First, I want to mention how much we appreciate the contributions of toys from everyone for the children at Missionaries of Charity in Brazil and the donations to Toys for Tots in the U.S. This is something that is very special to us and we are grateful for your support! Yesterday, we went to Missionaries of Charity and had the best time we have ever had there! We were joined by friends Mollie and Donna and even Stav’s friend, Emma! The kids were so excited to see all of us, which made the fact that it is was our last visit a bit lighter!
To start, the kids all sang Happy Birthday to Stavros and Stavros blew out his candle on the gorgeous cake! Each kid felt like it was his/her birthday, as this is not something they typically get to partake in at Missionaries. It was both sad and exciting to see their enjoyment of a simple piece of cake. For some, the rare treat was even too much. During cake, Sister thanked us for the special day we had given the children and it made me realize that perhaps she has never stopped to think of the gift she and the other sisters give to these children everyday. They deserve all the praise as they so selflessly give their love, affection and enrichment to each and every one of the kids.
Next, we gave out presents!!! 16 boys and 12 girls each got a new toy and a kite! It was fantastic! They were ecstatic and the chocolate rush from the birthday cake had already set in! We were all playing and the fun had definitely started! Stavros was a good helper and handed out some of the toys to his little friends. He even sat down to play and explore the new treasures! It was wonderful to see Stavros doing this and we hope Stavros always holds this experience near and dear to his heart.
Thank you Mollie and Donna for joining us yesterday! We won’t forget your support and we know the kids will continue to receive your love long after we are gone! Thank you to Missionaries of Charity for opening our eyes and showing us we have the power to make a difference regardless of how big or small the gesture may be. We look forward to carrying on this tradition to the boys and girls in need wherever our journey takes us. Sister told me to continue my mission… And that I intend to do!
We had so much fun at Conde on our first trip that we decided to get a group together and go again! It was a fantastic crowd with fantastic weather! It’s difficult to explain, but the hotel truly is unlike anything we had ever experienced! Once again, we were all alone on the beach except for the guy selling us coconuts from his mule-led cart! Good times and exactly the way we want to remember Brazil!
Yesterday, we went whale watching in Praia do Forte! Whale watching is an amazing experience and we wanted make sure we did not miss this years’ season while we are still living in Brazil! Whale watching by boat was by far a better experience than whale watching by plane–which is how we saw the whales last year! Yesterday, we could hear the whales and see their fascination with us–which was interesting! We saw a mother and her baby! The baby was only one or two days old! The whales move fast, so it is difficult to get great photos and concentrate on the experience. Tammer got the whales on video, but a video might make one a bit sea sick. In reality, the only way to appreciate what we saw is with your own eyes!
We went to the beach this morning, as we usually do on Sundays, and the security guard pointed out whales in the distance! Not bad, whale watching two days in a row! After we saw the whale, Stav’s imagination had him seeing things! Stavros kept saying, “A whale! A Whale! You see it?!” Too cute! No more whales were seen, but Stavros truly believed they were there!
Tammer is in Sao Paulo, so to help pass the time, Stavros and I are keeping busy! Nothing is better than a day at the beach, so that’s what Stavros and I chose to do yesterday! It was a perfect day with a perfectly clear sky! Stavros and I had a blast and did not want to leave! We played in the sand, we looked for treasures in the water and we had a little picnic! We even watched the kites and powered paragliders pass back and forth on the beach!
Every once in a while we see these gorgeous white cranes–really, they’re just gorgeous! We have never seen them at our beach though, until yesterday. At first there were just two, then one more came along! They were just hanging out, like we weren’t even there–completely unphased by us! I absolutely loved watching them and I was quite proud of Stavros for not chasing them away! I wish Tammer would have gotten to see them with us!
It was such a gorgeous day that I had to take some photos and was grateful I remembered my camera! Some pics from the day are below!
I have been meaning to make this post. Stavros was invited to his friend’s birthday party last weekend! It was an awesome party held at Playland for the beyond adorable Gabriella! Stavros was thrilled to ride on the carousel and fire truck. He couldn’t take his eyes off of the indoor roller coaster though, so we checked the height requirements and Stavros just made the minimum–0.9 meters! So, on the roller coaster we went! When the ride was over, Stav said, “I like it!” and walked to the next ride. Stav’s need for adventure is sometimes alarming. We hope this little guy doesn’t choose to be a race car driver. I have included a video below!
Today we celebrated the June birthdays at the orphanage. Stavros went with me and, as always, received lots of love and adoration! The kids have grown so much since we first went there and there are many new faces all of the time. I am so grateful the kids have a place to sleep, eat, bathe and receive love!
We like taking part in Brazilian festivities while we have the opportunity! Sao Joao is definitely a good time to celebrate in Brazil! Even though it is most closely associated with Northeastern Brazil, Sao Joao is celebrated today throughout the country! Other than Carnival, it is the nation’s most important celebration. For centuries in Europe, pagan festivals honoring the summer solstice offered up food, drinks and animals to Juno, the god of fertility, dances, and bonfires to scare away the evil spirits. The Catholics transformed these Festa Junina into days to honor several saints, especially São João. While the São João festival was introduced by the colonial Portuguese (and particularly the Jesuits, in the early 1500’s), the event also coincided with Brazilian Indian rituals related to agriculture and the harvest during in the same time of the year.
It’s fun to see the city doctorates with banners, people dressed in their festive garb and hearing the Brazilian version of country music!
To preface, the American Society pulled money together to give all of the kids at Missionaries of Charity new shoes for Christmas! Having a toddler myself, I knew it was time for the kids to get new shoes again and I wanted to make sure they got them! We recently had a friend visit us from the U.S. and she was kind enough to bring flip flops in her luggage for us to give all of the kids! (Thank you, Stacy!!! We really appreciate it!) Today, I was joined by friends Donna and Mollie, and we dropped off all 29 pair of flip flops for the kids! While we were there, we had the pleasure of feeding the kids their lunch! Not too far from what I experience at home, my kid was the only kid not eating anything! After lunch, we helped get the kids cleaned up and then we put them all down for their nap!
I am filled with so much joy when I see the love and devotion given to these kids by the sisters! The kids and the sisters occupy my heart and my prayers now and forever. These beautiful, bright-eyed kids give me a new appreciation for so many things. I am so grateful for all I have been graced with and I am so grateful that I am able to do something so small for others. These kids deserve the world and the world deserves them!
We took a little video last night of the celebration at Carnival! Click the link below to see a bit of what we saw! Last year, we only went to Carnival one day, so we’re excited to celebrate three days this year. This might be the last time we ever experience Carnival, so we want to make sure we do it right!