12/22/2001

Hello:

We pray that all of you are doing fine. Tomorrow is "Christmas Sunday," and you may have some visitors. Someone be sure to tell the folks HI for us, and we certainly miss you all.

We just got back from Caldas Novas. It is a tourist town built up around an underground hot river, 55 deg. Cen. (0 cen. is freezing, and 100 cen. is boiling. The temperature today is about 22 c. and 76 F. I don't think the temperature has been over 80 since we have been here, but the humidity is so high at times that clothes hardly dry on the line.

I have attached a picture of the pools. The hotels are not really hotels, but "suites" people purchase, then they rent out the use of the rooms when they do not need them. I guess the maintenance fee per "suite" is 500 a month. That is a little over $200 US. The owners rent out the suites for enough to pay the maintenance fee.

Fay's dad's sister owns one and a friend of Fay's mother from work owns one. Bettie and I stayed with Fay's family in the sister's suite, and Christina stayed with Becky's family in the other.

The hotel pumps the 55 C water into a pool, and rope that pool off because it is so hot. Apparently, they then run that water though a "shower," and as it cools, they move it to a different pool. The hotel we were at had five pools, and one was always empty for cleaning. It looked like they cleaned every pool at least every day. It looks like they fill one pool with the hot water twice a day. It was a nice stay there, but the trip was long, with three boys asking, "How long till we get there?"

The town was about 3 hours from here, and we drove past some of largest soybean fields I have ever seen. They were at least 3 miles wide, and stretched as far as the eyes could see. Of course, they can grow soybeans and corn here year around.

There is an abundance of milk here, so they use cheese in many of their dishes, and milk in every form imaginable. I believe one of Fay's aunts makes some of the best cheese in the area; we are going to see her operation one day.

It certainly does not seem like Christmas here. And even more "strange" is hearing them play "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas," and "Jingle Bells," and other songs that sing the glories of a white Christmas. American Capitalism and lust for money has certainly taken over "Christmas."

At this point, it appears we will have to come back Jan 3. We have been unable, at this point, to change anything, yet they say that tickets are being discounted 50% because of empty seats.

As Bettie says, I don't understand at all the Brazilian ways. No one gets in a hurry nor seems to care about anything except what they personally want. They seem to only do enough to keep their heads above the water, with very few exceptions.

Hold Fay up in prayer. This society seems to move at every turn against the basic tenets of the Christian faith.

Anyway, we will be praying for the service there tomorrow.

Sign in front of an American church: "We are not a full-service church! We do not check your oil or wipe your windshield. We don't tone your skin or lift your wrinkles. We don't shine your shoes, cure your gout, restore your hair, or bail you out. We can't cure the mange or fix your range, nor do we lose your weight or move your freight. We are a church of the Lord Jesus Christ. We try to preach a gospel of truth in love, and practice it each day. If this is what you're looking for, come on over. If not, keep moving."

(Bettie) As soon as we returned from the hot springs, Becky and I had to rush to help Christina and Jessica (16) get dressed in their borrowed finery and fix their hair for a super deluxe formal wedding of one of Fay's cousins! We made it to Fay's house at exactly 7:15, but Fay and her mom didn't get home from the hair dresser's until 7:40! And we thought the wedding was to start at 7:30 sharp! I still can't get accustomed to the laid back lifestyle in Brazil– tomorrow will do if they can't get it done today! So Becky bought some corn soup and we went home to the hungry men. Fay and Christina will spend tonight with Fay and we will be moving over to Fay's house for Christmas tomorrow night. May God richly bless your Christmas together with your families! Love and hugs!! (I miss the good American hugs! These hugs, you "kiss" each other into the air on each side!)

Love you all.

Ovid, Bettie and Christina.