The FIRST Team Birthday in Angola!

We all thought or said last year, “my next birthday will be in Angola…” In February of this year, we said, “surely we will be able to celebrate our birthdays in Angola.” Then we celebrated 8 Angola Team birthdays in 8 weeks (there is a high birthday concentration in April and early May) in…Portugal…again in Portugal! Then we started telling Efesson he would be the first one to have a birthday in Angola, and finally we were right!

We celebrated Efesson’s birthday on July 19th.

In the morning, Tio Nathan took Efesson and Biruk to the Porsche dealer in Luanda to “see the race cars.” Then he took them to walk on the beach for a little bit and then to Bob’s Burgers, a local fast food chain, where they got lunch, their faces painted, balloons and some time on the play place. Here are the before and after pictures, you can see the pictures of their outing with Nathan here. What a great tio!











In the evening we celebrated with Reese’s Pieces Brownies, a candle in the shape of the number 6, friends, and presents!
















The candle sparked a little while I was lighting it (notice the faces) and the flame was huge! Yes – we bought it in Angola.









We got to skype with the Campbells!










It’s official, Efesson is a Benfiquista!

Fun story: When Robert and I were in Portugal in 2009, Robert decided he would be for the Braga football team (who was in the lead at the time, but wasn’t one of the larger, more popular football clubs). He decided this mainly to create friendly banter (also useful for Portuguese practice) between him and the men at Church, especially because Braga kept beating their larger, more popular clubs (allowing for more friendly banter). Robert bought a Braga T-shirt and everything. The Reeses (A Benfica football club family) gave this cachecol (scarf) to Efesson, who is a self-proclaimed Benfiquista, for his birthday. Knowing that story, Robert’s face is priceless in this picture!


Saying Goodbye to Portugal


First, an Angola Update: Temporary Living

We’ve been in Angola for over three weeks now. We will be living life here in a temporary way for a quite a while. Right now we are living with the Evanson family. When we arrive in Huambo, in the next week, we will be staying in a home and riding in a car that is not our own. After Robert gets back from his trip to Namibia (to send off the temporary visa and get a permanent one) on Wednesday, we will head to Huambo for about 10 days before (at least) Robert turns around and comes back to Luanda for a conference for the church group that we work with here, Igrejas de Cristo em Angola (ICA). After that we should be free to start settling in a bit more. I am looking forward to the day when we can begin to settle in, but right now I am happy and thankful to have friends who are willing to let us share their homes, allowing us to take this process more slowly.

Next, Saying Goodbye to Portugal

Our last days in Portugal were well spent. The goodbyes were hard, and, yes, I cried, but they were done well. Our last Sunday, the team provided a breakfast for the church and the church sent us off with a prayer and a song from the kids.










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We were able to celebrate the 4th of July at the home of our friends, the Mullins, with our team and the Neves family.

Saying goodbye to Kevin and Angelina Mullins

We even got everything packed a day early and were able relax and enjoy our last day in Portugal! On our last day in Portugal we drove two hours to Coimbra, Portugal to experience a little of rural Portugal life and say goodbye to our friends Carlos and Ana and their baby, Salomé. That evening we took the boys to see Cars II in Portuguese, which was a fun movie to see in that environment because of all of the poking fun that was made at Americans in foreign lands (we definitely know something about that)!

Saying goodbye to Carlos, Ana, and Salomé.

On the morning of our flight, we got up, got ready, and then a caravan of friends took us, and all of our stuff to the Airport! Our friends from IBP - Gary and Terri Camlin, the boys teachers and Classmates - Nuno, Marta, Sara, and Fifi Fonseca, the Campbell family, and many friends from Church joined us at the Airport to send us off.


Terri Camlin, the boys English Teacher, and the boys before leaving IBP.


The boys and the Fonseca girls at the Airport (note the abundance of baggage).


Efesson and Alex Campbell saying goodbye.


Family Angola Email Update - July 23 2011

I am going to start posting a link to our family email updates here on this blog.

Here it is!

Update – July 23, 2011


The Blessing of Family Away from Family - Part 2

We lived at the Instituto Biblico Português in Santo Antão do Tojal, Portugal (about a 40 minute bus ride to Lisbon). Here is a link to a photo gallery of the campus. It was a great temporary home for our family. When we first moved there Nathan and Jordan lived there with us and all of us shared a kitchen. Over the 14 months that we have lived here we have watched many people of many different nationalities come and go. There have been many whom we thought we would leave behind one day who ended up leaving before us! Each person that we met is part of the kingdom of God and God has brought each one to Portugal for a unique reason.

38632_428012448440_576578440_4803810_8113272_n Linda Jordan (pictured in purple in the picture on the right) is an American going to Huambo, Angola (the same town as us) with Wycliffe bible translators. She previously spent 6 years in Ethiopia with the same organization. God knew what he was doing when he brought Linda into our lives, don't you think? She has been such a special person for the boys to talk with about Ethiopia. She patiently answers ALL of the questions that Efesson throws at her! We can’t wait to see her again in Huambo!

DSC_4871-2Regina Dos Anjos (pictured in blue at our Thanksgiving dinner ) is a Brazilian with a heart for missions. She was in Portugal to study at the University. She was always smiling even though she was tired from all the hard work she put into school and church. We were so thankful to have her at the team retreat in November to help by watching over the team kids.

Marques Mente, a student while we were there, (far right) is now a graduate of IBP and he works with one of the local churches. He is always very busy working for the Kingdom of God in Portugal.


DSC_4926Urs and Esther Buff (left) are Swiss-German and have spent their lives as missionaries in South Africa. They came to Portugal to study with Eunice so that they could communicate better when in Mozambique, teaching people about children's ministry.




Carlos and Ana Freitas (right) are students at IBP, a young Portuguese couple who is fluent in English. They were some of our best language teachers. They even began reserving one day a week to speak to us ONLY in Portuguese. Carlos is an expert in making Portuguese deserts and he had the desire to learn to make pizza, chocolate chip cookies, and cheese cake, so, of course, we traded recipes. He also spent a lot of time with Efesson on the campo (field) helping him to work on his football skills. Carlos and Ana moved back to Coimbra, Portugal and had their baby girl, Salomé, in May. We were able to meet her a couple of times before we left for Angola.  

IMG_0522Christian (German) and Marlise (Swiss) Schlötterer (the couple on the left at our shared kitchen table) are also student's of Eunice's. They left about a week before us to go back to Germany and Switzerland before heading to Mozambique in September. They are a very sweet couple and we have enjoyed having them around to talk to and laugh with. Fun fact: Christian makes cakes from scratch with no recipe and when one is gone it is time to make another!

Senhor Pestana and his wife, Dona Fernanda, (both pictured with the boys below) are the nearly retired caretakers of IBP. Efesson and Biruk love spending time with Them around campus. They are Efesson and Biruk’s Portuguese grandparents. Donna Fernanda even shed some tears when she said goodbye to the boys last Friday.







Those are the residents that we spent the most time with, but there are plenty of others who were around from anywhere from one day to two months, not to mention the IBP staff and students that we spent time with day to day. We have so many memories of IBP. Even though we sacrificed some privacy by living in a small apartment with only two rooms and a bathroom and sharing a kitchen with other residents, we have been greatly blessed by the relationships and the huge yard for the boys to run and play in!


5 Days in Angola

We are staying with the Evanson family in Luanda, Angola. They are an American embassy family of six. Efesson and Biruk are having a blast playing with their youngest two girls, Jesse (age 7) and Grace (age 10).

Robert has been out with the guys and Jordan accomplishing items on the “to-do-before-moving-to-Huambo list” and researching options for things like cell phones, internet, bank accounts, container shipping, vehicles, etc. Tomorrow they will meet with church leaders.

I stay at home with Katie and the kids. We have also been out of the house walking and riding in the “candongueiros” (blue and white public transportation vans) to go to church, visit the grocery stores, and to visit the embassy, but mostly we stay home doing laundry, cooking meals, caring for children, and apparently, blogging (more than 2 posts in a week is practically unheard of on this blog). I am going to complete the “Thankful for” posts that I started in Portugal and keep you updated on what is going on in Angola…at least until the reliable internet is gone!

Angola (8)


We are in Angola!

We arrived in Angola on July 9th at 4:30am with every single one of our bags, a place to stay, and a ride for us and all of our bags! We have had so much come together for us in the three days we’ve been here, including a call today that Robert has his residency visa ready for him in Houston, TX! We are thankful to God for the smooth transition that we have had so far.
Here we are about to board the 8.5 hour flight from London, England to Luanda, Angola.


The Blessing of Ireland

In July 2010, we had a good reason to leave Portugal after being there for three months (Don't know what I am talking about? Just ask me about it), so we went to Ireland for a long weekend.

It was rainy while we were there, but we walked all over the place (my feet haven't hurt like that in a long time!) and saw a good part of Dublin.

Ducking out of the pouring rain at Dublin Castle.

Efesson doesn't know it yet, but he is keeping a list of all the famous places where he has run. Here he is running at Dublin Castle.

Having a good time at the playground at St. Stephen's Green.

Efesson celebrated his 5th birthday in Ireland (note the button pinned to his shirt), so we took him to jail on his birthday.

Also, while we were there we visited the Ranelagh Christian Church that some new friends in Portugal (who once lived in Ireland and ministered at that church) told us about. While we were there we met Scott and Denise Karnes who are a part of a mission team in Dublin, Ireland. Scott just happens to have been a campus minister and the University of Arkansas (I feel like I should say something like "Go Hogs!" here even though I am not actually from Arkansas and I can't recall that I've ever watched even a single down of a Hogs game) while some of our dear friends were going to school there and participating in the campus ministry. Talking to Scott and Denise about the mutual friends that we have brought tears to my eyes, it was the next best thing to actually seeing those friends!

Denise, being the amazingly hospitable person that she is, invited us to stay with them the next time we came to Ireland. So, naturally, we became facebook friends, and when I knew that we would need to take another trip (3 months later) to Ireland, I messaged her. Isn't that just how it works these days?

Our second trip to Ireland was in September 2010. We stayed with the Karnes family and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly! I went to Ireland planning on taking a picture of our family with the Karnes family or with them and their teammates in Dublin, but I was having such a good time that I didn't.

This time our family explored the town of Howth, just outside of Dublin, two stops away from the Karnes house on the DART. Here we are hiking there.

Later that week we took a train and a bus to the Cliffs of Moher. On the way we stopped at Bunratty Castle (eh...it was ok).

Efesson was able to get some running in at the Cliffs.

Also that weekend we all had colds with sneezing, runny nose, and coughing. Here Robert catches Biruk in the act (of a sneeze that is). As you can see I wasn't expecting to be sneezed on while posing for this picture.

Check out those cliffs!

The Burren lunar landscape a little ways away from the cliffs (Efesson was asleep on the bus).

Sunday we went to church with the Karnes and that evening we had dinner with their team. We love the Dublin team! They have a beautiful story of how God brought their team together and they are truly showing their northern Dublin community the love of Christ.


The blessing of Portuguese School for E & B

In September 2010 Efesson and Biruk began school at the "Cantinho do Ser e do Saber." In English that is the "Little Corner of Being and Knowing." When they started they were the only two boys in a group of 7 students and after Christmas break there were 11 students (4 boys)! The boys have 7 Portuguese and 2 Australian classmates. Their teachers are Nuno and Marta, a wonderful, Christian couple who truly love the kids, teaching, and have a heart for Evangelical Christian Education in a country where there is little. Nuno and Marta are pioneers and they ventured out in faith to start a private Christian school with the minimum number of kids that they needed.

Here I am with the boys on their first day of school.

The school is just out our kitchen door. We get up in the morning, we get the boys dressed, and we go have breakfast. At 8:30 the students arrive and the boys walk out the kitchen door and through this curtain to school. I listen to the kids sing the school song (written and composed by Nuno and Marta) and then I go about my morning.

Here is Marta telling the kids a story (in Portuguese) about the Portuguese vowels. Efesson is now reading in Portuguese, accomplishing kindergarten and first grade math concepts, and the school English teacher has begun to teach the students to read in English.

Here are the original six students with Nuno, Marta, and their other adults who put time in to the school (English teachers, Bible teacher, teacher's aid, and support -all equally important roles).

Efesson and Biruk understand a lot of Portuguese and they are speaking more and more each day. It reminds me a lot of watching them learn English. One of Biruks first Portuguese phrases was "já está" or "all done" which was one of his first phrases in English 18 months or so ago. Nuno is amazed at how much Portuguese they have come to understand in such a short period. They like to quiz mommy and daddy on the words that we know and I think it wont be long before they are correcting us.

At Christmas time, they performed some songs for their Christmas program. Here is a (15 minute) video of the performance. Take the time to watch a little of it, you will get a kick out of Biruk doing his own thing up there while the rest of the kids sing their hearts out!

We were able to host an "Ethiopia Day" for the Cantinho in March. We did a presentation for them, demonstrated the Ethiopian tradition of throwing your tooth on the roof (he threw both of his top front teeth at the same time), and served them Injera, an Ethiopian lentil dish, and popcorn.
The teeth and the kids.

Efesson throwing his teeth on the roof!

Everyone loved it and showed their support for Efesson.

The food.

During the presentation.

Efesson and Biruk E their Cantinho friends and teachers and we pray for them as a family most every day. This school has been a fertile environment in which our boys can thrive. They have grown in knowledge, in confidence, and in character with the help of the blessing of the Cantinho do Ser e do Saber!


The blessing of family away from family - Part 1

Our team is definitely a family away from family. Efesson and Biruk have Tios (Uncles) and Tias (Aunts) who love on them, play with them, and model a Godly life for them. Around the holidays we are especially thankful for our team family with whom we can have fun with at Halloween, commune with at thanksgiving, and rejoice with at Christmas.

Here are a few of our families favorites pictures of us with our team family!

We celebrated Halloween on a day when Baba (Robert) was in the US, so it was nice to have other family to celebrate with! Here we are Skyping with him before the party.

E & B with their made-by-mommy fire hats!

All the kids in their costumes!

The trick-or-treat action - the Campbells happen to have 5 trick-or-treat friendly doors in their apartment, so the kids were able to go door to door trick or treating!

For thanksgiving we were able to celebrate with our team family and our Instituto Biblico Português (IBP - the bible school where we live) Family...more on the IBP family in another post...stay tuned!

I cooked my first Turkey, Irene.

Here is 4 month old baby Sophia with the finished product so that you can see just how big Irene was (7kg = 15.4 lbs).

It was a great meal, but we made the mistake of letting our guests eat first before the team. The guests sat at one table and the team sat at the other. Note to self...

Laura had a great idea and got recipes for some of Nathan's favorite holiday foods from his mom. She sent me the recipe and I made this Shoofly Pie for him. Note the beautiful spread of pies behind Nathan.

And last but not least who can forget team Christmas? This was our THIRD ANNUAL team Christmas! That's right we've been having team Christmas for 3 years now and we aren't even in Angola! If you want to refresh your memory, or you just plain don't know what Angola Team Chtistmas is all about, check out our first annual and second annual team Christmases.

The youngest opens their present first! Sophia gets a handknit hat and toy mouse from Jordan.

Sophia makes a "Best Buds" picture frame magnet for Stephen. She dipped her pinky finger in black paint and printed it on the frame to make wheels for a choo-choo train!

Stephen made me greeting cards with his little footprint on them. Each card has a special foot-related bible verse on it!

I made Katie a "Parabéns" banner. "Parabéns" is said when it is someone's birthday or any other congratulations need to be said. Katie will be able to use this a lot in Angola, both for her family and for her friends there!

Rusty is famous for signing his name at the end of his emails with something funny like "Rustberrymuffin" or "Rustafarian," so Katie made him a list of all the ways he has signed his name over the years...it is over 100 ways! Here is Rustalooloo reading the list to us.

Rusty made Robert a bulletin board our of recycled wine corks (that he got from a cork recycling bin here in Portugal).

Last year, at the second annual team Christmas, Danny wrote a song for Robert. So, this year, Robert drew Danny's name and wrote a song for Danny. He recorded in parts using Garage Band and played it for the team. It is to the tune of "American Pie" and it is called "Ode to Edsel or the Day I Realized." FYI - Edsel is Danny's middle name.

One of Danny's priceless reactions to the lyrics of the song.

Danny spent countless hours making Nathan a detailed map of the city of Huambo where we are going to live in Angola.

Nathan sewed Efesson a marble mat! The whole team agrees that Nathan, out of all of us, comes up with some of the very best gifts!

Efesson made Alex a Pick up Sticks game!

Alex used snail shells from eating snails at the cafe to make Jordan a picture frame and some magnets.

Biruk made Laura some wreaths with Pinecones and Chestnuts that he found in Portugal.

Laura made Eliana a "Quiet Book." Here are a couple of pages that Ellie can use to learn how to zip a zipper and to play tic tac toe.

Ellie made Biruk a "Best Buds" photo magnet with a picture of the two of them at the aquarium. She used her fingerprints to make little fishies on the border.