Time For Tangerines by Joffre Sr.
Now is the winter of our tangerines. Or, as they’re known in this part of Brazil, bergamotas. You know that essential citrus smell that bursts out when you pop your thumb into a tangerine, that makes your eyes widen at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils? These gaucho tangerines are the zestiest I’ve ever smelled, and peeling one of them more effectively quickens the mind than a cup of coffee. It is a winter tradition to go to the park to sip on chimarrão (yerba mate in Spanish) and eat tangerines, and we’ve decided that we should incorporate this tradition into our lives. On Saturdays you are likely to find us at the park browsing in the sunshine. If we’re not too much into herb and citrus, we might indulge in a caramel-filled churro with sprinkles.
Visit From Jeff by Joffre Sr.
A friend of mine from our days back in Gainesville, Florida was able to visit us in Porto Alegre for a few nights. I guided him around the sights, which made me feel like our adopted city really is becoming our own. I mean, when you’re showing visitors not only the central market but used bookshops and the best coffee shops downtown, dilapidated old public libraries as well as cathedrals, then you can begin to say that you know the city. Some folks from our church invited Jeff out to a churrascaria (Brazilian barbecue joint) that featured folk music and dances. Kimberly and I had been meaning to go for a while, and it was absolutely amazing. We’ll post video soon of some of the wild dancing. The kids were very happy to have an American visitor, and they talked Jeff’s ear off. He was very gracious about it. Jeff was also able to worship with us on Sunday morning, taking the Lord’s Supper with brothers from far off, and singing All Creatures of Our God and King in Portuguese.
The Kids’ Adjustment Progressing by Joffre Sr.
The boys go to jiu-jitsu twice a week and have also managed to play a little bit of basketball. A new book from a favorite author of theirs arrived from the States earlier this month, Outlaws of Time by N. D. Wilson; the two older kids devoured it within a day, but also enjoyed some rereading. George dabbled in crochet. Mara talked to everyone she met, declaring that each person was either “in English” or “in Portuguese”. As I write this today, Kimberly and the kids had their first Portuguese class from a private tutor. Thanks be to God, I was able to arrange a trade in service from a Brazilian teacher. She’s a Christian sister who will work with the kids, and we’ll help her improve her conversational English. I’m very excited to see what comes from this big step in the family’s adjustment to Brazil. Little Joffre is still doing all the translating for his mom and siblings. We’re praying that he will continue to reap the benefits of his excellent attitude regarding this move, but that the rest of the family will begin to have their own adventures in interaction! Renata misses her friends and her home in the U.S. 16th Wedding Anniversary by Joffre Kimberly and I celebrated our sixteenth wedding anniversary on the 13th of this month. The boys made us scrambled eggs and coconut milk pancakes (and, importantly, coffee; Little Joffre makes me coffee every morning). We took this terrible picture to mark the occasion. In the evening we walked down to a nearby restaurant and ordered a dish meant for two, but that could have fed four. We ate it all and reflected on how glad and joyful our marriage has been. Thank the Lord and sing his praise, tell everyone what he has done!
THIS MONTH’S MINISTRY UPDATE
Bible Study Update by Joffre Swait
As I write this I’m still animated by what I thought was a wonderful study in our current series for the parents of young children, on raising multiple kids/sibling dynamics. We started with Cain and Abel, and ended in Jesus. How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity (a psalm, by the way, that I succeeded in not quoting, a feat I hope you’ll find as impressive as I do. Fourteen adults and seven kids are attending regularly, not counting our two and five, as well as some other couple who attend semi-regularly. One of the things about our apartment for which we are grateful is that the living room and dining room are one very large room, especially by Brazilian standards. So far we all fit, but it’s starting to get a little tight! There are only two sessions left in the study, which means that we’ll finish in June. Our next theme is going to be on Christianity and culture, structured after the topics laid out in a favorite book of Joffre’s, Angels in the Architecture by Douglas Wilson and Doug Jones. A School. A School?! A SCHOOL! by Joffre Swait Kimberly and I have been praying for guidance on how to proceed with my ministry to youth in Porto Alegre, especially for navigating the logistics and legality of working in Brazil. We are now praying for wisdom regarding what we believe has been God’s answer, which I’ll explain below. Please pray with us. Several times during our interactions in the last five months, the session of Christ Church Porto Alegre have talked about their desire to have a school as a ministry set alongside the church plant itself. As most of you know, I am currently teaching at an English school in Porto Alegre, the only one that guarantees American teachers for elementary through high school ages. (This is not the same as the Pan-American School here in town, which is not a language school but a complete school issuing a diploma.) They recently asked me if I would develop a plan for them to open a school to cater to the soon-to-grow American population coming in with the new consulate, as well as to Brazilian parents. In the course of preparing my presentation for them, I realized that I’d be duplicating a lot of things that would be done “somewhere down the road” whenever Christ Church decided to develop its school. In the course of talking this over with Ernesto, my elder, it became clear that he thought now a great time to start planning a school through which the church could serve Christians throughout Porto Alegre. So that’s the current wrestle: we believe that opening a Christian school is our next step.
THIS MONTH’S FINANCIAL UPDATE Money has been tighter this past month. We are spending a little more than anticipated, but within budget. Unfortunately, we also made a mistake that cost us a chunk of money. Nothing disastrous, just dumb. If you’d like to know the details, just send us a message or email. I am currently working four days a week teaching English, split between the school and my private students. God has blessed my private practice recently, and I’ve picked up three new students in the last month. I currently have 24 teaching hours resulting in about 35 hours of raw time dedicated to teaching. This month saw an increase in the private financial support of Joffre’s blog, for which we are grateful.