I’ve put some photos on the blog, but if you are interested in seeing all of the ones I have taken since I’ve been here, you can use these 2 links:


Ponteio Grill/Calhetas

I’m skipping ahead in the sequence of what has happened here so I can go ahead and write about this past weekend. One of Samuel’s mom’s friends from Paraiba (the state to the north of Pernambuco) came to the apartment in Recife and stayed during the last week of our travels in Jurema. On Saturday night, her son and daughter-in-law came to Recife and stayed with us as well. They had made plans to go out for dinner with another couple and invited Samuel and I to go along with them. So we ended up at a churrascaria called “Ponteio Grill”. If you have never been to a churrascaria, or never heard of one, I’ll need to explain a little bit. First of all, there is a buffet with everything but meat on it. This one had different types of vegetables, cheeses, salami, pasta salads, bread, soup, etc. It also had a great sushi bar. I had never eaten sushi in Brazil before, but I must say that was the best sushi I have ever tasted. And now for the unique part: the waiters bring around skewers with several different types of meat and you just pick what you want…and as much as you want.. They bring the meats by your table several times throughout the whole meal. Here are the meats that I can remember: picanha (a delicious cut of beef), sirloin, steak with parmesan cheese cooked on it, a very tender roast beef, about 4 other types of beef, chicken, chicken wrapped in bacon, chicken hearts (I saw these on my 1st trip to Brazil, and I still haven’t worked up the courage to try one. I will one day though…), and 2 different kinds of sausage. You get all of this plus the buffet for around US$16.00 per person. It’s pretty awesome.

While we were at dinner, it somehow came up that the other couple wanted to go to Porto de Galinhas on Sunday. (a beach which is about 40 km away). They invited Samuel and I to go again, so we decided to go. The plan was to leave at 8:00 a.m….we left around 9:15., and that’s when things got a little crazy. We were in 2 separate cars, and the guy driving the other car called us around 9:40 as we were driving to the beach to say that he was in a wreck. So we turned around to go find them and help. It turned out that a lady rear-ended him while he was driving through huge potholes on a side road. What was supposed to be a quick thing turned into an hour and a half of us standing on the sidewalk waiting for the police to show up and then get the thing resolved. (Of course I shouldn’t expect anything different in the country of perpetual lateness.) Since we had lost a lot of time, and our friends still had to drive back to Paraiba later in the day, they decided Porto de Galinhas was too far. Someone then came up with the idea to go to Calhetas (another beach). So we all piled back in the cars and headed there. Even the scenery on the way there was beautiful…

After driving down a narrow, washed-out dirt road with cars parked on both sides, we finally made it to the beach. We ate lunch at a restaurant there and enjoyed the view. After such a struggle to get there, it was definitely worth it…


Regrettably, I didn’t take pictures of our pousada, but I can tell you it was nothing spectacular. I stayed in a room with 2 girls from Judson College, and thankfully we had a lot of fun together. Our room had 3 twin size beds,  a fan and a small tv mounted on the wall. The bathroom consisted of  a shower head, a drain in the floor, a toilet, a small sink and a mirror. Needless to say, it was pretty bare. The first night that we stayed there (Monday night) was horrible for me. I went to bed around 9:45 p.m., but didn’t fall asleep until sometime after 3:00 a.m….and then woke up at 6 a.m. Even though I was exhausted, I just couldn’t sleep. And the worst part was the fact that there were  mosquitoes that kept attacking me while I was trying to go to sleep. When I woke up on Tuesday morning, I felt pretty rough, and I knew it was going to be a long day. Tuesday was the first day of work in Jurema. We started construction, the eyeglass clinic and ESL/VBS with the kids. There were only 4 translators for the whole team: me, Samuel, an older American man (Houston) who was a missionary in Brazil for over 20 years, and an older Brazilian woman (Sonya) who now lives in California. Samuel and Houston translated for the men working on the construction of the church; Sonya translated for the eyeglass clinic; and I I translated for the ESL/VBS sessions…and also occasionally did some translating for the eye exams when they really needed help. It would have been ideal to have at least 2 more translators, but in the end, it all worked out. So when we arrived in Jurema on Tuesday morning (after driving 20-25 minutes from our pousada in Panelas) we ate breakfast and then started setting everything up for the eye exams and also getting ready for the first session of ESL. I have no idea how many people came to the first day of the eye clinic, but I know we started out with around 15-20 kids on the first day. Things were pretty hectic at first, and everything was held in the same building (the daycare), so while they clinic people finished setting up, my 2 roomies and I took 3 bottles of bubbles and a bunch of bubble wands outside and played with the kids. They loved it, and it really turned out to be a great way to break the ice with them. When they finally got bored with bubbles, we took them inside and started teaching them numbers and letters in English. A few of the older kids (10-12 years old) already knew some of the numbers, which was pretty cool. And they were really into learning a little bit of English. After about 2 hours total, we sent the kids home and then had lunch with the whole team. In the afternoon, the kids came back for 2 more hours of VBS where we read them a Bible story and did a craft with them. We could tell that many of the kids were just excited to have someone pay attention to them…especially someone from another country. Here are some pics of the first day:

It’s been a little while….

I know I haven’t written in a long time. I have been pretty busy working with the Auburn team in Jurema. But since I have a lot to catch up on, let me start by telling what happened with the team’s arrival….

They were scheduled to land in Recife on Sunday July 18th around 9 a.m. So Samuel, Lucenildo, Bill and I went to the airport on Sunday to meet them. We got there early, only to find out their flight had been delayed until 10:30. So we continued waiting. Then it was delayed until 11:00. We waited some more. Finally, we were informed of why the plane was late….when their plane landed in Salvador (a city in the Brazilian state of Bahia), the landing made a hole in the runway. Now I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty sketchy. So after staying at the airport from 8:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., we found out that their plane actually wouldn’t arrive until the next day, and they had to spend the night in Salvador. Before you start feeling sorry for them, you should know that they stayed a beautiful RESORT in Salvador, and they were taken care of.

Thankfully, the plane did arrive on Monday and we loaded up and headed straight to Jurema (long drive). We dropped off luggage at the pousada in Panelas and then went to the construction site in Jurema. I have plenty more to write about the past week, but I’ll save that for either tomorrow or Monday!

A Long Day

Thursday we spent all day shopping for groceries to take to Jurema for the next 2 weeks when the mission team from Auburn will be here. But that day does not even compare to what happened on Friday….

Friday we had to take all of the groceries to Jurema, which is a 3 – 3 1/2 hour drive from Recife. Imagine driving from Knoxville to Nashville…only on much rougher roads. Not only did we have tons of groceries, but also suitcases, pillows, pots and pans, dishes, silverware, etc…oh and a mattress. Here’s the van loaded down….

And here’s me sitting in the back with Samuel’s mom (who is behind the mattress)…..

Sad face 😦

Keep in mind, there were 3 people (including the driver) in the front seat and this picture of the back was taken before we added another person along with her suitcase and 3 bags. This was around 8:00 a.m., and was the start to a very looooong day.

So, off we went…. On our way, we stopped on the side of the highway to buy pineapples…like we needed to put anything else in that van…

Brazilian pineapples are the BEST!!

As you can see, this isn’t the “city” anymore…

Since we stopped, we did a little rearranging in the van, and then were on our way again.

Much happier now 🙂

We went through a tunnel…


….saw lots of pretty scenery….

….and stopped for lunch.

Then it was back to driving…

…until we hit construction….


They were paving the road, which needed to be done, but it slowed us down. As we say in the U.S., you can’t go on a trip without running into roadwork somewhere…and that seems to be true even in Brazil.

We finally got to the little town where our pousada (little hotel) is at. The town is called Panelas, and it’s about a 25 minute drive to the location in Jurema where we will be working.

So we kept driving….


We were soooo close to making it when we hit a rock on the washed out dirt road and busted the tire.


Thankfully, Lucenildo had another tire, so while the men were working…

…..I took pictures!


I don’t have photos to document the rest of the day, but here are the basics: We finally made it to the daycare, which has a kitchen that Samuel’s mom will use to cook for the team. She and her friend will also be sleeping there, and we will use it for VBS during the day. When we got there, nobody was there to meet us with the keys to the kitchen (though they knew we were coming). Lucenildo took off on foot to the Pastor’s house because nobody ever gave us a phone number to get in touch with him. They finally returned with the keys and we unlock the doors to find a dirty kitchen which Samuel’s mom and her friend had to clean. We also found no oven…which we specifically asked about ahead of time and we were assured there was an oven at the daycare. After making a phone call, they found an oven which we can borrow for the 2 weeks, so we’ll see if it makes it there….  Eventually, Bill, Lucenildo, Samuel and I left to go back to Panelas to verify that everything was taken care of at the hotel. Thankfully, things went much more smoothly there. We then headed back to Recife, where we stopped at the supermarket to buy a pizza and then finally made it home around 8:15 p.m. What a day!


The Pastor of the church that we worked with (and his family) invited us to dinner on Tuesday night. We went to a pizzeria called “Atlantico”, and it was delicious. I tried what they call “Portuguese Pizza” for the first time, and while it sounds/looks odd, it was actually pretty good. It has cheese, onions, ham, corn and peas on it. I know what you’re thinking….ewwwww….and that’s what I thought too. But I was wrong. I really wanted to take a picture of it for the blog, but since this was a pretty upscale restaurant, I decided I would rather not be caught photographing my food.

Me and Samuel

Me and Ana (pastor's wife)

Lucas and Bill

Bill and Erivaldo (the pastor)

I Have a Problem

It’s an addiction really….to Havaianas. The most comfortable flip flops in the world. It’s true. They are made in Brazil, but you can buy them in a few stores in the states. Regular price in the U.S. = $18-$30 per pair. In Brazil, you can buy them for as little as $5 a pair. So as you can imagine, I’ll definitely be buying a few pairs here. In fact, I bought a super cute pair last week for about $7. I brought 3 with me to Recife, which might have been a bad idea considering that  amount will probably at least double for the trip back home. I hope I can fit them all in my luggage….

New Havaianas


A Guide to Driving in Recife

Don’t worry, I haven’t been driving. But I have been riding in several different vehicles and have observed some things. Here are a few things you should know if you plan to be inside a vehicle in Recife:

1. Roads – They’re bad. Huge holes, dips, bumps, etc. It doesn’t matter what type of vehicle your are in, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Some roads aren’t labeled with the street name, and many don’t have lane markings.

2. Motorcycles – It appears that they use the roads as their own personal playground. They weave in and out of traffic regardless of whether it is at a standstill or moving at full speed…so watch out.

3. Merging/Changing Lanes – As previously stated, many roads don’t have lane markings so people just drive wherever they want to. However, if you want to change lanes, turn signals aren’t necessary. Just honk your horn at every car that passes you until you can finally squeeze in-between two vehicles. And you don’t even have to throw your hand up in gratitude to the guy who you managed to get in front of!

4. Roadblocks – It’s not uncommon for people to park on the side of the street on backroads…or even stop in the middle of the road to have a conversation with someone on the street. So what do you do? Just drive around them of course! What if a car/huge truck/bus is coming towards you? Don’t worry….just hit the gas and hope you can move faster than the oncoming traffic.

5. Rules of the Road – Are there any? Yes, of course. Do people always observe them? Of course not. However, one thing that everyone is careful to obey is the speed limit….when driving by electronic speed detectors. After all, nobody wants a speeding ticket.

So if you’re planning on driving/riding in Recife, buckle your seat belt, hold on to something and close your eyes if necessary.


I’ve been working like crazy since the day after I arrived in Brazil. (Minus July 4th of course) There is a team of 4 Americans here right now and they have been doing some mission work in a poorer area of town. They did a clinic where people came to get reading glasses, a VBS for kids, and they have also helped in building a church. Since Samuel and his mom were already committed to helping them out, I jumped right in too. Tomorrow will be the last day until July 18th when another group of 16 Americans will be coming. Then we’ll travel to the interior to a place called Jurema. It takes about 3 hours to drive there, and we’ll be staying there for 2 weeks. But the exciting news of the day is: Charlotte (A woman who was born in Brazil and lived here for many years…but now lives in Dallas) is also here helping the team. Today, she pulled me aside and asked me if I would be a translator for the trip to Jurema because she won’t be able to go and she doesn’t have enough people to translate. I was a little shocked, but I told her if she trusted me to do it, then I would gladly help out. Soooo I’m super excited yet nervous at the same time because this is a pretty big deal. Thoughts and prayers are appreciated 🙂

Happy 4th of July

It’s an interesting thing to spend the 4th of July in another country…mostly because you tend to forget it’s the 4th of July. Here, it’s just another day. No cookouts, no fireworks, no American flags on the doors of houses. In fact, I was supposed to go to a party tonight with my friends from work to celebrate Independence Day. But since I had prior obligations, I didn’t make it 🙂  However, I enjoyed a fabulous 4th of July in Brazil. First, Samuel and I met up with some Americans (who are here on a mission trip) and a few Brazilians to take a trip to the beach. We stopped at a little park first, which is on an island. The park was set up to help with the conservation of manatees. There were 6 baby manatees there. They are raising them so that they can be released back into the wild. It was a nice little park and it was right by the beach!

Next we drove to a place called “Forte Orange”. This is a fort that was built in the 1600’s when the Dutch occupied Pernambuco. The fort has been reconstructed, but there are remnants of the original fort there. We walked around in the fort and then went down to the beach where we sat under and umbrella and enjoyed the beautiful weather. It was a perfect sunny day with a cool breeze. I drank some agua de coco, which I had never tried before, and it was delicious. It’s just the milk straight from a coconut, but it was cold and refreshing. After the beach we drove back to the apartment where everyone (14 people) gathered for a wonderful lunch cooked by Samuel’s mom. (Chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, jello, cake and ice cream…..which beats burgers and hot dogs any day!

On a different note, I’m finding that my Portuguese  is coming along nicely. It’s amazing how much I’ve learned since I was in Brazil the last time. (2 years ago) My professor would be proud 🙂

Next time I’ll write about the mission work we have been helping with.

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