Wednesday, April 8, 2015

joshua and i :: brazil spring break 2015

i'm going to attempt to do this all in one post. we'll see...i took over 700 pictures and have narrowed it down a LOT...but...there is SO much to say...i'm just going to hit on the highlights!

joshua and i left with 20 other people to go to brazil on friday evening, march 27. our plane left at 10 pm. red eye flights are not my favorite. but i would have done anything to have this experience with this boy.
 there were 12 "kids" total in our group. 5 boys. 7 girls. they ALL did amazing. the girls were young (5th/6th grade). the boys were older (9/10 grade) except for my joshua :-)
 that little line took 10 hours to fly.
lunch at the airport in brazil. it was wonderful to be able to drink the water and eat the produce in a foreign country!
 marco polo in the airport during our layover. we had an audience by the end.
the last leg of our 23 hour trip was a VERY bumpy 3 hour bus ride. my stomach didn't like it. but the scenery was GORGEOUS. each leg of our trip we got further and further from civilization. by the time we got to the indian reservation where we were staying for the week, we were just out in the countryside...nothing but small houses and small churches and dirt roads and a little school and no internet. it was wonderful.
 it was nearly dark by the time we arrived. we unloaded our bags...and the kids went right to work - playing with the kids we were there to serve. they started playing soccer right away...and didn't stop until the moment we left.
 these tangerines had just been picked. we ate them all week.
there was a birthday party going on as we arrived - for the pastor's 1 year old granddaughter. it was basically a worship service. and precious.
 birthday parties basically look the same. big cakes and lots of soda ;-)
the first morning. this place is insanely gorgeous. this was where we lived for a week. we held VBS camp in this field. we ate in this field. we played in this field. we sang in this field. we read in this field. we talked and shared and prayed in this field. the boys slept in the green building right beyond the covering. the kitchen was the green building on the left with the columns. and the girls are sitting in front of the building where all the girls slept and where our bathrooms were.
the girls room. all the moms and young girls slept here. it was pretty rough. bugs. heat. dirt. no lights. we just played and worked really hard and made sure we were so tired that we couldn't think about where we were sleeping at night ;-)
the bathroom. equally rough. cold water. you don't flush toilet paper in brazil...instead you put it in a bucket next to the toilet. gross. there is no shower curtain, so the bathroom is always wet all over. and then the dirt that's on your shoes gets tracked into the bathroom and it's just all a mess all the time. again...don't think. :-) just do what you gotta do and get out.
 so excited to be in this place with this boy.
opening all the gifts we brought the kids and getting the soccer balls pumped up!
 all day long. everyday. this is where joshua was.
 jumping rope.
that little boy standing in the front became joshua's little friend. his name is Uri. and i am so glad i have this's from the first morning, before we even *knew* him.
different languages. but same games. it was amazing to watch our kids interact with their kids. the language barrier didn't seem to be a barrier at ALL.
 there was LOTS of singing. and motions and fun that went along WITH the singing.
 one of the biggest blessings to me was the brazilian team that we served alongside. they could speak portuguese (obviously!) and did most of the teaching/skits. they were incredible.
 the kids at our first day of VBS.
they did a craft each day...the first day was coloring a tshirt. i was amazed how much time and effort they put into each craft. they treasured them. and they wore their shirts the rest of the week ;-)

 testing out the obstacle course.

 we fed them a snack each day before they left...they waited patiently in line.
 and toucans were always in the trees overhead! it was amazing!
i can't tell you the joy it gave me to see that smile on joshua's face. all.week.long. he was ALWAYS smiling. always playing. always working. not ONE complaint. he was such a joy to be with.

bruno and eduardo. these guys have incredible testimonies and are using their lives to show kids who Jesus is. God is using them in amazing ways.

 this is the kind of scenery we were looking at all the time. it was so gorgeous.
 the older guys were so great at hanging with joshua. i was super thankful!

 game time.
the first day of VBS (Sunday afternoon), we had all the kids together.
but the next 3 days, the kids were in school so we had half of them in the morning (and they went to school in the afternoon) and the other half went to school in the morning, and came to VBS in the afternoon. we had a 3 hour break in between and went on a hike one day. this was heading out on the hike. i'm pretty sure our guests were laughing at us...we packed backpacks with snacks and water bottles, lathered up sunscreen and bugspray and put hats on our heads and tennis shoes on our feet. they walked with us in their flip flops and a smile on their face :-)
the hike was kind of intense. it started out on a path. quickly became rocks. and then more vertical than horizontal. my legs LOVED it, since we had just been in that field every day ;-)

this was where we ended up. the water was supposedly 24 feet deep! most people jumped off those rocks into the water. joshua even did it - i was SO proud of him! {i did not.}
stunning, right?
i adore these faces. it's amazing how you can not know someone and then be thrown into a trip like this and, all of a sudden, you feel like you've known each other for forever!
 things were a bit tricky for me as a mom to joshua. like i said, he was the youngest far. and he's kind of at that age where he is starting to not "need" me as much...and i wanted him to feel more independence...if HE wanted it. so i tried to not hover and ask too many questions (did you brush your teeth? should you take a shower? ...) there were a couple nights i went to bed before him! but then, there would be moments where he would come find me. and that made me happy :-)  i made sure to ALWAYS be available and ready to sit and be with him if that's what he needed.

this is liam. liam is the oldest of 7 kids and he is amazing to and with joshua. he took him under his wing and i KNEW without a doubt that he wouldn't let anything happen to my boy.
 craft ladies! :-) they did an AWESOME job.
snack time. we used those bowls and cups every day. and washed every single one. every day.

 our leaders :-)

 team meeting.

 the third day was a GORGEOUS hot, sunny morning. and then, in a matter of minutes, the clouds rolled in, the wind picked up, the temperature dropped...and it POURED for a little while. RIGHT as we were starting our afternoon camp. we sang our hearts and voices out until it let up a little. it was amazing.
 it continued to rain most of the afternoon and evening. but it didn't stop the soccer games!

 one night we all worshiped together. it was incredible. we would figure out songs we all knew, and we would sing in english and they would sing in was so powerful. i will never forget that time.
we got to spend some time praying for the team that lives in brazil...that works with the kids there all the time. what an honor.
 this was someone's PET. isn't she gorgeous?!?

 the teaching was SO powerful.. i was usually in tears...and i couldn't even understand a word! i could just TELL from the passion that TRUTH and LOVE were being spoken.
 we ate SO well! the food was so yummy!
one afternoon a few of us went with the pastor's son-in-law to watch him harvest some yucca root. we'd been eating it all week (and it was GOOD!) and had no idea what an adventure was in store for us.

first we took a bumpy ride. then a little hike up to a yucca field. that little tree in the front of this picture is one of the trees...with the bumpy looking trunk.

he pulled one of the trees up so we could see the yucca growing at the root. then he said he had to go further into the field to go to HIS section. well, we decided to go with him! and what a decision that was! we were covered in all kinds of things...things i mostly just didn't even want to know what it was. we just kept going, because he was walking FAST!
 can't you see the path?? yea, me either. but we just kept plowing through...
 look at all that yucca!
 ok. so then WE wanted to pull some up. the first time it didn't go so well. :/ we might have ended up on the ground...with the trunk of the tree in our hands and the yucca still firmly below ground. but we changed our tactic a bit...
 and i had success! (and i think the guy that took us there will always smile when he goes to that field. we caused quite a scene...)

 the yucca harvesters ;-)
 love seeing my boy in the midst of all that. he had not an ounce of shyness or timidness. jumped right into anything and everything.
 the last night. this is joshua's friend, Uri. he stayed til we went to bed that last night. it was so cute.
 AND then he came back EARLY the next morning before we left camp.

we left camp and had a day in Aguiduana to recover a bit. we had beds without spiders AND air conditioning. it was amazing.
 our kids...
 the hotel had a pool...
 and we got to sit at TABLES to eat. it all felt like such luxury.
joshua and the other guys went on a walk together. i definitely sent my son off in a town i don't know in BRAZIL with 4 teenagers. and i didn't think twice. they had a ball.
and we were supposed to begin to process all we had just experienced.

today...5 days later...i'm still not sure how you go about processing something like that. but i'm going to try, because the more time goes on, the harder it will be.

it was SUCH a blessing to go on this trip with joshua. he was amazing. i felt like i saw him grow up and mature right before my amazing ways. he always had a smile on his face and never complained. and i also loved how he sought me out at times. we had some good conversation at the hotel on the last day. but i don't think kids his age process something like this the same way that we, as adults, do. for us, an experience like this is changing how we see the world. but, for him, it's shaping and molding how he sees the world. he hasn't formed his view yet...this is helping his view become what it is. and i'm so thankful for that. i know that this trip is in his heart and mind and will be something that is always a part of him.

i was amazed at how God showed off on this trip. there were multiple times where something was *lost* and we prayed. and whatever it was was found almost immediately. He didn't NEED to do that. none of it was necessary...but God proved to us over and over that He was with us.

all the logistics went so well. it almost felt too good to be true. no one got really sick or injured...i was so thankful!

and my heart. oh, my heart. i LOVED this trip. i loved seeing a country i've never seen. i loved getting to know people that speak a different language...but, at the heart, beat for the same things...they want to be LOVED and SEEN and KNOWN. i loved working alongside a team of people i barely knew...but we had the same goal and love the same God so it was easy and fun and beautiful.

experiencing this trip alongside joshua was obviously a big focus of mine. but, as we arrived in brazil, something else was pressed on my heart loudly. i felt like God was saying, "keep your mouth shut. keep your hands out of the details. stay in the background." and when i say God was saying it, it was CLEAR as could be in my spirit. if i went against it, i would have been disobeying. anyone that knows me even a little bit, knows that i can easily take over a situation...or a conversation. i'm efficient and enjoy figuring out the "best" way to do things. it comes easily to me. but God was telling me, "NO." that's not what i have for you here. i want you to pray. and watch. and be willing to step in if asked, but do NOT take over. so i didn't. i sat on my hands. and kept my mouth shut. and prayed my little heart out. it was so incredibly hard! but, as the week went on, i saw why. most of the team that i was serving alongside had never experienced something like this...and they needed to be able to take over certain that God could teach them and speak to them. and, oh He did! i got to be a witness to God moving and opening eyes and breaking hearts wide open. it was glorious.
i had ONE concern going on this trip. our family is pretty invested in Haiti...our hearts are with Pastor Francois and Madou and their kids in Pignon, Haiti. i didn't know how i was going to handle introducing a new to my heart. this heart of mine just wasn't sure it could take anymore. but i didn't let that concern stop me. i knew God was in control. became so clear to me that my love for haiti and pastor francois and those kids in pignon is DEEP and REAL and TRUE. i loved seeing brazil and loving the kids there. i loved seeing God work there and loved partnering with the team that was there. and i will always pray for them and love them. but haiti has my heart in a way that no where else will. and that confirmation was pretty sweet for this heart of mine.
i'm so honored that joshua wanted to go on this trip with me. i pray that he is changed by it. i know i was!!


Jill said...

I've been so eager for this post and praying for you, your family, and re-entry into "normal." My heart is encouraged (as usual) from reading along. Praise God! Thank you for sharing the details.

Megan said...

I loved reading this recap. Thank you for sharing all about it and all the amazing pictures. I'm so glad that you and Joshua had this experience together. Thinking of you as you readjust to real life.

Maggie Kolb said...

Love this! It brought back memories of my trip to Brazil. I think I even see a familiar face from the team. Roni?

Rebecca said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing. He is so good to lead us, speak to us and bless us with His goodness. And He did all of that for YOU!

Jennifer said...

SO funny, why I am NOT surprised that Jason was organizing games and getting a crowd on onlookers - the other camp sites at the Annual Memorial Day Cmaping Trip always gather to watch our silliness too!

(I got to that photo and had to laugh and comment) - now back the rest of the post. Sinfully envious that you got to do this with Joshua.

Barbara Cassada said...

Wow! Courtney, we know without a doubt that this trip will always have a positve impact upon Joshua's life and his love for God! What a blessing this trip was for both of you!