Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Bits April


This month has focused on settling in on the ministries on which we will be focusing. We have some of our discipleship groups structured and they start tonight and Thursday night. Our focus this year will be spiritual growth of the members we already have at the church. We have some outreach events scheduled, but do not really have outreach on the weekly schedule. One main reason for this is that we already are getting up to fifteen visitors per week! If we do not strengthen our most faithful members we most likely will be a church with a rotating membership. 

Last week we hosted a Biblical Counseling course for leaders of local churches. We had several pastors participating and then some of our members. Over thirty people participated during the week and it went very smoothly. Part of our vision for Cetak (our training center here) are courses that are different and helpful to the community. This course went really well for our vision in the community. 
The counseling class
 So during the month of May we are taking a big trip. Servant Leaders has been planning a Missions Academy for youth to have an intensive and practical ten days of classes where they hear about missions and church planting and get to see it in action. In a couple years they want it to be in Brazil and so they asked us to go to the first one and see how it is run. This year it is in Germany. Sarah and I wanted to go together and after checking out the options, the best one was to get two sets of grandparents to watch the girls while we are at the Academy. We are going a couple days early and flying into Paris to sightsee. Although the trip is primarily a ministry trip, we are using personal funds for it, just to lighten up that it is a really cool opportunity for us and seeing the world. Please pray for our travels from May 13-28 and that there will be young people called to the field as a result of the Academy. I am teaching one section and we are mentoring in small groups as well.

Please pray for our small groups as they get started. Please pray for our weekly services to start soon in Tupanatinga. At this point we are borrowing a small space from someone’s relative there. We are going to clean it up, but it will be temporary. We are still praying about either building or renting another space and for the right timing for that. It is probably around a forty thousand dollar project to buy land and build a church building. 

Speaking of building, we have challenged our church family to be involved in completing our upstairs that has the brick structure but needs the finish work on the walls and floor, including electric. They are already putting their heads together for how we can come up with the money. 
Our boss Cal teaching in Tupanatinga

Praise the Lord for all the needs He has supplied. We feel unbelievably blessed. Thank you for all your prayers!
The girls for Easter breakfast

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah and my brickmason helper that helped me fill in some cement around the church, and my big six year old who had a birthday this past month! 

Monday, April 1, 2019

Bits March


Our flight in to Brazil was delayed a little…but only two and a half hours and not the whole night. So we arrived in Recife at 3 AM on Friday the 22nd. At 9 AM we set out to find a car. We had done a good bit of research beforehand, but by 12:30 we were headed back to Roger and Marcy Smith’s apartment for lunch with our new slightly used car. God gave us a smooth process, good price and a great car. (The options for a car with more than 5 seats are limited). That afternoon we used six seats heading to a mini-retreat for our field council to catch up on everything. Then this past Friday we used those seats to go to Tupanatinga! Thank you all who gave sacrificially towards this car during our furlough! 

Our friend and colleague Randy Southwell came to visit us for a couple of days. I took advantage of it and scheduled a trip to Tupanatinga to have a study there. We had some interest from the church in Arcoverde and so we looked into another space to meet in rather than a living room. God provided a space through Rodrygo and it was really nice. We have been praying about our options and it sounds like we have a couple of options to rent as well as hearing about another church who was going to start a work there but decided not to. Please pray that we will find the right location as well as service time! We are looking to go to weekly services soon! 






We were pleasantly surprised at the turnout last night for church service. The church gained several families while we were gone and they have been faithful. Six former football players came last night! We had 59 adults and 21 kids in the service which is a total of 80 and a milestone for us. One key part of the service was Nivia talking about the destruction in Mozambique and it was neat to see a good response from our people in giving towards it. This year we will be challenging our people to raise the funds to complete the upstairs as we for sure are neeing more space! The youth can have a space upstairs as well as running a kid’s service. The youth started meeting once a month together with another church and Saturday night there were 19 of them. They had a lot of fun. 

While we were in the states Sarah did some training with running small Bible study groups. They are groups of 3-5 people that study the same portion of the Bible every day for a week, then meet together to talk about it, pray and talk about their spiritual life. Sarah has really enjoyed the process so far and has really grown spiritually as well. She is looking into how to implement it with the women of the church and I am looking at the men. While she is busy with homeschool, master’s degree, kid’s program, women’s ministry, baby showers and birthday parties, she will also look to have a group of women. I am looking to have several groups. Please pray that the right men will join and be committed to spiritual growth through these groups. 

Sarah’s masters is in Biblical Counseling and her professors are our colleagues from the mission. The last full week of April, Al and Kim Yoder are coming to Arcoverde to teach Module 1 of the Biblical Counseling courses they provide for church leaders. We have wanted our building to be a center for training in our city and region and so far we have a good group signed up and some coming from other cities. Pray that this goes well! 

It feels really amazing to be back with our friends and church family in Brazil. I don’t think I can express our feelings in writing with how blessed we are in our life at this point. A lot of it has to do with the love we feel from all of you who lift us up through prayer and send support. You all are a big blessing!

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah, my egg cooker Evie, and my little artist Claire bear who are both glad to be back home with their friends. They were especially glad to be back with their church family! 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Bits February


The girls and their friends Julia and Sydney
We are on our way back to Chattanooga from our last meeting as a family where we need to travel. Miami was fun as we went to a missions conference at First Baptist Church of Westwood Lake. They fed us a lot and we were able to visit the beach as well as speak seven different times in services and chapels for their school. February was full of meetings as we went to Huntsville and Athens, Alabama at the beginning of the month. 


First Baptist of Westwood Lake Missions conference

For a few days I went up to Akron, Ohio to meet with Dr. Ken Lowe who is a Pastor at Hope Baptist. He spent twenty years as a missionary in Portugal and has a theological education system that he has been working on. I met him through Servant Leaders and he is partnering with Servant Leaders to come alongside churches to grow their leaders. We bounced ideas off of each other but mainly he taught me about how people learn and grow spiritually. I was also able to interact with the members of his church and preach and teach for the Sunday morning Sunday School and service. We are most excited about the mentorship partnership with him for Arcoverde and his plans to visit and teach once a year. 

Our round trip tickets for this furlough has us leaving for Brazil on March 21. We are really excited about heading back. However, we still need our clearances to leave. Please pray that they will all come in. The main one is our financial clearance. What started out as under $200 to raise per month went up to over $400 a month to raise due to a couple supporters that stopped supporting and raises in health insurance and our overall support level. 
Evie and her soccer team

This can be raised rather quickly whether by current supporters raising our support just a little or by new supporters or past supporters making new commitments. However, if no one can do anything, it could prohibit us from going back on the 21st. Please pray for the support to come in! God has always supplied our needs and we do not doubt He will allow it to come in before we leave. If it doesn’t, we know He has a plan regardless and we will see what we need to do….but we reeeaaaallly are ready to get back! 

At the Keys feeding Tarpon
Thank you so much for all of you who faithfully support us. We have been so blessed. God has been so good to us! So many have loved on us, especially the girls, as we have travelled. Evelyn and Anna Claire were able to go to the Christian school for a couple days in Miami and they loved it. They make friends really easy! Pray for them as the life of a third culture kid is rather unique and can either be seen as a huge blessing or a difficulty, depending on our choice of how to see it. Last night Anna Claire asked me to tell the yellow man story:

There was a man from yellow land that decided to go live in blue land. As he lived there for a while he saw that he started turning color. He ended up being green! He now looked neither blue nor yellow and stuck out in both yellow land and blue land because he was different. 

My girls had some interesting comments and questions with that story, but it is reality for any missionary kid, whether they like it or not. You all have been awesome with the girls. They see love from all over the country! ok, enough for now. God bless!

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah, my runner up for her indoor soccer league who scored a goal in the championship game, and my little kitty cat lover who has a great friend in Rocky Balboa Carrel (I find it hilarious how much this cat loves Anna Claire and goes to her and lets her cuddle with her). 

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Bits January


Not sure exactly how many miles we have put on the car this month, but it has been quite a bit. We were up in Michigan; then went to Atlanta area, over to Raleigh and Hickory, NC and now we are in Chattanooga until Saturday when we head to Huntsville. We have been overwhelmed by the graciousness of the churches in which we have spoken. God has blessed us through them and we pray we have been a blessing as well. I feel like we are transitioning from having great supporting churches to having partnering churches. What I mean is that the relationship truly has grown with many of these churches. We recognize this difference and it is much more biblical and exciting for us! Sarah was also able to speak to a woman’s group in Chattanooga! 

This month (February), Sarah officially starts her master’s degree in counseling. I have mentioned this but not explained much. In the Amazon we worked with Al and Kim Yoder to a certain degree and they were very influential in Sarah’s spiritual growth while we were there. Kim used nouthetic counseling to show Sarah areas in her life that needed spiritual growth. I was really proud and still am of how well Sarah responded and now of how much she is helping others in their discipleship.

One area that she and I both want to be able to help more is in the area of counseling. Where we are at in Brazil there is a belief that any mental issue needs to be addressed by a psychologist or psychoanalyst and pastors are not equipped to handle these cases. In the US, Pastors counsel quite a bit and we believe that we should be able to. We actually do counsel, although we do not always say it is officially counseling, but we do meet with people to help them with their growth and to talk through issues. Yet we do not feel we are totally equipped for this. We have seen from Al and Kim that counseling is growing in churches in Brazil. They hold conferences with 500+ pastors and that is awesome to see! They will be Sarah’s professors for this course. 

So this month, although Sarah will not be present for the first module, her class will start taking four modules a year for three years in the city of Fortaleza and then do online work in between these modules. This will mean Sarah getting a ride by bus or car to Recife and taking a quick plane trip and being gone for 4-5 days. Then it will require quite a bit of extra work/reading (it is in Portuguese) and more classes in between the modules on top of her homeschooling, women’s ministry and new discipleship activities. She already was busy! :) Pray that God will provide the right help/scheduling/flexibility as we do this as a family. We are super excited for it and I plan on going through the material with her as well to glean as much as possible (minus doing the modules). 


The discipleship I am talking about with Sarah is from a dynamic conference she just attended with Reba Bowman with a plan to multiply strong mature disciples in churches. Sarah looks forward to implementing this when we arrive. Pray for wisdom with that as well (and if you are curious for more info, feel free to write us). 

Pray for our monthly support level! We are down more than I thought! We are not nervous though as God has always provided. We do need to raise it before we leave at the end of March.

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah, and my two singers (we do not make them sing in churches but they have sang a couple of times and enjoy it; although they do sing in tongues, we do interpret :) Also, Anna Claire got a kitty cat (a little after Christmas because it had conjunctivitis on Christmas Eve and then we went to Michigan). She really enjoys playing with it though and so do I. 

Monday, December 31, 2018

Bits December 2018


January 6- My dad’s SS class at HBC in Michigan
January 14- Sarah speaking to Moms group in Chattanooga
January 20- Yellow River Baptist in Atlanta, Georgia
January 27- Grace Baptist- Raleigh, NC
Community Baptist- Hickory, NC
February 3- West Huntsville Baptist,  Alabama
February 10- Blackburn Road Baptist- Athens, Alabama
February 17- Hope Baptist Church- Akron, OH
February 24-27- First Baptist of Westwood, Miami, FL
March 10- Daystar, Dallas, TX

 So that is our schedule for the next few months. This past month we traveled some, but mainly to see family. We were supposed to go to NC but it was the weekend of the snowstorm and we rescheduled due to mistrust in southern drivers, haha; actually the church services were canceled. Please pray for our safety as we make these trips and for a profitable time in services. 
As we travel during furlough we are raising money for a car as well as a new church plant in Tupanatinga. Before we left we looked at some land and buildings and discussed what would be the best option. We have had the Bible study for 2-3 years and feel we are ready to move forward to an option with more space and that could be weekly. While this will be challenging for us time wise and personnel wise, I believe that God will provide as we are stretched. The group was excited as we discussed and prayed

The cheapest option would be to rent a building but that would not show that we are serious about a church to stay; it would also be likely that the building would not fit the needs for the type of building we would like. Another option is to buy an existing building, which might be possible, but we would need to find a good building in a smaller town (population of 30,000) with few options. The third option is to buy some land and build. The land is around 12-15,000 dollars and then building would obviously be more. This would give us a piece of property of at least 20 meters by 20. We are not trying to build something like what we have as our base in Arcoverde, but more of an extension of the church, with a couple classrooms and bathrooms and then a simple main auditorium. 
This will depend on the resources God sends our way and our car will have to take priority as we won’t even be able to go to Tupanatinga without a car. We know that God is sovereign and often guides us in mysterious ways and so we are not nervous about all this; just looking forward to how He leads! 
We had a great time with family this past month! We went down to south Alabama to see Sarah’s Mamaw and aunts, uncles and cousins. We had a wonderful Christmas on the farm with Sarah’s family and currently we are with my family in Michigan. On Sunday we had get togethers with both sides of the family. On Saturday my youngest brother Jeff married Elisabeth in a beautiful wedding. We are grateful that it fell on a scheduled furlough! 

Happy New Year! May your 2019 be blessed and full of spiritual growth! We are grateful for all of you who sustain us through prayers and support. (Oh, we did find out our new number for monthly support that we need 213.29 more a month before we get cleared to return to the field). 

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah, and my sleepover girls who have enjoyed sleepovers with cousins and friends this past month! Also, Evie is playing indoor soccer and both Evelyn and Anna Claire worked hard loading the truck with split wood! 


 


Friday, November 30, 2018

Bits November



(link to our furlough video!)
Well, good news: Fall waited for us. We made it back to the US for Thanksgiving and will be here through March 21. Our schedule is pretty full and we start our travels to churches December 9 when we go to North Carolina. Our next update will be written from Michigan. 

We had a wonderful November as we celebrated baptisms and had a good going away lunch at our church. They tried to surprise us although their consistency in getting together whenever possible made us suspect to their surprise. I was able to make a really neat anouncement at that lunch. I have told you several times about Seu Nino and will probably tell you about him as we travel to your churches. He finished the Story of Hope this month and confessed Christ as his Savior! I cannot explain how excited this makes me feel (and many others in the church). 

We baptized five this month and had a good celebration surrounding our time. I was able to present the gospel at the baptism service as there were many family members present to watch those who would be baptized (lots of grandparents) and they all come from varying backgrounds. This service as well as a baby dedication service our last Sunday in Brazil saw some visitors and provided us with a great opportunity to talk about Christ. 

The last couple of months we have had a good bit of visitors and repeat visitors. A church donated some more chairs and we have been putting them to use and needed all of the ones that were purchased. We leave the church with our co-workers Roger and Marcy Smith who have been with us all this time. (He is the senior Pastor of the church). So we are not worried as we have them and a good core group of members. 

The week before we left Roger, William (one of our leaders and my main co-conspirator in our Tupanatinga Bible study) and I went to Tupanatinga. We went early that day so that we could drive around the town. We were looking for a land/building to use next year. Please pray with us that God would give us wisdom and the resources we need as we decide on renting or buying land and building or buying a building. It looks like a land buy would be around 14-15 thousand dollars and that is before we would start building! So that would be a heavy investment.

Speaking of finances. Before returning to Brazil in March we will be needing financial clearance. We are really close! But we just received news that our health insurance is increasing, so I am guessing with that increase and what we already need we are looking to raise around $350 more per month. (I have written up a commentary on our finances to be more specific, so if you would like to see that, please just reply to this email and ask for it! Basically we are raising that monthly amount as well as a one time amount for a car and for land for the church in Tupanatinga. That is a good chunk of change! So anyway you all could help would be great! Thanks guys! 

We are now a couple months into our second decade as missionaries to Brazil! We appreciate you all’s prayer and support. Please pray that we would learn to be more effective and efficient as we seek to make disciples for God’s glory! (By the way, I finished my master’s degree and Sarah decided that she is going to do a master’s in Biblical counseling! She starts in February (Actually she has already started reading)). 

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah, my soccer player (Evie has her first ever organized soccer game this upcoming week!) and my little farm girl (Anna Claire loves the kitty cat on the farm, the 7 new Boykin Spaniel puppies that were born on the farm and loves all the animals!)

Thursday, November 8, 2018

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Respect in an ideal world is earned. We naturally respect people that we like or admire. So does that mean we should not respect people that have not earned our respect? If so, what are the guidelines for who we should respect?

The main trigger for this post was witnessing the live news conference with President Trump on Wednesday the 7th of November when Jim Acosta from CNN started speaking to the President. I do not necessarily think the President has earned respect due to his politeness nor do I approve of many of his mannerisms; yet I do think the office of the President demands a certain level of respect.

What I witnessed in that conference is common in Brazil. The loudest person gets the platform. Recently I was accused of being a silent person in a meeting. In that meeting environment it is very true because the environment is full of talking over the next person and interrupting each other. I prefer to remain silent than to try to force myself to be rude in order to get in my two cents. It is not worth it (especially if it really is only worth two cents).

Respect should be given to those in authority whether it be Presidents, police officers, referees parents or whoever is in authority. I was not even raised in the South and I see the great value in using yes ma'am and no sir.

Besides those in authority, to whom else should we show our respect. My opinion: everyone. People can annoy the heck out of us or believe the opposite of us, but that person was made in the image of God. Jesus talked about how we should treat the "least of these brothers of mine." Treat them like you would treat Christ. I am not saying we have to agree with everyone, but we should respect everyone.

If we really got to know more people, listened to their stories, understood where their history, their passions and desires and what drives them, it would be easier to talk to them with respect. Most people's passion stems from a strong value that you might not disagree with at its core. Their fruit may look different than your fruit, but their core values probably have to do with being good and not destruction. The stories we tell ourselves are that these people would want to destroy us (which may be the case with some groups, but most definitely is not the norm). Understanding that most people are real human beings with ups and downs and passions can go a long way towards encouraging love within humanity.

So let's show some respect people!