Monday, March 29, 2010

Heaven Came Down and Glory Filled My Soul

If you have been following this blog since we arrived in Brazil, you have read about my laundry struggles, as I washed our clothes by hand for the three months we stayed at my mother-in-law's house. When we arrived here in Camboriú three weeks ago, I was so excited to find out they had a washing machine here! The only trouble was that I could not find it in the back room where they had indicated it was. Where could they be hiding the washing machine??

When I asked, my enthusiasm was more than slightly dampened. Below is a picture of the "washing machine", which in function probably bears no resemblance to anything you have ever called a washing machine before! Here is the process to clean clothes using this machine:

1. Open barrel.
2. Put plug in the hole at the bottom.
3. Insert dirty clothes and laundry soap.
3. Get a hose and start filling the barrel. The only available hose was barely a trickle, so it took *forever* to actually fill the thing up. And you had to stand there and hold it or it would keep falling out.
4. When the machine is full of water, turn the knob on the front and it will start to agitate. You can choose from 5-15 minutes, depending on the filth level of the clothes.
5. When the machine stops agitating, come back and open the barrel. It will now be full of agitated clothes and dirty, yet soapy, water.
6. Pull the clothes out one at a time and try to squeeze out the dirty, soapy water as you do. Place these clothes in the wash tank to the left of the machine.
7. Once you have removed all the clothes from the machine, reach down into the bottom of the barrel and pull the plug to let the water out. Make sure the machine is standing over a hole in the ground!
8. After the water has drained, rinse out the machine, put the plug back in, put the clothes back in, and start filling the machine for the second time with the hose that is barely a trickle.
9. Once the barrel is full, set the machine to agitate again. This time, five minutes should be enough.
10. When the machine stops agitating, open the barrel and remove the clothes again, squeezing out the not-quite-so-dirty-and-soapy water as you go, and place the clothes in the wash tank again.
11. When the clothes are all out of the machine, reach to the bottom of the barrel again and pull the plug to let the water out.
12. Now you get to do the final rinse of the clothes in the wash tank to remove the remainder of the dirty, soapy water.
13. Once this is completed, squeeze out the clothes, but you don't need to wring them out thoroughly; there is a machine for that!
14. Now place the clothes in the machine pictured below, a spinner machine. Only about 1/3 of the clothes that fit in the washing barrel will fit in here, so you will have to do it in shifts. Once the centrifugal machine is as full as it gets, close the lid. There is no on/off switch, so you just plug it in to turn it on. Careful - there is a short in the cord that might shock you! (Guess how I found out?!)
15. Once you plug the machine in, it will start to spin. As it spins, water will come out the spicket you can see in the picture below. Make sure it is close to a hole in the floor!
16. Stand there and watch the machine. When the water coming out the spicket slows to a trickle, you can unplug it. Watch that short!
NOTE: If the machine goes crazy dancing all over the place, something is off balance and you have to take all the clothes out, and put them back in, in a more "balanced" way in order for it to spin properly.
17. Once the machine slows to a stop, you can remove the clothes, and now they are all ready to hang out to dry!!
18. Repeat with the rest of the clothes in the wash tank until all the load has been run through the spinner.
19. Hang out on the clothesline.

All of this was doubly complicated because we live on the third floor and the machines are on the first floor. So in the 5-10 minute increments that I could leave the machine, it was not worth it to go all the way upstairs just to come back down again. (Not only is is upstairs, but on the opposite end of this large building.) So, me and the four kids pretty much had to sit there and watch the machine work. Last week it took me about six hours to get our laundry done.

Also, since it is on the first floor, I have to go right through the meeting room to get to it. Several times, I couldn't go through in order to not interupt a meeting, and once I was back in the laundry room and didn't know a meeting was going on, until I opened the door and started through with wet laudry piled up on both of my shoulders. Embarrassing!

Since we also were sharing this machine with the other family that lives downstairs, many times when I tried to do laundry, the machine was occupied. This became a problem, because we didn't bring many clothes with us here from Santos due to limited luggage capacity on the bus here, so we ran out of clotheing items a couple of different times..... not cool.

Soooooooooo ......... I say all of that is not to complain, but so that you can just IMAGINE my JOY when my husband found a used washing machine for rather cheap that does EVERYTHING and not only that, but then rigged a way to put it up here on the THIRD floor!!!!!!!!!!! The title that I chose for this post is the only way I can describe how I feel right now!!!!!!! THANK YOU JESUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Rejoice with me! I don't think I have EVER been SO excited about doing laundry!!!!!

And this is the picture I could not find for the last post, of our shower head/ water heater that Fabio installed. Another HUGE blessing!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Our Life and Living

Today I was reflecting on life, and I thought... just one year ago, I was quite comfortable in my own little world...

Now, I can't say that I am comfortable, but I would not trade our current life here for anything. Not anything. On the contrary, I feel so thankful that the Lord kept "perturbing" our hearts until we were finally willing to step out of our comfort zone and follow his leading. There just isn't anything so satisfying as being in the center of God's will.

"I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life." --Mark 10:29-30


Just before we came here, we found out that there was a room for us in the church! That was really exciting news for us after having stayed at Fabio's parents house for three months. The church has only been in this building for about four months, so we were glad the Lord timed it so that we would arrive after they had a facility big enough to house us!

Our little room gets more live-able and homey every day. When we got here, it was fine and clean, but very bare. It had a double bed, a single bed, and a crib (which I was extremely thankful for!), but that was it. Now, we have gotten a table and chairs, a shelf, bunk beds and a cabinet. They were all in horrendous condition when we first got them, and in the US we probably would have junked them. But here we were thankful for them and Fabio was able to saw a bit, paint a bit, put in a screw here and there and make them work. It sure makes a difference to have a place to put our things so we don't have to rummage through suitcases all the time. He also got a board, mounted it to the wall and put some nails in it for hooks so we have a place to hang some things.
About the fourth night we were here, it rained really hard. In our room, it seemed that we didnt have a roof in some places, the rain was coming in so hard! We carried out bucket after bucket of water and tried to find things to sop up the rainwater with. I was glad it let up some around 11pm so we could sleep. The next morning, there was about an inch of rainwater in a pan I had left on the stove! The holes have been patched since then, though, and last night when it rained hard again, we stayed dry and cozy in our room. Thank you, Jesus!

Our room has a bathroom off of it as well. It is getting much more homey too. :-) A shower curtain, a curtain in the window, a couple of towel racks, and a mirror cabinet have made a world of difference. But even more than those things was the shower improvements. When we arrived, our "shower" was a pipe sticking out of the wall. The only temperature was COLD (the temp we longed for in Santos!). There is no shower stall or divider of any kind, and with no shower curtain, the entire bathroom got soaked when we showered. We showered and cowered, mostly because there was no curtain in the window either! hehe. Water heaters don't exist here, but shower heads are available which heat the water as it passes through. On about the fifth day here, Fabio installed one of those and we are now able to shower far more comfortably. This is the before pic and I was SURE I had an after pic, but I can't find it for the life of me, so I will have to post it later...
"Let your conduct be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have." Hebrews 13:5

There is another guy who lives up here, down the hall. His name is Nelson (in the pic above with Fabio). He also has an eight-year-old daughter who is here about half of the time. We share a little kitchenette with him up here. It is pretty primitive, but I am very thankful for it. It was also rather filthy, but I got it scrubbed into shape! He didn't cook much other than ramen noodles and coffee, so it was not well stocked with much of anything, but we got a couple of boxes of kitchen things donated here to the church last week, and I scored a spatula, a ladel, a cutting board and a few other things that have made a world of difference!
This is our flashy fridge which is on its last leg - an Electrolux from about 1960 I think! It has a little freezer box on the inside which was totally frozen over. We thought the fridge was not working right because it needed to be defrosted, so I set about that task a few days ago. It did not help. Not only does the freezer box not freeze anything, but the fridge doesnt get very cold either, so things spoil really fast. I sure miss ice and ice cream and really, really cold water! Either way, God is good!

"Better is little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure and trouble therewith." Proverbs 15:16

Downstairs live another family of leaders in the church, Claudio and Paula and their two daughters, Nicole (8) and Adriele (5). The main kitchen is down there too, where we have a community lunch every day, usually cooked by Paula. I need to get some pictures of them.

The temperature here in Camboriú is far more comfortable - more like summer in Chicago. A couple days it has gotten up to about 100 degrees (38 C), and that is when I realized that I have gotten somewhat acclimated to the heat, because on those days, I just thought, "Hmm, a fan would be nice", but it really didn't seem that hot compared to what we had to deal with in Santos. :-)

Remember Vamilson, from other posts? He has been a big part of our lives here, especially Fabio's. He stays here every day from early in the morning until evening, to work and eat and stay clean (off drugs), and most importantly, to be discipled from the Word of God. So it is mainly Fabio who is with him all day long, working together, and having Bible studies in the morning and evening.
When he was still on drugs, he got shot in the arm once. He had lost most feeling in his arm and hand due to nerve damage from the wound. The doctor wanted to do surgery, to remove a section of nerve from his leg and replace the one in his arm which was damaged. He was scared about having surgery, and asked the church to pray for him Sunday night. Monday afternoon, Fabio and another guy went with him to the hospital, and the doctor could not believe that he had regained feeling in his arm and hand! He said he wanted to do more tests because he could not believe just his naked eyes, but we know that Jesus has healed him!


Since we came here, we have been staying up late most nights pacing the veranda and praying for this area, this neighborhood, the people we see walking by, and the ministry of the church. More and more we are feeling that our hearts are being drawn to the streets, rather than a teaching or preaching ministry inside the church. And as we pray, suddenly many people have started to come to the church looking for help.
We can see this sign from the veranda, over the highway. This church building is right on the corner of two very busy streets, which is wonderful in so many ways.

Last Wednesday Gilberto came. Fabio wrote about him in the last post. Since then, others have come. Today, the man that "lives" next door came. There is a little plot of land on the other side of the church and there is a homeless man living there. We have been praying for him, and today he showed up here! Fabio and Claudio talked to him, gave him some food, and the guy invited Fabio to come visit him there in his cardboard shack! Fabio plans to go tomorrow.

Fabio is really excited to see God doing this work and to be a part of it. It is exciting for me too, and I love seeing how Fabio is coming alive as he fulfills what God is calling him to. He shows so much love and care to these guys that come in here, and you can see how much it touches them. No one else wants to touch them! Fabio says he doesnt mind the smell of alcohol too much, but is still asking for grace to withstand the strong smell of urine when he hugs them.... :-/

"Deliver those who are drawn toward death,
And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter." -Proverbs 24:11

This is also part of our view from the veranda, and a target for prayer. This castle-looking building is the transvestite theatre I mentioned earlier. We now know it is all of that and more... We are praying for the devil's work in this place to FALL; that the place would close down for lack of business, because those who frequent it now will come to know JESUS who will set them free from slavery to sin!! I personally am shocked at the change in my own heart, that can only be from the Lord. Previously, I was just repulsed by this particular variety of sin, but now I find myself being drawn to these people, our transvestite neighbors particularly, full of compassion for them as they are lost and dying without Jesus.

Here is another area in our view from the veranda. We are told this is one of the most dangerous areas of the city.


This morning we had our first morning off since we came here, and a guy from the church picked us up and took us to the beach. It was really nice! Although not very far away from where we are living, it seems like a different world. It is, really. That is where the rich live, and there are high rise apartments lining the beach front. It is a growing area, with many building still going up and the city expanding on both sides of the beach front. There are a lot of foreigners investing here, because the real estate value is increasing by 20-30% every year! And there is still alot of undeveloped area both to the north and south, all along the beautiful and mountainous beaches.

The kids didnt care much about all that though. They were just glad to have a little sand to play with, even though we had to leave their beach toys in Santos. :) And they made a friend to play with too, as they do most everywhere we go. It was nice to enjoy a little coconut water too; it had been a while.


I am teaching English now at the Peti school on Friday afternoons and on Monday mornings, for two hours each day. My first class is of 7-10 year olds, and the second class is of 11-14 year olds. I have enjoyed the teaching and the children, and getting to talk to another teacher and the director. I am also able to take my kids with me, and I have been taking Joshua and Dominique, one at a time. It is a great opportunity for them to learn about a lot of things - with me right by their side to guide the learning process.
This school is not the "main" school for the children. The way school works here in Brazil, there are two shifts at school: 7am-noon and 1pm to 6pm. It may vary somewhat by school, but that is the basic schedule, and you can choose whether you want to send your children in the morning or the afternoon. Well, in the favela, during the hours that the children are not in school, they are on the streets and generally up to no good. Most of them have homes, but not very good ones. They are typically neglected and/or abused and would rather spend their time on the streets than at home. Most of their parents are drug users, drinkers, prostitutes, you name it. This is the favela:
The land in the favela is not bought. The people who live here are squatters that just try to build some kind of house with whatever materials they can find. They just build houses on top of houses at the edge of the city, into the mountain. Because these houses are without structure or foundation, they are not uncommonly washed away in landslides when it rains a lot.

So, the PETI school is a supplementary school for the children to go to during the hours they are not in school, to keep them off the streets. They can eat there, have recess, art classes and other "fun" stuff, and also receive help with their homework. Twice a week they even get surfing classes! Much of the help is volunteer.

I am praying about how these classes can get me INTO the favela - into their homes, their families, their lives. Teaching English is great, but if it stops there, what good am I really doing for them? What difference will it really make in their future?

In one of my classes, there are two boys that have declared themselves to be homosexuals - at ELEVEN years old!! There are several that are HIV positive, some have been picked up by the cops for drug usage - at seven and eight years old, and one of the girls is constantly offering herself to the boys. The teacher even saw her do the same to some men at a bar next door! She is ten years old and still has the body of a little girl. Imagine what her mother does for a living, and what she has seen at home, and cry with me. Better yet, cry out to the Lord for these children!


Remember our neighbor boy Guilherme from the last post? The day I took the picture of his flip-flop, he ended up forgetting them here. Joshua saw how thin they were, torn in the back, and the strap had broken and been repaired from the underneath. Joshua asked Fabio if there was some extra work he could do to earn some money to buy Guilherme a new pair of flip-flops. So, Fabio gave him some extra work, and he worked hard at it.

The next day we took him to the store and he used his hard-earned money to buy a new pair of flip-flops for Guilherme, the exact same style as his own flip-flops! Guilherme was so happy!!

One day I got home and went into the community kitchen downstairs and Guilherme was there. His face LIT UP when I walked into the room. Then he started singing (in Portuguese): "Singing, singing, singing to my Jesus! I threw away my sadness and sent it away from my heart!" I was impressed and asked him where he had learned that song? He said Joshua taught it to him. :-) They have been singing it together ever since. Joshua is taking seriously his position as a missionary and we are so thankful to see that. Here he is reading a book to Guilherme:

I know this is a long-mega-post - thanks for hanging in there with us! There is just so much going on here that I want to share with you all. Keep praying for us and thank you for your care and concern for us and the ministry here! We love you!

Fabio and Pastor Facundo:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Getting Into Life in Camboriu

This is the mission field:

Hey Warriors of God!
This is just a quick note -- Fabio at the keyboard this time.
I wish we could talk on Skype with many of you but internet here is so desperately wicked that the speed doesnt allow us to use skype because it is too slow.
I took me about 6 hours to load one 10 min youtube video! Yes, very very ridiculous. But they said they are working on getting high speed internet here at the church and are now just waiting for the phone company to install it (which may take several more days - it has been about 3 or more weeks already! Nothing happens fast around here...)

We also have had virtually NO time to "hang out" online, and catch up on email. Elizabeth plans to do so soon though - and thanks you for your patience!!
Life here in Camboriu is really hectic. When we got here we met 3 guys here in the church who had left drugs and had been clean for a few days...well, the next day one of them disappeared, then the other one too. (These two are Diego and Dodo that are pictured in the post below.)

One was left (Vamilson- also pictured in the post below), and I have been working with him to keep him strong in the Lord and out of the drugs. I went with him to the store a few times and twice he was stopped by a car, which was a drug dealer offering him drugs, but he has been strong enough to say NO so far.
Vamilson e Johann:
We have been praying and working on trying to get the other two back.

Yesterday, a guy that was totally drunk stopped by in the afternoon. His name is Gilberto. We gave him some coffee and let him take a shower, and as we were ministering to him he was totally broken, recognizing he desperately needed help. He stayed for the evening worship service, and was very receptive to the ministry of the word and prayer. After church we took him to a home (a Christian place called Bethseda where they take care of people getting out of drugs and alcohol). We went back to the home today (for the third time), and what a work of God is going on in that place! There is much we, as a church, can do to facilitate what they are doing there. This is the faithful couple running this ministry, with their miracle van. They spent some time praying for a new engine for their old broken down van, and instead God gave them a brand new one!

Then during our "free time", we are working on this building which they moved into only 4 months ago, doing Bible studies, preaching, going out to talk to people on the streets, drawing a Bible tract for the church, planning the website, taking care of my marriage, taking care of my children, taking care of my relationship with God, praying, praying, praying.....
This is the church building that was an absolute miracle! We are staying on the third floor in a room there. To the right, you can see a veranda. There we pace and pray late at night for this city and neighborhood. It has been very good times.
We have only been here for about a week and are still trying to learn about the church and its work in the community. We are still praying for God's clear direction for our lives. We are confident He will show us in due time.

I was impressed at the servant hearts that the church members here have to give all they can in order to help a brother. One day I was casually talking about taking one of the recovering kids back to America with me to give him some vision -- that the world is a lot bigger than just going to drugs back and forth, and this way he would stay away for a while from that lifestyle, get into the Word, prayer and fasting and testify in America or even Japan! When I said that God would provide for all that to happen, one of the guys at the table interrupted and said, "You can have my month's wage (here people are paid by the month) to take him!"
A lesson for me.

They have mentioned they wanted to build a soup kitchen, and a drug rehab center to reach into the community more effectively as it is hard to preach that God loves them when they have their bellies empty or their brain not functioning properly. They also talked about computer school, English school, and so on to help the poor get on their feet and find jobs instead of always feeding and clothing them.
So there are plenty of opportunities to serve and reach out to the world here if you feel this is what God would have you do. If you are feeling God leading you to do something bold, don't be afraid of stepping out and doing it! If you feel God leading you to support the work going on here, don't be afraid of that either!
Thank you so much for all your support and prayers.
Since we got here that series of sicknesses and fevers have left. Praise the Lord! We were sick of being sick all the time.

God bless,

(PS: What God is doing inside of me: In America we weren't rich or anything but there was such abundance that before we left we threw away lots of things we thought were garbage. Including lots of pieces of clothing and some shirts that were even fairly new, but I did not like them very well...I had the privilege of choosing brands and colors to an extent. Our old appliances, furniture and vehicles were not at all a motive of pride, but little did we know that from here they would look so precious. Makes me think that too much we spend our time, money and energy after the "wind" -things of no eternal value, while the Kingdom is waiting for us to simply say, "Yes Lord.")

Now this is Elizabeth to add a quick note:

I started on Monday, teaching English classes at the school called PETI, in the favela. I loved it! I will be teaching two hours on Monday morning and two hours on Friday afternoons. I didn't get a chance to take pictures in the classes, but during recess they sure get into playing soccer!!!

I took the kids with me, and Joshua was trying to get in on some of the soccer action:
There is a little boy that lives next door named Guilherme that has practically been living with us. He is one of six children, and all of them live in a little one room apartment next door. It seems both of his parents are on drugs, and his older brother and sister "take care" of him and the other little ones. He just loves it here, so he comes here and stays all day whenever he can. Then I walk him home, and sometimes his mom doesnt even know he was gone. She hadn't noticed. How sad! He is so starved for attention and affection. When I tell him to give me a hug before going home, he doesn't want to let me go.... my heart heaves and aches....
These are the only shoes Guilherme has:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pictures of Camboriú

Yesterday when I updated, I was at an internet cafe and had no way of posting pics, but thankfully, Fabio was able to get our internet device working again yesterday, so we are back in touch! And now we can post pics!

This is Fabio and Vamilson painting the outside of the church building. Vamilson was recently delivered from drugs which held him captive for 22 years! I asked him how long he had been free, and he said 16 days! Now I think it has been 20. :-) He started smoking cigarettes at 9 years old, marijuana at 11, cocaine at 13 and crack at 15. He comes to the church early every morning and stays all day long, full of energy to help with whatever needs to be done and eager to be with people to strengthen him so he doesn't fall back into old ways. Pray for him to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty POWER!

This is Diego and Dodo (short for Douglass), two brothers that need a lot of prayer! They were recently saved, but having a hard time standing firm. Pray for them!
Today was awesome! I got to go to the favela (the Brazilian slums which are poor, dirty, dangerous and controlled by druglords). The pastor's wife and I dressed like clowns, and Joshua and Dominique accompanied us while Israel and Johann slept.
We went to play with some kids that another pastor does a sort of Bible school with every Saturday afternoon.
We played games with them and just loved on them. They come from every sort of difficult home - parents who do drugs, drink, beat them, etc. Many don't ever go home, but sleep on the streets instead. They are so starved for affection and just eat it all up!
Here four little girls are fighting for my lap:
This time they took my hat off to get in closer. :)
This is the pastor's wife. One day soon I will take a more "natural" picture of them! lol. She was wonderful with the children. I think there were more than 30 there.
These boys would not join us, but stayed next door looking on. They would take the suckers we offered, though! It was so wonderful to be there. My heart feels like it is still there now! The children asked me if I was coming back tomorrow? Ugh. Saturday afternoons with them are wonderful, but I think much more needs to be done if their future is really to change - for them really to not fall into the same lifestyle as all those around them.....

Lord, show us what is in your heart!

Tribute to our Children

Here are our children, minus one of course. This couch sits on the veranda outside our room. I just have to say how wonderful our kids have been. Not perfect, for sure, and they all have their moments, but they have really rolled with the punches well! They dont complain about the heat as much as we do! They have never carried on about all their toys and bikes and scooters they had to leave behind.

They have eaten rice and beans twice a day with only minimal complaning. ;-) They have walked miles at a time, and Joshua has rarely complained about that either. (The other three take turns in the stroller. ;-)
They have learned to be creative with what is available to play with, like this clothespin gun Joshua made yesterday. :) I am so proud of them.
Joshua said recently to us: "One thing I have learned is that you really have to be flexible when you are traveling!" When we asked him in what way, he said: "Well, you have to learn to eat things you are not used to eating, and you have to learn to sleep on the floor when you may not be used to it. Stuff like that." So true.

Since we got to Camboriú, they have been hard workers! The first day, Joshua asked for a broom to start sweeping, because we came to work, not rest, he said! He swept almost the whole first two floors with no prompting from us! Dominique has been eager to help most of the time as well.

We sing this song together every day, to the tune of "Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary":

Lord, prepare me to be a missionary
Pure and holy, tried and true
With thanksgiving, I'll be a living
Missionary, for You!

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Next Step of our Journey Begins...


I wish I had had more opportunity these past few weeks to keep you updated! SO very much has happened, and it will be impossible to even summarize half of it.


And, our internet devise does not work here. :-( So I am sorry that I have not had a chance to get back to emails and facebook messages, but know that they were ALL very much appreciated! Maybe someday communication will become easier....... I am at an internet cafe now. I will try to find a way to post pics soon.

We were able to take care of my ID situation in Santos, and all went smoothly, praise the Lord and thank you for your prayers!

Fabio is feeling quite well now! Again, thank you for your prayers! We now know that it takes many people months to get over fully over dengue fever, also known as breakbone fever, and recover their strength, so in light of that, it was quick! :)

We arrived in Camboriú, Santa Catarina by bus on Tuesday morning of this week, March 9th. It was a 10 hour bus ride from Santos, south. We had had limited communication with Pastor Facundo, so we really did not know what to expect.

They have recently gotten a new facility, where we are living. It is a large three story building. There is another family living in the bottom floor, who are leaders in the church and have 2 daughters. They care for many things, including a community breakfast and lunch. There are other offices and a community area downstairs as well. The second floor is the "sanctuary" , which looks like a theatre. I think it used to be. And the third floor is our room, and another room where another guy from church lives, and a tiny kitchen as well.

So far, we have done cleaning and painting, cooking, and settling in a bit. They recently became responsible for a school in the favela, and I will be teaching there next week, and I think every Friday. Fabio is building a website for the church as well.

There are many young boys and men who have been recently saved out of drugs that come to the church every day to help with the fixing up of the facility, eat together, have Bible studies and receive strength to keep on keeping on! This is the heart of what is going on here.

Last night, a few of us were sitting on the front step and a teenage boy walked by, looking dirty and carrying a sack over his shoulder. I smiled at him as big as I could and said HI! He kept walking to the corner, stood there a while, then came back to ask me what the building was? We started talking to him, found out his mother had abandoned him as a small boy, and he was living with another lady who was taking care of him, until she died 2 years ago. He has been living on the streets since then. He is 17. We talked with him a long while, and then took him to a home. But the desire of the church is to prepare the church facility to receive others like this young man.

There are two castle-looking buildings by us, one on either side of the church. One is a transvestite theatre, and the other is a Masonic lodge where they do all sorts of rituals, etc. What a strategic spot! The building next to the church is a small hotel-type thing, also mostly inhabited by transvestites. There is much to do in this place!

We have encountered MUCH difficulty since we came to Brazil, much of which I have not felt at liberty to write about, but the spiritual warfare is very real and is raging. PLEASE continue to pray for us!

Pray that we would be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power!
Pray that we would have boldness to share the Gospel with the least of these!
Pray for supernatural protection and a shield around us and our children.
Pray that the Lord would give us diving DIRECTION to know what to do from here on out.

We love you all!!!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Just For Fun - Surviving the Heat

This is a conversation my kids had with my mom while video skyping:
Dominique: Grandma, it is so hot here I just sleep in my underwear!
Israel: Grandma, it is so hot here that I don't even wear underwear EVER!

hehe. It is true. We had totally given up on forcing that extra layer on him. He would just shed it the first time he used the bathroom during the day. You do what it takes to keep cool!

And boy, it has been hot here! Even in Japan, I never experienced heat like I did here. I kept wondering during the hottest times, what the temperature was, but never found out because weather doesn't appear much on the news or the radio. It is probably just too depressing to talk about! hehe. But, in talking to people, it seems that the hottest days, the actual temperature was around 110 degrees, not counting heat index, which I'm sure was insane! And it was also probably God's grace that I never found out specifics.

Here are some other survival tactics:

*Fabio and I slept with our heads at the foot of the bed to be closer to the center of the room where the ceiling fan is.

*We slept on towels to absorb all the sweat and feel a little dryer than the sheet. yuck.

*Fabio's cousin freezes wet rags, then wraps them around her neck to cool off.

*Take a shower 3-4 times a day to remove stickiness.

*Forget the fridge when it comes to water storage. Go for the freezer. I was amazed that a 2 liter bottle of solid ICE could be reduced to room temperature water in about an hour!

*Eat a lot of ice cream in place of real meals.

*Most people don't wear much. At the beach, it is pitiful. I think I can count on one hand the number of one-piece bathing suits I have seen on people. While I'm sure this fact accounts for a lot of the tourism draw, this is in fact in spite of the person's size, age, or fitness level. I have seen nothing that might qualify for Baywatch. Picture instead (if you are brave!) a sixty-year-old woman, fifty+ pounds overweight, in a string bikini complete with a thong. I just don't get it... sigh. And for men? Speedos abound! :-/

*Try to spend as much time as you can at the mall, the only place you can experience air conditioning!

*Pray for cooler weather! The Lord has answered our prayer and yours and this last week has been rather comfortable. Thank you Jesus!!! And thank you for praying!!