October 31, 2009

A Fruitful Month

October was a very productive and fruitful month for us, even though we had many challenges and difficulties. We spoke in 3 schools and I also preached in a church, and we also started having meetings with schools in Santos to schedule speaking events for 2010. First on Oct. 4 Nancy sang and I preached at Igreja Batista Vila Primavera in Sao Paulo, and 5 people accepted Christ. Then we worked with Igreja Batista IV Centenario in EE Achilles school on Oct. 5-7, and 1009 students & 14 teachers accepted Christ. Next we worked with Igreja Batista Vila Diva in EE Mario Marques school on Oct. 13-14, and 307 high school students & 6 teachers accepted Christ. And this past week we worked with Igreja Batista Boas Novas (the church we normally go to when not working in other churches on Sundays) in EE Secundino Dominguez school. We almost lost this opportunity to speak in the school because we scheduled it with the principal back in May and then she was on vacation for the last 2 weeks. Apparently she did not tell anyone about the event, and they almost did not let us do it. Thankfully we were able to speak on Tue., Wed., and Thursday this week and 708 students, 18 teachers, and the coordenator accepted Christ. We are praising God for the great things He is doing in the Sao Paulo area. Here are some pictures of this past week.

Interpreters Iraci & Ingrid, me, and part of the church team
Nancy and interpreter Paulo leading the students in prayerInterpreter Elma and I speaking in a classNancy and interpreter Paulo sharing ChristInterpreters Leandro & Wilame and part of our team on Tue. night

October 26, 2009

Update On Our Move

We finally were able to close on our apartment in Santos this past Friday. The final document was supposed to be ready in about 2 weeks, but after over 5 weeks it finally came in. So we will be moving to Santos on November 10.

Also, we are praising God that we have a buyer for our house. God's timing may seem slow at times, but it is always perfect. And better yet, they are buying our house directly from us and not through a realtor, which will save us a good bit of money. In Brazil you can try to sell a house through as many realtors as you want to, and you can sell it yourself at the same time, unlike the US, where you typically use a realtor on an exclusive basis. Since we are using our own funds here for our ministry, saving the 6% realtor commission will really help.

October 22, 2009

Brazil Photos : Plants

We love plants and gardens, and Brazil has many types of great tropical plants. Here are some pics of some of the many types.

October 21, 2009

In It's Time

"I am the Lord. In it's time I will do this swiftly." - Isaiah 60:22

One of the most important aspects of walking closely with the Lord and joining Him in His work is to learn how to walk in His stride and in His timing. Just like God's ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), His timing is definitely not the same as ours. We by nature are in a hurry, and we want things right away. We want results right away. We want God to use us in great ways right away. And we do not want to wait for God. But God's ways and His timing are very different than ours. It takes a long time for God to mold us and transform us into the faithful servants He wants us to be, and to be more and more like Jesus. It takes a long time before we become the faithful and trustworthy stewards and servants that He can rely on and use. If you look at how God prepared people for His service, it usually took a long period of time. Look at Moses - 40 years in the wilderness ; Abraham waited 25 years for God to fulfill His promise of a son ; David waited 17 years through many tough trials before he became king ; Joseph waited 13 hard years before God lifted him up into His service at age 30,...

We have experienced this verse Isaiah 60:22 several times now in God's call for us to join Him in His work. First of all, we walked with God for over 20 years before He called us to join Him full time in His work as missionaries in Brazil. Then after the call, it took approx. 1 1/2 years before we could actually get to Brazil. We had to sell our business, house,... and get our permanent visa and everything else in order. I remember we thought that we would move to Brazil in June 2006, because that was the "logical" time to move, after the school year was over for our sons. Well, God's plan was a bit different. First, we had a surprise and Nancy had cancer of the thyroid. Thankfully she came through the surgery well in April 2006. And then ... nothing. Our house wouldn't sell, and the process for our permanent visa was terribly slow (it took well over a year). We waited, and waited, and waited all summer. Finally God started speaking in our hearts in late August to go to Brazil and buy a house and get ready. We went and did this, before knowing when our visa would be ready and before our house sold, which was a real test of our faith. Once we did this, when it was God's time - boom - everything went incredibly quickly and well., and we moved to Brazil in October. We waited, waited, waited, and then all of a sudden God showed up and did everything quickly, smoothly, greatly - in it's time.

We are experiencing this again right now in God's call for us to move to Santos and join Him there in His work beginning next year. God started leading us to go to Santos earlier this year, and it took alot of prayer and seeking and waiting to confirm His leading. Then we started selling our house in July and also started looking for a new place to live. We found a nice apartment in Santos and started the process of buying it on Sept. 10. Since then we've been waiting, waiting, waiting. The documents for the purchase of the apartment have been delayed because bureaucracy in Brazil is really bad. We started getting frustrated and tired, because we have had a very busy ministry schedule at the same time, and we were not even able to know when we could schedule our move all of this time. We've shown our house many times, but no one was buying. Then early last week God brought to my mind this verse ... "In it's time I will do this swiftly." ; 2 days later (last Thursday) a woman shows up at our house and looks at it, and then brings her family back 3 more times over the next couple of days. On Monday she started the process of buying our house, without a realtor, which will save us valuable money we can use in our ministry (we are using our own money here). Then yesterday we were in Santos and received the good news that finally we can sign the final document on this Friday and we finally know when we are moving (November 10). In it's time, God did it swiftly & smoothly & greatly - again.

October 15, 2009

A Tough School Event

Sometimes it never ceases to amaze me how many difficulties and complications we have when we are sharing Christ, especially when it is in the schools. Sometimes almost everything goes wrong, like this week. We spoke in the school EE Mario Marques in East Sao Paulo, which is a high school. It is rare to see a school here with only high school students; usually we see a school with 5th through 8th graders and also with high schoolers. We worked with Igreja Batista Vila Diva, which is close the school.

Anyway, we were supposed to speak 3 days this week, on Tue. night, Wed. afternoon, and this morning. When we got there on Tuesday night the school told us that they will not be having classes on Thu. morning, and that we need to reschedule. The problem is that our schedule is pretty full, escpecially with our upcoming move, so we may have lost an opportunity. Also, since waking up on Tue. morning I have not felt well. There is alot of pollution in Sao Paulo, and I have problems with sinuses and getting sick here. Also on Tue. one of our interpreters' car broke down, and we had to scramble to find another interpreter for that night. And then our other interpreter's bus broke down on the way, and she had a hard time getting to the school. And we also had some other problems with 2 people on Wednesday that were not pleasant to deal with. Sometimes this work and the spiritual warfare that goes with it can be very difficult. However, in the end God did a wonderful work in the hearts of many people in the school, and even though the students were older and more difficult, 307 students and 6 teachers accepted Christ. God is great !

Interpreters Eduardo & Victor, us, and the church team
Nancy and Victor sharing Christ in a class on Wed. afternoon
Interpreter Elizabete and I speaking in a night class
Some of the students in a class on Tue. nightNancy and interpreter Elaine speaking in a night class on Tue.

October 11, 2009

Update On Santos

We are still waiting for our house to sell, and we hope it will be soon. We had a family come to see it for the 3rd time last Monday, but so far we have not heard back from them. We are also waiting on the final document for the purchase of our new apartment in Santos. It has been 3 1/2 weeks since we signed all of the other documents, and the final document should have been ready by now, but it has been delayed. There was a strike by workers in the banks, and it is a bank that needs to finish the document, so that is one reason for the delay. Also, bureaucracy is really bad in Brazil, so at this point it is hard to say when it will be done. We do not even know for sure at this point when we can move, which is frustrating. Hopefully we will be able to move in early November, because we have a 2 week break in-between speaking at different schools and this would be a good time to move for us. Today we went to Santos to the beach for a break; here are some pictures we took of our soon to be new neighborhood.

October 9, 2009

A Long Week

This week has been a long and tiring week, but we have seen the Lord do many wonderful things too. On Sunday night (Oct. 4) Nancy sang and I preached at Igreja Batista Vila Primavera. We have worked with Pastor Enio and the church in 5 or 6 schools in their area, and we also had a People Sharing Jesus seminar there in April 2007. I spoke about God's call for our lives, which is first to have fellowship with Him (I Corinthians 1:9) and then to join Him in His work, including the work of building His kingdom and actively sharing Christ with others in our daily lives. In the final part I shared the Gospel, and God touched and saved 5 people.

Then on Monday morning, Tuesday morning & afternoon, and Wed. afternoon & night we spoke in 39 classes at EMEF Achilles school. This school is located in a very poor area near the Sao Mateus area of East Sao Paulo, and has students in 1st grade through 8th grade. We worked with Pastor Haroldo and Igreja Batista IV Centenario. The students and many of the teachers were very happy that we came, and many gladly heard the message of God's love and the Gospel. God did a great work and 1009 students and 14 teachers accepted Christ. We are praying and hoping that the church will be able to do more with the school to help the new believers and their families.

Nancy singing at Igreja Batista Vila Primavera

Me with my interpreter Heloisa and her father Pr. Enio

Preaching with interpreter Heloisa

Some students hamming it up for the camera

Nancy and I with part of our team at the school

Me and some of the students

Nancy with some of the students at recess

October 4, 2009

Keep It Simple

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." - Matthew 6:33

Many things can compete for 1st place in our lives - career, our dreams, our desires, family, relationships, recreation, church, our ministry or service for God,... In God's heart we are number 1, and He wants to be number 1 in our hearts and lives. His main call for our lives is not to do things for Him, or to be pastors or missionaries or something else, but to have fellowship with Him (see I Corinthians 1:9). He wants us to seek Him first and His kingdom, above all other things.

It can be difficult at times to do this, because there are so many things competing for our time and attention. Many Christians make the mistake of trying to do things for God, instead of working on their relationship with Him and then waiting for God to invite them to join Him in His work to build His kingdom. We must keep it simple in our lives. Commit to put Jesus and your relationship with Him first. Then seek to hear His voice (through prayer and reading His word) and follow & obey - wherever and however He leads you. God makes a wonderful promise in Matthew 6:33 - if you will put Him and His kingdom first in your life and keep Him there, He will take responsibility for taking care of everything else.

October 2, 2009

Congratulations to Rio de Janeiro

Congratulations to the city of Rio de Janeiro and to Brazil, for being selected the host of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Brazil will also be the host country for the 2014 World Cup.