Friday, August 31, 2007

So I'm a little less than three days away from leaving and I'm still successfully pretending that I'm not. I knew my departure would be bittersweet, but after spending a delightful weekend in Abilene, saying a final goodbye to my friends, it feels more bitter than sweet. I know that will all change on Tuesday, when I step out of the baggage terminal at the Natal airport and see everyone (a busload, apparently.) Then it will, once again, be more sweet than bitter.

I heard from my friend, Sergio, who has been acting as a sort of secretary and message relay-er this summer as I've prepared to leave. He let me know that I will spend next week with the two women missionaries finding my apartment, and then I will spend the week after that getting my reading schedule ready, determining my group class arrangements, fitting in my Portuguese lessons, etc. He is very on top of things and it really helps to know that he will be there to help me get my feet on the ground! He made clear that I must wait for him to get there so he can fill me in on all of the readers, what he knows, who has been visiting the worship services, etc. I couldn't be more thankful! He also told me that next weekend the church will be spending the holiday weekend together (Brazil's independence day is Friday, Sept 7) at Genipabu, a little beach town about 30 minutes outside of Natal. I am looking forward to getting to spend that chunk of time with the church members so quickly after I get there! As I've said before, God's timing has been so perfect throughout the entire preparation process, and I have no doubt that this, once again, is part of His finishing touches.

I don't know when I'll be blogging again...perhaps a late-night freakout on Sunday, or maybe sometime next week letting you know I've safely arrived, or maybe sometime two weeks from now saying "yeah, I'm here, but I'm having such a blast I haven't had the time to blog!" Let's hope for that last one. It's the happiest.

Thanks for those of you who are leaving comments! For some reason Blogger didn't notify me when people were commenting back on my earlier posts, but now I've seen them all and hope that you will continue! If you check here you can see a comment that was left from one of my future readers in Natal. Gotta love the Blogosphere! Thanks for reading...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pack Rat: Definition: Cris Carpenter

I'm wondering how it's possible that over the last 10 years I have deemed so many different kinds of junk save-worthy. Not only do I get to think about what I will be taking to Brazil with me over the next week, I also get to go through all of the things that have accumulated in my parents' house since we have lived in the States and throw away a lot. And I mean A LOT. Apparently, I have kept every card, every letter, every little trinket, every postcard, every piece of foreign currency (including Italian Lire, which is odd, because I have never been to Italy?) etc etc etc. This is a task so daunting I would like to hire the crew from Clean Sweep on TLC, but I won't. It's my punishment for being a pack rat in my early years.

However, going through all of my stuff has been fun and has given me occasion to reminisce, which is one of my most favorite activities in the entire world! I read through most of the cards that I had saved (since literally around 3rd grade) and many of the letters. I was touched/convicted by two things. 1. I NEED to be better about staying in touch with people. 2. I am amazed by how encouraging and supportive my friends and family have been through the years, particularly when we moved to Oklahoma from Santa Barbara. I found so many letters from friends in California who wrote often to say "hang in there" or "I'm praying for you" or just letting me know they were thinking about me and hoping I was making friends. For a 13 year old California girl moving to the Midwest, I really wonder if some of those letters are what got me through the transition semi-smoothly. (I also must admit, however, that I made no secret of the fact that I was miserable and hating life at that point. I guess I kind of asked for it. No drama queen here, no sir.)

Anyway, what this all has to do with my move to Natal is that I am committing myself to not only stay in touch with people here in the States, but to stay in good touch. To stay updated on people's lives and take as much of an interest in everyone else as everyone else is taking in me. This isn't a promise, because I can't make that kind of promise before I even get there, but it's a confession and a plea to keep me accountable. Reading through all of those cards and letters was evidence to me for how crucial it is to one's well-being (well, at least to mine!) to be encouraged and supported. There's a reason that I didn't throw out any of those old letters, but put them right back in the boxes they came from, looking forward to going through them all again someday. They represent a special part of my life that I want to remember and cherish.

So, please hold me accountable. I can't promise letters through the mail, (one, because I'm good at writing them but terrible at actually putting them in the mailbox, two, because international postage is highly inconvenient) but I will send postcards. And I will send emails. And if you haven't heard from me personally in a while, please email me. One thing I'm really good at is responding to emails! And just knowing the way my mind works, if you leave a comment on here every once in a while there's a good chance it will trigger my commitment and you'll end up getting a personal message out of the deal.

Please keep me (and my family, and the people in Natal) in your prayers. I thank God for all of you and the appreciate your love and support!

Friday, August 17, 2007

When I say "Please leave a comment," I mean it!

I've had a few people ask how exactly to leave comments, and since I have asked you many times to do so, I guess it would be polite to let you know how. :) Just click on the link below the post that says "# Comments" and it will take you to a new comment page. Type your comment in the box, and then click any of the three identification options below it. The simplest is to click "Anonymous" and just sign your name at the end of your comment. Then click "Publish comment" or some variation of that. If you have a Blogger or Google account you probably know what you're doing comment away! I'd love to know who is out there reading this!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Meu Portugues e muito mal, mais mesmo assim, eu gosto de falar.

Well well I am 17 days away from moving to Natal. You can call it a little under three weeks or a little over two, but either way I got my tickets in the mail today and it's officially official. No changing my mind now, (not that I was planning on it!) and no "Hmm...maybe I should have gone to grad school" to be thought.

You will notice a new addition to "Living and loving in Natal, Brazil" over there to the right >> where you can see for yourself that it is, in fact, 17 days away. (Or 16..or 15...depending on when you read this.) I know the yellow is a bit hard to see, but I needed the countdown to be that color in order to stick with the Brazilian-colors-theme we have going on here. (In case you hadn't noticed, my blog has a Brazilian colors theme. I will post a picture of the Brazilian flag at the end in case you don't know what I'm talking about. The lengths to which I am willing to go for you, dear readers...)

I got to spend a lovely few days in Arkansas with my mom's side of the family last weekend. It was a great last visit, filled with plenty of games and plenty of Strawberry Pretzel Jell-o Salad (a favorite among the Buchanan granddaughters.) They even gave me a very sweet and thoughtful send-off with a sweet and thoughtful send-off gift (iTunes gift cards!!!) which I managed to lose the very next day. We're hoping (and maybe even praying, a little) that they grew feet and walked into some drawer and will be discovered soon. Or maybe they were stolen. Either way, it was an incredibly generous and thoughtful gift for which I am so thankful. I have been blessed with a wonderful family and am thankful for all the times I get to be reminded of it.

If you've been watching the news this summer, you've seen all the reports on what an absolute nightmare air travel has been. If you're like me, each time one of those reports came on you've thought "Oh man...I'm so glad I'm not trying to go anywhere!" Well, the unfortunate thing is that in just 17 days I will be trying to go somewhere, and I have 4.5 flights to take in order to arrive at my final destination. That's 4 airplanes and 3 layovers to have potential problems with, and so I would really appreciate your prayers around the 3rd and 4th of September. (Just think...when you're at home, enjoying your Labor Day holiday, that's when you can pray for me. Thanks.) My nerves will already be experiencing levels of anxiety they've probably never felt before, so it would be nice to avoid a heap of travel problems on top of everything else.

My "things to do before I leave" list is getting shorter by the day, and with each item crossed off my mom says " it's really happening, isn't it."

Yep. It's really happening. It's really happening!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The nice things people say

I've done a bit revamping to the blog, trying to make it a little more appealing to the eye, and no matter what I do I just can't seem to figure out why Blogger insists on maintaining two different font colors on the last post. I'm assuming it bothers no one else nearly as much it bothers me, but such is the life of a perfectionist...

For the last year, (ever since I made the decision to go to Brazil...) I have been overwhelmed by the amount of encouraging words and messages that have come from friends and family. In particular, the Christians in Natal have been telling me for 10 months that they are waiting for me, and just the other day my friend Sergio signed a message with "See you at the airport!" They have given me confidence in my decision to move to Natal, and without their support I'm not sure I would be able to go through with it all!

I wanted to share with you some of the things they have said, not because I want the world to know all the great things people have to say about me, but to show you how amazing the people are who I will be joining in a few short weeks. The grammar isn't always perfect, (although it should give you a few laughs...) but the messages are more than perfect. I love these people like they are my family, and I hope that you will be able to see a glimpse of why. Enjoy!

"we had some visitors from sao paulo and they new your family... they are very happy with your coming and they gave us beautiful informations about the carpenter´s. your parents did a very good job here in brazil. i hope to know them someday. we are waiting for you and praying too." -Marisa (one of the missionaries)

"hi my special girl,
it´s very good to hear from you. everybody is waiting for you in september, 3rd. each month we are talking about you are coming and the people is asking me: are you sure cris is coming? and i answer: yes, i´m. then they ask me: can i go with you to the airport to take cris? i believe i´ll need to buy a bus until september." -Marisa

"i´m very proud of you about your graduation. congratulation baby! i´ll send you some pictures from us. we love you. even when we don´t write you we have you in our hearts and mind. we want you here. God is sending you for us." -Marisa

"Hey Cris, how are you doing? Well, i know you didn't arrive in Brazil yet, but I alreay have a job for you! We want to have a meeting for yound [young] people at the church and obvious we want to have many guests. the meeting is gonna be about that verse in the Bible when Jesus tells that we have to be like a child to enter in the hevan realms. So, we plan to have a meeting like a meeting for children, we are going to remember our plays [games] when we were a child, videos, songs, something like that. we are planning to set up that in September, because you are going to be here, so you can invite your readers and sure they are going to want to come bec. they want to speak English and to know you better! That's this, before you are here you have already been helpful. Bye! God bless you! We can't wait to pick you up from the airport." -Church member

"I'm also very excited for your coming, mainly bec. I have spoken about U for all the readers and they are very glad for knowing that someone is coming to live one year here and that they can keep practicing their English! Well September 3 is sooner than later, sure I'll be at the airport to pick you up! Bye! God bless you, love you!" -Church member

There are lots and lots and lots more, but I'll stop there. I'll be giving you plenty more to read about, I'm sure, very very soon! Thanks for stopping by my blog, and please leave a comment so that I know who all of you are!

Sunday, August 5, 2007


My friend Ann used to have a segment on her blog called "Thanksgiving Thursday." If my memory serves me correctly, she began Thanksgiving Thursdays in order to have a deliberate time of thanksgiving and gratefulness each week, probably in an attempt to keep her focus positive when things may not have been so easy. For the last 8 months or so, as I have been training and preparing to leave for Natal, God has showed up in the strangest places, blessed me in the most unexpected ways, and used people whom I would not have sought out to encourage me and help give me confidence when it was non-existent. With my departure 29 days away, I thought I should remember and share some of those blessings.

1. My mom and dad. I'm often unintelligible and irrational when I cry, and so I try to subject as few people as possible to myself when I'm in that state. My mom and dad fielded so many phone calls of panic and discouragement, and without their wisdom (missionary and parental) I don't known that I would be going, and going happily, in 38 days. I still have an email sitting in my Inbox from my dad, who, when I emailed with a joyful update on my fundraising, said "That’s wonderful. I say…you praise God and take this as one more sign that He really wants you to serve the church in Natal this next year." That was exactly what I needed to hear.

2. My friends. If you have so much as asked me "Are you excited?", then you are one of my blessings. It has meant so much to me to have friends who care enough about what I'm doing to ask simple questions. It sounds silly, I know, but even simple questions let me know you've thought about me, and who doesn't like to be thought about? I appreciate my friends who have consistently asked how my fundraising is coming along, and obviously my friends who have made the sacrifice to give me financial support. I have learned a lot about generosity through this time, and have been humbled by the conviction that I am nowhere near as generous as my friends. Nowhere near it. I'm definitely learning...

3. My friend Whitney. Do you know Whitney Mann? No? Then you're missing out. Whitney
and I met last year as we were both preparing to go on our respective LST projects, mine to Brazil and her's to Thailand. We connected instantly, and since then we have had a special friendship like none I have ever had before. We both share a passion for missions, and through her encouragement and support I've learned how special it is to have friends who share the same interests and goals as you. She has become my go-to friend, the first person I want to talk to anytime something exciting happens with Natal. I know that when I call her (or Facebook her, or text her, whatever) that she will rejoice with me, understand me, and share her insight. Whitney and I are not friends by accident, and I know the Lord had special intentions for us when He got us both to go on LST in 2006. If you don't know her, meet her. She looks like this ^^.

4. My doctor. Strange? Perhaps. Let me explain. I had been really concerned about how I would afford my medications while I was in Natal. I seem to have the most obscure conditions that require the most expensive of medicines (of course) that are definitely not budgeted for and would run my bank account dry. I went to a new doctor last week and talked to her about what kind of options I had for one medicine in particular that costs me $50 per month. She told me that she would give me some samples (what I was hoping for...) but that she didn't have any. Right then she got up and said "I'm going to call my drug rep right now, and if he knows what's good for him he'll get us some of those." First of all, what doctor gets up and does that right then and there? I love her. Second of all, I was praying that Brian the Drug Rep would have some good news for us. My doctor called me on Monday and said that Brian had brought her every last bit of this particular medicine he had left in the warehouse, 15 boxes' worth. Doing some quick math, that's $750 of FREE MEDICINE that she gave me, enough to get through my first 15 months in Natal. Don't tell me God isn't in the details...because God worked in my details in a way I never could have imagined.

5. My supporters. I've mentioned before that I had money come from the most random of places, but I need to mention again that I received money from the most random of places. My aunt's best friend whom I spent two hours with at Thankgiving. Friends from high school whom I lost touch with after graduation. (THANK YOU, Facebook.) My parent's friends. My friend's parents. Friends at ACU whom I never hung out with. My aunt and uncle's congregation. A mission's committee member at my church whom I have never met but who read my fundraising letter. I had no idea that so many people were willing to support missions, let alone me, and once again I need to mention how much the fundraising process has humbled me and convicted me. Thank you, if you are in this category. You are making it possible for me to go.

6. My friends in Brazil. I've copied some of the emails I have received from Natal on here before, but those are just a couple of the many encouraging notes and messages I get from the people in Natal, telling me how excited they are for me to arrive. They tell me they miss me and that I will have a lot of work to do, and how they are already recruiting readers who are excited and ready for me to come. They say "We are waiting for you," in each message they send, and that phrase alone means the world.

I arrive in Brazil one month from today....eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! Please keep me in your prayers!