Hangs in Da Nang by Tim

There was a good reason (in fact many reasons) that we ended up in Vietnam.

After some time in Ho Chi Mihn City we landed in the city of Da Nang. We went there to learn from the team at AOG World Relief, an NGO that was established in 1996. As soon as we met the Paul and Deb Hilton, the country co-ordinators, they gave us their time and welcomed us as part of the team. We felt right at home straight away and enjoyed our month-long visit there.

Here’s a blurb from their website describing who they are:

AOG World Relief Vietnam is a non-government organisation (NGO) that exists to partner with whole communities throughout Vietnam for the purpose of seeing them empowered to not only participate in, but also ultimately determine and sustain their own development. Through a process of Community Consultations, Training & relationship building with our team, communities identify their most felt needs and they themselves develop action plans which centre on mobilising their own assets and resources.

AOGWR do this incredible work throughout a number of regions in Vietnam. While we were there we were able to participate in different projects and opportunities the team were undertaking. Our previous time in Brazil and some of Thailand had mainly focused around observing intervention methods of sex-trafficking. Now it was time to get up close and personal with some great prevention practices.

Here’s a snap-shot of some of the parts of our time n Da Nang:

The beautiful city

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Visits to village communities to see some of their work

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Life skills in a school in one of the communities

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We met with different team members to learn how they operate both professionally and personally. Learning how families live in a cross cultural setting has been a great experience.

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We made lots of new friends

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While we were in Da Nang we were also able to explore the city and emerse ourselves in the culture. As we had one month there it was great to meet locals and see how Da Nang operates.

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In between all of that we got to have some nice coffee 🙂

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This was yet another incredible experience for our family and we gleaned many things from the wonderful people we did life with for a short time. Thanks Paul & Deb, Kelvin and Bek, Bruce and Marion and the whole amazing team at AOGWR! You guys are amazing and we learnt so much from each of you.

Tim & Jess

On our descent by Tim

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We’ve been on a few planes this year. Some flights have been as long as 14 hours and some as short as 50 minutes. It’s the short trips that are rather amusing. You reach maximum altitude and then about 10 minutes later an announcement rings out, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, this is the captain, we are now starting our descent….’ We’ve heard this many times and it’s always a comforting relief.

For our family we feel like we’ve heard the call from our ‘captain’ and we’re starting our descent home. 🙂

The prospect of coming home produces many emotions; excitement, nervousness, joy and the anticipation of a cold press and avo smash! We’re looking forward to some down time and giving ourselves space to digest all that has happened. We don’t know what the future holds but we know who holds our future.

We are currently in Vietnam, observing and serving. We plan to connect with a couple of groups in Cambodia (if it all works out), then spend some time in Bangkok before we hit Australian shores. We’ll be home in four to six weeks. WOW!

See you soon Australia, the adventure continues.

Tim, Jess & Amy

Time with The River – by Tim

We recently spent two weeks looking, listening and learning at The River ministry in Hang Dong, Thailand. Led by Erik and Marianna Klar The River team aim to raise, train and empower people to be effective through their lives and in their communities. The journey has taken many years of making connections and serving the people of Thailand but this team has seen many lives transformed in a number of areas around the country.

Here are some of the highlights from our visit to The River…

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It was here that we really got to learn about Thai culture and customs. We learnt to always wear footwear that was easy to take on and off regularly. Suited me greatly!

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We found some great places to explore. There are loads of coffee shops all over Thailand and Chiang Mai was booming with caffeinated goodness! The photo below was taken at The River Cafe where we got great food and coffee or fruit shakes.

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We also got to feed some giraffes and many other animals at the Chiang Mai Night Safari! Paradise for a two-year old who is obsessed with animals.

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We got to hang out with many amazing people including these basket cases!!! We’ve known the Rudresh family for many years and it was so great to spend time with them and be blessed by their lives of faith.

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I had a great experience going to a mountain village with Erik, Rudy and Colin. It was a great day meeting with locals, connecting with the pastor in that region and hearing about what God was doing. I left very inspired and blessed.

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I also had the opportunity to visit The River ministry in Bangkok. I went down with Erik Klar and two others, Corinne and Steph. We walked the streets and prayerfully observed the environments of the bustling city. From the simple alleyways to the booming malls and to the red-light districts we covered a lot of ground via trains, taxi’s, tuk-tuks and lots of walking. It was a great day!

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Back in Hang Dong as much as we could we participated in prayer meetings, kids clubs and church services. It was an amazing environment and Jess and I felt refreshed and blessed by been there.

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After our two weeks we moved on once again. It was sad to leave this place but we hope to visit there again one day.  Thank you Erik and Marianna and Rudy and Lara and all the team for some great memories!

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From Tim

Vila Mimosa – Not a meat market by Tim

 * WARNING – THIS POST HAS GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS THAT ARE NOT SUITABLE FOR YOUNG OR SENSITIVE READERS *

Have you ever been to a meat market or super butcher? There are so many different butchers presenting their best selections of meat, the best cuts on display, it’s a wonder to the sensors. This is the only analogy that I can think to use to describe Vila Mimosa, a red-light district in Rio de Janeiro that draws around 4000 men each day. It’s in this place that Liberdade teams have been doing outreach over the past few weeks.

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Why would I post about this place and be so honest? Because of the women… the men… they need us. They need Jesus and we can’t just turn away from the dark places in society. The people of Vila Mimosa need Jesus.

Let me take you there…

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The outreach night started the same as the others (Night of the streets), only tonight, my team were going into Vila Mimosa. I prepared my heart and prayed with others that were about to step out into the different outreach locations. I was teamed with three other people, two girls and a guy, mighty warriors and locals of Rio. Vila Mimosa is just a street away from the prayer room, but even though it was an easy walk, as we entered the main street I felt sick in the stomach. I felt the oppression both physically and spiritually and I knew we were in for a big night.

The street was full of cars and men walking and trolling. There were many alleys coming off the street filled to overflowing. Each of the alleys were lined with bars that are also used as brothels. One bar owner is a witch and worships the black demon. Like many other places in Rio there were street venders, shops and people everywhere. It was dark, noisy and smelly.

Vila Mimosa was alive and we were there to connect with the women and invite them to a lunch at the prayer room.

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The two girls in our team were fearless. They would walk straight up to the women with big smiles and engage them quickly. After a moment of conversation they would give them a small gift and an invitation to the lunch. Even when there were men in close proximity to the ladies, these girls would step in unafraid. Myself and the other male in our team would stand close, praying and watching the men around to keep our girls safe.

We entered one of the dark and dingy alleys. The music coming from the bars was so loud that my head was pulsating. Everywhere we walked there was spilt beer, cigarettes, rubbish and murky water. Honestly, it was the most disgusting and oppressive place I’ve ever been in. The men seemed entranced and they stared at the women like they were pieces of meat. They could easily be hungry men at a meat market selecting their favourite cut.

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Most of the women wore very short and tight fitting clothing. Some wore only bikini g-strings and others were topless, which of course only captivated the men more. I was approached by one of woman who was trying to offer me her business. I yelled over the music that I spoke in english. She only spoke Portuguese so all she said was “2 Reis, 2 Reis” ($1 Australian) and gestured with two fingers. This was the cheapest service she could offer me. I gestured that I was there to pray and she didn’t understand. I said good-bye and moved on with our team.

There were many things that shocked me. Men moved in groups trolling the allies together. Apparently it was a group event and they would stir each other on as they watched the girls. There were also a number of teenage boys standing around in the darkness. How did this become a place where they causually hung out?

As I watched the men meander through the alley questions rolled through my mind. Who are you, why are you here, are you married? I was searching the Spirit for answers and discerning the atmosphere and the people’s stories. I was sensing many things and when I felt led, I would step out and engage someone in conversation. As far as we know this place has never been reached by ‘the church’ before and as I prayed I felt like light was going out into the darkness.

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A lot of the time I felt like I was in another world or in a bad dream. At one point I began to think about my daughter Amy, and for a moment, I felt normal again in this horrible place.

After a while as we walked through the allies all I could do was smile. I smiled at the women. I smiled at the men and I smiled at the atmosphere. There was so much love inside of me and it had to come out somehow. It came out of my smile.

One young man caught my attention. He had a backpack on that had the word ‘Jesus’ printed in bold. This intrigued me so I approached him. He didn’t speak english so in my limited portuguese I told him that I was from Australia and that Jesus loved him. He seemed to understand and also accept my words. I walked back to my team member and asked if he could go and talk with him and reaffirm what I was trying to say. It turns out that it was this young man’s birthday, hence the reason he was there. He explained to my team member that he was blessed by my words and he felt that it was a sign from God that an Australian would come all the way here to tell him Jesus loved him. I continued to pray for him after we moved on.

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I started saying hi to some of the men in Portuguese to see if they understood or if they were foreigners. One man didn’t look Brazilian so I greeted him. He was an Australian and we chatted briefly. I was so saddened that someone from my country would come to this place, a place mostly visited by locals. I saw this man two more times during the night and continued the conversation. I left him with the thought that God was thinking about him and I continued to pray for him too.

We passed two other foreign looking men who were walking into the street. Their body language showed their level of excitement and I could have easily mistaken them as two mates going to a sports game. They seemed as excited as Jess and I were when we went to see a World Cup game. ARGH! I wanted to run up to them and yell “Turn around, get out of here, do you know what you’re doing?!” Instead, I yelled it in my spirit and prayed for them as well.

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At the end of the night as we were walking out of the street, I turned around and yelled out “You will be closed down in the name of Jesus!” It felt good and I meant it.

When we got back to the prayer room our team of four prayed with a passion and fire to see God move in Vila Mimosa. I was so stirred and moved by my experience and I thank God that I was once again able to be involved. Ministry in Brazil to prostitutes and the men that pay for their services is complex. I know it will take more than one lunch invite to bring down the cultural, financial and spiritual strongholds that fuel this industry. However, change is happening one person at a time. With each invite, each smile, each prayer, each expression of love, I have faith and hope that the darkness in that street will cease.

Save Vila Mimosa Jesus. Amen.

VILA M

Isaiah 40:29 – He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

Tim

A night on the streets by Tim

The Liberdade project in Brazil has been an incredible experience for our family. The project runs for the 31 days of the Fifa world cup and we are half way through. As soccer teams from all over the world have gathered to play in one of the world’s largest sporting events, the Liberdade teams reach out to the countless victims in Brazil’s notorious red-light districts and pray for an end to sex trafficking in the nation.

We have been privileged as a family to serve and observe what God is doing through this movement. I personally have been a part of the night outreach teams to the women and men of the streets and have been impacted in such a powerful way.

A night on the streets

I leave our apartment around 8pm and catch a taxi close to the prayer room.

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I walk across the bridge over a busy Rio road. I’m full of expectation as I pray and feel the Spirit stirring in me.PhotoGrid_1403896548939I walk under the train bridge…

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…and past the bbqs and the bars.

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I have walked down this street many times. It’s full of bars, bikers and places that make me wonder. Who goes there? Where do they come from? God, how do you see this place?

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I arrive at the building where the prayer room is running on the fifth floor.  24/7 this place is full of worship and prayer and is an unassuming beacon of hope and light in a dark place.

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I join others and spend time in worship.

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We take time to pray and prepare our hearts. I feel love and power stirring inside of me.

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Then we head out as a team. We are ready and open to what the Holy Spirit wants to do.

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As we pass streets of brothels my mind races and my emotions bubble. These places are so foreign to me, but the more I go out the more comfortable I feel in this environment. God is doing a work in me and I’m welcoming the change.

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As we see girls on the roadside, three or four of our team members approach. With love in our hearts we engage with each girl and share the love of Jesus with them by telling them how special they are to Him. In many of the conversations the girls shed tears. Someone cares enough to say hi, to pray with them and give them words from their heavenly Father. We invite them to a weekly lunch held at the prayer room, give them gifts and say good night.

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We continue to walk and find more ladies to talk to. Men in cars troll the roads staring at the women, consumed by their own lust. I am angered and saddened but I pray for them, I ask God to change their hearts too.

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I take in the surroundings on a street where many ladies and transvestites work. It’s dark, sad and lonely. “I can’t feel hope anymore” describes one of the women in conversation. My heart breaks. Of the 20 women and men we saw on the streets we had conversations with about 10 of them. There are more tears, more gifts, more invitations. We feel a real openness tonight and our prayer is that light would shine through us and meet them where they are at.

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After a couple of hours we return back to the prayer room. We debrief and pray and team members are brought to tears from the experience.

I make my way home and walk along the now empty street. Solemn, prayerful and changed.

Street homeI get back in a taxi and within 5 minutes I’m home. I wait and settle my thoughts before I go to bed.

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It was a good night.

Some places to stay in California by Tim

While we were in the US we travelled around California for three and a half weeks and stayed in some great places. We thought we’d blog on three of these private rentals for others thinking of travelling around Northern Cali.

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When looking for accommodation we’ve really liked this website: www.homeaway.com. You can talk directly to the home owners and there are generally good priced options for different group numbers. We also use www.tripadvisor.com to check for extra reviews and options.

1. San Fransisco – Telegraph Hill

This was a great place to stay to start our adventure. It is a comfortable 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment that sleeps up to 4 people located in Telegraph Hill/ North Beach area. It’s located in the Italian quarter which we were incredibly excited about! YUM! There was lots to see and do in the area including cafes, pubs, restaurants and shops.

Of the major attractions San Francisco has to offer this place is walking distance to Coit Tower, Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, Embarcadero, The Cannery, Pier 39 (ferry to Alcatraz, Sausalito, Tiburon, etc.), Aquatic Park and China Town. However, you will need your walking legs. We had a hire car so we were able to drive to see the Golden Gate bridge, Sausalito and Golden Gate Park.

P.s – There are loads of hills around Telegraph Hill, it should be called Telegraph MASSIVE Hills ;-).

Apartment website and info here: Telegraph Hill

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Thought by Jess – If you’re not into walking, there is a bus stop JUST outside this apartment. I would stay here again in a heart beat, it’s not a large apartment, but the price and location are perfect!

2. Pine Mountain Lake (Yosemite area) – ‘The Escape’

This was such an amazing house in a beautiful gated community on Pine Mountain Lake. With 3 bedrooms (sleeping up to 8), 2 full bathrooms and two big living areas this place felt like a hideaway in the mountains. The lake area is breathtaking and fantastic for families with lots to do, especially in summer. It was close to the cute little town of Groveland where you can find shops, cafes and markets and perhaps most importantly… coffee.

Highlights for us were seeing lots of deer and squirrel from our balcony. This place is only 45 minutes drive to the Yosemite National Park entrance which is well worth a visit (One of the greatest experiences we’ve ever had).

House website and info here: ‘The Escape’

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Thought by Jess – This was a wonderful place to get away and recuperate. Fresh-air and eating Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream in the spa-bath was just what the doctor ordered. If I was rich, I’d buy a holiday house here.

3. Redding – Emerald Acres House

Emerald Acres House is a cute and cosy 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom guest house on a gorgeous farm in Redding. During our stay, each day we would tour the farm to see the horses, goats, sheep, chickens, cows, turkeys and playful dog. Amy was in heaven! This was a great place for us to get some rest and have time out after a big few months leading up to our trip.

A special shout-out to the amazing Bret and Valda Christensen who own the farm and are such wonderful hosts. They were always ready to help out to make our stay enjoyable.

If you’re there to visit Bethel Church, it’s only a 10 minute drive away and shops are also just a few minutes down the road. Some other sights around Redding include the Sundial Bridge, Shasta Dam, Whisky Lake and Lassen Park.

House website and info here: Emerald Acres House

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Thought by Jess – Absolutely perfect for those with kids or those wanting to stay a little further out-of-town. It’s not 5 star, but it was exactly what we wanted. We will be back!

We really enjoyed our stays in each of these places and had no problems with communication, payments or facilities. We would recommend considering these options if you’re ever travelling in these areas.

Tim

Isso é um sonho? (Em poruguese) por Tim

Último ano em março eu fazia parte de uma semana dois Despertar Global viagem ministério. Nossa equipe ministrou em várias igrejas e também foi para as ruas para abençoar as pessoas. Foi uma experiência de mudança de vida.

Após a viagem ministério terminou, eu tenho que sair com a tripulação em Hangar7 Igreja para o meu último par de dias no Brasil. Eu tive a oportunidade de falar a seu serviço e, em seguida, sair com alguns deles no dia seguinte. Essa última parte da minha viagem foi uma conexão tão divino e eu voltei para casa me sentindo como Deus tinha mais na loja a partir deste momento.

Aqui algumas fotos da viagem:

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Agora estamos de volta ao Brasil como uma família e tem havido muitas vezes eu senti como se eu tivesse sido um sonho. Estou realmente de volta neste país? É a nossa família realmente aqui? Essas pessoas e experiências são reais? Isso é um sonho?

Esta emoção surgiu há duas semanas durante o nosso primeiro serviço em Hangar7 Igreja. Como chegamos ao parque, em Indaiatuba (onde têm o seu serviço a noite sexta-feira) eu estava tão animado para se reunir com muitas pessoas que conheci no ano passado. Isso é um sonho?

Durante o culto eu andava com Amy tendo na atmosfera e em um ponto que eu queria chorar. A emoção que senti foi tão avassaladora. Um sentido do amor de Deus e da graça que me trouxe de volta a este lugar. Mas ainda assim eu questionei, isso é um sonho?

Foi uma noite incrível e eu estava tão abençoado para falar no serviço. À medida que a noite terminou e chegamos em casa, ainda a questão sacudiu ao redor em minha mente, isto é um sonho?

Aqui estão algumas fotos da noite de sexta no Hangar7 para lhe dar uma idéia do que se passa:

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Speaking at Hangar7

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Temos agora estive aqui por duas semanas e tantas vezes Jess e eu vou olhar para o outro espantado e dizer: “Nós estamos no Brasil!”

Estar aqui é tão surreal, mas tão certo. É tão diferente, mas tão bom. As pessoas, o lugar ea cultura tiveram um impacto em nossas vidas e se tornou mais real a cada dia.

Levou um tempo, mas agora eu sei que isso não é um sonho. Obrigado Deus!

Viver seria uma grande aventura.

Tim

Is this a dream? (In English) by Tim

Last year in March I was part of a two week Global Awakening ministry trip. Our team ministered in a number of churches and also went to the streets to bless people. It was a life changing experience.

After the ministry trip finished, I got to hang out with the crew at Hangar7 Church for my last couple of days in Brazil. I had the opportunity to speak at their service and then hang out with a few of them the next day. This last portion of my trip was such a divine connection and I came home feeling like God had more in store from this time.

Here’s some pics from the trip:

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Now we are back in Brazil as a family and there have been many times I have felt like I’ve been in a dream. Am I really back in this country? Is our family really here? Are these people and experiences real? Is this a dream?

This emotion emerged two weeks ago during our first service at Hangar7 Church. As we arrived at the park in Indaiatuba (where they hold their Friday night service) I was so excited to be reunited with many people I had met last year. Is this a dream?

During the worship I walked around with Amy taking in the atmosphere and at one point I wanted to cry. The emotion I felt was so overwhelming. A sense of Gods love and grace that had brought me back to this place. But still I questioned, is this a dream?

It was an amazing night and I was so blessed to speak at the service. As the night finished and we arrived home, still the question rattled around in my mind, is this a dream?

Here’s some pics of the Friday night at Hangar7 to give you an idea of what goes on:

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Speaking at Hangar7

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We’ve now been here for two weeks and so many times Jess and I will look at each other astonished and say, “We’re in Brazil!”

Being here feels so surreal but so right. It feels so different but so good. The people, the place and the culture have had an impact on our lives and it’s become more real every day.

It’s taken a while but I now know that this is not a dream. Thank you God!

To live would be an awfully big adventure.

Tim

A week of firsts by Tim

We’ve been in Brazil just over one week now and during this time we’ve experienced many ‘firsts’. It’s been so exciting trying new foods, meeting new people and immersing ourselves in this new culture. Here are some of the ‘firsts’ we’ve experienced this past week.

First time in a non-speaking country as a family

For Jess and Amy this is their first time in a non-english speaking country. This is also the first time for our whole family together. It’s been intriguing and sometimes challenging but we’re making the most of it. Using lots of non-verbal gestures always makes for lots of laughter and smiles. Lots of the Brazilians we’re hanging out with speak a bit of English so this has helped a lot.

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First time trying this amazing drink – Guaraná (gwa-ra-NAH)

A delicious soft drink made from a fruit only found in Brazil! We can’t get enough of it!

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Amy’s first hair cut

Thanks to Pri, Amy had her first hair cut! She’s such a cutie and she was so good.

Amy's first hair cut

Açaí (ah-sah-EE) Where have you been all my life! 

YUUUUUMMMM!!!!! A South American fruit that is made into a frozen puree. Amazing with granola, fruit, sweetened condensed milk and just about anything!

First Acai

Jess’ first time speaking with an interpreter

Jess had the great honour of speaking to the girls of Hangar7 at their womens service. This was her first time speaking with a translator, and an amazing translator she was!!!! Thanks Keila for making us sound amazing when we speak. Que?!!!!

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Jess’ first time meeting lots of her friends face-to-face

After my trip to Brazil in 2013 I came back with over 150 new friends on Facebook! Jess also gained some new Facebook friends. Throughout the last year we’ve had many skype and FB conversations with some of these amazing people.

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Jess has now been able to meet them in person for the first time! It was like they had always known each other!

Boaz!

First time this long away from family…

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It’s now 6 weeks since we left Australia. Time has gone so quickly and we think about our home often. This is the first time we’ve been away from family, friends and home this long. But thanks to Skype, Facebook and WhatsApp they’re never to far away!!!

I love Brazil

I do love this place. We’ve had lots of amazing ‘firsts’ already. Plenty more to come I’m sure.

Tim