Monday, December 26, 2016

Joy In The Journey...and Unexpected Twists and Turns

Courtesy of Google Images

I think of life most often as a journey.  I saw a quote just now on google: "It is not in the destination but in the journey." How true that often is.  I get all focused on the destination.  High School Grad. College Grad.  Career.  Marriage.  Children.  Children's Education.  On it goes.  And really what is it that God wants to teach me?  Joy and Enjoy the journey.  Hence the name of my blog.  I feel that especially the last 10 years of my life has been a journey:  a whirl wind, twisting, turning, churning sometimes, quiet stroll at others but always with a strong sense of needing to learn JOY in whatever the journey brings.

So, the last few weeks have been full of twists and unexpected turns for me personally.  I won't share all the details because there are many, but I will just say this.  We (husband and I) were in a calm, comfortable, routine of working, ministry, raising two busy children when three weeks ago, BAM, God decided to stir up our lives once again...namely mine.

For those of you who followed me the last year you know I just completed my first year as a High School teacher, which I NEVER in a million or two million years saw myself doing...but as things sometimes go, I found myself rather enjoying it!  My students studied in their normal Brazilian classes all morning and two afternoons a week studied with myself and my co-worker, Richard, in classes that are not included in the Brazilian curriculum but needed to receive their American diploma at the end of three years.  It was a challenging year professionally for me as I learned to balance the work away from home and work at home and always trying to keep my children my priority.  The year flew by and was a wonderful experience.  I was super excited to head into my second year, "knowing the ropes" and feeling much more comfortable as I looked ahead at 2017.

And then, the BAM.  Within a few days time, I was offered another position (same type of program, different school), resigned from my current school, signed a contract for the new school, registered for teacher's training December 12-15 and registered my children at the new school.  In summary of all summaries, what God made so clear was of HIM was as a teacher at school #2, my children have 100% scholarships to study at a Christian school that is also rated as one of the BEST in our city.  Can I just say, Only God!  Only God could do this.  Those of you who are familiar with private schooling in Brazil will know what a MIRACLE it is that both of my children will study at a private CHRISTian school this coming year.  Only God!  Private schooling is outrageous here in Sao Paulo but Christian schools are doubly outrageous.  We are just in AWE of God's blessing and provision for our precious children...for at least the next year.

On a professional level, I am once again 100% out of my comfort zone as I look ahead to 2017.  This program is totally different as far as what is expected of me as the teacher and I am kind of "trembling in my boots" at the thought of it all.  I believe I will work as I have never worked before in my life BUT  I keep reminding myself that "God's will will never take me where His grace cannot keep me!" And I will do it for my children.  Because after all, they will study every afternoon at a school that requires they take their Bible to school.  How cool is that??

The following are only a few pictures of the events of the past weeks.  I tried to go "light" because well, there is just no way to share it all.

Our last ladies "tea" of the year in our women's ministry.  We enjoyed our guest speaker, delicious food and sweet fellowship.  God is blessing this ministry in our church and it is a privilege to play a small part.

Theme: "Transformando Pedras em Perolas" (translation: Transforming Rocks into Pearls)

An afternoon outing with my girl which included an eye appointment for her (thank God her vision is perfect!) and ice cream treats for us both.

Celebrating Thanksgiving at RM English School...Chloe with our special, special friend, Livia.

Noah sticking his "thankful leaves" on the tree.

My third Thanksgiving Meal at the English School but my first ever in 39 years made entirely by Brazilians.  They did a fantastic job and I LOVED enjoying the meal without lifting a finger to make it!

Can you guess what my daughter wants to be when she grows up???  She told me the other day she wants to be a teacher so she can boss everyone around.  Oh, dear.  

My neighbor and friend, Flavia, invited me to join her on an outing to an event where adults dressed up as various characters present during a three hour presentation.  The point was we would then all contract them to come to our children's parties during 2017!  I have no intentions of such a thing but for a very small fee, we enjoyed three hours of entertainment!!!  My kids were thrilled.

Face painting and popcorn was included for the children

My sister in law and nephew spent a morning with us the children's last day of school.  We made cupcakes for Chloe to take to school for their last Friday afternoon picnic.  The kids enjoyed licking the bowl at the end of our baking adventure!

Isn't he just precious?

Finally an afternoon of Christmas decorating...the kids had been asking for several days!

On December 4th we celebrated our nephew Victor and his 19 years with a fabulous Sunday morning brunch and Advent devotional.

Chloe's last day of 1st Grade.  She and her 1st Grade buddies presented a song in sign language.  It was quite precious!

Saying goodbye to Professora Erica.

Not only did we have to say goodbye to Pro Erica, we had to say goodbye to yet another school.

and sweet friends.

And van drivers and monitors that have safely and lovingly taken Chloe to school and brought her home for THREE YEARS.  Tia Vania and Tia Lucia became much more than just paid helpers to us.  They are our friends and supporters on a daily basis.  We shall miss you both very, very much.  We were so honored they took an afternoon and came to have "cafezinho" with us and say a proper goodbye.  As I will be working three afternoons at the children's new school, we will no longer need the services of "peruas" aka school vans privately contracted by parents to transport children to and from school.  I will be taking the children from now on and picking up.

Some of my new friends at my teacher's training, December 12-15 in Engenheiro Coelho, Sao Paulo (about 2 hour drive by car from Sao Paulo city).

I so thoroughly enjoyed the "ruralness" of the UNASP campus, the university belonging to church affiliation of the children and I's new school.

When I opened my hotel door to go to the very first meeting on our agenda the very first night, this young lady from Rio de Janeiro was outside my door, very obviously looking for someone or something.  She asked me if I was there for the teacher's conference and I replied I was...and we were fast friends from that moment on!  What a blessing and joy it was to get to know Raquel for the next four days.

If we look a bit tired...well, it is because we were!  Mr. Rivers was our main speaker for the training and Janice is my new boss for High School.  This was right before we all went our separate ways across Brazil after an intense four days of learning and learning and learning some more.

This picture is mostly for my parents:  four of Dona Manoela's children at the youngest one's wedding last week.  The pastor is Ronaldo, a very dear friend whom Everson and I had not seen for 10 years.  It was a special wedding for so many, many reasons.  

The groom is a professional musician so you can imagine the incredible musci we enjoyed both during the ceremony and reception!

These two sweet women from Oregon brought us our "California Christmas" in the form of an entire suitcase of wrapped up love from my mom and cousin.  Thank you so much, Kim and Kambria.  Your love, hugs and gifts blessed us so much.  Can't wait to see you next year.

A short, simple but very sweet Christmas presentation at our church by our children's ministry.

Opening gifts from Grammie and Auntie Jo!

Helping brother make his gingerbread train.  Thank you Grammie!

Thannk you Grammie for my gingerbread house!

Christmas Day: enjoying her new art supplies at Avo Rosa's house

Our Christmas Table

My sister in law prepared a nativity skit for the children to do on Christmas Day (second year of our new tradition!).  This was our music section!

Our sweet narrator, Isabelle


Angel Gabriel

Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus, the shepherds in the "stable"!!!

And today, a quiet, laid back, much needed day at home wherein the children enjoyed their new toys and mommy enjoyed everyone's 3 hour nap!!!  I kind of think we were all on the brink of exhaustion.

A belated but no less warm Merry Christmas from our little corner of the world to yours!

May your New Year be full of His presence and JOY in abundance. 

Blessings,  Jama

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