Ladies Retreat Day #2

For our final February post.

Ladies Retreat is coming to an end. Today we walked, shopped, snacked, and laughed. What more could we ask? We've enjoyed a great couple of days to be women.

Maicol is surviving, even thriving, he made his own lentils! He is working on the kitchen cabinets with his brother and finishing up work for his seminary assignments.

Check back soon and we will periodically keep you updated! Thanks for following u in February!


Ladies Retreat Day #1

On this ladies retreat we've enjoyed a day of retreating from the daily stresses of life and indulging in good ol' fashioned humor. Sleepovers don't change much with age. It's bed time and we're still giggling. And there is no one telling us to go to bed! Good luck to Teresa and Sarah considering I accidentally broke their bed trying to move it to find a plug. And while catching up on the news in the Brazilian magazine with Erin today, I knocked over Cherith's coffee while the waitress was delivering it, only to hear the loudest most embarrassing 10 seconds of silence I've experienced in a while. On the way back from the beach I managed to stay back talking with Cindy so long the group thought we were abducted. And at dinner Mindy, Teresa, Cherith, Erin, Cindy and Sarah enjoyed a great laugh when I misunderstood the waiter and accepted the vodka drink he offered. Before I actually drank it a few people shouted "vodka!" to my complete and utter confusion. What a great day. And this is still what happens when you but a bunch of girls together, even in our old age...

Enjoying a few days at the beach with beautiful, wonderful, godly friends.



Maicol Venter has one proud wife today. He preached Psalm 127 tonight and just knocked my socks off. The most astounding part is that when he spoke, I knew he was only challenging others to do what I see him challenging himself to do everyday. It doesn't matter we do as long as we have the right purpose and the right manner about us. It was so honoring to call him my husband tonight!



Today courageous was shown to a group of Brazilians dubbed in Portuguese. The turnout was great and it was a blessing to see so many people moved by this movie. Mandy met a daycare coordinator looking for an English teacher. We are getting excited about these different opportunities popping up! Maicol ran into a former team mate from a basketball team here in Porto Alegre. It's neat to run into old friends and get a chance to catch up.

High 88 F/New opportunities and old friends


New Desk

Today we went to pick up a desk that a missionary donated to us. It's been a huge help because now we have a place to study and set up a work space whereas before we've been using the dining room table as a desk, kitchen counter top, eating place, and about everything else you need a counter/table for :) So glad to have this desk! Pictures coming soon.

Rain, rain, rain - still enjoying the 70's


Old Forge Pizza

Enjoying the serious drop in temps to the 70's and rain. Ministry meetings today followed by some good ol' house work deserves some kind of reward. So we attempted to copy our favorite Old Forge Style Pizza. Regular pizza dough topped with simple tomatoes, black pepper, and diced onion, and throw the cheese on 5 min before it's done. MMMMMhhmm. Bring on the weekend!


The ties that bind, the waves that break...

Ever been without a car? Struggled with the mundane chores of life? Faced a paperwork battle with a government entity for a piece of property, a financial mishap, or a legal situation?

These are the circumstances of life which bring us to our knees before God, where we meet some of you in the same place. Our greatest moments we recall as we go to bed at night always bring us back to the people we've met that have brought us reassurance, hope, laughter, or simply understanding as we travel this life. Knowing that some of you pray for us as often as we pray for ourselves gives us a sense of closeness that we need in a place and phase of life where it's easy to feel forgotten and out of touch.

Today is a day where we put final touches on our visa application paperwork for Maicol's hopeful return in April/May for graduation. Some verses we stumbled upon and now cling to in regard to this, are James 1:5-7. We're asking for wisdom with how to present our case to the consulate. We need to think of any paperwork we can show that will prove our return to Brazil after Maicol's trip to the states. Many of these applications get denied. We must ask and believe, because doubting will bring us nothing from God. Such a huge step of faith. So we are not doubting that he will give us the wisdom we need. If that means giving us the visa and strengthening our faith after 10 months of prayer, so be it. And if we do not receive the visa and our wisdom is gained by heavy consequence or possibly a trial of strength and perseverance, great. Either way, we have to trust God has our best in mind and that we will grow in wisdom, regardless of the outcome.

We love the waves of the sea on a breezy, sunny day. However, we don't want to throw oursleves in to be tossed uncontrollably and possibly detrimentally.

because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:6


Did you say RAIN? And clouds?!

We have never loved rainy days. Especially living in Clarks Summit, rain came all too often and usually it was bitterly cold. But here in "Forno" Alegre (forno meaning stove).. rain if it lasts long enough, is a reason for excitement! The clouds help too! Rain with sun is an even bigger mess. So today we felt the wind back in our sails as we stepped out to run errands and didn't feel our shirts stuck to our backs. The heat just zaps your strength and eventually motivation to do life :)

Praise God for 81F weather! It makes going to the bank for the third time and hearing the account still is not ready more manageable. Our bills are due next week, and this is cutting it down to the wire! Praying we can get it worked out.

Maicol is in and out between meetings and Mandy enjoying a break from Language school. We are preparing to be in Israel is a short couple of weeks!

“He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.” Dan 2:21,22

Thankful that our Sovereign God knows what we need and when we need it. Thankful that in his time and manner he sets up leaders and removes them, all in an effort to lead his very own. There are trials to strengthen us, and blessings to delight our souls, and in between, moments we feel the final blow right before we think we could break. But our God, our very present help, knows what lies in darkness and guides us by his side in the light. Thank you Lord for your mercy and grace to us.

High: 81F
Low: 73F/Bank issues


She has arrived...

Mandy rode the train all by herself today to Sao Leopoldo to study Esther 5 with the teenage girls. This week she also started riding the bus by herself as well. So. grown. up.

She has arrived (in every sense of the phrase)! It's a big accomplishment to have the courage for all this so we are celebrating her independence and freedom from "Please Maicol, please don't make me go alone! What if...?"

Today we enjoyed a great time of fellowship with friends an co-workers in the faith. We are very excited for what God is doing here in Porto Alegre and just starting to get a glimpse of how we might feel lead to be involved.

Let us not forget to mention Carnaval is taking place today all over Brazil which gave us a holiday and empty streets! This is a final time for vacation and summer so Brazilian families are on vacation at the beach or perhaps crowding the major attraction sites for Carnaval!


In the beginning, there were the cabinets....

The kitchen has begun! Maicol's brothers Pablo and Ramon are installing the backs of the cabinets today and hopefully Friday the project will be complete. It's exciting to think very soon we will get everything off the floor and finish the move process!

Today was a relief! High:95F/Kitchen Cabinets



We enjoyed a day to relax today. We watched a movie "Courageous" that had us bawling for most of the two hours. A church in the area is showing it next Sunday night so we figured we would check it out in English first. Great film, and also very convicting for all of us. Don't waste time and get caught up in today! You are not promised any length of time on this earth!

New record this month: 102F


Everything's Just Peachy..

The only way to end this day. Peach pie. Maicol is working on an upcoming sermon and finishing reading for his projects. He is preaching on a Psalm of Ascent, it's neat what we learn as he studies.

Mandy is preparing for kitchen cabinets on Monday (yes!) and cooking some things up ahead of time as the kitchen will be tied up with the installation. On the menu for this Carnaval weekend: Yakisoba broccoli/beef, Mexican crockpot chili, homemade pizza, Peach cobbler, homemade Almond Joy ice cream and for dinner tonight: toasted tomato and bacon sanwiches.

Don't knock it til you try it! Our dear friends the Hunter's introduced us to these classic sandwiches in August - such a great summer food!

High:99F/Peach pie


It's like preparing for a hurricane...

Sidewalks are crowded, traffic is piled up, and everyone in Porto Alegre seems to be in the grocery store. Glad we walked across the street so we don't have to do the parking lot confusion. Carnaval is days away and everyone is preparing for basically a city shut down as the party blares it's music and parades the streets. We are sitting this one out so we are stocking up food for the next few days and anything else we think we'll need as most places will close their doors for the final vacation time of summer. Mandy struggled through her final today but it's over! Maicol is trying to tie up lose end on his internship, 9 weeks to go! The heat is lingering so we took a dip in the pool to cool off. Thank you Lord for Fridays. We are ready for some rest.

Hottest day so far: 97F/weekend yea!


These are the hard days...

Today was the type of day that seems typical for the missionaries we know who are out of language school, in the zone, and doing the daily grind of ministry.

Car: Mandy drives girls 45min to their homes and then returns 45min for language school. No A/C, trying to beat traffic, just a LITTLE stressed :)School - 1:30pm - 3:30pm. Final exams tomorrow and plenty of homework, a dip in the pool before studies? Nope... 3:45pm get an unexpected text that Maicol needs a ride to ministry because the bus will be too late...

Bus/Train: Maicol is without the car because he obviously navigates public transportation with more ease. Realizes his phone never charged so he is without the cell today. Leaves home 8am for meetings an hour away. We have not been able to open a bank account for a month because of red tape so he has to talk to a bank in this other city to fix the problems, again. Ministry meeting with a mentor until lunch. Takes the bus to another meeting for internship. Leaves on a bus and then train to get to basketball ministry which starts back in our city at 5pm. Arrives in Porto Alegre at 4pm to catch a ride with Mandy to basketball ministry...

And the heat just makes this day seem more busy and exhausting than it already is! This is the daily grind for us, glad we are seeing the finish line! Mandy has just a couple months of school left and Maicol is graduating in May!

Low:79F (yea, not so low)/ tiring, busy day and still plenty of studying and paperwork to do!



Tonight Mandy's bible study girls are spending the night! To our disappointment the pool was closed until 7pm for work so we enjoyed the 97F day inside playing games and sitting in front of the fan. And Maicol was kicked out of the bedroom for some time so the girls could lay in the A/C too. These girls love to cook so each time they spend the night we plan a menu and come hungry! We enjoyed white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, chicken lasagna in a white, basil sauce (delicious!) and the Venter's last package of Hershey's triple chunk brownie mix from the States... in the morning we had breakfast casserole and chocolate flavored coffee. Spoiled? Yes. This week was neat because Mandy listened and the girls taught. Their assignemnt was to use commentaries and their brains to answer three questions and in turn, teach Esther 4. What are the facts? How does this affect the characters in the bible? How does this affect your/my life?

They did a wonderful job and we are all loving this study of Esther! Bottom line: There is no such thing as 'coincidence'.

High: 97F/ Great bible study and sleepover


Can you say "carne"... ?

We've reached the midpoint of February and as you can see the days are averagely hot, challenging each in their own small ways, and still God is giving us regular "highs". Day 14. Here goes.

Welcome to every man's dream (unless you are vegetarian):

Freio de Ouro Churrascaria - translation - Gold Brake BBQ

So basically you sit down and your conversation is constantly interrupted by skewers
of meat. It's Valentine's Day so we splurged and had all we could eat for about $40 U.S. dollars. We ate at a churrascaria in the states just before we left for Brazil and paid $99 per couple. This was a steal! We took two buses there and made it just under 2 hours with rush hour traffic. BUT, we paid half on our second bus fare because we figured out how to transfer in a certain amount of time and save money!

We were served a variety of meats: 24 hour ribs, melt in your mouth pork (okay we made that name up), chicken hearts (Maicol ate about 30), beef ribs, filet mignon, roasted chicken, a linguica (facy sausage), and some other things we were so busy engulfing we missed the specific terminology. We swallowed it down with our favorite Brazilian soda (Guarana) and a Coke.

Top it off with roasted pineapple sprinkled with cinnamon! Not to mention the salad buffet and desserts. What a night! And we celebrate with you all this day of loved ones that God has given us.


The walk around the pond...

Three years ago Maicol asked Mandy to marry him! What an exciting day. Three years later we cannot believe we are in Brazil. Time flies! Had our church service tonight at 8pm. We've been having Monday night services for summer with everyone travelling on weekends for vacations. Filled out a lengthy application today and walked over to our bank and rental agency to work out some details with our bills. Another average day. Except for the memories of this day before Valentine's day in 2009! And of course, the beautiful Brazilian Hot Dog you see below. And now we are delighted to introduce you to our favorite food in Brazil...

High: 93F/Engagement Anniversary


T7 and T minus 17

T7 is the bus we took to church today. T minus 17 indicates how many posts we have left for February!

Visited a church this morning in another part of our city and it was so neat! We were so encouraged to meet the other missionary couples building a church here in Porto Alegre.

We are continually praying about our car to be sold so we can purchase a new one. We have a car from Maicol's family we've been borrowing but it is not insured so we try not to use it in unfamiliar places. Next week we will be giving the car back to his family and be totally reliant on public transportation or walking. We've been using the bus and train system more regularly now so we are somewhat accustomed. What makes all of this so neat is that our apartment is located directly in front of the main bus terminal "The Triangulo" (you'll see why in the picture). The grocery store, bank, pharmacy, shopping center, and many other necessary places are within a 10 minute walking distance!

The weekend remained beautiful, sunny skies and an average temperature of 75F.


#11 - Our NYC

Welcome to our smaller version of NYC.

The city is packed and in the process of growing, up, up and away! Everyday while driving we receive adds at the stoplights of the busy intersections for new buildings being constructed. The city is growing and it's very exciting! Carnaval takes place in 10 days! A four day parade/holiday that will shut down the city for four days of people lining the streets for a party.

Today we worked at a property ABWE plans to use as a retreat center. We painted ourselves out but we're very thankful that the weather was PERFECT for a workday. Glad we could help!

High - 85F and sunny/great day for painting projects


It. couldn't. be. COOKIES?!?!

10 posts into February, 19 to go...

YES! It's 69F outside and it's perfect for turning finally on this stove for a delicious treat! Cooking is still quite the task without cabinets or counter tops but the adventure tonight was worth it. Hopefully next weekend we will have the kitchen finished!
Facing difficulties and finding strength in God. One more week of language school for Mandy before the 1/2 way mark! The brain is past tired! Maicol is working hard to finish up projects and the last 9 weeks of seminary as we know it! Walked over to the grocery store tonight and felt drawn to the hot dog guy on the way home. We couldn't help ourselves! Do believe it's time to dedicate a few posts to delicious Brazilian food. Once we get our camera back, be prepared to drool!

Low - 69F (perfect!)/challenges to press on/still without kitchen cabinets for another week


75F and Partly Sunny

Maicol came home from the men's retreat today and the skies stayed cloudy. Got the news that we won't be getting our kitchen cabinets installed now until next week. almost a month here without cabinets or countertops presents a challenge, can't wait for next week!


The Flood

And the rains came... and in three minutes the streets were flooded! The drainage systems aren't the best. It makes for an interesting driving experience. The idea is to drive slow enough through the tire high water that you don't splash too much up into the car, but fast enough to get through it before you loose traction. But not so fast that as you exit the flood, you drench the people playing hop scotch in the sidewalk flood as they attempt to avoid the doozies. And all the while you do need to spend a decent amount of time actually looking ahead of your car so you can see where you're driving through this circus anyway.

Maicol is enjoying some time away on the men's retreat and Mandy enjoyed catching up on some projects. To save money we are making a couch from a twin sized bed. Lots of sewing is yet to come!


How low can we go?

In case you're just tuning in this is the 7th in a series of posts for February and our goal is to blog each day about daily life...

Low: 79F

Today we had a relief of heat after about 4pm. The wind is blowing nice cool air through the window - finally! One thing you may not know about a missionary is your financial records require serious detail, since you basically have to track your spending as if you were self-employed. This task alone requires daily attention and sometimes, hours. of. work. Low = 4 hours doing bills!

Mandy enjoyed a great bible study with teen girls today studying the third chapter of Esther. Next week the girls will sleepover and for bible study hour they teach each other (and Mandy) chapter four! Took a group photo to share , however, forgot the camera somewhere. Low = lost camera.

Maicol is enjoying his first night away for men's retreat planning for the year and discussing important issues on the field here. Enjoyed a day of golf!

The life of a missionary is busy and at times without routine. A job that requires you to be on your toes at all times. Tomorrow we have many plans and tasks to accomplish, we'll see how much gets done!


Superbowl, Super hot, and Super fun

Noticing a theme? Yea. It's hot. It's a reality of daily life here. Americans don't realize how lucky we are when we can set our central air to 69F and feel refreshed most of the day in our home, our car, or at work... Very different here. We wake up sweaty and stay that way between showers! Superbowl yesterday was celebrated among American friends (our Brazilian friends had a really important soccer game to attend to) so we enjoyed traditional superbowl food and fun. Traditional, yet just about every recipe needs tweaking based on available ingredients. Some days you go to the grocery store and they have cream, other days no. There are many items we use in recipes in the states that just are not readily available, staples most people keep at all times! Maple syrup, bisquick, frozen bread dough, cheddar cheese, and sour cream just to name a few. So we learn new things and tweak what we really miss hoping it comes out similar! Last night was fun! Mandy enjoyed cheering for a high school classmate, Jerod Mayo for the Patriots. Today we faced normal challenges as we went to purchase a box for our mattress and found it had increased in price, nearly doubled! Daily life tip: if you find something you need, for a decent price - buy it! Tomorrow it may be gone, and unable to be restocked or the price can jump for no apparent reason! We've learned that the hard way a a time or two!

High:Superbowl/cloudy skies Low:shopping dilemmas


English subtitles and more!

Watching T.V. has never been a big deal for us but we received 3 months free cable with our internet package, so we've been checking it out. Biggest letdown ever is watching a movie you love, DUBBED, in another language. Even Maicol would prefer the movie in English! Next biggest letdown is watching the movie in English with (other language) subtitles,and focusing on how to translate it differently, rather than just enjoying the movie. You just can't stop reading it! Although this is not a true catastrophy, it is a "low" of daily life. However, sitting down today and finding that the green button on our remote can switch some movies to English - HIGH! Yes! Denzel Washington has some classics...

High: 97F (humidty can make an actual 97F seem refreshing, it felt like 105F)


Rain, Rain come and stay - PLEASE don't wait another day!

The humidity makes today's low of 79F feel like 90F. We are welcoming the storm we see out our window! Hopefully the weather is accurate and we will receive rain everyday for the next week - this helps cool things down! In the picture you can see today's greatest blessing covering the left side of the far mountain, where it looks like the horizon disappears.

Our "high" today was receiving the adapter we needed to begin using our stove! We've been without a stove (and therefore, home-cooked food) for more than two weeks!

A thought: if it wasn't for the thick stagnant air that seems to just stick right on top of you, you would never notice the faint whisper of a breeze that as it so subtly passes by, you think you experienced a glimpse of heaven. The same could be said about the trials of life, and the whisper of our Creator God.



There really are no words to explain such a delicious, traditional, Gaucho meal. Meat on a skewer, grilled over traditional charcoal, complete with pineapples grilled with cinnamon and garlic bread toasted over the coals.

High today: 91 F/great friends!
We enjoyed chicken, beef, chicken hearts, and sausaage. Foi otimo! (It was great!) The best part about a churrasco is the people you are with! We had three families with us and had such a great time talking, grilling and eating!


"It's the most, wonderful time, of the year.." with an A/C

Today we decided we love summer. Especially with an A/C unit to help us sleep at night! After a long adventure to find a unit and installation company, we type this letter to you from a cool, comfortable bedroom. All joking aside, A/C is a huge relief to know we will at least sleep through the night! So grateful for God's provision to buy this and get it installed in time for February, the hottest month of the year!

Every day in February we will report to you the highs, lows, or averages of the day - in life and temperature. Hopefully you'll get a glimpse of daily life in Porto Alegre this month! Be sure to check back daily!