(This is written by Ansley, our second daughter).
Hello to all who might be reading, wherever you are in the world, who have supported my family in so many ways for what has now been 17 years (WOW)! Thank you for taking your time to read this, and I hope God uses these few words to speak to you in your own life somehow.
I had to wait for a time in my life that was a little less stressful, and hopefully emotion-free, to begin writing this message (as, even by writing these first words, I am getting emotional!). I was just given the incredible blessing of going home to visit the 5 people in the photo below for two and a half weeks (lump in throat as I write this too…geez!) for the first time in over three years, and on the long flight back to London I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to write a few words about what a blessed time it was for me. I pondered for a while over to whom this message should be addressed – should I write as if I am talking to my parents? My siblings? To you, the reader? Nothing felt natural until I decided to write it in the form of thankful psalms unto God, and I hope what seems natural to me will also come across as meaningful to you.
Father, thank you for my safe travels all the way from London, to São Paulo, to Porto Alegre, and back again. Thank you that Jackson (one of my parents’ friends from church) was able to provide me with tickets at a reduced price since he works for an airline. I know that no one is ever “guaranteed” a trip home, and I thank you for what an incredible gift this was to me.
Thank you for the city of Porto Alegre. Though it is not a beach town and it is unlucky enough to be one of the few places in all of Brazil that actually gets cold in the winter, it is my home and I love it – and you love it. Thank you for the blue skies, for the delicious fruit, for the many trees and thunderstorms and cobblestone streets. Thank you for the people, your people.
Father – and for this one I smile, because it was 100% your doing – thank you for providing me with an opportunity to perform research that involved two of my biggest loves in life: Children and reading. You knew exactly what you wanted me to research, you knew exactly which organization you wanted me to work with, and you knew which children I would meet and learn from that week. I could not have chosen anything better for myself and I feel like a child who has just been given the biggest present from her dad – without even expecting or asking for it.
(Somewhat blurry picture but showing my happiness in being able to work with this amazing organization and such amazing people!)
Thank you for my parents’ church. What a vibrant community to be a part of for two weeks. I love many churches and can always see bits and pieces of you in each environment, and in my family’s church I felt a sense of togetherness. They are united in prayer for common causes, are concerned with one another’s well-being, and are true friends to one another throughout the week, meeting up for coffee, dinner, and LOTS of laughter. It is clear that if you have a desire to serve – be it through worship, through praying, through offering lessons in something you are gifted in – you can and are joyfully encouraged to do so. I thank you for how their church is a hub for learning, with people meeting outside of service hours to offer guitar, drum, violin, English, Spanish, biblical, artistic, and parent support lessons to one another and to the wider community. I am sure that – as does every church – their church has many struggles and ugly flaws and has and will continue to make mistakes, but I thank you for the overwhelming sense of community, love, and passion for your name that I felt during my visit.
The Glass family: An amazing group of family friends who now go to my parents’ church perfectly showing joyful, silly, togetherness.
Father, thank you for how you have made a way for my parents and siblings to connect with people wherever they go. From street vendors, to Pilates instructors, to gas station workers, to parents and friends from school and extracurricular activities, I thank you for the many people you have placed in my family’s life and I ask, God, that you would open their hearts to your mercy and grace. It is hard being away from family. And in my heart you know how many times I have asked that we could all live in the same place. But being there and seeing how many opportunities you are providing for relationships to be formed and for your name to be mentioned and honored – whether it be in passing or in a more in-depth manner over a coffee or dinner – makes it easier to be apart.
(Doing some Pilates with Fabio on the day of my trip home!)
Thank you, Dad, for FRIENDS! Both mine and those of my family! What a time of laughter in my life, what a time of joy! How incredible that you have let me have a lifelong friend who I met when I was 15. How merciful you are to bring my parents and siblings friends who love your name and who care for them. Who call and ask if they need prayer, who come over for dinner and stay for games, who can make jokes that have everyone crying from laughter in one second and then immediately switch to encouragement and prayer in the next. Thank you God for reminding me of your love of laughter, joy, and community through these amazing people.
Thank you God for planting a seed in my parents’ hearts a few years ago (so they say, but I believe that you planted this seed long, long before they moved to Brazil and you have guided their steps to fulfill this plan without them even knowing it) to open the Hope House. Thank you for giving each of my parents unique, yet complementary gifts that are needed to open a safe haven of housing for men recovering from addiction. Thank you Father that you knew that they could never do it alone. Thank you that you have brought them the wonderful, joyful, and courageous Lyndsay, the fun-loving and dedicated Sandro and Cátia, the strong and brave Josimar, and each and every one of their other team members here. Thank you that while I was there you provided them with the keys to a house which – through your power – will become the Hope House very soon.
And now, the part which will inevitably be the easiest and hardest to write. Easiest, because my love for these individuals flows out of a deep stream of relationship that has existed within me since I was born. And hardest as it is mainly because of these individuals that being apart from Porto Alegre is so difficult for me; they are what make the word “home” meaningful.
God, I thank you for my Dad. Thank you for his kindness, gentleness, and patience. Thank you that you have put a fire in his heart for your glory, a fire that burns steadily through commitment and discipline. Thank you for his many words of encouragement to me while I was home. Dad (Kevin), this part is to you: Thank you for running with me, talking with me, walking to markets with me, encouraging me, praying for me, praying with me, always telling me you are proud of me, and loving me. I loved being your morning green tea and quiet reading buddy. I could not – and I mean it – have chosen a better father to guide me through my life.
God, I thank you for my Mom. Thank you for her love for me. Thank you for how she has always cared for me. Thank you that you have made yourself her highest priority and have given her a desire to boldly serve and speak up for your kingdom. Thank you for her wisdom that she shares with all she encounters. Mom, this part is to you: Thank you for cooking for me and being involved with my health while I was home, for drinking coffee with me, for talking about marriage, books, music, and life with me, for praying for me and with me, for planning the book talk with me. You have been my friend throughout my whole life. I could not – and I mean it – have asked for a better mother to care for me through my life.
God, I thank you for Carys. Thank you for her true friendship to me. She makes me laugh (but mostly laughs AT ME!!), she cries with me, she makes me realize I need to have more FUN. Thank you for how hard she worked at school. Thank you that her courage and boldness has strengthened our friendship. Thank you for how she listens to me. Carys, this part is to you: I had SO much fun with you and I am SO glad we were home at the same time. Thank you for watching silly TV shows with me (John Paul JOOOOONES), for teaching me about makeup, for flipping through slides while I gave a presentation, for listening to me in a way that only you can. It really means so much to me that you stayed with me in Gramado when I had to work on my paper that whole day. I loved every minute we spent together. I admire you in many ways and I love you very, VERY much.
God, I thank you for Anderson. Thank you for his sincere heart, for the way you speak strongly to him through pictures, words, and feelings. Thank you for his openness. Thank you that he and I are similar in many ways, and different in lots of ways too. Anderson, this part is to you: I love you, my twin. Being home and getting to spend time with you filled my heart with so much joy and peace. Thank you for letting me walk to school with you, thank you for going to get ice cream with me and opening up to me and letting me open up to you. I loved studying with you. I loved watching you run the 11k race with strength and so much courage!! I loved talking about real, hard stuff together. And I love getting to know the man you are becoming. I loved every minute we spent together. I admire you in many ways and I love you very, VERY much.
God, I thank you for Giovanni. Thank you for his joy to see me come home. Thank you for the time he spent with me, and for making me feel so loved. Thank you for his maturity and growth. Thank you for his amazing gift on the drums, and his gift of reading. Giovanni, this part is to you: How happy you were to see me come and how sad you were to see me leave made me feel so special. I loved reading with you. I loved going to your drum practice and was amazed at how good you are. I loved finding out that our (weird) sense of humor is the same. Thank you for always wanting to spend time with me. And for running around the grocery store together walking like you and Anderson walked when you were younger (just like you are doing in the picture above). I loved every minute we spent together. I admire you in many ways and I love you very, VERY much.
The other 5 members of our family (Bronwyn, Stephen, Waveland, Garrett and Will) were not there, but I thank you God that FaceTime provided some moments of laughter and togetherness from afar.
To the reader: Thank you for reading this little post with the seemingly million “thank you’s” – but the million “thank you’s” seem fitting to a trip that blessed me spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally in ways that even I don’t fully understand yet. This was an amazing, restful time home. I thank you, God, with my whole heart.
P.S.- Thank you God for my sweet and kind husband who picked me up from the airport with pretty flowers!! Thank you that he willingly stayed behind in London to let me have this gift of time with my family. Thank you for his support and love and prayers from afar. This part is for him: Will, you know how much I love you, and how grateful I am for this time. I hope to show you the same support you showed me throughout our whole lives. You are my true home, and I want to be wherever you are.