"Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words." Saint Francis of Assisi

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Our International Matthew Dinner

On Friday night, June 15th our house church hosted our first (and it won't be the last) Matthew party. We took the name from the story of Matthew, in the Gospels, when he was so excited about meeting Jesus that he hosted a dinner and invited all of his friends to come and meet this life changing person. We decided to do the same but with a small twist. Because our house church is made up of so many different nationalities (Honduras,Uruguay,Bolivia,Brasil and United States), we decided to have an international dinner and bring a dish from our native country or, as some Brasilians did, from their ancestry. As we continue to teach and learn together, church doesn't mean a club where we go and stay comfortable with the same people. It means sharing the Good News with everyone we come in contact with. This is easier for some than for others. So to take away any discomfort from those who might feel uneasy in asking someone to come to something 'churchy' we decided to have a supper. Our house church, as is very much our nature, decided it would be very informal. It would be a time to invite people to interact with our church famiy and be a part of our church without even knowing they were doing so. Just be and show Christ to them instead of feeling like something needs to be said. We also decided to invite any foreigners that we knew as well as encourage our Brasilian friends to bring a special dish. Let's just say that God completely blessed our night. We had 40 people in our home and 15 were visitors. This was very encouraging as we even had 6 more of our regular house church members who weren't able to be there because of work and sickness. We had exactly the right amount of chairs for everyone. We had visitors from Russia, Germany, Peru and of course Brasil. The night started with Benay, Bronwyn and Ansley taping different countries names to the backs of every person. It was then that persons job to walk around and ask everyone else (only one question per different person)a question about their country (i.e. "Do we speak Spanish in my country.....Is my country in Asia?"). It was a great ice breaker and really got people talking and interacting. Our brother Silvio then led a prayer for our food and thanked God for everyone in our house, especially our visitors and then we enjoyed hours of eating and fellowshipping with our new friends. We enjoyed food from Brasil, United States, Uruguay, Peru, Russia, Germany and Denmark. Each dish was labeled in Portuguese as well as their native languge. Benay and I feel very blessed to have been a part of this night as we were able to see this baby church really be Christ to the lost people of this city.

Our U.N. summit consisting of 2 Russians,

1 German, 1 Brasilian and 2 Americans.

Carys getting ready to attack.

Garrett and Carys with Aaron and Kjeld.

Our sister Miriam (sitting in front of the man with the red shirt)

enjoying her meal with family and friends.

Where there is a cook and food, there are men!

Bronwyn enjoying her meal with members of our

house church as well as visitors.

Bronwyn and Silvio are ready for the game.

Photos of everyone playing 'What's my country?'

Benay's contribution of sweet potato casserole

or Batata Doce Assada.

One of our Russian desserts.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

What am I doing?

Night before carbo meal with running partner Alexandre and his family.

On Sunday, May 27 I completed my third marathon. I use the term 'completed' because it was actually the 4th marathon that I've entered. The first one chewed me up, mentally and physically, spit me out and left me on the curb crying like a baby. Afterwards I realized how much more training I needed to be able to complete such a task. My teammate, Matt Rehbein, has run in and completed 2 marathons before this year. We decided to run together and spur each other on to try to break the 4 hour mark. We had been training separately but both had the goal in mind of doing the marathon together and in a time neither had ever accomplished. We could not have asked for a better day. Overcast and a little cold. Matt's mom and sister were visiting from the states and it was exciting to have them, as well as Matt's wife Waleska, meet us at the 10km mark yelling and screaming encouragement to both of us. It was a nice boost. We stayed together and kept the pace we wanted for the first 30km. At the 32 km we were met by Alexandre. He is our friend and he wanted to push us through the last, and hardest, 10km of the race. By the time we met him I could feel some problems with my hamstrings. Matt, Alexandre and I stayed together for 2-3 more km and then, seeing that Matt was doing better than me, I released him of the burden of having to stay with his older, slower and hurting partner. Matt almost beat our goal as he finished at 4:02 and he finished strong. I finished in 4:19 and basically limped in with the help of Alexandre. I failed to mention that Alexandre is an orthopedic surgeon. Hey, if I'm going down with an injury why not have a guy who could operate on the spot? Anyway, my legs cramped up so badly at the 37th km that you could literally hold the cramp in your hand. Thankfully an angel, named Marcio, arrived from nowhere (he was a personal trainer and was helping his clients finish when he saw me laying down in the fetal position on the road) stretched my legs with Alexandre, gave me a banana, a little sweet banana candy and some water and he was off as soon as the cramps went away. I never saw him again. What he and Alexandre did allowed me to, rather gingerly, finish the last 5km. Each time I do a marathon I wonder, especially during the last 10km, why in the world I would ever want to train again to do this. As soon as you cross the finish line, however, you have an incredible feeling of accomplishment that really can't be matched and you are ready to do it again (of course not at that moment).
Right before the race started Matt prayed over our race, our health and asked God to allow us to run the race in a way to honor him. Matt had every reason to be disappointed as he finished so close to the goal but he never lost sight of what his prayer was for us and he praised God at the end for allowing him to do better than ever before. I can honestly say, even through the most difficult parts, that we honored God while we ran.

We're still going strong after 26km.
Matt finishing strong.
Me limping home with Alexandre's help.