Thursday, June 30, 2011
After enjoying a nice lunch with the Staff of i2 and CTMDT today, our family walked around the community visiting friends. First we stopped by our old house-the red one that we rented for six months in 2009. As we were peaking through the gate the new renter saw us and welcomed us in for a visit. Our old neighbor was also visiting so we chatted for a few minutes and met the renters new puppies. From there we continued on to Louis and Mattheus's house to surprise them. These boys were friends of Marko and Noah's from Brazilian School. Their family invited us to their family farm shortly after we arrived in Brazil in 2009. They treated us to a day of swimming, good conversation, and Churrasco (delicious Brazilian barbequed meat)!
Marko, Gabriella, and I left the boys to play with their friends while we looped around the block to Claudia's house. If you remember, Claudia and her husband, Danihlo, were good friends to us when we moved to Brazil. Unfortunately, Danihlo died four months after we returned to the U.S. It is sad being here without Danihlo. He was a leader in the community and is greatly missed. Claudia wasn't home so we stopped a few doors down at Itimar and Nusa's (our old landlord's). Itimar was alone-roasting coffee in his outdoor oven. Marko and I spent about an hour watching as he stirred coffee beans over an open fire. Most middle to upper class Brazilians have outdoor kitchens where they are able to cook over open fires. I love this part of living in Brazil and if we ever own a house here it will have an outdoor kitchen! Something that is rare in Washington State for obvious reasons!
We ended our afternoon at the local internet cafe owned by our friends, Seshu and Zuma. The cafe is directly across the street from CTMDT and is where the students and staff hang out between classes. The cafe is new since we were here last. There is also a lunchonette in CTMDT that is equally popular, but does not have reliable internet! I am sitting in the cafe now. Marko Sr. went into the city for a meeting, Marko G. is helping in the kitchen, Noah is currently glued to the flat screen watching Brazilian Cartoons, and Gabby is playing with her friend, Lauda at CTMDT. It has been a nice ending to another pleasant day in Brazil.
I need to tell you about the photo with the young children. Our friend, Leo (on the right) was one of my English Students. He is the one who had a heart for the homeless. One of the homeless that he opened his home to was a single mom. She had a beautiful baby girl named Amirila when we were here in 2009. In our absence, she had a second baby (a boy) named Daniel. The mom gave up her parenting rights and Leo, who is a 26 year old, single man, decided to become their legal guardian. He is a wonderful dad to these two children, and it is amazing how the community here at CTMDT has come around him and to help him raise these children and provide for them. Apparently, the mom had taken the kids to live on the streets with her for a period of time. When Leo got them back they were naked, filthy, and had lice in their hair. That was two months ago. Now they are clean, happy, and very loved children. It warms my heart to see what a young man like Leo has given up in order to give these children a home and a family.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
This morning we watched a video about Sudan as a part of our class on "The Life of Muhammad." As a result, there was a room full of emotional students, including myself. I have included some photo's from the video in hopes that you will be able to grasp the destitution of these people. Most of us know that Sudan is riddled with poverty and sickness. What is unknown to most of us in the West is how Islam has brutally controlled and maimed the Sudanese Christians.
Three thousand Sudanese Christians are killed every week for their faith. They are raped, sold to slavery, brutally murdered, and even forced to become soldiers at very young ages.
If a Christian converts to Islam, he or she can receive help from the government. If not, they are left to survive on their own. Starvation and sickness are killing the Sudanese in large numbers.
At times, I am almost embarrassed to be an American because of the reputation for gluttony and consumerism that we have around the world. Today, as I watched this tearful video on Sudan, I was proud to be an American. In the 1990's, Americans responded to the need in Sudan. We dropped large amounts of food into the hardest hit parts of Sudan, and we continue to do so. The food that has been sent has transformed the lives of the sick and dying. Even so, the situation in Sudan is far from inhabitable. To be a Christian in Sudan is to be persecuted beyond what any of us from the West can comprehend.
As we study the Life of Muhammad, and his violent ways, we cannot fathom how anyone could look to him as "The perfect human example", as Muslims do. Please educate yourselves on this religion and its violent leader. Take the time to read books like "The Biography of Muhammad" and "The Son of Hammas." Learn to love the Muslims enough to teach them a different way; to teach them about the love of a Savior, to teach them about a God who is personal and loving-not distant and violent.
Monday, June 27, 2011
We arrived at CTMDT (The Missionary College) last night to a warm welcome from our old friends. It was so heart warming to be welcomed back with such enthusiasm. Most of the students that we know have graduated, but most of the staff are still here-the majority of which were my English Students.
The kids immediately went for a swim to the amusement of the Brazilians. It is their winter and most of them are in long pants and sweatshirts. Their winter is similar to our summer, so we are quite comfortable to be wearing shorts!
We are here with i2 Ministries which is a Ministry that trains Christians in the history and fundamentals of Islam, and who's goal is to lead Muslims into a relationship with Christ. Training started this morning. Marko and I have been through the training before but are here as support for i2 and its founder, our friend, Joshua Lingel. Though we will attend some classes, we will not be completing the whole training. It is a relief to not have to study our tails off like the last time we were here! This time, we can enjoy some time with our children without the pressures of studies!
We are headed out to one of our favorite restaurants (X-Burgers) for a Brazilian Hamburger and some Acai dessert! I will leave you with some photos of the kids at the pool and some of our Brazilian friends.
The two girls with the colorful bags are our friends, Tamaris and Taslaina. They are teenage sisters who live in the favelas (slums). Thanks to those of you who donated money to help them, we were able to bring them some clothes from the United States. The bags are filled with clothes and the girls were all smiles when they opened their gifts-thank you for blessing them! We have many more things to present them with, and I will be sure and post those pictures when we do!
Saturday, June 25, 2011
After 28 hours of traveling (18 of which were in the air), we arrived in Belo Horizonte, Brazil yesterday evening. It is good to be back in this country that we love, and we anticipate the next two weeks as we make new friends and reunite with old ones.
Our friends, Maisel and Marcia met us at the hotel where their friend, Junior, dropped us off, and we went out to a wonderful Brazilian Meal. It was great to eat Brazilian food again-something that we have missed!
We are currently staying at a hotel as our room at the Missionary College was having some major toilet issues. Apparently the smell in our room was so bad that they decided to put us up in a hotel for the first couple of days. After our initial disappointment, we decided to just enjoy the next day or two with our family. Once we get the the college we won't have a lot of quiet time!
The kids did amazing traveling. They were troopers as we manouvered (sp) four different flights to get here.
This blog will be short as the kids just woke up (11:00) and we are starving! I will leave you with some photos that we took from the airplane. They are breathtaking and I have labeled them "The Signature of God." I will also post some pictures of us with our fifteen pieces of luggage which we miraculously crammed into a Volkswagon! Just so you don't think we brought that much stuff for ourselves, we have four large bags of clothes, shoes, and school supplies that were donated from our church to a family we know that lives in the favelas. Thank you to all who donated! I will post pictures of the family when they receive their gifts later this week.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
As we feared, our faithful dog, Boaddicea, had to be put to sleep this morning. Bo had a very aggressive form of cancer which caused her to gain about thirty pounds in a week. She had an enormous tumor that grew out of control in a short amount of time. We are very saddened by this loss, but are very thankful that she is no longer suffering.
I know it's probably not fair to pick a favorite dog, but if I am completely honest then Bo would be my lifetime favorite. Though she was only in our lives for fourteen months, she brought an amazing amount of joy into our lives. I need to share a little about Bo's story with you.
About sixteen months ago Marko and I were at Wells Fargo making a deposit. When we pulled into the parking lot we saw a pickup truck with six English Mastiffs in the back. You can imagine how impressive a sight this was. The largest dog (the dad) was 260 pounds. We were equally intimidated, and drawn, to these massive animals and soon began a discussion with the owner. He told us they were looking for a good home for one of the "puppies"-an eleven month old, 80 pound female.
Marko and I had always wanted a big dog so we told the owner that we were very interested in adopting "Boadiccea". He gave us his number and told us to call him. A month went by during which time Marko's mom passed away. We were slightly preoccupied so thoughts of Bo went to the back of our minds. We assumed that she had already gotten a new home, but when things settled down, we decided to call just to be sure. The owner had been waiting for us the whole time! He said that he thought we were the right people to take Boadiccea. We drove out to see Bo and bring her home.
She seemed very skittish when we went to pick her up and did not engage with us which caused us a little concern. We took her anyways. No sooner had we gotten home than she bolted from the car-leash and all and disappeared into the woods. We soon learned that she had never been on a leash before and was traumatized by the experience! Big 80 pound baby she was! We left food out that night and sure enough she found her way back to eat; something we would learn was somewhat of an obsession for Bo!
She disappeared again the next morning spending the day wandering our local community. We had to call her owner and have him drive over with his truck full of Bo's Mastiff Family in order to persuade her to come back home. Feeling a little bit wiser, we locked Bo in the dog kennel only to have her dig out in record time and disappear once again! Fortunately, that voracious appetite of hers brought her back at dinner time!
Bo managed to warm up to us a little bit over the next two weeks although we determined there were some serious issues with her-including a fear of men. We finally decided it was time to take her on her first outing. We took her down to the beach house where she again bolted the minute we let her out of the car. Of course she had no name tag or collar as we had plans to pick one of that very day- never dreaming she would bolt again!! Feeling like "Pet Owners of the Year", we had to call her old owner AGAIN and let him know we lost her and to keep his eyes and ears open.
For some reason this dog had already stolen my heart in the two weeks that we had had her. I posted photos and notices all over the neighborhood and local businesses. Nearly three weeks after Bo disappeared, I got a call from my parents telling me that their neighbor had seen Bo in town at a junk yard. She had traveled approximately three miles to get to her location at the junk yard. She was hiding between two shipping containers: She was greasy, emaciated, and scared to death. I will be honest and say that I was quite fearful as I tried to coax her out with a bowl of food. Having a frightened, large breed dog with a menacing bark can be a little intimidating!
After about twenty minutes, Bo finally followed me to the car where she inhaled a bowl of food. From that day on, I was Bo's "momma". She was glued to my side for the next fourteen months and she never wandered far from home again. She loved to just lean against me any chance she got. She would go for walks with me every morning; possessively pushing our other dog, Peanut, out of the way!
Although Boaddicea was fiercely loyal to our family, she continued to be timid around our friends and family. She scared people so much that Marko threatened to get rid of her if she did not become more socialized. We called in a Canine Behavioral Specialist who quickly fell in love with Bo and convinced us that she just needed a stable home, and that she was confident that Bo was not harmful. I started to work with her, socializing her at every opportunity. It took several months, but she came around and eventually was comfortable with our continual rotation of friends and family. Our friend and neighbor, Chris, walked down almost every day and brought her treats which also helped her to get over her fear of men.
With our children Boaddicea was incredible. At her two year old weight of 145 pounds, she thought she was a lap dog! She would crawl up in our laps anytime she could-nuzzling her enormous head against our necks. She seemed to especially love our middle son, Noah. She was constantly climbing in the overstuffed chair with him or climbing on his bed. In fact, she became Noah's alarm clock. Noah, being our hard to wake up child, needed a little "nudge" in the mornings. At 7 o'clock when it was time for Noah to get up for school, I would open his bedroom door and let Bo do her job! She would climb on top of Noah, lick his face and then snuggle in next to his right side (nearest the wall). Like clockwork, Bo would lay there for a minute and then kick with all four paws-kicking Noah right out of bed!! It was hilarious and I always intended to film it for America's Funniest Home Video's" but I never got around to it. The best thing about this was that; our typically grumpy in the morning Noah would wake up happy every day-even though he was often drenched in drool!
I can't believe I nearly wrote a book about my four legged friend: "Just an animal" as some would say. Strangely, there was something almost human about Boaddicea which endeared her to our hearts. I hope I haven't bored you with the details of her life, but I needed to write her story as part of my grieving process. Her short life (just two years) brought joy into the lives of a family who desperately needed some joy. We are forever grateful that we were chosen to be the ones to love her and give her a stable home for her short time on this earth.
Now I leave you with wise words from my 12 year old son, "If everyone had a dog like Boaddicea the world would be a happier place."
Monday, June 20, 2011
With the ending of one season comes the beginning of another. After saying goodbye to Lifestyle Homes and also to raising young children, Marko and I have had several new opportunities presented to us. We are very grateful for this season of new beginnings.
Through a strange series of events, Marko auditioned for the role of "Cameron Clay" in a T.V. Mini Series called "Somethings Out There" by local producer Michael Lienau. Michael his wife, Shari, and their nine children have become dear friends to us over these past few months as we have spend countless hours filming (in Marko's case), and hanging out on set (in my case). It was such a "God thing" that Marko got this role and I believe it was the Lord's way of pulling him up out of a depression that had seized hold of him during the past three years of stress and loss.
Marko, who had never acted in his life, seemed to be the perfect fit for the role of Cameron Clay. He had so much fun hanging out with the cast and crew of "Somethings Out There" and we look forward to the future and what it will hold. At this time, the trailor is completed as well as an introductory clip of the Mini Series which is a Christian film meant to counteract such popular supernatural shows as "Twilight" and "Harry Potter" with the real supernatural (spiritual). "Something's Out There" is aimed at families and specifically "Tweens". Several networks are interested in picking up the series, but financing is still in the works. You can view the trailor for this film at: somethingsoutthere.com. Look for key word: Joshua Clay. It is possible that when the show is picked up they will want some new Actors/Actresses. We are, of course, hopeful that Marko will be able to continue being a part of this amazing vision that the Lienau's and the show's writer have had. I truly believe that this mini series will have far reaching affects and will bring many into the fold's of Christ.
To his amazement, Marko is doing something else that he never would have imagined. He is selling cars in Renton with his friend, Tony. Always one to joke about used car salesmen, Marko is biting his words as he takes on this role himself. Marko needed a job and Tony had a position to fill. For the past four or five months Marko has been commuting to Renton and learning the car game. I must say, I think that he surprised himself with how much he is enjoying sales and the benefits of being a part of a team again. This is in no way his lifetime ambition, however, it serves a purpose for this season of time and we are grateful for a steady paycheck (and health insurance)!!!
As for me: Several small opportunities have arisen for me during this past year. After helping out with the Women's Bible Study and retreat at our church last Fall, I was asked to take over as the Coordinator for Women's Bible Studies. This came as a total surprise to me and it took me several weeks to say "yes" to this position. When I think about it, it is almost comical that I took so long to decide. The Lord put Women's Ministries on my heart eighteen years ago. I have had a strong desire to lead women for all of these years. I just wasn't prepared for someone to ask me straight out if I was willing to take over and then to have several people confirm that role for me. I suppose I had given up on the idea of leading Women's Ministries as I poured myself into the tasks of motherhood.
I love my (volunteer) position with Women's Ministries at Stanwood Foursquare, but I also realized that I need to make some money! Upon accepting the position, I was immediately given the opportunity to help design some flip flops for our good friend's shoe company. I had so much fun doing this and was blessed when they paid me well for it! The flip flops will be out in Spring of 2012! That may have been the end of my flip flop design career, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself and appreciate Bob and Danielle for allowing me to help!!
Just recently I got a job writing for an internet company called "The Content Authority". I have not yet had time to write any articles (other than the one that got me accepted) as we are headed for Brazil in two days! Let's just say that I am VERY excited and thankful for a chance to hone my writing skills. This is something I am passionate about and hope that it will lead me to other writing jobs. My life and my heart are full!
Friday, June 10, 2011
Is it any surprise that it has already been a couple of months since my last post in which I promised "A series of Posts" to catch you up on our lives?!! So much for all the time I planned to spend writing this year! I am pretty certain this has been our busiest year yet and somehow I don't think things will be slowing down anytime soon...
Sadly, I have not even introduced you to our amazing exchange student, Cristian. Cristian is an 18 year old young man from Venezuela who spent the past ten months living with our family. This morning at the crack of dawn, we drove down to Seatac Airport to say goodbye to Cristian as he headed back to his home town of Caracas, Venezuela, and to his eager family and friends.
Cristian was a senior at Stanwood High School. He has a very precious heart and we were blessed to have him as a part of our family. In the short time that he was here, he touched many people with his thankful heart and his infectious smile. Cristian will be missed by many, but we know we will see him again! Our tearful goodbye was not goodbye forever.
Along with Cristian, we acquired a few more new faces around the Jukanovich household this year! Cristian had always wanted ferrets which are not native to South America. Like the good Host Parents that we are, we thought it would be a great idea to buy a ferret for Cristian for Christmas!! He lit up like a five year old inspecting his new bike when we put that albino ferret in his arms! It was priceless. We soon decided that "Poncho", as Cristian called him, needed a friend. We found a cute little guy on Craigslist and Marko and I drove down to Seattle to pick up "Pepe"! The adorable little guys were buddies immediately and we patted ourselves on the back for purchasing two cute little ferret friends. Cristian actually bought them little leashes and harnesses and would take them on walks to the park where he claimed to get lots of attention from the girls!!
The only problem with ferrets is that they stink like I can't even describe and they don't seem to be willing to potty train! Our pats on the back soon turned into kicks in the rear as we realized how high maintence ferrets are! They started out in our mudroom but quickly ended up in our garage. Cristian had to clean their cage multiple times a day which got old real fast!! As happens with most kids, Cristian soon learned that animals are more work than he ever imagined. After several months, we decided that the ferrets needed a new home. We struggled to find someone to take them. Finally, in a desperate attempt to get rid of them we dropped them off at a ferret rescue shelter, where admittedly the owners appeared to be away. Upon returning home and being laden with guilt, we drove all the way back to the shelter only to find that the little creatures had literally "weasled" their way out of the zippered cage that we had left them in....oopsie! I felt really bad-truly I did-at least for a brief moment!
A few months prior to buying the ferrets, we picked up three pigmy goats-one for each kid. The kids got to name their goat and help take care of them by feeding, watering, and cleaning their stinky cage!! Their names were Rocky, Jimmy, and Cosmo. Pigmy goats are adorable, stubborn, and pretty low maintenance. Still, it was just more than we wanted to be responsible for. I say "were" because we recently sold them to some friends in an attempt to simplify our lives-the goal of the year!!
The last addition to the Jukanovich Family this year was our amazing English Mastiff, Boaddicea. "Bo" who started out to be a fearful, timid, and somewhat schizophrenic, ended up being the best dog we have ever had. We all love Bo-even Marko Sr. who would never admit it! She weighs 145 pounds but considers herself a lap dog! She literally will climb in anyone's lap at anytime and try to bury her head in your neck. It's the cutest darn thing! She has brought our family so much joy! Sadly, we might be saying goodbye to Bo much sooner than we want. Though she is only two years old, it is most likely that her body is filled with cancer. A tumor the size of a grapefruit was found in her ovaries recently. The vet said that he has never seen anything like it before and never in a dog so young. Bo's stomach is filled up with fluid and we fear that we are losing her.
It has been a year of welcoming new members to our family as well as a year of saying goodbye to those same members. Whether by choice or not, the circumstances of our lives seem to be aiding our desire for simplification.
As a side note, we put our house up for sale this week. We designed our home, we built it, and we love it. We just feel like it is time to downsize and free ourselves up for whatever and wherever the Lord calls us to go. For now, we are headed back to Brazil on June 23rd for two weeks of training with i2 Ministries. We can't wait to go back and visit our friends in Santa Luzia, practice our Portuguese, and eat Acai Berry frozen dessert!!! As far as our future goes....
"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."
Stay tuned as that purpose becomes clear.