We have had such a busy year, it seams to have flown by. Soccer, prison, neighbors, orphanage it is almost impossible to think of all we have been involved in. At the same time we have been praying about an invitation we received to move to the Rio de Janeiro area and run a ministry in Xerem, a small city that has a very hard inner city feel.
At first we were very closed but as Pastor Alexandre was asking we continued to pray. This has been one of the first major decisions we have made since really beginning to come into our own as missionaries. We spent a year in Foz working on language and getting used to the culture and on top of that having a baby. Then sensed the Lord moving us to Corumba, we were still very green though and really it mattered little where we were going.
The difference we see now, we have a decent handle on the language, we have learned who we are in ministry as a family and feel much more professional. When Alex invited us to go it was because of the track record we have been establishing of usefulness. We have established that we can learn language though we have work to do, that we are comfortable in cross culture situations, that we can just enter into peoples homes and be normal. This invite then came as what you might think of as a job offer with another company or a promotion.
The difference is as missionaries it seems more confusing than if we were just deciding whether to move across country for another job. Our salary comes from supporters, many of you. Our leadership advises but in the end we have to sense God’s call for ourselves. I remember friends working at HP and deciding whether to take contract buy outs, or move to Texas. They looked at things very pragmatic like, is this better for my family, do I like Texas, can I find another job here? We have all those same concerns.
On top of those though, we begin to worry. What will people think? Does this make us flaky if we move? Are we abandoning those we care about here?
After a time it began to seem the best option for the family issues would be to move to a larger less isolated area, the kids were beginning to show sings of stress from the isolation of Corumba. Also the job offer if you will was like a promotion or moving up. However we had felt like we would be here longer, we had communicated that, in fact we had even been thinking of buying property here. God began showing us it was time to be open so we went to Rio for a bit of vacation and to look at Xerem.
Coming home we sensed that would be the direction we would take later this year. The concerns remained, how do we decide that as missionaries, do people need to agree, what will happen with support? We decided to take some steps as if to move and I went to Rio to help host a team from Canada. It was a great opportunity to see how I would work with Alex and the people from the church, including a guy named Marcio who just moved there with a similar heart for ministry with his wife and child. It went fantastic, we really functioned as a team without much need for communication. Each one stepped into a role that fit his gifts and just did his job.
I came home thinking that we would move there at the end of the year. We quickly though realized we have some momentum going in Rio and in Xerem, while there I was able to do some soccer with Marcio. We were able to share the gospel with a large group of young men. One of whom happened to be a drug lord and went to prison a few days later. At the same time we continue to have locals stepping up here to take over what we have going including Ricardo, Larissa and Pastor Braz.
God also has touched our landlords heart to release us from our contract, the kids school suggest we move sooner and offered to return tuition. Kind of makes you feel like people want you to go, joke. So we have begun taking steps towards moving, boat is for sale, organizing things for a massive moving sell in a couple weeks.
The thing we are learning is our boss is clearly Jesus and our best possible decision making is to just abandon our hearts to obey, not to think to far ahead and continue to work hard to affect those around us with the hope that is in Him. This isn’t all easy, Rio is not as wonderful as it may sound. Crowded, horrible traffic, violent, dirty yeah the beach is great but even that can be hard. The simple truth is it is just because God is calling us. We don’t have the money, don’t have a place to live, not sure how everything will work out but the team we have been praying for is there, the house for ministry we have wanted is there and above all Jesus is calling us there.
We still have things we are doing here but God has all in His perfect timing. Today we did soccer, I helped with a couple things at the orphanage and will be to the prison a couple more times. I pray God uses us to bring teams here from Rio.
At the same time as we are sad we see the promotion God is giving us. A ministry in Xerem serving a Brazilian pastor who has a long term vision for the ministry. Helping him establish home groups for his body that spread across the city. Better education and fun opportunities for our kids who are becoming teens. Opportunity to work with the youth of the church providing a healthy spiritual atmosphere for our own kids. It is a step forward but a scary one.
Please pray for us, for a house, for the boat to sell, for provision and for us to get along through a stressful process.