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

Friday, January 30, 2009

English........well, sort of

We've lived in Brasil for almost 7 years. In that time I think we've met maybe 5 Brasilians who can speak English without any or much of an accent.

Brasilians love to put English words on clothes here. Because of most Brasilians' inability to correctly translate the English language, these shirts are more often wrong than right. These shirts have become a source of laughter for our family.

I think we found our favorite shirt the first year we were here. We went to a little town about 2 hours away from our city. We visited a little store and they had a kids' shirt with an American (sort of) football team logo on it. You need to understand that 99.9% of Brasilians don't understand American football know any of the teams (either college or pro). This made finding this shirt even funnier. The shirt said, "San Francisco ER's." Not the "49ERs" but the "ER's."

We think we may have found one that comes close to that one. We liked it so much we decided to get it for Giovanni. Here he is showing it off:
In case you can't read it because of all of slobber-boy's droppings, it says:
"Here is comes trouble."
We love Brasil.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Terrys

Two days ago we put these people on a plane for the first leg of their trip back to the United States.
This is Sascha, Jennifer and Elisa Terry.

This is the last picture taken of them before they left their Brasilian home and got on a plane. For the past 5 years they have lived here in Porto Alegre. They have been our teammates, good friends and, most importantly, part of our family in Christ.

We've been blessed by their being here these last 5 years. We have a lot of history with them.

Benay actually set them up on their first date when she had them "accidentally" meet in our apartment in Abilene, Texas a little over 7 years ago.

Benay and Carys flew back from Brasil to be in their wedding. Benay was a bridesmaid and Carys was the flower girl.

We were there when we welcomed them at the Porto Alegre airport 5 years ago. They arrived when there were many team problems that I'm sure made them want to get right back on the airplane and go back to the states. But they stayed. They were committed to staying and helping to plant something with the goal of having it be here when Christ returns.

They are Spirit led people and we were blessed to be able to be together as God united this team in incredible ways, turned all of our pre-Brasil ideas on it's head and led us to begin a network of house churches.

We've been blessed to see them have their first child here. We know it was tough for this young couple to have a child be born and live so far away from her grandparents.

We saw them make kingdom relationships. We saw them bring people to the Lord who would not be with us for eternity if the Terrys had not come here.

We've had some hard times but they never quit being led by the Spirit and never quit on being open to what God wanted of them here in Porto Alegre and of this church family.

We had a big goodbye party for them last week and they intentionally invited some people who don't know Christ for the purpose of allowing them to build kingdom relationships that would last after they were gone. That is the kind of people they are.....always working for the kingdom to grow in Brasil until the day they got back on the plane. They understand that every conversation has eternal consequences.

Now it's time for them to continue their kingdom work in the United States. We know God will continue blessing this family as they continue reach the lost.

Please pray for them that the reverse culture shock (which we've been told is worse than culture shock) will be as mild as possible. That God will bless them with a great city to live in and great jobs.

We will miss them greatly but we know that our goodbye on Tuesday was really more of a "see you later" than a "goodbye" because we will continue working together for the kingdom.

God bless you Sascha, Jennifer and Elisa. We are the ones who were blessed by our last 5 years together.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I Am Second

If you like to hear strong testimonies of the power of Christ then you need to click here.

My dad shared this site with me. You will know some of the people who share their testimonies and others you won't. You will be touched by all of them.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

It starts with an Oi (hi)!

Too often we Christians muddy up the Good News of Christ. We feel we have to drag someone to church service, we have to have a lesson ready, we have to be ready with a sermon and sometimes we are pretty judgmental of those who don't yet know Christ. All can be, and usually are, huge turn offs to those who don't even know Jesus.

Our family believes that everything begins with a hello.....a friendship. Every conversation we have has eternal consequences. We try, imperfectly, to live with this mindset.

We have a saying in our family to "choose the best over the good." What does that mean? Sometimes you have to say no to a very good thing in order to do the best. Benay and I have discovered this when we moved to Brasil. As a missionary you can literally do tons of "good things" and feel pretty productive but you will eventually kill yourself with "church work." But is that really what God wants? Does He want us to do lots of "good things" instead of focusing more time and energy on less "best things?" We decided a while back to say no to some "good things" and just try to do the "best things" that God asks of us.

One example happened this afternoon. The best soccer team in the world (that would be Internacional for those new to this blog) played a game today in a little stadium close to our house. Bronwyn, Garrett, Ansley and I had decided to go. Ansley then got a call from her friend whose grandfather had died yesterday. She asked Ansley to go with her family to the burial today (here people are typically buried in about 24 hours). Ansley didn't hesitate. She went with her friend. She was dying to go to the game and see her favorite player but she knew what God was asking of her. She chose the "best" over the "good." She understands how the love of Christ works and she was Christ to this family today. Benay and I could not be more proud of the way Ansley (and all of our kids) are Spirit led. Who knows what God will do with what Ansley did today?

What Ansley did reminded me of a story in Max Lucado's book entitled: Cast of Characters.

He says, Discipleship is sometimes defined by being normal.

A woman in a small Arkansas community was a single mom with a frail baby. Her neighbor would stop by every few days and keep the child so she could shop. After some weeks her neighbor shared more than time; she shared her faith, and the woman did what Matthew did. She followed Christ.

The friends of the young mother objected. "Do you know what those people teach?" they contested.

Here is what I know, she told them. "They held my baby."

I think Jesus likes that kind of answer, don't you?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lesson Learned

The other morning I heard Ansley laughing. I came into the den and was met with this:Notice the distraught look on Carys's face? She was shook up because she had been blocked from entering the neopets website. Neopets is a website where you can create your own pet and take care of it (feed it, give your pet his own little pet, play games to get money, go to stores and buy stuff for your pet, something about mashed potatoes and gravy, etc.............basically I have no clue.......that explanation came from Carys). Carys and Ansley like to get on that site.

You might be asking why she was not allowed to enter their network. Seems she tried to open a new account by using an "inappropriate" nickname.

What nickname?


We don't think she will be using funny poopie names anymore.

That would be Carys's world.

Friday, January 23, 2009


In 1994 I (Kevin) went on my first mission trip. I went to Torez, Ukraine. The church we were part of then had helped to plant a new church family in this little mining town. About every 6 months to a year another group from our church went to help grow this new family. These groups would stay anywhere from 2-4 weeks on average. We even had people who spent months there.

I remember going that first time with a man who had been before. He told me that I would cry like a baby when we left. I'm not a big crier. Not because I think it's macho not to cry or anything like that, but because I just have never cried that much. So, naturally, I thought he was nuts.

The day we left Torez after our 3 week visit I literally could not stop crying for 30 minutes. I was blubbering like a baby. Anytime I would try to talk I just blubbered even harder. It's a hard thing to explain how people you didn't even know 3 weeks earlier could have such a hold on your life.

These people had nothing but would freely share what they had. This was a place where there would be a line around the street to get a loaf of bread. Where the heat sometimes didn't work in your apartment. Where you could not drink the water. Where the water was only turned on 2 times a day for a couple of hours each time. Where you had to put a bucket of water by the commode in order to flush if you needed to use the bathroom when the water wasn't turned on. Where people would grow their own vegetables so that they could have food in the winter. Where surgeons got $20 per month and school teachers got $8 per month and they both had not been paid in months.

It was a blessing to watch them take the free gift of Christ and treat it like the unbelievable present that it is. In my brief experience, the people who have nothing (or close to nothing) seem to get that free gift. They don't have all the worldly stuff to cloud their vision of the Good News.

The day after I graduated from physical therapy school, I was blessed to be able to return to Torez with my dad (two and a half years after my initial visit), and we spent two weeks there with our Christian brothers and sisters.

The reason my family is even in Brasil is because of my time in the Ukraine. I initially wanted to be a missionary there, but God had other plans for our family.

This week I received an email from my dad. It was from a brother in Ukraine who sent some pictures of Torez. It looked like this.

Torez will always be special to me. After getting this email I began to think of all the people I know there and their suffering. It sounds like it is even worse than when I was there in the 90's.

Please join us in praying for our brothers and sisters in Torez, Ukraine.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Giovanni's Busy Month

Giovanni has been learning lots of things over the last month.

In December he giggled for the first time.

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A couple of days later he learned how to roll over by himself for the first time.

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And just a couple of days ago he learned how to sit up for a few seconds.

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You better believe it's hard work. He works hard and sleeps hard. We think it's safe to say that his dreams so far consist of food.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Acts 2......Continued

Benay and I went to our sister's house yesterday to give her the extra funds that were brought to our house Sunday night for her to buy bus tickets to be with her sister (check yesterday's blog if you don't know about this).

When Benay gave her the money she gave Benay a very long hug and told her how much she felt a part of a real family. She told Benay that irregardless of how much money she had received for her trip, for the first time in her life she feels like she belongs to a family. She said she feels loved and, for the first time in her adult life, not alone.

When we woke up this morning we found a text message on our phone from her letting us know that she was on her way to be with her sister. She told us that, before she got on the bus, another sister in Christ had met her to give her even more money for her trip.

She ended up with three and a half times more than what she needed to buy the bus tickets. She could not believe God's goodness.

I found myself feeling very blessed that my family was able to witness our church family not only meet her need, but go above and beyond.

God is good. We are blessed that He is allowing us to be a part of what He is doing here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Acts 2

On Saturday we spoke to a woman who is part of the house church that meets in our house. She spoke of a need that she had. Her sister recently had begun to have seizures and had to be put in an induced coma. She has been in the hospital since the first of this month. Her sister lives in another part of our state and our sister in Christ wanted to go visit her this week because of some important hospital tests that would be done as well as to help the family out. She wanted to leave this morning but lacked the funds to buy the round trip bus tickets to get to this other city.

One of the hardest things that we've dealt with in our time of trying to "be church" instead of "play church" here is to get people to share their needs (financially, spiritually, whatever). I don't know if it's pride or embarrassment or both that keep people from being real, but I do know that Satan is active in keeping people from really experiencing the joy of truly being God's family by sharing all our needs.

Benay and I encouraged our sister to share her financial need yesterday. Before she shared in our house church worship time, Benay read from Acts 2 about how the 1st century church shared everything they had - including sharing with those who had financial needs. Our sister then shared her need and afterward we encouraged everyone who was there to help in whatever way they could. We put a box out for just that purpose.

Not only did this house church family meet her bus tickets need but they also almost tripled what she needed. This extra amount will allow her to buy food and possibly pay some bills while she is out of town.

One woman even came to our house last night to give. When Benay called our sister to tell her of one more financial gift she very joyfully said, "What a blessing!"

The last few days we've had a missionary couple(Mark and Ali) from another state in Brasil visiting with us. After our worship time yesterday Ali said she believes that what she saw was the most Biblical way for Christians to use their tithe. We agree.

Like we've said before, being real church has been the most rewarding, humbling, frustrating, exciting, crazy thing we've ever done. But God showed us yesterday that little by little we are understanding more and more what family really means.

Please keep praying for us as we continue to grow with our Brasilian brothers and sisters in Christ as we strive to be an Acts 2 kind of family.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Toby Mac

My mom brought the new WOW CD for our family when she was here last month. We are kind of behind on the Christian music scene so you might have already heard this one but here is the song that is most being sung in our house right now. Benay and Anderson were just singing it on the couch. The words are pretty strong. The prayer at the end is Benay's favorite part of the song, but whoever made this video left off some words, so concentrate to hear them.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Dirty Santa

A few years ago Benay and I began to have a Christmas party in our house. We found it to be a great way to end the year with people who had studied the Bible with us during the year and people in the house church that meets in our house. It is also a great way to invite new people to begin to get to know Jesus through friendships with our already Christian family.

We had another party in December. When we first began to have the party we explained to everyone that it would be a Dirty Santa party. They looked at us like we were from Mars. So we had to explain the rules of Dirty Santa (you might know it as White Elephant or Dirty Christmas).

The Brasilians jumped right on it and they always have a great time with it.

If you know how to play it, you know how much fun it is because sometimes people end up with what they want (like a coffee mug from the World's Greatest Soccer team)....................and sometimes they don't (like a grown man getting a baby doll......courtesy of my designated present chooser Carys). But the good thing about the game is that you can usually find a way to get rid of something............and no matter what, you have fun.
And sometimes people take the stage for a little dance time. On her first day here my mom asked if Anderson's battery ever runs down. We told her no. He wakes up and goes hard all day (he is an extreme extrovert and big time conversationalist), and then tells you he's ready for bed and he'll be out about 30 seconds after his head hits the pillow. He normally goes to bed between 8-9. This video shows what a lot of extra people can do to an extrovert a couple of hours after his bedtime. In the video you can hear the Brasilians calling him a "sambista" which means someone who dances the samba (a typical Brasilian dance).

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We were even blessed with a big fireworks show that someone had in our neighborhood. Yes, that is our lit up palm tree in our front yard on the left and our little welcome Santa on the right. That is as wide as our front yard gets. We always have a great time as we enjoy food, fun and fellowship. This year we had 6 people participate who haven't yet given their lives to Christ. I love how God can use a party game like "Dirty Santa" to begin to share his love to those who don't know Him.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Christmas in July

One of the weirdest things for us when we first moved here was to have Christmas in the summer. To take a picture with Santa in shorts at Christmas time just felt weird that first time.If you know our family very well you know that we now LOVE Christmas in Brasil. We plan on spending the next few blogs explaining how we as Americans could prefer to spend Christmas in the heat instead of in the cold.

One of the wildest places to go on any day of the week is "centro" or downtown and it's even wilder during the Christmas season.

Since I was a kid I wanted to live in a big city like Chicago. So going downtown for me is always fun. I love it. But if I want to go downtown with Benay I have to catch her on a good day. Sometimes the crowdedness and the smells (yes the smells.........I won't go into that right now) just do her in and she can't deal with it.

Bronwyn and I caught her on a good day in December. The holiday season helps her to overlook some of the stuff she doesn't care for downtown.

So, off we went to buy some Christmas lights............
.........and then my wife caused horrible flashbacks for me of my mom and grandmother dragging me into a fabric store when I was a child. You can always see some cool things downtown like statues and a beautiful Catholic church............................or a tiny store stuck in an alley
We finally found our street and it was decorated for the holidays. The big sign says, "Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year."
More to come.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Be Alive

"The glory of God is a person fully alive."

-2nd century theologian Irenaeus

Saturday, January 03, 2009

4 Months

Hard to believe but Giovanni is 4 months old today. He's been learning some new tricks. He now rolls over and likes to giggle.

He blesses our family.

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