought she didn't even like English.  Now, due to an appreciation that grew out of taking classes with us, she's going to study at an English school next year.

Towards the end of our time, we were having less and less students come out, due to various commitments and end of the year graduations and parties. At times it was discouraging to see only 7 students in the class, compared to the 30 we started out with.  However, comments like Lillian's make every difficult and challenging moment worth it.  You start to realize that the ones who lasted to the end are the ones who needed it, and benefited the most. 

Yesterday I had a chance to evaluate the parts that worked well and not so well. I found it helpful to think about what we can do differently or change for next time.

Thank you for all your prayers regarding our classes.  Although our main focus was to teach English, God taught us so much in other areas and experiences we had while here as well!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Church in Brasil

Ola friends. I wrote a short reflection on trends in the church here in Brasil in contrast with the church in Canada. You can check it out on my personal blog site Rivers in Reverse. Enjoy!

Jake Rivers

Monday, October 22, 2012

September Update!

We've finally sent out the summary of everything that's happened last month in our Brazilian Bistro email update. If you did not receive our email update and would like to in the future, just let us know! Thanks for reading!


Monday, October 8, 2012

We are here! We are here! We are here!

This past week, we've been adjusting and settling in to life in Brazil.  I think Jake has tried almost every food on my must-experience-in-Brasil list, which has included:

-pastel (in picture)
-hamburgers at Girafas
-pao de queijo
-typical Brazilian food
-Brazilian chocolates/doces

Left to try include:
-BBQ cheese
-acai na tijela

We actually ate something that even I had never tried before, which was pamonha, a paste made with corn and milk that you can eat either sweet or salty.  We both really enjoyed it!

Aside from trying new foods,resting up and getting to know the Bacheller's, we've been planning and preparing for our ESL classes that are starting this week.  We have one beginner class starting tomorrow (Tuesday), three classes on Wednesday, and three on Thursday.  The classes on Wednesdays and Thursdays will be held at churches, and starting at 7pm, they will be an hour for each level: beginner, advanced, and intermediate. 

Thanks for your continued prayers for us.  We have never taught together before, and have already encountered some interesting differences in planning approaches. 

Our goal is to write weekly blogs to keep you posted, and then a monthly newsletter to sum up the happenings of the month.

Blessings and much love,
Ashleigh and Jake

[Follow Ashleigh's (almost!) daily blog: Jardim de Graca or Jake's (almost!) monthly blog: Rivers in Reverse]

Monday, September 24, 2012

Part 1: Port Huron to Chicago

We just finished an intense game of Battleship that we found in the lounge area here at the TEAM campus, and so I thought I'd take the opportunity to tell you what has been happening up to this point.

Yesterday after church, we could be found frantically finishing up our packing and trying to tidy up the house a little bit.  You know how it can imagine coming home after three long months away and not wanting to find nasty surprises.  Good thing I checked out my baking cupboard, where I had to throw out a bag of flour that was crawling with some nasty little bugs.


We made our way down south-with a stop in London on the way-and stayed over with friends of ours in Sarnia.  They live right near the border, so the plan was to drive across to Port Huron early in the morning so we could catch our train.  There were a few things that weighed on our minds: Would they pull us in to customs, or would we go through without a hitch? and Would our luggage be too big and heavy for the train?

Well, God worked everything out (why do we ever doubt?!)  We talked with the customs guard and were through the border in less than three minutes.  Once we got to the train station, we realized that their luggage stipulations were rather lax, just as long as we could fit it all on the top racks.

Our train left just a little bit after 6am, and some of the stops we made between there and Chicago included: Flint, Lansing, Battlecreek, Kalamazoo, Dowagiac, Niles, and New Buffalo (which was our favourite stop to drive through due to some expensive-looking, colourful, cottage-like homes).  The trip there was a bit uneventful until we were about an hour out of Chicago.  We were keeping an eye on the time, since we had to catch the Metra (similar to GO-bus) once there, and then meet with a lady from TEAM after that.  I started to get nervous again, wondering how we were going to contact her if we didn't make it.  Finally, I just gave it up to God, and tried to remind myself that we could just catch the one leaving an hour later.

As the train was pulling into Union Station, the conductor informed us that it was hour earlier than we thought! (Since we traveled west, we gained an hour)  Relieved to hear about the 'extra' time, we made our way over to the Metra station, and had enough time to catch our breath and smile at people who were giving us strange looks because of our luggage.

Jean from TEAM was waiting for us at the stop, and she drove us to the TEAM campus.  We're staying in a dormitory style building with full kitchen facilities, as well as a lounge with a piano, games/books, and some breakfast foodstuffs which the kind people of TEAM have provided.

Not only did we have a chance to meet some of the office staff we've been in contact with, but we have also been relaxing and resting up before our training begins tomorrow.  

During all of our travels and experiences today, I was reminded of how God has been working and running all things so smoothly.  That's not to say that Jake and I didn't have our ups and downs today through the minor stresses that accompany travel, but we're learning and growing.  

We're so grateful to God for providing ALL of the support we needed to fundraise.  And not only just that.  But even MORE!

We cannot express enough thankfulness to all of you for your prayers and your financial support.  We feel blessed to have been truly sent, and we're encouraged by our fellow believers in Christ.

We'll be keeping you all up to date as best as we can. 

Ashleigh and Jake

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

In Touch With Reality

We did the math and figured out that we spent about 20 hours in the car travelling to various places last week.  That is a lot of mileage.  Our poor car is feeling the effects!   It is very good to be back home.

Thanks for your prayers regarding the retreat last weekend.  We stayed at Galilean Bible Camp in Blind River, and Jake spoke four messages to our friend's youth group.  It was a riot, since neither of us have spent so much time with highschoolers in a long time.  I thought Jake's talks were great-they definitely challenged me!

We're leaving for Chicago in only 6 short days.  In the back of my mind there is a panic room happening, but I've mostly been focusing on what we have to do to make this trip happen.  

There is the packing of luggage, cleaning out our fridge, tidying our house, saying our farewells...

You get the idea.  

I just want to say that God has been completely wowing us time and again.  Here we are, at the cusp of this adventure, and we only need $1300 in order to meet our goal! Isn't that just amazing?!

Here are some FAQ regarding our support:

1. Can I still give support once you're on the field?

Yes, since we still need the remaining amount, we are able to receive that even after we've left Canada.

2. What is the best option for donating?

The best (and fastest) way to support this trip at this point is to call TEAM of Canada and donate with credit card.  The number is 1-800-295-4160.

3. Will I receive a receipt for income tax purposes?

Yes, as long as you have given TEAM of Canada your address either by cheque or over the phone you will receive a receipt for income tax purposes. 

We have also been asked many questions regarding our itinerary.  Here are some dates to make things clearer: (I have also added a quick reference page on the blog itself for easy access)

Sep. 24: Take the train from Port Huron, MI at 6AM and arrive in Chicago at 12PM
Sep. 25-28: Attend training/orientation with TEAM Serve in Wheaton, IL
Sep. 29: Fly out from Chicago at 1:30AM
Sep. 30: Arrive in Anapolis at 5PM

Dec. 27: Leave Anapolis
Dec. 28: Arrive in Chicago at 5:30AM
Dec. 29: Take the train back to Port Huron at 5PM

We're getting very excited, and we can't thank all of you enough for making this possibility a reality.  Praise God for His goodness. 

Ashleigh and Jake

Friday, September 14, 2012

Updates and Travel

Jake and I have been on the road and visiting some family for the past few days, so thanks for your patience regarding our lack of updates and such.  It's harder than you think to visit with absolutely everyone!

As it is, I'm writing this in the car on my smartphone while we head up to Sudbury for a youth retreat.

On Wednesday, we finally had all of paperwork in order so that we could finish our Brazilian visa applications in Toronto. As the officer was writing the pickup ticket for our passports, we noticed that he was writing the date of September 26, which is two days after we leave for Chicago!! With a pounding heart, I asked if he could change the date, quickly explaining our situation. Without even batting an eye, he looked at the calendar and said, "How does the 21st sound? "  We were so relieved, and in awe of our great God!

Thanks for praying for seems that the time is passing by so quickly. With everyday that passes we become more and more excited about this journey! Please keep praying with us regarding our support. We're still about $3100 short. Enjoy the pics below of various family and friends...not extensive by any means. Have a wonderful weekend! Love, Ashleigh and Jake