January 26, 2011

Update on Floods

There are still more than 500 people missing 15 days after the flooding and landslides started in the mountain region an hour from Rio de Janeiro. To date 832 people lost their lives in the tragedy, and that number is expected to continue rising, and over 20,000 people either lost their homes or have had to evacuate. From the pictures you can see that many homes are built in unsafe areas on or near large hills or mountains, and when it rains hard there are many problems.

January 25, 2011

God Is Full Of Surprises

"As servants of God, we must learn to make room for Him- to give God “elbow room.” We plan and figure and predict that this or that will happen, but we forget to make room for God to come in as He chooses. Would we be surprised if God came into our meeting or into our preaching in a way we had never expected Him to come? Do not look for God to come in a particular way, but do look for Him. The way to make room for Him is to expect Him to come, but not in a certain way. No matter how well we may know God, the great lesson to learn is that He may break in at any minute. We tend to overlook this element of surprise, yet God never works in any other way."  
- Oswald Chambers/ My Utmost For His Highest

One of the things we have learned about God since we have been serving in Brazil is that there is nothing "normal" or "traditional" about God when He is at work. He is always full of surprises. We work with many churches here to help them to share Jesus with others, and many times the churches are very traditional in their thinking and in their ways. They do not seem to "think outside the box", and they try things that have been tried before, or they try to duplicate another church or ministry's success and methods.

One of God's surprises in our lives was His call for us to join Him in His work in Brazil. We knew that since 2004 God had been speaking to us about serving Him full-time one day, but we had no idea where it would be, when it would be, and what we would be doing. We prayed and fasted and sought Him for well over a year before we knew the details of His plan. We had never thought much about being missionaries, nor had we thought about Brazil before we went on a mission trip to Sao Paulo in July 2005. On that mission trip we experienced God's great power in a surprising and great way, and we also were surprised that His call was for us to sell my business & everything else we had and move to Sao Paulo to join Him (which we did in 2006).

We were surprised again when God started speaking to us and leading us to move from Sao Paulo to Santos 3 years later. For us the move completely came out of the blue. We never thought about Santos before he started revealing His surprising plan. And there have been other surprises along the way too; sometimes it was when God led us to certain areas to minister in when we had different places in mind. Sometimes it was the church God led us to work with, when in our thinking we were going to work with a different church in that particular area.

This is an important lesson to learn. We must let God be God, and let Him make the vision and the plans. We are simply here to be His instruments & servants, for His glory. We need to allow God to make the plans and the vision, and we need to earnestly seek Him and have Him reveal His vision and plans to us. For this to happen we must walk closely with Him in fellowship, and we must learn to hear His voice. Once we hear His voice, then we need to simply obey and follow, even when His plans do not seem to make sense. And as Oswald Chambers states, we need to always expect God, but not in any certain way. Learn to let go of what is considered "normal" or "traditional" in today's churches and ministries, and find out what God wants to do, how He wants to do it, and when & where He wants to do it. There is absolutely nothing "normal" or "traditional" about God or His work.


January 22, 2011

Hang Gliders

Since it is summer in Brazil now, and because we have the beach in Santos you see alot of people playing various sports. On any given day you may see beach volleyball, soccer, badminton, a soccer version of volleyball where players use only their heads and feet,... Because there are some small mountains and large hills around Santos, it is also a good place for hang gliders. Today we went up to where the hang gliders take off to watch them. There is a beautiful view of Santos and the ocean from there too. Here are some pictures we took.

January 17, 2011

Finally Stopped Raining

After a very rainy week the weather finally improved late last Friday afternoon. We went out to the beach to enjoy the beautiful end of the day and we took the following pictures.

January 15, 2011

Floods In Brazil

It is summer time in Brazil, which also means it is the rainy season as well. Because of the tropical weather in Brazil there is alot of rain between October and March, and then the dry season runs between June and September. January is considered the peak month for rainfall, with a monthly average of approx. 9.5 inches of rain in this area of the state of Sao Paulo. We have already had more rain this month than the monthly average, and there has been serious flooding problems, especially in the city of Sao Paulo and the mountainous areas near Rio de Janeiro. To date 549 people have been confirmed dead due to the floods in the mountains near Rio de Janeiro. One of the problems is that many poor people build their homes in unauthorized area on the sides of large hills and mountains, and when it rains hard there are serious flood issues and landslides.

January 9, 2011

A Friend's Wedding

On Friday night two of our friends from Sao Caetano, Bruno and Nicole, got married. We met Nicole and her family when we were on a mission trip to Sao Paulo in 2005, and we worked with their church during that trip. It was on that mission trip when God called us to Brazil to join Him in sharing the Good News of Jesus. We had a hard drive up from Santos to the wedding on Friday, as it was raining hard and there was alot of traffic. Plus there are many many bad drivers here, so it is always a challenge. The ceremony was great, and we wish Bruno and Nicole all the best.

January 1, 2011

Happy New Year / Feliz Ano Novo

Happy New Year & Feliz Ano Novo to all. May 2011 be a blessed and great year for you.

Santos is a great place to celebrate the new year. They have a great fireworks show at the beach that is alot of fun to watch. There were 4 fireworks barges in Santos Bay going at the same time, so it is quite a show. Here is a short video of part of the show last night.