Wednesday, November 30, 2011

God knows

Looking back on the last few years is an interesting process. 4 years ago we were finishing off getting out of debt, closing the business, praying about going back to YWAM. God seemed to through us a curveball when he led us to our now beloved church WCC. Taking a job at a Baptist church didn’t seem to make sense. It seemed to be starting over. Though doctrinally I am pretty well aligned I didn’t have deep roots, I was wanting to go into missions starting over in a new church, building new relationships seemed to be going the wrong direction.

We were amazed at how quickly we fell in love with our church. Amazed at how God used us bringing more passion for foreign missions and how he has used WCC to launch us to Brazil. What we didn’t see was how he would continue to use our church not only to bless us, to visit with us on skype, to share with us financially, to pray for us but also to open doors for us here. God sees so much further down the road then we do. Here we are sitting in Corumba MS, Brazil, a million miles from anywhere. We had no connections and no idea what would await us but had got excited about the Pantanal (swamp land, buyou). The remote wetlands that are full of life, including people. An area of Brazil still in great need of missions. Because God grafted us into the Baptist movement we have been able to show up and see God use that to open doors with a very cool association of Baptist churches. God’s foreknowledge of Him bringing us here and our need for this connection amazes me.

We have chosen to attend the first Baptist church here. We are really enjoying the people. The pastor invited us to his home for dinner last night and we looked at hundreds of pictures of boat ministry out in the Pantanal. He is encouraging us and excited to help us minister there. Had we came on our own with no connection to our home church we would not have had the opportunities we already have had.


Last weekend Daniel and I went out to a little village with a group from the church. They were celebrating 9 years of consistent meetings. They were also beginning a commitment to going to the village every 15 days to train up leadership. We as a family are going to go out a little early the next time and wait a few days for the group. I am excited beyond what I can describe for Melissa and the girls to get to go. I met so many cool people the last time. The leader of the little congregation is a fishing Guide. I am having trouble not packing up to go right now. He has a set of pictures on his wall of his wife with a couple 50 pound catfish, assorted other family pics with piranha and what not, also of the whole family around a very large anaconda.

The people from the villages were really kind and simple, some came from other places by boat. It was very different. Saturday night as it began to get dark they all scurried home so nothing would eat them on the way. There are lots of kids and women but not too many men in the villages. I don’t know if they leave to go work or just aren’t around but I know it results in a lot of problems. A lot of the girls go to work in prostitution fairly early. There is a tourism season where a lot of people come to fish it creates a demand for girls. Many parents even turn to this with their daughters as a source of income. Pastor Altair and I were both very concerned for a girl named Jacqueline. It really appeared she was perhaps being groomed for a bad end. Alcoholism is a huge problem as well as a lack of health care in many villages. Boats pick up a lot of the kids for school, some kids in far remote villages even spend the week at school and only return home on weekends. Last night Altair and his wife were encouraging us to focus on the river. Telling us that is where missionaries are needed. Discipleship, food, medical, teaching the bible as many people don’t read. There is huge need, but we must wait on the Lord. There is need everywhere. It is hard to be patient and make sure what the Lord is leading. I want to sell the van, buy a boat and take off.

If nothing else comes of it Daniel and I had a great time. He caught and held a piranha, touched a baby alligator, seen how many people live much different then us. God is doing a great work in us and I can only hope using us to do a great work in the lives of others.

Thank you again for partnering with us, loving us, praying for us. You are dear and important to our family.

Friday, November 18, 2011

an outsiders perspective

I love Brazil, I love the people, weather, food and how simple life is here.In Corumba people sit in chairs outside their houses sometimes all day drinking terere and watching life go by. I’ve often wondered why so many do this. Is it because it’s to hot in their houses or they enjoy watching the kids play in the streets. The more I learn the culture here the more I can begin to understand and become like them. My theory is that they sit outside their house to say “Hey I’m here I’m available to talk to if you want, I’m friendly and want to connect with you”. As an American living here we tend to want to do the opposite. Run in our houses turn on the T.V. or computer be with our family not knowing that it probably comes across as “ I don’t want company, I’m not friendly and leave me alone. I remember when I was a kid growing up in the mid west people would sit in their lawn chairs on the front porch and everybody new each other. Somehow things have changed, we tend to stay in our houses and we never really get to know our neighbors. Maybe I’m wrong  but as Christians shouldn’t we be “available” shouldn’t I be more friendly willing to sit out on the street and say “hey I’m here if you want to talk or share some terere”. I’m sensing that here in Corumba I will be alone a lot tending to the kids, cleaning, cooking and helping with the kids school. So far the ministry that we see is to dangerous for the kids, or on a boat that doesn’t fit all of us, or to late at night. Eventually there will be family ministry for us or a boat our whole family can be on but for now Ben must be the one who goes out to the drug addicts prostitutes or whoever else. As a mom and a missionary I’m asking God where my place is? I know it’s first of all a wife and a mother but I have a burning desire to help, to pray and to love people. So back too my first thoughts. The Lord brought this to my attention, am I willing to step completely out of my comfort zone. To sit on the street in front of my house and be available for my neighbors. To visit them to introduce myself and to bring food to them and to pray for them. I want to be willing Lord..

    Last night I was able to meet one of the mothers of a couple of girls that come to our gate and beg for Juliah to come and play. I got the chance to sit with her in front of her house and chat for some time. I found out she has 15 kids yes that’s right 15 kids 1o grandkids and has been married for 32 years. We got to talk about the culture here and where she works. The states and Barak Obama, everybody loves talking about him. I then meet some of her daughters and a son and some of her grandkids. I was able in the end to tell her my testimony about what the Lord has done in our marriage. That with out Him and His grace we would not be married and we would definitely not be living in Brazil. She listened and I pray that even though I speak horrible Portuguese that I somehow was able to shed a little light on how big God’s grace is and his love for us.

I have been meeting more and more of the neighbors here the last couple of days and sharing some terere with them. What I really want is a natural friendship, nothing fake or awkward just simple friends and being able to share all the things God has done in my life.  Can’t we all be used like? Reaching out to our neighbors being willing to stop what we are doing and just talk to them. Maybe you do, if so you are far ahead of me.Smile

Friday, November 11, 2011

Corumba, the adventure begins

We are finally here and in a house. I can’t say what is going to happen but I can tell you it is going to be an adventure. We are without water more then we have it. It is hot and I desperately want to take a cold shower. Even if we had water it would be warm. Everyone has been sick, tired, had break downs and wanted to quit. I would imagine it is especially hard for my parents, who are helping us get settled. I know they think we are crazy. I know I am crazy.
For us to move here I remembered my friend Tim saying the romance had to die if they would one day go to china. The adventure of living on a frontier is little relief when you want to sit in McDonalds eating a big mac. I did my best to kill the romance and make the decision to come here with a clear head. Thinking of just how hard it would be. In fact I did such a good job I no longer wanted to come. When we got here I looked for every reason to quit and leave. I prayed over and over again that God would show me I was wrong and that he is leading us to Rio de Janeiro.
He didn’t. He opened a house for us to get into. Bigger then I ever expected though it isn’t perfect. He has provided even more contacts in ministry. He is giving me visions for how we can encourage the overall church movement in the city. I have been out on the streets until 2 am feeding and evangelizing drug addicts, transvestite prostitutes and the homeless. I have met with pastors and missionaries and plan to go tonight to feed more homeless. All in a week I spent trying to convince myself to quit and leave.
Right now we just have a contract on the house for 2 months. I don’t know if we will still have the ability to continue then but for now we are here. Sick vomiting people and all we are here. Pray that God gives us the ability to learn and grow into this city. To deal with the heat, the dust, the lack of water. To be witnesses to the many neighbors and to be bold. Pray we move without fear but have wisdom in a city where we stick out like you can’t imagine.
We are blessed by the Lord to be here. The kids are getting healthy and we are happy to be together. Thank you for your prayers and your love. Look forward to seeing you all, hopefully before too long.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Through the Fog

Sometimes in life as you listen to God you turn onto a road that seams easy and bright. Next thing you know you feel like you are in a dark forest with a heavy fog wondering if you heard God or perhaps if He is even there. Thankfully those dark, unsure tests of faith don’t last forever. Eventually you pass through to the other side where you can see clearly once again.

I think we are passing through one of those times. We chose to move to Corumba, began communicating and planning. Everything looked easy and bright. Then came the doubts and fears. We don’t have enough money, it is too far, too hot, too everything. Maybe we should go to Rio, be by the beach, connect with ministries there that have funding connections? Maybe we should rent a house here and work with YWAM? All sorts of doubts enter.

Praise God for these tests of faith. When I was in YWAM Los Angeles we used to say look to God’s face not His hand. I believe that is what God is saying to us now. We don’t know how this is going to work. We don’t have a house lined up. We don’t have the funds to move our stuff. We don’t have the ability to do this without a miracle from God. What better time to obey? There is no way we can take credit and no way we can take it for granted. Only by God, through God and with God can we move on. He is calling us He will finish the work He has completed.

The amazing thing is looking back over the last few weeks we see so many lessons learned in such a short time. So many confirmations. We have been resting and praying here at the YWAM base. We had the opportunity to receive my parents and help them get started on their 4 month trial run. We were blessed to be able to do outreach with the base in the favela down the hill. To invite kids to a program at the local Methodist church they are currently serving.

God has used this time to confirm in our hearts we are called. Without a doubt He has called us to missions. First as with all, to love Him. We however have the unique call to serve as long term, foreign missionaries. As a part of this, it is also confirmed that at least for now and probably forever that call is to the poor, broken and hurting of the world. Also that the best door to knock on is the kids. They open the door to the entire family. Also God is confirming my desire to plant churches and raise up pastors in their communities.

He also is confirming it is our time to move on. To go in faith to Corumba, or probably wherever we would choose, to step out and lead. To create and pioneer ministries and inroads with those who don’t know Jesus. We haven’t been lazy. We have learned language, culture, touched lives. Connected with churches, jocum, students at semear, ran a feeding program for the hurting, did youth groups, outreach in a favela, children’s ministry and much more. However it is time to focus on growing long term works.

Time to lead. Sometimes that will mean walking down easy roads but sometimes it will mean keep going in the dark forest. Don’t quit until we get to the other side. Be praying for us. We are following Jesus and hopefully leading others to Him.

We are moving. We will need to see significant provision for the moving expenses. We will need to see a house. We also are going to concentrate on raising our monthly support as that has dwindled the last three months.

We love and appreciate you all.

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Shepherd's Staff Mission Facilitators

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