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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sunday Present-Number 2

Okay, I realize that after our blog yesterday you might be thinking that we are going to share one more spiritual thing that happened on Sunday.

In a way we are. But it's more of a sports fan spirituality.

As we've said probably 20 times before, we are fans of Sport Club Internacional. It's a soccer team here in Porto Alegre.

There are actually two professional teams here. The other is gremio. (Sorry, I can't bring myself to start them off with a capital letter).

You can't begin to believe the bitter rivalry.......hatred for many people.........between these two teams. I thought I'd seen some rivalries in my day (Yankees-Red Sox; Alabama-Auburn football; Lakers-Celtics) but they all are baby fights in comparison to Inter and gremio.

Let me give you an example: Every time one team scores during a game, fireworks will go off all around the city as well as car honking. But this rivalry is so deep that even when the two teams aren't playing each other, fans will shoot off fireworks when gremio or Inter is scored against in a game. This happens even if the game is in another city other than Porto Alegre. It`s crazy. Some people, like in any sport, are fanatics and they can take it to extremes. There are usually fights during and after games when these two teams play each other. It's kind of wild.

When Inter and gremio play each other it's called a GreNal. For most of this year gremio has been in first place in the Brasilian championship league. Inter, to be honest, has stunk it up. Lately Inter has been playing much better and gremio has struggled a little bit. Sunday night was our last game against them this year. A win for us would make a big move towards qualifying us for the biggest South American tournament next year. A loss by gremio would put them out of first place for the first time in a couple of months.

The game had the feeling of a championship.

Inter won 4-1. That would be our families' other Sunday present. The streets yesterday were filled with people wearing Inter jerseys and we even heard more fireworks going off this morning as the celebration continued.

Below is a video made by Inter so it might be a little biased. It will show what went on an hour before the game, right before the game with the players getting ready to enter the field, the goals scored by Inter and then an interview with our coach later. Feel free to shut it off during the interview (the 7 minute mark), unless of course you speak Portuguese.

I realize this is a long video and some might not care but it will give you Americans a taste of the world's favorite sport. It seems unbelievable to me that a little more than 6 years ago I had never even seen a soccer game, other than our kids' midget league games, and it is now my favorite sport. Maybe this video will only appeal to my dad. We`ve already converted him into an Inter fan.

To give you an idea of the passion for soccer here, this video of Sunday's game has already been watched on YouTube over 39,000 times. We kind of like our soccer here in Brasil. Here it is:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sunday's Present-Number 1

We've shared before about our Sunday presents. Yesterday we were blessed to have one of those presents given to us.

Yesterday was, as you know, the last Sunday of the month and, as is the custom of this house church network, we had our celebration. A time for all the house churches to meet together as one big family. It's always encouraging and it really seems as if these times together are becoming more and more a celebration and less of a formal gathering.

Yesterday we were blessed to have our church family put their hands on our new son and our family and pray a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing for Giovanni. Our brother Roberto led the prayer.

We were very blessed by the love shown to our new son and the prayer for his life. Here is a picture of the blessing as Roberto (to the right with the microphone) prayed.Roberto then gave his testimony of what God is doing in his life in the missionary training program he is a part of. It's pretty faith building stuff to see the transformation in Roberto. We were blessed that his day off from the program allowed him to be back in our city and pray over Giovanni.
God also blessed us with some visitors. These are our new friends Luis Henrique, his wife Andréia and their son Matheus. I met Luis a couple of months ago and since then he's come to about three house church worship times. He and Matheus are Christians but Andréia has yet to give her life to Jesus. Please pray for these guys. They are already getting a special place in our hearts. I realize as I finish this post that God gave us not just one but three presents yesterday.

Actually, he gave us four. More on the fourth tomorrow.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Acts 1:8

"But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere-in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Claudia's Visit

We've told you about Claudia a couple of times. How she is more friend than doctor and how she told Benay she was in trouble for having Giovanni on a day when Claudia was out of town.

She was kidding, of course, but we knew she wanted to be with us as much as we wanted her to be with us for the delivery. If we had time to think about her not being there it would have made both of us sad, but everything happened so fast and God blessed us with Clarice that we didn't, at that moment, have time to think about Claudia not being with us. We didn't think it was possible, but she became even more special to us when we were in the hospital.

The day after Giovanni's birth, Claudia surprised us with a hospital visit. After delivery, here in our city, women usually share a room with another new mother. A curtain is the only thing that separates the new moms, their babies and visitors. Because of this curtain I saw Claudia first. She saw me and smiled and I said, "Benay, you won't believe who is here."

Because of her dad being sick in another city and her being with him the previous morning, we thought we wouldn't see her while we were in the hospital. She came in and said, "Can I come in even though I'm 36 hours late?"

Giovanni was being checked out by the nurse and so Claudia went to Benay.

Here in Brasil women always hug each other when greeting, women and men hug and kiss on the check and men even hug each other when they greet. So, Claudia hugging Benay was the norm. What surprised us was that Claudia didn't let go of Benay and she started to tear up.

I'm sure it was a combination of things: being able to release being strong for her family while her dad was sick, being tired from the long trip back to our city after being with her sick dad, her father-in-law was in the hospital at the same time here in Porto Alegre, as well as missing out on Giovanni's birth and not being there for Benay. I'm sure all these things played into it but I also know that she and Benay have a special bond that is more than doctor-patient. It was special for me to be there and see that. Claudia is definitely NOT a doctor that has any kind of God complex going on.

After the nurse got through weighing and cleaning up Giovanni, Claudia got to check out her baby.
God has blessed us so much by putting Claudia in our lives.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"You Hold Him and I'll Pet Him"

With six kids we've got some practice introducing kids to new baby brothers and sisters. Each time it's fun to watch and each child reacts a little differently. Anderson was no different.

When he got to the hospital he was really excited to see his new little brother.

When Benay got to her room Ansley and Carys helped introduce Anderson to Giovanni.He got a little more comfortable, checked him out some more and then gave him a little touch. You need to understand that Anderson is a very touchy, feely, affectionate child. We knew his nature would not allow him to stay away from his new brother.

Then it was time for the kids to hold Giovanni. When it came time for Anderson he said, "That's okay, you hold him and I'll pet him." He still needed some more time to check things out before he was ready to hold his new brother. So we gave him lots of "petting" time.But after a few minutes he was ready to take Giovanni for a test drive. His big brother and sisters were there to help. Then it became a natural thing for him and he wanted to hold him more and more.
Here are our three boys together. I'm going to enjoy this calm looking picture because we know soon lots of things will be broken in our house because of these three.........the first two are already doing a pretty good job of it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

September 3-Part 2

After Benay and Giovanni were moved to the recovery room, I went home to get the rest of the kids. They couldn't wait to get to the hospital. Unfortunately the hospital was completely full which meant Benay had to stay in the recovery room for a few hours, until a bed opened up in the hospital, and the younger kids could only look at their new brother through a window. Ansley was allowed to go back with Benay and she was the one who showed off her new brother to the rest of the family.She then enjoyed some alone time with Giovanni while Benay tried to get some sleep. "Not fair" came the cries from the other kids who didn't understand why Ansley and Bronwyn got to go back but they didn't. "Hospital Rules" don't really make sense to 11,9 and 4 year olds. Finally, a bed opened up on the maternity floor and they moved Benay and Giovanni which meant the rest of the crew could hold their new brother. Giovanni was immediatley introduced to what will come in his life..........7 different people wanting to hold him and play with him at one time.
Carys was so excited about Giovanni that she called her school to tell her teacher.
Benay did great with the delivery, God gave us one more little boy and the kids were able to hold their little brother for the first time...........and God finally impressed a name on our hearts that we all had peace about (notice Benay's handwriting in of Giovanni's name on the card; we didn't know what it was going to be when the nurses were filling it in right after his birth and so Benay filled it in later).
It was a great.........
........and tiring day.God is good.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Video Time

From time to time we put videos on here that we think are pretty good. Usually the kids find them on YouTube. I got an email from my dad the other day asking for some help in putting these videos on a power point presentation he was going to do during a class he will be teaching (he teaches real estate courses in a couple of states). I'm still not sure how these will fit into his class but we thought they were good. Here they are:

Monday, September 22, 2008

Friday's Robbery/Crime in Brasil

I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. As in all big cities, there are places in Memphis that you don't go at night, or even in the day for that matter, because it just isn't safe.

Porto Alegre is no different. For the most part we feel pretty safe here. We have a house that is protected by walls or fences, good neighbors who keep an eye out for things, a great neighborhood, and a great street guard named Inacio. A street guard is a must. Each home owner/renter must pay for the street guard. It a good investment.

Like I said, we feel that our city is one of the safer ones in Brasil.

That being said, I've personally seen more crime here than I ever have in my life.

Our family was in a school supply store one day when it was robbed. It was the store on the school grounds where our kids attend. I had a gun stuck in my ribs and was told to move, along with Bronwyn and Ansley, into a dressing stall. It wasn't nearly as scary as it sounds. The two guys robbing the place were pretty calm and peaceful and, to be honest, the gun didn't scare me because I actually thought it was a friend of mine who worked at the school who was messing around with me. By the time I figured out the gun was real we were already moving toward the dressing stall. They stole all the checks and cash from the store and quietly left.

I've been involved in two purse chasings as well. The first one happened in a pouring rainstorm and a woman stopped our car and pointed to a man running away. She told us he just robbed her. We took off after him in the car and then a little bit on foot but he got away.

The next time wasn't so pretty. A good friend of mine and I were eating breakfast at a street cafe that another friend of ours owned. We heard an ear piercing scream yelling "HELP" from a woman and almost immediately a man ran by our table on the sidewalk. He ran across the street and my friends and I took off after him. I reached the man first. He started slowing down when he realized he would not be able to outrun us. He then stopped and I envisioned the American football tackle I would put on him. I sped up and saw, in my mind's eye, him laid out on the ground and me handing the purse back to the woman. I dove for the man and could have sworn I felt my body knock him over. I ended up eating some concrete sidewalk. I got up, dazed, bloody. I looked back and saw the robber bleeding from the head and my friend holding his purse. The robber seemed to have too many drugs in his system to really feel the pain that I inflicted on him. Or so I thought. We gave the purse to the lady and she thanked us. I called Benay, drove home, and she took me to the hospital to get worked on. Here are some photos of the damage:Not very pretty results - 5 stitches in my face and a cast on my wrist for a few days. But worth the trouble, I thought, as I felt pretty good about being a "hero" for the rest of that day. That night the friend who was eating breakfast with me came over to see how I was doing. We were talking and I said something to the effect of the stitches and cast were worth it in knowing that I was at least able to knock that guy over and allowed my friend to get the purse. There was a long, awkward pause and then my friend began to smile. He began to be like Paul Harvey as he told me "the rest of the story." What had "actually" happened was that when I went airborne to clobber this guy, he bent down (yes on drugs and all) and I flew over the top of him. Didn't even touch him. I thought my friend was pulling my chain. What about the blood I asked? My other friend had actually bashed the guy's head with a rock after I dove and missed. That would be called Brasilian street justice. We still get a good laugh about my "bravery" to this day.

I share all of this to say that unfortunately in a big city you just naturally see, and experience, crimes. One of our teammates had his car stolen and another watched his car get bashed in by drunken people (while he was in the car), etc. I shared with a brother at house church yesterday what happened and he then began to tell me one of his personal experiences. Everyone, again unfortunately, has them. It happens.

But, that still doesn't make you feel any better when you walk up to your car and see broken glass all over the ground and you know what it is. (see yesterday's post)

I am thankful that Garrett was with me. He was the Spirit's voice in my ear when ,I'll admit, all I wanted to do was choke the person who did it. As I told my friends, I was mad and sick at first and then just mad. Garrett began the process of calming me down. Then we got home and Benay continued the healing process in reminding me that it was just "a thing" and how we should thank God Garrett and I weren't involved or hurt. I knew she was right but I was still very angry. I asked God to begin the healing in my heart for these people. It was hard for me to pray anything other than "bring punishment" to this person(s). I woke up at 2:30 Saturday morning with a bunch of crud in my heart. I couldn't go to sleep and couldn't get what happened out of my head. We have a brother in the states who says Satan does his best work in the middle of the night. He calls it his "what if" time. I was in "what if" land for sure.

Then God began to slowly work through the encouraging words of Benay and all of our kids (especially Garrett). He used them and other people to bring healing. There is a couple in the United States who, after finding out what happened, said they would send us a check to buy us a new camera, lens, batteries......everything that was stolen. We had just bought this camera and equipment in June after saving over a year, but within hours after being stolen, it was replaced. God is so good. This couple didn't do it to get any glory. They did it because they love us. We were humbled. God is good.

Benay and I had a Matthew Churrasco (Brasilian bar-b-que) planned for Saturday with our friends Freitas and Auristela. They own a hardware store in our neighborhood and just had a little boy last December. During the "what if" time Saturday morning I felt the battle beginning with an urge to cancel the bar-b-que. I then felt the Spirit telling me not to cancel. We didn't, and God blessed us so much. Our friends stayed about 5 hours here and it was the best thing that happened to me. I felt all the anger and frustration just melt away as we enjoyed our time with them. God kept reminding me that bad things will happen but our goal never changes and that is to share the Good News.

I like how He can take a bad situation and use it to call you back to what is really important. It's not always fun but you definitely get a better focus on His will.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

God please help us!!

We had an interesting day yesterday. Our car was broken into in broad daylight. Garrett and I were together and he wanted to blog about it. The following (and the title) are his words. Here you go:

"Yesterday when me and dad were coming home from my soccer class we parked right beside our little market to get some food, and our brand new camera was in the car and I was going to hide it under the seat but I thought that no one would bother it but unfortunately someone did.

Me and him were done buying things so we had to cross the street to go in our car, and when we got to the car I saw glass on the ground and right then I knew what it was!

Someone had broken into our car and stolen our brand new camera, and the front seat of our car was just filled with glass.

So dad called mom to tell her what had happened and I started to take the glass out of the car.
And I cut my finger taking the glass out of the car."

(I might fill you in with a little more info later although I think he did a pretty good job)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Carys and Christmas

I had a Christmas flashback with Carys last week.

For Christmas last year Santa Claus gave her a Bible called, Day by Day Kid's Bible. It's a great kid's bible and it has just the right amount of verses for each day. Not too much and not too few. It says on the cover that you can read the Bible in a year with just 7 minutes a day.

Although we haven't been consistent in reading this Bible together daily, Carys and I usually have one day a week when we read together.

Last week we were reading from Luke 12 about Jesus coming back and how we need to be ready. We talked of how awesome it would be if we were still alive when that happened and got to see him come back. We talked of the importance of following Christ's teachings because, as He tells us in Luke 12, he will come when least expected.

Carys paused for a few seconds. I could tell she was in deep thought. I wondered what she was thinking as she took in our conversation.

A couple seconds later I got my answer as she, completely seriously, said, "Dad, I sure hope He doesn't come at Christmas!"

Like we always say, the world is Carys's playground.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

For the Grandparents

We realize that probably no one else, outside of his grandparents, will care about this video of Giovanni. So, grandparents, here's your first view of your grandson.

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing - Photo Books

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A New House Church at the CASA

One of the most exciting things about house churches is when a new house church group forms. This past Sunday, a new group started with our brother Paulo Renato in the CASA. First, a little background on Paulo and the CASA.

Paulo Renato has been a member of our church since before it ever was started. He met with our team in our home before we ever had a building. Paulo knew Matt, our teammate, from a Let's Start Talking trip that Matt had made to Porto Alegre several years before. Paulo had been an alcoholic and had lived on the street for awhile. He found his way to the Chácara, gave his life to Jesus, and has never looked back. Paulo has been the caretaker of our church building since we opened it, but more than that, he is a strong prayer warrior and caretaker of souls. He is one of the most humble servants of God that we know. Since we began house churches, we (obviously) didn't need a big church building. But we do have a house that we use as a resource and activity center. We call it the CASA (Centro de Atividades, Serviços, e Apoio - Center of Activities, Services, and Support) and we use it for many things. Paulo lives at the CASA and takes care of it. He also visits the Chacara weekly to encourage the guys there. There are so many wonderful things that we could write about Paulo Renato, but at least this is an introduction. You will probably hear more about him in the future.

(An old picture of Paulo Renato and Anderson at Anderson's 1st birthday party. They have always been big buddies.)

Anyway, Paulo Renato has felt the calling to start a house church group that will meet each Sunday at the CASA. He has invited some people who are Christians but, for one reason or another, didn't have a group of their own. This past Sunday was the first meeting for this group. Our house church also met there for our second Bring a Friend Day. Paulo admitted that he was nervous about the first meeting of this new group. But God really blessed the day. There were around 30 people present! Paulo's house church, Sunday, consisted of 2 men who are currently at the chacara and the mom of one of them, one young man, an older man and a young women. Paulo was very excited that God blessed him with so many people on the first day this house church met. It was a powerful time of worship with many strong prayers, wonderful praise, an encouraging message, as well as powerful and meaningful testimonies and encouragement. After the worship, we enjoyed grilled out sausage and bread and more fellowship time.

It is really neat to see how God is working to bring more new people to his family. This house church meeting was unlike any that I have been to before, but that is what is so great about house churches. They don't all have to be alike. Each one can fit the personality of the group. We are so grateful for Paulo Renato - his example, his service, his committment - and we are so grateful that God answered his prayer for the first worship service in the CASA.

Here are some pictures of the special day:

In the first prayer that was prayed we asked the Spirit to strongly come into our meeting......and boy did He ever. The singing was incredible.

The prayers were completely Spirit led.

Our brother, Roberto, was in town for a one day vacation from his missionary training and we had the privilege of worshipping with him and his family. He gave a testimony about what God is doing in his life through this training. He and Moema got to hold Giovanni for the first time.And, of course, we spent a few hours together fellowshipping and enjoying a meal together. Like I said, the Spirit was present in a strong way. Our family was so blessed to be a part of it and we can't wait till the next one.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

2 Weeks Old

Tomorrow Giovanni will be 2 weeks old. Let's just say we are all in love with him already. He is a great baby. Here's some cuteness for you....