Thursday, September 23, 2010

Neighborhood Outreach Update

Now that we are finally all feeling better, we are back at "work". :-) Ah, feels great! We have gone back to some of the homes we visited before, at least the ones where we found open doors. It has been very good! THANK you - all of you that have prayed for us!!!

Case One
One place can hardly be called a house. It is more of a shack, really, with cracks between the slabs of wood which make up the walls up to one inch wide. The family that lives there has three sons, ages 6,7 and 11. The first time we visited them, they asked us to pray for them about a business issue. The father is a truck driver, and they also had a side business, a car wash, which the mother stayed at all day long. This caused the children to be home alone all day! They go to school in the afternoon, so the 11 year old was responsible for getting lunch for the others, and getting them all ready and walking to school with the littler ones. We saw the boys in the streets all the time, and could easily see that the situation was not a good one.

So anyway, they had asked us to pray that they would get a contract with a bus company, to wash their buses twice a month. If they got it, they would be able to shut down the car wash except for those two days a month, thus providing a way for the mother to stay home. We prayed with them that day, and have continued to pray for them since.

Well, when we went back, we found out that they got the contract! Now, the mother can be home during the week with the children! They were very much encouraged by this.

As we were sharing with them about the importance of reading the Bible, we discovered that the mother cannot read. She came from a poor family and was not able to go to school. She had to work from an early age to help the family.

So... when I went back, I asked her if she wanted to learn how to read? She does! We are going to be helping her as much as we can.

They also are eager to find out what the Bible says. We have set up with them to start studying the Bible together this Sunday afternoon. Please pray that their understanding would be opened to God's Word!

Case Two
Another family we visited a few times lived a few streets over from us. They also have three sons, ages 3,6, and 11. They were also wanting to study the Bible with us, but then we got sick and were not able to keep the date we had set up with them.

Now, when we went back to visit again, we found out that they are moving in across the street from us! We were also able to meet many of their family members that day, and we had a nice visit with them. They also told us how disappointed they were that we couldn't come when we had planned to, which was very encouraging to us to see - a hunger for God's Word!

Today we saw them at the new place, across the street from us, cleaning and getting it ready to move into. We talked to them a few minutes, then went home. Doh! We then realized that they needed more than for us to talk to them! Finally when our brains started working right, we kicked into action. What would they need right now? Help with the kids, help with the cleaning, and a home-cooked meal would certainly be a good start. The kids came over, Fabio went to help them clean, and I got some tupperwares ready for the parents to take home and eat when they were done cleaning.

In the meantime, I fed the kids. Dominique decided to give them a picture she had colored of Adam and Eve, and it was a great opportunity to ask them if they knew the true story of the very first man and woman? They did not, so we got out the children's Bible and began to read together. They were all ears! We talked about what sin is, what obedience is, how God loves to bless us, how God always sees us, and then I translated "Oh be careful little eyes" for us to sing together. It was so fun to see them thoroughly enjoying all of this!

Now it is nearly 11pm and Fabio just got home from cleaning, the couple picked up their kids and their tupperwares, and headed home in the pouring down rain. They don't have a car either. We wished we at least had an umbrella to lend them, but we don't.

Now Fabio is sitting down to eat supper. It has been a good and full day. There is nothing better than this!

Here is a true statement: "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care."

Even better, consider this: "Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy, he who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." Psalm 126:5-6 Now THAT is some amazing encouragement to keep on keeping on!!!

There is a lot going on here, ministry-wise, but I will keep it at that for now. :) I will just add this tidbit: there are rumblings again that make us believe we will be able to be back in the PETI school soon! Details to come. :)

A few pictures before I close, mostly of Johann's BIRTHDAY! My littlest baby is two years old!!! We love you, Johann!This is across the street. Some people put some sticks up for goals on a vacant lot, and the neighborhood children like to gather to play soccer there. You can see the makeshift goal behind Fabio. We have ideas for further ministry here, too, but for now we are just playing and making friends. :)Reading Bible stories with Daddy:
Wrestling Match with Daddy:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Truth and Transformation

Well, the past few weeks have been eventful in both good and bad ways. I will start with the good ways. :-) This city hosted a conference called "Truth and Transformation" that was revolutionary! By a series of events, the conference was moved at the last minute to our church! The four main speakers were Bob Moffitt, Vishal Mangalwadi, Hector Torres and Roosevelt Muriel. (You can also see Roosevelt Muriel and Hector Torres in this excellent documentary: Transformations.) What a powerful line-up of wise, dynamic speakers!

Due to our friendship with veteran missionary Cleiton Oliveira, we were also allowed the privilege of spending some time with some of the speakers, right in the comfort of our home! This is Bob Moffitt, whom our children called "Grandpa Bob". He founded Harvest Foundation in 1982, and authored If Jesus Were Mayor - I HIGHLY recommend every believer read this excellent book. Be prepared to be deeply challenged if you do!Above, Cleiton Oliveira on the left, who has taken it upon himself to mentor us. :) We feel deeply grateful for his input! He has a wide variety of life and missionary experiences. Currently, he is working with some indigenous tribes in the Amazon.
Next to him is Luciana! My sister-in-law, who came for the conference! (And to see us!)
Next is Richard, another missionary who lives in the next state north of us, and then Bob Moffitt, and us. :)

Below we are with Hector Torres. He is originally from Colombia, but has lived in the USA since he was 10 years old. Not all of his books are available in English, but many are. You can check them out here.
Johann and Vishal Mangalwadi, from India. He has authored many books as well, one of which I have just finished: The Legacy of William Carey- A Model for the Transformation of a Culture. I bought several of his other books as well, and am looking forward to digging in soon! He is such a deep thinker and provoked us much in our thinking as well, about what it means to transform a culture and what the church's role is. Please look at his website, at the link above on his name!
Here I am, translating for Hector Torres:
And here is Fabio, translating for Roosevelt Muriel:
We were so grateful for the input of these men and the information and challenge of this conference. We feel the Lord arranged it so strategically, just at the time when we are seeking to know His full will for our time in Brazil. We feel we have a much clearer/ broader picture now!

Now, for the not-so-good news. Fabio got sick on the first day of the conference -Saturday. He struggled to go anyway, on the second day, but only made it to the afternoon. Then he was literally knocked out for a full week. :( It was bad stuff.

On Thursday, Johann got a fever too. He stayed lethargically half-asleep on me all day long. That day also happened to be my 30th birthday, and it might have gone by unnoticed altogether, except for Luciana being here! God is gracious. :)
She bought me a cake, and some balloons, and made some "beijinhos" - little coconuts balls traditional at Brazilian birthday parties. So, with sleeping feverish Johann on my lap and sickly Fabio struggling to make it to the table, we sang Happy Birthday and welcomed in a new decade of my life. :)

We were sad to not be able to "do" much with Luciana while she was here, partly because of not having a car, and partly because of Fabio being sick, but we still had a wonderful time getting to visit. We walked around the neighborhood and took some pics. Johann was sick, so he didn't make in into this shoot....
The last day of her visit, a lady from church offered to take us to the beach! It was a special surprise! We are so close, and yet without a car, SO far away! :-) We had a great time, except for Johann still being sickly, and cried most of the time, and Fabio couldn't come. Actually, he wouldn't have been able to anyway, because he wouldn't have fit in her car! :-) Next time.... :)
And the day after Luciana left, and the day Fabio was *finally* coming back to the land of the living, Israel got a fever, but it was thankfully short-lived. That night, however, I started to have terrible pain in my right side. Turns out it was gall stones. So, all week I have been struggling to function with the pain, and doing a cleanse to hopefully rid my body of them. It seems to be working, as the pain is down to a dull ache, like a bruise. :)

Please keep praying for us as we recover and get back into the swing of life!!!