Thursday, December 22, 2011

On my way Home.

I am currently in route from Miami to Atlanta.  I should be back in Memphis around 10:30 tonight.  I'm looking forward to sharing my pictures and experiences with everyone.  Feliz Natal!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas in Brazil



A couple weeks ago, my friend Jenny Patterson asked my if I would like to go with her church to a river community.  Of course I said yes.  Friday afternoon I went with her and her friend from church shopping for school supplies and toys for the kids in the community we would be going to.  The trip down the river was Sunday morning.  It took about 45 minutes to get to the community.
This is the boat that took us down to the river community.
There was a time of singing and a Gospel presentation for the kids and a separate Gospel presentation for the adults (each adult was given a Bible).  After the Gospel was presented, everyone got a snack and was divided into the groups to receive the gifts.












We were able to give each child a packet with various school supplies, a book that tells the Christmas story and 2 toys (one new and one used).  I have never see children more excited and appreciative to receive something so simple.



While the children were receiving their gifts, the adults were waiting in line to pick out clothes.  They got to choose 10 articles of clothing per person in their family. 


 


Here is the group I went with.  








After all the gifts were given and the families were starting to leave, a man from the community took Jenny, 3 other ladies and me in his little boat (it looks similar to a canoe, but it has a motor) to see what their school looks like. I was not able to see much of the inside because it was locked. Oh well.





COOKIES!!!!!

That same weekend I made a few sugar cookies over at the Patterson's house. 

I mixed up some frosting to let Hannah and Haley do a few cookies for them to have. 


  

 While the girls were decorating their cookies I made some of my own.




 Here is the finished product.  I ended up with only 8 dozen.  I had about 10 or 11 dozen to start with, but the climate down here caused the cookies to behave differently than they do in the States and alot of them broke. I think they turned out pretty good anyway.



Monday, November 28, 2011

Wow, Time sure goes by quickly.

Last week we had a Thanksgiving chapel where each class was to participate.  My class made a turkey.  I gave each one of my students an outline of two hands.  They wrote one thing they were thankful for each hand then they colored them.  For the presentation in chapel the students told what they were thankful for then placed their hands (feathers) on the body of the turkey.  Coca Cola, sushi, family, friends, Bible, and mother were just a few of the things my kids were thankful for. 





This weekend, we had a couple days off, so 3 of the other teachers and I decided to take a trip to the beach.  The beach is 3 hours away, so we needed a ride there and back. We had lined up a taxi to take us there and bring us back home.  The taxi driver did not just drive us there and back, he basically stayed with us the whole time.  He really took care of us and kept us safe.  The hotel we stayed at was fantastic as well.  




Time has gone by so quickly.  I can't believe that we only have 3 weeks left of school.  I just found out that one of my students will not be returning to school in January because his family is moving to Jordan.  Please continue to pray that my visa will be ready so I can return to Belem to finish out the school year.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

End of Quarter 1.

I finished my report cards Thursday.  We are half way through the first semester.  Time has gone by very quickly and very slowly all at the same time.  Quickly because I can't believe that the first quarter is already over and slowly because the weather never changes so I can't mark the passing of time by the temperature getting colder.


Last Sunday there was an event here in Belem called Cirio.  Cirio is a Brazilian Catholic (however it really is idolatry not Catholic) event that takes place on the second Sunday in October.  During Cirio people come to pay tribute to a statue of the Virgin Mary or "Our Lady of Nazareth".  People will carry models of things they want and some even crawl for miles on their hands and knees as a sort of penance so that Mary will grant their request.  At the peak of the festival there is a procession lead by the stand which carries the statue and trailed by a large rope.  People believe that if they can help carry the rope then Mary will give them a special blessing for the following year.  


This week we only had school on Monday and Tuesday because it was the end of the quarter.  It was so nice to have a few days off even though I didn't do a whole lot.  We did get a couple of good game nights in at the Kennedy's house.  And Saturday Andy Kennedy took us up in his plane.  He has a small 4 seater that he built last time they were in the States.  I got a couple of pictures of the school and in one of them you can see my apartment.  


Please continue to pray for visa situations.  There are 7 of us here on tourist visas and 2 still in the States waiting on a work visa.  The lady who was teaching 3rd grade had to go back to the States to finish chemo.  We are waiting on a 3rd grade teacher.  Also we desperately need people to teach ESL, because we have several students who don't speak English well, much less read and write well enough to succeed.  



Saturday, September 24, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday at the school around 9am the power went out because of the construction going on on the property.  This also caused the water to quit working.  Thankfully, Fridays are always only 1/2 days.  Needless to say it was HOT and everyone was wanting water, but there was none.   


Fridays are also the days when Marina comes to clean the apartment.  Not only does she clean, but she also does laundry and cooks us a meal for lunch.  When I got home from school, my new curtain was already hanging in my room.  


I bought some fabric a couple weeks ago and finally got Dora, Marina's sister to make the curtain for me.  Now I can actually change clothes in my room. 



Yesterday the high school kids got together to play Ultimate Frisbee.  Later in  the evening they had a party at the school. 

Playing Footsie
Also playing Footsie

Footsie is a group game where everyone stands in a circle holding hands.  One person starts the game by  using one of their feet to touch the foot of the person next to them.  The first person then leaves that foot where it landed.  The second person then uses the foot that was touched to pass it on to the next person in the circle.  This goes around the circle from player to player.  When someone gets out they leave the circle and play continues.  A person gets out when: 1. They fall 2. They cannot reach the foot of the person next to them or 3. They let go of the hands of the people next to them.  The game is over when there are only 2 people left.











After Footsie, several people went inside to play board games.  These are pictures of Triominoes.  Another very fun game.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

End of Week 4 of school.

We have just finished the 4th week of school.  This was a short week, because Wednesday was Brazilian independence day and Thursday was a 1/2 day.  Thursday and Friday were Parent teacher conferences.  Those went well.  It would be nice if we could get the air conditioner in my classroom working because it gets really hot.  I guess it's a good thing that I'm not in there very long. (From:  7:30 - 8:30, 9:45 - 11:25, and 1:00 - 3:00)   It is just so hard for the kids to focus when it is so hot.
AVA is still in need of several teachers.  And those of us who are here are still in need of our work visas.  I have everything in for mine except the background check.  I had the background check but it expired...grrrrr.  This week, Marj (school secretary) took me, Carly and Kathleen to get fingerprints done at the federal police.  They have now been sent off for the background check.  Hopefully these come back soon so we can send in for the visa.
There are 3 missionary families who live in the neighborhood next to the school who have been more helpful than anyone else.  They let us us their internet and their Vonage phone.  They even feed us so we don't starve.  :)
Oh yeah, I can't forget...I GOT A MICROWAVE!!!! Now left-overs won't go bad before i can eat them.

Guess that's all for now!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

First Week of School!!

 We are almost done with the first week of school.  I have 8 students in my class, 3 girls and 5 boys.  Things are going well so far.  My kids are great and my schedule is even better.  The schedule is the same Monday   - Thursday and every Friday we go 1/2 day.  We start school everyday at 7:30.  Monday - Thursday we have class from 7:30 until 8:30 then my kids go to Portuguese class.  At 9:15 the kids go to Merenda (snack and recess).  They come back to class at 9:45.  At 11:30 they go to Art or PE until 12:10, which is lunch.  Lunch ends at 12:55.  Finally we get to go home at 3:00.  On Friday, We have Chapel from 7:40 - 8:30, then Portuguese from 8:30 - 9:15, and Merenda from 9:15 - 9:45.  Then I have my kids for the rest of the day which ends at noon. It really is a perfect schedule.

Here are some pictures of my classroom:




Close up of border around black background.



Close up of border around green background.






Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pictures!!!

 This is my bedroom.











This is the bathroom.  The only separation between the shower and the rest of the room is a small step .  OH yeah and you cannot flush the toilet paper.  That is sure something to get used to.

I have green toilet paper.  There is also orange toilet paper available, but green is more fun.

  
These 3 pictures are of my kitchen.  The center one is my clothes dryer.  I finally have food in the fridge because Tara took my roommate and me to Lider (the grocery store) to help us get started with food.

 
 
Yesterday, Saturday, a family whose kids go to AVA took us to the Bosque.  There were all kinds of critters at the Bosque.  The Bosque is part of the rain forrest that has been fenced in so that it won't be touched by construction.  We had a lot of fun running around the rain forrest with Hannah, one of the 8th graders from AVA.
Today we went to eat lunch at their house.  This family has all sorts of critters in the back yard.  They have rabbits, chickens, and dogs.


 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Saturday!

My roommate, Carly, and I went to the Bosque (a rain forrest in the city).  We got to see all sorts of tree and critters.  (I will have pictures soon.)   After we got back, we decided to take on the bus system and go shopping.  Luckily we had our friend Kathleen who had taken the bus before to show us what to do.  We went to a couple stores then to the mall.  The mall is air conditioned, which is one of the few places that is.  Carly and Kathleen were able to find toys and such for their class rooms.  We ate dinner in the food court at the mall at this place where you put the food on your plate and they charge you by weight. Sort of like cafeteria style.  On the way back to the apartment we went to a store "that has the things Big Lots didn't want".  At this store Carly and I were able to find more things for the apartment that we still needed.  We got canisters for rice and beans, clothes hangers, small round containers for left over food, other kitchen stuff.  Carly and Kathleen were able to find other things for their classrooms there as well.  We had lots of bags by this point, so we took a taxi home.  That is interesting since none of us speak any more portugese than to say hi (oi) please (por favor) thank you (obrigada) debit (d├ębito) and we ate "straw potatoes"  (batata palha).  

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I'm Here!!!

Yesterday was crazy!  I was to fly from Memphis to Miami then to Suriname and from there to Belem.  Everything went perfectly until I got to Miami.  It took me at least 30 minutes to find the Surinam Airways counter to get my boarding pass.  Once I found the counter the people there told me that I needed a transit visa just to change planes in Suriname, even though I was told that I would not need one.  I had to lug my carry-on bags (50 lbs worth) and get a taxi to take me to the Suriname Consulate so I could get a transit visa.  I spent $15 on the taxi there then $15 on the visa and another $15 on the taxi ride back to the airport.  All this for a visa that I didn't even need, in fact the folks in Suriname never even looked at my passport.  I got into Belem and my ride was waiting for me as I came through customs at about 3:30 am.  They took me to my apartment, which I had to climb 2 flights of stairs to get to.  One was regular stairs, however very narrow, the other was a spiral stair case.  (I will have pictures coming soon, but my camera battery is dead at the moment.)  The next part of crazy is that both beds in the apartment were wet because the rain came in through the window.  So needless to say I had to change the sheets before going to bed. I finally crawled into bed around 4:30am.  I got a few hours sleep and got up around 10ish and tried to take a shower but I could not figure it out.  Then I spent about 20 minutes trying to figure out the lock on the gate so I could get out of my apartment. AHHHH!  I finally got it to unlock and I made it to the school, so i could look around and meet people.  

Thursday, July 28, 2011

4 days and counting!

I GOT MY VISA!!!!!!!  

After freaking out for the past few days that I did not have my visa yet, I got a call yesterday from the folks up in Virginia who were working on the visa for me that they had received it and that it would be over-nighted to me.  Daddy called around 11 today to say that it was at the house, so no more freaking out.  I knew that God was in control of the situation with whole time, so I don't know why I was worried.  

This week has been crazy trying to see people before I leave. 
Monday --  I went to Chuck E Cheese with Katie and Thomas, I helped Robin with her room at school, Mom and I went shopping. Tuesday -- I went to Pei Wei with Sharaze for lunch, then I helped Diane clean up the house for Habitat for Hope, and Catherine took me  to the teacher store where I got monkeys for my room, then dinner at Grandma's house.
Wednesday -- My favorite sister and I went running around all over the place (Chick-fil-a for lunch, and other stuff)  Robin came over to help me pack (sort-of) -- I did, however, find the books I wanted in the many boxes in the 100 degree attic -- then dinner with Niki at Fuji Cafe.  Mmm sushi!
Here it is Thursday -- I ate lunch with Holly at La Hacienda.  I still have a ton to do i'm going to Chili's with Sarah then Mom is helping me to finish packing (hopefully finish).  
Then there comes Friday, Saturday and Sunday which are all equally as busy as the rest of this week has been.  Maybe I can sleep on the plane!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Step 2!

Today I leave for Pre-Field Orientation.  I have to drive all of 20 minutes down the road to Southaven to get there, but I will be there for 2 weeks.    After orientation I will have only 3 weeks before I get on a plane to go serve in Belem, Brazil. 

God has provided so many people in my life who have been blessed enough to financially support me.  I am still in need of some financial support.    

Ahhhh….. I have so much to do and only 5 weeks to get it all done.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Here we go!!


Hey y'all, my name is Christy Christiansen.  I am beginning a new adventure in my life.  I am preparing to go teach with NICS (Network of International Christian Schools), an organization that has 20 international schools in 16 countries across the world.  I am going to Amazon Valley Academy in Belem, Brazil to teach in the upper elementary grades. 

I decided to pursue this opportunity because I am not currently teaching, which is what I feel God has called me to do. Early this year, I came upon an email I received previously from NICS telling about the job fair they were having in February. At the job fair I learned more about the organization and I spoke with several of the school directors. I fell in love with the 3 schools in Brazil and finally decided on AVA.  I chose AVA because I felt like that's where God opened the doors.  For me, working at AVA is a mission opportunity, not just another teaching position.

Brazil is a wide open door for the Gospel of Christ. There is complete religious freedom. The Vatican claims Brazil to be the largest Roman Catholic country in the world. However, only 70% of the population say they are Catholic and only 12% are practicing Catholics. Spiritism has a major influence in all aspects of life in Brazil. I have been to Brazil once before on a short term mission trip. While there we went to visit a Catholic church in Rio, where spiritism was very evident.  There was a shop where people could buy wax figures to burn on an altar at the church so their ailments would be cured. This is a country that desperately needs the message of God’s love.

Once I accepted the position at AVA, I had several hoops to jump through to get prepared to go to Brazil. First thing I had to do was to renew my passport, a process that usually takes 3-6 weeks.  I had the passport paperwork expedited and received the new one in only about 1 week. Then I had to begin gathering documents to get a work Visa.  These documents had to be notarized, certified and then I had to send them to Nashville to get them authenticated.  I had these documents expedited as well and received them back in only 2 days, which is a miracle considering how long these things can take.  I believe the process for the passport and documents has gone smoothly due to God continuing to open doors.

The next big hurdle is to raise financial support.  I will need approximately $3000 for pre-field expenses:  legal documents, plane ticket, etc. Once in Belem, I will need $700 a month to cover basic living expenses.  I need this because the school is currently unable to pay a full salary, although they are working toward that goal. 

I need financial support in order to get to Belem to serve. However my most important need is your prayers as I take on this adventure.