March 29, 2009

A Brazilian Birthday Party

Last night we went to our good friends Junior & Elma's house for a birthday party for their son Joao (John in Portuguese), who turned 5 this week. We have been very close friends with Junior and his family since we first visited Brazil on a mission trip in 2005. His family have practically adopted us, and he and his entire family have helped us a great deal since we moved here. They are truly a blessing from the Lord in our lives.

A Brazilian birthday party is similar in some ways to an American party - there is alot of food, a cake with candle(s), presents, and they sing a birthday song, although it is very different than the "Happy Birthday" song Americans sing. Brazilians know how to have fun, and we are amazed at how they can regularly stay up late at night and then have no problem the next day. Last night they hired a company called "Personal Pizza" to provide the food, and you could get any kind of pizza you wanted with any type of topping you could imagine (bacon, "calebresa" - sausage, chicken, mushrooms, 5 different cheeses, onions, corn, peas, eggs, tomatoes, dried tomatoes, tuna, sardines, olives, peppers,... Brazilian pizza is very different than American pizza, but it is very good). After the regular pizza they made many different types of "pizza doce" - dessert pizzas. Great food and a great time.

some of the guests waiting for their personal pizzas

Junior & Elma, their son Joao and daughter Isabella, and other kids ready to sing

some of the many types of "pizza doce" - dessert pizzas

March 24, 2009

A Special Event To Pray For

On Saturday April 4 we will be working with Igreja Batista Boas Novas and their young adult choir ("coral jovem"), along with Primeira Igreja Batista Cidade Kemel, in a very special evangelism event in the city of Poa, located east of Sao Paulo. Poa is a very poor area, and the area of the city we will be working in has over 40,00 residents in a small "favella" (slum) area. During the day we and the groups from the churches will be visiting houses, parks, and other places to share the Good News, and to invite people to a special show being held at night in the municipal sports gymnasium. The coral jovem of IB Boas Novas will be putting on a special evangelical musical, and then I will have the privilege of speaking and sharing Christ with the visitors. The churches have printed 10,000 announcements to hand out, and PIB Cidade Kemel has already begun to contact and invite people in the city government, businesses, and other places to the event. Please pray for this event, that many will come to hear the Good News of Jesus, and that God will do "immeasurably more" than we ask and imagine and touch & save many, for His glory. We are hoping to have at least 1500 or more people in attendance. We are also seeking God's guidance about having more of these special events with IB Boas Novas.

The "coral jovem" from Igreja Batista Boas Novas - Sao Paulo

The churches printed 10,000 of this announcement

March 23, 2009

Another Nice School Visit

This morning we spoke at the school EE Oswaldo Gonzales, in the Sao Paulo East Zone bairro of Vila Alpina. This is a nice school for 1st through 4th grade students, and it is always alot of fun when we speak to the "pequeninhos" - little ones. We worked with Igreja Batista Boas Novas in the school, which is our Brazilian home church in Sao Paulo.

Nancy is now doing 2 of the 3 parts of our speech, and she is doing a great job. She now speaks about the body and the soul, and I speak about our spiritual life. John also speaks in another class at the same time Nancy and I are speaking, and we are proud of how he is committed to serving the Lord to share the Good News of Jesus. God once again moved in a wonderful way, and 255 students and 3 teachers accepted Jesus. He is doing great things here, not for us, but for His glory.

John and interpretor Hernani sharing Christ in a class
Interpretor Flavia and I and Eliane having fun with the studentsNancy, Eliane, and I sharing ChristSome of the students answering questions about the US & English

March 18, 2009

An Amazing Event

Today we finished speaking in a large school (EE Brenno Rossi school) in the far east zone of Sao Paulo, in the area called Pq. Boa Esperanca. This "bairro" is about an hour from where we live, almost 1 1/2 hours in traffic. This is a poor community, and like most poor areas here they are very open to receiving help, and many people have a genuine interest in having a personal relationship with God. Because of the large size of the school, the event was originally scheduled to take place over 2 weeks, but it ended up taking 3 weeks to finish. In the first week it was very hot, and because the school is in a poor area they ran out of water on 2 afternoons, so we had to reschedule these 2 days for this week.

The school is for students in the 1st grade through high school, and they also have some classes at night for adults. They have a total of 64 classes - 22 in the morning, 21 in the afternoon, and 21 at night. We worked with Igreja Batista Pq. Boa Esperanca, which is located down the street from the school. The church participation was very good during the event, and many people came to help us share God's love with the students and teachers. God moved in an amazing way here, and we are in awe of what He has done: 2,173 students and 23 teachers accepted Christ. God truly is amazing.

Part of the group from the church in a class at night
Interpretor Guilherme and I sharing Christ
John and interpretor Ricardo speaking in a class
Nancy, John, interpretors Fabiane & Elaine, and the church groupInterpretor Elaine and I, Sergio, Guilherme, and Salvador in a class

March 15, 2009

Brazil Photo - Foz do Iguaçu

Foz do Iguaçu is one of Brazil's most popular tourist attractions. Actually it is located where Brazil meets with Argentina and Paraguay, and part of the falls are located on the Brazilian side and some on the Argentine side. The total waterflow of the Foz do Iguaçu is three times that of Niagara Falls, and the tallest of the falls is 318 feet, on the Argentine side. Here is a photo of Foz do Iguaçu.

March 12, 2009

A Changed Life

Antonio is a retired policeman living in the bairro of Pq. Boa Esperanca, which is a poor area in the far East Zone of Sao Paulo. We met him when we were speaking this week on Tuesday and Wednesday nights in the school EE Brenno Rossi, located in Pq. Boa Esperanca. Like many poor areas and favellas, Pq. Boa Esperanca has many problems with violence, drugs, and crime.

Antonio worked for many years as a policemen in the Pq. Boa Esperanca area. Last year through the ministry of Igreja Batista Pq. Boa Esperanca Antonio accepted Christ, and Jesus has totally changed his life for the better. Antonio told me that he had always lived in fear when he was a policeman and even after he retired last year, because of the violence and crime in his neighborhood. He said that since he accepted Christ in early 2008 he no longer lives in fear, and he has found true joy and peace and hope in Christ. Now Antonio is an active member of Igreja Batista Pq. Boa Esperanca, living to help others. He is always involved in the church's projects and events to reach out to others in God's love and share the message of hope and salvation through Jesus Christ. Please pray for Antonio's wife and family, as they still do not have a restored personal relationship with God through Jesus.

Speaking in the school this week (Sergio, me, Guilherme, and Antonio)

Antonio passing out "Livro Da Vida" (Book Of Life) to students

March 9, 2009

Brazilian Food

In the Sao Paulo area there is a large mixture of people from other countries, so you have a wide variety of foods available. There are over 1 million Japanese, over 1 million Arabs, and also many Jewish people, Italians, Portuguese, Europeans, Hispanics, and Chinese. Typical Brazilian food is very good, and we enjoy it very much. Here are some types of foods that are available here:

- Typical Brazilian meal: rice, beans, meat (chicken, beef, or sausage)
- Feijoada: traditional meal, started by black slaves in Brazil; is a stew made of pork & beef, smoked sausage, black beans, and bacon; served with rice, greens, and farofa (a type of flour mixed with things like bacon, or sausage, and other things).
- Churrasco (my favorite): Brazilian BBQ (without BBQ sauce); a large variety of beef cuts, along with chicken, sausage,...
- Seafood ("frutos do mar"): a large variety of dishes with fish, shrimp, squid, and others.
- Pizza: cooked in a wood fire brick oven; typically thin and does not have tomato sauce; a huge variety available & very tasty.
- Italian foods: large variety of lasagnas, spaghetti, and pastas.
- "Esfihas", "Lanches": these are made of bread stuffed with chicken or sausage or beef with cheese.
- Brazilian Hot Dog: it sort of looks like a hot dog, but has cheese & fried potato sticks & sometimes mayo & corn & ...
- Cheese bread "pao de queijo": very tasty round pieces of bread with cheese
- Guarana: very popular & good Brazilian drink made from guarana fruit
- Tropical Fruits: huge variety of tropical fruits
- Fruit Juices: a large variety of flavors; we like it mixed with milk
- Brazilian Coffee: puts American coffee to shame; very good & strong
- Desserts, Sweets: huge variety of "tortas" (pies), "bolos" (cakes), pastries, and other goodies

March 6, 2009

Gunshots In The Neighborhood

Early Thursday morning at about 12:30 am we had some excitement in our neighborhood. Sao Paulo is well known for having many problems with crime. We live in Sao Caetano, which is next to Sao Paulo, and it is generally regarded as a good place to live. But there is crime here too, and the other night we got a close up look. Actually Nancy and John got the close up look, because I was sound asleep and I did not hear a thing, since I sleep with earplugs because of the city noise.

Nancy and John were watching TV and then all of a sudden they saw a guy up on top of our neighbor's roof across the street. Then they saw alot of policemen (military policemen) running up our street chasing some other guys, and then the police started shooting at them. The military police guys are pretty mean around here. About 7 police cars converged on our street, and some of the bad guys were trying to run away across our neighbors' roofs across the street. Alot of the neighbors were yelling and shouting, and were afraid the bad guys would get into their houses. Then they heard more gunshots and the sounds of breaking glass on the next street over from ours. All in all a pretty wild and crazy scene.

Later in the day we heard that there were 4 guys trying to break into a business on our street through the roof, and they were found out. Nancy and John saw the police catch 2 of the guys on our street, and we heard later on that another was caught and 1 got away for now.

You don't mess with the "Policia Militar" here

March 3, 2009

God's Love & Passion For All People

"God wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." - I Timothy 2:4

"The Lord is ... not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."
- 2 Peter 3:9

God has a strong desire in His heart and a passion for every person to have a restored personal relationship with Him, and to have peace with Him and eternal life with Him in heaven. How strong is his desire and passion ? It is so strong that He sent His son Jesus to suffer terribly and to die a horrible death on the cross, to pay the price for our sins and to make it possible for us to have a restored relationship with God (John 3:16 - "God so loved the world...").

It breaks God's heart to see people that are separated from Him and that have a broken relationship with Him because of sin. This needs to break our hearts as well, so that we - God's church and His servants, will work hard to reach out in God's love and share the Good News of Jesus with others. There is far too much apathy in the church today ; apathy for others, especially for those without Christ, and apathy for God Himself. When we have a personal passion for Jesus, we will have a passion for sharing Christ with others also. May God give us His love and passion for others.