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

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Random Comments

Anderson is a pretty typical 5 year old. He makes lots of funny, random comments. I think what makes it even funnier with him is that he talks. A lot. We have never had a child or met a child that talks as much as he does. I'm sure part of his large vocabulary and love of talking comes from the fact that he has grown up in a big English speaking family and every day he is surrounded by many Portuguese speaking friends. Whatever the reason he is always saying some funny stuff.

Some examples just from the last couple of days while going to/from school:

Anderson: "My hands are SOOO slobbery."
Benay: "They are? Why?"
Anderson: "Because I've pushed them together for about the last 6 minutes."

Anderson: "Dad, does garlic tomato exist?"

Me: (seeing Anderson with his cowboy hat on) "Hey cowboy."
Anderson: "I'm not a cowboy. I'm a gaúcho (Brasilian cowboy).
Me: "Right. Sorry."
Anderson: "Cowboys are not gaúchos they're Texastes."

Anderson: (he spells every word that he sees as we are driving and then asks what it spells) "What does EG spell dad?"
Me: "Nothing."
Anderson: "Dad, seriously what does EG spell?"
Me: "Seriously. It doesn't spell anything. It's not a word." (this lead into a 5 minute discussion)
Anderson: "Dad, okay then can you spell all the words that don't spell nothing."

Anderson: (looking at Giovanni in the backseat)"Me and Giovanni are the cutest in the family because Bronwyn "EH" (didn't really know how to spell this-so just think what a wrong answer buzzer might sound like on a game show), Ansley "EH", Garrett "EH" and Carys "EH"

Anderson: "Dad if you die I don't ever want mom to get married again because no one can resist you."
Dad: "Thanks buddy."
Anderson: "Do you know what resist means?"
Dad: "Don't think so."
Anderson: "It means no one can take your spot."

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Benay and I grew up in churches that didn't necessarily encourage God's grace. Our lives were filled with good Christian people but, honestly, we were taught a skewed doctrine. Neither one of us can ever remember hearing our parents sharing this doctrine but we both went to churches where the theme was the same......."God's grace is good and we are thankful for it but we also have to do our part and be good enough to go to heaven." It wasn't a "God did everything for us" mentality. It was more of a "God did his part now we need to do our part and together that might be enough to get us to heaven". Benay can even remember hearing a lesson from a man who showed, using scales, how God's grace needed our good works to finish the salvation plan. What an incredible burden! It has taken a few years for us to release that baggage and be 100% grace sharers.

Anyway, I needed to share the above to put in context what I really wanted to share today. It's relevant I promise.

A few years ago our church family had a prayer vigil. We planned the night before a holiday so as many people as possible could come. If I remember correctly, I think our group consisted of 7-8 people. We committed to pray through the night. Our brother João Spencer had done prayer vigils before and he volunteered to guide our prayer time through the night. At the top of every hour we would pray for 45 minutes for a specific topic and then take a 15 minute break. We started at 10-11 and went until 5-6 the next morning. As the night became morning I found myself catching little quick naps during our prayer time. With these quick naps came those old feelings of guilt that there was something wrong with me because I wasn't strong enough to go the entire night without sleeping. Somehow this was a testimony to my lack of spirituality. Those feelings led me to apologize to João. He had the most interesting, loving, encouraging and, quite frankly, Christian response. He told me not to apologize because he could think of no better place than on the Father's lap to fall asleep as I shared my requests.

I was reminded of João's inredibly loving, Spirit led response to me as I read these words this week from Trappist monk Basil Pennington in the book A Glimpse of Jesus by Brennan Manning:

A father is delighted when his little one, leaving off his toys and friends, runs to him and climbs into his arms. As he holds his little one close to him, he cares little whether the child is looking around, his attention flitting from one thing to another, or if he is intent upon his father, or just settling down to sleep. Essentially the child is choosing to be with his father, confident of the love, care, the security, that is his in those arms. Our Centering Prayer is much like that. We settle down in our Father's arms, in his loving hands. Our mind, our thoughts, our imagination may flit about here and there; we may even fall asleep, but essentially we are choosing to remain for this time intimately with our Father, giving ourselves to him, receiving his love and care, letting him enjoy us as he will. It is very simple prayer. It is very childlike prayer. It is prayer that opens out to us all the delights of the Kingdom.

Friday, June 19, 2009

English Party

My teammate Matt and I are runners. Over the 7 years that we have been together in Brasil we have spent many hours running together. We kind of go in spurts because he normally likes to run in the afternoons and I prefer to run early in the morning. Lately we've found time to run together a couple of days a week. It's been good for both of us. We always end our runs with prayer.

Monday is a running day for us. This past Monday we spent some time talking and praying about something that happened in our house last Saturday night.

For a while Benay and I have felt led to start a ministry to our Brasilian friends who speak English. We finally found a free weekend to do it last weekend. We called Matt and his wife, Waleska, to see if they would be interested in starting this ministry with us. They said yes. We knew they would. They have a heart for the lost and are always looking for new ways to reach new people. Waleska actually teaches English to Brasilians. We also called some other English speakers in our church to invite them to walk with us in this ministry. Almost every Christian brother and sister that we invited came.

Last week we were having a conversation and Matt made a statement that shares exactly what Benay and I feel in our hearts. He said, "I no longer consider myself someone in the church of Christ but as just a Christian." Why do I share that? Because God has blessed us with other people who believe just as we do. That the name on the front of a church building (if you even have a church building) is not relevant. What's in your heart is relevant. We try to serve God the best we can and we know we need all the help we can get in reaching those in this city that don't yet know Christ.

One family God has blessed us with is Jeff and Cam and their two boys, Blake and Parker. Parker and Anderson are actually in the same class and they are best friends. We love this family. They are Baptist missionaries and they think like us. Our unity in Christ means everything. We called them last week and invited them to be a part of this new ministry. They were here last Saturday as well.

We had a great night. Our house was full of visitors who had never been to our house.

We started with the 'Who am I?' game. You put someone's name on your back and then you have to ask people one question to give clues as to who you are. You keep guessing until you get it. We've done this kind of game before and it's always fun.
Here are some of the famous Americans that were there:

Alexander Graham Bell.......
..........Jennifer Aniston and her date Homer Simpson......

.........Oprah, Ronald McDonald and Walt Disney.......

..........Julia Roberts and an attempt at her big horse teeth (not a fan)......
......and the super cool Tom Cruise.
The funniest was when our brother, César, could not figure out who he was. No matter how many clues we gave him he literally had no clue. We finally told him he was Jerry Seinfeld. He had never heard of him.

In everything that we do, Benay and I try to share our faith. With something we called an English party we didn't feel like we could just bust out a Bible study on the first night, but we did share a little bit of God's love.

Benay printed up the words to the song "Big House" by Audio Adrenaline but left some words out. We listened to the song a few times and then we had everyone fill in some blanks. It was a good way to learn English and hear a Christian song with a beat as well. At the end we added a Bible verse and that was the extent of our study time.

We then enjoyed fellowship and food. Even our cookies were English teachers. God just naturally opens doors in those times of fellowship. I had the chance to share with Garrett's soccer coach and his wife after they asked about house church and what it was.
Our plan is to do this once a month. God is already blessing it.
It was a great beginning and we think everyone had a great time.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Not a great start.

Our team played the first leg of the Brasil Cup finals last night. It was a good game. We played great even though 4 of our starters were out (2 are currently playing in South Africa with the Brasilian national team, one was suspended and one was hurt).

Unfortunately we came out on the wrong end of a 2-0 score. (Even though the second goal should not have been allowed but I won't even get into it. It makes me want to puke. If you understand soccer rules you will pick it up on the video).

Anyway, the return game is here in 2 weeks and we will be there. We have to beat them by 3 to be the champs. It's not going to be easy but we have faith. We already have some prayer warriors on it. This morning when Anderson woke up he asked me who won. I told him, and he did not like it. I told him we needed to start praying that Inter would win big when we play in our stadium. Immediately Anderson bowed his head and started praying out loud for Inter to win the next game.

I'm not sure God cares so much about our soccer team but I'm not going to tell my 5 year old to stop praying. God tells us to pray about everything. Maybe He does care about soccer.

Here are the highlights of the game for our diehard Inter fans:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


We ran out of gas to heat our water the other night. It was too late to call the gas man and have him bring a new tank. The bad thing was Giovanni needed a bath.

What to do when you have no hot water and a kid needs a bath? Improvise. Benay heated up water in the microwave and then put the water and the little chunkster (Ansley's friends call him Buddha) in the kitchen sink.
We don't think he minded.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What language barrier?

You would think that after living here for almost 7 years that our Portuguese would be pretty slick. Honestly we can talk to anybody about anything but we do have some short falls that will be with us forever.

Being that we were adults when we began to learn this language, our brains can't seem to convince our mouths to speak without an accent. We can't tell you how many times people have heard just a couple words come out of our mouths and they immediately want to know where we are from. None of our kids have accents. The Brasilians all talk about how impressed they are that our kids speak with no accent. We love our kids but in this area they make us want to puke. I admit it, we are jealous. For the kids, however, speaking Portuguese is as easy as speaking English. Again, I want to puke.

Another thing that still gives us fits is the occasional brain freeze when we are speaking. We know a certain word but something else comes out of our mouths.

Two examples from today.

We are getting ready to move into a different house (more on that later) and so we are doing all the things that need to be done for that to happen in the next couple of weeks.

Our new house is a little bit smaller and won't hold all of our things, so we are going to have to rent some storage space. Today Benay called about some space. She had talked to the man last week and wanted to recheck the space and prices. She asked about the quote he gave her on the 300 square meters of storage space. He told her he only had one space like that and the price was about R$3000 (about $1500). Benay froze. Then it dawned on her that last week they spoke of a place that had 30 square meters. Big difference. She basically was asking for a storage place of around 3200 square feet.

Later, I spoke with a friend who has a big moving truck. I asked him if we could borrow his truck on a certain day to move all of our stuff. The words for buildings and furniture are almost the same. Only one letter is different. Guess which one came out of my mouth? That's right. So what I asked him was if it would be possible to borrow his truck so that we could literally put our house in it to move to the new place.

We are blessed with great friends who either playfully laugh with us at our slip ups at times or will lovingly correct us. Even Brasilians we don't know treat us with respect as we make language mistakes.

A great thing about living in another country is it actually strengthens your Christian life. How? Just with the language learning alone. The Bible repeatedly speaks of humility. Learning a new language and living in a new country trying to speak that language will definitely humble you as you have to be okay with making mistakes and sounding, at times, like a complete moron.

This verse came to Benay`s mind one time when she was feeling inadequate to do this job with her language skills:
"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. " 1 John 3:18

It's pretty cool to see how many doors have opened for us to share Christ's love through our flawed language. Just the "where are you from" comment is, we feel, an opportunity from God.

In our weakness He is strong.

So our language deficiencies are actually useful to the kingdom. Just don't ask us to get a moving van for you.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

God's love

My dad sent us Brennan Manning's book called A Glimpse of Jesus and it's pretty strong.

Here's a quote from Jesuit Bernard Bush found in the first chapter:

"It takes a profound conversion to accept the belief that God is tender and loves us just as we are, not in spite of our sins and faults, but with them. God does not condone or saction evil, but he does not withhold his love because there is evil in us."

Friday, June 12, 2009


Things are going great with the guys from the chácara. Benay and I have started teaching a class to the guys that are in the chácara on Thursday mornings and I continue to be a part of the accountability group on Friday nights with the guys that have already left the chácara. Some of the guys are also part of the house church that meets in our house.

I can't tell you how refreshing their honesty is. The way they confess sin is incredible. They openly share things, all things, from their lives. On more than one occasion I've seen them be unwilling to take the Lord's Supper until they go, right then, and confess a sin to a brother. Sometimes they do it privately, and sometimes it's in front of all their brothers and sisters. I've grown up and been around Christians my whole life and I have never seen this Biblical teaching actually acted out in such a way.

One of the things I am amazed at is the way they openly share what their lives were like when they were on drugs. Most of them were addicted to crack.

I have never been around drugs and so I have many questions. Especially about crack because it is so addictive. They always answer every question. They do not hide any aspect of their previous lives on drugs whether it be crack, marijuana, alcohol or whatever.

I've learned that crack was mainly their drug of preference.

I've learned that crack gives a brief high (seconds) but you will do anything to get that brief high. I thought the high lasted for hours.

I've learned that you will be addicted to crack after only one use.

I've learned that, while looking for their next crack high, these guys have seen and done the following: lied, stole, robbed, sold almost everything in their own house (including kids' clothes and things and wives' or girlfriends' clothes and things) to pay for the next high. They've told me of turning their backs on family and friends because the search for more drugs was too powerful. They told me of girls (some as young as 13-14) who would sell their bodies either for money, to buy more crack, or for a "pedra" or rock of crack. A rock costs $5 reais (Brazilian currency). In American dollars (depending on what the value of the dollar has done since we've been here) that would be anywhere between $1.40 and $3.30. I think of my girls being around that age and it just crushes me.

It has been an incredibly eye opening experience for me to be with these guys and hear their stories and learn more about these powerfully destructive drugs. If you have a picture in your mind of a bunch of rough-looking street guys then you need to wipe that thought out of your brain. Some of these guys did come from very tough backgrounds, but there are also a lot that came from good, strong families. You definitely would not be able to pick most of these guys out as drug addicts if you were to look at them in a group. I'm learning that this drug doesn't see color, education, or social status.

I say all of that to also share in their victory. None of these guys are the same since they entered the chácara. They all know that God has given them the victory. They have been to the bottom of the well and know that the only thing that saved them was Jesus. They are always looking for opportunities to share their testimonies.

Lives are being changed because of the chácara. Benay and I are blessed to be a small part of the chácara ministry. We have a front row seat to see how Jesus is taking victory over drugs for those who want to be free.

I was reminded this week of the importance of Christian places like the chácara in bringing deliverance from deadly addictions as I read an article in our newspaper. It was about the death of a 14 year old boy. He had been shot 4 times. Why? He was a crack addict and he owed the dealers some money and didn't pay. How much did he owe? $2.50.

Please pray that this ministry with the chácara will not only bless those inside the chácara, those that have left and are staying strong but also that we can find out a way to effectively minister to those that are on crack and hopefully help them to see their need to go to a Christian rehab center like the chácara.

I've lived a pretty sheltered life when it comes to being around drug addicts but, thank God, I am being allowed to see and blessed to be a part of a ministry that is attacking these addictions. We are being blessed to see God give victory after victory.

Like I tell these guys all the time, I want my kids to grow up around them so they can see the power of God in defeating Satan's strongholds.

Please pray for this ministry and for these men as they battle these addictions.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sweet Proof

Based on the conversation we had today after lunch, I think Anderson has been hanging out with Carys (the I'll eat anything that looks or smells like cake, pie, cookies, brownies or chocolate whatever before I would think about putting a piece of fruit in my mouth queen) too much . It went like this:

Anderson: "Dad, can I have dessert?"
Me: "Sure. You can have a piece of fruit."

Anderson: "Dad......fruit is
not dessert!"
Me: "Sure it is. It's sweet, tastes good and it's even good for you."
Anderson: "Dad, fruit does not count as a dessert!"

Me: "Well, you aren't going to eat chocolate or anything like that right now. You can have some fruit."

Anderson: (as he leaves the kitchen very frustrated with the conversation) "Well, you are not God or Jesus or Mom and I'm not going to eat fruit because it isn't a dessert."

He left, did not come back and did not eat dessert.

We always tell the older kids that the younger kids are watching them and following their example. Here is our sweet proof.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


We've shared before how we love seeing the way some words and sentences get translated into English.

Today Garrett and I were coming home from his soccer school and we saw a bumper sticker on a 4X4 truck.

After he got through with a good laugh, Garrett grabbed a pen and piece of paper and wrote it down so we wouldn't forget it.

He wanted to share with you what the sticker said. Here it is:

"Legend aren't born that chance. They are build with mens hans."

Saturday, June 06, 2009

65 Years Ago

When I worked as a physical therapist I loved to work with the elderly. Their insight and wisdom on things just blew me away. I loved to hear stories of what life was like when they were younger. I remember treating a man who was 100 years old. One day he told me the story of when he saw the first car that ever came into his county. I could listen to those stories all through our treatments and never get bored.

I think, however, my favorite patients were the men that served in the military during World War 2. I heard stories and saw things that these men brought home from the war that are still fried into my brain.

I think the thing that impressed me the most about these men was their humility. Not one ever bragged about what they had done or had been a part of in the war. No need for fanfare or bluster in their story telling. Most were reluctant to even talk about it.

65 years ago today was D-Day. Many historians think that if the allies had not won on D-Day then the war would have ended with a German victory. Over 8,000 men died on that day alone. Benay's grandfather lost his life in the war, and we are proud to have this heritage in our family.

About 10 years ago Tom Brokaw wrote a book called The Greatest Generation and in the book he said, "this is the greatest generation any society has produced."

From the books that I've read and the brief time I was blessed to spend with some of the men who participated in that war I would have to agree.

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Cold

You might be surprised to know that even though we live in Brasil, we have 4 seasons. Most people think Brasil is hot all the time, and that would be true if you lived in the northern part of Brasil. But here in the deep south we have spring, fall, and winter as well.

This year we've enjoyed the warmest fall yet since we moved here in 2002. It's been great weather. That all changed this week.

Two nights ago it was 35 degrees. Not a big deal if you have central heat. No one here has central heat or air. Our homes are not insulated either. Just concrete walls with bricks or stones on the outside. It makes it almost unbearable at night when the temperature drops like that. I can't explain what it is like to get out of bed when it is 35 degrees in your house. Another bad thing about these houses is that once the cold gets in it won't get out. It literally takes 5-10 straight days of warm weather for the inside of your house to get warmed up. During the winter it usually is colder in your house than outside. The same is true, just reversed, for summer.

I could go on and on about how much we suffer during our winters. Is it hard? Yes. Is it
bearable? Absolutely. Do we have options? Sure. Last year we bought a couple of electric oil heaters for the 2 rooms where the 4 youngest kids sleep. We shut the doors and it can get to a comfortable temperature.

I was reminded of how blessed we are this week as I read an article in the paper. In our city (as in many cities in Brasil) we have an insane amount of people who live on the streets. Some by choice (because of drugs and alcohol) and some because they have been kicked out of their homes, etc.

In the years that we have been in Brasil I have read in one of our newspapers (more than once) of someone who lived on the streets of our city and died during the night because of the cold. The article this week spoke of the city going around to as many of these people as possible and offering to take them to shelters to get them out of the cold. Amazingly a big majority of the people refused.

Why in the world would they do that? The power of drugs and alcohol are just too much for them to make, what would be for most of us, a smart decision and go to a warm place with a bed.

This reminded me of how important the ministry at the chácara is and how blessed our family is to be a part of that ministry.

I ask that you please pray for these people who live in the street. Our prayer is that more and more will want to leave this awful way of living and will want to go to the chácara or a place like it where they can not only be freed from drugs and alcohol but can also learn about how much Jesus loves them.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

And now.........the Finals

We did a blog last week about the semi final game of the Brasil Cup that Inter played. Bronwyn, Ansley and I went and we won 3-1. We played the second leg of the semi finals last night in a city called Curitiba.

We played awful and lost 1-0 but won on the combined score of the two games (3-2) and so we go to the finals. Last night was probably the worst game we played all year. It was ugly but still good enough for us to move on.

This tournament is a big deal. If we win the next two games, not only will we be the champions but we will automatically qualify for the biggest tournament in South America next year.

The game ended around midnight last night. The second the game was over the city was filled with fireworks. Some went off on our street right in front of our house. They were insanely loud. I just knew they were going to wake up Giovanni (the rest of the kids, and their mom, don't wake up for anything) but thankfully he snoozed through them. I still love the excitement of soccer fans after a big game.

Our next opponent is a team from São Paulo. They are called Corinthians (yes....like the 2 books of the Bible) and they have this guy:

He has won two World Cups, has played for the biggest clubs in Europe and is called "The Phenomenon." His name is Ronaldo. He's blown out his knees 3 times and because of the third knee surgery he decided to come back to Brazil and play instead of trying to continue playing in Europe. He isn't as fast as he used to be in the video and alot of Brasilians now call him "Fat Ronaldo" (let's just say Brasilians aren't as worried about political correctness as Americans are) because of the weight he put on while recovering from his last surgery, but he is still scoring goals this year. He's still dangerous and his team is good.

It will be a tough two games. We, of course, will try to be there for the second game of the finals. The first game is a couple of weeks away. We are hoping to see another championship and be a part of another celebration.

For those that care (GB,ST,AMD,MJ), here are your highlights from last nights game:

Monday, June 01, 2009


I'm sure by now everyone has heard of the probable crash of the Air France jet.

This plane took off from Rio de Janeiro last night on it's way to Paris. It had between 50-60 Brasilians on it. It's all we've heard on the radio and t.v. today. Benay said it best when she said, "this is just horrible."

Not sure what to ask for in prayers at a time like this. The best thing I can think of is to ask God to give His peace to these grieving families.

I know things like this happen every day and it's easy, in our information overloaded world, to get numb to these things. I pray that we can all stop right now and say a prayer for those grieving.

I pray God, in some way, will use this apparent tragedy for His glory.