Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Anyone here who saw this knew immediately what it was.
It was a bus carrying the Seleção.
Seleção ("selection" in portuguese) means the Brasilian national soccer team. Brasilian national soccer team means more police protection than our president would get if he were visiting our city.
You haven't seen anything until you've seen Brasilians watching the Seleção. It's one of, if not the most incredible thing I've ever seen in sports.
The very first soccer game I ever saw in person was when I first visited Brasil in 2001. It was the Seleção. I had no idea what the soccer rules where, who the players were, what the Seleção meant or anything, but it was incredible. Fireworks for 10 minutes before the game, 4 singers on the field singing the national anthem and the entire stadium singing with them, fans yelling and cheering for most of the game and a victory by Brasil. I was hooked.
The team is here to play a game in our stadium tomorrow night against Peru. They are playing qualifying games to see who will make it to next year's World Cup in S. Africa. When they play home games they play in different cities. Some of the curbs of our major streets have been painted yellow and green for the game. We see more Brasil flags on cars this week. Soccer is a passion here and it unites the country.
Brasil has won more World Cups than anyone else. This is a picture of our team from the 2006 World Cup. We didn't win. It was disappointing. We hope to win another one next year.
By the way........Benay, Bronwyn, Garrett, Ansley and I will be at the game tomorrow night.
We are hoping for a victory and some extra energy as the game starts around 10:00 at night.
Pictures, and maybe some video, will follow.
Monday, March 30, 2009
The cross. Can you turn any direction without seeing one? Perched atop a chapel. Carved into a graveyard headstone. Engraved in a ring or suspended on a chain. The cross is the universal symbol of Christianity. An odd choice, don’t you think? Strange that a tool of torture would come to embody a movement of hope. The symbols of other faiths are more upbeat: the six-pointed star of David, the crescent moon of Islam, a lotus blossom for Buddhism. Yet a cross for Christianity? An instrument of execution?
Would you wear a tiny electric chair around your neck? Suspend a gold-plated hangman’s noose on the wall? Would you print a picture of a firing squad on a business card? Yet we do so with the cross. Many even make the sign of the cross as they pray. Would we make the sign of, say, a guillotine? Instead of the triangular touch on the forehead and shoulders, how about a karate chop on the palm? Doesn’t quite have the same feel, does it?
Why is the cross the symbol of our faith? To find the answer look no farther than the cross itself. Its design couldn’t be simpler. One beam horizontal—the other vertical. One reaches out—like God’s love. The other reaches up—as does God’s holiness. One represents the width of his love; the other reflects the height of his holiness. The cross is the intersection. The cross is where God forgave his children without lowering his standards.
How could he do this? In a sentence: God put our sin on his Son and punished it there.“God put on him the wrong who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God” (2 Cor. 5:21 MSG).
Thursday, March 26, 2009
When Benay was looking for a phrase from him about Bronwyn's birthday, she was met with the following:
Benay: Anderson, what do you want to say to Bronwyn for her birthday?
Anderson: I love her so much.
Benay: Well, that's good but what else can you say to her? How do you feel about Bronwyn.
Anderson: Happy. Proud.
Benay: OK, then what do you want to say about her?
Benay: OK, like here is what Carys said - She is one of the best sisters in the world. I can't imagine having a better 18 year old sister.
Anderson: OK. She is the best sister ever. I can't never imagine a sister that good.
Benay: But that is pretty much what Carys said. Say what YOU think about her.
Anderson: (repeats same sentence again)
Garrett comes in...
Benay: Garrett what do you want to say about Bronwyn for the blog.
Garrett: She is a cool sister. She has been helpful all these years.
Anderson: Oh, I've got one. She has been thankful all these years.
Benay: Say it again Anderson.
Anderson: Thankful. I love her on the bottom of my heart.
Benay: OK. I'll put that.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I asked the each family member to share what she means to them.
Giovanni: "Bah, bah, bah..." Translated - Thank you Bronwyn for putting off your college to stay here and take care of me and give us time to get to know each other. I love you.
Anderson: "I love her on the bottom of my heart."
Carys: "She is one of the best sisters ever! And i couldn't imagine a better 18 year old sister."
Garrett: "She is a really cool sister and has been helpful all these years."
Ansley: "She is my best friend."
Benay: "She is everything you could want in a daughter. Sweet, helpful, easy-going, fun to be with, good and trustworthy. I am so proud of her and can't wait to see what God has in store for her in the future."
Me: "Amazingly mature Christ follower. She is a great daughter, big sister and even a mother-like figure to Anderson (who obeys her like he would Benay with things like "eat your beans"). She likes to have fun and easily laughs at herself. "
We love you, Bronwyn. Happy 18th Birthday!!
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
For some reason Carys can make him crack up with just about anything she does. It's really funny.
Here's an example of her handiwork with a stuffed animal (please excuse Anderson coming in a few seconds into it with the pooting bag......things like that are pretty normal for our family):
Monday, March 23, 2009
By the way, the name of this group is SKANK. But you pronounce it like "SKUNKY". Kind of funny for us Americans.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Like any recovery center, for there to be success people have to want to change. We've seen our share of men go to the center for a day or two and then leave. Or stay for a few months and then leave. Some come back to the center and some go back to their lives of drugs. It would crush your heart to hear some stories of men returning to drugs, alcohol and prostitutes. Men leaving good families because of the power of drugs. It makes it especially difficult when you see those that really turn their addicitions over to God. They are the most inspired, Spirit filled, honest and real Christians I have ever met. You want that for all the men who enter the center but some, unfortunately, don't or can't release everything to God.
Our teammate Matt and Paulo Renato go to the center each Wednesday to minister to guys while they are in the process of recovery. This has been a real blessing to those in the recovery center as well as to Matt and Paulo.
For a while it has been on my heart to start a group with guys who graduate from the center. Their time in the center is full of discipline and fixed schedules. I started to think that when they leave the center it has to be tough having so much freedom after having months, if not years, of fixed schedules.
I asked these guys if they wanted to do something like that and they jumped at the chance to have an accountability group.
Last night was another humbling time for me. We had four brothers who were there with me and Paulo Renato. Another showed up as we were closing with a prayer.
We shared sin and prayed for each other. The openness with which they shared deep troubles and serious sins in their lives was to God's glory. There were no secrets. We began allowing God to knock down some of the strongholds that we've allowed Satan to build up in our lives. We also talked about and prayed for those that we know who have left the recovery center but have returned to a life of drugs and fornication.
We have committed to meet every Friday night. We've agreed to call each other when we are weak or have sinned. We've also agreed to live from Friday to Friday. To not try to win all these battles with our sinful nature at one time but to live for the next accountability group when we can share how God gave the victory over the last 7 days. It was an incredible beginning.
I was blessed so much by my time with our brothers.
Please pray for this new group. Pray for these brothers that God will give them the victory over past addictions as well as new temptations. Pray for us to be the true body of Christ and please pray for our brothers who have left the center but don't yet see the need to be a part of this group.
Friday, March 20, 2009
We haven't really had withdrawals from the TV. Garrett and I really miss European soccer but we at least get to see some games from time to time with our antenna. We get 3-4 channels. So whenever someone asks what they could give to the kids, we usually recommend some kind of TV series. We've got a nice little DVD collection.
Anyway, when we go somewhere that has cable, it's easy for the kids to want to spend some time vegging out to shows.
On the day we left our hotel to come home, we were all packing and I walked in to see Anderson in this position. He was kicked back and soaking in his last day of watching TV.
He was watching cartoons. The day before he had told Benay that Pica Pau (Woody Woodpecker) was the best actor on TV. He was dead serious.
The next day he told me that Mr. Bean was the second best actor. Brasilians have a love for Mr. Bean that is as puzzling as the French love for Jerry Lewis. We are thrilled(not) that most of our kids love Mr. Bean.
When Benay and I got home from a date last night, Ansley showed us this video that she had made while babysitting. You get to not only see Anderson's love for Pica Pau but his acting ability as well:
Maybe he has a future in voice-overs?
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
For four and a half years he was the baby in our family. He has been constantly told how fast he is, how cute he is, how good he is at everything. This has, to say the least, loaded him up with confidence.
When he got to practice today he was all smiles. The coach paired him up with a five year old to do some drills. All of the other kids are six to eight year olds.
Today was a day when I was happy that we speak English in our house, because as Anderson was doing the drill with this five year old he looked at me from across the field and yelled, "Hey dad, this kid is five years old and he stinks at soccer!" Lovely.
Probably harmless, but you never know who speaks English here. I quietly told him to not say things like that.
He had a great time with the drills. He is full of energy and was constantly talking to the coach as well as all the kids. Like I said, confidence is not his problem. Then it was time for the game. He was thrilled......until the game actually started with the bigger kids.
In the first minute of the game he got squished like a pancake by one of the bigger boys and the game had to stop because he was crying. He busted up his knee on that one.
He got knocked down a couple of other times but bounced up.
The thing that just killed me was when he used his hands on a play (which is illegal) and his entire team of bigger kids made fun of him. He stopped, put his head down and just wailed.
I confess I wanted to pound the other kids for making fun of my little four year old but I stayed still to see what the coach was going to do. To be honest, strong discipline is not a Brasilian strong point. But I was impressed. He quickly loved on Anderson (a Brasilian thing that I just love) and then called every team member around Anderson. He really got on the kids and then made every one of them apologize to Anderson. He then told them if they ever did that again he would kick them out of practice. When practice was over he then came to me and apologized. I told him that those things happened sometimes but I really appreciated the way he handled things.
After practice two women who had been watching came up and told Anderson how brave he was and how strong he was on the field. They then gave him a hug and kissed him.
As we walked off I held my little boy and told him how proud I was of him to play with guys way bigger than him. I asked him if he liked soccer practice and if he wanted to return.
He said, through sobs, that he liked it and wanted to come back but asked me to pray for him to be "tougher."
Monday, March 16, 2009
It started a couple of weeks ago. I took Bronwyn to 3 different language schools so that she could give them her resume.
She wanted to work this year and make some money to help pay for her future college expenses.
Like I said, she hand delivered 3 resumes two weeks ago. While we were on vacation last week one of the language schools called her and asked if she could meet with them. She told them she was on vacation but could meet with the manager today.
She then had a training session this afternoon for a couple of hours and came back with this work badge. It says "Boni.......Professor of English."Brasilians have an incredibly hard time saying Bronwyn so she has always gone by Bonni since we moved here. She gets her official badge tomorrow and we hope they spell her name with two n's.
Anyway, she came home for about thirty minutes after her training session and then I took her to teach her first class close to downtown.
We've had lots of chances to pray together before each event today. Bronwyn realizes that this isn't just a way to make money. She knows that she is being called to be the Light to those around her in this new job. She has already had a conversation with her manager about us being missionaries and she found out that her manager's English teachers were also American missionaries.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Thanks for the prayers for safety. God protected our family every day.
Friday, March 06, 2009
The last time we went somewhere as a family for longer than 1-2 nights we looked like this:Yes, it's been a while and yes, we are very excited to spend a week together.
We would appreciate your prayers for our safety.
Thursday, March 05, 2009
While they were here, they were able to really get their hands dirty in helping us with this ministry. I believe they are leaving with a heart more tied to the Brasilian people.
We'll post more later about their visit.
For now, we ask that you pray for them to get back home safely.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Monday, March 02, 2009
In the past, we have looked like this:Today we looked like this:It was a weird feeling to not have Bronwyn in the picture for the first time in 15 years.
Not to worry though. She's such a school goober and social butterfly that she even went back to her old school today and just "hung out" with some of her old friends (who also graduated last year). Weird.
All the kids had a great time. Especially Anderson. There is potential for him to have a new girlfriend as his class got a new girl. For the last two years his class of about 15 has been 14 boys and one girl. His dating options just doubled. He told his grandparents that she was weird, but pretty, and that one day she could be his girlfriend.
Please pray for them to have a great school year and to be the light of Christ to their friends.