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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Desperately Seeking Legalism

When our family lived in Abilene, Texas, God blessed us with a great church family and incredible small group made up of couples from the church. We were blessed to be a part of this family.

The preacher at that church was someone named Mike Cope. He is a gifted sharer of God's word. He is also a Bible professor at the university where Bronwyn will attend.

Yesterday on his blog (www.preachermike.com) he shared the following thoughts:

Here’s a pastoral observation from over a quarter of a century in ministry: people are desperately longing for legalism.

Once you get a taste of it, you will do almost anything to find more. It’s maybe the ultimate addiction.

Legalism comes with secure boundaries, clear authority, cleanliness, and disgust. It vacillates between pride and self-condemnation. It produces a kind of guilty depression that is itself addictive.

Ok, let me be clear. We think we don’t want legalism. We think we want grace. So, we dumb down the idea of grace — the robust, gospel-shaped kind would scare us to death! — into a sort of Grace Lite. We convince ourselves that because we have more “freedom of the Spirit” or more “freedom in worship” we have left legalism for grace.


Legalism beckons us. It makes us plead for more authority — from husband, from father, from church leaders. We want structure . . . we want to be told what to do . . . we want to fall in line.

Our need for legalism is so great we’ll break family ties to keep it (all the while priding ourselves on our freedom). We want the rules; we want the structure; we beg for order.

One of the challenges of ministry is helping legalism addicts. They flit about from place to place, but they can’t “rest” until they find it. It helps explain the popularity of some religious cult heroes — whether wackos or well-coiffed preachers — who will speak with authority and with confidence that they are absolutely right.

We say we want grace. But most don’t. Real grace — God’s grace! — is radical, unfair, against-the-grain. It messes with our addiction.

Friday, May 29, 2009


We've shared before that Ansley is very creative.

She was bored this afternoon. What does that mean on a cold fall day?

Here is what she showed us when Benay and I got home from a trip to the grocery store (carefully read the warning before watching.......you have been warned):
Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

I thought Benay was going to wet her pants when she saw it. We all had a good laugh. Too bad they didn't have enough spaces for Giovanni to dance with his brothers and sisters.

It is never boring in this house!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Semi Finals

Last night I took these two goobers to the Inter game.It was the first game of the semi finals (or seminifinals as Anderson would say) of the Brasil Cup.

We played stinky. Our opponent scored first. Ours fans really got the team going and they turned it around and came back and won 3-1. Next game in this tournament is next week.

Some highlights:

Here are my girls singing and dancing after our 2nd or 3rd goal:

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

Found this video of the same celebration going on in another part of the stadium. It shows how into it our fans were:

Complete highlights (for the die hard Inter fans):

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dia de Natação

Wednesday is one of Anderson's favorite days. Why? Because it is his "dia de natação."
That means it's his swimming day at school. Every Wednesday he gets to ditch class a couple of hours early to go with some of his classmates and take swimming lessons at the pool.

Here is his swimming group. They have a great time.

I'm sure some of you are saying big deal but you need to understand why this is a big deal for him. You see all of our kids, before Anderson, loved the pool, ocean, lakes, etc. All of our kids are fishes. They love to swim and stay in the water all day. We just assumed Anderson would be the same way.

We were wrong. Very wrong.

He actually had a fear of the water. He never really wanted to get wet above his knees when we would go to the pool.

We went on a family vacation about 3 months ago and we went to the beach. Anderson did not want to get in the ocean with the water above his knees. He panicked a couple of times. We all tried to get him to not be afraid of it but nothing worked.

Then one day we were at the beach and it got kind of chilly. The girls all went back to the hotel. Garrett, Anderson and I stayed at the beach and played for a little while. It then started to rain. We headed back to the hotel. Garrett had the idea of us going to the indoor pool before we headed back to the room.

We got to the pool and jumped in. What happened next was a miracle. We started talking to Anderson about just trying to get his head wet, and he took the full plunge. We kind of freaked out. He caught us totally off guard. We were so happy that I had to go upstairs to get Benay to come down and see it for herself. Here's what it looked like (it's a two minute video.....we realize it might just interest grandparents, and that's okay.......enjoy your fearless grandson):

Unbelievable how quickly he went from "Water Phobia Boy" to "Fish Man." Now we have a phobia.....keeping up with a 5 year old who now has no fear of the water.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Captain Flinchy

Giovanni doesn't really do loud noises. In the house church that meets in our house he doesn't care for the songs we sing that involve clapping.

In fact, he's a little skiddish/jumpy/flinchy with any kind of loud or strange noises.

In the following video Benay is reading a book to Giovanni called Hurry Scurry Mousie! Giovanni LOVES books. With the turn of each page of this book a mouse on an elastic string "jumps" from one page to the next.

We think you'll enjoy seeing his expectant reaction with the turn of each page.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Close Call

Wednesday night was another game night for the best team in sports.

That's right. Inter played again. We played against a team from Rio called Flamengo. They are a big team with a history of success in Brasilian football. We played them in the quarter finals of the Brasil Cup. I know that doesn't mean anything to most who read this but it's a big deal. The winner of this tournament qualifies for the biggest tournament in South America next year.

In the Brasil Cup you play a home and home game to see who goes to the next round. Highest combined score wins. There is also more value given to goals that are scored in your opponent's stadium. I'll try to explain. If you go to your opponent's place for the first game of a home and home game and you tie 2-2 and then you go back to your stadium and tie with them 1-1, then your team will go to the next round. Even though the combined scores were 3-3 after 2 games, your team scored 2 away goals and that is worth more. Is it clear now? Probably not.

Last week we played Flamengo in Rio and we tied 0-0. That meant that if the game in our stadium ended in 0-0 then we would go to penalty kicks. If it was tied with any other score then Flamengo would go to the semi-finals because they scored goals on our field and we did not on theirs. So we had to win to go to the next round.

It was a 9:50 p.m. start time. This is close to the Blume bed time (parents and two oldest kids.........the others go to bed even earlier), so for us those late games are always a little tough, but this was an important game. Benay never likes to do anything that starts late at night.....ever. Amazingly she agreed to go to the game with me. We also took our friends Paul and Keri. Kind of had a couples' night out at the stadium.

The game had the most electrifying atmosphere of almost any game I've ever been to (with the exception of the finals of the Libertadores). It was incredible.

We scored with just a few minutes left in the first half. The place went crazy. I love the spontaneity here of Brasilian fans. After that goal I had one man on my left hugging me and one man behind me grabbing, rubbing and shaking my head.

Then in the second half the unthinkable happened.....Flamengo scored with about 15 minutes left in the game. The silence in the stadium was incredible. It lasted for about 5-10 seconds and then the fans erupted with cheers to encourage our players.

Our coach made one last substitution about 10 minutes later. He put in a guy named Andrézinho. Four minutes after he entered the game he saved the tournament for us. How? Here's how:

The place went absolutely bonkers. 50,000 screaming soccer mad fans. Benay isn't a big soccer fan but even she went crazy with the excitement. In fact, we 4 north Americans made our share of noise.

Now we are on to the semi-finals. We play again on Wednesday night. Bronwyn and I went this morning to buy our tickets. It's the best deal in town for around $9 per ticket. We'll keep you informed.

For those who want to see the best moments of the game then click here:

Friday Night

It's Friday and that means tonight is accountability group night with guys that have left the chácara.

God is really doing some amazing things through this group.

Every Friday night is different and each Friday seems more blessed than the one before.

From this group we've seen the following:
  • Men openly confessing all kinds of sin. Their openess about tough things inspires me.
  • Benay has begun to spend time, weekly, with the girlfriends of some of these men. It's a time of them getting to know each other better as well as study the Bible.
  • Our group going mobile as we went to the streets one night to find our brothers who have returned to the streets. (I got a call this week from one of the brothers telling me that Marcelo has checked himself into another recovery center in a small city just outside Porto Alegre.......thank you for your prayers!)
  • Our group went mobile again last week as we loaded 8 people in our little car and went to the chácara to be a part of their nightly praise time. The guys in the accountability group remembered how much of an encouragement it was when anyone from outside the chácara showed up to just be with them when they were in the chácara and they wanted to return the blessing by going and doing the same last week.
  • Tonight we should have one or two brothers, who are still in the chácara and are close to leaving, with us at the guys' apartment as we begin the process of helping them with their re-adaptation to life outside the chácara.
  • We've had new guys show up almost every week.
  • We have also seen family members of these guys being a part of our house church because of what is going on with the group.
God has really blessed this group. It's been an amazing encouragement to me. We realize we are sinners but that we have an open, supportive, non judgmental place where we can go and be free to share anything on our hearts. These guys are teaching me so much.

I think I can best share the way God blesses me each and every Friday by sharing something that happens even before our group meets.

Paulo Renato, Ellinton and I leave a little bit early every Friday to go and visit a man who lives by himself. His name is Chaves. He was at the chácara while Paulo Renato was there recovering from his alcohol addiction. He is a man in his 60's. He lives close to where we have our accountability group but it is in a place that a lot of Americans would not feel comfortable visiting. It isn't the best or the safest place to be after dark. We see drug dealers/users almost every Friday as we leave our car on the dirt road and walk 3 houses down a dirt path to get to his house.

He literally doesn't have anything. His lives in a two room house that is about the size of our den. And yet I have never heard him complain.

He loves our visits even though they are brief. We spend a few minutes with him and then we make a small circle in his "den" and pray over him. Once again, we are the ones blessed by our time with him.

The most important thing about Chaves is that he is a light to his lost neighborhood.

We were visiting with him a couple of weeks ago and we heard a knock on the door. It was 3 small children who wanted to talk with Chaves. He politely told them he had company but told them to hold on. I then watched him go to his empty kitchen and take his last three bananas (I saw no other food in his kitchen....when I say kitchen you need to think one sink and a couple of moveable cabinets) and then give it to those kids. He then quietly sat back down and we continued our discussion. No fanfare, no groaning about my last bananas, no complaining about those kids always asking for stuff. Nothing. Just quiet compassion.

These guys aren't perfect and don't claim to be, but I hope you are getting a better understanding of why I love my Friday nights so much.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Prayers of Thanksgiving

James 5:16 "The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results."

We recently shared a Sweet Chili Doritos prayer request.

We wanted to thank those righteous people who also remembered the blog about Philippians 4:6 as they prayed for our Doritos.

We now have these in abundance in our grocery store:
We are buying them every time we shop.

We hope, based on this information that Big Garrett sent us, that they'll be around for a while but we aren't taking any chances.

Okay, so it's not the deepest, most spiritual prayer request we've ever shared but the Bible says to pray about everything........

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sunday's Game

We always have fun when we go see the best soccer team in the world. That would be Internacional if you are new to this blog. Yesterday Bronwyn, Ansley, Garrett, Carys and I got the chance to take some American missionary friends of ours (Paul and his kids Katy and Preston) to their first Inter game. We had a great time together.

During the game I got a text message from some other great friends of ours (also missionaries) that live in São Paulo state, telling me they were watching the game and wished us luck. Thanks for the note Mark and Crazy. I got it right as we scored our first goal. You definitely brought us luck.

Oh yeah, our team played a strong team from São Paulo (Palmeiras).

There are 20 teams in the Brasilian first division. Our team and the team we played yesterday, from what the papers say, are in a group of about 5-6 teams that have a good chance to win the championship. It was a great game atmosphere.

We won 2-0. Bronwyn's boyfriend (in her imaginary world) scored the first goal.

Here are your highlights:

Another highlight was this guy:His name is Marcão. He actually played for our team until the first part of this year. He plays for Palmeiras now. He cut his head during the game and for some reason the doctors on his team thought a swimming cap on his head would be the best way to control the blood flow.

As Anderson would say......"Interesting."

We always have fun and it's never boring at an Inter game.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Busy, Blessed Week

These little guys (from l to r.....Ismael, Leo, Bruno and Diego) spent three days living with us this week. Why?

Because Daiana had her little girl.Last Friday night Benay called me while I was in our accountability group with the guys from the chácara. She told me Daiana thought she was going into labor. Daiana had no way to get to the hospital (no car, no money for taxi or bus) and so Benay had told her a few months ago that when it was time then she was to call Benay no matter the hour. After the call Benay and Bronwyn took Daiana to the hospital, and Paulo Renato and I left our group to go to the chácara to tell Everton that his baby girl was about to be born. It was a very humbling and special thing for me to be able to see the excitement on his face while knowing that he couldn't be with his wife.

We called Isaias (our brother who runs the day to day things at the recovery center) to see if he would allow Everton to leave the next day and go to the hospital to see his new baby. He agreed and I told Everton that I would pick him up the next morning between 6:00-7:00. I went home and about an hour later Benay arrived. False alarm. Daiana went home.

The weekend was a waiting game.

Monday came and Daiana called saying her contractions were stronger. Benay and I went to pick her up and take her to the hospital. This time they kept her and told her it was time. I dropped them off and headed out to the chácara to pick up Everton. I prayed that God would allow me to get him back to the hospital so that he could see the birth of his child.

When I got to the chácara Everton greeted me with a smile. I told him it was time and we were off.

God blessed my prayer request even as we fought through lots of slow traffic and other obstacles on the way. I hate slow traffic, always have. I found myself feeling anxious in the traffic as I really wanted to get Everton there in time. Everton seemed more in tune with my prayer request than I was. I looked at him and he was very calm and sharing some really deep things about his life. It was like he knew God was blessing our drive and we would make it on time.

He was right. Everton got there about 2 hours before his little girl was born. He was in awe of the miracle that he was able to see. About 10:15 that night we began the journey back to the chácara. All he could do was praise God for allowing him to be a part of the birth.

Daiana came home Wednesday. She and the baby are doing great.

We were happy to open our home to Leo, Diego, Bruno and Ismael. They are really good boys and we had lots of good helpers while they were here. Even Giovanni helped. Our kids, as always, were great babysitters. Our sister, Leni, came over one day and made lunch and supper, colored with the boys, prayed with them, cleaned our house and was an incredible blessing to us. I think you can tell how much Anderson loves Leni. Our time this week also reminded us that we aren't quite ready to have 10 kids.

By the way, we are also blessed by the name of this new little girl. When Benay was pregnant with Giovanni and before we knew he was a boy, we both just KNEW he was a girl. We had a name picked out that we both quickly agreed on. I even came across that name in the Bible one day. Who needs more confirmation than that? Okay, so we were wrong.

But before we realized we were wrong we chose the name Cássia. We loved it and the kids loved it. It was perfect.

Daiana had only had boys and so when she found out she was having a girl she told Benay she was having trouble thinking of girls' names. She asked if Benay had any suggestions. Benay told her if Giovanni had been a girl he....okay, she.....would have been called Cássia. Next thing we know Daiana is telling everyone her baby will be called Cássia. So we get to use the name we loved on a regular basis anyway.

I guess in His way God actually was confirming this name with our family. He was just delivering it for Daiana and Everton.

Please keep praying for this family and this new little girl.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Church at Table Number Two

After our last blog about the email we received from a brother sharing about some things going on in Northern Brasil, our teammate Matt sent me a link to this story today. I sense God working on a theme with us this week.

It's encouraging and a great example of how every Christian should "be church" to this world. Go to those that don't have a relationship with Christ, don't wait on them to come to us. Meet them where they are, where they are most comfortable and take the gospel to them.

It's really simple if you think about it. It's time to act out our faith.

The following was written by Bill Hoffman from www.house2house.com:

“Would you like us to pray for you about something?” I asked. Immediately the eyes of our waitress opened wide as she blurted out an answer in the affirmative. It was Tuesday evening and our men’s accountability group had gathered for our regular meeting at a local coffee shop. For the past several months we had been offering to pray for those who waited on us. Most of the requests we received were fairly superficial. “My grandma is sick.” “I have a test coming up tomorrow.” “My boyfriend needs a job.” But when “Fran” began to share her needs with us it was like someone had backed up a garbage truck to our booth and dumped its contents out onto our table. Her daughter was suffering from cancer. A grandson had been born with serious medical problems. And her adult son had been thrown out of his home along with his three-year-old daughter. Fran had sacrificed financially to set them up in an apartment nearby but they had no furniture and her son had no job. She was working two full-time jobs to support them all and was still sinking quickly into debt.

“We will certainly pray for all of these requests,” I promised, “and we will see what else we can do to help.” Over the next few days we managed to come up with some leads for employment for her son and found a few items of furniture for them to use. On the following Tuesday Fran, who turned out to be the night manager at the restaurant, was again our waitress and once again we offered to pray for her. By the third week Fran was sitting down with us in our booth and joining us in our prayers. This was the evening she dropped the bombshell that has revolutionized the way we’ve been doing church.

“Thank you so much for your prayers and for all your help,” she gushed with a huge smile. “You guys have meant so much to me! I look forward to Tuesday night all week. Other people have invited me to their churches but they all meet on Sunday mornings when I am always working. So, God brought you guys to me on Tuesday nights.” After spreading out her hands toward the rest of us sitting at the table she joyfully declared, “This is my church!”

I’m afraid the first thought that crossed my mind was, “No it’s not! This is a men’s accountability group.” But the Lord suddenly revealed to me that this is exactly what we had been praying for. For months we had been moved to fervently pray for “workers for the harvest” asking the Lord to specifically connect us to a “man of peace.’” These prayer directives came from our study of the book of Luke, chapter 10: 1-7. It dawned on us that we had just found a “man of peace” even though the “man” was definitely a female and her house was not a house at all but rather a restaurant.

At first we attempted to invite her to our weekly house-church fellowship that meets at our home on Sunday evenings. However, her schedule made this impossible and her own apartment was in a community some twenty miles away. So, we just resigned ourselves to accept the fact that the Lord of the harvest had just morphed our men’s accountability group into a rather unique church. Early on Fran provided the name for this special gathering when she related to us a conversation she recently had with a fellow employee.

“You’re doing drugs, aren’t you?” Fran asked one of her co-workers with a tone of compassion rather than accusation. “Don’t try to deny it because I’ve been around and I know the signs.”

The young waitress just stared back at her through dilated, bloodshot eyes waiting for the expected pronouncement of her termination.

“Don’t worry,” Fran continued, ‘I’m not going to fire you or turn you in to the police. I’m just concerned about you and I know that whatever your problems are this is not the answer. Jesus is the answer! We need to change your work schedule so you can be here on Tuesday nights. Then you can go to church with me.”

Feeling somewhat relieved, the drug-addicted waitress responded by asking, “Where is your church located?”

As her face erupted into a huge smile Fran pointed over to a booth in the corner of the restaurant and proudly proclaimed, “Table number two!”
From this point on our gathering has been called “The Church at Table Number Two.”

Not long after Fran revealed to us that our gathering was in fact a church, she told us she had a surprise for us. She then excused herself from the table, went back into the kitchen, and brought out the cook and his assistant. After we all introduced ourselves we asked the two men what we could do to help them.

“We have heard all that you have done to help Fran,” began one of the Hispanic men speaking in heavily accented English. “We both live in very small apartments and have very large families. Could you perhaps find us some furniture? We especially need beds for our children.”

“I don’t know if we can help you,” I responded. “But I know who can. Jesus was the one who found help for Fran. Would it be okay if we asked Jesus to help you, too?”

Within a couple of weeks we had found some used furniture for these men and we began to connect every Tuesday evening with the cook. He led us to another family in a nearby community who was also in dire need of help, a young, recently widowed Hispanic woman with three young children and very little means to support them. We soon began meeting regularly in this woman’s home taking the Love of Jesus with us and doing what we could to help. Before long we were also traveling regularly to the cook’s home and “doing church” with him and his family. The cook, his wife, and her mother have all placed their faith in Jesus and God continues to open up doors through them into the Hispanic community. This has all been truly amazing to us since neither my wife nor I speak any Spanish and most of these new acquaintances speak little if any English. I’m not even a fan of Mexican food, but God’s Word tells us to “eat what is set before you.” (Luke 10:8) So, I’m learning to sacrifice my tongue and digestive tract for the greater good of reaching out to a people group in our area who are in desperate need of the Gospel of love. We are learning that the love of Jesus can break through any ethnic barriers.

I believe it is significant to note that not one of these individuals have ever attended our own home gathering. However, we are perfectly content with this development. It’s not that we wouldn’t love to have them; it’s just that they would most likely have a difficult time adjusting to our way of doing things, not to mention our food. Besides, the Lord has been teaching us to change the direction of our focus. For years our goal was to grow our home gathering to the point where it would be obvious we needed to split off and start another group. We would then commission a few of our members and send them out to plant the next church in another home. It’s not that this concept is terribly wrong; it’s just terribly slow. Meanwhile, the harvest is ripe and waiting.

These days we are not asking people to join the group that meets in our home. When we come across a “man of peace,” or discover someone interested in doing simple church, or lead someone to the Lord, our first instinct is to plant a new church in their home. We ask them to gather together their family and friends, especially those who are not yet Christians or who don’t attend church anywhere else, and we proceed to help them plant a church in the surroundings they know best, where Jesus can make the biggest difference, in their homes and workplaces. The results have been truly remarkable. But why should we be surprised? This is exactly how Jesus taught us to do it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

God is moving in Brasil

One of our brothers in Christ sent us this email tonight from a missionary in the northern part of Brasil. God is doing some amazing things through house churches in this country.

Here it is:

What strategy would you use to evangelize a strong Catholic interior city in Northeastern Brazil? Campaigns do work, Schools of the Bible call attention, and mission teams do find some people who are seeking Jesus' simple truth. But these front door methods, time after time, are met with the customary "I was born a Catholic, my parents are Catholics, and I am going to die a Catholic."

We have started visiting the city of Esperança (2.5 hours west of João Pessoa; population - 30 thousand).
Downtown Esperança
Jesus provided a back door to this city. Our first visit was a mere 24 hours in duration - a Monday at the end of January - a first contact with most of the people.
Take a look at the results:Ten Christians from Joao Pessoa went on this mission trip. We visited over 20 families, most of which we didn't know personally. We were so well received: huge meals prepared for us in several houses, people begging us to spend the night in their homes (we ended up staying in five different homes - note the picture of Dad conked out on somebody's floor), over fifty came to a Bible study at night held in a borrowed meat packing warehouse. One young man insisted that we have another Bible study in his garage the next morning so he could invite his neighbors. When we left, some people were upset that we didn't have to time to visit their homes.

So what was this back door that Jesus opened? What warranted such a tremendous reception in an interior city? The congregation that meets at Irene's house is visited by several of the China Taiwan Restaurant workers. Most of them are from the city of Esperança. The visit itself came about at their insistence to share God's word with their families.

The families in Esperança, who send their sons and husbands to work in Joao Pessoa, worry about the temptations of the big city. They are happy, many are relieved that God is providing a positive spiritual influence in the form of their co-worker Michel and a house church for them to meet with.

I don't know what God has planned for the city of Esperança, but judging by our first contact, it has got to be something really good.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Yesterday the greatest team in the world played their first game of the Brasilian championship.

We went to São Paulo and beat a team called Corinthians. They are a big rival of ours. It was a good way to start the season for our team.

One of our players, Nilmar (Ansley's boyfriend), made an incredible goal. In the papers today and on the radio people are calling it Nilmaradona. Why? Most people consider Diego Maradona the second best soccer player ever after Brasil's Pele.

Why the comparison? In the 1986 World Cup Maradona did this:

In soccer, when you put a move on someone and go past them we say you "dribbled them." I count Maradona dribbling 5 players and then the goalie.

Yesterday our own Nilmar did this:

I count him dribbling 7 players (one guy twice) and then the goalie.

Which play is better? You can decide..........but (as Anderson would say) it's Nilmar...DUH!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

Today we honor Benay. I asked the kids to tell what kind of mother she is. Here is what I got:

Bronwyn: "She is really sweet. She tries to make time to help all of us and to spend time with all of us."

Ansley: "She has a really good attitude in everything she does. She is very sweet."

Garrett: "I love her. She's the best mom ever and no one can replace her!"

Carys: "She is the best mom ever. She is funny and cool. I love her really very much!"

Anderson: "She's a great mom and I like her very much!"

Giovanni: (He's really sick with a cold but his snot bubbles spelled "I Love Mom")

Friday, May 08, 2009

Sweet Chili

We shared in our recent blog about Garrett that it's a thrill when we find some food item that we really like but rarely find here. We find it and we celebrate.

Sound weird? Think of your favorite food and then take it out of your life for the next two years. We only go to the states every two years and so if there is some food we just love but don't have here then we have to wait until our next trip back to the states to enjoy it. We aren't complaining, just trying to explain the joy in finding orange sweet potatoes.

One of the things that our family (those of us that have spent a good part of our lives in the states) misses is good Mexican food.

You may be under the misconception that all of South America likes spicy food. You would be very wrong. I would say 99% of Brasilians don't like, or want, to eat anything hot. Example: Our family went to the mountains one cold weekend with another family. We rented a big house and enjoyed the weekend together. Benay told the family she would make some chili. She made it milder than normal so that our Brasilian friends could handle it. Their two boys didn't even want to try. The mom ate a spoonful and said she couldn't eat it because it was too hot and the dad ate two bowls and then literally went to a window, opened it and sat in front of it to cool off as sweat drops were literally forming on his forehead. Our family could not believe how it was affecting them. Like I said, Brasilians don't do spicy food.

So you can guess how many Mexican restaurants we have here. There is one that isn't too far from our house but it's not very good......at all. Benay and I have gone to it a couple of times but we feel like we are trying to trick our brains into thinking it is good Mexican food. It isn't. There is a fairly new Tex-Mex restaurant near our house but we haven't checked it out yet. I think we have fear of disappointment.

Benay has gotten really good at making Mexican food. She especially makes great salsa. It's good and spicy for us. We like regular tortilla chips to dip into the salsa but they don't sell those here. We could buy them for the first 6 months we lived here and then they disappeared. It's amazing how good a nacho cheese chip or even Ruffles dipped in salsa tastes when you don't have any other options. I know, a Ruffles chip in salsa probably sounds gross but it's all we have.

Last week at Anderson's school we had to buy him a little snack at his snack bar and found these:
Doritos Sweet Chili tortilla chips. Knowing Brasilians lack of desire to eat anything spicy we tried to contain our excitement over the words "sweet chili." We went ahead and bought 4 bags.

They were AWESOME. They were spicy and we were in heaven. Well, almost all of us. Carys and Anderson took one small little bite and wouldn't eat anymore because they said they were too hot. What? They have acquired Brasilian taste buds. They prefer beans and rice to spicy stuff. That's okay because it meant more for rest of us.

We had the perfect compliment to Benay's salsa.
If you noticed I just used the word "had." It's because we can no longer find those chips.

On Monday, Benay and I started a 10 day cleansing diet in preparation for a daily "change in the way you eat" diet. We've eaten more fruit and chicken this week than we have in the last 3 months.

On Saturday, before we started this cleansing diet, we decided that we would go out with a bang and enjoy some of those good chips. We left Bronwyn at home to watch the little guys while we went to the grocery store to find these to eat with our lunch. We just knew if this little snack bar had the chips then our ginourmous grocery store would have it. Wrong. Then we tried our friendly neighborhood store. No. The gas station. No. You think we crave spicy? You would be right. We tried 7 different places, including Anderson's school snack bar, and no one had it.

Was that one day a cruel joke? We're we dreaming? I don't know, but we would appreciate your prayers for our current spicy chip suffering.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Why I will never be MacGyver...

Moms wear different hats. We are cooks, chauffeurs, teachers, counselors, ....and the list goes on. Last week, I found out about a different role that I play. Here's how that conversation went:

We were arriving at Anderson's school and he was climbing from the very back seat to the middle seat. (We have a type of station wagon.) While climbing, he ended up doing a big leg stretch which somehow reminded him of MacGyver. So he said....

Mom, look, I'm kind of like MacGyver right now.

(me) Yeah, you are. That's neat.

(Anderson) Mom, when I grow up do you think I can be like MacGyver? (I sense a trend here...)

(me) Sure you can. You just have to go to college and learn all about working with wires and machines and stuff like that.

(Anderson) Oh, that's easy. (pause) Mom, do you know how to do that stuff?

(me) No, I don't know anything at all about working with wires and stuff like that.

(Anderson, immediately) Yeah, cause you're a princess, right.

(me) Yeah, that's right.

Now, if I can just convince the rest of the family.....

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Game Time

Benay walked in when I started this blog. She looked at the title and rolled her eyes. She keeps assuring me that no one cares about my soccer team. I keep assuring her that she is wrong.

Internacional plays again tonight. It's the second game of the home and home series. These are the highlights from last weeks game. We won 3-0.

Just to prove my point to Benay, over the last few days I've gotten back in touch with a friend (fellow University of Tennessee alum) of mine from PT school. She is a big soccer fan. Also, one of my best buds from my first college experience is a HUGE soccer fan. This video is for you Amy and MJ. Inter nation is growing.


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Blowing my Mind

Last Friday night was our regular accountability group night with the guys who have left the chácara. Every week these guys continue to blow me away.

Christian hasn't been able to be a part of our accountability group for the last three weeks because he got a new job at a gas station. He now works every night of the week except one, and that day off is a different day every week. So, he is no longer able to be a part of our group. We've really missed Christian. He brings an incredible worship and confession spirit to the group. Even though we've lost Christian we've gained two new brothers every Friday night (Ellinton and Eduardo). Our group is growing, and getting stronger and more encouraging every week.

One of the things that we've shared that we like so much about house churches is that you can change them weekly to meet the hurting or celebratory needs of people. It's a hospital one week, a baby shower the next, a prayer group the next, etc. It's exciting to be able to change everything as the Spirit leads.

Our accountability group is no different. Last Friday night we decided since Christian is no longer able to be a part of the group then we would take the group to him. On the way out Anderson suggested that while we were out visiting Christian, that we also look for guys who have left the chácara but are struggling right now. We know that some have returned to drugs, some have stolen to buy more drugs, some have returned to being with prostitutes, all have fallen away from their church family.

So we squished 7 people in this type of car. It looked like a clown car.....Add Image.....and we were off.

We went to visit Christian and it was very encouraging. He thanked us for coming to see where he worked. He talked about trying to be the light to the other men he worked with. He had already told them of his recovery from drugs. We were all blessed to be together with him at his work. We all gave him a big hug and we were off to try to find the guys who are struggling.

We had gone about a block from the gas station and we saw the first guy on the street we were looking for. His name is Marcelo. It truly was a God thing. We were headed to a park where we thought he would be and within 1 minute we saw him on the other side of the street. In our city you rarely are able to make left turns on roads. It's just the way the city was planned. You have to make a right turn and do a circle to come back to the road you were just on to be able to make a left turn and go back. Sound confusing? Try figuring that out when you first move here and don't understand the language or the signs which usually look like this:Thankfully it makes sense to us (most of the time) now. We finally made the big circle back and went back to where he was. We didn't see him. We thought that possibly he went into a church that we passed by, so we made another circle and came back and saw him again. He had not gone into the church but into a little cafe to get some coffee with a friend. We literally stopped on the sidewalk and all piled out. He did not look good, but was excited to see us. It was amazing for me to see the love that my brothers have for this fallen brother. No judgment, just love and concern. We talked to his friend that he was with. He and Marcelo had just met this week. Paulo Renato invited both to the house church that meets in his house on Sunday. We pray they both will show up. As we were talking to Marcelo's friend I saw Anderson quietly ask Marcelo point blank if he was using drugs again. I saw Anderson looking at his hands and fingers for signs of drug use. Marcelo confessed that he is smoking cigarettes and drinking but not using crack again. The brothers, who know what it looks like from experience, all said he was lying. They could tell by his appearance that he is again using drugs.

While we stood on the sidewalk of this very busy street on a Friday night, we made a circle around him, laid hands on him and prayed loudly for him. I am slowly getting more comfortable with praying the way the guys from the chácara pray. When I say we prayed, I mean we all prayed in a loud voice at the same time. Let's just say that didn't happen too much in the church family I grew up in, the Christian college I went to or, to be honest, any church experience I've had up until now. I used to think it was a disruptive way to pray that made it hard to focus. I was judgmental. I know better now. It's not the way we pray every time but it is an incredibly powerful way to pray for someone and the Spirit guides every second of it.

Please pray for Marcelo. It really hurt my heart to see him that way. When we were leaving he asked how my Anderson was doing. We visited him one day at the chácara over a year ago and Anderson was with me. Marcelo has never forgotten my son. Please pray that Marcelo will return to the family of God and recover from his return to drugs. I want my Anderson to grow up around Marcelo and to see God's power in him.

We then went to find Josemar. He used to live with Christian and Anderson but they had to ask him to leave because of his return to a life of drugs. Imagine an addict fighting against being around any type of temptation and having his own roommate coming home messed up. It was a tough decision but the right one to ask him to leave. We went to where he lives and spoke with some men who lived in the same complex. They had not seen him all week. We were not able to find Josemar. Please continue to pray for him.

We then went to Diego's grandmothers house. Diego came to our first couple accountability groups. Here is a picture of him (in the middle) with Paulo Renato to the left and Isaias (who runs the day to day operations at the chácara). Diego was a little surprised by our visit but he welcomed us into his home. We shared with him our love for him and how he needs to come back to our support group. He told us he is not on drugs but he is far from his church family right now and he confessed some impurities in his life. I once again got to witness my brothers talking to him about his sin and encouraging to come back to the family of God. Rodrigo asked me to pray for Diego before we left. We got up and put Diego in the middle and prayed over him. He told us he will come to our accountability group next Friday. I ask that you pray for him to do so.

Here is a group picture of some of the guys as they had a ceremony last year to celebrate their completion of the chácara program. Some other incredible things happened last Friday night:

One brother told me that he broke up with his girlfriend last week because of sexual sin. He wants to be a pure servant of God and he knew that he could not be one and continue to live the way he was living. He decided, as he told me, to put God first in everything in his life.

Two brothers and their girlfriends want to begin studies with Benay and myself about marriage and what the Bible says about it as they are thinking about getting married soon.

One of the girlfriends (who 1-2 months ago wanted NOTHING to do with Christians or Christianity) spoke with me for about 30 minutes about life after death questions. She will begin a Bible study with Benay in the next few days. She also brought her brother and his family to house church Sunday. They loved it and have already invited our family to visit them in their house this Saturday. A miracle is the only way I can explain the transformation in this young woman's life from just a few weeks ago to today. Amen.

One brother asked if there were any Bible studies he could do during the week. I told him about our teammate Paul's study that he started recently. He was very excited about it.

The title of this blog explains how I feel after every Friday night group time. I am amazed at how open these guys are and how they take that openness to their brothers who have fallen away. It would be much easier to say, "Let's pray for him" or "what a shame" about these fallen guys but these guys made a game plan and we acted on it last Friday night. I saw the power of a group of guys coming in love to hug on fallen brothers. They also demonstrated tough, compassionate love. It's a great example to the family of God.

I pray that the example of these men will bleed through our house church network and that soon this city will look at this church family and understand the true meaning of John 13:34-35:

"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other."

Monday, May 04, 2009

8 Months

Benay and I were in the grocery store yesterday and it hit us that Giovanni turned 8 months old yesterday. I can't believe how fast time has gone by.

He's doing great.

Here are some Giovanni facts:

He loves to eat. He often cries between spoonfuls if you don't give him the next bite fast enough.
He loves to put his hand on your nose, mouth and chin........especially when he is tired.He loves to read books and he has his favorites.
He is now sitting up by himself.He cruises around in his walker and reaches for everything.
He finally has some teeth.
He loves to go outside and watch his brothers play soccer. He even got a soccer ball from the Easter Bunny. He loves hanging out with his family.
He is a good, sweet and happy baby.
God has blessed our family so much with Giovanni.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


We've had these words from Chuck Swindoll hanging on our refrigerator for a few years. We often goof up so these words are good reminders that we do have a choice. Enjoy:

"The longer I live the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company....a church....a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the past....we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have and that is our attitude...I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you...we are in charge of our attitudes."

Friday, May 01, 2009

Big Garrett

A few days ago we got an email from this guy:His name is Garrett. We actually call him Big Garrett to keep things easier around here.

Garrett has lived for most of the last two years in Santiago, Chile. His email said he would be passing through and wanted to know if he could stay with us for a couple of nights.

We first met Garrett about 2 years ago when he came with a team from Texas A&M University. They have a missions program called Aggies for Christ. They travel the world during their summer breaks to go and help different missions around the world. This group came and basically built a building at the chácara.

Like I said, he has lived in Santiago and he was using his gifts to help a church family there. He will now live in Rio for the next 6 months as he will again use his gifts to help another church family in any way he can.

We don't stop much in our day to day lives. We told Garrett to jump in wherever he wanted to as well as just stay home and chill when he needed to do that. We told him he could stay with us as long as he wanted. His two night stay turned into a 4 night stay. We were blessed by his time with us.

While he was here he was able to share in spiritual things with us. He was able to go to a church family celebration with us, he got to visit with some old friends from the chácara as well as make some new ones and he went with me one morning to an accountability group that I am blessed to be a part of. He also got to experience lots of Blume family activities. He went to little Garrett's soccer practice, visited Anderson's school, ate churrasco (Brasilian bar-b-que), ate pasteis (a family favorite....like a fried pie filled with whatever you want), experienced Anderson's non-stop questions and got to be a part of Carys's "live in the moment" world. He also got to spend some quality time watching Kung Fu Panda and Sponge Bob with Anderson and Carys. Even if it meant watching them upside down while being a human pillow. And if you live in this house and you are a visitor, you have to mix it up with our kids. They wouldn't have it any other way.He was even blessed to have Thanksgiving in April. Benay and Bronwyn found some real orange sweet potatoes and couldn't wait to make turkey and dressing with it. (Typical sweet potatoes here are white and don't have quite the same taste.) When you never have something (peanut butter, sweet potatoes, etc) and then you find it.......you celebrate. Big Garrett happened to be here when they decided to make it and so he enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving meal with us.We even were able to have some adult time conversations about family, God's kingdom and ministry.

We were blessed by his visit. We don't think we scared him off with our big familyness or our sleeping hours. He hung right in there with us and became a part of our family for a few days.

I always like to hear what people think about what they see here as far as this ministry. I asked Garrett if he wanted to share anything about his time here and here is what he sent:

It's my third time in Porto Alegre, I'm here a few days past my original plans, and I'm trying to purchase a plane ticket online to get to Rio, my future home for six months. I was already a bit shocked by just how early this family wakes up and Kevin asks "Do you want to go to a prayer meeting at 7:00 in the morning? We can go by the airport afterwards." Do I really want to go? Better yet, do I really want to wake up at 6:30 a.m.? No, not really. But I do anyway and I accompany Kevin to the crack-of-dawn (it really wasn't that early) gathering of guys. I was moved by the church family's frankness and realness at the celebration on Sunday and it didn't stop there. We walk in and the guys just start sharing, no façades, no pretexts, straight up opening themselves up to each other with nothing held back.

This church is church. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says to, "…encourage one another and build each other up…" And that's what I see. I see people from all backgrounds and histories coming together, loving each other, and building each other up. One can't not be encouraged by it. I hope that wherever we are we drop our pretenses and just get real with one another.

Oh, and the Blumes serve up some incredible food as well!

I ask that you please pray for Garrett. After Rio he isn't sure where God is leading him. Please pray for him to have God's peace and direction in whatever that next step may be. Whatever it is and wherever he goes we know he will do great things for the kingdom.

(you can check out his blog here)