Friday, November 16, 2007

BRASIL: day 1 - Vamos! (Let’s go!)

[October 29, 2007] Let the madness begin! We left Nashville today on a two-week tour of the beautiful land called Brasil. I'm a little skittish about this trip for some reason. Maybe it's because my roommate (Zac's wife) Lacey didn't get to come with us (please pray for her a lot). Maybe it's because I'm leaving all my friends and family behind for a couple weeks with very little, if any, contact with them. By the way, I really miss you guys way more than you know. Maybe it's because we've been on the road in Louisiana for most of the past week and we're not used to being gone so long, or to being so continually busy. Whatever the reason, it's gonna be a long, trying, fun trip. I know God has some amazing things in store for us this time around.
We have had a great trip so far. We got back from Monroe, LA around 9:30 last night and did a little last-minute laundry before sleeping in our own beds for the first time in six days. We got up this morning, re-packed, ran errands, and then met at the studio so we could all go to Chili's for a great lunch together. After lunch, it was off to the airport for the smoothest check-in we've had in the more-than-two years I've been with the group. We sat in the gate area for a couple hours before boarding our plane to Atlanta. To pass the time, Byron led a short "airport devo" to help us focus our minds on our goals for this trip. The rest of the time was spent on the phones or the iPods or the computers or whatever other fun stuff we could find to occupy our minds.
After our 35-minute flight to Atlanta, we grabbed a quick bite and got on our plane to Sao Paulo as we said our goodbyes to those closest to us. As I write, we are nearing the tenth and final hour of this overnight flight. We have a very busy day ahead of us full of meetings, interviews, driving, and no sleep. Since I don't sleep much on planes, this will be a tough day for me. I've already started taking pictures, though, and I hope to write daily to keep you informed about us.
I'm watching my first Brasilian sunrise and it's breathtaking! This is gonna be a great trip. Thank you, Jesus!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

BRASIL: day 2 - Oi! (Hey!)

[October 30, 2007] This day has been among the longest of my life. Once we landed at 6:45 AM (that's 3:45 AM CST), we breezed through customs and picked up our luggage from an uncomfortably busy conveyor belt. We met up with our contact people (Saulo, F.H., Simval, and a few others) and drove to our first of four radio and television interviews. It took nearly two hours to drive across this city of 14 million people, and we found out later that we only drove about 20 miles.
After sitting around for a long time and perfecting our game plan several times, we went in and hit a home run on Brasilian national tv. Keith even sang some with us. Post interview, we had the pleasure of meeting Anderson Ramos, our opening act and translator for each concert here. He's a great Brasilian Christian who now lives in Richmond, VA. He's a lot of fun so far.
We ate lunch and did a press conference at the restaurant where lunch was. We were scheduled for another interview on a tv show but there was some wait time. They took us to the top of the building where the restaurant was, maybe 20 stories high, and we took pictures of each other and the city. Sao Paulo is huge!
We finally got to our hotel for a little rest before going to dinner and our fourth tv show of the day. The show lasted somewhere around two hours and started around 10 PM. Since the majority of the show was a debate over taxes (something the people of Brasil don't have much of a say over) the audience was about as drained and tired as we were. We had been on a plane all night and only got a couple hours to rest after doing three interviews, lunch, pictures, and rode in a van...a lot! We were pretty much exhausted! God kept us awake and alert enough to finish the day, though.
It's very late now and I'm very tired. Tomorrow will be busy but not as taxing as today, or so we've been tole. Let's hope we were told right!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

BRASIL: day 3 - Churrascaria (Brasilian bar-be-que joint)

[October 31, 2007] Today started off with a bang...or some type of explosion any way! I am pretty sure I ate exactly the wrong thing yesterday because my stomach was not at all happy with me when I woke up. What `s worse is that I didn`t realize there was a problem until it was way too late. In order for me not to get graphic, let`s just say my tummy is not happy. No bueno!

We met in the lobby around 11:30 this morning and left for lunch around noon. Saulo and the crew took us to a churrascaria, a brasilian bar-be-que restaurant, and we ate our weight in meats (about 20 different cuts) and a monstrous salad / food bar. I have to say I was sad to have woken up sick, but that didn`t stop me from eating very, very well. After lunch, which ended with a beautiful dark chocolate mousse cake, we went to our first of two interviews for the day, stopping on the way to get me some indigestion meds. The hour-and-a-half-long drive took us away from metropolitan Sao Paulo to a biblical institute where we did both interviews for radio and tv. They took us on a tour of the building after the interviews and we sang a couple songs on the fly for the employees there. They prayed over us and we headed back to town so we could get to the airport for a flight to Campo Grande (pronounced Gran-je). We ate a quick bite and parted ways with Saulo and the crew until we return to Sao Paulo in a few days. We, including Anderson, boarded the plane and had a smooth flight to Campo Grande. Upon our arrival we were welcomed by a happy mob who gave us gifts of t-shirts and cds of themselves, Grupo Familia, and we did a quick interview followed by pictures. Once we finished up and loaded our luggage into the van, we went to our hotel. It`s 12:45 AM now and we have a pretty early morning ahead of us. More interviews before the first concert. It`s bedtime. I need my beauty sleep. Hello melatonin! Let`s make that happen. Nite, nite!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

BRASIL: day 4 - Concert no Campo Grande (Concert in Campo Grande)

[November 1, 2007] I`m feeling much better today. Thanks for asking. My tummy still cramps up a little but I`m okay. Good thing I feel better, too. Today was our first Brasilian concert.

We woke up pretty early after a late night and went to a tv studio near our hotel for the first of four interviews. This was a Seventh Day Adventist radio station and the people there were just as warm and friendly as ever. It seems that most of the people are working with are Seventh Day Adventists and are some of the sweetest people we have had the pleasure of working with. We took some pics after the interview and then went to a different studio where Grupo Familia records a lot of their music. We did a couple tv spots there, after which we got to hear an unfinished cut from their upcoming album. It rocked my face off! It had a little bit of a Blood, Sweat, and Tears sound to it. Great work!

From that studio, we went to a local tv station where we met up with Keith and Sharon. They got to sleep in a little bit. We knocked that interview out and went to another tv studio to put another one down. It was finally lunch time so we went to a restaurant that is owned by one of the people responsible for bringing us to Campo Grande. And it was good.

We had a few hours of down time at the hotel before heading to the venue for sound check. After working out a few tech kinks we retreated to the dressing room where we worked out a few song kinks with Keith and Cory Martin (who is doing an job, by the way). Zach Wilson led our minds in devotional and prayer and, after Anderson sang a few really nice songs, we took the stage. The crowd of about 1000 loved us...maybe a little too much!

After the concert, we were ambushed in the lobby for pics and autographs. Madness! Pure mayhem! We had to be herded out of the lobby like a flock of sheep. It was insane!

So we packed up and went back to Multiplus restaurant where we had lunch. Since the concert started at 9:00 PM, we didn't get to dinner until midnight or later. The best part about the whole day is that we get to meet in the hotel at 3:30 AM to leave for the airport to catch a 5:00 AM flight to Goiania. That gives us two whole hours to shower, pack, and nap (if we so choose), before we are to be downstairs ready to go. It's tough being a superstar...especially when your tummy hurts! Poor, poor, pitiful me!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

BRASIL: day 5 - Bom Dia (Good day - pronounced bon jeeah)

[November 2, 2007] I guess today could be a continuation of yesterday. We left our hotel at about 4:00 this morning to head to the airport and it really wasn't a long flight. I think it only took an hour to get here, same as Sao Paulo to Campo Grande. Since we hadn't really slept yet, we were really not ready for the reception awaiting us as we arrived. At 7:00 AM local time (we changed times from Campo Grande) there was a gathering of about 20 - 30 "paparazzi" waiting to welcome us to their state and city. Those of you who know me and know how grumpy I am in the morning after a full night's sleep can imagine me dealing with a gang of strangers wanting pics with me after a 30-minute nap overnight. Really it wasn't so bad. I took the pictures, said hello, acted politely, and eventually got to the van. As we headed to our hotel we learned that we wouldn't have to do a morning full of interviews and such. Just rest, lunch, one short interview later, and dinner...with more rest.

We had a bit of a mob scene happening on the way to the hotel. As far as I could tell from the cramped van, there was at least one car full of people and a motorcycle with two people on it that followed us to the hotel taking pics and video the whole time. When we got there the rest of the mob had either met us there or followed us, but they managed to get a short interview out of us that went to 150 cities in the area. Then we slept. We slept until lunch (about four hours) which we ate in the hotel. Then we slept a couple hours more until our interview for the day (it was supposed to be two but one group never showed up). We had more down time and then it was dinner time. They took us to a brasilian pizza parlor where the pizza was delivered to each table by hand, a la churrascaria, and we took slices off the tray as they offered them to us.

They took us to a rehearsal of local gospel chorus Agape (emphasis on the first syllable, not the last like English). They sang a couple songs for us and we sang a little bit with them. They sounded incredible! I'm noticing how seriously people here take music. It's like it's a part of them. Sound familiar? After taking a few pics with them, we came back to the hotel for the night. Some of us went up to the roof for a few minutes to notice how big and beautiful this city is. I really love it here, but I'm definitely missing home...and you. Wish you were here!

This is craziness. We haven't even sang here yet and people are treating us like we hung the moon. I just want them to see Jesus in all we do, not us. Please pray for the people here more. Today was a good day. Hopefully tomorrow will be even better. Don't forget, it's "FREE HUGS FRIDAY!!!"

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

BRASIL: day 6 - Estrella de Rock (Rock Star)

[November 3, 2007] I'm not cut out for the "rock star" lifestyle. Don't get me wrong. I love people and ministry, but I just can't handle having people in my business all the time. I do understand that people in Brasil truly love us and just want to be near us. I also understand that the people here idolize us when they should be idolizing Jesus. How can we get that point across?

We had a radio interview at about 8:30 this morning and then a t.v. around 10:00 that lasted about 40 minutes. Then we had lunch and went to Wal-Mart...yes, Wal-Mart in Brasil. I got a couple shirts but I still haven't found what I'm looking for. Anyway, we came back to the hotel for a rest and then went to the local Seventh-Day Adventist church for an informal, unofficial interview and mini-concert (There were several people who couldn't afford tickets to tomorrow's concert so we sang a few songs to try to encourage them. The promoter asked for one or two. We sang six or seven.). After that, we went to a very large shopping mall (Yes, I went to the mall. No, I didn't like it.), and back to the hotel for the night.

Now, in every instance of us being in public today, we ended up either taking pictures with people, signing autographs, or both. Even at Wal-Mart were there people ambushing us for a pic. I never expected to sign autographs at Wal-Mart, and especially a brasilian one, but it certainly happened today. In a city of four million, it's bound to happen...I guess. There was potential for all kinds of trouble at the church. Before we got out of the van we were told to stick together and move quickly, not stopping to take pics or sign autographs, because we may not make it into the building. There were people standing in the street waiting for us to drive up and get out so they could try to touch us. Some of them almost got run over. After we finished performing, we took a few special pics and signed some autographs for church staff members and such. They told us the same thing going out because they knew we wouldn't make it out of the building for hours if we didn't hurry. That's no way to be. We can't be a blessing if we can't be around the people. At the same time, we can't be around the people when they mob us because someone is bound to get hurt and we definitely don't want that. It also doesn't help that our faces were on posters hanging in the mall. We couldn't eat our meals without stopping for pics and autographs.

I know it seems like I'm complaining a lot but I'm such a private person that I felt awkward all day with these strange situations. I just need a good night's sleep and a great concert tomorrow.

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

BRASIL: day 7 - Concert em Goiania (Concert in Goiania)

[November 4, 2007] Yep. It's official I'm not cut out to be a rock star. We had a good concert with a great turn out. The 1700 available tickets sold out and they managed to squeeze an extra 500-600 people in the room. Each of them wanted pics and autographs and some wanted us to marry them! It was so crowded that I got claustrophobic...a lot. I mean people were everywhere all the time. It was hot too. The air conditioning was off because of an electrical fire a few days ago that got into the air vents. When we arrived at the venue people ran us to us to take pictures. When we got to the dressing room there were people waiting with stuff to be signed. We had to ask people to leave so we could get dressed, or have our devo without distractions, or even have any personal time at al. It was a mess. Pure insanity! I didn't like it one bit. Maybe some of the other guys like it (Zach Wilson, Allen Brantley) but it's not for me. I guess I've grown too accustomed to being in the road in the U.S. where we show up, set up, perform, take a couple pics and sign a couple autographs, take down, and leave, and people don't go crazy over us. No hassles, no privacy invasions in the dressing room, no threat of security guards who are such big fans that they misplace their priorities and stop doing their jobs...or do too much and not give us privacy.

Okay, I've been complaining too much. We have seen some cool stuff. For instance, Agape and Anderson both opened for us. They all did a fantastic job and we were proud of them. The crowd was all juiced up during the concert which provided a big energy boost for us. Even though we keep having frequency and feedback issues with the sound equipment, we have lots of fun during the concerts. That won't ever change. And people are hearing the Word. That won't change either.

There was so much chaos after the concert that they had to herd us off to a little "cage" area with tables so we could sign autographs and take pictures. Through the mass of people, a man approached me and gave me a huge blessing. He thanked us for sharing the gospel and using our voices and talents to glorify God. He was happy to have us in Goiania but happier to see God through us. It was a real ministry moment, both for him and for me. He ministered to me by encouraging me to keep ministering to others. He was an answer to prayers that the people would see God and not us. Hopefully that trend will spread and God will be exalted instead of us.

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

BRASIL: day 8 - Hora de dormir (Time to sleep)

[November 5, 2007] My sleeping patterns are getting worse. Those of you who know me know that's a bad thing for me to deal with. I'm not feeling so well today. I went to bed around midnight after a very long day and fell asleep fairly quickly. I woke up, though, to go to the bathroom at 3:00 and didn't fall asleep again until nearly 4:30. We had a 6:15 lobby call this morning so I was up before 6:00. I may or may not have gotten 4.5 hours of sleep. That's really unacceptable for me, and especially after a crazy concert.

Everything irritated me this morning. People being loud, people being repetitive, people being repetitive, people repeating themselves, people singing the same annoying song over and over and over and over and people oversleeping and making us late to the airport. We did make it onto the plane after some frustration though. Zac G. had to leave his football behind and have it deflated and put on a plane to Belem because they said it might explode from the pressure. More annoyance. I was ready to punch people...but I didn't.

We took the shortest flight I've ever taken, though. Apparently it only takes twenty minutes to get from Goiania to Brasilia. We made up that time with a two-hour flight to Belem, so it kinda equaled out.

It's hot here! When we arrived at noon it was 93 degrees and humid. I guess that makes sense since we're in the Amazon River Basin. Our promoter for this concert (Martins, pronounced Marcheens) found out that we haven't been resting much so he canceled our interviews for today. Sweet!

So we rested at the missionary school where we're staying. Some guys played soccer, some swam, some slept, some caught up on blogs. We ate dinner with some of the faculty and staff, then some of our people went on a tour of downtown Belem. It has been a restful day. We all needed it. It also helps the attitudes. Those of you who have worked or lived with other people know how easy it is to get on each other's nerves. The same applies here. We are human just like you. We bicker and nag and ruffle each other's feathers and life goes on. Those of you who are praying for us, keep it up. We can't make it without God's help and your prayers only speed that help along.

Tomorrow is concert number three. Belem is home to around 1.3 million people who have no idea what to expect. All we know is that they love Acappella. All they know is that we are here. I think it's gonna be wild...again. We'll make it but it'll be tough.

Well, it's bedtime again, kids. Say your prayers and get good rest. Have a bom dia tomorrow. We'll do the same!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

BRASIL: day 9 - Concert em Belem (Concert in Bethlehem)

[November 6, 2007] Today was a long and busy day but it was a really good day. We had breakfast around 9:00 and left the compound to go downtown and sing for the Secretary of Culture for Belem. Unfortunately, the secretary had more pressing issues, so we sang for students at the Carlos Gomez Music Conservatory, a school where most of the kids are poor. Belem is a poor region compared to most of the brasilian capital cities. It was kind of weird seeing the contrast between some of the wealthier cities like Campo Grande (which, by the way, means Big Camp) and Belem. It reminded me of Ecuador where, if you have nothing, you have nothing but you find a way to survive because it's necessary. Words can't adequately describe the mobs of people on the side of the road hoping to get picked up to go to work for a very low wage. I was told the average salary in Belem is about 380 reais (sounds like ray-eyes) per month, which translates into less than $200 US dollars. That's so little! Yet, the concert tickets were 30 reais and the 2000-person convention center was sold out completely. We got to share Jesus with a lot of people and heard some great responses. It was clearly the craziest crowd we've had so far, but the love some Jesus. It was also our best performance so far. We hope it will continue to improve like it has been.

I do have a bit of bad news, though. I have suffered the loss of a dear comrade. You may have seen us together, some of you many times. We have been friends for quite a while now. We went through some tough times together but we made it out alright...until now. He may not make it this time. He was severely injured during the concert and I'm really pretty shaken up by the incident...mainly because it was my fault. See, what had happened was, I stuck my hand out to shake a kid's hand and he grabbed my Ecuadorian bracelet and broke the string, losing half of the beads that I spent at least an hour last month repairing...for the second time. I'm really heartbroken about this because it's my "Compassion bracelet." When I look at it I think of the Compassion kids we help support and it's my reminder that real people, real children are suffering more than we know.

Okay, enough with the sad talk. We had a good day and a good concert. We went to the zoo today too. Good times. Pray for my knees, though. I'm feeling a bit arthritic. Moving really slowly tonight. We be aight tho! Another early morning, and it's already after midnight. Hora de dormir!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

BRASIL: day 10 - Meio la (Half-way there)

[November 7, 2007] It's been a tough day but a wonderful night. We got up at 6:15 for breakfast and left by 7:00 for the airport. We got stuck in morning Belem traffic and got there a little late, but we made our flight. It was a bit of a long, tiring flight with one stopover, one layover, and one bad landing. In the pilot's defense, it was very, very windy and the landing strip was very, very short. He just came down really flat and kinda jarred everyone. We're all fine...although some people can't seem to stop complaining about it.

Anyhoo, we went to lunch once we arrived in Natal. At the tail end of lunch were a few news crews waiting to hold a twenty-minute press conference that we weren't all dressed for. Some of us were in shorts and t-shirts, unshaven, and exhausted from last night's concert and our short night's sleep. We got through it, though, and came to the hotel to get dressed for a couple more interviews, one of which was at a pop radio station right after a Britney Spears song. It was as weird as it sounds. It's all good. After the interviews we came back to eat at a nearby restaurant. This place was so nice and they had completely shut down, except to host us. The food was excellent and we had a great time just talking and enjoying each other's company. Now we're all back in the hotel. Some of the guys went to the beach a couple blocks away for a little while. Some went to bed (Keith and Sharon). Some worked on getting blogs caught up...and are still a few days behind. Ah well. Soon.

I needed the rest anyway. My body is starting to wear down a lot. I'm pretty sure I have a tough of arthritis or something in my knees because it's a chore to get them from being stiff so I can walk. It's tough, but I'm just as tough.

We have reached our half-way point. One week left. Keep praying. We need it!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

BRASIL: day 11 - Concert em Natal (Concert in Christmas)

[November 8, 2007] Zac spent the night sick and I've had an annoying cough all day. My knees and hips have hurt all day and Zac is still feeling yucky. In other words, we are struggling. It's been a long day and it's just now over. We got up and did three short t.v. interviews, all without Zac, in a couple hours. As a matter of fact, we almost flipped in the van on the way to the last one...a few times. We were in a little bit of a hurry. After we finished that, we went to a restaurant near the hotel, which is near the beach. They surprised us with a special roof top lunch. The view was breathtaking! Nothing but roof tops, sand, and ocean. Muito lindo (very beautiful)! We got Zac some meds and then had a few hours down before going to the venue for sound check. After sound check we sat and waited, and waited, and waited some more. The concert was scheduled for 7:30 and started around 8:30...with four different opening acts, including Anderson. The room was huge and concrete, which means it was hard to hear, and even though there were around 1000 people there, it wasn't even half-way full. Not enough bodies to soak up the sound. Plus, that small crowd was loud enough to drown us out at times. It was all good, though. We got to meet and greet with most everybody there. We got to take a couple pics with my ex-roomate, Jim Kizer's friend, Cris. She went to ACU with him. I went to a fival school. Go Buffs! Either way, we finished that and went back to the same restaurant as last night, which has been my favorite place to eat so far (and you know I like to eat). Very intimate and relaxd with incredible food. After dinner, it was back to the hotel for a night's sleep. No early morning this time. Yay! Zac is starting to feel better, but still needs prayers. Same goes for my knees. Just don't forget that I love you guys and we pray for y'all before every concert. See you soon!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

BRASIL: day 12 - Regozijai! (Rejoice!)

[November 9, 2007] Here's the short version. We were in the same plane all day, got in five hours late, ate dinner, and went to bed.

Now, here's the long version. We were in the same plane from 1:00 to 10:30 PM because of bad weather, got to Belo Horizonte five hours late after stopping in Rio (which is like an hour in the wrong direction) and coming back to the airport reopened, ate a late dinner near our very nice hotel, and then went to bed. Not really much to tell about today except people were not happy.

We are some audacious people to complain about things like unscheduled stops and delayed flights. It could be so much worse. We could have not come on this amazing trip in the first place. We could have not even been in this ministry doing what we do and getting to travel and see the world. We could be dying in a hospital bed or nursing home because we can't take care of ourselves. We could be dying on the streets somewhere because nobody cared enough to help us out.

So, I'm making a new pact with myself and whomever will join me. I will not complain anymore while I am on this trip. Jesus said, "Do everything without grumbling or complaining." I encourage those of you who are chronic complainers to take one day, maybe today (or tomorrow if it's too late in the evening today) and just try not complaining. I know it will improve your mood, which will improve your day. Complaining won't solve anything. It only raises your blood pressure and speeds up the aging process (gray hair, balding, ulcers, wrinkles, etc.). So, the next time you start to complain, remember there are people who have it way worse than you and they aren't complaining because Jesus told them (and us) not to.

Tell you what. Instead of complaining, let's find things to rejoice about. Zac is feeling much better today. That's a start. What else? My knees don't hurt much at all. Yay for that. So, here it is. Today I will rejoice because I'm alive, well, working, and a child of the King. What will you rejoice about today?

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

BRASIL: day 13 - Concert em Belo Horizonte (Concert in Beautiful Horizon)

[November 10, 2007] What a great time to take a "no complaining" pact. There were so many things I could've complained about, but, thank God, I choose not to. Instead, I kept my attitude positive and am going to bed happy.

We got to sleep in this morning, which was awesome. We ate lunch at the same restaurant we had dinner last night. It's amazing how a place is transformed when there are no huge crowds of people and booze and plumes of smoke billowing all over the place. After a very tasty lunch, we had a couple hours down before we left for the venue. I took a nap.

When I woke up I had no voice. I had been dealing with some sinus drainage and that annoying cough for a few days, but I didn't realize it would affect me so suddenly and drastically. I was fine when I fell asleep thirty minutes earlier. I had my first big choice of the day. Would I freak out and try to fix it myself or would I trust God and relax, knowing it would be okay? I chose the latter and I'm so glad I did. I went on vocal silence, except when I had to talk for the interview we did, and for sound check. The interview was a little weird and a lot silly, but it was fun and we knocked it out pretty quickly. Sound check was a little longer than normal but we made it through that too. After a shortened rest in the bunk houses we used for dressing rooms, which were a bit of a walk from the auditorium, I shared yesterday's blog with the gang. I never had anyone formally join me in the pace, but I did get some good feedback and the morale was better when devo ended.

So, we changed our batteries in our mics and monitors, only to realize that they were the wrong type (non-alkaline) and we had to scramble to get them changed again before going on stage. We made it, though. Some monitors were lost in the ordeal, but the audience loved us and we loved all 1000 of them. God gave me the voice I needed and then some. The concert went well (even with technical difficulties) and the promoter had dinner served for us at the venue before our thirty-minute drive back to the hotel. Zac and I have been cutting up and having a good time tonight. Now it's bedtime, and I'm so happy because I've kept a good attitude all day and it has paid off. It's midnight. Lobby call is 4:15 AM. Good night!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

BRASIL: day 14 - Concert em Porto Alegre (Concert in Happy Port)

[November 11, 2007] 4:00 AM is early, especially after going to bed at midnight. Either way, that's when lobby call was and we made it. We got to the airport on time for our 6:30 flight. Stopped in Rio...again. It's just about as pretty in the daytime as it is at night. The airport is nice too. We spent a couple hours there, mainly sleeping, and then it was off to Porto Alegre. By the way, it's really kinda funny seeing seven hand carts being pushed down the sidewalk at 5:00 AM. It's such a slow, half-dead, pitiful procession of luggage-toting zombies.

Anyway, we went to churrascaria number five. These places are doing some amazing things with food. It seems that I may have found a new favorite churrascaria dish. Roasted pineapple! I don't know how they do it, but they cut the skin off and roast it with cinnamon and sugar, and it's amazing! I can't even describe how good it is (and you know it's good if I'm blogging about it). If you haven't experienced it, you really should as soon as you can. If you have, I'm so proud of you!

Moving on, we hung out at the hotel for a little bit, then went to the venue for sound check and concert. We had all kinds of problems tonight. Bad frequencies, trouble hearing, batteries dying, potty breaks (or the need of them), quiet audience, and all kinds of other fun stuff. It was great, though. God delivered again and gave me a voice for the night. I did pretty well at not complaining. It's tough when I'm so tired, but that's the game. I'm fine.

After the concert, they set us up in a smallish room with sliding glass doors, our own "glass case of emotion" for all you Anchorman fans. They filtered people in and out for pics and autographs. It was kinda weird, but kinda fun too.

We got done there and now we're back in the hotel with some pizza, getting ready for bed. We may get a full six hours of sleep tonight! That's money right there. Much better than 3.5. Two more concerts left and then we come home! Outstanding!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

BRASIL: day 15 - Concert em Sao Paulo (Concert in Saint Paul)

[November 12, 2007] It's been another blessed day that could've been ugly. We got about six hours of sleep then found out we could've gotten seven. Our flight was canceled because of delays so we got moved to a later one. Flying into the domestic Sao Paulo airport is a trip! It's in the middle of a very populated, very busy area of the city. You're flying over so many buildings and highways. It looks like you might tap the wheels on the top of a high-rise hotel or apartment building and, all of a sudden, there's a runway. So freaky, but so cool!

We got to Sao Paulo around noon and immediately went to lunch. Simval took us to a vegetarian restaurant in which the owner was advertising the concert. After lunch, and singing a quick line for the owner and the quartet he sings with, we got to rest at the hotel for a few hours. The only problem was that Zac and I didn't know what time to be ready to go, so we were late. It's okay, though. The venue was just around the corner from the hotel. We only had time for a short sound check and then devo. Familia Soul, from Sao Paulo, opened for us, followed by Anderson. They all were fantastic! So was the crowd.

We had a blast during the concert. Afterward, pure chaos! People running up with stuff to sign and then getting mad when we didn't look up from signing to take pictures. That went on for at least a good hour...and a half.

We finished up there and most of us went to bed. Zach and Cory (who is now known as "Marcheens") hung out with some local folk until late. We get to leave a little bit later in the 9:00! Mais um (one more) concert! Curitiba, here we come!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

BRASIL: day 16 - Ultima Concert em Curitiba (Last Concert in Curitiba)

[November 13, 2007] The madness is finally over! It has been a great trip, but it's time to go home. We had a great day today. We left Sao Paulo around 11:00 this morning and we arrived in Curitiba around noon. We ate lunch at another vegetarian restaurant where we met the promoter of the entire trip, Juvenal. He's a super sweet, kind man and we were honored to meet him. We owe him so much gratitude for bringing us here. After lunch, we rested for a few hours and then met across the street from the hotel at the auditorium for sound check. The concert went off without a hitch. The crowd loved it and we did too. it was Marcheens' last concert with us, as well as Anderson's. It was also Corey Callis' last concert to do lighting for us. We hope to get to work with all those guys again very soon. it was a pretty emotionally-charged night.

The coolest thing happened after the concert. As we were being led to the meet-n-greet area, I heard someone yelling "Peanut! Peanut!" There are only a certain few people who know me as Peanut (love y'all and miss y'all so much!), so I was a little confused. I looked over and found the person yelling and gave him a high five. I didn't recognize the guy but he introduced himself later. He said "I know Lori Beth from orphanage. My name is Ruy!" I was in shock a little bit. It was the coolest thing to meet someone who knows someone I'm so close to. It's such a small world. Last night I met the sister-in-law of one of my friends in Portland, and tonight I meet someone who knows my Peaches, Punkum, and Priscilla! Good times!

So after meet-n-greet, we went to the pizza restaurant next door to our hotel and ate a great meal. We hung out for a while and then it was bed time. This is the first blog of this trip that I didn't have to write in my notebook first. Praise God for that! Saves me a lot of time and effort.

Tomorrow, shopping in Curitiba, flying back to Sao Paulo, then Nash Vegas, here we come! I can't wait to talk to you guys again. I can't wait to sleep in my bed again! I'm gonna get a little rest now. I love you and miss you and hope to see you very soon!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate