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.