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March 30, 2012


I Asked The Lord That I Might Grow

I asked the Lord, that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know;
And seek more earnestly His face.
photo by federico stevanin
Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust has answered prayer;
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair!

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining power, 
Subdue my sins–and give me rest!
Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry powers of hell
Assault my soul in every part!
Yes more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe!
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds–and laid me low!
“Lord, why is this!” I trembling cried,
“Will you pursue your worm to death?”
“This is the way,” the Lord replied,
“I answer prayer for grace and faith.”
“These inward trials I employ,
From self and pride to set you free;
And break your schemes of earthly joy,
That you may seek your all in Me!”
-John Newton (1725-1807)

March 25, 2012

week 12.

Sunday, March 18th
After being teased on a regular basis for being "very American" in the kitchen - using exact measurements, setting timers, always regulating temperatures - we now have proof of why it's necessary.  When you don't set the timer, it's very easy to get distracted and forget that the cookies are in the oven!  Sorry, volunteers, the quantity of the cookies that I made for your Monday meeting has been greatly reduced unintentionally!

Monday, March 19th
Happy birthday to our dear friend Henry, son of Michael and Cristi, our American friends here in Coimbra.  What a kind, generous, and sensitive boy he is!  We celebrated with his favorite dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, with chocolate chip cookies and gummy worms for dessert!  (Note: all the cheese in our smiles is due to the gummy worm we are sharing, which is a bit hard to see...)

Tuesday, March 20th
More American action in the kitchen... I labeled the freezer paper that these chicken breasts were wrapped in with a permanent Sharpie marker, and we learned that freezer paper is permeable!  (At least it can be an encouragement to my Portuguese professor that I'm labeling my frozen food in Portuguese!)

Wednesday, March 21st
Proof that even when it's 65 degrees during the day, Portuguese buildings are not equipped to keep out the cold at night! Here you can see some of my girlfriends at a choir rehearsal dressed in their winter coats and scarves! [Please forgive the grainy photo... it was not a very well-lit room either!]

Thursday, March 22nd
Super crazy short new haircut... still deciding if I like it, especially since it takes me way long to style it in the morning!

Friday, March 23rd
I know I just had a peacock photo in my dailies last week, but I couldn't help shooting this photo when we were at our Association's farm again yesterday and one of these beauties showed us all of her feathers!  What a brilliant display of our God's creativity!

Saturday, March 24th
Getting out of the house on this super warm day brought us to Coimbra's historic downtown (one of my favorite places to go on a Saturday morning!) for the local antiques fair that passes through once a month, but unfortunately it closed down shortly after we arrived due to some light rain showers.  Winding through the tiny little streets brought these lovely doors into view, which were a nice addition to my photo collection of European doors that I started back in 2004!

Due to simple forgetfulness, in last week's post, I neglected to include a photo of my brother for his birthday on Monday, March 12th.  After searching quite a while for a great photo of us eating hotdogs on the street in downtown Milwaukee and still not being able to find it, here's an oldie from 2008 that I don't really remember taking, which probably implies we were having too much fun!  Happy birthday, Kyle!

March 18, 2012

week 11.

Sunday, March 11th
Further proof that we don't live in the jungle or remote forests of the world... our local supermarket has Old Spice!  That's for you, Dad!  (For those that don't know, my dad is famous for using Old Spice since, well... since forever).

Monday, March 12th
Spring is springing...

Tuesday, March 13th
Caution on the roads!  After my wallet was stolen, (the wallet where I was foolishly carrying my American driver's license which I had no real reason to use), it was quite a circus getting a replacement American one, which was necessary to "trade" for a Portuguese license.  Long story short, looks like I need to start learning to drive a manual car!

Wednesday, March 14th
Once more at our Association's farm, Quinta da Conraria, I was translating for our European volunteers as they observed an activity called "Os Bombos", or "The Drums".  It is an amazing activity for our clients, each with a varying level of disability.  They graciously allowed us to play the drums for a few songs, and after, played an entire set of traditional Portuguese music for us, which resulted in one of the clients who wasn't playing coming over to link arms with me, and before I knew it, sweeping me up into the middle of the circle to dance!  Not the most flattering photo of either of us, but it gave all of us quite a laugh, especially considering my lack of dancing skills!

Thursday, March 15th
My best friends this week...

Friday, March 16th
Finally got in to see my allergist (who's last name - not coincidentally - is "Tudo Bom", which means "All good"!), and though we had to wait over an hour, at least we had a pretty view of the city pre-rain!  Not to mention, she diagnosed both a virus and allergies, which I guess is good, because I can't imagine ever being this sick again just from seasonal allergies!

Saturday, March 17th
At least our kitchen knows it's St. Patrick's Day!  (Thanks for the towel, Mom!)  To close out the week, here's part of a prayer written by Senhor Pat himself...

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

St. Patrick (ca. 377)

week 10.

[Crazy busy week + crazy cough and sickness = crazy late blog. Sorry!]

Sunday, March 4th
I must confess, reading in Portuguese is not my jam, and especially since Kindle has started a library loan system with e-books from US libraries.  I always seem to have a great library book on my Kindle, and reading in Portuguese still seems really tedious to me... like work.  Nevertheless, I finished my first Portuguese book today, A Menina do Mar (The Girl from the Sea)... only 27 pages, but it took me an hour to read it! (That's with a dictionary by my side and seemingly endless word searches the entire time I was reading).  It was a sweet story, and according to my professora, 1 hour is not long for someone at my level to read something like this... but still... MEH.  Not my fave.

Monday, March 5th
In case you were wondering what is my jam... it's new toothbrushes.  I love them.  Do you know that the American Dental Association recommends that you change your toothbrush once every 3 to 4 months, or earlier if the bristles start to fray?

Tuesday, March 6th
Further proof that I really, really need to blog about the Cerebral Palsy Association where we work... I visited the farm today with our new volunteers, one of APCC's locations which offers therapies similar to those at the Rehab Center, but for youth and adults instead of for children.  It's an amazing place and I shot quite a few photos, but none were as special as these from the "learning farm", where they have a host of live animals.  I love peacocks!

Wednesday, March 7th
It's our lucky day!  Look what Luis Miguel won at a raffle at one of the schools where he does therapy with some kids... headphone walkie-talkies!  We are not sure yet what decade they are from, or if they work, but they do look awesome, don't they???

Thursday, March 8th
Today is my dad's birthday! Happy birthday, Dad... you're the best!!!  (Photo circa 2008, apron made by yours truly circa 1991)

Friday, March 9th
When we left the Center today at 8.00 pm it was 19ºC, which is about 66ºF!  I wore a dress to work today and I'm so excited for spring to arrive!

Saturday, March 10th
If anything is a cure for a stressful week and an annoying cough, it's definitely the beach!  73ºF when we arrived today, not a cloud in the sky and barely any wind!  The waves were surprisingly strong, though, and when they crashed against the rock peninsulas, it was pretty spectacular!

March 10, 2012

week 9.

Sunday, February 26th
It's definitely not the same as watching them live, but the recorded version of the Oscars was fun to see in Portugal, since we usually don't get the awards shows broadcasted here.  What a great show! (Though after seeing both "The Help" and "The Artist", I think "The Help" should have won by a landslide!)

Monday, February 27th
For the last few months we've been in the middle of a very confusing process of getting my bachelor's degree equivalency in Portugal.  I was unaware that I had to do this until about December, and apparently Portugal does not have an equivalent degree to mine, so we're jumping around from University to University, trying to find something that matches.  Thankfully my husband is patient and can read well in Portuguese, because he was a great help late into the night tonight as we researched a bunch of new information we received today!

Tuesday, February 28th
Through a great program called European Voluntary Service, our organization will be receiving 4 European volunteers this week for a 6-month project called "Holding Hands with Other Abitilties", which we host at the APCC.  It is partly funded by the European Union and exists in any countries that want to participate in Europe.  The volunteers candidate for different projects and when they get accepted, their transportation is covered by the organization, along with accomodation, meals and spending money during the project.  I have been blown away at how popular the idea of volunteering is here in Europe... we get applications for people interested in participating almost every day!  This project is a big part of my job, considering all the communication -- with volunteers, with partner sending organizations, many papers and final reports -- are all done in English, since it is usually the only common language between the other organization and ours.  Last June we welcomed our first group of volunteers, and when they left in December, it was hard not to shed a tear, because they had become like family to us!  We are looking forward to another great 6 months with a new group, starting this week!  Tonight was another long night, but a lot more fun... making welcome banners in each of the volunteer's native language!  Can you guess which language this is?

Wednesday, February 29th
One last walk through at the volunteer's apartment, and the hanging of the last sign!  The languages are Portuguese, German, Hungarian, Spanish, and Turkish.  (A big high-five for the first person to tell me which sign has a letter out of order! Whoops!  Would you believe that I just noticed it as I'm writing this?  Oh well... can't go back now!)

Thursday, March 1st
They're here!  Kata, from Hungary... Adriana, from Spain... Christian, from Germany... and Ata, from Turkey.  If they look tired, it's because they had been traveling all day, from their home countries to Portugal, then from Lisbon to Coimbra.  We welcomed them all at 11.30 that night, so it was quite a long, yet fulfilling, day for everyone!

Friday, March 2nd
This is my friend Paulo, a client of APCC and in general, just an all-around goofy guy.  He used to play soccer with the Portuguese team and actually befriended me through Yahoo messenger back in the day before Luis and I were even married, without even meeting me in person!  He was at the Rehab Center early this morning for a training class and stopped by our office to say hi.  I couldn't help but notice that his sweatshirt said "South Dakota", and even smaller underneath that, "Aberdeen".  Shout out to my new American friend Naomi, who I believe may actually be from Aberdeen!  When I asked where he got the sweatshirt, he couldn't remember, and definitely didn't know about our dear Amerian state South Dakota.  Considering he loves heavy metal music and often has clothing advertising that fact, maybe he thought it was a band??

Saturday, March 3rd
It was only after we went to our little American friend Henry's basketball game (where his dad Michael and other parents played on the teams WITH the kids!) and had a great lunch at our house with their family, did I realize that I didn't even take one photo the whole day!  It was only during a Skype call with my dear friend Anna that night did I think to take a screen shot of our conversation as my photo of the day!  Anna (affectionately known to me as AB, "Anna Banana") and I were great friends in high school, participated in choir, theater, and various classes together, and thankfully have been able to keep in touch throughout the years and across the miles! We've shared quite a few life experiences together, considering that she took a job teaching in Tiawan and was there for the last 6 years!  Even being 6 hours apart now that she's back in the States make it a bit difficult to connect, so we specifically planned this Skype call to talk about her upcoming wedding!!!!  We even have similar stories when it comes to engagement and marriage, as she got engaged overseas as well (he's a teacher in Taiwan, also) and is planning a wedding in the States while he is continuing to teach there until summer, when they will marry in the States.  For those of you who know our story, this one mirrors it pretty well!  Both being people who have a natural "second-guessing nature", we shared a lot of ups and downs throughout each of our relationships, which made this [5 hour!] chat quite a celebratory experience, as you can see by our evident laughter in the photo below. :)  Here's to happy endings!