First Home Improvement Project Completed…

And its something everyone can do, even those that are just renting. You folks in the dormitories may not be able to do it completely, but you can do a little. What is this I am speaking of? It’s pretty simple, doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars, but doing it can save you hundreds of dollars. I’ve already mentioned how simple it is and that everyone can do… but I haven’t mentioned that like blondes, they have there own category of jokes. (Example; Q: How many Church of Christers does it take to change a lightbulb? A: None. They don’t ever change anything.) With the exception of my garage door opener (it recesses a little to much), some appliances, and the stairway lights (can’t find C type bulbs), I have replaced all my incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL). They use less energy and produce less heat. I’ll skip the whole thermodynamics lesson on how incandescents use heat to light up the bulb and just how much of that heat is wasted compared to CFLs. But less energy + less wasted heat is a good thing.

There are a couple of things to be aware of, since they don’t behave exactly like your standard incandescent light bulb. First off, it can take a couple of minutes before the bulb fully lights up. I have bulbs from two brands. GE and Philips. The GE bulbs are pretty good about providing a lot of light when they first get turned on. The warm-up time is most noticeable in the bulbs from Philips. Also, you can’t just use any CFL bulbs with a dimmer. You have to find a special bulb that is made for dimmer circuits. Also you’ll want to be careful to not break them. They contain a small amount of mercury. If one breaks, you can’t just vacuum it up. (In fact, you shouldn’t vacuum it at all.) It also means, that 7-10 years down the road when you need to replace a bulb, you can’t just throw them in the trash can. You have to take them to a recycling center or to a place that accepts recyclable goods.

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Still Much to Do, but Making the Time

By now, you’ve probably lost interest in hearing about Patos, so I’ll keep it brief. Patos is a city in the interior of Paraiba. It is the third largest city in the state of Pariaba, coming in at a population of around 150,000 people. It is about a 4 and a half hour drive (though it took us just a little under 7 hours) from João Pessoa. Our purpose in going to Patos was to do a Mini-EBF in which we show the church members at Patos how one is done. For reference, here is a map of Paraiba.
Map of Paraiba

Patos Team
15 of us from João Pessoa loaded up on the van to drive to Patos. Joyce went to Recife to spend time with Juliana since she was having surgery. In her place, Ediclar came. The others that came were Mike, Sheridan, Hunter, Lori, Hunter, Mathias, Sabrina, Mark and Carolyn (Hunter’s parents), Nilson, Raniere Vieira, Bea, Julian, and Mara. When we arrived, we did not know how many kids to expect. We were initially told about 30-40 kids. Their plan was to start advertising on that Saturday morning. (EBF was only two days, Saturday and Sunday.) A few of the kids were familiar from last year, but most were a brand new face to me. On Saturday, we had 46 kids, but not many of the church members stayed around to observe. Sunday, we had even more kids… close to 70!!!! A few more of the church members stayed on Sunday to observe, but I think more were desired. Next year, I don’t think we’ll be going to Patos.

For those of you at Laurel, you’ll probably get to hear a more detailed report soon. Also… if you would like to go next year, please start praying about it now. We are hoping to start planning next years trip in December instead of like May. Also… if you haven’t check out the pictures, they are here:

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Hold Tight, Gotta Find the Time

So many things to do, so little time. I still want to write about our EBF experience in Patos, post most of the pictures from the trip, and then another blog entry of lessons I (and my team members) hopefully have learned about how to travel. But before I do that, I need to finish moving stuff from the old house into the new house. Hopefully it is a small task that can be finished in a day, but I don’t know.

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EBF in Joao Pessoa

Monday through Thursday we did EBF in Joao Pessoa. We started out with 94 kids on Monday and ended up with 89 kids on Thursday. The other two days, we had between 80 and 90 kids. All in all, things went really well. Sheridan and Joyce helped out with the crafts, Mike did some Bible classes in English, and I helped out with the activities. The theme of the EBF was The Victory Race. The church building was decorated in a racecar motif.

Several (about half) of the kids this year came from an area of town that Lori calls the “Square Ministry”. These children would be similar to our agape kids at Laurel. A good majority of these kids had never set foot inside a church before EBF. On Monday, a bus was supposed to bring them to the church and take them back home afterwards, but it nevershowed up. Instead, several of the church members with cars went and loaded up about 6 or 7 kids in each car. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, the bus (a Military Police bus) was able to come and bring the children.

Now to steal a story from Joey (Lori’s oldest brother)…
Lori asked Mathias what he learned today at EBF. He said that there was this man named John the Baptist and he ate stuff that he was not supposed to. God was not happy because he was eating stuff he was not supposed to. He would catch animals in the desert to eat, and it was not good for him. He would eat syrup. John was looking for Jesus, but he was not Jesus’ friend. Then he baptized Jesus and a birdie said that Jesus was the Filho de Deus (Son of God).

Now for my Mathias story….
Last night (Thursday), I was packing up my bag and Mathias asked me was I leaving. I was packing my bag and rolling up my Therm-a-rest. I said no, but I am packing my bag because we are going to be sleeping in Patos tomorrow. Patos is a city in the interior of Paraiba about 4 hours west of Joao Pessoa. This will be my first trip to the interior, so I am excited about it. Anyways, this morning Mathias welcomed me back. I told him I didn’t go anywhere yet. He said yeah, I had slept in Patos last night. He was wondering why I would sleep in Patos when it is so far away. We leave for Patos this afternoon and will be there until Monday morning. It is very doubtful that I will be checking any email while I am over there.

Unfortunately, I didn’t bring a laptop this year and there isn’t a card reader at any of the computers I get to use, so I won’t be able to upload pictures until I arrive back in the states. Hopefully this will be on the 12th, but there are lots of problems in Brazillian airports right now. The airtraffic controllers are on strike. They are operating on “Standard Procedure” and doing everything by the book. This really causes a lot of delays. Loooking at our itinerary, I’m thinking there may be a chance we are going to miss our flight in Chicago because of a delay in leaving Sao Paulo, but that’s getting too far ahead.

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Marathon Flight Down

We have finally arrived in João Pessoa. We arrived really early on Sunday morning about 4:00 AM Brazil time (3:00 AM Eastern Time). Our original itinerary had us arriving at 1:30 AM on Saturday morning. We had left Knoxville on time but due to some storms in the DC area, our plane could not land. We flew around until we almost ran out of fuel. We were forced to land in Roanoke, VA to refuel. After refueling, we took off and landed in DC. When we landed, we could not find our flight on the board. Turns out, they had canceled the flight. They had rebooked us for the flight the following day, but because it was due to weather, they were unable to provide us with hotel room or anything like that. We were actually able to stay at a nice hotel for under $100 a night in the DC area.

After getting a good nights rest, we were able to get the hotel shuttle to drop us off at the mall to do some shopping for some basic necessities. We got to eat lunch at The Cheesecake Factory… (some mission trip eh?) The shuttle was able to pick us up at the mall and back to the hotel. We had talked to our travel agent some. She had told us that all the flights to João Pessoa were full. It was looking like we might have to spend the night in Sao Paulo. When we arrived in Sao Paulo, we went through customs and waited for our baggage. It never showed up. We then went to the baggage service counter and did all the paperwork for lost luggage. This would turn out to be a blessing in disguise. We wouldn’t have to carry our luggage around all day, since you can only check your luggage in 4 hours before your flight is scheduled to leave. It would also help out, since it would give us some flexibility in what flights we took to get to João Pessoa. It turns out, when we got to the TAM desk, our travel agent had been able to get us tickets on the evening flight to João Pessoa.

So after hanging out in the Sao Paulo airport for a few hours, we went through security to wait to get on our final plane. Due to the air traffic controllers being on strike, our plane that was supposed to leave at 9:35 didn’t leave until 12:35. We did eventually arrive safely and hopefully our bags will be showing up really soon. It was good to see a lot of familiar faces at church last night. We are gearing up to start EBF today.

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