Monday, December 19, 2011

Weekend on the River

Our family got the opportunity to go out to Porto Esperanca this last weekend. The rains have started and it is no longer accessible by car so we met a boat at a bridge not to far from the town. It happens to be a little village a ways out of Corumba. Depending on your boat, if you drive a bit and meet a boat it is any where from 3 to 8 hours away. We happen to be praying about moving there at some point in the next year. It is still a part of Corumba and the pantanal but it would definitely be a change in lifestyle. People there make a trip to Corumba once a month to buy all the food they can’t harvest from the river or local trees and pay any bills they may have. It has a small school and there is a mine there that offers first aid. There is a military post about 20 minutes by boat that has ambulances about 40 minutes from Corumba. This was the first experiment to see how the family would do on the River. It was awesome, during the day anyhow. Night, just a bit scary.

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While there we seen a 7 or 8 foot alligator, tons of parrots, parakeets other birds, giant otters, capybara, the pastor and another guy seen a big snake, frogs, bats, fish, just a seemingly endless supply of animals. I got the opportunity to preach Saturday night. The way the villages work is that when someone is able to be there they a service and someone preaches, someone does worship, someone does Sunday school. It reminds me of stories of the old circuit preachers. Any how as I was preparing to try my hand at preaching in Portuguese, with no English speakers available, I was reading Genesis 1. How amazing to read the story of creation in somewhere that is surely a glimpse at the garden of Eden. Sitting in cities or towns where everything is buildings, concrete and shopping malls creation can loose its marvel. It can be easy to wonder if it matters how it came to be. Easy to think maybe God used evolution, maybe it only matters that you believe in God but don’t have to literally believe in the account in Genesis. I agree to be saved that probably isn’t important but sitting in that location looking at the incredible diversity around me I can only attribute it to God. The thing that really struck me was the separation of water and air, land and water, the abundance of plants, animals and fish that God put on earth. Genesis 1 describes the Pantanal. You all really need to come see it.

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I managed to get through the preaching time ok. Pastor Altair, Andre and Rodrigo all encouraged me that it made sense and people understood. They seemed genuinely encouraging that it went well. Praise God. I prayed a lot that afternoon. I am not really someone who plans word for word what I will say and memorizes it. I need to interact with the crowd, respond, flow freely. It is who I am. If I was the other it would be easier, I could write it out in Portuguese, confirm it with someone and memorize it. It really felt like a confirmation that we are to spend more time on the river, perhaps live there and go out to other villages to do services. This will require a boat. I have one I am praying about.

On our way home Moriah said to us I really didn’t want to go out there and visit. I asked what she thought now. She said she liked it. I asked if she would want to live there, her eyes lit up and she said a big “that would be so cool”. We will see. I had to go under the church to get my hammock down in the dark. We were short a mattress and I needed to put it up in the church. I was so scared I was going to get bit by a snake. They are very plentiful and it wasn’t an unwarranted fear. Here in Brazil people always stay places late into the night. There as soon as it gets a little dark the locals bolt for home. Last time we were there one of the guys who stayed a little late had a poisonous snake try and bite him as he went up the ramp to his house. Him and his wife had to go out with lights to hunt it. His wife ended up killing it. People there are tuff. Douglas a boy Altair and I got to talk with had wounds from a knife fight that were still healing. There I found myself in pitch black under the church trying to reach up and untie a hammock. The next morning a snake got chased from the bottom of the ramp, where I was, to the river.

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Sunday morning we had another little service, Altair shared, even referred to some of what I shared the night before, so apparently at least some of it got through. Then we all went down to the river for a baptism. It was beautiful.

Our kids did awesome. We loved it. We are praying. We looked at a house for sell there for about 12k dollars. I have to say we really need prayer. This wouldn’t be a little step or one to take lightly but this is where the need is. The people need disciple. Other villages need reached. I as a missionary need to be willing to go where the need is, where the average person in the church can’t easily go. Once a month isn’t enough time to disciple the young Christians. The boys end up alcoholics, the girls, many of them work as prostitutes and strippers during the fishing/tourism season. Lots of women and kids came to church, few men. To stand in the gap for those girls, for those boys someone has to go live there. Teach them love them. Lead them to go out to the others. Why not us?

The house for 12k

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Anyhow, be praying. We will probably be sending out another letter soon with information on a house fund and probably a boat fund. In the mean time if you want to begin monthly support you can do it here.

Really this was probably the best time we have had in Brazil. Our whole family was engaged in the ministry. Melissa helped with kids and food, I preached, the kids served and interacted, we visited homes. It was truly beautiful.

Monday, December 12, 2011

We might…

Last Saturday night we went to a party at one of our neighbor’s house. It was kind of a baby shower. Luckily there were no stupid games in sight so I stuck around. It was such a simple house, we were sitting out front on simple chairs in the dirt yard. Lots of kids, a few neighbors and later on some of their family from in the town showed up. One of the couples that showed up just looked like they didn’t belong. Obviously family that had some how ended up middle class instead of living in the shack next door. Their apparent discomfort with the location got me thinking, especially when the food came out.


Growing up in the United States we are so fearful of food, water, people, new areas. We fear the mights. If you eat that you might get sick, if you drink that you might get sick, if you go there you might get robbed. This meat might have gone bad we better throw it out. Living here I have had to start dealing more with the probable and less with the maybes. You probably won’t get sick and you very likely won’t die, the meat is probably fine, the eggs left on the counter must be fine everyone here eats them. I have found myself often thinking about the maybes and having to apply reality to them. The food is probably a bit dirty, they probably didn’t wash their hands real good, it might have been old but it wont kill me. The reality is the people whose house I was at are likely on their way to hell.


Everything in me says don’t eat this, don’t drink the water offered to you, you don’t know where it came from but the faces in front of me need Jesus. Even if all the worst bacteria in the world are in the cup in front of me will I drink? Will I let my kid eat and drink? Absolutely. Jesus didn’t call me to worry about the maybes he called me to worry about souls. What ever the risks they are nothing compared to the potential gains. If I refuse and don’t relax how can I present the love of God to them. Who will disciple them? It takes life on life contact to make a difference and who am I to think I am too good to be one of those lives?


There are very few rewards that don’t have risk in life. How often are we willing to take risks for financial gain, to win a girl, to get ahead? Why are we so afraid to take risks to see people come to Jesus?

As I evaluate where Brazil is as a nation and think back on my history of missions trips I wonder what things could be like if we worried less about the maybes. I think we have tended to preach the gospel then retreat to safety. We have created in Brazil an environment where few would reject Christ, many would pray a prayer but few have been discipled. We have lived apart from the people we say we want to reach.

I wonder if we don’t do this even in the US? I am aware that it was rare I went around my neighborhood and visited with my neighbors. I didn’t go sit at the bar down the street and listen to peoples stories. I didn’t pray for those around me. I didn’t know who they were.

Today I seen one of the guys I met at the party at the little store by the house. We said hi and talked. I don’t know if I will ever see him come to Christ but I know if I hadn’t eaten a very scary piece of toast with some kind of tuna on it (I despise tuna, grossest thing on earth) I wouldn’t have recognized him today much less talked with him. I know a few days ago my landlord came to tell me his mom, she had bypass surgery for five arteries, was doing better and how much it meant to her when he told her I was praying for her.

I am learning that sacrifice and risk are the only things that will lead to touched lives. What areas can I continue to stretch, where do I need to sacrifice more? Where can you take risks, what can you give up? We need to be more concerned with the good mights. What we might see happen in the kingdom of God if we risk more.