Saturday, May 29, 2010

Michael's Reaction

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Here is Michael's reaction when everyone got home from the airport...

Maira's Surprise

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Here is the moment when Maira discovered that her cousin, Anna, came to see her!

Matteo talking

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Matteo is eager to learn to talk and has speech therapy two times a week now. He loves going to speech therapy! Now don't expect huge things...learning to talk when you are already 3 1/2 is hard work!!!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Fall Festival

I had never thought of doing a "Fall Festival" here in Brazil. The kids always enjoy the fall festivals in the US when we are on furlough, but it is just a normal day here in Brazil. Then my SIL friend, Anneke suggested we do our own thing this year. She planned the whole thing and I offered my street and neighbors. So I took bags of candy to my neighbors and asked them to kindly hand it out when our kids came a knocking! It was pretty funny, especially since they had no idea what to do and I had to explain it all to them. We had 11 kiddos all together and 4 neighbors who were home on Saturday evening to help us out. We also had the kids make their own pizza faces, carve green peppers, mummy wrapping contest, and then I made an attempt at the pumpkin parable using a green gourd. All in all it was a very fun evening and the kids really loved it. And the neighbors got a good laugh at "those North Americans". Thankfully, Michael and Maira used the same costumes as last year and Matteo fit into the costume that Maira used when she was three.








Thursday, October 29, 2009

This and That

Well folks, what can I say? Blogging has had to take a back seat for some time now!
Matteo had a successful surgery on September 22, taking out his tonsils, adenoids, and draining the liquid in his ears. On Nov. 11 he will have another surgery (I'll just say that it is a more private area). We've tested his hearing again after the surgery and he does have permenant hearing loss. The doctor wants to repeat one of the tests again on Nov.9 and then I can go straight to the ear/nose/throat doctor with the results. He should then recommend a hearing aid. I am anxious to get this all done...seems like we are just waisting precious hearing time at this point. He can hear loud noises (hand clapping, dogs barking, whistling, etc.) but isn't hearing conversational tones. But all in all, he is doing really well. We are still struggling with his reluctance to chew food...I'm not sure what kind of doctor to see about that! He CAN chew, but does so only with those foods he really, really likes. Otherwise he sits at the dinner table for over an hour to eat a small plate of food because he prefers to just hold the food in his mouth. It can drive me plum crazy some days! We are trying all sorts of tactics...let me know if you have any ideas. :)

Michael and Maira are doing great. We are very excited about another alternative to getting a class in Portuguese next year. Michael never has come to the point of "liking" the Brazilian school that he goes to twice a week and it has in fact become a major stress in his life. We are looking at taking them to a SIL school here in town twice a week when they have a Brazilian lady giving Portuguese class. The school currently has 4 children and will have 6 children next year. Then they would also participate in PE and a craft time once or twice a week with the SIL kids at a local after school program for Brazilian children. This set-up will also be MUCH cheaper!

Here are some cute pictures of Matteo discovering shaving cream with Daddy...










Sunday, August 30, 2009

And Matteo makes 5!!!















Most of you know about Matteo by now from my email updates, but I wanted to put some more pictures of our Matteo on the blog. Matteo came to our family on August 11th and celebrated his 3rd Birthday on August 26. Matteo was born very premature (1lb and 14 oz) and has been in an orphanage since he was about 6 months old. He has some auditory problems that we are still investigating and that are most likely linked to how premature he was. He is very affectionate and is eager to please, although a stubborn streak does pop up now and again! But what else would you expect from a VanBeveren????

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Project Go Ye - 2009

Yep, it is that time of year again! Asas organized another Projeto Ide (Project Go Ye) this time to the state of Mato Grosso. The number of people participating was less this year...only 150 instead of 240-350. It was just getting too big and we want to encourage churches to start their own projects. We went as a family again this year...yeah! It is worth the extra effort and the lessons that the kids learn are priceless. The 150 people divided up into 3 groups after a time of training and organizing on Saturday afternoon (July18) and Sunday. The children's ministry team that I headed up was made up of several young people who had never been on a project before, so they were a bit nervous and didn't know what to expect. (The children's ministry group that I worked with is pictured above...plus 2 guys who wanted in on the picture!) I decided to change the program quite a bit in an effort to make each lesson independent of the previous or following lesson to accomodate the children who couldn't come from the beginning or couldn't come the whole week. God certainly had his hand in that decision because everything quickly changed once we got there! We ended up reaching 3 different communities in 5 days! We had 4 different stations that the children rotated through: story, art, games, snack/memory verse/wordless book/Claves. That last station seems like a bit much, but the 30 minute block of time was enough to get through it all. Due to having just a few days in each community, I couldn't get too deep into the Claves material, but I was able to have sessions with the children on being tuned-in to your emotions as a way to know if things really are okay as well as analize 2 stories as a way to alert them about how to avoid abuse...or at least know they need to tell someone about it.

Our team reached over 400 children, many of them claiming to have asked Jesus to forgive them for the first time. I'll resist writing the number down because I don't want to focus on numbers. I am thrilled that seeds were planted and knowledge was given for future growth. Steve worked the streets...door-to-door all day long! He also helped out with the group that had a youth program. He found some new abilities in that area and even gave a well received talk on sexuality, drugs, alcohol, etc. I wish I could have heard it, but I needed to be with the children. He is very sure though that working with youth is not his thing...at least not in the traditional church setting. Maybe he'll get more involved with the youth on the projects from now on...


This youth's name is James and he was "adopted" by the whole group. He touched everyone's hearts with his sincere decision to believe in Jesus and learn to be more like Him. His home life is very difficult and his dad is a leader in the Spiritist church. James broke into sobs on the last day of the youth program because he didn't want the group to leave. He had finally found a group of people who love him and with whom he feels accepted and safe. In the following picture, he is reading a Bible that is written in cartoon style as he travels with us to the Bororo village. He came along with us just to put off the good-byes a little longer. (He also received a normal Bible when we left.) He is now in the hands of the local church with whom we partnered with, but our concern is that there are no youth in that church. Please pray from James...

Here are the youngest participants on the Project! This picture was taken around 5:30am on Monday morning as the 3 groups divided up to go to the different communities.
Personal space? Privacy? Non-existant!
Our missionary "dolls" leading the singing time

"Mr. Duck" had some "magic" tricks to show the kiddos. All of his illusions were used as a way to teach the kids about Jesus. I have no idea why he picked the name Mr. Duck...he couldn't explain it himself!
Story station


Game station



Art Station

And of course I took NO pictures of the memory verse, wordless book, snack, Claves station! Oh well...Steve took a few later on in the week when we went to the Bororo village....you'll see those as you continue going through all my blog posts!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Xavante Village...a dream come true!

On Tuesday afternoon I was told that there would be a small group going to a Xavante village that was about an hour and a half bus ride from General Carneiro. I needed to pick 5 people from my team of 14 to go and "play" with the children in the village. There were only a few Xavantes that spoke Portuguese in this village, those being male adults. Of course everyone wanted to go and it was dificult to decide who was most prepared to go. My first list of 5 did not include my name, but the leader of the Project objected to that and said she wanted me to go. I was concerned about leaving Michael and Maira behind and also concerned about taking them with me! She assured me it would be fine to take them, so I put myself on the list and then called the children's ministry team together to give them the news. God gave me the words at that moment because I know many of them had their hearts broken by not being picked. But I was able to give solid reasons for each person that I picked and everyone took the decision very well and later told me that they totally agreed with how I had made my decisions. Steve was shocked when I told him I was going, but he didn't say much except for, "are you sure you and the kids should go?" :) I spent that evening getting materials ready to take with us to use with the children and getting everything the kids and I would need for 2 days in one backpack!

Everything was exactly like I had seen in so many missionary presentations since my days at Moody Bible Institute. I always wanted to go to an indian tribe, but I knew I wasn't gifted in languages and doubted I had what it takes to live in an isolated tribe! Happily, God sent Steve my way and I have always felt very content in knowing that what we do helps those who are in the indian tribes. Anyway, I had given up on ever having this experience...and yet God gave me this amazing opportunity! And He gave it to Michael and Maira as well! (Steve has had this experience already) Some of you may remember my silly story of when I was a teenager and I somehow had the courage at a youth meeting to say that I was willing to go "wherever God wanted to send me...even if there were spiders!". Well, as I tried to get to sleep after that first day in the Xavante tribe, it was more than spiders that I was worried about! And when I woke up in the morning, I managed to stay calm as I saw a HUGE spider on the wall just a foot or so from my feet! We slept on 2 inch mattresses on the floor and I had seen several cockroaches running around in the hallway, kitchen, and bathroom when I got up in the middle of the night(YUCK!)...but I had not been thinking about the spiders! I contemplated killing it with a shoe, but decided that I didn't want that mess on MY shoe! So I just kept my eye on it and prayed that it would quietly go away. It did, but not before Michael woke up and saw it! His reaction was, "whoa!". I acted very calm and told him to just get dressed quickly and to keep his eyes on it!

This is the first of 3 Xavante tribes/villages that we saw. We stayed in the third one at the end of a very bumpy dirt road. We were literally in the middle of nowhere.




The state of Mato Grosso made some kind of agreement to help the Xavante by building them homes. They were to build 20 homes for this village. In the end the built only 10. Here you see the traditional hut beside the cement home.


This is where they get all the water that they need. It isn't far from the village, but it isn't convenient either!


This is the school that was built by the state in 2007. The Xavante indians requested that it be built in the shape of an armadillo because they feel that it represents their people. The "library" is in the head of the armadillo, the 2 classrooms in the body, and (for obvious reasons) the bathrooms in the rear! :)




See the girl walking away with a basket on her back?


Here she is again...and now you can see that she carries the weight of the basket with her head and neck because the strap goes over her forehead.


And this is what is in the basket!!!!

On the morning of the second day, the kids had a surprise for us. One of them caught a baby owl and tied a string to it. Michael and Maira loved holding the little guy, but later came crying to me because they kids were not treating it nicely. What can I say..they inherited my tender heart for all of God's creatures.






Maira making friends by drawing happy faces on their fingers!


Jônatas and Maira teaching my two favorite little ones a handshake

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The adorable faces of Xavante children.....






The church in Barra do Graças and other churches in Brazil sent lots of clothes for the Xavante village. They were delivered to the chief, who will then distribute them however he decides.


Xavante indians (like most indians) are extremely curious and were constantly looking through the windows to see what we were doing inside. We were having a meeting after lunch about how the afternoon would go and I couldn't resist taking a picture of this little one peeking in the side window!


The candy line...we quickly learned to say "girl" and "boy" in their language and they were always so quick to line up...even when it wasn't for candy!


They had a blast with the games we played with them! We played balloon popping races, duck-duck-goose, hot potato, sheet volleyball, and a modified version of musical chairs using circles in the dirt. Every time we got done with a game they would all yell "Abô, abô", which means "Again, again!". Sometimes we used a translator and sometimes we just acted out the games until they got the idea of it.









The children had a blast with these streamer toys that we made...

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The next two pictures show you what the foot bugs do to everyone's feet. All of the kids have them and it is due to poor hygiene. The children all walk on their heels because it is quite painful to have these bugs nesting in your skin. And yet it just seems to be normal for them. There were blood spots on the floor when they got done with the coloring acitivity due to these sores on their feet. One little guy kept working on a spot on his big toe until he finally pinched the bug out...then he popped it in his mouth and ate it with an audible "crunch". Mmmmmmmm






We took the children inside the school during the hottest hours of the day...mostly because we couldn't handle the sun! They didn't even break a sweat, but we felt like we would melt! The first activity we did was a mini coloring book that shows creation, the fall, and salvation through Jesus. We asked one of the 3 Xavante men who spoke Portuguese to translate as Marineige explained the pictures in the coloring book. A group young men (I'd guess around 17-20 years old) came in and sat down in the classroom. At first I was very intimidated by them, but I then decided to ask them if they wanted a book to color as well. They nodded their heads anxiously and started coloring right away! Crazy! Here is a video of Marineige telling going through the coloring book with a Xavante teacher translating for her.

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I was amazed at their fine motor skills. Even the littlest ones didn't ask for help when threading the ribbon through the straw pieces!






Take a good look at this little girl's arm...that is scabies and it is completely normal for this Xavante village. They think it is as normal as having freckles and only worry about it once it gets to an infectious stage.


She finished her "Zezusi" (Jesus) necklace and is very proud of it!


Oh yeah...I wanted to take this one home with me!!! She always had this amazing smile on her face!




We made ball keychains out of biscuit using the colors of the wordless book.



The indians told us that they wanted to dance for us before we left. They started getting ready by putting on their red shorts and getting painted. This is the cheif painting one of the little boys. Another little boy is waiting for his turn in the background.


Michael and his Xavante friend. Michael was a bit leary of the boy because their boys are taught from the cradle to be tough, so their games are pretty rough. Michael handled it well though and this boy gave him his neck rope after they performed their dance. Michael was actually scared to death when the boy and his friends called Michael over...he thought they were going to beat on him a bit! Happily, he just wanted to give Michael a gift!




Michael and Jônatas all painted and feeling like an indian! :)


Just a beautiful picture!


They are all lined up and ready to show us a dance...and we suddenly realized why those kiddos are so good at lining up all the time! I have a video of one of their dances, but blogger is giving me fits with it and won't upload it. I'll try again another day...for now a picture will have to do.