January 28, 2010

Floods In Sao Paulo

Today is the 36th day in a row that it has rained in Sao Paulo, and there have been many problems with flooding in various "bairros" (neighborhoods) around the city. Several of the rivers that run through the city have overflooded their banks, causing many problems. Several main highways run on both sides of a couple of the rivers, and thus the freeways have been flooded. Traffic has been even worse than normal, and there have been days where there is over 80 miles of combined traffic jams throughout the city. To date 65 people have died in the state of Sao Paulo because of the heavy rain, and over 20,000 people have been forced to flee their homes. 144 cities in the state have had problems with flooding thus far since the beginning of December.

January 27, 2010

Cubatão, Brazil

Cubatão is another city in the area that we are serving and helping churches to share Christ. Cubatão is an industrial city located about 10 miles north of Santos, and has many oil refineries and petrochemical plants, as well as some steel mills and other factories. There are approx. 120,000 people living in Cubatão, and most people that live there are very poor. In the 80's it was voted one of the most polluted places in the world, and even though the Brazilian government has spent over 1 billion dollars to clean it up, it is still a fairly polluted place. We have already helped a church to share Christ in a school in Cubatão in November, and we are looking forward to seeing what God will do there in the future.

January 21, 2010

Sports In Santos

Santos is a very active city, and many people live an active lifestyle here. We see many people walking and jogging on the beach, and you also see many different types of sports being played on the beach. On any given day you can see soccer (futbol) games, which is the main sport here in Brazil, as well as volleyball, surfing, tamboreu - which is like tennis on the beach with different types of rackets that look like tamborines, handgliding,...

soccer (futbol) on the beachbeach volleyballtamboreurunning on the beachsurfingsailing & boatinghandglidingbeach boccie

January 20, 2010

Guarujá, Brazil

Guarujá is another city that we will be working and serving in to help churches to share Christ. Guarujá is located next to Santos on Santos Amaro Island, and you need to take a ferry boat to get to Guarujá from where we live in Santos. During most of the year there are about 310,000 people that live there, and in the summer vacation period it can swell to about a million people, especially around New Years day. Tourism is one of the main industries in Guarujá, because it has many beautiful beaches. The other leading industry is related to the port of Santos, the largest port in South America.

January 14, 2010

Called By God

Some great insights into God's call from Oswald Chambers' "My Utmost For His Highest" devotional:

"Called By God": "I heard the voice of the Lord saying: "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us ?" Then I said, Here am I ! Send me." - Isaiah 6:8

God did not direct His call to Isaiah— Isaiah overheard God saying, ". . . who will go for Us?" The call of God is not just for a select few but for everyone. Whether I hear God’s call or not depends on the condition of my ears, and exactly what I hear depends upon my spiritual attitude. "Many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14). That is, few prove that they are the chosen ones. The chosen ones are those who have come into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and have had their spiritual condition changed and their ears opened. Then they hear "the voice of the Lord" continually asking, ". . . who will go for Us?" However, God doesn’t single out someone and say, "Now, you go." He did not force His will on Isaiah. Isaiah was in the presence of God, and he overheard the call. His response, performed in complete freedom, could only be to say, "Here am I! Send me."

Remove the thought from your mind of expecting God to come to force you or to plead with you. When our Lord called His disciples, He did it without irresistible pressure from the outside. The quiet, yet passionate, insistence of His "Follow Me" was spoken to men whose every sense was receptive (Matthew 4:19). If we will allow the Holy Spirit to bring us face to face with God, we too will hear what Isaiah heard-"the voice of the Lord." In perfect freedom we too will say, "Here am I! Send me."

January 9, 2010

Sao Vicente, Brazil

Sao Vicente is Brazil's oldest city, founded in 1532 by Portuguese settlers. It is located next to our city Santos, and it shares the other part of Sao Vicente island with Santos. Approx. 325,000 people live in Sao Vicente, and it is in part of the area the Lord has called us to serve in. We will be working to help churches share the Good News of Jesus and speaking in schools in the area known as the "Baixada Santista", which includes the cities of Santos, Sao Vicente, Guaruja, Cubatao, Praia Grande, and others.

January 1, 2010

Happy New Year / Feliz Ano Novo

Last night was our first New Years Eve in Santos, and we had a great time on the beach watching the fireworks. The city put on a great fireworks show over the ocean, and it was one of the best we have seen. We had heard about a couple of strange customs and religious practices that some Brazilians practice, and we saw some of them last night. One was where some people or families go to the ocean and jump over 7 waves, which is supposed to bring you good luck and prosperity for the new year. Another is not so innocent; it is a form of African black magic and it involves burning sacrifices of chicken or other things to the spirits, and also some people throw flowers into the ocean as a sacrifice.

Here are some of the pictures we took of the great fireworks show. The first 2 I found on the internet and they are overhead shots that show the many thousands of people on the beach and the fireworks, and the rest are pics we took last night. We hope everyone has a great New Year.