Sorry it's been so long since I posted an update here! I'm way behind.... I'll try to cover most of the important things since coming back to Portugal from Iowa: exams, my new project in INESC, church news, and whatever else I think of. :)
When I got back to Porto in January, it was just in time to start my first round of exams in the Master's program. I didn't know what to expect, since I'd never taken an exam in a Master's program, and I'd never taken an exam in Portugal. Since most of my grades come from the exams, I was a little concerned. :) But it all went well. I studied the notes from class and worked some example problems, like I usually do, and generally tried to relax and take it easy. Fortunately I was in lull in my INESC work so I could spend all day studying and not have to worry about it at night. I'm pretty sure I took the top grade in all of my classes....
My current project in INESC is part of a study for the electric system of the island of Madeira. They want to know the maximum renewable energy penetration that they can have, specifically looking at increasing the energy coming from wind turbines. My part is to run simulations to see what the frequency variations will be as a result of variations in wind speed. The work is very similar to what I did in my previous project for the Azores, but the system is a little more complex, but with fewer scenarios. I spent a lot of time waiting for data to get started, and now it is a little bit of a crunch to get results so we can write the report. Fortunately I improved on my scheme from the Azores and have things running pretty efficiently (I think--we'll see!).
When I was in Iowa in January, I stopped by Cornerstone and picked up a transfer letter so I could become an official member of my church here in Porto. Sadly, I left it in the car at the airport, so Mom and Dad had to mail it to me, delaying my membership a little bit. But now I am a member of the Primeira Igreja Baptista do Porto (First Baptist Church of Porto). In that very meeting that I joined the church, I was added to the music commission and the sound system team. It hasn't made much difference, since I was already helping in these roles, but it does give a little authority, so I can plan services now and then. So far I just did one, but it could come to be more now that....
...we have a new pastor! Having been without one since I guess November of last year, after a much shorter search than I think anyone expected, we made contact with a Brazilian missionary who was also thinking of moving into a more pastoral role. He is still part-time, finishing up other responsibilities and making the transition, but I am very glad to have him with us. He has a passion for young people and for missions--things that match well with our church. He is dreaming big, something that I think is really important. I look forward to working with him and learning!
At the beginning of April I took a week of vacation with Humberto, Evodia, and Lemuel, and we went to Galiza, Spain, just north of Portugal. It is a beach vacation kind of area, but this early in the year, it's not full of people and seems kind of empty. Which was nice! The weather wasn't perfect, but it gave some good days for walking on the beach and relaxing, and I even added a little tan. :) There are lots of pictures in the photo gallery.
The next big thing I'm looking forward to is a week-long visit by Mom and Dad in mid-May. It will be great to see them and show them around! I think my friends here are eager to meet them, too, and likewise my parents are ready to meet them.
There are lots more things that I could write, but I can't put everything. Plus there are some things that one just doesn't put out on the 'net for everyone to know! ;)