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

Friday, February 27, 2009

Carnaval-Day 3

During house church this past Sunday we found out that Daiana's smallest son, Ismael, was going to have a birthday the next day.

Ansley, Carys and Anderson made a cake and so on Monday afternoon, we went to their house.

Ismael was asleep when we got there. It gave us more time to get to know Daiana's family better which included time with her mom, brother, and little sisters.

Daiana's mom (Mara) told us that when Daiana returned home the day before she could not stop talking about her house church experience. How she saw, for the first time, a group of people who really loved and took care of each other. How people shared, confessed sin and really enjoyed being around each other. Daiana then told us that she has gone to church before but had never seen anything like what she saw the day before.

Ismael finally woke up from his nap. He was asleep on his mom and dad's bed. We found out later that Daiana lets the four boys sleep on the bed while she sleeps on the floor at night. They have a small house and this is their only bed.

Once he was finally awake enough from his nap.................Ismael was ready for his party.

We sang happy birthday.........
...........and then he got to open a present. We brought a Match Box car for each boy and a couple of little things for Daiana's sisters. Daiana and her kids share a house with her mother. It is one house but they've made it into two by sharing a common wall. Daiana is the oldest child (28) and her two little sisters are 11 and 6 so her sisters are more like sisters than aunts to her own boys.

Everyone liked the cake.
We had a great time. After a little while, the kids disappeared to play with Daiana's kids and Benay, Bronwyn and I went to see Ricardo's, Daiana's brother's, house which is right next to them.
Ricardo was very proud of his house. He showed me every inch of it. While we were there he even sang some Christian songs for us on his karaoke. His mom told us he used to be involved in a church and even sang in the church choir but has fallen away. God opened a door for us to invite him to be a part of our house church. Please pray that Ricardo accepts our invitation.
Just one more instance of us going somewhere in hopes of blessing someone........................and us coming home being the ones more blessed. On the way home Bronwyn and Ansley had the idea of throwing Daiana a surprise baby shower in the next month or two. I love what "being church" instead of "playing church" is doing to the mindset of each of our kids.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Carnaval-Day 2

The day after we painted the guys' apartment, we invited everyone who was involved to our house for house church. Christian and Anderson wanted to know if they could invite their families. I picked them up in our school bus. Ten people loaded up in the van.

While I was picking them up, Benay went and picked up Daiana and her four boys. Daiana is the wife of Everton who is currently in the Christian recovery center.

As we've mentioned before, summer in Porto Alegre is like a ghost town. So many people that live here leave to go spend days, weeks and even 1-2 months at the beach. One of the cool things about this past Sunday was that we only had one person here who is a regular part of our Sunday house church. One person.........and yet we still had 40 people in our house.

Here is what it looked like. It was a day full of blessings.

The night before, Bronwyn and Leni made lunch for the next day. Leni had asked Carys to come and sleep at her house that night but with everything going on we weren't able to take her home. It was also too late for her to take a bus home so we invited her to spend the night with us. She and Carys slept on an air mattress together on the den floor. I love the freedom she felt to stay with us and have a little sleep over with our 9 year old daugther.

Rodrigo led the Lord's supper. Before he prayed he read 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. He explained that this scripture meant that we shouldn't take the Lord's Supper if we have a problem with another brother. He then stopped and, in front of everyone, admitted that he had sinned against Alexandre and his mom and asked for their forgiveness. And even though his brother, Eduardo, was at a Christian conference in another city, he apologized to him as well and said he knew the Spirit would deliver that message to him. When he got through, Alexandre got up and went over to Rodrigo. They shook hands and Alexandre forgave him in front of everyone. Rodrigo then led our prayer for the Lord's supper.

I grew up in a christian family. I always went to church with my family. Grew up in a church doing all kinds of church activities. I went to a Christian university. I have NEVER seen a Christian live that scripture the way it was demonstrated on Sunday. One of the most inspirational things spiritually that I have ever seen. Benay later told Rodrigo she had never seen anything like that. Biblical faith being lived and demonstrated before our very eyes. I just wish more people could have witnessed that humility.

While the adults had our study time, Bronwyn and Ansley did a great job of teaching the children. Their class consisted of a 5 month old all the way to a 12 year old. One of my favorite things about house church is there is no rent or utilities that we have to pay. We set out a box every week and tell people if they feel led to give then just put it into a box that we normally leave on the stairs. We also ask, every Sunday, if anyone has a need, or knows of someone who might need that weeks' offering. On Sunday, the tithe was used to help 2 families who are having deep financial problems as well as the three guys who just left the recovery center. It was an amazing thing to watch the tithe immediately help someone in need.

Daiana was one of the people we helped. She did not share her need but we knew it had to be difficult for her to live with 4 small children at home. Benay quietly went to share the tithe with her and she began to cry and hug Benay. She told Benay that just the night before she had asked God to provide what she needed so that she could buy food for her boys. She had not known how she was going to get through this week with no money for food. The Spirit was definitely moving on Sunday.

Everyone stayed for lunch afterwards and we had a great time of fellowship.
Present in our group on Sunday were 6 people who haven't committed their lives to Christ. We know that they saw the grace and goodness of Christ in a way they had never seen before.

The singing is always a favorite part of our house church times together. I filmed this little bit from Sunday. The song we are singing talks about us being a family, how we need each other and how precious each person is to us. I love the video because you can see people holding hands, raising hands and really meaning the words we are singing.

I was going to apologize for the light coming in from the window which keeps you from seeing everyone on the couch. As I watched the video, Garrett came in and asked if the light was God's glory. Wow. The more I think about Sunday the more I think it was in fact God's glory.

Here it is:

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

The night before as we went to Immanuel Pentecostal Church with Rodrigo, Anderson, Christian and Renato, we sang a song about the Holy Spirit being poured over us. During the song, people would make a flicking motion with their fingers as they rained down the Holy Spirit. The worship service ended with that song and immediately Rodrigo and Anderson came up to me and told me that God was going to pour out the Holy Spirit on our house and in our house church the next day.

He definitely did that.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Carnaval-Day 1

If you know what Mardi Gras is, then you have an idea of what Carnaval is. Carnaval is the Brasilian version of Mardi Gras- only on steroids. It basically consists of lots of nudity, alcohol and sex.

A lot of missionaries/missionary teams typically get out of their cities and do some kind of retreat with other Christians during this time. This church family actually did that for a couple of years. We went a little more than an hour outside of the city and had a retreat. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, we were very blessed by those retreats. But, as a team, we began to feel led to stay in the city and help people during this time instead of going somewhere for a retreat. We felt that we could have a far greater impact on this city if we helped someone in need during this time when almost everyone leaves the city. We wanted to be a light in the city when the darkness is so strong.

Last year we heard of a need to paint a day care center in the neighborhood of one of the families from our church. We took a group of about 20 people and spent 2 days together painting the inside of their building.

This year we had two groups. One group went to help a family of a young lady who had given her life to Christ, but had recently fallen away from the church. She is now expecting a baby and needed some work done to help prepare for this new arrival. Our teammates, the Morrows, took a group to work at her home.

The group that Benay and I headed up went to the apartment of Christian, Josemar, Anderson and Renato. The first three left the Christian based drug/alcohol rehab center about 3 months ago, and Renato left just last week and was invited to live with them.

They told us of their desire to have their apartment painted and to have kitchen cabinets so that could keep their dishes off the floor.

We had an incredible group that was happy to help.

This is the group as we got ready to leave our house.We got to their apartment a little after 10 in the morning and went right to work.

Some painted..... .....some installed cabinets............and some played with Jeanderson. (Garrett saw that Jeanderson had no toys in his house so he used his own money to buy him a soccer ball and he gave him some of his old toys as well) Benay's dad also spent most of the day with us painting doors and window trim.Renato even used his giftedness to fix the windows and radio in the old school van that Benay and I own. They have never worked properly since we bought the van over 2 years ago. They work perfectly now. After a few hours of work, Benay, Bronwyn, Ansley, Carys, Anderson, Leni, Auristela and Maurício arrived with lunch. It was a blessing for us as we were all hungry.

We were also blessed by our not-yet Christian friends (Freitas and Auristela) participating in the work. They own a hardware store in our neighborhood and sold everything to us for the work day at cost. Auristela also brought all the bread for our lunch sandwiches. It was encouraging to me to see them jump right in with a bunch of believers to help someone in need. We are praying that this will be the year that they sell out for Christ.

Later in the afternoon we broke up the work with music while we cleaned up from the busy day.

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

We finished up around 6:00.

I got home around 6:45. I took a quick shower and at 7:45 Benay, her dad, Ansley and myself were out the door again.

Christian, Anderson, Rodrigo and Renato had asked us to worship with them at their church on Saturday night. So a little after 8:00 we arrived at the Immanuel Pentecostal Church to worship with our brothers.The day of blessings continued as we were able to spend more time with Jeanderson.
We were also able to hear a 14 year old boy, filled with the Spirit, speak to the church family.

The church also asked our brother Paulo Renato to speak to them. Paulo is one of the most humble men you will ever meet. He is an incredible part of our church family and he is also a recovering alcoholic who met the Lord at the recovery center. He blessed us with his testimony on Saturday night.

The worship time ended with Christian's girlfriend giving her life to Christ.

Later we heard Rodrigo (yellow shirt below) tell the pastor that he has two church families, one on Saturday night with them and one every Sunday morning in our house.

We feel very blessed to be involved in the lives of the men from the recovery center.

It was a incredible day.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Big Brothers

When my mom came to visit in December she asked if Anderson's battery ever runs out. He wakes up early and goes all day. He asks a million questions and talks to everybody. He is definitely our most extroverted child. The days sure are interesting with all of his questions.

When his battery finally does run out he crashes............hard. He will lay down and, it doesn't matter what position he's in, he'll be out in a matter of seconds.

The other night Garrett called me in to look at the way he was sleeping. He was like this:
Looks like someone tied him up, like a prisoner, and laid him down in this position.

Garrett has gotten into a nice habit of wanting to take him up to bed by himself.

Anderson has lots of big brothers and sisters who take care of him but there's something really cool about a brother taking care of his little brother.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Making Deliveries

Acts 2:44 says that all the believers shared everything they had.

Benay and I were blessed to see this in action this week.

Here is how we spent a good part of our Thursday and Friday of this week:

On Thursday, our brother Paulo Renato came to our house and he went with us to Leni and Jorge's house.

Leni gave her washing machine to the three young men (Eduardo, Rodrigo and Alexandre) who just left the Christian based drug/alcohol rehabilitation center. Go here to learn more. We picked it up and went to Eduardo and Rodrigo's parents' house:

We then loaded up a washing machine that Jane (Rodrigo and Eduardo's mom) wanted to give to another young family. The husband in this young family is currently in the recovery center (Everton is his name-please pray for him) and the wife is at home with 4 very young boys and is pregnant with her first little girl.

We delivered the washing machine to her house. They were very happy. This is Everton's mother-in-law loving on Benay. She told Benay the picture would be one of black beans and rice with Benay, of course, being the rice. We had a great time.

We then went back to Eduardo's parents' house to pick up his belongings so that he could put them into his new house. After that we then went to Christian, Anderson and Josemar's apartment to pick up Eduardo's brother, Rodrigo.

A couple of days earlier, Paulo Renato, Benay's dad and I were visiting Christian and Anderson and they told us of a neighbor who needed prayer. We went to pray for her but she wasn't home. So on Thursday we tried again. She was home and so Eduardo, Rodrigo, Anderson, Benay, Paulo Renato and myself laid hands on her while Paulo asked God to heal her back problems.

We then took the second washing machine to Eduardo, Rodrigo and Alexandre's new house.

Me, Anderson, Paulo Renato, Rodrigo, Eduardo with Jeanderson in front (Anderson's son who lives with him).

It was really an incredible day.

Yesterday morning we picked up Eduardo and went to an apartment he worked in last week. While he was there last week he noticed a woman getting rid of an oven. He asked if she was throwing it out and she said yes because she got a new one. He asked if he could have it and she said yes. His original thought was to use it for his new apartment but then two other people also gave the guys an oven. They needed one and ended up with three.

Eduardo thought about selling it and using the money to help them with their expenses. He didn't feel right about that. He said he felt God was asking him to find out who might need it. He called Benay and she knew just the person. So we went yesterday morning and picked it up............and delivered the oven to Daniel, Miguelina and their family. After we got home yesterday, I told Benay that I think this last month has been the closest I have ever felt to being part of an Acts 2 type of church family. I've learned much from my Brasilian brothers and sisters over this last month. I know it will only get better. I was reminded of some great friends of ours from São Paulo state. They are fellow missionaries and they participated in a program last year called, "Blessed to be a blessing." This week was one of those things where I knew we were blessing others by delivering these items, but we were the ones who received the most blessings.

We pray that God continues to mold us into an Acts 2 type of family. We know, like our blood family, it won't always be easy or fun but if we continue to allow ourselves to be molded into the true body of Christ, more and more moments like this week will just naturally happen.

We know that throws water on the enemy's fire and, most importantly, it will shine the light of Christ on this city.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Garrett recently received the first season of Macgyver on DVD as a present.

Benay and I thought he would like it. We only get about 3 channels in our house and they aren't very good. We cut our cable a couple of years ago because of the awful things they showed and said (in the middle of the afternoon!). We don't shield our kids from the world but we also aren't going to pay to have filth enter into our kids (and ours) heads and hearts. It just doesn't make sense with what we teach them. So we are always trying to find shows that all the kids can watch together which, as you know, is getting harder and harder.

Benay had the idea of Macgyver. I remember watching it back in the day and thinking it was a cool show. Benay and I still laugh when we think of one of her former 3rd grade students trying to get himself out of some rope, Macgyver style, that was tied around him.

We sat down to watch the first episode of the first season together. Benay and I quickly remembered how bad the acting was in the 80's and 90's:Yes, it's like that.

The special effects are just hilarious to watch when compared to today's effects.

But the kids just loved it. They are burning through the episodes.

I caught Carys with my swiss army pocket knife yesterday. I asked why she had it. She said she was using the tweezers to try to get a splinter out of her foot but couldn't get it and asked if I could try. I couldn't find one. In fact I told her I didn't see anything that looked like a splinter. She said okay and took off. Strange.

Benay told me later that she caught Carys 3 times with my old swiss army knife. She was trying to be Macgyver. The tweezers suddenly made sense. I had caught her right before she went into Macgyver mode.

Later Carys asked me if I thought she could be Macgyver when she grew up. I told her I thought she definitely could be a girl Macgyver. She smiled a big smile.

If you've followed this blog for any amount of time then you already know about Carys. She keeps us smiling and laughing. It is never dull with her. She is a party, a giggle, a new funny quote, and a spanking ready to happen.....all at the same time.

I would not be surprised if she was the female Macgyver one day.

For some reason when I think of Carys and Macgyver, right now, I think in her 9 year old brain, the world`s problems would look something like this:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

One Body, Many Parts

On Sunday, the following happened in our house church:
  • Leni and Jorge received hugs and affection because of the loss of Leni's sister last week. During one song, she became emotional, so we stopped everything and prayed for her and her family as Ivoli lovingly stroked her head.
  • Rodrigo, Eduardo and Alexandre told about their need for financial help to move into a house after living at the Chácara - a Christian drug rehabilitation center. Our offering went to them and was more than they needed. Part of the money was from Leni who had received more than she needed a few weeks ago from this house church.
  • Christian (also a recent graduate of the chácara) was present because next weekend our church will be helping out doing improvements at the apartment that he shares with 2 other chácara graduates.
  • Freitas and Auristela, visitors who own a hardware store, offered to help with materials needed for these home improvements. They are selling us all the supplies at cost.
  • Leni offered a washing machine to Rodrigo, Eduardo and Alexandre for their new house.
  • Jane (Rodrigo and Eduardo´s mom) decided to give a washing machine that she was saving for her boys to another family from the chácara who needs it badly. Kevin, Paulo Renato and Freitas will make the appropriate deliveries this week in our blue van that hasn't sold yet.
In this photo: Christian, Alexandre, Rafael and Tati (Jane's daughter and husband), Rodrigo, Valmir, Jane and Eduardo (in the front).
  • Berney (Benay's dad) led a Bible study about faith. Bronwyn translated. Ansley and Grace taught the kids.
  • There were 3 not yet Christians visiting who had never been to house church before.
  • Christian led a special prayer for Rodrigo, Eduardo and Alexandre.
  • Paulo Renato led our thoughts for the Lord's Supper and cried as he prayed for the boys at the chácara - where he himself met the Lord and was freed from a life of alcoholism.
  • Rodrigo, Eduardo and Alexandre offered to paint our house for whatever price we could pay them.*
*(We live in a rented house that needs painting very badly. Painting it is the responsibility of the owner. Rodrigo and company are starting a new painting business and we wanted to be their first clients, but our landlord doesn't want to spend the money to do that right now. It would cost around 700 dollars - a very fair price.)
  • After church, we enjoyed a meal together. Each person contributing either a main dish or a drink.
  • Leni washed the dishes.
Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

Romans 12:4-10