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

Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Lord bring us new people."

When our team was training together to come to Brasil, we were given some ideas, by past Brasilian missionaries, of what church should look like in Brasil, when and and how often to have team meetings, ideas on how to reach people who don't know Jesus, etc.

We moved down here and implemented a lot of those ideas. If you've followed this blog for any length of time you know that God has turned our preconceived ideas of what success is on its ear.

It became pretty obvious after a while here that some of the things we were trying to do were not exactly Spirit led things, but things that had been somewhat successful in other part of Brasil but just weren't reaching the lost here. Our team wanted to follow the Spirit, whatever that meant and whatever that looked like. We began study among ourselves, and then we studied Acts together with our church family. The Spirit spoke through those times together.

We felt Spirit led us to close our building and to begin a network of house churches. This change has been the hardest, most rewarding, most hairpulling, most incredible experience I've ever had as a believer. With each challenge God reminds us that truly being His family isn't easy. Life with our blood family isn't easy so why should we expect true Christian living to be full of warm fuzzies? It's not, but perseverance brings us closer.

God has changed what our team looks like and continues to make changes. Since we moved here in 2002, two families have left this work along with a single woman. Another family, the Terrys, will be returning back to the states in January.

That will leave Benay, myself, Matt and Paul as the only American missionaries left with this team. Since they've arrived here, Matt and Paul have married Brasilian women who are partnering with them in sharing Christ to our city.

All of the changes God has made to our original plans have been to His glory. One of the things I like best that He has done, is the way He changed our meeting times together. When we first arrived here we were given the idea of meeting together every Monday morning for a "business type" meeting to go over problems, finances, etc. We would also pray, but somehow the prayer part seemed to get pushed down over the important "starting a new church and all that comes with that" part.

If you know me (Kevin), you know that that was one of the hardest parts of my week. I love being outside. I love interacting with people and being out on the street. There is also a reason I never worked at a desk job. I can't stand anything that looks or smells like a business meeting. I also love to pray with my brothers and sisters in Christ. So, Mondays were tough for me. I was there, but was thinking of when it would be over. We would spend 2-3 hours on "stuff" and just a few minutes in prayer.

Over the last couple of years God has transformed our times together into the majority of time in prayer and just a few minutes on the "business stuff." We have disagreements and tough discussions when needed, but at the heart of our time together is prayer and our prayer time can make those tough talks times more compassionate.

A few months ago Matt began praying that God would bring us new people. Wow, I thought, that's simple and perfect.

We realize that there is power in prayer but also God expects us to faithfully act along with our prayers. As soon as Matt began praying this weekly prayer, he began telling stories of how God had brought someone new into his life that week. The rest of our prayer group began praying the same thing, and God began sending new people into our lives. It's been an incredible thing to see God work.

I am an inconsistent prayer person at best. I take great encouragement from a Christian sister of mine. When I told her we were pregnant with Giovanni, I asked if she would pray daily for Benay and our baby. She told me she could not promise that but she would promise to pray for them when the Spirit put them on her heart. I loved that response.

I guess the Spirit was working on me one Wednesday morning a few weeks ago. I am part of an accountability group that meets on Wednesday mornings. (A later blog on this group is coming.) That Wednesday I prayed the prayer that Matt started months ago. "Lord put new people in our path."

The very next day I went to Carys's soccer practice. Normally I don't go. On her soccer days she eats lunch at school and then goes straight to practice. That day Anderson and I hung out with Carys, ate lunch together and then went to practice.

We got there and before practice I saw Carys talking to her coach and some other man I had never seen before. She runs over to me to tell me the man was asking her if I was in the military (I get that alot with the short haircut). He then came over and started speaking to me. Turns out he lived 5 years in Arizona (about 20 years ago) and went to college there before returning to Brasil. I could feel God opening that door just a little bit as He answered my prayer from the day before.

He asked what we do here and I could feel God opening up the door even more. I began telling him about being missionaries. He wanted to know how our church worked. He told me he was raised Catholic but really only went to church for his baptism and his wedding. I began telling him about "being church" instead of "doing church." He shared some more things in his life. I shared some more things from my life. We talked for an hour and it passed by like 10 minutes. I even shared with him my prayer from the day before and how I felt God purposely put our conversation together.

He liked what he heard about having a personal relationship with Christ as he always had an interest in studying more about the Bible.

Please pray for my new friend. We've invited him to a Christmas party we have every year in our house (Dirty Santa style) and we'll see where this new relationship ends up. We just keep trying to join Christ where He is working instead of forcing something that doesn't belong.

We pray that in the future we will be blogging about our new friend as we share his decision to follow Christ.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Black Friday

This is what happens when "stuff" becomes your god.

Till the day I die I won't understand how people can do something like this.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Bronwyn's Trip

Bronwyn made it home safely this week from her trip. We thank you for your prayers for her and her friends. She had a great time even though it rained every day, was cold and windy. They only went to the beach one quick time during their trip.

They actually came home one day early. Why?

Here's why:
They were actually hurrying to get out because rain has been pounding the state of Santa Catarina. Roads have been washed out. Homes have been washed away. People have lost everything, including their lives. As of last night it was reported that, since the rains started, 99 people have died and 19 more are missing. 1.5 million people have been, in some way, affected by the rain and over 51,000 people have been forced to leave their homes. Another 27,000 people are now homeless.

Brasil's president toured the area this week and released money to help the region. It literally is a disaster area.

Please pray for the people in the state of Santa Catarina.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Almost there..........

Last night the greatest team in soccer played the first leg of the finals of the South American Cup.

We had to go to Argentina to play against a team called Estudiantes. They had not been beaten at home in the last 43 games. We lost one of our best players at the 24 minute mark of the first period (for those not familiar with soccer we play a 45 minute first half and a 45 minute second half). He received two yellow cards and was kicked out of the game. We had to play the last 65 minutes of the game with only 10 players versus 11.

What happened?

Here's what happened:

With Alex's penalty kick we won the game 1-0. The return game will be here next Wednesday night at 10:00. Yes we have already bought our tickets and we should have a big group going with us (bigger than our normal family group) as we've already talked with other people who have bought their tickets as well. The stadium should be packed and that, by itself, is always fun to be a part of.

Another update (hopefully a joyful one) to come after next week`s game.

These extra highlights, from the entire game, are for my dad but feel free to enjoy them as you slowly become a fan of Inter too. You know you want to.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tis the Season.......Carys Style

Christmas in Brasil is our favorite time of year. We have some family traditions that we do every year. We even love the blazing hot Christmas time weather.

Brasilians, obviously because it's an American holiday, don't do Thanksgiving so it gives us an excuse to jump into the Christmas season a lot sooner than we ever did in the states. We put up our tree today and put the lights in our yard.

Yesterday I heard Carys and Benay both singing (at different times) Christmas songs. Benay was singing one to Giovanni and Carys was singing in her room.

We are a big Christmas time family. We love every bit of it. The malls here go crazy every year with Christmas decorations. There are Christmas parades, concerts and shows. We love it. I don't think anyone in our family loves Christmas more than Carys. Go here if you want to catch a little of her personality last Christmas. Today she helped me do a lot of yard work to get everything ready to put up the lights. She then helped me put up almost every outside light....smiling the entire time. She LOVES Christmas.

Two days ago she and Benay made up Carys's Christmas "To Do List."

Just in case you wanted to know what Carys will be doing this holiday season you can check out the following list. Here you go:

If you had difficulty reading the light writing here is what she put down:

x-mas tree (popcorne)

decorate house

wrap presante

read Christmas stories

sing Christmas songs

make Christmas cookies

buy or make presente

go to mall to see santa

make a list

watche Christmas movies

paint Giovanni's stoking

go to Gramado (our favorite Christams town)

see Grandmommy (my mom will be coming for a visit in a couple of weeks)

There you go. She has a full month coming up. We'll keep everyone up to date on how many of these things she crosses off her list. If you know Carys, your best bet is that she'll do every one.

Monday, November 24, 2008


In October I challenged our family to 30 days with no caffeine or chocolate.

They accepted the challenge. We agreed to do this for the month of November. We are in the home stretch now and have less than a week left. It's been interesting seeing what life would be like with no sodas or chocolate bars.

If anyone thinks that caffeine is not addictive, think again.Some of us are having a harder time dealing with caffeine withdrawals than others............and sometimes the temporary symptoms haven't been pretty.
But we've found that exercise seems to be the best medicine to take our minds off the cravings of chocolate candy washed down with a Pepsi.

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Pray for us.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Faith Builder

For the past 3 weeks we've been getting some email updates from a missionary couple in Recife, Brasil. We've actually never met Chris, Teresa and Sara but we feel a closeness to them through the emails they've sent out. Their passion for spreading the Good News to everyone has grabbed our hearts.

The last 3 weeks they've asked us to pray for this family:

The little girl on the left is named Bianca. For the last 3 weeks she has fought the disease called dengue fever. If you don't know anything about it then you need to do a little research on the internet. It's a disease that is carried by mosquitos and its a yearly battle fought by many cities in Brasil. It's something that affects tropical countries and even though our city has four seasons, the health officials will, from time to time, come to our home to make sure that the houses in our neighborhood are doing all that's possible to prevent the spread of this disease. There is even a Brasilian website that tells you how to prevent dengue, where outbreaks have occurred, videos, etc. It's a bad disease that affects many people each year.

Yesterday Bianca lost her battle with dengue. She was only 7.

I can't even imagine what that would be like.

We received an encouraging email from Chris and Teresa today about Bianca's death. Some people might have a hard time thinking how news like this could encourage brothers and sisters in Christ. Bianca's family are believers. Their response to this terribly sad news was incredible to read. Chris and Teresa's comments were uplifting to us as well. With Chris and Teresa's permission I am posting their email below. Please pray for Bianca's family: her dad (Duda), her mom (Branca) and her older sister (Brenda-9 years old).

Here's their email:

Paradise belongs to Bianca

After 3 weeks of fighting infections in her body, Bianca is now at peace, free from pain and suffering, and safe in the arms of Jesus. She died Saturday morning around 10 AM. The funeral will be Sunday morning at 9 AM. We were riding in our car across town when we received the call from a brother. We went directly to the hospital to be with Duda and Branca. What can you say? What can you do? We cried, we listened, and we cried some more.

I was moved by something Duda did right before Regis (one of the leaders of Boa Vista) prayed: Duda worshiped God. He sang a song by himself. We listened. The song expressed trust in God. I thought, "How many parents would worship God after their child has died?" We were definitely standing on holy ground. After he finished, he said, "The kingdom of heaven belongs to children; Jesus welcomed Bianca. I don't understand God's ways, but I trust Him. God knows what is best for our family."

Both Duda and Branca expressed to us just how much the cards, phone calls, letters, emails, and the prayers from all of our brothers and sisters all over the world meant to them. Teresa printed out several and gave them to them. They told me to tell you: "Your prayers encouraged us and we thank God for you." Please continue to pray God will comfort them.

We all wrestle with prayer for healing, don't we? Why does God choose not to heal sometimes? There are no easy answers. Does it mean God is not powerful enough to heal? No. Does it mean that we did not have enough faith (as the false health/wealth gospel teaches?) or that we didn't pray enough? No, of course not. Prayer is not manipulating God to get Him to do what we want but to trust Him and say, "You know what is best." We don't know why, but we don't see the "Big Picture" either. God does. As Job learned, we don't need to know why, we just need to trust Him. I do know God is the only One who can and will bring good out of tragedy. This He will do.

The flip side of this is: death is not defeat or the end. We were created for eternity. Death is just the doorway into our final existence. We can rejoice with Bianca. She has won the victory. She has avoided a lifetime of struggle, pain, and suffering. She served a purpose in her short 7 years of life. We still hurt for Duda, Branca, and Brenda (her 9 year old sister), but we know as Christians, there is hope. They will see Bianca again. When David's 7 day old son died, he said, "He cannot come to me; but I will go to him." (2 Samuel 12:23) Words of comfort and hope. "Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:55) Keep them in your prayers this week. If you would like to send them your thoughts, we can translate them, print them off and give them the emails. Thankful there is an empty tomb, Chris, Teresa, and Sara

God is mightily working through the lives of Duda, Branca, Brenda, Chris, Teresa and Sara in northern Brasil. Their faith has encouraged Benay and myself so much today.

If you would like to reach out to any of these people then you can visit Chris and Teresa's blog at: http://www.brazil4jesuschrist.org/ I know they would love to hear from you.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

She's traveling again

Bronwyn finished her last high school tests today and I just got home from putting her on a bus with about 40 of her classmates and 4 chaperones.

They left at 11:30 tonight. I found this video that shows where they will be:

It's in the next state north of us (Santa Catarina) at a place called Garopaba. It should take about 6-7 hours for them to get there. They hoped to be there in the morning in time to eat breakfast and then hit the beach. They should be home early Tuesday morning.

We ask that you pray for safety for this group and that Bronwyn will have lots of opportunities to be Christ to her friends during this trip. We know she is going to have a great time.

Thank you, in advance, for your strong prayers for her and her friends.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

We're going to the Finals!

Everyone's favorite soccer team played here in Porto Alegre last night. It was the second game against Chivas from Mexico. We won the first 2-0.

I bought our tickets last Friday and we were ready to go. I went into Bronwyn's room last night about 8:00 last night and told her to get ready to go (remember big games start at 10:00 at night). She asked if I would be mad if we didn't go to the game. Something about 3 tests she had to take today and tomorrow. Her last three tests ever of high school and she had to pass them to graduate next month. Talk about nit picky! That gene comes from her mother. It's called nerdious genos (no need to look it up......it's the name of a gene). For me to miss an important game for the sake of doing good on tests never did make sense.

Garrett, on the other hand, had to miss the game as well. That was a disciplinary decision made by him (he chose missing seeing a game as his punishment for a family infraction instead of missing playing in his soccer school practice yesterday). That gene comes from me. It's called ratherplaysportsthanstudious genos (I took lots of biology classes in physical therapy school so you can trust me on the name of this one too).

So we stayed home and I watched the game on television.

Below are highlights. Sorry for the Portuguese comments (unless you are Brasilian, are a missionary in Brasil or, just for fun, learned Portuguese). For those of you who don't speak or understand Portuguese, all you need to know about what they are saying is that Inter is the best team in the world......or something like that.

We are the first Brasilian team to ever make the final of this tournament. The South American Cup was started in 2002 and we hope to be the first from our country to win this championship.

Keep preaching it Pops!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

11 Weeks

It's hard for us to believe that Giovanni is 11 weeks old today.

It's even harder for us to believe how developed his vocabulary has become. Take a look:

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Healthy Eating

So I'm coming up the stairs Sunday night to give Anderson a bath before he went to bed. He was waiting for me at the top of the stairs just munching away at something. I asked him what he was eating. He looked at me and with a straight face said, "salad."

"Interesting," I thought, considering we had not had salad at all that day, and even if we had he would not have eaten it. He is a good eater but "Mr. Salad" he is not. I asked him to look at me and smile. I was met with this:

He then smiled and said, "chocolate salad." Turns out he was eating a chocolate goodie that Bronwyn and Ansley brought back from their trip to Uruguay. It was hard for me to get upset with chocolate salad face looking back at me.

Believe me, he has lots of help from his older brothers and sisters in regards to abusing the "just one more (place your sweet of choice here)" rule as noted by this video:

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In the video Ansley reminded me of my grandmother (she's 92 now) who used to "hide" Carys (there is no bigger chocolate freak than Carys.....well, maybe Benay) behind her big chair while she munched away at cookies, candy, chocolate, etc. that my grandmother had given her after Carys's parents had told her no more. We have my grandmother to thank for helping to teach the kids the important life lessons of "healthy chocolate" as well as teaching them the art of helping each other "sneak" those already mentioned "healthy foods."

Whenever we are around my grandmother we realize we are fighting a losing battle. Carys still hasn't forgotten (7 years later) those wonderful trips to the corner of grandmother's room behind her chair.

It's impossible to get mad at a 90 year old woman who's sheepish grin might as well say, "Ah, he's eating healthy..........it's chocolate salad."

Thanks Mammy!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Not your normal hospital experience.

The day after Giovanni was born this woman came into our room.Her name was Marta (if I remember correctly) and she was a pastor in the Methodist church. She told us that every Thursday afternoon a volunteer group of women came to the hospital to sing for the new mothers, their new babies and their families.

That afternoon Benay and I were in the room and we heard the steadily growing sounds (humming) of the group.

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They came down the hall and parked it in front of Benay's room (you'll see her come out of her room during the song) and began singing this song. Straight out of "The Sound of Music."

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It was really fun watching moms come out into the halls with their new babies and listen to these women graciously give of their time to bless these new families. It had Benay, who has a beautiful singing voice, thinking about joining that, or some other group, some day to bless people through this kind of ministry.

Here is the last song they sang as they worked their way to the other part of the hall.

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We were blessed by these women and their ministry. It was just another reason why we love this country so much. We're always being surprised by cool things like this.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Liberty in Christ

My dad gave Benay and me a book entitled The Grace Awakening by Chuck Swindoll. We would encourage you to read it. The following came from the book:

Grace brings a freedom to enjoy the rights and the privileges of being out from under slavery and allowing others such freedom. It's freedom to experience and enjoy a new kind of power that only Christ could bring. It is a freedom to become all that He meant me to be, regardless of how He leads others. I can be me---fully and freely. It is a freedom to know Him in an independent and personal way. And that freedom is then released to others so they can be who they are meant to be---different from me!

You see, God isn't stamping out little cookie-cutter Christians across the world so that we all think alike and look alike and sound alike and act alike. The body has variety. We were never meant to have the same temperaments and use the same vocabulary and wear the same syrupy smile and dress the same way and carry on the same ministry. I repeat: God is pleased with variety. This freedom to be who we are is nothing short of magnificent. It is freedom to make choices, freedom to know His will, freedom to walk in it, freedom to obey His leading me in my life and you in your life. Once you've tasted such freedom, nothing else satisfies.

Perhaps I should reemphasize that it is a liberty you will have to fight for. Why? Because the ranks of Christianity are full of those who compare and would love to control and manipulate you so you will become as miserable as they are. After all, if they are determined to be "cramped, somber, dull, and listless," then they expect you to be that way, too. "Misery loves company" is the legalists' unspoken motto, though they never admit it.

Friday, November 14, 2008


There is no Halloween in Brasil. So, no dressing up and no trick or treating for our kids. So, obviously we have to improvise. Last year our family began a tradition of going to a little town about 2 hours away to eat supper at a halloween themed pizzaria. The staff dress up and it's some of the best pizza around. It's a win-win for everyone.

This year the Terrys (our teammates) went with us.We spent the night in the town this year instead of driving back after supper like we did last year.

Carys was the first to get ready to leave our house.........halloween shirt, pillow, Inter hat and all.
Benay thinks this picture of Carys looks like Flick on Bugs Life.
We first arrived at a town about 7 km's away from the pizza town. This is one of our most favorite towns to visit. We visited a place called the Black Lake where you can drive swan boats around the little lake. The kids took advantage of it. Here's how that looked (complete with the obligatory splashing each other with water as well as playing bumper boats):

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While the kids goofed around the lake and I filmed, Benay enjoyed an incredible view while feeding Giovanni.
Carys and Anderson then had to do some exploring around the lake.
We then checked into the hotel. The main hotel was built in 1916. We stayed in a chalet that was probably built in the 50's. We did some swimming....
.....and then got ready to go to the pizzaria.

Anderson insisted that we go as Joe and Steve from Blue's Clues. He was Steve and, of course, I was Joe. See the resemblence?
As always, the pizza was great. Pizzaria's here bring pizza after pizza (of 20-40, or more, different varieties) to your table until you tell them to stop. Then they bring pizza after pizza of dessert pizza until you tell them to stop. They even have hot dog pizza.
It's an easy way to get fat.

You can get to the place where you reach "pizza drunk." It's the stage of eating when you've eaten too much pizza. It affects people in different ways and it isn't pretty. It can make you feel sick.....
......or act in crazy ways...... .....or even put you to sleep.

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The next day was spent outside. It was a cool, rainy day but it didn't keep us from (cough) borrowing some bread from the breakfast buffet (and shoving it into her Inter hat.....notice the innocent "what me?" face) to feed the ducks.
But first we had to lead them to the water.
We then did some more exploring, with Jennifer and her daughter Elisa, around the hotel..... .....and in the old hotel. If anyone knows what this thing is please tell us.It's, obviously, an antique and it says it was made by Thomas Bradford and Company from London and Manchester. We then played bocha. Some threw the ball a little harder than others.It was good to get away for a day with family and friends and leave the internet and cell phones behind.

We're already looking forward to next year. You know our family will have fun.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

For Pops

Last night the best team in the world (that would be Internacional for those who might not know) played the first game of the semifinals (or seminifinals as Anderson calls it) of the South American Cup. I realize that there may not be many people who care (outside of my dad a.k.a. Pops) but our family has to continue sharing the Good News of Jesus to Brasilians and the world - as well as sharing the good news of being a fan of Internacional. Like I said, the best team in the world.

Last night we played Chivas in Guadalajara, Mexico. We won 2-0. The next game will be next Wednesday night here in Porto Alegre......and yes, we will be there.

Here is our first goal:

Here is our second:

Here is what it sounded like on radio:

Keep spreading the gospel of Inter, Pops.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

10 Weeks

Giovanni is 10 weeks old today and he continues his deep conversations.

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He's a true Brasilian. You can tell this by how expressive he is with his arms and hands while he talks.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Message Board

Carys has a chalk board that is hung up on the door to her room. She seems to think it's a great way to share important details in her life. And there are lots of very important things going on in the life of a 9 year old. Like:
When she goes to bed.

When she puts the thing in the electrical outlet that kills mosquitos.

When she takes Sam out for his daily walk.
Specific bedtime instructions to her mom.
And my favorite......when she goes to church.

Which is just hilarious to me since we are a part of house church which is in OUR house 3 times a month. One time a month we go as a family to the celebration worship time together and so I'm not sure who she would be leaving this message for.

We can't say it enough, that's Carys.