terça-feira, 30 de dezembro de 2008

Working on it...

How do you begin writing about a whole year that is come to an end? So many days, hours, minutes and experiences...it seems like an impossible task. Yet, I am here to let you know that we will be posting something soon. Our lives have changed quite a bit in the last 5 months and we are eager to let you know what is going on with us. In the mean time, we hope that you had a Great and Merry Christmas and wish you the best in the New Year to come.

quinta-feira, 11 de outubro de 2007


Friends! How do you do? Before our adventures in Cape Verde pass into ancient history, we wanted to share with you all this amazing experience.

We had a blast spending time with Noémia's dad, uncles and aunts and exploring "Island Life". We spent most of the time in Mindelo on the Island of São Vicente where we stayed with Noémia's dad, John. The island is amazingly arid; there is very little vegatation and pretty much no fresh water to speak of. The fresh water that serves the towns is proccessed sea water; we take so much for granted!

The first two weekends we spent with John and his family in a little hut that he made on the other side of the island about 15 feet from the water edge. The main activity of the weekends.... EAT! We ate fish, lobster, kachupa ( a hearty stew kind of thing), rice, etc. Very nice!

Almost everyday we would jump on a "Hiace" (the term used for public transportation that is based on the Toyota van) to go to some random destination on the island: Calhão, Praia Grande, Santo Luzia de Terra, Baia das Gatas and San Pedro. Every place sported the usual volcanic-lava-desert-with-volcanos island look, with beautiful beaches and really chill fishing villages/towns. One of the best memories we have is of a hike we went on with one of Noémia's friends, Leps up to Santo Luzia de Terra; it's an amazing hike that he led us on over this amazing landscape of mountains and valleys to the backside of a mountain that boarders the open ocean where there is a hidden valley with fresh water springs. Lush vegetation: palm, mango and fig trees; ferns and moss make an amazing contrast to the bare lava rock valley walls. To top it off, Leps had brought a pot, so after starting a fire and collecting mint leaves made some absolutely fantastic tea.

The last weekend we were in Cape Verde we took a boat to the island of Santo Antão which is the greenest of the Cape Verdian islands. We spent 3 days there, and we're blown away by the lush green valley, bannana and sugar cane plantations, terraced hillsides and high peaks. Agriculture is everywhere! They have taken advantage of every square foot; even in the mountains where the pine trees are growning they have built up little mounds around every tree to take advantage of every rain drop!

The first day we arrived on Santo Antão we did some of the most grusome hiking I've done in years. We caught a ride from the port city of Porto Novo and went up, and up and up.... until the top of the ridge that divides the island. There, after getting our bearing we hiked our way up to Pico da Cruz, the highest peak on the island (or so we thought! :-) . Being the experience hikers we decided it would be a great idea to descend this trail that looked great on the map. Incredible views, steep trail... and never ending trail...after 4500 ft.,we were FINISHED. Completely BROKEN! The next two days on Santo Antão were highlighted by lot's of hobbling and grunting. I'm not sure what we will forget first: this descent or the DRY tuna-without-mayonaise on old-stale-dry bread!!! I must not forget about the Grogue! It's a type of moonshine that they make out of sugar cane.... a little strong for me, but when mixed with molassas (also from sugar cane), or passion fruit.... it's quite tasty!

On our way home, we had a 5 hours layover on the island of Praia, which we wisely took advantage of and soaked in the hot sun and warm water at the beach. Absolutely wondefulness! On the way out I went in for one more dip..... and came out with a big 'ole cut on my foot! It made the last hour in Cape Verde very exciting/dramatic, but we were able get stiches and make our plane at the last minute.

The trip was a blast, and we loved getting to spend time with Noémia's family and the other people we hang out with along the way (Like Mr. Pinto, Jovem, Leps, André do Porto Sol, to be continued!

quarta-feira, 22 de agosto de 2007

Church News

Wanted to let you all know how things were going in the church here.

Edilson will be officially stepping down at the end of the month, although he is really already out. He is taking advantage of his vacation time to prepare and get ready for what's to come. He has been studying like a madman for his driver's license (here the test is a pain in the Kister), and then he plans to move to England for 6 months and study English (I'ts been an elusive language for Edilson; after years of half-hearted attempts of learning, he's not much closer!)

Ricardo Neves is now the minister. I was really hoping that we could find someone else with more experience and from outside the church that might be able to cast a new vision and lead in a more administrative capacity (to give the members more hands on experience). Ricardo is very young and during the time that he shared in the leadership with Edilson, I was saddened by his know-it-all attitude and his bad example of followership.

Ricardo and Edilson are very different. and I know it wasn't easy for either one to work with the other. So now I am waiting to see if Ricardo does better without Edilson in the sense that he is freer to be himself and lead in a more natural way.

Vaninho is a Brasilian that has been coming to the church with his family for about a year now. He started working for the church about 3 months ago; he is a part-time minister and has been doing some of the preaching and teaching. He is very young as well and while doing a good job with the teaching, it doesn't seem like the church is relating very well with him. Another case of wait and see.

Noémia and I continue to be active with our small group and are really enjoying getting to know a young couple that joined a few months ago, Lourival and Denise. We'll be starting it up again, after a summer break, in September. On Sundays, Noémia continues teaching the preeschoolers, and I'm teaching the teens.

Since I've started working, I haven't participated in the leadership meetings and, more and more, I see the importance of the role and also the "power" of a member. I assume this comes from feeling more like a member than a leader now. I feel like even with the loss of not participation in planning, etc., I haven't lost the influence that I had which I believe, more than anything else, is a perspective. A perspective that seeks to see the reality of our community, understands how I contribute to this reality and then what I do to move the reality in a more healthy, positive direction.

We love you all and are so grateful for your prayers and support for the work here in Lisbon.
Stephen and Noémia

quarta-feira, 1 de agosto de 2007

July Update

Once again were back.... for another unforgettable Blog session!!!

The month went bye quickly with the weekends cram-packed-stuffed-busy.

We've been considering buying an apartment, so that has been a fun and tiring activity: looking for what's out there, comparing prices and seeing how much we can afford. Suprise, Suprise... we´ve found some really nice stuff that's expensive and some cheap stuff that's crap! Ha Ha

The third weekend of July we went to Barcelona with Silvio and Ivnna, friends from our Bible study. We stayed with some friends of theirs there and had a blast. What a beautiful city!

That's all for now!
We love you,

Stephen and Noémia

terça-feira, 26 de junho de 2007

June Update

Hello there Friends!

Just wanted to let you know that we are thinking about you. We are doing well. Noémia is in Crash and Burn mode right now as she wraps up the end of her teaching year. Full of evaluations and end of the year presentations! She's currently trying to line up work for the Summer.

I'm working away in my worldly, secular and unsanctified job :-) while contributing what I can to the church (to repay the hours I invested in the World) . It is going well enough; in September I'll have been with the company one year. I'm currently looking into other opportunities.

The church is doing well, but I think getting a little restless/uneasy with the news of Edilson's leaving. We're hoping it will be a positive time of transition that will allow the church to "come into its own" just a little bit more. Our small group is doing well; right now we are sharing the teaching and hosting responsibilities so it's been a nice break for me. After the summer we'll start a series on the sermon on the mount.

Noémia and I just turned the big 30! On her birthday we went camping for the weekend and for mine we had a nice dinner with some friends.

We have an exciting trip planned for the Summer.... Cape Verde!!! We're going to be visiting Noémia's Dad and other family she has there. We're both super excited: me, to meet her dad & go spearfishing & exploring; her, to see her dad after 5 years & eat yummy island food!

NEWS FLASH: Ezra and Emily are pregnant! Finally that pressure we all applied...got to 'em!!! The due date is around the end of the year.

We love you all and happy summer!
The Planks