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

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Paul Potts

Someone emailed us the following video. As I looked it up on YouTube I noticed that over 25 million people have already looked at it so there's a good chance that you've already seen this. It's a pretty incredible video, from the "Britains Got Talent" television show and it reminded me of what God told Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:7.

"Don't judge by his appearance or height........ The Lord doesn't make decisions the way you do! People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at a person's thoughts and intentions."

Friday, May 30, 2008

Carys's New Reading Spot

Sometimes, when you want to read a good book, you need to find a quiet spot. We came out of the house the other day and found Carys in her new reading spot. Did you see her? Take a closer look.Let's zoom in some more. Kind of hard to see her because her shirt blends in with the flowers but there she is enjoying her book. She stayed in there for a long time.

Like we always say, it's never dull with Carys around.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Porto Alegre Marathon/Celebration

You may remember that my teammate, Matt, and I have run a few marathons since we've moved to Porto Alegre. We ran in the Porto Alegre marathon together last year. It was the third marathon for both of us to complete. This year neither one of us felt really convicted to train for another marathon. We both felt like taking a rest year from marathons and get ready for shorter races.

Before I get too far into the marathon subject I realize I've never really explained our ministry to a place called the Chácara. It's a very humble farm on the outside of town where young men go to recover from alcohol and drug addiction. One of our church family members, Paulo Renato, is a recovering alcoholic and has battled and defeated his addictions at this place. He is the most humble, gentle, heart for service man you will ever meet. The love of Christ just oozes out of this man. This recovery center uses no drugs. Their weapon to fight against these addictions is Jesus and He is giving the victory.

Matt met Paulo Renato years ago when he was visiting Porto Alegre when he came with a group of Americans to teach English through the Bible. When our team moved here and began to have worship times, Paulo was an immediate fixture. He has worked for our church family as a prayer warrior, street evangelist and janitor for a few years now. It is through Paulo that we even found out about the recovery center.

Through the years our church family has helped this recovery center in different ways but it has always been in a spotty way. Some food here and there, financial help when needed to help build a dormitory, etc. but no weekly, personal committment until this past year. Matt began to feel led to go out to the recovery center each Wednesday to just be there and do what was needed. Two other women also go as well and help cook and have become mother figures to the young men. Paulo Renato also goes. Our other teammate, Sascha, and Paulo Renato led a 9 week study about sexual purity with the guys out there. It finished in March.

This is a place where you think you go out there to encourage these men and you come back much more encouraged because of your time with them. Matt does a great job of sharing about the Chácara on a blog he's made just for what is going on there.

A few months back Matt felt led to end his day at the chacara with a run. He encouraged any who wanted to join him to do so. It started off with just a couple of guys but then it grew. Soon he began thinking of forming a team to run in the relay part of the Porto Alegre marathon. You can make up teams of 2, 4 or 8 people to complete the 42 km. It's a little over 5.2 km per person. Matt formed a team of 6 guys from the recovery center and himself, and he asked if I would help him round out the team of 8.

What an incredible blessing it was for me and my family to witness what happened on Sunday. We picked up the guys at the recovery center at 6:15 in the morning. Four people piled in Matt's car and five got into our car. It was at least a 30 minute drive to get to the marathon and these guys sang the entire way.
Matt had made up running shirts for this race. On the front it had the name of the recovery center and on the back it said "It's possible."
That phrase was something I heard over and over from the guys during the race. Matt kept telling them, as they arrived, that they were running faster than they ever had before. Their response? "With Jesus it's possible!"

This is Wilson. He was the first guy out on the team and he set the pace as he ran faster than anyone else.
Matt said that the overall time of the team was about 20 minutes less than what he expected because everyone ran faster. God was glorified during the race.
I personally have never run with such ease before. Something about running with these guys had my mind focused on Jesus for almost the entire race (something that just doesn't happen with me as I tend to focus on who I'm going to try to pass next) and I barely got winded. I am also blessed to have a wife who, after almost 20 years of marriage, knows me very well. As I was about 300 meters from the finish I passed her and she "lovingly" asked "is that gray hair on your head?" Yes I have some gray hair and even though I knew she was pulling my chain to make me run faster......it worked. Isn't she great?
I really like this picture. This is Matt finishing the last leg of the race and the guys are on both sides of the road taking pictures, clapping and encouraging him as he finished. We ran into our brother, Sergio, who ran with another team.Each guy got an official race tee-shirt and a medal to go along with their feeling of accomplishing something that they had never done before. Matt and I spoke last week of a "runner's high" and how there is scientific proof that this occurs. We praised God that these guys experienced a high like this without the use of drugs or alcohol. This is a picture taken after the race where Matt was lifting the guys up and reminding them that through Jesus anything is possible. God was honored on Sunday.

After the race we all went to the church family celebration together. These guys blessed us with a song to end our time together. It was one of the songs they played and sang in the car on the way to the marathon and Benay asked if they would lead our church family in this song later in the day. They loved the idea and it was an incredible time of praising God together. There is an excitment in worshipping God when we are with these brothers. Christian, one of the guys from the chácara shared about the race and how it applied to the Christian walk as Paul explained in the Bible. Now you can see how the videos we showed at the celebration applied to the marathon as well as the race of our Christian faith.

Here is a picture of the guys at the Celebration while Matt shared their victorious day with the church family. Notice how some are proudly showing their medals.
Monday night after Sunday's race I got a call from Matt. He asked if I had seen the results of the race. I told him I had not and he waited for me to get online to check it out. I couldn't believe what I saw. The team finished in 4th place out of 13 teams!! It was obvious to Matt and myself that the top three teams were part of serious running clubs. Because of this finish, these guys will also now get trophies. How cool is that? Six months ago these guys couldn't run hardly any distance at all and now they are finishing 4th in a marathon relay. With Jesus, it's possible!

Please pray and keep praying for these men as they continue to learn to rely on God and not drugs and alcohol to guide their lives.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rubber Man

Anderson has some kind of allergy to some of our bugs around here. The worst thing that happens is that he swells up around the bug bites. Last week he was bitten again and it did a number on his ear. It was HUGE and rubbery. It was funny. After you have 5 kids, stuff like this is free game to laugh at.....even with a 4 year old. With our first child we would have been freaking out and giving medicine and thinking about taking her to the doctor. With our 5th, we take pictures and laugh. I took some last week of his swollen ear. Anderson even enjoyed showing off. Benay doesn't think the pictures do the hugeness justice but I thought I'd take a shot and show them here. His ear reminded us of the movie "Hitch" when Will Smith ate the food that he was allergic to and his face swelled up.
We don't know what bit him but it had this effect: This is the best one that shows the difference between the two ears. It's amazing how big and red it is and how it moves away from his head. Just so you know, after a day or two he was back to normal (thank goodness!).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


We had an incredible celebration on Sunday. We will share more details later about how the Spirit moved on Sunday but two things we do want to share now are two videos that were shown. If you've never seen them before you will be moved. If you have seen them before, you will be moved again. I've posted these videos in the way they were shown to our church family because we do have some Portuguese speakers who read our blog and I thought you might like to see how we have to see every movie we go to here in Brasil. Enjoy and be blessed:

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Michael Jordan Jr. aka Mr. Perfection

Anderson loves sports. What I mean to say is that he LOVES sports!! He is a junkie. Before his last birthday he played soccer every day in our backyard. He loves to go to Garrett and Carys's soccer practices. He plays as often as he can. Since his birthday he has a second sport love. Basketball. One of his presents was a small backboard and rim. He immediately loved it. When we get home from school he hops out of the car and immediately starts shooting. He has watched some YouTube videos with me and Garrett of Michael Jordan. We also have a DVD of Jordan. Every time he sees a basketball game being played he wants to know which one is Michael Jordan. He still struggles with Jordan's retirement and why he doesn't play anymore.

As mentioned in the title, Anderson is a perfectionist with many things. If he doesn't succeed the first time, he can get upset. This is what happened when he first started trying to make a shot with this new basket. The cheap ball that came with it was overinflated as well as warped and so he already started at a disadvantage. I tried to get him to use a different ball that would bounce straight and be easier to shoot and I tried to get him to allow me to take some of the air out of the new ball. He didn't want either option. Here is his reaction after a few frustrating attempts with his new, ginormous, hilarious looking ball:

His perfectionist nature won't allow him to quit before he succeeds and so here he is just a few minutes later making his first shot. You think I'm kidding about the ball? Just watch its goofy bounce:

Which brings us to this week. Anderson has thrown away his lightweight birthday present ball (even after we let a bunch of air out of it to make it bounce better and be easier to shoot) and moved on to my official basketball that I got for my birthday last year. It's too heavy to use for this backboard but it's hard to tell him no. He really thinks he's Michael Jordan and so who am I to tell him not to use a real ball. I think you'll see some improvement:

Friday, May 23, 2008

One Sunday After House Church

Benay and I felt Spirit led at the beginning of this year to begin a new outreach towards teenagers. We shared this with Bronwyn and Ansley and they were excited. They began inviting their friends to house church and you know about Giu. Lana is another friend of Bronwyn and Ansley who is now a regular at our house for house church. We love having the kids as part of our house church because they really bring fun energy. Since they've been a part of our worship we now snap to songs we've never snapped to, added words to songs and we laugh a whole lot more. We couldn't ask for a better core group than that of Bronwyn,Ansley,Giu and Lana to show their friends that being a Christian can be really fun.

We normally have lunch in our house after we enjoy our worship time together. After having people in our home from 10:00 to 3-4:00 most Sundays, Benay and I sometimes need some chill time. As you can imagine with 5 kids this is easier said than done but God blessed us with a time like this a couple of weeks ago. Benay and I went upstairs to watch a movie and our kids, along with Giu and Lana, stayed downstairs and goofed around.

When we came down after the movie they were watching a soccer game. We actually didn't know what they had been doing while we watched the movie. We could hear them having fun together but didn't have a clue as to why they were laughing so much.

Today as I began to upload some videos from our camera to the computer I found the following video. It's what they were doing that day. After a few practice runs they ended up with this:

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Funny Baby Video

We are, obviously after our last post, in a baby mood around our house. In keeping with that theme, Ansley found this funny video we wanted to share.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Our Little Secret

Over the last few months we've had something we've wanted to share but we've waited until Mother's Day to do it. Since Mother's Day is passed we can now share it here. We've already shared it with you in "subtle" ways on this blog. See if you can guess what the theme in all of the following pictures is:Stay with us.........Got any ideas?
What are we talking about? Take a guess of what we could be hiding. Focus on Benay if you like. Did you notice that in every picture there was somebody or something in front of Benay? What were we hiding?
Yes, that is my beautifully pregnant (prego, baby bump or choose your goofy new name for pregnant here) wife! God has blessed us with one more child!
I may be biased but I believe this girl is the most beautiful pregnant woman I've ever seen.
Don't believe me? Take another look......yeah, she's with me.

Okay so we weren't really hiding it but it's just that we waited to tell our parents until Mother's Day and so we had to be creative in posting photos of Benay without letting the cat out of the bag. Come to think of it, I guess we were hiding it.

Just so you know, it's a boy. As our teammate Matt said we are now officially the Brady Bunch. 3 boys and 3 girls. Benay has had numerous doctor's visits since we found out we were pregnant and every ultrasound so far has shown us a healthy little boy. His due date is scheduled for September 13.
The kids are so excited about the new little baby boy that will be with us soon and we've been thankful that they've been such strong prayer warriors for our family in regards to us having one more baby. God has blessed us with kids who love the Lord and love the thought of our family growing.

Here is the most recent photo of our new son. The bottom photo says: "Hello everybody, I love you all!! Signed, The boy."We don't have a name for him yet. We just KNEW it was a girl until we had the second ultrasound. We had the name picked out (Cássia) and everything. Maybe we can have a "name that baby" contest for this little guy (feel free to put your names in the comments section) because we don't have a clue as to what his name is going to be. Since the beginning of this pregnancy we had someone encourage us to read and re-read the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah and to ask God to impress upon us a name for this child. We really felt the Spirit was leading in the girl's name and we know He will do it with the naming of this little boy.

We ask for your prayers for a healthy mom and little boy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Great Words from Chuck Swindoll

by Charles R. Swindoll
Read 2 Samuel 6:16--23
16 But as the Ark of the Lord entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she was filled with contempt for him.
17 They brought the Ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the special tent David had prepared for it. And David sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord. 18 When he had finished his sacrifices, David blessed the people in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 19 Then he gave to every Israelite man and woman in the crowd a loaf of bread, a cake of dates,[
a] and a cake of raisins. Then all the people returned to their homes.
20 When David returned home to bless his own family, Michal, the daughter of Saul, came out to meet him. She said in disgust, “How distinguished the king of Israel looked today, shamelessly exposing himself to the servant girls like any vulgar person might do!”
21 David retorted to Michal, “I was dancing before the Lord, who chose me above your father and all his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the Lord, so I celebrate before the Lord. 22 Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes! But those servant girls you mentioned will indeed think I am distinguished!” 23 So Michal, the daughter of Saul, remained childless throughout her entire life.

Why in the world would they get so excited about it? Because they're free. When you obey, you're free. When you disobey, you're in bondage. All around us we see individuals in bondage because they're in sin, and all they talk about is freedom. They're not free. The obedient guy dancing is free.

I should warn you, when you're really free, the people who are not so free will have trouble with your being free. Look at David's wife in verse 16. Her husband is down there dancing and singing and shouting, and there's Michal up in the second floor flat, frowning down on her husband. "Then it happened as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David that Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart" (2 Samuel 6:16).

Two things strike me here. Both have to do with the issue of focus; one is horizontal, and one is vertical. David's eyes were on the Lord; Michal's eyes were on other people.

First, the better you know where you stand with the Lord, the freer you can be. When you do the homework, you find out where you stand with your Lord, and when you follow His plan, then you are free. I mean really free! Many won't understand, of course. To some, you will be seen as independent---a maverick. You'll be misunderstood. Like David with his own wife. But you won't care that much about public opinion either. You'll care mainly about the Lord's opinion. There is no freedom like the kind He provides. In a word, it's grace.

Second, the freer you are before the Lord, the more confident you will become. When you know where you stand, that is real security.

Knowing where you stand before the Lord leads to true freedom. Being free before the Lord, you will become confident, and that is genuine security.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Anderson's Birthday

We realized we never showed pictures from Anderson's big day and we've gotten a few emails asking about it, so here you go:

Anderson's pre-school really does birthdays right. Last year they celebrated by putting Anderson in a special birthday superhero cape.
He didn't get a cape this year but he did get a crown.
The cool thing about his school is that, on the child's birthday, the teachers ask the parents to make a timeline from pictures of important events in their kids' lives. On the back of the pictures it explains what each thing is about. The kids then get to bring the timeline and help the teacher explain those things. It really helps to make the birthday boy/girl feel special.

These are his buddies from school.

This is his girlfriend Tati. (pronounced Tah-chee)

And of course he had to have some birthday cake.

Then he came home. As is our tradition, the birthday person gets to pick the food and activities for the day. Anderson chose a backyard picnic with the following foods: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, "oatmilk" (oatmeal) and cheese. He thankfully forgot about the oatmilk and so we enjoyed sandwiches together.
He got more birthday cake that came in cupcake form.
He then opened his presents. Anderson is a sports NUT. He practices soccer on his own and is DYING to be on a soccer team. The coaches for Carys's class let him practice with them one day and he was in heaven. He got a soccer ball this year but his favorite gift was this basketball....
....along with this "official" NBA backboard. Our problem was that we didn't have anything to secure the backboard to our house. Since we are renters, we really didn't want to bust some holes out on our house so we headed out to find a solution.
We ended up at our neighborhood hardware store......
......to get our friend Freitas to help us.
He set us up and we were in business. You need to know that Anderson is a sports "perfectionist." He keeps trying something until he gets it right and if he can't do it he gets upset. So......he kept trying and trying......
.....and trying to make his first basket......
......until finally.......SUCCESS!!!

Later he got some phone calls from both his Brasilian and American spiritual family wishing him a happy birthday.

He ended his day hanging out with his "other" girlfriend.
A couple of days later we had a party for all his buddies. Unfortunately, most of his school classmates had already been invited to another party. We decided to go ahead with his party and be happy if even one of his buddies showed up. Just to give an idea, we looked into a party place for Carys's 9th birthday and a three hour party would have cost around $1,000, yeah, that's dollars as in U.S. dollars. It's crazy but fairly common for Brasilians to spend that much on a party for their kids. We decided we'd save a few hundred dollars and do it ourselves. So, Benay and the kids and some friends began to transform our backyard into a party place.
They did a great job.
The good thing about having such a big family is that we have so many different age groups in our house that our kids mix well with all ages. So, when a bunch of teenagers show up for a 4 year old party, it seems normal and fun to the 4 year old. We played duck-duck-goose.

We fished for candy.....

....and we even played musical chairs with a twist. Chairs left the game when the music stopped, but the players stayed in, leaving this at the end:

Then it was cake time.
And when it's cake time you can always find helpers.
LOTS of helpers.
Good cake (and a super cool 4 year old) even brings out adults.................yes that's Freitas (hardware man) and his wife with their new little boy.
Alexandre and his daughter.
This is Anderson's great buddy Parker. Parker is also a missionary from the United States.
We think Anderson had a great couple days of birthday party time. He sure didn't complain about all the cake he got to eat.