Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Blog isn't working too great

Hey All!
We've been gone for almost 5 weeks and I have failed miserably to update the blog.  The site is difficult to work sometimes and also our use of wireless internet is not always readily available.  Most people are following our trip via facebook as I'm able to post almost every day from my phone.  I have posted a ton of pictures, video and little snippets of what we have been doing.  Also you can see who we are working with in each country as well as prayer requests.  If you aren't already, please friend me on facebook, and you can follow along on our journey.  All your prayers and encouragement have meant the world to us.
If time allows and internet is strong I will start posting more pics and updates on the blog but until then, facebook is easiest. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Beginning of Brazil

I never had a chance to write more about our time in Brazil.  So here's the recap :)
We arrived in Rio and spent the first two days of our trip staying in a hostel in downtime Rio, exploring the famous beaches of Copacabana, and seeing the sites of the bustling city.  It was a tiring yet super fun first few days as a team.  We stayed at the Beach Backpackers hostel on three high bunk beds.  We woke up very early the second morning to walk about 1/2 mile with ALL our bags on our backs.  Already at that point I was impressed with Jack and Naomi's ability to carry their own things and keep up with the team. Thankfully Sheffield loves sitting in his backpack and the team takes turns helping us with our extra Sheffield bag.  We caught the bus, and caught a quick flight to Curitiba, Brazil.  We were met by our hosts, the Abel family, who we would later find out to be some of the most incredible missionaries we would ever meet.  We saw some of the city and stopped at a Botanical Gardens for lunch.  Sheffield took off running in freedom in the open grass.  I realized he hadn't been free to run for days.  We had been in planes, buses, airport terminals or the crowded streets for days.  He was SO happy running through that park. 
We drove about an hour to the countryside.  I immediately felt more at peace the moment I saw the rolling hills, tall trees, cows, horses and beauty.  We arrived at the ARCA, a Christian retreat center that Paul and Becky Abel run.  At first sight I knew this was going to be a good home for us for the first two weeks of our trip.  The compound had dorms for the girls, dorms for the guys, a common area and eating area, a chapel, basketball gym, sports fields, horses, the Abels home, and a great room for our family to stay in.  We quickly settled into this place as a team.  The Abel family were the most incredible hosts.  They selflessly brought us into their home, spoiled our team with amazing experiences, food, and support.  I feel like one of the biggest gifts we receive on this trip is the chance to walk side by side and learn from such amazing missionaries.  This family has lived in Brazil for 30 years, had their family here, served their community, run this camp, started schools, language schools, churches, bible studies, discipled countless people, provided clean water to 100's of homes, and on and on.  Our team had the chance to support them over the two weeks by helping with building projects, teaching English in the school, hosting a camp over the weekend and several projects at houses in the community to bless those around them.  One of the most significant things was being a part of their church community too.  I'm so thankful for the time, although short, to begin some neat relationships.  Being somewhere for just two weeks makes you realized that you don't have much to give.  The Abels have given their whole life to this part of Brazil and have sacrificed much.  Our prayer was that over those two short weeks we were able to encourage and help in some small way. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

moire Brazil photos


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

First travel day

I am writing our first blog entry from a plane flying over the Andes Mountains on our route to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  This travel day has been crazy long!  We had our send off Friday morning at 9am at Concordia as we were prayed over my tons of family and friends.  After many tearful good byes, we boarded the cars and headed excitedly to LAX.  Backpacks on our backs, we walked into the airport to news that our first flight was delayed 8 hours!!! So our team had to quickly get a lesson in flexibility that we know will be vital all throughout this trip.  Just thinking about corralling a team of 38 people, to 10 countries, on countless modes of transportation, through borders and visa checks, is enough to make you realize how many times we are going to be tested in patience and flexibility.  After spending a very long day in LAX, we finally had our 8 hour flight to Lima, Peru.  We had a few hour layover there in which they wanted us to stay on the plane.  Not ideal, but we all went with it.  We then took off again for Santiago, Chile with tons of empty seats. We were able to spread out and get some much needed sleep.  Sheffield was a champ!  He played all day in LAX and even napped in his stroller.  Then he feel asleep right away and slept the entire 8 hour flight all through the night.  Then he ran around the plane during the layover, to then fall asleep again at takeoff.  I truly feel like this was one of the biggest answers to prayer for this first day. I know so many of my family and friends are specifically burdened to pray for Sheffield on this trip since he’s so young.  As I write this we are on our third and final flight of this leg and he literally fell asleep while the plane was taxiing to takeoff.  I’m in AWE!  Thank you Lord!  This day has been so very long and drawn out. We’ve been in a plane for 16 + hours and have sat in the airport that same amount with delays!  Not quite the best start to this trip but much good has come out of it.  The team has bonded, been flexible, had fun, played with our kids and made the best of it.  I did have a mini cry session to John at the beginning of the first flight cause I was so tired, uncomfortable in my seat and stressed about how this was going to work with Sheffield.  John quickly switched seats with me and sat in the middle seat (what a guy!).  I remembered back to when we decided to do John’s PHd in England and take our 3 month old Naomi and 2 year old Jack with us on an 11 hour flight.  About 1 hour into that flight sweating as I held newborn Naomi and wrangling 2 year old Jack to sleep on a plane, I looked over at John with tears in my eyes and said, “What have we done?” “We are crazy” “I think we made a huge mistake!” We got through that uncomfortable plane ride and had such a fruitful time in England all those summers with John’s phd program.  It was tough at times with two small children but we felt like God gave us this opportunity and there were so many incredible moments along the way.  I felt just like that yesterday as we started our first flight and had wrangled Sheffield around LAX all day.  I felt like I could have looked at John with the same questions…”What did we do?” “Are we crazy to take our 13, 10, and 2 year old AROUND THE WORLD?” “Will he sleep on this plane or is it going to be a miserable experience?” Yes this day was long, yes it was frustrating to wait and wait and wait, and yes it’s all the more hard to wait and wait and wait with an almost 2 year old, but you can also look at it as the perfect start.  This trip isn’t going to be all easy but it’s going to be good.  Sheffield may only be a toddler but he can travel like a champ and God can protect Him.  Jack and Naomi could be sad leaving home and friends but they could also be inspired and loved on by these college students, which I already saw today.  We could have sleepless days, uncomfortable situations and heartbreaking moments on this trip, but God has BIG plans in all of the good and bad and I’m confident in that.  It’s amazing how you can feel so confident in what God has called you into and the plans He’s laid before you, but then so quickly have moments of doubt and fear.  I feel like I already saw such a beautiful picture of God reminding me today that it’s all going to be ok, that He’s got my children in the palm of His hand, that He has great plans for this team and that He will teach us beautiful lessons even in the midst of travel days and delays. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

ATW III: Liftoff August 1, 2014

Our newest globe trotter has his hands lifted in excitement for our second trip around the world with Concordia University.  Many details are yet to tie up before our liftoff on August, so please keep us (and our wonderful team of students) in prayer.

ATW II = Sheffield Aram Norton

Post-Dated August 24, 2012
As many of you know, our plans to join the ATW II team in 2012 were changed when we found out that a new Norton would be joining our family!  Sheffield Aram Norton was born just as the ATW II was landing in Vietnam.  Erica and I were situated snugly in the Mission Viejo Hospital (I think I was a bit more snug than Erica), as an amazing team of ATW II students were exploring, learning, and serving.