Dear friends and family,
Warmest Greetings from Brazil! We would like to begin this new year with a BIG THANK YOU, and a short recap of last year.
First a brief update about the family:
- Joshua turned 11 in July and is in 6th grade. He is happy to be wearing braces now and to be wearing the same shoe size as Mommy (which is not so small!).
- Dominique turned 9 in October and is in 4th grade. She finished reading through the Bible for the second time this year. She loves to write, make fruit salads and brownies, and play mommy to her little sister.
- Israel turned 7 in December and is nearly as tall as Dominique! He gave his life to Jesus this past year and it has been wonderful seeing a new sensitivity in Him to the things of the Lord. He continues to be sweet-spirited and is (finally!) enjoying learning to read.
- Johann turned 5 in September and works hard at keeping up with his older siblings. He has enough energy to do it! He got a skateboard for his birthday and does surprisingly well on it.
- Olivia will be turning 2 years old in March. She is the little princess of the family and gets doted on by all of her big siblings. She loves to read books, unscrew lids, and get into everything... except toys.
As for the mission, 2013 was definitely full of challenges but was also a time of seeing God's faithfulness and blessings. With Next Generation Ministry, we were able to reach hundreds of parents, through two-month courses we taught in two churches, ten weekend seminars in several different cities, several shorter talks to different groups, including for a deaf group, Fabio preaching in several churches and Elizabeth speaking at Ladies Groups five times.
In all the places we ministered, we learned that from 80 to 90 percent of all participants are first generation Christians, including the leaders and pastors. This has given us a great niche to minister: family matters with God's Word in mind. Many years of missionary work in Brazil in the past has produced a great harvest. Now years have past, and Brazil has made progress in establishing churches in the land, but it is necessary that this next generation would run with the baton of the faith. For this to happen, we know we need to continue reaching out to the lost on the streets, but we must not be negligent within the walls of our own homes to diligently "pass on our faith to our children, so that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God..." (Psalms 78)
We have applied the Word to our findings about the specific struggles of Brazilian families, have been able to develop contextualized material that challenges the cultural patterns and presents a Biblical view with practical applications to show the beauty of God's Word. The response to this has been very good.
Here are some testimonials:
"In 15 years of being a Christian I never heard such a powerful word in such a simple way about the relationship between parents and children."
"This seminar marked a new beginning in my life. I've read about the topic before but today I have my heart and mind changed and now I know what I want for my family."
"I have attended church since I was little but never heard such a loving concept about correction. The principles and practical teachings were very clear."
Some other highlights from the year:
*In March we were able to participate in a mission trip to another city, with a large group that came from our sending churches! It was a wonderful time of working together and fellowshipping together.
*Jessica Neeley stayed with us for about six weeks after the rest of the team went home, helping in ministry and family stuff and getting her missionary feet wet.
*We also had the privilege of hosting a missionary from Japan in March! It was so nice to get to feel in touch with that nation again.
*Fabio had the opportunity to begin a theological seminary this year, and is now finished with year one (out of three). This has been a very good growing experience for him.
*After taking the two-month course we taught at our local church, one father had the idea to begin a “Father/Son Camping Ministry” as an opportunity to deepen relationships in a male-bonding sort of way. Fabio has helped to organize two trips, in May and in November, where they really roughed it, camping out in the middle of nowhere! Fabio planned some character-building activities for the fathers and sons to do together, and they all had a wonderful time.
*Our previous landlord forced us to move out of our previous house, which caused quite a bit of initial stress, as houses for rent are very difficult to find. But, as it turns out, God had something better in mind for us! We found a house with a yard!! This has been HUGE. It was in quite a state when we moved in, but we offered to fix it up in exchange for a discount on rent, and the landlord accepted! So, we have spent time clearing the “jungle” and making it into a yard, painting, doing repairs, planting a garden, etc. We are SO thankful for this space for the children to work and play.
Please continue to pray for us as we seek the Lord's guidance for 2014 and for our future as well. We have many plans of advancement in every way and we look at the next months with great expectations. We desire to be effective and wise with our days and discern what the Lord's will is.
We miss you all and would love to hear from each of you. While far in distance, you are close to our hearts.
Thank you for your love, prayers and support!
Fabio and Elizabeth
Joshua, Dominique, Israel, Johann and Olivia