I thought I would write up a quick post about TODAY. Our main work here is simply "people work". It is not always regular. It is not always miraculous. It is not always something exciting we can take pictures of to post about with a fantastic testimony attached. But I thought it might be helpful for you to catch a glimpse of "just a normal day" for the Tsukayama Family...
Well... I guess I will actually start with the tail end of last night. We went to church. Sunday church here is at night rather than in the morning. The services are ... not as concise as typical American church, and end around 11pm. About a month ago, Fabio commissioned our children for a new ministry: welcoming new people that visit the church, or those that have come back after a long absence. To do this, the children draw pictures, write "Jesus Loves You" on them, and pay attention to who is new. Then, when church is over, they go to give them out and say "Welcome". This has been SO good on so many levels! So many people have told us how they were touched by this small act of kindness, and it has also opened up more conversations for us. And it has been SO good for our children! Instead of thinking about going to church to have fun or see friends or whatever else, they go with a mission in mind! They are not thinking of themselves through the whole service, but being attentive to the new people around them and thinking of how to bless them!
Last night before church, we also put together small baggies of candies to give out, along with their pictures. The children put these baggies together, carried them to church themselves, and held them through the three hour service, excited about giving them out afterward! And they did give them out, joyfully! They never complained about not getting any for themselves, nor did they even ask if they could have some! We are so thankful to see their character developing as they grow.
So, we got home from church about 11:45 and still had not had supper. I lit the stove with a match, and warmed up some leftovers while everyone got ready for bed. By just after midnight, they were in bed.
My day started this morning at 6:30. I do some stretching and a quick shower, and then try to get in some time with the Lord in the quiet of the morning before the children awake. I am reading in Acts currently and how inspiring! I also began this morning to read So Send I You by Oswald Chambers. Then I threw in the first load of laundry, and put the beans on the stove to cook which I had been soaking overnight. I put the brown rice on to soak to cook up later, and pulled the meat out of the freezer to thaw.
Between 7:30-8:00, the children began trickling downstairs, and a bit after 8:00, we had breakfast of eggs, hallah bread left over from our Shabbat dinner, and watermelon. Then Fabio began our family devotions. He has been working on having the family memorize the Sermon on the Mount, and he also read a Proverb today. We discussed some of the things we read, and prayed. Fabio has also been using this time to teach the children about intercessory prayer. He just simply asks them to ask the Lord who we should pray for, and they immediately think of people! Sometimes people from the States, sometimes people here we are ministering to, etc.
Then, I finish cleaning up the kitchen while the kids did morning chores, and a little after 9am, we were ready to begin school. Actually I think it was nearly 9:30 (9am is the goal!). We rushed a little today because Fabio wanted to leave around 11am to visit some people. Joshua didn't quite finish, so we left some for later, and off we went.
First we drove into the country outside Camboriú. AH! Breathing the fresh air and seeing the mountainous countryside just lights a fire in me! We visited first with one lady for the first time, and then were on our way to visit another couple we had met a few weeks ago. On the way, however, we "ran into" another couple who "just happened" to have taken a drive out there and ended up on the same corner as us. We had a really great conversation with them - a definite divine appointment. The wife was a backslidden Christian. She was also heartbroken for her three nephews who were lost in the world of drugs - Crack. Two were in jail, and the third was wanted by the police. The two in jail were among the "lucky" ones, as many police here prefer to kill than to arrest. We prayed with them right there, and they asked us if they could come visit our church? Of course!
Then we walked down to the other house. We had another fantastic talk there. They had a young man die in their barn just a couple weeks ago of a drug overdose, just 15 days after being released from a rehab center! What a tragedy! This however, opened the door for us to be able to share on a deeper lever. When we left, the lady said, "There are so many people who come around and just complain about life, or talk bad about people. It is so refreshing to talk to people who have something good to say! I am so glad you came, and I feel so much peace now!" Turns out, she is a backslidden believer as well, and says she can't believe how far she has fallen... While we talked, the children walked around the farm, petting the horses, the cats, the dogs, observing the new foal, and even collecting eggs from the chickens and quails. They had a blast!
Then we drove back to town. It was nearly 2pm and we hadn't had lunch. Joshua offered to buy, so we stopped and got hotdog buns and bologna and had a little "picnic" in the car. (He is practicing for being the provider for his own family one day!) We "ran into" two girls from our church, one of whom has not come to church in a long time, and at least had the chance to show them some Jesus love with a hug and a smile.
We drove a bit more, stopped again at the "Association of the Santa Regina Dwellers", but they were still not in the office. (More about that later.)
Then we went home. It was about 3pm and I was exhausted, as well as the younger two. We laid down for our naps immediately! I got up about 4pm.
At about 4:30, Fabio left for the church to teach someone else how to use the website he built for the church. He was planning afterward to go to a drug rehab center he has been helping at.
By 5pm the little guys were awake, and we took the stroller and walked to the Group Home for Adolescents, where Andressa lives. I think it is about a mile. As we walked, I told the children about Gladys Aylward who hiked over mountains with 100 children, with no food and no time to rest, as she ushered them to safety.
We spent about two hours at the home, talking to the teens, spending some time with the lady in charge, called the "Coordinator", and discussing how we can best help out there. We also discussed many other issues, including the training of the character of children. Our children open up so many doors for us here! There are times that Fabio goes out to minister on his own, but we feel a special grace on us when we go out as a family. The children really are SUCH a blessing!
On the way home, we "ran into" one of our distant neighbors that we have been ministering to for several months. You may remember from back around September. This young man nearly died last year of cancer, after abusing his body for years with drugs and alcohol. He had more than 70% of his colon removed, and the doctors were sure he would not make it. Well, today when I met him on the road with his cousin, he was grinning from ear to ear! They had just come back from the hospital, and the doctor said that he was FINE! He said, "I'm healed! It's a miracle! The doc even said I could drink again if I wanted to!" He said he couldn't wait until we visited again, and he was now considering what to do with the rest of his life. He left skipping, literally!
When we got home it was nearly 8pm and getting dark. All the neighbor children were in the street, so we talked to them for a few minutes, and then came in to make dinner. One of the neighbor boys came to see if he could borrow our bike. Then I set to work on rice, beans, meat, and salad (Dominique picked the lettuce from our garden a few minutes before dinner.) Joshua worked on his leftover schoolwork while I cooked. To our surprise (and delight!), Fabio came home just as we were ready to eat. He had been at the church all that time, talking with and praying with people, and it had gotten too late to go to the rehab center today.
We did dinner together, cleaned up and then watched Dr. Dobson's Essentials of Discipline video, segment five, at the children's request. They love watching these videos! Tonight's segment was "To spank or not to spank" -- and Dr. Dobson's decided conclusion was that yes, we should spank our children, in love and not in anger. Funny how our children love watching these videos!
Now it was quarter to ten. We gave the kids quick showers, because they are itchy with heat rash - especially Israel who tends to sweat more than the others, and then got everyone ready for bed. After praying together, the kids were out rather quickly! It has been a busy day.
Here I am, at nearly 11pm, writing this blog post and getting ready to check my email!
Not every day is this busy. Some days we are home for the most part. The children would not be able to handle being gone this much every single day. Sometimes it doesn't seem like we are accomplishing very much. Sometimes we even wonder why we are really here! But today was encouraging - to see how many people we know around here, to see that we are slowing being able to "infiltrate" the society here, to make a difference in people's lives!
I have been reflecting lately on "the call". Really, Fabio and I firmly believe that serving the Lord and showing His love to people is (or should be!) who we are, and not just "what we do". It is not a job, although we are "full-time" for the first time now. But really, what we are doing now is not essentially different from what we did in Japan with the Peruvian community, or in America with the Mexicans, except that now Fabio is not working another job in addition, so we can do more of it! But, should this not be the normal result of walking with Jesus, being filled with His Spirit, feeding daily on His Word, loving Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength? Are we not ALL, as Christians, called to reach out to those around us, be attentive to their needs, see where we can serve society with the love of Jesus? The Lord will orchestrate the location you do this - as he has orchestrated Brazil for us currently - but the location really doesn't matter. THE CALL is not to a location! THE CALL is to live in relationship with Jesus, to love Him above all else, to die to our own desire and ambition, to hear His voice, and out of love for Him, serve Him by reaching out and sharing His love with all those that are around us.
A verse that has impacted us lately: "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." Acts 20:24 May this be the cry of our heart as well!!
P.S. I never got time today to hang the clothes out on the line, so I will have to re-wash them tomorrow. Just to throw a little non-glamorous reality into the picture! :-)