Good bye for a little while by Tim


This is the day. The Greenwood’s are setting off!

The Greenwoods 2

It’s been fun planning, preparing our hearts and getting everything ready but now it’s time for the next step. It’s going to feel great to be on the plane after a big few months!

The latest plan for the Greenwood’s is to spend 1 month in the US, 3 months in Brazil and then head onto Thailand to see what God has in store.

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We will be volunteering with a number of groups that work with those in the sex trade industry, a dark and deeply engrained industry that has spread throughout the globe.

We will miss our families. A LOT!

Crazy bunch of people!

We will miss our great friends in Australia. A LOT!

We will see some of our amazing international friends soon.

We hope to make many new friends along the way.

We desire to see God in a whole new way and soar higher (Voe mais alto) than we ever have before!

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Our little family is heading off on what we can only describe as an adventure. We don’t totally know what awaits but we step out in eager expectation, knowing that we have so much incredible support behind us. We also have great confidence knowing that God is watching over us and laughing with us.

We’ll try to keep our blog updated as we journey around and serve and observe some incredible ministries around the world.

So, good bye for a little while. We’ll see you when we return; when, only God knows. We do know this:

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 We choose to live.

Love you all. Tim, Jess and Amy.

Counting the numbers by Jess

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This is it, the countdown is on. I can hardly believe that in 7 days I’ll be on a plane heading off overseas to work with organisations rescuing women and children from sex trafficking. Crazy stuff! Half of me is excited and the other is having a little freak out. As I look at our to-do-lists and the days left on the calendar, sometimes the math (which I was never very good at) concerns me. Will we get everything done in time? Perhaps… fingers crossed.

With so many thoughts in my head, I’m sure it would be easy for me to forget why we’re doing this. Fortunately, I don’t. I know that as I write this there are millions of people world-wide, trapped in horrible situations from no fault of their own. While I sit here with my laptop, they sit in dark rooms, forced to ‘service’ countless customers and do unspeakable acts. I can not forget about human trafficking and sex slavery.

Tim and I have wanted to write blog about what’s going on globally, but the difficulty is making statistics and facts seem relevant and interesting. I know that for many of you, the details of modern slavery or trafficking are unknown. Don’t worry, that was me a few months ago. I’ll try give you the basics (from a few reputable sources) and then some more specific details about the places we are going. Perhaps then, if you didn’t before, you will see why we are doing what we’re doing.

Here I go…

You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.
– William Wilberforce

‘Slavery’ refers to the condition of treating another person as if they were property – something to be bought, sold, traded or even destroyed.

‘Human trafficking’ is another related concept, referring to the process through which people are brought, through deception, threats or coercion, into slavery, forced labour or other forms of severe exploitation.

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Some global info:

  • The recent 2013 Global Slavery Index puts global slavery numbers at 29.8 million – more than Australia’s population of 23.4 million
  • 27% of all victims detected globally are children. Of every three child victims, two are girls and one is a boy. (United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, 2012)
  • Trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation accounts for 58% of all trafficking cases detected globally (UNODC, 2012)
  • 98% of all victims of sexual slavery/sex trafficking worldwide are women and girls (International Labor Organization, 2012)

It’s horrifying and absurd to think that there are currently more slaves on earth than at any other time in human history. But when that massive number overwhelms your heart, take a step back and consider that each one of them has a face and a name. While it may be impossible for any one of us to reach and rescue every one of them, each one of us can certainly make a difference in one precious life.
– Louie Giglio

Brazil Trafficking in Persons Report 2013, By US Department of State:

  • Child sex tourism remains a serious problem, particularly in resort and coastal areas in Brazil’s northeast. Child sex tourist typically arrive from Europe and, to a lesser extend, the United States.
  • The Government of Brazil does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.
  • In 2012, the Government operated anti-trafficking offices in 16 states, but did not fund specialized services for victims of sex trafficking
  • The government took public measures to reduce demand for commercial sexual exploitation of children by continuing to raise awareness during the Carnival season.
  • Despite the significant number of child sex tourists visiting Brazil, there were no public reports of prosecutions or convictions for child sex tourism in 2012.
  • Brazil is a signatory of the 2000 UN TIP Protocol (United Nations – Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children).

If there were no demand for commercial sex, sex trafficking would not exist in the form it does today. This reality underscores the need for continued strong efforts to enact policies and promote cultural norms that disallow paying for sex.
– Trafficking in Persons Report June 2013, U.S. State Department

Thailand Trafficking in Persons Report 2013, By US Department of State:

  • Thailand is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.
  • In 2012, children were exploited in the sex trade using false identification in karaoke or massage parlors.
  • Sex trafficking generally involves women and girls as victims. Sex tourism continues to be a problem in Thailand, and this demand likely fuels trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.
  • The Government of Thailand does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government has not shown sufficient evidence of increasing efforts to address human trafficking compared to the previous year.
  • In 2012, corruption remained widespread among Thai law enforcement personnel, creating an enabling environment for human trafficking to prosper. There were credible reports that corrupt officials protected brothels, other commercial sex venues from raids and inspections, colluded with traffickers, used information from victim testimony to weaken cases, and engaged in commercial sex acts with child trafficking victims.
  • Thailand is NOT a signatory of the 2000 UN TIP Protocol

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If everyone will just do something, we will change the world.
– Mary Frances Bowley

These are the basic facts and numbers of modern slavery in the world today, so believe me when I say this is just scratching the surface. There is so much I don’t know; I am consciously incompetent. However, I know that doing nothing is not an option for Tim and me. We must do something and our ‘something’ just happens to involve travel and hands on engagement. So yes, I’m counting down the days until we leave and dealing with all the emotions that come with saying goodbye to family, friends and country, but I’m also counting the numbers of people who need to be set free. If I can be involved in just one rescue, I will be satisfied… maybe… probably not.

Love Jess xxoo

Resources

United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime – Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2013 http://www.unodc.org/documents/Global_Report_on_TIP.pdf

International Labor Organisation – Global Child Labor tends 2008-2012 http://www.ilo.org/ipecinfo/product/viewProduct.do;jsessionid=5885ca73218eb71626d7da341392b719b15d4ba1386bddda2eb6042cd72ca0e8.e3aTbhuLbNmSe34MchaRah8Tah90?productId=23015

US Department of State – Trafficking in Persons Report 2013  http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2013/

God is…. So good by Tim

An incredible thing happened about a week ago. This…

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This photo, this moment, this confirmation is pretty amazing. Let me tell you about something that happened, one year ago. (Que fanciful music)

I was standing in a worship set at Hangar7 Church in Indaiatuba, Brazil on Wednesday the 20th of March 2013. This was part of a Global Awakening ministry trip. I was lost in the love and grace of God when all of a sudden I had a very vivid and real image/vision flash into my mind. It was a picture of Jess, Amy and I standing on the stage at our church Nexus, saying goodbye. It was scary, exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. I started to cry. Tears of release, tears of joy, tears of a son who was hearing from his heavenly Father. I knew God was showing me a moment that was going to be in my future. I didn’t know what it meant or when it would be, but I knew it was real.

I saw the same picture during times of worship three more times that week. Each time I would cry. Each time I felt a separation from the season I was in and God preparing my heart for a new season, a shift, a transition, an adventure.

So, this is what happened last week, Sunday the 2nd of March 2014. Almost one year to the day, the vision became a reality. Myself, Jess and Amy stood on the stage at Nexus Church and we said goodbye to our wider family.

Tim, Jess & Amy Prayer

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God works in mysterious ways. He’s fun, He’s true, He’s good. So we’re off on an adventure in three weeks, but God was nice enough to show us little pieces along the way. What a ride!

Tim

Travelling overseas with a Toddler by Jess

“What about Amy?” many people ask me. I understand their curiosity and concern about taking a not-yet two-year-old half way around the world and back.

You know what it’s like when you see a child under 3 (or honestly, anyone under 10) standing with their guardian at the terminal waiting to board your flight. Whether or not you believe in God, most people will pray a few desperate words which usually end with “… please, oh please, not in my section.” I know I’ve said a few of those prayers myself over the years. Being stuck in a large metal cylinder with someone else’s child for 12 hours can be terrifying.

I’m about to join that very… shall I say ‘courageous’ group of parents who endure the interesting hurdles and hazards of taking their wee ones overseas with them. Needless to say I’ve read a lot of blogs looking for tips about travelling and flying with toddlers. They all say one thing, expect the worst and prepare for the worst. Great.

So, why would we do a trip (especially one like this) with a toddler? A few reasons really, 1. because it’s the right time in our lives and 2. we believe that having Amy on this crazy adventure will make it all the more fun. Honestly, life is just more fun with Amy. More tiring? Yes. Messier? Definitely. Truthfully, sometimes I do go a little mental, but life is still richer and better with Amy in it. I could never imagine doing this adventure without her. It would be easier if it was just Tim and me, but not nearly as much fun.

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Taking a little person overseas also means taking little people things and catering for little people needs with a few Government regulations on the side. I thought I’d make a detailed list of things we’re taking. Who knows, maybe this will help someone else like me.

A few trip details:
In case you’ve just stumbled across this blog, here are the basic trip details.

We’ve heading off overseas at the end of March 2014 for about 16 months.
> 1 month in the USA (3 states, two internal flights). This will include a road trip, a few mountainous hikes and goodness knows what else
> 3 months in Brazil (3 cities, 3 internal flights). We’ll be having a two-week holiday plus doing about 9-ish weeks of volunteer/missions work in three different locations
> 3 nights in Istanbul. We’ll be staying close to the main sights, so we’ll do a lot of walking
> 1 year in Thailand (mainly 1 city, but we expect a few internal flights). We’ll be renting somewhere, so once we reach Thailand we won’t be travelling around as much.

We estimate there’ll be a minimum of 12 flights by the time we return to Australia.

Airplane:

I won’t go into all the tricks you can use (other mamma’s have hilarious and informative blogs about those), I’ll just say what we’re putting in Amy’s carry on bag:

  • IPad mini – filled not only with games and TV shows, but also videos of family, us and any animal we come across
  • Child ear plugs
  • Toys – Light plastic figurines (with no small parts), her favourite stuffed teddy and turtles, colouring books, pencil case and stickers
  • Food – As Amy is under 2, she won’t get fed by the airline, so we’ll have to do that
  • A spare change of clothes
  • A realisation that there’s not much I can do once we’re up there. I just need to take it easy on myself (and Amy). We’ll eventually get to each destination

Handbag:
After realising that the $10 hand bag I had been using for the last 6 months or so was about to die, I knew I would have to get a new one. Here’s the thing… I don’t actually technically have my own handbag anymore; I’m a mum, so I have a mum bag now. With this in mind, I knew that I’d have to have a multi-purpose, secure and easy to wear bag, suitable for a variety of locations and situations. I’ve ended up buying an anti-theft cross body travel bag made by Travelon (off eBay). I wanted a cross body bag, because without a proper pram, I know I’ll be wearing it a bit. Sure I could probably get something smaller, but not only is it a mum bag, it’s also an all-day tourist/volunteer bag. That means water bottles and passports, maybe the iPad mini or camera, food and toy etc. This bag… has got to be a goodin’.

I’ve been using this bag for a little while and I’m a happy buyer. There are only two things I’d say. The first is that it’s not as large as the video makes it out to be. The second is that there aren’t any ‘secret women’s pockets’. You know the kind inside the bag that you put your Panadol and other miscellaneous things in. There is one, but it’s see through. No secret about what’s in there.

I’ll keep you updated on how this bag goes during the actual trip. If it’s crap, I will absolutely let you know!

Portacot:
Tim did the research on this one. He read a lot of reviews, thought a lot about the weight etc. and finally decided on the Phil and Teds Traveller portacot. We also got it on sale which never hurts.We’ll pack this into our checked baggage when flying.

Kid Carry pack:
We’re doing some hiking and a bit of touristy walking in ares where a stroller is just not practical. After reading countless reviews, I found a great Phil and Ted carrier on eBay for a bargain. Once again, this will be packed into our checked baggage.

Luggage:
Thinking about flights, until Amy turns two, she won’t have her own seat, hence no luggage allowance. This means we will pay the extra for her little bag and that’s ok, we’ve incorporated that into our budgeting.

Stroller:
After one false start we have bought a Babylove Maxima stroller on sale. It’s light weight (which we need for our flights) and not too expensive. That way if something happens to it, it’s ok. We’ll take this as a carry-on when flying, so it has to be an umbrella stroller.

Car seat:
This one is the trickiest. We’re hiring a car seat while in California and probably when we head to the East Coast. In Brazil we have no idea, but we may have to buy one for the 3 months. In Turkey, we’ll just walk and in Thailand… we’ll see. It’s very much a make it up as we go kind of thing.

One more thing – Potty training:
Ek! I was chatting with my mum about this recently. I saw this Baby U Potette Plus at My Baby Warehouse and thought it would be a great idea, however once I got it open, I was disappointment with the quality. So, I’m not sure what we’ll do for potty training. I’ve just decided not to stress out about it too much. There is no official completion or award for how soon you learn to use a toilet, so we’ll probably wait until Thailand and see how we go. With Amy experiencing so much change, why would I put more pressure on her and myself? I wouldn’t 🙂

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So folks, that’s some of the stuff we have organised for our little one. I hope it’s useful for some, eye-opening for others and amusing for those who have been before and know what’s in store.

Love Jess xxoo

Nomads? by Tim

Just over a week ago the Greenwoods moved out of our home. We built our house three and a half years ago and have loved living in our very own home. But now we have started a new season. We’re staying with friends for two weeks, then we’ll head over to Jess’ parents for a few weeks, and finally stay with my folks until we leave.

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Are we travellers, movers, pioneers, nomads? I can’t really tell. This week has been exciting, surreal and honestly, I feel a little out of place. We technically won’t have a permanent address or home until we get to Thailand and that isn’t until August; six months away. Six months could feel like a long time for people who aren’t used to being nomads.

As I processed the ‘out of place’ feelings from the last week, I felt the Holy Spirit say ‘Heaven is your home’. It was a strange but comforting thought. I felt like God was saying that no matter where we’ll be living over the next season, we would find our comfort, our security and sense of home in Him. That’s awesome!

A song I’ve been singing all week is ‘Heaven Song‘ by our amazing Nexus Church Youth band. The lyrics in the bridge are:

Heaven is my destiny, in Heaven I belong, Heaven’s where I’m headed, Heaven is my song……

These words ring true for me and I’m sure I’ll play this track many more times on our travels. We are citizens of heaven, just hanging out here on earth for a while. Heaven is our home.

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So even though we’re heading into a season of being nomads, regardless of where we live, heaven should be my home. I’ll take comfort in that.

Tim

A work in me by Jess

One example of God’s amazing work in me over the last two years is that I’m actually willing to move overseas. This may sound exciting to most of you, but for someone like me who likes to be close to family and friends, it’s pretty scary… or used to be.

When Tim and I first got married, he was desperate to move overseas for a year. Tim, ever the adventurer, was ready to see the big wide world, but he married me. I was more than happy to travel on holiday, but I wanted to be near my support network. Poor Tim. However, God had other work for us to do. We ended up on short-term trips in…

Fiji

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the UK

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and the USA,

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because of our work with Youth and church.

What surprises me most about this change, is when it was just the two of us, I wasn’t willing to go. But now, with our gorgeous daughter and knowing the value of having supportive family and friends close-by, I feel ok about leaving. I would have thought that having Amy would make me even more protective of my close proximity to ‘home’, but I’m not. I feel excited and energised by it. That’s how I know it’s a God-thing.

I’m not naive, I know I will miss everyone and sometimes I’ll wish my sister or mum were a quick drive or phone call away. However, in spite of knowing all of this, like I said, I still want to go. It doesn’t freak me out like it did in the past. I want to love the kids and women trapped in horrible situations in distant lands. I want to serve as best as I can. I want to follow wherever God leads us, and this time, it’s overseas.

Love Jess xxoo

A Merry Update

Merry Christmas everyone! We thought we’d end this year with a more detailed update of our trip plans. We have been so overwhelmed and blessed by people’s love, words, excitement and support for us at every step of the way. We have amazing family and friends and we feel like we’re doing this with you.

So, what are we planning?

A quick snapshot: USA – April, Brazil – May to July, Turkey for 3 nights, Thailand for a year – August 2014 to September 2015….

Travel Map

USA – Northern California & Florida (1 month)

Time for a holiday! We’re going to stay in San Francisco for about 5 nights before doing a little road trip up north to Redding (including a few days near Yosemite).  Although some of the destinations are only a few hours apart, we want a relaxing trip and have to keep Amy in mind. We’ve never done a road trip together before, so it’s bound to be lots of fun. We’ve paid for a some of the accommodation and hire car and pretty much know where we’d like to stop along the way. After 12 nights in Redding catching up with friends and celebrating Easter at Bethel, we’ll be heading over to Florida to connect with an amazing couple we met in Pennsylvania in 2011.

Brazil – (3 months)

Indaiatuba
When Tim went to Brazil earlier this year, he fell in love with some incredible people and we’re so excited to stay with Hangar7 for about 3.5 weeks. We’re hoping to serve and observe in any way we can during this time. It’ll be a great opportunity for us to be exposed to a different church culture. Hopefully we’ll get some Portuguese lessons too.

Rio
Jess turns 30 in Rio, so we’re meeting up with her folks and sister to spend two weeks exploring the city and filling up the family love tank. After this we’ll be spending a month partnering with Exodus Cry during the FIFA World Cup. We’re so excited to connect with these guys and learn as much as we can from them. This will involve a lot of prayer and worship as well as street outreach. Between us, we’ll spend 6 hours a day in the prayer room while the other person looks after Amy. How involved Amy will be in this venture will depend on the atmosphere and environment. We will be connected with a local church (we think) and hope/pray that they will be able to host us… otherwise, we’ll have to look for our own accommodation eeekkk! If we’re lucky, we may even attend a soccer/football match.

Rio

Recife
The end of our Brazil leg will be a two-week visit to Shores of Grace. The leaders of this great ministry were Tim’s trip leaders when he was in Brazil in March. This incredible couple (Nic & Rachel Billman) and their team have a huge heart for Brazil and the women and children in Recife effected by poverty and abuse. This will be more time of connection and learning.

Turkey – Istanbul (3 nights)

It’s about a 12 hour flight from Sao Paulo to Istanbul and then another 7 hours or so to Bangkok. If we were just travelling as a couple we may not have scheduled this stop, but once again, we need to keep Amy in mind and be fair on her. So a stop over in Istanbul for three nights is our plan. We haven’t booked our accommodation yet, but we have somewhere in mind. We looked into making a trip down to Gallipoli, but it’s a 5 hour drive one way and a two-year old in a car for 10 hours in one day is probably not the best idea. We’ll stick to easy things and we know we’ll enjoy our short time there, now we just wish it was longer!

Istanbul

Thailand – (1 year minimum)

This is the least organised part of the trip so far. Here’s what we have on the cards at the moment. We’ll fly into Bangkok and then head over to Phuket. We’re hoping to attend the Australian Christian Churches (ACC) International conference where missionaries come together with Australian pastors to connect.

After this we plan on serving with Destiny Rescue, taking a single volunteer position between the two of us. Once again this will mean that Amy will always be well looked after. How this will look we are yet to work out.

We hope to get a 2-3 bedroom apartment whilst in Thailand to host any family and friends who may want to visit . There is always room at our Inn (nice Christmas reference there) if you want to check out what Destiny Rescue are doing or just want to come and hang with the Greenwoods.

Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves!

When we think about all the different destinations of this adventure, we want to be at all of them now. We want to be holidaying in the USA, praying for people in Brazil, walking through the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, and partnering with Destiny Rescue in Thailand. How exciting and challenging at the same time! There’s so much more planning (and spending) to come and of course that can be stressful, but we’ll just keep going at it and enjoy this part of the ride.

Once again from our family to yours… Merry Christmas!

Love Tim, Jess & Amy

A painful part by Jess

Apart from missing family and friends while we are away, there is one little guy I will miss very, very much. His name is Jimmy and he is my crazy Burmese cat.

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As with most pets he has a number of nicknames, from Jim, Rocket, Jim Rock to Yim, Yim Yam, Ding and finally two from Amy, Ello and Mimmy as she currently calls him.

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This cheeky little fur ball was my 21st birthday present from Tim and is the 4th member of our family – Only animal lovers will understand what I mean.

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I am very much a life-time pet owner and I feel incredibly guilty for leaving Jimmy behind. I even pray about finding him a good home while we’re away. I wish I could take him with me *sigh*.

This is one of the parts about the trip that I’m not looking forward to… saying goodbye to Jimmy.

Love Jess xxoo

PS – If any of our Brisbane friends are able to cat-sit this little man while we’re away, please let me (or Tim) know 🙂

This week

With a trip this size (16 months) and complicated (12 flights, 4 countries) we use every week we can to get things done.

This week we are:

> Re-looking at the trip budget
> Deciding if we want to pursue getting our Italian citizenship (for the passports)
> Starting to look at getting our Brazilian visas
> Starting to look into Travel insurance for the whole time we’re away
> Finalising our travel plans so we can make a few changes to our flights with Flight Centre
> Starting to look into car hire for the 3 weeks we’re in California
> Re-looking at accommodation options for our little road trip in Northern California
> Organising and Skyping with our amazing friends in Florida – for a catch up and to confirm we can visit them while we’re over there
> Pretending we can afford (and have the time) to go to Disney World while we’re in Florida
> Investigating accommodation for the 2 nights we’re in Miami
> Trying to be good Christians and not want to kill anyone who works in the NAB loan department while everything is being finalised
> Investigating hiring a storage pod for a few house hold items we want to keep for when we return
> Re-looking at flights details for Amy i.e. should we contact the airline and request food for Amy, do they have car seat requirements
> Investigating child car seat requirements/laws in Brazil
> Starting packing a few boxes for our move in January
> Trying to ignore the mess created from starting to pack a few boxes
> We also received notification that we’ll be in Rio during the World Cup while we partner with Exodus Cry – Liberdade

Other non-related trip things:

> Tim is marrying a couple in December, so he met with them on Monday night to discuss plans
> Tim is marrying someone in February, so they will be over our house on Wednesday night for fun and laughter as we go through a marriage preparation course with them
> Jess has a high tea in town on Thursday, so will leave Amy with her folks and travel in for an hour (this will take about 3 hours in total)
> Jess has her work (dress up) Christmas party
> Tim has a 30th birthday paint balling event during Saturday day
> Jess has a 30th (dress-up) birthday party on Saturday night
> Tim has a work/church volunteers event on Saturday night

We have no idea what’s happening after Saturday night, but we certainly aren’t bored, however we look like this…

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Falamos de amor (we speak love)

This is a special post in Portuguese just for our beautiful family in Brazil. Unfortunately, we have used a translator, because we don’t speak Portuguese… yet 🙂

Nós não falam Português, mas falam de amor e nós amamos todos vocês muito! Estamos tão animado para vir ao Brasil em maio e julho do próximo ano e não posso esperar para lhe dar grandes abraços. Após a visita de Tim com você em março deste ano e algumas conversas do Skype, parece que estamos estará visitando a família.

Cinco coisas que sabemos:

1. Nossas conversas com você acontecerá com olhares e risos em branco como nós experimentar e aprender a sua língua, por favor, seja paciente conosco 🙂

2. Estamos ansiosos para aprender sobre a cultura brasileira e modo de vida. Mmmm Churrasco!

3. Deus está fazendo coisas incríveis no Brasil e queremos ser parte dela, mesmo que apenas por um tempo curto.

4. Estamos tão animados para a nossa menina Amy conhecer todos vocês!

5. Nós ainda não conhecemos os nossos planos exatos enquanto estamos no Brasil, mas vamos mantê-lo atualizado.

Love from Tim Jess & Amy