18 January, 2016

Christmas and the New Year

Hey, everyone!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Year celebration! I certainly did! Both were certainly different from what I am used to experiencing, but happy and fun, nonetheless!

For Christmas, the typical experience is to have church on Christmas Eve and then celebrate after church with dinner and presents. The church service was beautiful, and it was my last service with The Rev. Ubirajara Mello. After being ordained October 4th, he has been assigned to the region about 6 hours north of Santa Maria. He was previously the Bishop’s assistant in the diocesan office, which is where I met him. It was very sad to say goodbye to him and his wife, Rosie, but I am very happy for them to begin this new adventure.

Our office Christmas dinner

My Christmas tree in my apartment.
After church, the Dean of the Cathedral, Silvio, his wife, Joelma, and their daughter, Clarinha, and I went to the house of Bishop Jubal and his wife, Eleci, to celebrate Christmas. It was a delicious meal and a fun celebration! It was an unusual Christmas for me, but filled with much love, laughter, happiness, and joy. I am so appreciative that both families opened their hearts and homes to welcome me! And, of course, no celebration is perfect without a ‘selfie’ to mark the occasion!

Our Christmas selfie 
On December 29th, I flew to Rio de Janeiro to spend roughly a week there. My brother, Richard, and my sister-in-law, Neely, flew down to meet me there. I can’t begin to say how wonderful it was to see them and have some quality time with them! We did the typical tourist things like Sugar Loaf (Pão de Açúcar), Escadaria Selarón, Jardim Botânico, and the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, but we stayed fairly low-key for the trip as Neely was sick when she arrived, and then I became sick for the second half of the time.

Sugar Loaf/Pão de Açúcar

Another view of Sugar Loaf/Pão de Açúcar

Sugar Loaf/Pão de Açúcar with Neely, Richard, and me

A view of the buildings from Sugar Loaf/Pão de Açúcar that create a cross.

  Another view of Sugar Loaf/Pão de Açúcar
 Richard found a hole in a tree at Jardim Botânico.

Jardim Botânico
Richard and Neely wanted a picture together...I became jealous and wanted in on it!

Escadaria Selarón

Richard and me on a hill next to Escadaria Selarón.

We found a rainbow while walking along Copacabana. 
For New Year's Eve, we rented a table at one of the restaurants on Copacabana beach to watch the fireworks. It included our table, food, drinks, a fenced off space on the beach for us, and our own bathrooms. It was the best way to watch the fireworks! They were beautiful and seemed to go on forever! I loved it! We also met some new friends from Portugal and France that were at the table next to ours! It was funny because at one point, after we moved our tables together, we had three languages being spoken: English, French, and Portuguese. Neely and Richard both speak French and English, and I speak Portuguese and English, so between the three of us, we could speak with everyone. Earlier in the trip, we met two guys from South Africa, and I was able to play translator for them between English and Portuguese. One of the guys is doing a documentary on the musical culture in Rio de Janeiro, and I translated for them with a local singer at lunch. It was a fun experience! In all, the trip was a truly multinational experience and allowed my family and me to meet people from all over the world!

An impressive sand castle on Copacabana.

Me translating
The fireworks at midnight!

Neely and me toasting to 2016!

We watched the sunrise on the first day of 2016.
A beautiful way to ring in the new year!

Until next time!


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