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

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Grace Awakening

If you've followed this blog at all you know that we really get encouragement by the way the Spirit moves through pastor Chuck Swindoll. His teaching ministry has grown our faith immensely. Benay is currently reading his book entitled The Grace Awakening. She wanted to share these quotes:

"The most dangerous heresy on earth is the emphasis on what we do for God, instead of what God does for us."

"Love that goes upward is worship; love that goes outward is affection; love that stoops is grace."

"Grace received but unexpressed is dead grace. To spend one's time debating how grace is received or how much commitment is necessary for salvation, without getting into what it means to live by grace and enjoy the magnificent freedom it provides, quickly leads to a counterproductive argument. It becomes little more than another tedious, trivial pursuit where the majority of God's people spend days looking back and asking, "How did we receive it?" instead of looking ahead and announcing, "Grace is ours...Let's live it!" Deny or debate it, and we kill it. My plea is that we claim it and allow it to set us free. When we do, grace will become what it was meant to be-really amazing! When that happens our whole countenance changes."

Friday, August 29, 2008

Continuing With the Art Fair

When an art show is in town Benay HAS to check it out. I have to admit she's got me to the point where I like them as well. Especially the one that Reste and Alinda come to in our city. That one literally has booths from around the world. We had to explore the arts and food as well.

First and foremost we bought some art from Reste and Alinda (pictures to come later of their art in our house).

We found a guy who makes art from orange peels.
We got a diaper bag from Guatemala..............and pillows from Pakistan.......
......and a zebra bowl from Kenya.
Like I said, there were booths from around the world................as well as from our hometown favorite soccer team.
We tried on hats from Russia......
.....and played flutes from Peru.......
.......ate cheese crepes from Brasil.............and of course, we ate chocolate goodness from Uruguay. I won't mention names but for some people in our family, chocolate is the only thing that can trump art in an art show. And our mean sisters even convinced us to try on hats for women.
It really is a cool place and it's fun to interact with people from other countries as well as other states in Brasil.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ugandan Sisters

Remember Alinda and Reste? They were the subject of the first blog that we ever did. We met them last year at an art fair here in the city. It's an international art fair and it's pretty cool. Alinda and Reste are from Uganda and they travel the world selling Ugandan art.
They came back again this year for the art fair. Benay and I were able to visit with them one day. Then they gave us free guest passes and told us to bring the kids back. A couple of days later we were able to do that.
The kids were just as excited about seeing them as Alinda and Reste were to see the kids. Anderson vaguely remembered them, but Alinda wasted no time in getting reacquainted. We actually left Bronwyn and Carys with them for about 4 hours to help them sell their paintings. They were the interpreters as Reste and Alinda don't speak Portuguese. They had a great time.

When we went back to pick them up we took Ansley (who until then had another commitment) with us.

They've been on our hearts lately as we've been putting the finishing touches on the baby (still no name) and Carys's room. Bronwyn gave Benay a painting from Uganda that our friends had secretly given her to give to Benay as a baby present. After seeing the room color (that Carys picked out) Bronwyn wanted to give the painting to Benay now instead of waiting until after the baby was born. It matched perfectly.

Please pray for our sisters from Uganda. That God will bless them with safety in their travels, with good sales, new friends and their continued ability to show the love of Christ to those they come in contact with.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Getting Ready and Contractions

Sunday night Bronwyn came into our room and said, "Okay, mom I'm going to pack your hospital suitcase for you now." She's been after us for a few weeks to get it ready and something always got in the way. Sunday night she took matters into her own hands.About 6 hours later Benay was waking me up (at 2:45). She had been having contractions since midnight. We timed them until almost 5. Benay then called Claudia. Knowing this is our 6th child and knowing how fast Benay delivered Anderson, Claudia had been telling us that at the first sign of contractions she would send us to the hospital. She told us to go right to the hospital.

We then woke up the two oldest girls and told them where we were going (you can imagine how thrilled they all, especially Benay, were when I stop and take pictures at 5 in the morning and with some painful contractions). Carys then woke up right before we left and gave her mom a goodbye hug.And we were off. Bronwyn went with us and Ansley stayed home and took care of the younger guys.

Claudia was waiting for us when we got there and she immediately took Benay up as Bronwyn and I did the paperwork to get Benay admitted. After examining Benay, Claudia told us that she didn't think this was the real deal but she wanted us to stay at the hospital until lunch time just to be sure.

Benay was able to take a little nap while waiting as well as watching a little television.After two more exams, and almost 6 hours later, she was released.

She slept great last night and has, so far, had a really good day today.

She thinks it could be in the next couple of days.

More info later.

P.S. You'll be happy to know that Benay and I talked about the baby's name while in the hospital and decided nothing.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Joys of a Big Family

We love our big family but for those who can't even imagine having six kids we wanted to share some reason why we love it so much. Having six kids just naturally lends itself to some good postcard moments like these...............and, well let's just say, some "not so" postcard moments as well.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Spiritual Maturity

In The Final Quest, Rick Joyner writes:

"Spiritual maturity is always dictated by our willingness to sacrifice our own desires for the desires of others or for the interests of the kingdom."

Friday, August 22, 2008

Little Chef

Anderson, unlike every other male in this house, LOVES to help Benay cook.Yesterday I got home from picking up the kids from school (Anderson played hooky from his school) and we walked in the kitchen and found Benay and Anderson making our lunch.
Stromboli. Always a crowd favorite.
Benay always loves to have help in the kitchen. She and Anderson have fun together cooking. In our house Benay believes in and teaches proper sanitary practices before and after food preparation. There are strict rules that she has put in place as noted here by the Little Chef cleaning up after cooking:
Well........they're actually more like guidelines than rules.

Please don't report her. It's best to keep the Health Department out of this.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Irresponsible Missionaries

We are trying to be irresponsible missionaries. Yes, you read that right.

One of the struggles that we, and I think probably all missionaries face is not making the native people, in our case the Brazilians, too dependent on us. In our experience, when we arrived here and started our work, there was a kind of a compulsion to make sure that everything was taken care of. When I say everything, I mean worship services, teaching, preaching, women's ministry, men's ministry, retreats, youth ministry, small groups - all those things that we think a church "has" to have in order to be successful. So, as missionaries, we did all of those things. In some cases, we tried to turn these ministries over to Brazilians, but more often than not, we were disappointed with the results. Changing our "setup" to house churches hasn't really solved this problem. So what do we do?

When Bryan and Jacqueline Bost were visiting us for a seminar in June, we asked them about this. They just frankly told us that they were very irresponsible. They work with several house churches in Sâo Paulo, and for example, if they are going to be out of town one Sunday, they just tell the group "We won't be here". The end. They don't try to plan what, if anything, is going to happen in their absence. Maybe the group will meet, maybe they won't. But whatever happens, it will be the Brazilians' responsibility to make it happen. We have tremendous respect for the Bosts. They speak with wisdom gained from many years of experience working here in Brazil with all kinds of churches - not just house churches. So we started thinking - "Do we need to be more irresponsible?"

What if we just don't do everything. What if we don't lead the Bible study? What if we don't make sure the ladies' retreat gets planned? What if we don't plan the entire celebration service? Maybe nothing will happen. Maybe it won't be that great. I think we are coming to realize that that is OK. You see, if we do everything, or make sure that everything is done the way we want it to be done, the Brazilians will not have a chance to try, make mistakes, and grow. Maybe some ministries won't exist anymore - but were they really essential anyway? Maybe not right now.

We have several church members who have been Christians for 20 years or more. They have seen missionaries come and go. Sadly, most of them are scared to take on responsibility. They think they need special training. Why is that? Maybe the missionaries "did their job" so well, that the Brazilians always felt incapable of doing it when the missionary left. Wow. We don't want that to happen.

One idea that we thought about a lot when we were changing to house churches was that if we leave a nice church building here, but weak Christians, it won't be worth much. But if we leave strong Christians who don't have a building - they will find a way to make it work. Think about the strong Christians that you know. Would moving to an area where there was no church building keep them from being a church? Along that same train of thought, if we leave a bunch of great "ministries" with no strong Christians to lead them, what good are they? How about leaving strong Christians, who as they mature decide that they want to start a ministry? It may not be a ministry we would have started or be done the way we would have done it. So what.

So does that mean that we are just sitting around doing nothing? No. Our focus has shifted to using the gifts that God has given us to help grow and mature these church members - as well as always be open to new people, new opportunities to share Christ. For each of us missionaries, that means different things - because God has gifted us in different ways.

Here is a practical way that this is working out with our house church.

One day we were having a conversation with our brother Garigran about bringing friends to get to know the church. He suggested that we have some kind of bring a friend day once a month. We could have a lunch together after worship and it would be just an "excuse" or better yet, an opportunity, to invite a friend. What a great idea. So last Sunday, that is what we did.

We were going to meet at our house, because it is nice, cozy and welcoming. But I am hugely pregnant, and so the women in the group (me included) decided that we would meet at the CASA - a resource house that our church rents. It is not as cozy, or spacious. But, we are not trying to attract people by the beauty of our surroundings - but rather by the richness of our fellowship.

Who would plan the service? Guess what. Kevin and I didn't do anything. The Brazilians did it all. Even Garigran led the Bible study and it was the first time ever for him to do that. Was it the most enlightening, well-planned out study ever? No. But it didn't need to be. We all read, talked and learned. And it turned out great. After church we had a lunch planned by Silvio, of grilled sausage and bread. Everyone brought a salad, dessert, and soft drink. It rained like crazy, but it's OK. It went great.

Here are some photos:

By the way, 10 new people visited our house church last Sunday. Everyone had a great time.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Name Dilemma

As you can see from our post last week, we are getting closer to the arrival of our newest addition to the family. I'm sure that you all are wondering why we haven't chosen a name yet. I thought I'd give a little explanation as to why this is so difficult for us.

First of all, we have a big family already. Getting 7 people to agree on a name hasn't happened - yet. Maybe it won't and the parents will have to make an executive decision. But, the parents aren't even in 100% agreement on anything yet either!!

Secondly, we are are Americans, but we live in Brazil. So whenever I hear a name, I think of how it sounds to us English speakers, but also how everyone that we interact with is going to say it. We haven't really cared about that with the other kids' names. The first four, Bronwyn, Ansley, Garrett, and Carys, were named in the US without any idea that we would ever live anywhere else. Brazilians can't say their names correctly, but we don't care, because we love their names and their names go with them. Anderson was born in Brazil. But Anderson is a relatively common name here. Anderson is a family name that we had been hanging on to for a long time and were happy to be able to use it.

Just to give you non-Portuguese speakers an idea of how Brazilians would pronounce things - here are a few examples:
- Anything with an "r" is a problem. Brazilians don't roll their "r's" but they flick them. So an "r" in the middle of a name kind of sounds like a quick "d" sound. An "r" at the beginning of a word is pronounced like an "h".
- "D's" are pronounced like "g's", and "t's" pronounced like "ch".
- No Portuguese words end in "n", so they don't really know how to pronounce an "n" at the end of a word.
- "an" in a word is pronounced like "un".
- "W" and the sound it makes don't really exist in Portuguese.
- "er" is pronounced like "ehr" or how we would say "ere".
- silent "e's" at the end of the word don't exist. They will pronounce the "e" like "ee".

So, here are some examples:
Brady - becomes "bday-gee"
Ryder - becomes "hy-gehr"
Landon - becomes "lun-daun"
Anderson - becomes "un-dehr-saun"
Cole - becomes "cau-lee"
Garrett- becomes "gar-ech"

These translations kind of put a different spin on your "favorite American name", don't they?

Lastly, we want a name that has a special meaning. Having a 6th child wasn't an easy decision to make and wasn't so easy to pull off. I (Benay) am 44 years old. We decided to try to have another one because we felt that this was God's plan for our family. We totally feel like this baby is God's gift to us and we want a name that reflects that.

So, there you go. We want a name that sounds good in English and Portuguese, has special meaning and that we all agree on. Not too hard, is it??

Our avenue for avoiding these problems has been to look at Italian names. We like a few Italian names, and English and Portuguese speakers say them basically alike. So, don't be surprised if our baby's name ends up being something you've seen on a pizzeria sign once before!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Our Friday Hang Out

For the first year and a half that we lived here, we lived in an apartment in another part of town. One of the really cool things about that apartment was that it was close to a street market that sold fresh fruits, vegetables and other things every Thursday. They literally closed down a small street so the vendors could come in and sell their products. It was just two blocks from our apartment and we loved it. When we moved to where we live now we lost our neighborhood market.

That was until three weeks ago.

Garrett goes to soccer school on Monday and Friday afternoons. We recently noticed another street market close to his school that sets up for business on Fridays.

In just a matter of minutes this:
Becomes this:
And this:
Becomes this:
Like I said, they have fruits.......
......and meat, cheese, bread, cereal, nuts, fresh pasta, etc.
The first time we went was the day Ansley returned from the states. Benay was very happy to find another little market. Only Benay, Bronwyn and myself went as the other kids stayed in the car thinking it would be boring. The next week Benay couldn't go and she asked Garrett and I to go and get whatever we thought we needed. This changed things in Garrett's mind. Whatever was the key word for him. Now he makes the shopping list with his dad and he loves it.

He's not afraid to mix it up with some older guys for some oranges.
Or muscle out a lady for some potatoes when needed.
He literally can't wait until the next Friday to go and get some more stuff. It's really turned out to be a great father-son time together. It's also morphed into "Friday night guys make supper for the rest of the family" night. We are making supper from things we buy at the market. It's pretty funny because you couldn't have two more inept men in the kitchen, but the girls in our family have allowed it (along with prayers for health) and it's turning out to be a fun family tradition.