Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ten Days in Morocco: Marrakesh

One of the perks to the missionary life is the opportunity to travel and explore some of this amazing and diverse world that God created. Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to travel to Morocco. This trip was necessary in order to renew our visas (since we are in Portugal on tourist visas, we have to leave the European Union every 90 days). Our language teacher always takes a week's vacation in mid-October, so we planned our trip to coincide with this, so as not to miss very much class.

I have to say that Morocco is one of those countries that I never thought I would visit. I'm not really sure what I was expecting before we went, not knowing very much about it. But I was absolutely blown away by how breathtakingly beautiful it was, by the friendliness of the Moroccan people, and by the delicious food. I don't know if we'll ever have a chance to go back, but I do know that I will cherish my memories of this trip for the rest of my life!

It took me some time to sort through all our pictures once we got back home to Lisbon -- we took almost 1,000 in our 10 days there! I decided to break up our trip into a series of posts by location. These first few pictures are from Marrakesh, where we spent our first night and part of the next day.

The main sight in Marrakesh is the Djmaa el Fna, a big central plaza in the middle of the medina (old, walled city). The structure in the background is a minaret, which marks a mosque.

In the Djmaa el Fna are snake charmers...

... and monkey-handlers!

Rusty has two monkeys on his back!

We were accosted by henna tatto artists who gave all of us henna tattos (Alex's is a scorpion), and then proceeded to rip us off by charging us way more than they should have.

After about 20 minutes, we decided we couldn't afford to stay in the Djmaa el Fna any longer and went wandering in the souqs.

Pottery for sale -- the funny pots with the cone-shaped lids are tajine pots, the Moroccan version of the slow cooker.

We found a safer, cheaper place to watch the action in the Djmaa el Fna (a rooftop terrace) -- we just bought our lunch and then sat and watched all the craziness from afar.

Next up: the High Atlas Mountains!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

A Week in the Life: Sabado (Saturday)

Saturdays are our "free days," meaning there isn't really a typical Saturday. Some days, we go out and do some sightseeing... other days, we stay home and relax, clean the house, watch movies, or get together with friends. Today, we have planned to go to Belém with the Meyers.

7:45 a.m. - We wake up, have breakfast, and get ready to go.

9:45 a.m. - We leave the house and walk to the bus stop. We have to wait awhile for a bus -- since today is Saturday, the busses don't run as frequently.

10:00 a.m. - We get on a bus and head into town. We get off at the metro station. My bus pass doesn't work when I scan it to enter the metro. I realize that my pass hasn't been validated for this month yet, since when Rusty bought my sticker, he didn't have my pass with him. We decide to take care of it when we get off the Metro.

10:30 a.m. - We exit the Metro and go to the ticket counter. The man tells us there are only 4 stations where we can have the pass validated, and of course, this isn't one of them. We get back on the Metro and ride to another stop. We have my pass validated, then get back on the Metro and ride to the stop where we can catch the tram to Belém.

10:50 a.m. - We are waiting for the tram that will take us out to Belém. There are a lot of people waiting, most of them tourists.

11:10 a.m. - The tram comes and we pile on with everyone else. In the confusion, Rusty's wallet is stolen out of his pocket. Luckily, he realizes what had happened almost immediately and gets off the tram (with Stephen in the Kelty on his back) to confront the guy who took it. Everything happens so fast that I don't have time to get off the tram. The doors close and the tram leaves with Alex and me on board. I'm not sure what to do. I don't have a cell phone, so at first, I think I should ride to Belém and meet the Meyers so at least I will be with someone who has a phone.

11:15 a.m. - I change my mind and decide to get off the tram. We have ridden four stops, and now we have a long walk back the other direction to find Rusty. Alex is crying because he wants to go see Efesson and Biruk. He whines the whole walk back that he's too tired and too thirsty to walk anymore.

11:45 a.m. - Alex and I finally make it back and find Rusty. Meanwhile, Rusty has recovered his wallet, with only 40 euros missing. Everything else is still there, including tickets to a soccer game for Sunday night! We are thankful. We walk back across the street to wait for another tram.

11:55 a.m. - The tram comes again, and we get on. We ride to Belém.

12:15 p.m. - We arrive in Belém. We have decided to eat lunch at a restaurant near the train staition. We find the restaurant, which happens to be a churrasqueira, or grill. At this restaurant, you choose your meat, and they cook it for you. Rusty has lamb and the boys and I have sausages. Our plates also comes with rice, french fries, salad, a drink, a dessert, and coffee. The food is really yummy.

1:30 p.m. - We leave the restaurant. We walk through a park and over to the Monument to the Discoverers. We pay to go up to the top for a great view. We meet the Meyers here.

2:15 p.m. - We walk to the Torre (Tower) of Belém and take a few pictures.

3:15 p.m. - We walk to the Mosteiros (Monastery) dos Jerónimos. We go into the church, but decide not to pay to tour the monastery.

The Monument to the Discoverers

View of the monastery from the top of the monument

View of the Cristo Rei statue from the monument

View of the mosaic in front of the monument. The map in the middle charts the routes of the Portuguese explorers.

In front of the Torre de Belém

The monastery

4:00 p.m. - We walk over to have pasteis de Belém (Belém's famous custard tarts) and coffee. They are still fresh and warm from the ovens when we eat them, and they are delicious. I realize that Stephen's blankie is missing and the last time I remember seeing it was at the restaurant where we ate lunch. Rusty walks back to the restaurant to look for it. It isn't there, but he retraces our steps from earlier in the day and finds it laying on a park bench. At this point, I think to myself that we'd better get home before our luck runs out!

5:00 p.m. - We head home via bus, then metro, then another bus.

5:45 p.m. - We arrive home. We have leftovers for dinner, then bathe the kids and get them ready for bed. It has been a long day, everyone is exhausted, and tomorrow will be another long day with church.

8:15 p.m. - The boys are in bed. I do the dishes and the laundry. Rusty reads our newsletter and we make a few final changes to it before emailing it out.

10:30 p.m. - We head to bed early tonight.

Friday, October 08, 2010

A Week in the Life: Sexta-Feira (Friday)

7:15 a.m. - Rusty and I get up. My alarm didn't go off and I overslept. The boys are still asleep. Rusty wants to take Alex to school earlier this morning so he has time to talk with Danny about the team retreat coming up in November.

7:30 a.m. - We wake Alex up to get him ready for school and feed him breakfast.

7:50 a.m. - Rusty and Alex leave the house. They miss the first bus they are trying to catch, so they wait for the next one. As they are waiting, Rusty remembers that today is the first day of the month and we need to put our new stickers on our bus passes. Only problem is -- he has both his sticker and my sticker in his wallet. They hurry back up the hill to our apartment so he can give me my sticker, and then they miss the next bus.

8:30 a.m. - Rusty and Alex get on the bus they usually take to school.

9:00 a.m. - Ana comes over and I head to class.

9:30 a.m. - Our last Portuguese class of the week begins.

11:30 a.m. - Class is over. Rusty goes home and I go up to the mall.

1:30 p.m. - I arrive home with Alex. Rusty goes downtown for his afternoon class. After his class, he will meet up with the other guys for Guys' Night Out. Stephen is sleeping. Alex does some quiet activities and watches a little TV. I update our email address book so our newsletter can go out tomorrow and do some laundry and dishes.

4:00 p.m. - Stephen wakes up. I pack the diaper bag and get ready to go to Katie's house for Girls' Night In (with the kids). In two weeks, it will be our turn to have a night out, while the guys have a night in with the kids.

5:00 p.m. - We hop on a bus to go to Katie's house.

5:15 p.m. - We arrive at Katie's. The kids enjoy playing together while we visit.

6:00 p.m. - We have dinner -- yummy French toast! Then we have a short Bible lesson for the kids. Katie teaches tonight about Abraham. It's fun to watch our kids learning about the Bible and having fun together.


So focused!

Stephen trying out Sophia's bouncy chair

8:00 p.m. - Alex pees all over himself and Katie's bathmat because he waited too long to go to the potty! This hasn't happened in months. I don't have any clean clothes for him, so I tell him he will just have to wear his wet things home.

8:15 p.m. - I leave Katie's to catch the bus home.

8:45 p.m. - We arrive home, and I get the kids bathed and ready for bed.

9:30 p.m. - The boys are in bed. They are tired, so they go right to sleep. Rusty is still not back. I expect he will be home late. I play on the computer for awhile and download an episode of "Covert Affairs" to watch.

11:30 p.m. - I head to bed. Rusty is still not back. The guys always stay out pretty late for Guys' Night Out.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

A Week in the Life: Quinta-Feira (Thursday)

6:15 a.m. - Alex wakes up with a wet bed. We are working on night-time potty-training and have been getting him up before we go to bed to go potty, but sometimes, his pull-up is still wet in the morning, and these days, we have been dealing with leaks and wet sheets. I get him some dry underwear and have him lay back down in our bed. He eventually goes back to sleep while I get up and have my Quiet Time.

7:30 a.m. - Rusty, Alex, and Stephen are awake. We have breakfast and get ready to go. I strip Alex's bed and throw his sheets in the wash. I have to hang out laundry in order to free up the washer for the sheets. Hopefully, these clothes will be dry by early afternoon so I can hang his sheets out and get them dry before he goes to bed.

8:20 a.m. - Rusty and Alex leave for school.

9:00 a.m. - Ana comes over. I leave for school.

9:30 a.m. - We're in class again. Today, Eunice asks us to tell her about how we met in Portuguese, using the tense we have been studying. (One of the ways the past imperfect tense is used is to describe things that happened a long time ago or over an indefinite length of time. For example, "Many years ago, when we were students at Cascade College...") We make a lot of mistakes, but we have fun trying to tell our story.

11:30 a.m. - Class is over. Rusty heads home. I head up to the mall for some homework time.

12:50 p.m. - I walk over to get Alex from school. His teacher tells me that he refused to eat any lunch and just sat there and cried the whole time. This is pretty unusual behavior for him. When I ask, he says he just didn't like what they were having today. He seems extra tired and grumpy, so I decide to have him take a nap when we get home. I also tell him that he won't be getting any snacks before his nap since he didn't eat his lunch.

1:30 p.m. - Alex and I arrive home. There is a nice surprise waiting for me at home -- Ana helped Stephen do a handprint canvas to hang on the wall this morning while we were in class. It is really cute. Rusty's afternoon class has been cancelled again (his teacher has been sick this week). I let Alex have a little time to play while I eat lunch. Then, he and I lay down on my bed together. He goes to sleep almost immediately.

Ana and Stephen with the canvas she helped him make

A close-up of the canvas. I love handprint art!

2:30 p.m. - Both the kids are asleep, so we do our homework without interruptions today.

4:30 p.m. - Rusty leaves to go downtown. Last week, he made plans with another student at the school he attends in the afternoon to get together this afternoon. Then, he will go to the church for the Thursday night dinner and prayer meeting. We swap out going to this each week, while the other one stays home with the kids. It is a nice way to get some Portuguese practice and also get to know some of the members at the Lisbon church.

5:00 p.m. - Alex wakes up. I do some housework and some spend some time on the computer.

5:30 p.m. - Stephen is awake. Katie, Teague, and Jordan come over for Girls' Prayer Time. We try to do this once every week or two. We pray together and share our time logs. Basically, this is a new accountability system where we are keeping track of how we spend our time every day. I have a little notebook where I record how much time I spend doing certain activities each day. Last week, I "worked" over 27 hours -- this includes language study (class and homework), language practice (listening and conversation), work for and with the team (meetings and projects I am responsible for, like our team newsletter), and work I do for our family (like our family newsletter, expense reports, family website, etc.). My notebook is also a good place to keep track of things like my Quiet Time and mentoring.

6:45 p.m. - The girls leave. I mix some cooked chicken in with the leftover Spanish rice and top it with some grated cheese. It makes for a nice, easy meal for the boys and me tonight. After we eat, I give them their baths and get them ready for bed. I put clean sheets on Alex's bed.

8:30 p.m. - I put Stephen to bed, but I let Alex stay up a little later since he had a good nap today. I wash the dinner dishes and he helps me. He is still at the age where it is fun to help Mom with her chores. Then I read him a few chapters in one of the Magic Treehouse books. He is really enjoying these.

9:15 p.m. - Alex goes to bed. I finish up my homework.

10:00 p.m. - Rusty arrives home. We talk and watch TV for a bit before going to bed.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

A Week in the Life: Quarta-Feira (Wednesday)

6:45 a.m. - I'm up for my Quiet Time again this morning. I love the stillness of the house in the early morning.

7:30 a.m. - Rusty and Alex are awake. Stephen is still sleeping. We have breakfast and I help Alex get ready to go. Then, I take a shower.

8:25 a.m. - Rusty and Alex leave for school. Stephen is still asleep. I guess he is catching up on his rest since he didn't get a good nap yesterday and went to bed so late last night.

8:45 a.m. - Stephen is finally awake. I get him up and feed him breakfast.

9:00 a.m. - Ana comes over. Stephen is still in his high chair. He cries when he sees Ana because he knows I'm about to leave. He is still adjusting to this new routine. It is only the second week she has been keeping him since last April. I grab my stuff and leave for school.

9:30 a.m. - Time for class. Rusty comes in a little late because he stopped in at the café next door and bought a few pastries. I love the croissants filled with Nutella, and the pasteis de nata (custard tarts). He also bought me a cheese sandwich for later since I don't get to eat lunch until late.

11:30 a.m. - Class is over. Rusty heads home and I head up to the mall again. I enjoy this time to just sit and work on homework without any other distractions. I eat my sandwich and do my homework. I've also been using this time to read an autobiography by T. Ernest Wilson called Angola Beloved. It's an interesting read; missionary autobiographies are so inspiring.

12:50 p.m. - I walk over to get Alex, and then we walk back together. The bus is actually on time today (wonder of wonders), so we will get home in time for Rusty to get to his class.

1:30 p.m. - We arrive home, but Rusty's class has been cancelled again, so he won't be going anywhere this afternoon. Stephen is already down for his nap. I warm myself up something to eat and sit down to relax and talk with Rusty for a little bit before we start on our homework. Usually, while we do our homework, Alex plays with his toys or watches TV. Sometimes, he likes to do "homework" with us, which means that he practices writing on one of his wipe-off books or colors.

2:15 p.m. - Stephen is awake. He sure didn't sleep long today. We try to keep working, but it's difficult when you have to get up every 30 seconds to resolve a sibling dispute or refill a sippy cup or a snack bowl. Sometimes, I feel like a human vending machine! I do some dishes and hang out some laundry. Alex blows bubbles on the balcony for awhile.

4:45 p.m. - We decide to take a walk to the park and the butcher shop. Our local butcher has been closed down for a remodel since we got back from the States, but they are open again, and we want to see what it looks like inside. The boys have fun running around on the grass at the park and playing on the exercise equipment. On our way to the butcher, we stop in at a "Payshop" and Rusty pays our phone and Internet bill. This is how we pay all our bills in Portugal -- in cash at one of these places.

The park near our house.

There is no playground, but Alex loves to play on the exercise equipment

A short ways from the park is Didu, our local bakery and pastry shop

There is a pharmacy next door to Didu (green sign), and the Payshop is in this same complex. This building has shops on the ground floor with apartments on the floors above, very common in Europe.

Our local post office and bank are also within walking distance of our apartment.

Small pond with a fountain just down the hill from our apartment. We walk past this pond on our way to and from the bus stop every day. The boys like to watch the family of ducks that swims in the pond, and sometimes we bring old bread to feed them.

5:15 p.m. - The remodeled butcher shop is very nice inside. All the meat is displayed in a glass case. There is also a deli section where you can buy lunch meats and cheeses, and a small fresh fruits and vegetables section. They remember us and are glad to see us. I ask for two whole chickens and some ground beef, but they are out of ground beef at the moment, so he gives us hamburger patties instead. We also get a rabbit for dinner tonight. I ask him to cut it up for me, and he asks if I want the head and the giblets (yes, it was a whole, skinned rabbit)! We get a few veggies, pay for our purchases, and walk home.

Our local butcher, on the opposite corner from Didu

5:45 p.m. - Rusty bathes the kids while I start on dinner -- rabbit stew with coconut cream. I also start on the dishes while waiting for the stew to cook.

7:00 p.m. - We sit down to eat. After dinner, I finish up the dishes, then help the boys finish getting ready for bed.

8:15 p.m. - The boys are in bed early tonight. Now, we can finally finish our homework! Wednesday nights are also good for catching up on emails, housework, or any number of other projects. I spend some time putting the finishing touches on our family newsletter since that needs to go out by the end of the week. Rusty is reading up on Morocco and making plans for our trip there next week.

11:00 p.m. - Bedtime

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A Week in the Life: Terça-Feira (Tuesday)

6:40 a.m. - I get up before everyone else this morning so I can have my Quiet Time. I try to do this 5 days a week... some weeks, I do better than others! Currently, I'm working through the Beth Moore study "Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman." It has been an absolutely amazing study, especially in this season of my life.

7:15 a.m. - Alex, Stephen, and Rusty get up. I take a shower.

7:30 a.m. - Rusty leaves for a "Head of Household" meeting at the café just down the street from our house. Basically, these are team meetings without the moms and kids. I feed the kids and help Alex get dressed and ready for school.

8:05 a.m. - Ana's daughter, Sophia, knocks on our door. Ana will take Alex to school today since Rusty is at the meeting. I say goodbye to Alex. Then I get Stephen dressed, tidy up the house a bit, and spend some time on the computer.

9:00 a.m. - Ana comes back, and I leave for class.

9:30 a.m. - Another Portuguese class begins. We chat for awhile, some in English, some in Portuguese, and correct our homework. Today, we also spend some time reading aloud and translating a Geronimo Stilton book.

Estamos a aprender Português (We are learning Portuguese.)

11:30 a.m. - Class is over. I stay at the school after class and work on some of my homework.

12:00 p.m. - I leave to catch my bus. He is running late today, so I wait for almost 15 minutes. Some days, it feels like I spend half my time waiting on some form of public transportation.

12:20 p.m. - I arrive at the mall, find a place to sit down, and do some more homework.

12:50 p.m. - I start walking to Alex's school.

1:00 p.m. - I arrive at Alex's school. His teacher has a few things she needs to talk to me about. We leave a bit later than usual. I wonder if I should hurry or just expect the bus to be late again. I decide not to take any chances, and we hurry.

1:14 p.m. - I'm glad we hurried, because the bus is on time today! We hop on and head for home.

1:30 p.m. - We arrive home. Rusty leaves for his afternoon class downtown. His class starts at 2:30, but it takes him almost an hour to get there on the bus and metro. I eat lunch and Alex watches an episode of "Scooby-Doo."

2:00 p.m. - I decide to make Alex take a nap since tonight we will be out late at the team meeting. I make him go potty and lay down on my bed (since Stephen is already asleep in their room). He is not very happy with me. He whines so much that he wakes up Stephen. Grrrr! I go in to try to help Stephen go back to sleep.

2:20 p.m. - I hear the door to my room open, and Alex comes out to tell me he wet the bed. Little stinker peed all over my bed (on purpose) because he was mad about having to take a nap! I am pretty upset. Alex gets a spanking and some dry underwear. Then I strip the bedspread from my bed and throw it in the wash. I make him lay back down. There is no hope of getting Stephen to go back to sleep, but I tell Alex he has to lay there until it's time to go.

2:45 p.m. - I try to do a little work on the computer, but it's hopeless with a needy baby trying to climb in my lap. I gather the ingredients for Spanish rice, which I was asked to bring for dinner tonight. I pack everything in my backpack diaper bag. I wash the dishes and fold some laundry.

4:00 p.m. - Alex never did go to sleep, so I tell him he can get up now and get ready to go.

4:20 p.m. - We leave the house for our team meeting, which will be out at the Bible Institute, where the Meyers and Jordan live. Tuesday nights are team nights. One week, we have an all-team meeting followed by dinner together out at the Bible Institute. The next week, we have an all-team dinner, fellowship, and praise and prayer time at our house.

4:30 p.m. - We get on the bus. After about 15 minutes, I realize we are on the wrong bus. This bus will not take us all the way out to the Bible Institute. It has circled around and is now heading back the way we came. We get off and walk across the street to wait for another bus.

4:50 p.m. - We get on another bus. This one doesn't have a number, but it says it is going to "Tojal," which is where the Bible Institute is. We get on. After awhile, I realize that I don't know where we are. This bus is taking a completely different route than I am used to. I wonder what I should do. I decide to stay on and hope that it will eventually take me to Tojal. Eventually, it does, but it drops us off in the center of town, not near the Bible Institute. I have to walk across town, lugging my backpack and both the kids.

5:30 p.m. - What should have been a 20 minute trip has taken the better part of an hour. I arrive at the Bible Institute tired and extremely frustrated.

5:45 p.m. - Rusty arrives at the Bible Institute.

6:00 p.m. - Team meeting begins. Tonight, we are talking about decision-making... trying to hammer out a process.

Danny's visual aid (our decision-making grid)

Listening attentively

Note-Taker Katie, Baby-Holder Jordan

The kiddos enjoy playing together during the meetings.

Sleeping is allowed when you're a baby!

7:30 p.m. - I step out of the meeting to start my rice so it will be ready for dinner in half an hour.

8:00 p.m. - Dinner-time! Katie made enchiladas (yum!), and we have rice, beans, chips, salsa, and guacamole to go with them. Everyone eats their fill. Dessert is Pioneer Woman's chocolate Texas sheet cake, made by Teague.

Homemade enchiladas -- even the tortillas were made from scratch!

9:00 p.m. - We leave to catch our bus back home.

9:30 p.m. - We arrive home. It is late, so we  put the kids to bed without baths.

10:00 p.m. - I still have homework to do since I didn't get it finished this afternoon. I hang my bedspread out to dry and start another load of laundry (never-ending chore, I'm telling you!).

11:30 p.m. - To bed!

Monday, October 04, 2010

A Week in the Life: Segunda-Feira (Monday)

6:45 a.m. - Both the boys are awake early this morning, so we bring them into our bed for some snuggle time. It's a nice way to start the week. I make breakfast (semolina -- like Cream of Wheat) for everyone. Rusty makes a full pot of coffee. I help Alex get dressed and ready for school, and then I shower before Rusty leaves.

8:20 a.m. - Rusty and Alex leave. Rusty takes Alex to school most mornings. It is a 15 minute bus ride, followed by a 10-15 minute walk. Then, Rusty has to get himself back into town for our class at 9:30. It takes the better part of an hour to take Alex to or pick him up from school using public transportation. (Look for a documentary featuring Alex entitled "This is How I Go to School" in a future post.) I finish getting ready, start a load of laundry, and straighten up the house a bit.

9:00 a.m. - Ana comes to stay with Stephen while I leave for class. I grab my stuff and walk down the hill to the bus stop. I don't have to wait long for a bus this time of morning. I listen to the "grupo" (mini-conversation) we were to have prepared today for homework over and over on my iPod on the way into town. I get off the bus and walk to the school. Eunice isn't there yet, so I sit on the steps across the street and listen to the "grupo" a few more times. Then I listen to my irregular verbs, present and past tenses. The repetition, especially when done daily, really helps me implant these in my brain.

9:30 a.m. - Eunice is running a little late because she missed her bus. I listen to a few more tracks from my "Portuguese Sounds" playlist. Rusty shows up and we sit on the steps together.

9:50 a.m. - Eunice is here, and we are ready to begin class. Class usually consists of going over our TPC (trabalhar para casa = work at home or "homework"), lots of conversation practice, and drilling new concepts. Right now, we are working on the past imperfect tense. We recite the grupo and Eunice corrects our pronunciation. Then she times us, to see if we can recite it under a certain time limit. She gives us more homework for this afternoon.

11:30 a.m. - Class is over. I hurry out to try to get a bus up to the mall near Alex's school, but I've missed it. So I sit on a bench near the bus-stop with Rusty and we work on some of our homework together.

12:00 p.m. - I get on the next bus that comes by. Rusty heads home, the opposite direction, to relieve Ana and have lunch. The bus winds through town, up a big hill, and past a giant construction site where they are building a new hospital, finally dropping me off at the mall. I find a place to sit and work on homework for awhile.

12:50 p.m. - I start walking to Alex's school. From the mall, I walk down a steep hill and across a field to get to the housing complex where his school is. It takes about 10 minutes to get there.

1:05 p.m. - Alex and I are walking back to the shopping center. The bus is supposed to leave at 1:15, so I hurry him, not wanting to miss it. We get to the bus stop at 1:14, then proceed to wait for the next 15 minutes. We watch the work going on at the construction site. Alex loves to watch the trucks and cranes. The bus is running so late today, I begin to wonder if we have missed it. I ask a lady at the bus-stop in my halting Portuguese if the 204 already came. She says no. I feel good that I am able to communicate a little, even about something as simple as a bus schedule.

1:30 p.m. - We are on the bus and heading home. Rusty is going to be late to his afternoon class, and I feel bad about that. We get home about 1:45, only to find out that Rusty isn't going to class because his teacher cancelled today. I have a late lunch, then work on homework and expense reports for most of the afternoon. Stephen takes a long nap. Alex watches a little TV while Rusty walks to the store to buy a new notebook for school and to the bakery to buy some bread. When Rusty gets back, he takes Alex to the park to throw the Frisbee for a little while.

5:30 p.m. - I start working on dinner. Stephen is now awake, so Rusty takes both boys and walks to the bank so I can make dinner in peace. I get the soup put together, and while I am waiting for it to cook, I wash dishes.

6:45 p.m. - Dinner is ready -- sausage potato soup with fresh bread from Didu, our local bakery. Most nights, after dinner, we have a short family devotional. Rusty reads the daily selection from "Streams in the Desert," our current devotional book. Then we pray for one family in our "Prayer Album," a little album I made with pictures of our friends and family (mostly using pictures from Christmas cards).

Sausage potato soup -- a family favorite!

 Ready to eat!

The boys love to look at all the pictures in our prayer album

A close-up of our prayer album. It's not quite finished yet... I need to add the names to the cardstock page opposite the picture. But it serves its purpose just the same.

7:30 p.m. - It's time to start getting ready for bed. The boys take a bath together most nights. I let them play and splash for awhile in the tub. After everyone is dressed and ready for bed, we pick up toys, and then they each get to choose a story or two, depending on how much time we have. We finish with a Bible story, a song or two, and then bed.

These pictures were taken about a month ago, but they give you an idea of the size of our bathtub, about 2/3 the size of its American counterpart.


8:30 p.m. - The boys are in bed. I put away the leftover soup, wash the rest of the dishes, hang out some more laundry, send a few emails, and finish up my homework. There are two pieces of apple pie leftover from dinner on Friday. We eat them with a little icecream before going to bed.

11:30 p.m. - To bed!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

A Week in the Life: Domingo (Sunday)

8:00 a.m. - We wake up. We can sleep a little later on Sundays since church doesn't start until 10:30. With the cooler weather, we are able to close the blinds in the boys' room, so they sleep in also, which is nice. We have breakfast -- leftover blueberry muffins from yesterday, yogurt, and fruit. Then we shower and get ready for church.

10:00 a.m. - We are just walking out the door. Usually, we try to leave by 9:45. Today, we are running late, which means we have missed the two busses that will get us to church on time. We walk to the bus stop and wait for the bus. Alex climbs the tree near the café while we wait. Finally, a bus comes, and we hop on. We ride to the nearest Metro station and get on the metro (subway). We ride to Picoas, ten stops away, then walk 3 blocks to the church building.
Walking Running to the bus stop

Waiting for the bus

On the bus

On the Metro

The church is up the street on the left

The Lisbon Church of Christ

10:45 a.m. - We are 15 minutes late to church, but they haven't started yet, because the power has been out all morning. This is a common occurence -- not the power being out, but starting late for whatever reason. Things are much more laid back here. It's good preparation for Africa! We greet our fellow church-goers the European way (kissing each cheek). After a few minutes, the power comes on and it's time for Bible class. There are no classes for the kids today, so the boys sit with us in the adult class. It doesn't last long since we got started so late.

11:30 a.m. - Worship begins. The format is pretty standard, although the atmosphere is a lot more lively than most churches of Christ in the U.S.! Many African and Brazilian members are a contributing factor to this. In fact, the church has a smaller percentage of Portuguese members than those of other nationalities. Everything is in Portuguese. After the offering, the kids head upstairs for children's worship. Stephen isn't quite old enough to go, so he stays with us and plays quietly during the service. Sometimes, he takes a nap, but not today. I do my best to pay attention and try to understand, which requires an enormous amount of mental energy. After almost 5 months of language study, it is frustrating how little spoken Portuguese I am able to actually pick up. I feel like I should be able to understand more, and it is discouraging.

12:30 p.m. - The service is over. We just found out that there is a lunch after church for couples and families. We didn't know about it before, but we decide to stay. We visit and watch the kids play while the food is being prepared.

1:45 p.m. - The food is finally ready. The Portuguese eat lunch and dinner very late by our standards. It took some getting used to in the beginning, but now we expect it, and I always come to church with lots of snacks for the boys. Today, there is roast chicken, some type of beef stew with rice, a green salad, potato chips, bread, and ganja (Portuguese chicken noodle soup). Everything is delicious.

Alex, Stephen, and Eliana playing

Eating lunch

2:30 p.m. - We leave before dessert is served so that we can catch the 3:00 bus back home. This is how it is when you don't have your own vehicle -- your life is ruled by public transportation schedules! We walk back to the Metro station and hop on the train. We make the bus with 10 minutes to spare. Stephen sleeps most of the way home.

3:20 p.m. - We are home for the rest of the day. There are no Sunday night services at the Lisbon church. While Rusty builds ramps and plays cars with the boys in their room, I pot a few herbs I bought yesterday and hang out the laundry. The laundry is a never-ending chore here. I literally do at least one load almost every single day. Part of it is our tiny washer, and part of it is the drying space. If I don't do a load every day, it can quickly pile up on me. Then, I wash up the dishes from breakfast while the boys watch Veggie Tales.

Playing cars


Basil and cilantro

Laundry hung out to dry

5:30 p.m. - Our Sunday night traditon is brinner, or breakfast for dinner. Tonight, I make banana pancakes. We eat, and Rusty helps me clean up the kitchen. Danny comes over to use our scanner. I give the boys baths and get them ready for bed.

Stephen "helping" me mix up the pancakes

8:00 p.m. - The kids are in bed. They don't normally go to bed this early, but Sundays are long days, and neither of them got a good nap today, so they are ready. Stephen has a little trouble settling tonight. I finally let him fall asleep with Rusty on the couch.

9:00 p.m. - Rusty still has homework to do. I sit down to find something to watch on TV. "Pearl Harbor" is just starting. I decide to watch for just a little while, but then we get sucked into the movie and end up finishing it.

12:30 a.m. - We're finally going to bed!