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

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Healing Leaves

We've shared many times about Carys being our "free spirited" child. She definitely keeps it fun around here.

Recently we shared about our great Easter retreat. In one of our blogs we shared about the guide who took us on some trails. He shared all kinds of interesting details about bugs, plants, what kinds of berries to eat and some of the history of where we were. Before we even left for the hike he had every person roll a special plant leaf in their hand and then wipe the wetness from the leaf onto their skin. It was citronella, a natural bug repellent. God is cool.

As we walked on we came to a tree and our guide stopped. He began to tell us of the healing powers that this certain tree had. He told us when people are out in the woods and get a cut or scrape they can take one of these leaves and put it over the hurt spot to treat the wound. It helps to heal and protect.
Almost immediately after those words came out of his mouth Carys came up to us and let us know that she had a cut on her hand. Here is a picture of the nasty wound. One of the worst ones I've ever seen. (Focus your magnifying glass on the base of her left thumb)Of course we had to allow her to pick a leaf and begin the healing process.
Wound coincidence? You decide.

That's Carys's world.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Being Real

A few years ago, I (Benay) sat with our teammate, Matt, in our living room planning a campaign visit of a group from the states. It seemed that it was one more in a series of events that we had planned that year. These events kept us busy, for sure, but in the end didn't seem to bring a lot of results. That day, I looked at him and said, "I can't do this anymore." He agreed that he also had the same feelings. I believe that this feeling was one of the reasons that we felt led to work with house churches. Those events were not bad in and of themselves, but planning them and executing them had begun to feel like busy work or putting on a show.

At the end of 2006, we made a change from a big church building with attractional type events to a network of house churches. 2007 and 2008 were hard years. Many people are used to going to church on Sunday, sitting there and getting fed, and then going about their week. If they have a problem with a brother, they rarely say it. If they have a real need, such as a financial crisis, they rarely share it with others in the church family. At least this had been my experience. House church forces you to have intimacy and share those needs and deal with those problems. It makes you be real - but that is a hard thing to do. Some who found they couldn't be real have left. And for that we are sad.

Last Sunday was our Celebration service. (This is a monthly worship of all the house churches together at our church resource center - the CASA.) I would have loved for any of you to have been there. It seemed like what we have been longing for and praying for these past 2 years is finally truly happening. In an outside area with peeling paint and ugly landscaping, people felt free to be real. Not because of the paint (or lack thereof), but I believe because of the environment we have tried to foster these past 2 years.
  • Before worship, we enjoyed coffee, tea, and snacks provided by one of the house churches.
  • God was praised as we called out songs from the songbook and sang others from memory.
  • Our teammate, Paul, gave an inspiring lesson about making the most out of your life.
  • A brother asked for prayer because of financial difficulties and told how a weekly prayer meeting was helping him make it through.
  • A sister got up and asked for donations for a bunk bed for a family who really needs it.
  • Two men got up and shared their struggles with drugs and how God was helping them overcome.
  • A sister and her family were prayed over as they will begin a new house church in their neighborhood this week (Praise God!).
  • Another sister got up and read a scripture of encouragement for this new house church.
    In the center of this photo is Irotilde who will open her home for a new house church. To her left is Ines, who read the scripture of encouragement to her.
  • One sister publicly thanked our brother Paulo Renato for the encouragement that he was giving her with his weekly phone calls.
  • Kids sang and played.
  • There were lots of tears, hugs and smiles of love.
I don't know what God has in store for us as we continue to work here. But I know that His Spirit was present with us on Sunday. And I am truly thankful that I can say that I do want to keep doing this.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Time for Highlights

We already shared how our team won the recent state championship. We are also in a tournament called the Brasil Cup. It's a home and home championship involving various teams from around the country. If we win this we then qualify for the South American championship next year. May not sound that cool but it's the biggest, best and most important tournament in all of South America. So, obviously, we would like to win the Brasil Cup.

We just finished the second game of the second round of that tournament. The video below shows how we did.

Even if you aren't a fan of soccer you need to keep your eye on number 10. His name is D'Alessandro and he's kind of like our Magic Johnson with his passing skills.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

He Did It Just For You

We got this email devo on Easter Sunday.

When God entered time and became a man, he who was boundless became bound. Imprisoned in flesh. Restricted by weary-prone muscles and eyelids. For more than three decades, his once limitless reach would be limited to the stretch of an arm, his speed checked to the pace of human feet.

I wonder, was he ever tempted to reclaim his boundlessness? In the middle of a long trip, did he ever consider transporting himself to the next city? When the rain chilled his bones, was he tempted to change the weather? When the heat parched his lips, did he give thought to popping over to the Caribbean for some refreshment?

If ever he entertained such thoughts, he never gave in to them. Not once. Stop and think about this. Not once did Christ use his supernatural powers for personal comfort. With one word he could’ve transformed the hard earth into a soft bed, but he didn’t. With a wave of his hand, he could’ve boomeranged the spit of his accusers back into their faces, but he didn’t. With an arch of his brow, he could’ve paralyzed the hand of the soldier as he braided the crown of thorns. But he didn’t.

Want to know the coolest thing about the coming?

Not that he, in an instant, went from needing nothing to needing air, food, a tub of hot water and salts for his tired feet, and, more than anything, needing somebody—anybody—who was more concerned about where he would spend eternity than where he would spend Friday’s paycheck.

Not that he kept his cool while the dozen best friends he ever had felt the heat and got out of the kitchen. Or that he gave no command to the angels who begged, “Just give the nod, Lord. One word and these demons will be deviled eggs.”

Not that he refused to defend himself when blamed for every sin since Adam. Or that he stood silent as a million guilty verdicts echoed in the tribunal of heaven and the giver of light was left in the chill of a sinner’s night.

Not even that after three days in a dark hole he stepped into the Easter sunrise with a smile and a swagger and a question for lowly Lucifer—“Is that your best punch?”

That was cool, incredibly cool.

But want to know the coolest thing about the One who gave up the crown of heaven for a crown of thorns?

He did it for you. Just for you.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Baby Shower Sunday

One of the neat things about house church is flexibility. Based on the needs of the people, you can adapt what you are doing accordingly. Our worship times in the past have consisted of only prayer for someone who was suffering, Mother's or Father's Day celebrations, fellowship meals, or service projects. Church is more than what you do in a church building on Sunday morning. In house church, that truth becomes very clear.

This past Sunday, our house church had the opportunity to show our love and support for Daiana and her family. Daiana is now 9 months pregnant, and since her husband, Everton, is still in the drug rehab center, she has no means of financial support. We decided to celebrate the arrival of her new baby with a baby shower.

Several ladies brought snacks and the Blume girls had a great time decorating for the party.We had a surprise in store for Daiana and her sons. Everton was able to leave the rehab center (i.e. chácara) to participate in the worship and shower. It was neat to witness Daiana and the boys' reaction when they saw Everton walking up the sidewalk.Ismael was glad to see his dad.Our worship time was especially great with spirited singing and fellowship.
As is the tradition for the guys from the rehab center, before taking the Lord's Supper, they ask forgiveness from anyone that they have wronged. Everton chose that moment to publicly ask Daiana for forgiveness for the things that he had done to her while on drugs. It was a beautiful thing.
Another neat thing that the guys from the chácara do is spend lots of time singing and playing the guitar to praise songs. They have taught our church family several wonderful songs. We discovered Sunday that Everton is a talented musician. He writes his own Christian music with a distinctive sound. Here is a short clip of a song that he wrote that the chácara guys loved and requested:

After worship it was time for fellowship and opening of presents. We were thrilled that so many people brought diapers, clothes, and other necessities for the baby.

There was lots of time for loving on the baby. Sorry if this photo makes you squirm, but Brazilians see a pregnant tummy as a beautiful thing and are not shy about showing it and allowing others to love on the baby.
One of the best things about the day was seeing the obvious love and concern that Everton has for his family.
He made the comment privately to me that our church helping Diana and the boys made it possible for him to concentrate on finishing his rehabilitation. He said that he was thankful that he didn't have to go to bed worrying that they didn't have food or clothes, and he could concentrate on getting better.That is what we are counting on. We love this family and are blessed to be able to serve them. Please remember them in your prayers. We'll let you know when the baby comes!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sweet Sixteen

This sweet girl.....
turns 16.....
today.We had a fun day celebrating Ansley's birthday. We will share more about that , but for now, here are our thoughts about her.

Giovanni: Ansley, (slobber, slobber) let me kiss your face (slobber, slobber)...

Anderson: I've never had a sister like this. She's the best! Anderson loves God, and everyone, and Ansley.

Carys: She's a really fun sister. She is really funny and playful.

Garrett: I love Ansley a lot and she's a really good sister.

Bronwyn: She's my best friend. She's also a dork.

Mom: Ansley is talented, creative, beautiful and smart. She has an awesome personality and can crack me up more than anyone. I love being her mom!

Dad: It's been a blessing to see Ansley grow from a little girl to a mature, young woman. I am thankful that she understands that Christ's command to spread the Word applies to her, too. I love her.

Ansley, we all love you. You bring joy to our lives. Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


So this week I'm reading my daily devotional book that Benay gave me as a present a couple of Christmases ago and the daily verse is this:

Philippians 4:6-7
"Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."

I have no idea how often I've read these verses but this time it literally blew my mind.

I've always heard these verses in the context of don't worry about anything. That we need to take all of our problems to Him, and these verses talk about that. But it hit me this week how much more powerful these verses are for our everyday lives. That's a big deal for me because I'm not a deep, dig deeper kind of guy, but these things were just obvious to me.

These verses give a detailed plan on how we can have God's peace and, let's be honest, who doesn't want that? From what I read, it isn't anything too difficult. The blueprint reads as follows:

1) Instead of worrying, pray........about everything. Our 5 year old son prays about EVERYTHING. I grew up thinking that it's always cute to hear a 5 year old pray because they pray for bugs and chocolate milk and Sponge Bob. Now I know they are more in tune with God's will. Everything means everything.

2) Tell God what we need. No explanation needed on this one.

3) Thank God for all that He has done. Again, not difficult to understand, but when was the last time you did it?

After doing these things we are given the promise of having God's peace which is far greater than anything we can understand. Who doesn't want that?

Since we've been in Brasil God has put specific people in our lives to remind us that the Bible is full of God's promises. He wants to share these promises with us. I don't believe in the "name and claim it" kind of religion, but I do believe that God wants to bless His kids.

Benay always says when God wants us to know something specifically, He will tell us specifically what we need to do (i.e: build an ark, a temple, how to be saved through faith in Jesus, etc.....he gives us a map) and if He isn't crossing the t's and dotting the i's then He is okay with us studying, discussing and interpreting His word to the best of our ability. I agree. So it seems to me that when he gives us the blueprint to have His peace we would be pretty dumb not to try it and see what happens.

After all God's nature won't allow Him to lie. If He says,"Do these things to have my peace which is too awesome to even understand", I think I'll take Him up on it.

What about you?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More "English" Lessons

We've shared before (here and here) about some of the English translation attempts we've seen here in Brasil. It can get pretty funny.

We'd like to share again.

We blogged yesterday about Inter winning the state soccer championship. I took Bronwyn, Ansley and Garrett. We had a great time.

The only problem with the day was that it was raining. Not a downpour, but enough to make it pretty miserable to watch the game without some kind of protection. You aren't allowed to take umbrellas into the stadium (weapons threat) so on a rainy game day, raincoat vendors come out of the woodwork. You literally will pass one every 10-20 steps on your way to the stadium.

I said raincoats....what they really are are glorified trash bags. Okay that's being too kind. They really aren't glorified trash bags......just trash bags. My "raincoat" didn't even make it to halftime of the game. You know what you are buying when you buy them. It's not a long term investment. It's an investment to get you through that one game.

We bought 4 for about 6 dollars. A deal, I guess. As soon as I opened my pack to get my raincoat I realized the 6 dollars was worth it because we all got a big laugh when we found this priceless sheet inside the bags. Enjoy your English lesson:

Monday, April 20, 2009


Yesterday our favorite sports team won another championship. We won our state championship for the 39th time. No other team in our state has won that many. We didn't lose in 21 games (18 victories and 3 ties). There hasn't been an undefeated champion since 1974. We won yesterday 8-1. Think 60-3 in American football. The paper today called us a steam roller. It was fun to watch.

Benay keeps telling me that nobody cares about our team, and that nobody wants to see highlights on this blog. I respectfully disagree.

It may just be those 2-3 readers who have actually been to an Inter game with us (you know who you are) that care about these highlights. That's good enough for me. I also believe we have some closet soccer fans who read this. Enjoy.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Easter Retreat-Physical Activity

Today Ansley and I ran in a 10k race (more about that on a later blog), and it reminded me of my running buddies.

This is João Spencer, me, and Matt. Benay took this during the retreat. Not the best picture of us (we obviously didn't know she was taking it), but it let's you know who I'm talking about.

The three of us are runners. In fact, it was Matt who first challenged me to train for a marathon. We actually ran one together. Anyway, the three of us always run in the mornings on our retreats. We enjoy the challenge of a run. We enjoy the time together. We talk and pray and sweat. It's a highlight of every retreat we've been on.

The Easter retreat was the fourth retreat that our church family has done since our family moved here, and we shared how this retreat was kind of out in the country. On our past runs we've had to wait for cars, buses and big trucks before we could cross a road. We've had to wait for people to move so that we could pass.

We've never had experiences like we had last weekend.

On the first day, Matt and I ran together. João had to take his wife back home so that she could go to work and so he missed that day. We ran a few kilometers out to the paved road and then came back. On our way back we had to stop and walk because a bunch of dairy cows were crossing the road. I started laughing as the farmer asked us to walk until we got past them. That was a new one for us.

The next morning João ran with us. We were barely into our run when we were literally charged by a untied bull. We weren't safe until João picked a big rock up, yelled, and threw it at the bull. I think I laughed for the next kilometer. I could not stop laughing as I kept remembering João chasing this huge bull with a rock and then flinging the rock at it. There was no safe place for us to escape as the bull was on one side and a hill was on the other. I kept thinking of the damage he could have done if he kept coming. João was our savior.

Cows were everywhere.It made for some interesting runs - but it's not like we weren't warned.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Easter Retreat-Celebrating Christ

We wrote yesterday of our hanging out times together at our recent Easter retreat. We also had plenty of hanging out time while we studied the Word. Obviously, during Easter weekend, we celebrated the fact that 2,000 years ago God sent the Spirit to put a life in Jesus's body.

We had a specific topic that we studied in our small group times together and that topic was evangelism. For the 40 days leading up the retreat, our church family had been on what we called a "spiritual boot camp." We had 40 days of scripture reading as we studied how and why we should reach out to everyone who doesn't know Christ. We had some really great study times together last weekend.

On one night Benay and I led the singles class. Benay taught the class while I gave a brief testimony about reaching out. Benay is an incredibly gifted teacher of biblical truths. She can share truths to anybody and can do it in a Spirit filled way that touches hearts. I'm probably biased, but I know of no greater teacher than my wife. I thank God that she is able to use all the gifts He has given her.

Our class centered around the song "Live out Loud" by Steven Curtis Chapman. If you've never heard it then take a listen here:

Our sound system didn't work so we got the class around our car while we played the song on our radio. We had the song translated but some English learners still got in the headlights of the car to try to better understand the song in English.We played the song a couple of times. The second time Benay started dancing to it and everyone started moving to the beat. I had never seen the video we mentioned above before I started this blog. I thought it was cool how everyone was dancing in the video and in our class as well. It was fun to watch people in their 20's, 30,'s, 40's, 50's and 60's moving to a Christian song.I love this picture because it shows the joy of everyone as we listened. We had a great time with our group. They were very fun.

The really cool thing about the Easter retreat was that there were times of spontaneous praising. We saw men and women as well as boys and girls praising God when they had some free time. It was an encouraging thing to be a part of.Here is a group of teenagers who came up with Bronwyn one day to talk to Benay about starting a singing group for the youth. Benay is an incredibly gifted singer and she has a great ear for music. These girls came up to Bronwyn about the idea and they went to Benay to see if she would be interested in helping this new ministry. Their first get together will be tomorrow afternoon at our house. We loved how the Spirit moved in the lives of these girls to begin this ministry!
On resurrection Sunday we were blessed to hear many testimonies of God's power in healing addiction from drugs and alcohol, healing from cancer, healing from doubts and worries, etc. It was an incredibly uplifting time of united family worship.We then shared our Lord's Supper time during our lunch. It was very cool to see each table praying together and thanking God for Jesus's sacrifice on that special day. This is a picture of one of the tables with the juice and bread set up before anyone came in. I love the simplicity of this picture in its open invitation for everyone to come to Christ in this reminder of our celebration for what He did for us. I've heard nothing but praise from people about the retreat and how God moved during our weekend together. We were all blessed as we continue to learn what "true family" in Christ means.

God is moving here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter Retreat-Hanging Out

This past weekend we went on an Easter retreat with our church family and another church in our city. It was very encouraging to everyone.

We had never been to this place before. If you live in a big city you know how good it is, from time to time, to get out of the fast paced lifestyle, just slow it way down and breathe in some fresh air. This was the place to do it. It was only about an hour away from our house, and we had a great group of people who went.

We had our first cold spell of this year last weekend, and so we had to bundle up at night. Not horrible, but sleeping in a bunkhouse with no heat felt pretty chilly. But the Lord blessed us with warm days after our cold nights.

Because of this we were able to enjoy lots of different outdoor activities.

We swam in water that came off the mountain into the retreat area (actually Carys was the only one in our family crazy enough to swim in the ice cold water)..........fished......
......hiked with a guide who shared lots of interesting facts with us (what berries to eat, where spiders were hiding, what trees had healing properties for wounds, the history of the area, etc....the kids loved it)............rode ponies......
......had a bonfire......
.....played soccer (on a field too close to a pond thus requiring some creative thinking to get the ball at times)...........and, of course, enjoyed lots of times of fellowship and enjoying God's beauty together. You could say Giovanni got his share of "being held" time. Our little Brasilian baby is "everybody's baby." It was a blessed weekend for all of us.