Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top Ten: Arvore de Natal (Christmas Tree)

Here are a few pictures of our Portuguese Christmas tree:

We put up our tree on Thanksgiving weekend. It cost us 13 euros at Aki, our local "Home Depot" type store. Even if we only use it one year, I figure it was worth it!

The boys enjoyed helping me decorate the tree. Stephen wanted to put all his cars on the branches!

Straw ornaments from IKEA

One of our souvenir ornaments from Lisbon. We made it from a small porcelain trolley car that we bought at a souvenir store downtown and a piece of twine.

Our homemade ornament project this year was ornaments made from metal bottle caps. Rusty and Alex collected metal bottle caps all over Morocco when we went there in October. After we got home, I washed them; then we picked out some of the best ones, Rusty punched holes in the caps, Alex glued the foil stars inside, I attached the twine for hanging, and voila -- bottle cap ornaments for the tree!

We made 16...

... and each one is different!

With some of the leftover bottle caps, I made this garland to go around the bottom branches of the tree.

Rusty's Christmas train is in storage in Nashville, awaiting shipment to Angola in the near future, but Spencer, one of Alex's toy trains was happy to serve as a replacement this year!

The finished tree... and hanging on the wall behind, our stockings, also from IKEA (love that store!).

More to come soon about how we celebrated the holidays in Portugal. Hope your Christmas was merry and bright!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Thanksgiving, 2010

This year, our team celebrated Thanksgiving all together for the first time. We had a traditional turkey dinner with all the fixin's, hosted by the Meyers. It was a lovely day... feasting... friends... and a time of singing praises to our Father to bring the day to its close.

Enjoy the pictures!

Teague's first turkey! It was dee-licious!

Irene the Turkey was bigger than 4-month old Sophia Reese. She fed our team for 3 meals!

The guests who shared our day with us.

Our team

Of course there was lots of pie! I think there were 12 pies in total, all homemade of course.

Me and the littles, reading the Berenstein Bears Thanksgiving book.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Team Retreat

In November, our team had its first retreat. We left Lisbon for the weekend and traveled out to the farm where our family stayed one weekend last April. We spent three days together reflecting on how far we've come, looking at where we are now, and dreaming about the future. There was a very cool slide show, created by Teague, which recapped our team's history over the past 8 years, from when the seed for Angolan missions was first planted until now. It was good to look back and see how faithful God has been through the years to bring all of us to this point.

Of course, there was time for fun as well. We spent a gorgeous day playing with our kids and picnicking in a park in √Čvora, played Settlers of Catan and a special "Angola Team" version of Scattergories, and took a walk around the farm, which ended with a tractor-ride for the kiddos, a special gift from our hosts:

When I think back on the retreat, the chorus to the song, "The Family of God," always pops into my head. Incidentally, we sang this song during our Sunday morning worship time, and I think it recaps beautifully what we did during what I hope will become an annual event for our team:
Sometimes we laugh together, sometimes we cry,
Sometimes we share together heartaches and sighs.
Sometimes we dream together of how it will be
When we all get to heaven, God's family.
The Angola Team, November 2010
How far we've come...
How far we have yet to go.