Thursday, November 29, 2012

What is different?

After Adam and Bethany left I found myself processing what we had downloaded on them. Stresses, fears, feelings of inadequacy and failure. God is doing a work here, in us primarily. We are weekly in Bolivia, disciple neighbors here in Brazil, starting a bible study in our home to work on reaching neighbors and a bit more. I, Ben, know God called us here, we like it here against all reason. We have no desire to leave, to quit, to fail but so many mornings I wake and just want to go back to the known. A job, a church where my kids have friends, one simple task. Make money, pay bills, do a little ministry, love my family, so on.

The thing that is different here is that we are in between. We have a church here we enjoy attending with friends. However because we are here as missionaries we can’t fully participate. We have other tasks in other worlds. When we are ministering in those other worlds we can’t fully relax and let our kids just have friends because we are often called to a “dangerous” world. Poverty so often has drugs, molestation and all other kinds of hurts mixed in.

Mixed with the fact that Corumba is almost 300 miles down a road to nowhere helps all this lead to a feeling of being on an island. Lost, lonely, unsure are all words I could use to describe my emotional state.

As process all this and how to move forward I find the Lord reminding me of many things. Primarily this is no different than I felt in business, working at our church, when I had a job, buying a house, in marriage, in being a father. The struggles I have with my own insufficiency is just the realization that I am man. I am week, sinful, fleshy man. Incapable on my own of good works. I am so desperately in need of the Holy Spirit I almost cannot breath without Him.

The thing I am being taught, I seem to never learn, is that the cross is truly my only hope. The one thing I can cling too, lean on, desire, strive for and fully succeed and be satisfied in is Jesus. Why, because it is the one thing I can be totally content and yet never have enough. If my hope is money I can desire more but cannot be satisfied, if my hope is a house it will never be complete or right, if it is family I will never be satisfied, I am far to inadequate as a husband and father.

When Jesus died on the cross the price was paid, my weak inadequate nature, that is unable to please God was paid for. My in ability to please God to live by law no longer maters. What I am haunted by is the realization that like Adam, not Haile, first Adam, I would be unable to resist the simple temptation of one fruit. I have the same weakness in me that my first ancestor possessed but that price is paid.

The joy, the amazing joy of the cross doesn’t stop there. Not only was the price paid but Christ rose. Death had no power over him. The power of the resurrection gives me hope that amidst the realization of the complete mess that I am, I can trade it for something new. Today, as I should all days, I wake up and desire to put on the new man. To live in the spirit and forget this weak flesh. I want to know Jesus, I want to know Him so intimately that I begin to become the reflection of Him that I both originally was created to be and was reborn into.

I was born into weakness and failure, I am painfully aware of that. I feel so little success in my life but the failures way heavy upon me. I am reborn into immortality, into eternal life, life now. I must choose to look past my flesh, to look solely on the cross, to let the Spirit of God take over and rewrite everything about me. This is no different now then 4 or 5 years ago. Being a missionary or a business man is no different. I am in desperate need of Jesus, desperate need of the Gospel, full of hope not because of me but because Jesus, only Jesus.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

some updates on ministry

Hey all, I wanted to give some updates on some things God has been doing in our lives and the lives of those we are involved in.
   I am (Melissa) happy to say my friend Kayla and her family are doing good. God has been blessing them with their business of selling salgados. Everyday they bake and sale these door to door and at their kids school. They seem to be making enough money to buy food, diapers and clothing. They have been also hungry for fellowship with other Christians  and attend church with us on a regular basis. Our church here has welcomed them with open arms and continues to help them with their physical needs as well. Kayla and I have started again with our discipleship. Tuesday mornings we go the house of our friend Anna (she attends our church to) and breaks down the word for Kayla. It’s been so cool to see how God really does what he says “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Praise God for all he has been doing in their lives. Please continue to pray for them that they would be strengthened by God’s word and keep growing and trusting Him.
  Also on Tuesdays Ben and I have been going to Bolivia, He goes into the prison with Ricco and others to encourage the believers there and to share God’s love. I personally haven't been inside the prison, I have been at the gates though and sometimes can’t believe that there are children living there. Our pastor Altair went yesterday and explained in detail what the inside looked like to me and Luryan. He was shocked to find out 26 men sleep in one room with only two fans. it might not sound that bad but if you felt the heat here you’d realize how bad that is. The men there have heat rash and also I have seen it on the girls. Not to mention mosquito bites and disease from such a cramped environment. I’m not trying to paint a horrible picture that you would feel bad but that you would pray.
  I have been reading a lot about the structure there in Bolivia. The government really tries to keep the families together even if one ends up in prison. They believe that it is better for the children to stay bonded with their parents than to live on the streets or with other family members that can’t even afford to feed them. I get that I even agree to but not all prisons in Bolivia are a picture perfect situation for kids to be growing up in. Now do I want them living on the streets..No.. do I want them living with relatives that don’t love or care for them..No. I do know that there has to be be another option for these children. Ricco and his wife are praying and trusting that the Lord will provide a way for these kids in Puerto Suarez to have a safe and loving environment to grow up in. Please continue to pray for them and that the doors will open fully for this to happen.
   When Ben goes to the prison me and some girls from the church pick up the little girls that live in the prison and bring them to the missionary base. Where we invite other neighborhood girls to a little bible school. Where we have stories, crafts, snacks and this week a puppet show. Please pray for us to show God’s love to the girls and also the moms that have been coming. Also for our Spanish..I speak zero..thank God for others that do.
    This last weekend we were able to go to Porto Esperanca. It seems like every time we plan to go something comes up. I get sick or Ben does or the car breaks down or something else happens but this weekend thank God we were good. Ben’s parents went with us, His father shared in the church on Saturday night and Ben translated for him. The message he shared really impacted me and the leader of the church there. There is a huge need for discipleship there. A one on one, life on life kind of discipleship. Our church here plans on going on the 10th of November to do some remolding and fixing some problems with the church building. Then again on the 24th of November for the anniversary of the church. Ben and I plan on going again along with Adam and Bethany who will be here on the 15th of November.:) YEAH!!!!! Again please pray that God would use us and our church here to really disciple the believers there and that the church there would grow.  
    As for myself and my family we are doing well. God has personally been challenging me to trust Him, to have faith in Him and to seek Him whole heartedly. I just finished reading the autobiography of George Muller and have been really challenged in these things. God wants to bless his children and wants to use us for His purposes. Am I willing to wake up early everyday to seek Him? Am I willing to give with no thought of return? Am I willing go outside of my comfort zone and touch the brokenhearted? Do I believe God can actually do the things He says He will do in His word?  I hope so..I’m praying and will have faith that He will accomplish what he wants to through me. It might take my whole life.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What will we sacrifice?

Today I find myself asking what am I willing to sacrifice for the sake of the gospel. For the sake not only of the gospel but to go to those who seem to have no value. We find ourselves at the end of a lonely highway in the middle of nowhere. Spending time with neighbors, going to a prison in a nowhere frontier town, in slums, a tribal village.

If I get real honest when I look at most of these people they are never going to matter much, not in the way we think of as a society. They are very unlikely to change, to get educated, to tithe, to send their kids to college. Maybe a few in our neighborhood as society is making more room for that here, but the tribal kids I was with today? 2012 they are living in mud huts, sitting there chewing coke leaves, drinking terere without much ambition or teeth. Thank you Ricco for passing it to me.

Worse yet are some of the prisoners. Not only are they unlikely to contribute to society they are a drain. Two new guys today were in a dirty, disgusting little processing cell. They asked us to pray for them. Ricco asked why they were there, the one we could understand said he beat up his woman for trying to leave him. Great, a #@#$$#@ and I was praying for him.

We have other connections too, some of which seem more important, or at least easier to stomach. Still Corumba is the end of the world and not likely to amount to much. Even if I became a great missionary to the wealthiest people here no one who didn’t already know me would be likely to hear of me.

It could be easy to convince myself to go back to the US, to minister in my own culture. Shoot I could work at McDonalds, be far more comfortable, lead a bible study, do outreach with our church and it would be just as valid and important of ministry. There is no great high calling in being here.

I could really get ambitious and go pastor a church somewhere in the US making a fair living, be in easier circumstances and be used by God just as much as here.

What is it that makes us stay? Even more to be excited to stay? What is it that makes the price seem so small to love the people who don’t deserve it?

Today I really believe it is because I get to taste, touch and sense what God’s heart for me might be. You see I don’t really feel that way about the people I describe above. It is doubtless how I would feel without God’s love though. Equally as doubtless that in truth I am far more worthless then them to God.

Ricco preached today at the prison and I just enjoyed listening. He shared how Jesus called Lazarus from the dead but spiritually speaking we are all dead without Christ. Amen.

In Christ I am no longer the dirty prisoner that makes me uncomfortable to talk to. I am a loved child of him that can take joy in sharing that love with others. Sharing that love with those that don’t deserve it, all of us.

What an amazing Lord we have, if he can place value in those beautifully dirty tribal people there may be a little hope for me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Home again Home again

We are back in Corumba after 2 months abroad in the States. First we had a great time with my family in Kansas City. We went to Colorado, we went swimming, we ate a lot of American food and  I was even able to see my brother become senior pastor of his church after many long years of being on staff there.( God's timing always amazes me.) His church which is called Cross Points was the church where I (Melissa) received Jesus as my Savior. My parents attended this church when they were married. I went on my first outreach to Mexico with this church. It has a lot of Memories for me.So I was excited when my brother asked the Missions board to interview us as a new missionary family.
  After that we headed to Oregon where we stayed with Ben's parents (who are moving to Brazil in October to help be the pastor to the pastors in the Calavary Chapel churches of Brazil ) We had a wonderful time with our church Willamette Community, we had the privilege of sharing one Sunday morning and a Thursday night. We also got to meet a lot of new people there and made many new friends. We got to go to the coast, to a friends cabin, Ben even got to go tuna fishing and we went camping. We did many fun and relaxing things there. We also helped his parents with a garage sale and moving out of their house so they can rent it. On our way home we ended up in Miami for a few day to recoup. Other than losing a computer and someone taking 300 dollars from us we had a great time. Miami is a very interesting city where very few speak English and you have endless options of  authentic ethnic foods. The beaches are beautiful and the people are very friendly. It was a great time before we headed home.
  We left Miami for Santa Cruz, we had ten bags of luggage and some carry on bags plus four kids and a stroller. We were diffidently a sight. Thank God we had help in Bolivia. We meet an American missionary there who is fluent in Spanish. He picked us up at the airport and drove us to New tribes Missions base were we stayed the night for super cheap. What a God send he was, we had lunch with his family at Burger king and meet the rest of his family. They have been in Bolivia for 12 years now and he is the pastor of a church there. The next day we headed home by train to a border city in Bolivia called Puerto Suarez. It took 12 hours over night. It felt good to be in South America again. When we arrived Riccardo picked us up and his wife had Cafe da manha ready for us. What a blessing. Upon arriving in Corumba we noticed that everything was dead and brown. The beauty of this place was gone. With out rain for 2 months it had caused fires and drought. The streets are really dusty and Ben's Asthma started up and temperatures have been around 100 to 103 all week. Pray it rains not only for the regrowth of plants and trees but for Ben's asthma as well. Our house too was covered in dirt even the inside was covered in dust. We spent the whole next 2 days cleaning dirt off everything and we had an infestation of cockroaches in our house. I mean hundreds of these nasty guys everywhere. If you know me you know I hate them more than anything. I've had them crawl on me in the night and in the shower I just despise them more than anything. Anyways we think we have the problem fixed cause we keep finding their dead corpses everywhere.
  Other than the mess and bugs it was good to be home, I got to drink terere with my neighbors, play with the kids by some salgados and talk with my friend Kayla and her brother Wallace and her mother. Even had a barb-b-Que in Bolivia with our friends Rico and Larissa. They got us up to speed with the work they are doing there.
The kids started school again, with the missing computer Daniel has had to wait till the girls are done to start, but don't worry I've put him to good use :) So things around here are getting back to normal for the most part. You could be in prayer over the following
  1. Our house situation, do we stay and keep renting or look some where else.
   2. We are moving the tags on our Kombi  from Foz to Corumba, So pray for easy transition as you have to have the car in good working order for them to approve.
    3. The kids school, they would finish the year well and that I would have patience.
   4. Our family to be united together in ministry as well as spiritually.
  God bless you all and I look forward to life and ministry here in the Pantanal and keeping you updated on all the stuff the Lord does. Melissa

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Connections, Porto, Neighbors all a part of God’s plan

2 weeks and then we are in the States. Wow! time goes by so fast it is almost bittersweet. It is hard to leave things here yet we are really looking forward to seeing friends, family our church and much more.

I am excited to see God working in the lives of our neighbors and friends and the people in Porto Esperanca. Our family just returned from a short trip to Porto. We were able to visit families there and reunite some and bring together a little church service and of course some fishing. We went with our neighbors TT and Kayla and their 4 kids.

For all who don’t know the story behind this couple I will bring you up to date. When we moved here to Corumba God opened up a house for us that was perfect. We live on a little Chacarra (farm) in a neighborhood called Cristo Redentor. It’s a beautiful place full of wildlife and tree covered mountains. It is also a poor neighborhood full of hurting families, crazy kids and lot’s and lot’s of mosquitos. It’s right where God wants us too. I met Kayla and TT after a few weeks of living here.

She was pregnant at the time with her 4th child. She lives next door to her parents and their dozens of kids. Their house is very simple 2 small rooms and a kitchen and one bathroom with just a toilet. When we meet TT  he wasn’t very friendly and she was very reserved with me. I had a very hard time understanding her and I’m sure she couldn’t understand me either but I kept coming around and trying. She invited me to her baby shower and then our friendship grew.

She had major problems with her pregnancy. She passed out and quit breathing TT had to resuscitate her and call an ambulance. The baby (Joao) had to stay in the hospital. This brought down many walls with them. We prayed with them in their home for their little baby one night and I knew God was doing a work in their hearts drawing them into Him.  Joao eventually got better and came home.

A few months later I found out that TT  was arrested and in jail. Trying to earn money for his family illegally. Now Kayla was left alone with 4 kids and no money and no job.  Again I believe God draws us to Him in mysterious ways. Kayla ended up with no power and no food. We had a friend from our church come and try to help her with a state program for families with dads in jail. We prayed for her and our friend gave her her testimony and more walls fell down in Kayla's heart. After this she asked me to take her to church. One night our pastor here was teaching on the widow with the little bit of oil and how God used that little bit to make more and more. In the end he asked for people to come forward. right before he was about to pray she pulled my sleeve and said “let’s go Melissa” I lost it and  cried and thanked God for the work he was doing in her. She changed in that moment I seen it on her face Joy sweet Joy only from salvation.

She started going with us every week to church and I began to pay her a little to help clean the house. I knew that she needed more than just money. It is my responsibility to help her grow, to teach her things, to disciple her. I prayed asking God I know my Portuguese isn’t to the point were I can walk her through the bible. I needed someone willing to help her. God answered that and I meet a wonderful friend named Ana Paula who wanted to help. We go to her house once a week and she walks her through the bible verse by verse, very cool!

Four months later TT was home. The judge released him on a sort of probation. He was home and I was glad I couldn’t imagine being alone with our kids. He to started coming to church with us and the children also. We have been trying to help them and be a good influence and Godly example for them.  Anyways back to our trip to Porto. TT grew up in Porto he has family and friends there. His sister attends the Baptist church there where we have been going and helping. Kayla and I thought it would be neat to go there with our families since she has never been there and met his family before. We ended up staying at his sisters Pousada (little hotel) with our family's together.  We did a little church service with some food for the people there. During the service a lady came forward and said she was very thankful to see TT there and that she remembered TT years ago not wanting anything to do with God. I was pleased to know that God is working in his heart.

   I had a good time visiting TT’s niece and listening to all her stories about living on the river for so many years. Stories of hardships and missionary’s coming and going. Medical boats only coming once month, deaths on the river, crocodiles eating her chickens. What a different life there. I’m ready to return there and spend time with the people there again but I know we need time in the States. Time for refreshment and prayer. But we still need to remember those here. Please be in prayer for TT and Kayla that they would continue going to church and continue growing and making friends there. For work for him and that through this her family would come to know Jesus. For Yara her sister who comes with us too to church and for us for safe travels. Bless you all and love you all Melissa

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

We are weak

The last few weeks have gone by in a whirlwind.  We have seen a dozen doctors, MRI’s, x-ray's, blood tests and a surgery. Thank God most of the hard stuff is in the past now. Juliah is a trooper she continues to go 3 times a week for a new cast and cleaning. She has finished her antibiotics and meets with the doctor again today.  For all who don’t know what happened I’ll sum it up for you. A week ago last Sunday Juliah fell off the bunk bed and broke her arm. On the way to the hospital Ben felt sick halfway to the hospital Ben got out of the car and wanted to switch drivers as he was going around the car he fainted. He hit his head pretty hard. Juliah ended up needing surgery and Ben ended up with a swollen eye the next day or so. Ben had MRI’s and X-ray's to find out he damaged some membrane in his sinuses. After all that he ended up getting sick with what we think was a mild case of Dengue fever. Wow I’m tired even after writing all that. We also almost lost our tickets to the States but praise God we didn't.

In reality these are minor things in comparison to others, compared to cancer or some fatal illness or even death.  But even in those things God continues to walk with us and give us strength.

I have been reading in 2 Corinthian's 12 about the trials Paul faced, this “thorn in his flesh” we really don’t know for sure what that was. We can guess it could have been a illness of some sort or a spiritual thing or even persecution. It says Paul prayed 3 times for God to remove it from him yet all  God said was “My grace is sufficient for you,for My strength is made perfect in weakness” God didn’t remove this “thorn” he used it to keep Paul dependent on Him and destroyed his pride.  I’ve learned through the  difficulties in my life that I have a chance here to have a deep dependence on Him and to give up my self reliance. It is so hard to do that when the world claims self sufficiency every where.

Teaching Juliah about this today gave me a little chuckle. I tried explaining to her how God uses things like a broken arm to trust Him and let Him help us and how He is there. She looked at me and said she really didn’t understand, but shook her head anyways. I wasn't going to give up. A couple minutes later she was in the kitchen trying to pour water for herself but she was struggling. She was trying to hold the cup in one hand and looking at the bottle of ice cold water on the counter. I smiled and ran to help her. I said look this is a great example of how God works. If you had both your arms working you could of done it all your self no problem, but here I am wanting to help you pour your water and I like to help you and I don’t like to see you struggle. Jesus is the same way Juliah he is there to help when we are weak. Through your weakness He is made strong. She looked at me and took her ice cold water and  smiled, my heart broke cause I know she understood this time.

   I just want to say thanks to all who helped and prayed for us during this time especially our church. We love you and miss you all. 075

Monday, April 23, 2012

Living the Gospel, Speaking the Truth, Loving the Lost

The last couple of weeks have been much busier than normal. I feel like we have been running without an idea where we are going. At the same time it has shown a lot of fruitfulness.

One of the things I have moved away from here in Brazil is an emphasis on the “sinners prayer”. I have struggled on this issue for years anyways. I absolutely believe that we are here first and for most in every situation to lead people to Christ. Absolutely above all else spiritual salvation. The problem is that a prayer to ask Jesus into our heart, even one confessing our sins seams to leave me feeling short of having made a disciple. That is our biblical mandate. In the end a disciple is someone who has submitted to Jesus to the point of having died to oneself. No longer me but him. Especially here in a religious country it is very easy get someone to say an “our father” or “hail marry” in us protestants case a “dear Jesus” but do those things lead to salvation? Perhaps, but is salvation enough? No, we are called, as I said to make disciples.

A disciple isn’t someone who has prayed a prayer, changed their clothes or quit drinking beer. Still working on that one myself. A disciple is someone who lives like you do, acts like you do, strives to pass you. This can’t be made at a large event or small event but is made in the heart. If I am going to become a disciple, to seek discipleship from someone I have to see someone I crave to be like. Perhaps this could happen sitting in a church listening to a pastor or at a weekend event but if I am not connected with them it is only desire. Discipleship takes one on one contact, time, progress, steps back and sometimes much pain.

As missionaries we are first accountable to God, then to our church, then to our supporters. Our first challenge is to seek and obey God, our next is to maintain a relationship with out home church and then to communicate so those who can’t be here physically can share in the joy of their ministry.

Seeking God should be the easiest but can be the most challenging. First of all it is easy to wake up each day and rush out the door. Just as if we had a normal job. It takes discipline to get up early, spend time in the word, pray together. It is essential. Second you can fall into a trap of trying to be busy, to write good newsletters, to get pictures. It may be God is leading you to do something a bit routine, to work with the same few people week in week out. It is hard not to let the second and third challenges begin to pressure the first one.

Maintaining the relationship with our home church takes work on both parts. We must be in communication one with the other. We need to remember to pray for one another. We need to desire to care about what the other is doing at a long distance. It is too easy to begin to forget how much you love each other and how much a part of one another we are. This is why we must leave our home for 2 months and visit the states. Imagine, this is our home, as much as we miss the states it will be hard to be away. This is why we also really hope to see some visitors come here.

Third, we need to remember that people go to work, not always fun to enable us to be here. You give up trips out, perhaps things you need in order to put the lord first. We need to remember that and discipline ourselves to be busy. We also need to share with you what is happening.

Here is a little of that joy. We are working on some bigger projects as I shared last time. One of the newer opportunities is to engage in some ministry in Bolivia. To pray with some people about getting an orphanage up and going there. Much more on this to come. We will be trying to spend Tuesdays there. I will go to a prison and help Ricardo do a service. Melissa will go with the little girls who happen to live in that prison to a day care. To play with and love on these very hurting girls. I haven’t been many places that have impacted me like a prison without cells where men, women and children all live together. All food is brought in by family, if they have no family they have to find a way to trade for it. It is doubtless a very sick sad place. It is cramped and broken, never built for a prison in the first place. Just 4 rooms, 2 bathrooms and  a little prison yard. Absolutely crowded. Something needs to happen, little girls 2-4 do not belong there.

In the meantime, as we run around and try and start things our main objective is to make disciples. This has started to go really well. We have invested a lot of our time, especially Melissa, in Kaela. A 21 year old mother of 4. She lives in a shack and her boys 2 and 3 play naked in the street. Her husband recently went to jail. We have stepped in, given her rides, brought a social worker to her house to explain her rights, given her food, hired her to clean the house and given her old clothes encouraging to sell them. We have seen her both make progress and take advantage of us. It can be tiring.

We also have written a lot about Yara, Kaelas younger sister. Yara is 11. When she fist started coming around she really didn’t obey. She likes to start fights with the kids, even now sometimes. We are seeing her learn to obey. To listen and she is becoming a real joy to have at the house.

This last week they both asked to go to church with us. This is going back to what we feel called to do. We want to make disciples. We have done what we can to show them who Christ is. We have spoken truth, but haven’t pushed for prayers or responses. Now we are seeing them ask to go to church, ask about God to seek it for themselves. I believe we are taking the slow road. I also believe though it is going to pay off with deep results. We may not write about huge numbers of people coming forward, big evangelistic events. Those things are AWESOME, I wish I was called to that, seriously. We can tell you that we are seeing the beginning of changes in these two girls family history.

Yara wants to be a Vet. I want to help her continue to hunger and dream for that. To see her avoid kids at 16.

I also can tell you that Juninho and his sisters came and asked for a ride to a birthday. They weren’t asking nice and I had company so I gave a firm no. A few minutes later the lady that is usually hard and rumored and appears to be the neighborhood drug dealer came over and very politely asked for a ride. Explained they don’t get to go to birthdays and had no other way to go. I of course took them and now she is very friendly with me. Thankfully not to friendly as she isn’t little.

Pray that we can help Kaela grow into a self responsible Christ reliant person. It isn’t just her you are effecting but her four kids. They are 0-6 and without our help are likely to live the same hard life. If she changes they change.

Pray for Yara. Pray we get the chance to help her achieve her dreams. To avoid the mistake most of her many sisters have made, her parents have 15 kids. Pray we can find a Christian vet to mentor her.

Pray our relationship grows with Maggie, Juninho, and their family. Pray we get to know their neighbor better. Pray we have the energy emotionally to continue to build relationship with very hurting people.

Also pray as we visit the US this summer we can get the resources lined up we need to expand from relationships on a few corners and our able to multiply these things.

Pray for the Brazilian Christians watching us. I have heard many times lately aren’t these people all just lazy. I have heard that in the states too. Discipleship goes beyond the people we are specifically targeting. There are lots of people watching us.



Lyon Family

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ponte, EDT

The recent couple weeks have begun to shed light on what need we can attempt to meet as a family. We have been here in Corumba about 5 months now. We have gotten established, a decent home, some ministry relationships, a church family, a few friends and some things we like to do. There is still a lot of adjustment to do, living in such a remote location but we are getting there. The biggest struggle you can pray for is sickness. We all go through rough patches, seemingly lots of them.

I (Ben) had started to build a bit of relationship with Juninho who I mentioned last time. I have built some relationship with TT, Melissa is friends with his girlfriend Kaela, we have asked for prayer for their baby Joao (John). We have good relationship with Yara, Kaelas younger sister. We also have a varying number of neighborhood kids over most Saturdays for a game and bible study.

At the same time we have also been building relationship with people in the church, PIB (First Baptist). I have been able to go fishing a few times with a couple of the guys. I have coffee once a week with the pastor. We are building a friendship with a couple that doesn’t live too far from us. I am also teaching a youth class for Sunday school. We are continuing to try and aid them with their commitment to Porto Esperanca. We had a great time with a pizza night and then a good Friday fish feast at our house.


The reality is we exist in two worlds. One that is middle class and much like the world we come from. The other is a mess. Good Friday was an all out fish feast with our church, Easter was hot dogs and trying to teach neighbor hood kids to listen to a message.

Last week TT who is crippled and I had talked to a bit about doing some woodworking training with got into some trouble. He in an effort to feed his family of 6 began helping capture exotic animals for export (more illegal then killing people here do to the tourism industry and Brazil’s desire to look good internationally). He is now in prison trying to get a lawyer, facing about 14 years in jail. His girlfriend Kaela sits in their little house with no power and little food. With their baby, two little boys 2 and 3 years old and another daughter of Kaela’s. We are making effort to help but know we can’t solve their problems. The idea is to disciple her and him if he gets out to help themselves.


Also it seemed Juninho might have been getting involved. Now him and his family seem to have disappeared. Melissa has seen the little girls around but we aren’t sure where the mom or Juninho have went.

All this though has led to Kaela being more open with us, also to her visiting the house a bit more. The problem is she needs to learn to solve her own problems. She hints for us to pay her power but the bill in her name has been shut off long ago, it is now split with several houses in her moms name and the bill is over 400 reais. Her desire was for us to give the neighbor 50 reais to run a wire from their house. In the end the brutal reality is she isn’t going to die without power, the kids aren’t in danger, it is just boring. We loaned her a little flashlight but when the batteries died she asked for more. I understand she doesn’t have money but we have to be careful not to have her dependency on a boyfriend twice her age switch to dependency on us.

This situation along with Juninho and others has highlighted the need I talked about in the last blog. Discipleship, vocational training a helping hand that isn’t a hand out but a long term solution. I haven’t been able to quit thinking maybe if I had something in place to offer work to TT or Kaela they would have made a different choice.

Frankly it may be too late for Kaela. It doesn’t mean we wont keep trying but it means we are fighting against a lifetime of bad decision making. Over time and through friendship we will see some change, hopefully see her grow into a relationship with Christ, I believe we will. It is more than enough to change her eternal destiny.

What about her sister Yara though? Can we offer a bit more for here. She has recently stayed the night here, then asked if she could live with us. She told us she would like to be a Veterinarian. She wants to move to Sao Paulo and study. She wants more for her life then a shack and a string of boyfriends leading to kids and dead dreams before she is 20.

Last week we began to talk seriously about how best to help people move from one world to the other. We began talking about forming an ONG, non-profit, that would concentrate on education, training and discipleship. We are moving forward, we believe this will be the best way we can be a bridge  between two communities, between two worlds and between churches and the hurting communities they often minister in. We do evangelism/outreach with 10-15 kids. One or two of them are showing potential. We know of many churches or people with similar outreaches. The idea is to have a non-profit that is doing vocational training, selling product, providing emergency assistance, bible classes, educational assistance to those 1 or 2 kids or youth.

For those youth who are changing, growing and show desire to break free we would hope to provide no interest voluntary payback loans for college, to start businesses, get documents whatever. Doing this in a way that encourages them not only to change but help change their own neighborhood, go back and help others. This would be an opportunity for churches to connect youth like Yara who want to change and grow with resources. Also for people in the churches who are professionals to offer help to others.

We are not sure exactly what all this will look like but it is a continuation in the development of what we were doing in Foz, what we are trying to do here and where we dream of going. We are working on the paper work with our friend Buster, communicating with our church here in order to have the hope of Brazilians taking this on one day and to build a resource list of who and what is already in place to help people.

We need to get the mission statement down, paper work filed with a name and logo, thinking of Ponte (bridge). We need to get a location that allows us personally to cast a bigger net with outreach but also a location to begin to build and restore furniture and other things. We are working on these things. We hope to have the foundation in place when we visit the states this summer and to come back ready to work hard at developing this further. It is exciting and we really feel like we are on the right track. I am sure it will mold and change more as we go but hopefully this gives you some idea of the need and how we can be a bridge seeing kids discipled in Christ and in life.

Monday, March 26, 2012

It is God

Through the transition to Brazil, then to Corumba we have often felt impatient. Often wanted living as missionaries to be more like the short term trips we have been on. We knew it wouldn’t be but at the same time there is that little dream in the back of your head that every day you will see people come to Christ. That you will do event after event, preach the gospel on the streets, doors will fly open and every thing you want to do will instantly come together.

The reality is just like leaving an action packed trip to Mexico you eventually have to go back to normal. So much of living as a missionary is about establishing a bit of normal. For instance with the kids doing computer school I now struggle to find time to write. I am working on a project, need to write a newsletter and have been falling behind on the blog. I am no good by the time our evenings are free and they start fairly early most mornings. We are getting involved in a church, Daniel is in soccer school, we are talking with the girls about what they want to do.

I have had to remind myself many times God is more interested in us than what we are doing. Also though, He is more concerned with building our ministry than we are. Sometimes I think our ideas of ministry get in the way of what God would want to build. I think God wants to build the foundation and I want to put up the siding and paint. We want the finished product, God wants a product that will last.

In the midst of that struggle to both be busy, be faithful to supporters and be patient on things coming together we get moments where we see clearly what God is doing. This encourages us to keep going, to focus, to plan, to pray.

This last week it was like my eyes were opened to the foundation God has built here in Corumba and the ministries that are being birthed in the little things we are doing. It started out Thursday having coffee with our pastor and going over to the church to look at a project they were having done. It was something I could have done for them, they didn’t need to hire someone but it was too late. So we looked at some other things. I realized there are enough projects at church to be the foundation of a vocational school I have been playing with in my head. Here I was waiting, working trying to find a location. Trying to put together in my head what I would need to get going. I instantly realized the start would be to take one boy with me to church to install the hardware on the front windows and doors, to paint and prepare them. Then to make stall doors in the bathroom, not a fan of sit down jobs with no doors. We also have some old pews and a table or two that need finished. The church needs the work done and will buy the material. I have the tools for the most part and the time. I also have the boy in mind. Juninho.

Juninho lives with his mom and 3 sisters, I think there are more out there as I have met one other brother. They live cattycorner to us in a duplex that would be a tiny shack if it wasn’t a duplex. We have a fair idea the mom is a prostitute and know the lady they spend most of their time with is the neighborhood drug dealer. They are cute kids. His teeth are rotting out the front of his face, he has to cook and take care of the sisters, he wants to study Portuguese, math and English to get a good job one day. If he is left to the only influences around him forget it. Melissa has often found his 2 year old sister 2 blocks away, alone at the street. I took him with me to pick up some stuff Saturday, he had never been across town.  What better place to start then with him.

Also Daniel playing futesal, indoor soccer, is one of the greatest things we have done in Brazil. We are a massive curiosity. Every boy on the team follows Daniel around. They want to talk to us, the parents want to talk to us. Really as a family of 6 Americans in the middle of nowhere we  don’t have to do anything to be missionaries. Just being here works. Swimming at the club Saturday we met kids from 3 more families. I was able to build relationship with another soldier who works there. We draw the city into us, people talk about us, ask about us, seek us out.

Saturday we had the neighborhood kids come again for a bible study. It is hard and they fight discipline and order. I was able to get through a little lesson on Solomon and seeking God. I was shocked at how little of the bible any of these kids know. They don’t know who Israel was, had never heard of Solomon but could recite an “our father or hail marry” at the drop of a hat.

Sunday I began teaching Sunday school for the youth. Teaching in Portuguese is a good stretch for me and forces me to work on learning. On top of that one of the adults who works with youth was there and after words asked if he could help on Saturdays.

In the end I really feel God has called me to discipleship. Maybe one day that will be to pastor but right now I see it is to invest in leaders, individuals and see people raised up to the ministries God has called them. I see Melissa being used in this way too. Another girl at church contacted her about helping start a ministry at a school here in town.

Corumba is 130 thousand people more or less. About 8% of the population here is evangelical Christian. I don’t know what percent of the Catholics are actually involved in their faith and know Jesus but let’s say that pushes us up to 20%, I think we are being generous but that is good. Of the 20% I would say probably like the states it is about 10% of them that do most of the ministry in and out of the church.  That would leave us with about 2% of the population of a city where more or less 100,000 out of 130,000 don’t have relationship with Christ working to see that change. What greater thing could we do than to raise up young people to be leaders in their churches, taking others out to make disciples.

Pray for us, Right now we are seeing the beginnings of a kids program that could grow and multiply into at least a second location. Pray for workers with abilities and gifts we don’t have. Pray God opens the door for our friends from Paraguay Ariel and Yennifer to come and join us. That he would miraculously provide support and a short term apartment for them, they just Got married last Saturday.

Pray for Manuel and Luryane as they have expressed interest in doing some things with us. Pray for me to continue to involve myself with people at the church. To draw in others that can be disciples and disciple those around us.

Pray for Juninho, that he would continue to be open to what we have to say. Pray for his mom Maggie that she would wake up and get some sense. Pray for us to have the courage to confront her about the neglect of her kids if need be. Pray he is able to work with me some. This could be the humble beginnings to something big.

Pray for Yara as she continues to come around the family. She is about 12 and in spite of all the problems around her a fairly good kid. She was able to go swim with us Saturday but her sisters were bitter and jealous. They can be cruel and unapologetic in their jealousy. Pray her sister Maria softens and gets willing to obey and be respectful.

Pray also for our continued growth in relationship with Pastor Altair of first Baptist as well as other leaders there. Also for our relationship with GEM, with Buster, Roberto and in the future Pr. Carl King. We may well have some projects with them that tie into our plans, especially with little construction projects they have there.

It was also nice to get a bit of time to fish and see the beauty of the area.