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

Monday, February 27, 2012


Very cool and a bit lengthy God story we want to share on this post today. We think it will be worth your time. 

Today God has answered a prayer that has been prayed for almost 10 years.

Our family moved to Brasil in 2002. About a year later Garrett decided he wanted to be a professional soccer player. In Brasil almost every single boy wants to be a professional soccer player and Garrett was 6-7 years old so, at the time, we didn't think much about it. It's what Brasilian boys want to be when they grow up.

What we were beginning to realize was that Garrett is a prayer warrior. Ask him to pray for something and he will pray, without stopping, until God gives His answer.

An example, at the beginning of 2008 we had a bomb of a car. Maybe the worst car we have ever owned and we've had some bad ones. We bought it towards the end of 2006 when we found out we were pregnant. We didn't pray about it. Big mistake. A deal was offered to us and this was, we thought at the time, the only car big enough to hold our soon to be family of 8.

We lost our baby at the beginning of December in 2006 and were stuck with this lemon (Brasilians call bad cars pineapples).

Back to the beginning of 2008, a brother asked us what we needed for our ministry car wise. He was visiting from the states and rode in our lemon and knew that it wasn't safe for our family. We told him two good used cars but we had no money to do that. He reminded us that our God is big so we need to ask big and let God show His goodness.

I mentioned this to Garrett and every time he prayed he asked God for two good, used cars. He was more consistent, persistent in his prayers than I was. He's always been like that. He prayed almost every day, if not every day, for two good, used cars.

In January of 2009 God blessed us with our second good, used car. We still have both of them (one is 11 years old and the other is 8 years old) and neither has given us hardly any problems.

Back to today.

Today Garrett begins playing with a new soccer team in our city. It's a professional team and Garrett is going to play on the junior pro team. He's never done that before and I wanted to share how this happened.

I'm sharing to encourage you to pray, like Garrett, without stopping and watch what God will do. I also share to show how cool God is and how He likes to do things sometimes.

About six years ago we were at our neighborhood gas station. As the guy pumped our gas (everything is full service here) we began a conversation. It usually takes one word out of my or my girlfriends mouth for people to know we aren't Brasilian. He asked where we were from. He was from Bolivia.  So here was an English speaker and Spanish speaker having a conversation at the gas station in Portuguese.

I found out this guy, Mário,  was a Christian. I invited him to come to our mid-week Bible study. He and his wife came. Pretty soon his entire family was coming during the week and to our house church worship on the weekends.

The gas station was less than 1km from our house. One night I was driving home and saw this brother's daughter walking home from her job at Blockbuster, which was next door to the gas station. I stopped and asked if she needed a ride home. She accepted and I took her home.

I dropped her off, Mário came out to say hi and I started to leave. Except the car wouldn't start. It died right in the middle of the street. It was so big and heavy (it was basically a school bus) and the road was in such a weird shape that we couldn't move it. We got more people and finally got it straight on the street so a tow truck could pick it up.

I asked my brother if he knew of a good mechanic. Our guy was good but we were finding out that he was more of a body man than a under the hood guy.

Mário referred me to a guy named Junior. So we called a tow truck and around 11:30 that night he picked up our lemon and took it to Junior.

The next day we went to Junior's and Mario introduced us.

We've been with Junior ever since. He fixes things right the first time. We've never had to go back and have him do something he's already done.

Junior has become a good friend. He is very funny and fun to be around. He doesn't call me Kevin. He calls me the American. He's generous. He gave us free tickets to every soccer game last year to see our favorite team play. Every one. He's also fixed our cars for free before. Don't know why, he just did. Junior is a people person. I think he knows everyone. Seriously.

Last year he was talking to me about Garrett and asked where he practiced soccer. I told him and he said the place wasn't good. He told me if he ever wanted to try out for a pro team to let him know and he would call the president of this other soccer club in town.

We got back from the states in January. A couple of weeks later Machado, Garrett's coach/trainer, and I went to see Junior.

We asked about this other soccer school and he called the president while we stood right there.

Because of Junior, Garrett is getting to walk right on the junior pro team. You normally have to show up for a test to see if you are good enough. If you are, then you get invited to play. If not, then they tell you to try again later or you can join a soccer school (anybody can play if you pay money). Because of the word of Junior our son gets to go right on the team today. Of course he has to earn the right to stay but getting to bypass all the red tape is an amazing blessing and it takes a lot of the pressure off.

Since Junior introduced, by phone, I've spoken with the president a few times. He's a very nice guy and told me, the last time we spoke, that everything is set up for Garrett's first practice today. If for some reason there is any kind of problem I'm supposed to tell the coach that Garrett is referred by the president. How cool is that?

Okay, so why do I share all of this?

Because Mário and his family only stayed as part of our group for a very short time. Our family went on furlough one year and when we came back we found out that he and his family went back to their old church family. We had no problem with that. They were saved before we met them. They decided to be a part of our group and then decided to go back to their old church family. That's okay. God didn't send us here to save the saved. Or try to grow this church family by bringing in other Christians from other church families. God asked us to come to Brasil to share the Good News with people who don't know Jesus. Mario and his family were going to heaven before we ever knew them.

So why share?  Because of how God used Mário to lead us to Junior. If I had never met Mario, I never would have met his family. If I didn't know his family, I would never have given his daughter a ride home. No ride home, no broken down car at their house. No broken lemon, no call to Junior. No call to Junior, no new friendship. No new friendship, no walking on to the junior pro team today.

You see how God answered that prayer? To us it's obvious how God used our brief relationship with Mário (and even our lemon of a car) to bring about His answer to Garrett's (and our) prayers.

The world would call it coincidence. We know better.

We don't share to brag about our son. We are super proud of him, in all aspects of his life, and believe he is a really good soccer player - but how could we brag about what is happening today? God did everything through prayer. Everything.

We have no idea where this will go. We would love to see Garrett's mission field be the soccer field as an adult, just like it is now as a teenager but only God knows where this will go.

And we, Garrett included, are okay with the not knowing. Like Garrett said yesterday, "I've been praying for this my whole life.....I shouldn't be nervous." He will give his absolute best, play his brains out, give 100% and see where God takes it.

Garrett knows that God's hand has been in this. We've talked about it many times.

God answers prayers. Sometimes it's in an instant. Sometimes He answers but it takes a long time. Sometimes his answer is no but He will give an answer.

And, just so you'll know, He takes 6 year old prayer requests very seriously.

Please pray for Garrett today to have God's peace and joy as he starts down this new road.

And feel free to drop him a note of encouragement as well.

Friday, February 24, 2012


How often have you read about something or someone who really needed your prayers and you just go right on with your day and do nothing spiritually about it?

I do that far more often than I'd like to admit.

This morning I was reading an article about a brother in Iran. His name is Youcef Nadarkhani. He's a pastor and he's been sentenced to die.

His crime? He accepted Christ and turned his back on Islam.

He has been given the chance to convert back to Islam to save his life. He has refused. He has been given the chance to say Muhammad is a prophet to save his life. He has refused.

Our brother Youcef is a 34 year old husband and father of two young boys. Here is his family.

I prayed for Youcef this morning. I asked God to give Youcef His peace and joy today. I prayed for Youcef to be freed but I asked for God's will to be done and for God's kingdom to grow in Iran through whatever happens with Youcef and his family. What a testimony to his family and to Christians around the world.

He is not backing down. He is claiming Christ and holding to him, not to this temporary life.

We tend to believe that our lives wouldn't be full and complete unless we live until we are 90. We tend to think of how horrible it would be to be killed at such a young age. To not see our kids grow up. To not grow old with our spouse. Where do we get that promise in the Bible?

What we do see is God asking us to sell out to Him. What we do read is God telling us that heaven is so much better than anything here. Better than our good marriage, happy homes, great job, great ministry, whatever. Better than all that.

But do we really believe it?

As I prayed for Youcef this morning I found myself praying for myself.

That I would be bold today in my faith. That I would, literally, die because of my love for Jesus. That my unwavering love could even win over the very people who are wanting to kill me. That I wouldn't buckle under any pressure, even the threat of death. That I would never recant.

"But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God."  Acts 20:24

Being killed for Jesus still goes on today, and our brother Youcef may never see his wife and boys again.

Because he loves Jesus more. He loves Jesus more than his own life, his wife and his kids.

Youcef is your example today.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I just finished reading this book.
Lots of very encouraging, very real stories of Jesus making very real differences in the lives of people.  People from all ages, races, social classes, etc. share what Jesus means to them and how that relationship changed their lives.

The "Who Is First?", "How Do I Become Second?" and "What Now?" sections to close the book are the best, simple explanations of who God is, what a relationship with Jesus is and what it means for your life and what you should do after you accept Jesus that I have ever seen in a book. Simple, clear and biblical. And, I think, great to use as you share about Jesus with your friends as well as disciple new Christians.

Don't know if anyone cares about what books I'm reading but I've decided when me or my girlfriend read a good one that we think others might like we are, from time to time, going to share it. My girlfriend is currently reading this book and she can't put it down either.

I Am Second is one we think you should read.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Ans, here are some photos just for you from our visit with Fabi yesterday. We know you miss your bud. Hope these pics help. Giovanni took most of them.

We thought it was cool that she wanted to come over to hang out with us. We were glad that she did.

You've got good friends in POA and none better than Fabi.

Here you go:

Before you know it you'll be hanging out with her in person.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


We mentioned a few days ago about how hot it's been in our city.

My girlfriend and I came out of the grocery store the other day and the street clock/thermometer said it was 42 degrees. We measure our temperature in celsius. When you make the conversion to fahrenheit it was 107.6 degrees.

I've always been told that the temperature gauges on the street are always hotter than it really is because the sun bouncing off the concrete/asphalt makes the reading hotter. Don't know if it's true but let's say it affects the reading by 5 degrees. If that's the case then it was still 102.6 when we came out.

Then I found a picture on a friends facebook that lives here in our city. She had the following picture that her friend had taken at 5:00 p.m. on a recent afternoon in a city about 50 miles away.
That would be 116.6 degrees fahrenheit.

It's so hot it makes you do crazy things.

Like taking 2-3 cold water only showers during the day.

Like sleeping with no covers on and as many fans pointing at your body as possible......and still waking up during the night sweating.

Like going to the neighborhood pool at 7:30 at night because it's still 93 degrees outside and 90 degrees inside your house.

Like eating your meals buck naked.

We told you the heat makes you do crazy things.

(Thankfully, so far, only the 3 year old is eating completely naked.)

Monday, February 20, 2012

One more birthday post

As you know my girlfriend celebrated her birthday a few days ago. February 8 to be exact.

On the 13th we had a surprise birthday party for her.

Carys planned most of it and was, as normal, super excited to do something like this.

We decided to keep it small and invite some of our really close friends who, unfortunately, we don't get to see as much as we would like.  Just a real informal, laid back group that likes to be around each other.

We moved our date day up a night because some of our guests were getting ready to go out of town because of Carnaval.

I took her to see a movie. We left around 4:00 and Carys began to decorate the house and make a cake.
She got a recipe for red velvet cake and she nailed it.

Our friends arrived around 7:00 and helped by bringing little snacks.

After the movie Carys called to let me know everyone was there. I then hung up and told my girlfriend that Giovanni was sick and we had to go home.

Surprisingly everyone in our apartment was quiet when we got home. Our apartment building carries noise like crazy but we heard nothing as we walked up the stairs.

We walked in to a dark room and then a little 3 year old came running around the corner followed by everyone else yelling "Surprise!"

My girlfriend was floored. She had no idea.

It was a simple party. Just good friends hanging out and enjoying each other's company.

We sang happy birthday, ate the little snacks and then ate the awesome cake Carys made. Here is the birthday girl along with the cake maker and her creation.

One of my friends doesn't eat sweets. He ate the cake that night because everyone else was talking about how good it was.

We spent the night laughing, which we do a lot of when we are with this group, and hanging out with some very good friends. Two of the couples we met, literally, the first month we moved here almost 10 years ago. Very cool how they became and are still some of our best buds.

Later my girlfriend told me how the night was just "perfect."

Here is a photo of our group.
We are blessed by lots of good friends.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

"Be silent before the Lord, all humanity, for he is springing into action from his holy dwelling."

Zechariah 2:13

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Last week I posted about me and two other brothers going to different places throughout the city looking for our brother André who recently got out of a drug and alcohol rehab facility that our network of house churches support.

He got out, got a job but was looking for a place to live. No place to live for a recovering drug addict/alcoholic is a recipe for disaster.

Our house church family doesn't have much money but we are generous with what God gives us. Whatever it is (money, time, food, whatever) our family gives generously. My girlfriend told me a couple of days ago that one person in our house church family takes the first 10% out of every check she receives and she buys food for another family in our house church that doesn't have much. Every check, every month.

I had no idea she did that and I like that I didn't know and that no American taught her to do it. She spent time in the word, listened to what the Spirit was telling her and is a monthly blessing to another family. I like that she has never said a word about it. I'm not even sure how my girlfriend found out about it.

Anyway, Elinton and I spent some time together last Sunday. He told me we needed to go out again and try to find André. So Wednesday we went back to a place that allows people living on the street to come in and take a shower, get a haircut and get cleaned up. It's was almost 100 degrees and this place is in an old warehouse so you can imagine how hot it was inside. And the place was full of people. Getting cleaned up and just getting out of the sun.

Across the street some men, who helped us the week before while they were smoking marijuana, were still there in the same spot. I asked Elinton why they wouldn't come over and take advantage of taking a shower. He didn't know.

We met people this time who actually knew André but told us they haven't seen him in a while. Sometimes, they said, he comes in on the weekends.

We left our names and numbers with the director of the facility and asked her to have him get in contact with us if comes back.

We ask for your continued prayers for André, who has lived on the streets before and it wasn't pretty, and for us as we try to find him.

We want to be his family, God's family, and let him know he can count on us.

I've seen Elinton a bunch over the last week. We went looking for André. He spent most of one day in our house finishing some electrical work. He's an electrician and has his own company. Last Sunday he called to let me know we needed to go lovingly confront a brother on a sin in his life. It was a sin of alcohol abuse that was affecting his family and our family. We spent that Sunday afternoon together with that brother. I did a lot of listening to Elinton. The Spirit was strongly on him. Thankfully our brother graciously accepted our visit, confessed his sins and asked his family to forgive him. The next day the wife called Elinton and thanked him that we came out on the day the sin happened. She knew she had a family but she didn't realize they would act so quickly. It touched her heart deeply. I can say with 100% of my being......we acted so quickly because of Elinton. He's teaching me a lot about being a Christ follower. And then Wednesday we were together again looking for André. After I took Elinton home we spent about an hour just hanging out and talking. He's easy to be with.

I continue to be amazed at the wisdom that the Spirit gives my brother. I love spending time with him and I always learn something new and from Jesus when we are together.

Our time together continues this weekend as our family will worship with his house church as my girlfriend and I share more about the Disciple Making Movement vision that our church family is learning about and implementing together.

God is going to do some amazing things with our house church family. He's already doing some amazing things with Elinton and his family.

We thank God for them. Please pray for them as they attack enemy territory.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Yesterday-The Heat and Other Stuff

My girlfriend and I have started training again for another half marathon. This time in April.

The training has been tougher because of the heat. For those that don't know, we are in the middle of our summer. February is equivalent to August in the northern hemisphere. And just like August in the states, it gets hot here in our summer. I'm not sure we've lived in a hotter place than where we live now. The concrete buildings, streets/buildings full of people and humidity will have sweat dripping down your back within a minute of being out in the heat.

Anyway, we got a late start to our run yesterday and we felt the difference. At 8:00 yesterday morning it was 86 degrees.

I copied this off the weather channel site last night for what our next few days are going to look like.

Porto Alegre, Brazil Weather

Updated: Feb 16, 2012, 7pm Local Time

TonightFeb 16Fri17Sat18Sun19Mon20
Partly CloudyAM Clouds / PM SunPartly CloudyMostly SunnyMostly Sunny
Partly CloudyAM Clouds / PM SunPartly CloudyMostly SunnyMostly Sunny
Chance of Rain:
Chance of Rain:
Chance of Rain:
Chance of Rain:
Chance of Rain:
At 8:30 last night we were sitting in our neighborhood swimming pool. It was 86 degrees.

We don't have central air . Most of our rooms have ceiling fans so it helps a bit. Anderson and Giovanni's room doesn't have a ceiling fan. There isn't enough room because of their bunk bed and wardrobe. In Brasil most homes don't have closets so you buy a wardrobe to hold your clothes. Because of that the blades of a ceiling fan just won't spin in their room. It would hit the wardrobe.

So we improvise and this is how the two little guys sleep at night.
 Two fans pointed right at their little bodies to try to keep them cool at night.

 They have never complained. It's what they are used to.
We don't love the heat but I love that our kids don't complain about not having central air or heat. Honestly, they just aren't used to it. Sure we'd love to have it but they've grown up never having it so they know how to make it through our summers and winters.

I have to tell you that all of our kids are weird but I'm the only one in our house that thinks they are. I mean I love them a bunch but when it comes to school starting they are all so weird. Why? Because they LOVE the day we go and get school supplies.

I don't ever remember being excited about getting school supplies. To me it was like a death. Summer was over and it was time to go back to school. I never was a school fan. Even Garrett, my "not a school fan" partner, LOVES getting school supplies.

So we spent a couple of hours doing that yesterday morning. I hated it just like I did when I was a boy. But we got it done and we are ready for the school year to start next week.

Think I'm kidding about the kids' love for school supply shopping? This was Carys' room last night.

All her new stuff just lined up. Like I said......weird.

On the way to the store Anderson had this conversation with my girlfriend:
Anderson: "Mom, is it true that cannibals eat the hearts of people so they can be more healthy?"
Girlfriend: "I don't know but it could be true."
Anderson: "Is it true that they eat lizards so it will help them be better climbers?"
Girlfriend: "I really don't have any idea Anderson."

Typical for Anderson.

We ate at the mall because we had to deal with some cell phone problems at the company store and then we had to go to the grocery store.

The kids actually didn't complain about the grocery shopping which was a nice surprise. They aren't big fans of that job but yesterday they did good.

As we were leaving the store Carys got Giovanni a squirrel mask. The squirrel is the mascot of a big grocery store chain in our city. I've never figured that out since I've never seen a squirrel anywhere in Brasil in 10 years of living here.

But Giovanni loved his mask. He came out of the store with it on and kept it on in the car. After driving for about 5 minutes we looked back and saw him like this.
He's in a deep sleep. Our family calls it "konked" and he's definitely konked.

My girlfriend picked him up and put him on the couch where he then slept for 4 hours and then we had to make him wake up around 6:00. He's never taken a 4 hour nap in his life. We think the heat just wore him out.

We came home from the pool about 9:00 last night and everyone took their 2nd or 3rd cold shower of the day to get ready for bed.

Don't know why I thought anyone, other than our two girls and maybe grandparents, would care about our ordinary day yesterday. Just felt like sharing. It's our blog so we can share whatever. Be grateful it wasn't video of a burping contest or worse. I can see Bronwyn and Ansley nodding in agreement as they read this part.

Yesterday was another hot day but it was a good day and we got some things done and had fun while we did our work and play.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine's Day

Valentine's day in Brasil is actually in June. It's called Dia dos Namorados which means boyfriend/girlfriend day.

We decided this year to celebrate the American Valentine's day as a family.

My girlfriend and I usually have a date night on the American and Brasilian Valentine's days so the kids are used to that. In the past we've bought the kids some candy and done some special things for them but we've never had a fixed tradition with the kids on those days. This year Carys reminded us that we have as a family, in the past, made valentine's cards for each other. My girlfriend and I remember doing that maybe once or twice year but it's been a while ago. It's never been a fixed tradition. Leave it to Carys to remember something fun like that and wanting to repeat it.

So we repeated it again this year and it was fun.

As in many of our posts here we realize that it's mainly for our two girls that aren't in our house anymore. I apologize to the rest of you guys.

So B and Ans, here are some Valentine Day pics.

You know some people worked really hard at their cards.
Here are some of their creations:

We had Lightning McQueen.
 We had Office references.
 We, of course, had Nacho complete with attached poem.
 Garrett remembered Anderson's favorite American football player.
 We had awesome poems by a gifted writer.
Carys didn't forget my love for Gibby from ICarly. He's my favorite.
We had more of Carys' creativity.

She made a dog for Giovanni with a piece of red candy in it's mouth for a wagging tongue.
We had mom's creativity.
Then we had the creativity from Anderson's brain.

Star Wars for Giovanni.
 Special love note to Carys as only Anderson could verbalize.
He remembered the story of me and my girlfriend snorkeling when we were in Mexico a few years ago. In his version we were doing so with a big shark that also happened to have this shark bib on.
A personal note to mom to not work out so much for a couple of reasons: 1) some of her love might come out of her and 2) she is already skinny.
A personal note to Garrett in the shape of a giant T for Tennessee.
Some of our cards got sticky. Why? Because my girlfriend made Valentine's Day pancakes before we shared our cards. Heart shaped or hearts in the middle.....of course.
Other things also happened during the day. Day to day stuff. Like MD appointments or standing in a bank line for 30 minutes waiting to pay a bill.  Things definitely not picture worthy and not so fun.

But we got to end the day at our neighborhood pool which was awesome because it's been in the mid 90's and our house has no air conditioning so we enjoyed cooling off.

All in all we had a great time inventing our Valentine's Day celebration.
It was a great, fun filled family day and at the end of it we were all a little bit tired.

Some more than others.
I would say, if it's up to the kids, this will be a new family tradition. We like inventing those. You know it was good when even a 15 year old boy enjoyed making and getting cards.

If you want to check out what Valentine's Day was like for Ansley in Ecuador. Just click here.