July 29, 2010

Brazilian Bureaucracy & Opportunities To Share Jesus

We have recently started the process of getting dual citizenship for the US and Brazil, which will allow us to stay in Brazil permanently to join God in what He is doing here. The process will probably take about a year. Yesterday our immigration lawyer sent a list of 20 different documents that we will need to get (some of which we have no idea what they are), and many of them are not easy to get. Today we had to go to 3 different places and spent 4 hours and about $100 getting the first 4 of these documents. The bureaucracy and government processes in Brazil are one of my least favorite things here, and I must admit that my attitude was not good at the beginning today. In fact my attitude was pretty bad. For me it is pure drudgery, and it is stressful too. I was convicted about my attitude and I realized I was not honoring the Lord, so I had to have an attitude adjustment. After that it was much better, and during one of the stops in the federal courthouse in Santos the Lord gave us the opportunity to share Jesus with 3 people that work there. We had a great time talking with them and sharing God's love with them. We are going to use the rest of this long and dreaded process to look for more opportunities to share Jesus with others along the way.

July 27, 2010

More Exploring Of The Coast

We went exploring again yesterday. This time we went up the coast to some villages and beaches between Guaruja and Bertioga. Our first stop was Tijucopava Beach, which is a very nice remote beach. You have to drive up and over a small mountain to get to the beach, and there are some very nice homes on the hillsides overlooking the beach. It was a great drive and it was like driving through the jungle. Our second stop was in Perequê, which is a poor fishing village. After looking at the beach we had a very good seafood lunch.

Tijucopava Beach


July 23, 2010

Opening More Doors

Last Friday we had a meeting with some of the leaders of the state schools for the district that includes the cities of São Vicente, Praia Grande, and several others. We met with them to discuss our special project in public schools, and to try to get their approval to be able to speak in the schools in their district. We had a very good meeting with them, and yesterday we learned that they gave us the approval. This will open many more doors for us to be able to speak in more schools to share God's love and the Gospel, and we praise God for these open doors. Besides this latest approval, we also have the approval to speak in state schools in Santos, Guarujá, and Cubatão, as well as the municipal schools in Santos.

July 20, 2010

Exploring The Sao Paulo Coast

We have a couple of weeks of break time in July, so today we went down the coast to explore some beaches and cities we have not been to yet. We visited some beaches in Itanhaém, Peruibe, and finally in Guaraú, which is about 1 1/2 hours from where we live in Santos. We saw some beautiful scenery - rivers, mountains, beaches,...

a beach in Itanhaém
a beach in Itanhaém
the Peruibe river
a beach in Peruibe
a sea turtle without a front flipper
Guaraú beach
Guaraú beach
Guaraú beach
the view from the coast road near Guaraú

July 14, 2010

Brazil Photos

Here are some photos we took on a trip to Natal, which is in the northeast of Brazil. As you can see, Natal has some great beaches.

July 8, 2010

Dual Citizenship

Yesterday we began the process of obtaining dual citizenship, which will allow us to continue to be US citizens and Brazilian citizens as well. This will be the most secure and best way for us to stay in Brazil permanently and serve the Lord here. We have a "permanent visa", but it needs to be renewed every 5 years and their is no guarantee that it will be extended every 5 years. We met with our immigration lawyer yesterday and signed the contract with her to start the process. Like everything else in Brazil, this process will take time because of the excessive government bureaucracy. Most of the work takes place in Brasilia, the capitol of Brazil, and most likely it could take between 6 months to 1 year.

July 6, 2010

Brazilian World Cup Outreach In South Africa

The following is an article by Baptist Press (www.bpnews.net) about the special project called "Conexao Africa", in which 200 Brazilian evangelicals from various denominations went to South Africa to share God's love and the Good News of Jesus. One of our interpreter friends from Sao Paulo, Adriana, was one of the volunteers who went to South Africa for 3 weeks. One of the churches that we work closely with in our area, Primeira Igreja Batista Sao Vicente, also sent 2 of their young people to participate in the project. The various groups were able to share Jesus with many people from all over the world who were there to see the World Cup, as well as many local residents.

JOHANNESBURG (BP)--Four years away from their own county hosting the World Cup, a mission team of nearly 200 Brazilians is in South Africa to spread the Good News.

They shared the Gospel through soccer and health clinics; puppets and plays; and arts, crafts and sewing classes. Representing 25 denominations, the volunteers came under the coordination of the Brazilian Baptist International Mission Board.

"I will never be the same," said João Batista, who helped out at the health clinic in Zandspruit, an informal settlement in Honeydew, on the outskirts of Johannesburg. "I will go back [to Brazil] a different person. This has changed my life."

Marcos Grava, who is leading the group, is the sports evangelism coordinator of the Brazilian Baptist International Mission Board and the International Sports Coalition coordinator for Brazil. He prays the Brazilian church will wake up to the opportunities international sports events present, where people from many nations -- including those closed to the Gospel -- flock to see their team compete.

In 2014 the world will converge on Brazil for the next soccer World Cup; two years later it will do the same for the Olympics. The opportunities boggle the imagination. There is much work to be done before and during those strategic events. But right now, Grava's attention is on South Africa.

"When we do this kind of outreach during Olympics or World Cups we don't focus only on the tourist," he said. "We focus also on the local people. In this case we have concentrated our efforts and resources, energy and time on the African people. But we also go in front of stadiums."

Ricardo Ximenes, a member of Atletas de Cristo (an organization of Christian athletes) and part of the Brazilian volunteer mission group, came to South Africa to help conduct soccer clinics in underprivileged neighborhoods. Boys were divided into three age groups and taught accordingly. The fundamentals of soccer, such as how to pass and control the ball, were taught through practical exercises. After the exercises, the boys formed a circle and parallels were drawn between soccer fundamentals and spiritual principles. The love of God and the Good News about forgiveness in Christ were then shared with the children.

Grava said security is tighter in South Africa than recent past events in China or Rio de Janeiro, as even the "fan zones" (designated parks where fans can watch matches on big screens) are being tightly controlled. The volunteers were unable to distribute bottled water and tracts in a fan zone during Brazil's match against North Korea. They were also prohibited from performing some of the theatrics they had planned to present to fans close to a stadium.

Despite the barriers, Grava said he considers the fruit of their efforts very positive. "If we consider the weather -- very, very cold; people were walking fast and trying to get into the stadium as fast as they could — and if we consider the security -- very tight, not allowing us to do many things -- I would say it was very, very positive, because people from my group could meet people from everywhere, and talk in English, Spanish and Portuguese, even in Arabic, and share some things. So it was an amazing time."

July 5, 2010

Choose To Rejoice

The devotion below is from Experiencing God Daily / Blackaby Ministries - http://www.blackaby.org/ ; there is great truth in this devotion. Many of us tend to let our circumstances or other people rob us of our joy. We can choose to not let this happen, and choose instead to rejoice in the Lord - at all times.

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. (Acts 16:25)

Your joy as a Christian should not depend on your circumstances. Joy comes from God, and therefore it cannot be affected by what is outside of you. Don’t be fooled into letting the actions of others determine your joy. True joy comes from knowing that God Himself lives within you and has fellowship with you, regardless of your environment. Real joy lies in the knowledge that holy God has completely forgiven you of every sin, and even now, He has a home prepared in heaven where you can spend eternity with Him (John 14:3). The circumstances of your life cannot change these truths!

Paul and Silas faced some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable. They were falsely accused, arrested, and imprisoned. They were beaten and shackled in the darkest, coldest section of the prison. But they refused to allow their horrific situation to dampen their joy! They did not blame God for allowing these things to happen to them. Instead, they praised Him for His goodness! In the darkness of the night, they prayed and they sang. God brought a miracle that released them from their chains, but perhaps the greater miracle was that His Holy Spirit could so fill them that even in their painful imprisonment they could overflow with joy!

Do not allow difficult events to cancel the joy of knowing you are a child of God. Choose to allow God’s Spirit to fill you with His unquenchable joy, and your life will be a miracle to those who watch you face the trials that come.

July 1, 2010

Santos Botanical Garden

We had some time off the other day, so we decided to check out the botanical garden in Santos. Although we have seen some nicer botanical gardens before, it was a nice place to walk around and enjoy some native Brazilian plants and trees.