Monday, August 10, 2009

For those of you who are longtime readers of this blog, you may remember a post from about a year and half ago where I talked about the way Brazilians mispronounce English words yet continue to use them in everyday speech. My example at the time was about a conversation I had about "Weel Smeetch" (Will Smith) movies. I've had a great time telling that story over and over again, and the Brazilians really get a kick out of the fact that I think it's so weird.

Well, my friends, I have a new one. There is a certain home entertainment system that goes by its English name in this fine country. If you want one, you will have to go into a store and ask for a "homey cheech."

"What on earth is that?" you ask?

To which I say "It's in English, how do you not know?" Except I don't say that. Because I was just as puzzled as you are.

A homey cheech. Known by the common man as a home theater. And yes, if I were to walk into a store and ask for a home theater I would be received with blank stares (and probably a few salesman running in the other direction...although that tends to happen to me before I even open my mouth...they can just SENSE that what I say will be scary.) But if I walk into a store and ask for a "homey cheech," they will direct me to the area of the store over which there will probably be a sign that reads "Home Theater."

Really, you should come visit. Life in Brazil is never dull.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Since I got back to Natal in April, most of my time has been dedicated to either A) getting my life in order (i.e. moving to a new apartment, buying a car) or B) hosting the two LST projects we had in June and July. These tasks can keep a young missionary pretty busy, so my own English conversation classes and reading sessions were kind of put on the back burner until things settled down. Then I had the task of figuring out how one young missionary was going to arrange follow-up with three people's worth of readers PLUS leftover readers from the previous year. Thank goodness July is vacation month, because after the second LST project I had a couple of free weeks to get organized and work some magic to find the answer to the above equation. (3 workers x 12 readers each + 15 leftovers=Cris's 40 hour workweek..nearly impossible...but with God all things are possible, right?)

Thankfully, I was able to start up quite a few group classes last week, (my solution to that nasty equation) two of which are made up entirely of students from the English school where I taught for a month! By the time all is said and done, I expect to have about 10 group classes of varying levels. Any class up until the advanced level will study out of the LST reading materials, beginning with the Gospel of Luke. And the advanced class...oh the advanced class. That is what I am here to tell you about tonight.

The advance class is really the greatest English conversation class in the history of English conversation classes. When I first arrived in Natal, I began an advanced conversation class that consisted of readers with advanced conversation levels but who were also Christians. The class kind of turned into a debate class, and was so successful that the readers all became really close friends and have been asking (ok, bugging) me ever since to start it up again. (We had to stop due to scheduling conflicts.) As I went through all of the paperwork on this year's readers, I was thrilled to see that there were enough readers to not only put together one advanced group class, but THREE!

On Monday mornings, Monday afternoons, and Thursday evenings, I now have three separate groups who meet to "discuss" (ahem, argue) about controversial issues that relate to Christianity. Some of the students are Christians, some are very much not. Our text is "The Top 100 Questions," a book written by a British journalist that has one-page answers to what he considers to be the top 100 questions outsiders have about the Christian faith. The questions range from "Does Christianity have the highest standard of ethics?" to "What are the rights of the unborn?" to "Who is the Antichrist?" to "Is Jesus really the only way?" As I have glanced through the book, a few topics have made me cringe and think "Oh, I really hope the readers don't choose to debate that one..." but I know that it will be an extremely constructive experience for us all. I have even already warned the readers that since the book is written by a British author, we are all in for a new vocabulary learning experience. :) (New vocab words this week: dogged, aggregated, ceased, coined, shallow, deadlines.)

As each group met this week for the first time to look through the topics and get to know each other a bit, I introduced them to a chapter entitled "Who are we? What are we?" and we consequently got into our first debate about whether or not humans are born with the innate ability to distinguish right from wrong. It was a nice way to introduce them to the format of the class, and they all got a nice taste of the ride they are in for this semester.

Please keep these classes in your prayers. I pray that as I facilitate (and mediate) the discussions, God will guide me with a spirit of wisdom and truth. I know that these classes are going to open up some tremendous opportunities for me to share the message of Christ, and I pray that I will take those opportunities boldly yet sensitively.

I hope to periodically update you on the progress of these classes, because I think that they will provide you with excellent insight into my day to day work in Natal, as well as thought-provoking ideas to think about. And if you have always wondered if Christianity does, in fact, have the highest standard of ethics, check back with me on Monday. I expect to have an answer for you!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I've talked about John and Samantha Jewell before on this blog and have even linked to their blog a couple of times. For those of you who read this blog and are the praying kind, I want to ask for your prayers on the Jewell family. You can read the story in Samantha's words here, but my version is that they just got back from a 2-month furlough to the US and brought swine flu back with them. They have 3 boys under the age of 8 and all three have had it. Andy, the 4-year old, has it the worst and today was diagnosed with the beginning stages of pneumonia. Due to the swine flu diagnosis he is not allowed to be hospitalized, so they are trying to treat him at home under quarantine. This is a very serious and heartbreaking situation, so please say a prayer for the Jewells tonight.

As we were all mindful of this situation at our midweek Bible study tonight, Roberto led us in some thoughts from the book of James. At the end, he left us with these parting thoughts in regard to sharing the Gospel: "So, we need to be like the swine flu: attack everyone."

Way to put a positive spin on it...