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Random Thoughts on a Sabbath Morning

You know how they say what you were affects how you think and act, e.g. you should dress professionally for exams and you’ll perform better than if you show up in sweats. Well, today I discovered the same is true for Sabbaths. I was trying so hard to relax and not “do” anything “productive” but I felt unsettled all the time. So I just changed out of real clothes and into lounge-y, home-only clothes and suddenly my mood is conducive to chilling!

I was looking forward to some experimental baking today… but apparently I never bought yeast, so that’s out.

Right now, Jeff is out at a youth conference in a river village with Josiah & Jennifer’s team. The team is a lot of guys and then three other guys around Jeff’s age are in town visiting so they went on the trip too. The guys are an impressive bunch of sold out men. They’ve spent a lot of time with International House of Prayer (the other IHOP). I’m believing God to really fill Jeff’s tank up on this trip and to give him something really special from His heart. Jeff has been so generously pouring himself out for me and Dani and my desire is for him to receive abundantly more than he has given (especially knowing that he will come home and keep pouring out for us in the next weeks and months).

How about some prayer requests…

For a safe delivery and arrival of Petra Elizabeth Turner in God’s perfect timing

For Dani to welcome her new role as big sister and not feel neglected as baby takes our attention (which used to be ALL Dani’s)

For Fritha: Yesterday I had a very tearful and difficult morning. The kind where I felt the clouds hovering and the tears coming, but had no idea why. Dear Betty Best prayed for me as she is so gifted at doing. All I had managed to squeak out through tears to her was a weak and pitiful, “I’m scared.” And she prayed and prayed and prayed and paused and prayed some more. She covered all sorts of things and from all angles. As she prayed I received a mental picture of a blank chalkboard which represented my view of life after the baby arrives. I just don’t know what to expect. I’ve never been a mother of two. I’ve never welcomed a new baby and recovered from birth in Santarem. I’ve never raised a family here. What does all that look like? And how the heck am I going to learn a new language too?! God revealed the root of my fear, which enabled me to give it to Him and focus on the next step. I may be overwhelmed by the thought of August and the next year, but I am not overwhelmed by walking home and eating breakfast. So I’ve been focusing on the next task, not the vast unknown future. Plus, who really knows their future anyway?

For Jeff to adjust to being at home all the time. He’s gone from working full time to NOT. Language study is something that is tedious and not evidently productive for a long time. One of the other men warned him, that he probably will go through a time of depression, because he won’t have get satisfaction and fulfillment from his “job.” I think he can already sense the truth in that warning.

Here’s what we’re up to right now… I am chilling in my hammock as I type, with a gentle breeze trying it’s best to carry away my constantly dripping sweat (have I mentioned I can’t wait to be NOT pregnant), while Dani plays nearby in her little pool, with her water toys and sings quietly to herself. Pretty perfect if you ask me!

In Brazil at Last

Here we are updating from Brazil! Were you starting to wonder if this would ever happen? For the last week and a half we have been doing some serious and busy settling in. God has kindly shepherded us through the days and taken care of the details, as he is so good at doing. Jeff has been thrilled to be here, Dani has adjusted with great ease and I have suffered quite a bit, yet through all the highs and lows God has been faithful and your prayers have been felt. Following you will find an account of our journey and our first days here… warning, it’s a bit long…

Fri June 18
We were ready to leave early, so we stopped by Grand Ma Ma’s house one more time to take some pictures and say goodbye. On the way in the car I prayed that God would take of from “peace to peace”. Then on to the Turner’s where we said goodbye to all there and dropped off a few things. Then on to Chick-fil-a for one last fix. Then on to the airport where we checked in all 26 of our bags with remarkable ease. They were all under our weight limit! Delta checked them all the way through to Santarem. After checking in, we sat around and visited with my parents for a bit, then they got on their way and we went through security. We were off! Our flight left at 5:20 PM. We flew to Manaus, where we had to clear passport control and customs. The staff there were so helpful. We were the last people off the plane (since we had so many carry-on’s and a toddler), but they took us straight to the front of the passport line. We felt a bit sheepish but we joked with the other folks in line saying something about pregnancy getting you privileges. Then one of the ladies stuck out her tummy trying to look pregnant and we all had a good laugh. We made it through that step easily. Then a guy helped Jeff load all our bags, while I held Dani who was still very groggy from sleeping on the flight (it was around midnight at this time). Once all our bags were loaded we went to the customs counter. Jeff said, “We are moving on a residency visa and these are all of our household items.” The customs agent looked at the visa and waved us through. So incredibly easy! Thank you Jesus!

Sat June 19
As we came out of the international terminal, we were greeted by two missionaries from Manaus, Benson & Grant. They helped us transport our baggage to the Gol check-in area and helped us talk to the agents there. Because our flight didn’t leave for another 12 hours, Gol couldn’t take our baggage yet. Benson offered to sit with the bags so all three of us could go to their house and sleep. They had a beautiful room set up for us with the AC on and everything. Jeff & Dani fell into bed immediately, while I took a refreshing, cold shower and then lay down in front of the AC unit and drifted off to a cool sleep.

We awoke in time for a delicious Brazilian breakfast of fruit, granola, cheese, juice and coffee. After which, Jeff went to the airport to relieve Benson. Dani and I visited with the missionaries and played with the dogs to Dani’s great delight. She watched some Dora the Explorer in Portuguese and played with blocks. Both of the ladies (Julie & Regina) were delightful with Dani. Soon it was time for us to join Jeff at the airport. We walked in expecting to see Jeff surrounded by our mountain of baggage. They weren’t where we had left them and so I scanned around and saw Jeff alone waving from a chair. Gol had already come and checked all of our baggage (including our larger carry-on bags, stroller & carseat)! So we waited a bit and visited with Grant until the time came to check in. We checked in with little trouble and then headed for security. They found 3 of my pocket knives in one carry-on bag! So I had to go and check that bag. Apparently Brazil takes security more seriously than Atlanta. But then we were through and waited to board. We boarded and Dani napped the whole flight.

When the plane touched down in Santarem, I leaned over and kissed Jeff. We had come home! After descending the stairs to the tarmac, we walked toward the terminal, baking in the Brazilian heat. We looked up toward the windows in the terminal and were greeted by a crowd of waving missionaries. At this point, I cried, it felt so good to be here. Then we waited for the rest of the people to clear out and piled our bags in the corner as they came around the belt. Once the baggage claim area was empty except for us we began to ferry our bags outside and load them into waiting vehicles. Better yet, we received our first hugs! Jeff & Becky, Nate & Ruth with Anna & Becca, Scott, Ken and Brent formed our welcoming committee.

We rode into town and arrived at our house! Finally (for the first time in our marriage), we have a house to call our own!  We spent some time unpacking enough for the night before enjoying dinner at Scott & Aldine Bluniers.

Sun June 20

We breakfasted on delicious food provided in our house for us and spent a delightful day unpacking boxes and settling in. I enjoyed finally being able to “nest” in preparation for this baby. We shared lunch with Kelly & Edson and then watched our first World Cup game in Brazil! Then we had dinner with Jeff & Becky and enjoyed an evening stroll along the waterfront rejoicing that Brazil had won the game!

First Week

All week long we had lunch at different missionaries’ houses. They spoiled us thoroughly and gave us time to settle in. Monday I fell all to pieces inside and it took about a week to begin to see light again. I was overwhelmed by the thought of life in Brazil. In retrospect, I think exhaustion and adjusting physically to the climate played a very big role in how down I felt. God was strong in my weakness and Jeff graciously sheltered me under his arm and picked up all my slack. Dani became a source of inspiration as I saw her adjust so rapidly. Jeff felt glad to be here, but was saddened to realize just how long it would be (probably about a year) before he would be leading teams and serving on the river.

During the week we shopped for and purchased a fridge, a stove, a washing machine, a couch and a loveseat. All for around the same price as a small island nation! We felt blessed to make good decisions and spoiled by God through all of you. The price tags were so very high, but we were free to buy good appliances and comfortable furniture thanks to your many gifts over the past year or more. So THANK YOU!

We tackled the grocery store and stocked up on cleaning supplies and groceries and learned that prices had gone up dramatically since we were here four years ago. Some things are cheaper than the states still, but others are so much more! We’re getting used to powdered milk and buying eggs in a plastic bag again. We’re loving all the fresh produce! A large part of our diet is papayas, bananas & pineapples, mmmmm.

Second week

Sunday morning I woke up feeling like I had energy, both physical & emotional, to do some things around the house. I did and boy did I feel better all around. That was my turning point. I did (and still do) have times when fears of the future crowd out my sensibilities, but for the most part my head is above the clouds. Praise the Lord! AND thank YOU for your prayers. They have made such a difference.

We began language classes this week for two hours a day Monday through Friday. Let’s just say Dani has a better grasp of English than we do of Portuguese. Please pray for our brains to pick things up quickly.

I have had my first doctors appointment and she is wonderful! Dr. Eva was recommended by the missionaries here and I was so anxious to see how we would connect. She is thorough and direct and despite our language barrier I feel close to her. I trust her (which is rather critical in a doctor). She ordered a few tests for me and Joanne (one of my fellow missionaries) drove me around town on multiple days to get them all done. Some things are so different here, for example I have to pick up my results and keep track of all my records, but when they stick a needle in your arm to draw blood it’s all the same!

So here we are, settling in and doing well. I can’t thank you enough for your prayers. I really don’t know how I would have survived without them. Keep ‘em coming! Pictures will be forthcoming! We’ve been so busy we haven’t really taken any, and right now it’s time to make dinner and be off to cell group. We miss you all, but are happy to be here serving God right where he wants us! Love, Love, Love!

We are home!

We made the trip safe and sound and it could not have gone any better in any way. We walked from peace to peace each step. AND we also got to sleep in an air conditioned room from about 2am-6:30am! Thanks to the missionaries in Manaus. A more thourough report will follow soon… now i just need to eat and sleep :)

TICKETS PURCHASED!!!

Today we bought tickets to fly to Santarem Brazil on June 18, 2010!

Praise God for His faithfulness! Goodness! Greatness! and Amazing-ness!

This day has been so long in coming (four years) I’m speechless.

God gives the best Anniversary Presents!

WE HAVE VISAS

Last night we rejoiced to learn that our visas have been approved and are in the final stage of processing! They were approved on May 7! So they have been at the Atlanta consulate getting processed since then and should be finished tomorrow (Friday). That means by next week we should have our stamped passports in hand and be ready to board the plane (legally at least).

Today I am talking to our travel agent regarding tickets and in the next day or two we should purchase tickets and have an actual departure date! We are shooting for June 18. Now we jump into the whirlwind of selling (TV, cars, furniture), sorting, prioritizing, packing, and bidding farewell. OH MY GOODNESS! WE ARE LEAVING!

AND to top it all off our support has jumped to 95%. God is on the move, folks! Hold on with us and enjoy this ride :)

Crossing Into a New Land

I’ve crossed the border. I’ve been living in Peace Land, the place where waiting doesn’t bother because I know without ever having to remind myself that God is in control. Now I’ve crossed over into Remind Myself Land, the place where I find myself freaking out and then remember that God has a plan and He’s working it out.

I feel like I’m about to go base jumping or hang gliding. I’ve got my gear on and I’m ready to jump, but I’m blindfolded and I can’t tell if the cliff edge is 2 steps or 500 feet away.

My midwife reminded me that I’m nesting too. I want a place prepared for this baby and I can’t prepare this place or that place yet. I can’t even start packing for that place, because if our visa’s do not get approved in time then we’ll be here for a few extra months. Arghhh.

This morning Somebody reminded me: The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9 So here we are planning away, but it is God himself who will cause us to walk in the path He has laid out for us. I drink in the reminder like a thirsty child.

And with the next breath, I praise God. I praise Him for His goodness. I praise Him for His provision. I praise Him that our support has reached 91%. I praise Him that even the darkness is light to Him. I praise Him for Dani, my precious and happy daughter. I praise Him for Jeff, my kind and steady husband. I praise Him for our unborn daughter, who wriggles and tickles and delights me daily. I praise Him for sleep. I praise Him for alertness. I praise Him for the deep breath I just needed.

Support & Support

As I write letters seeking financial support, I am often at a loss for words. I know so many of you support us with prayer that it feels weird to ask for you to “join our support team.” Those prayers are every bit as vital as the dollars, probably more so. But somehow we end up communicating more and connecting deeper with those dear friends who are supporting us financially.

I think there has to be a better way. So if you feel like you are a part of our “Support Team” but have not felt led to give financially, will you let us know (email, fb, phone, telepathy, whatever)?

That way, we can pray for you. Send you little notes. Or whatever strikes our fancy too!

Good News & More Reason to Pray

God answered our prayers! Imagine that! A missionary couple brought our documents from Brazil to the USA and mailed them directly to our visa expediter. And I was able to get together the other documents the day after we heard we needed them. I just heard from our visa expediter that everything has made it through step 2 (see previous post) and our 3+ pounds of paperwork has been sent off to Brazil for final approval. This step can take 45 days. So as you can see our timetable is tight for leaving before the end of June. Please pray that God will bless the approval process and allow us to arrive in Brazil before our baby comes!

Also our support is at 82% which is such an answer to prayer! Please continue to pray that God will bring in the remaining 18% soon! We can’t wait to serve on the ground in Brazil.

A Visa Update

Dear Friends,

As you have previously read, our visa applications are in the precarious hands of the Brazilian Consulate. The process involves 4 steps. 1) “Legalization” of certain documents by Brazilian Consulates 2) Initial review of all documents by Atlanta Consulate 3) Real decision is made in Brasilia 4) Visa is issued (or not) by Atlanta Consulate.

Our documents flew through step 1 and came through step 2 one day earlier than anticipated! That’s the good news. However, the Atlanta consulate requested 2 additional documents–which our visa expediter had NEVER seen requested.

Otherwise, they said we did a “good job.” Too bad it wasn’t good enough :) It’s nice to know that we didn’t miss something, but that they are adding on additional requests. Annoying, but at least all my hard work won a “good job” accolade.

So pray for us as we gather these next documents. The tricky part is one may need to come from PAZ in Brazil, which could delay us substantially due to the slowness of the mail service in Brazil.

Please, pray for a speedy resolution to this hiccup and praise God for His will going forward whether we can see it or not! And Praise God for our support increasing to 82%!!!! Surely He is on the move!

Application is in the Mail!

Praise the Lord! After many laborious hours of tracking down documents, notaries, county clerks, and secretaries of state and waiting for documents to arrive from Brazil, Our visa applications are officially in the mail! Thank you so much for all of your prayers. Through the whole process I felt such a clear focus. In the midst of the bureaucratic chaos, I felt the Holy Spirit guiding my eyes and thoughts over and over again. I couldn’t have done it without all of you! Your support means so very much.

And now the faith continues… We put on our applications a tentative arrival date of May 22, 2010. And every time I wrote or typed 22-05-2010 (which was on 9 different documents plus mistakes and rewrites), I felt a wave of faith that it would be true. It would be a miracle of government doing something complicated quickly and on time. We are at the very cusp of possibility. But all of that lays firmly in God’s lap. If he wants us there before this baby comes, we’ll be there. If not, we don’t want to be there. Trust with us will you.

Also, our support keeps flowing in! Praise Him! We are now up to 78% and continuing to believe 100% will be in by May 22!

I like having a firm date to put my faith behind, now we can sit back and watch God move!