Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Bits March

Do not boast about tomorrow because you do not know what will happen in a day. That is a paraphrase of Proverbs 27:1 and pretty direct about everyone’s life recently. We are doing online services as well and are cranking out the videos for services and studies. So with that in mind, we decided we could do a mini-furlough! Since you all are doing online services, we have the possibility to be just as present as you all are in your services! So here is our “not actually in the US” mini-furlough video. 

Along the same lines is kid’s church! At our church I sometimes teach and I have a personality called Dr. Kid. One of my friends in the US said he was planting a church and didn’t have a kid’s church for them to watch and so they did something in their home and so I made a video that can be used for kid’s church in English! Here is the link:

The world events have certainly affected us. We are doing online services and trying to serve our people while staying home. We have not had so many nights at home in a really long time! It was when we first arrived in Arcoverde in 2014 that we had very little to do at night. We have kept a fairly normal schedule during the day though as the girls are homeschooled anyway. Some of the daily activities have changed up but a lot was already online. 

Evelyn started a discipleship group on her own with some of her friends. We are really proud of her. They are going to study Proverbs. Sarah wrote up some material for them to use as well. The girls and I actually finished going through Proverbs at night. They have already started using the idea of not being a fool and being wise! 
Besides the virus this month, our neighborhood has dealt with flooding. There have been heavy rains in the region; rains they haven’t seen in 5 to 10 to 35 years depending on who you talk to. New developments in the city have pointed their sewage and water overflow towards our neighborhood and so we receive rivers flowing through and entering houses. Our house is at a high point and the church was built high, but we had one day in which the whole first floor of the church was full of mud. It was pretty bad. 

The praise in all of this is that God has used this time to open up the hearts of our neighbors. Roger and Marcy Smith as well as Sarah and I have had so many opportunities to minister. The neighbors have been more trusting as we have sought to serve them. Praise the Lord for these opportunities during this crazy time. 

As of this moment we have not heard of losing any support, although we understand that these times could bring major changes in many lives. Thank you for your prayers and continued support as we seek to make disciples in the Sertão!

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah, my discipleship group leader as well as expedition leader Evelyn who likes to tout around with my animal lover Anna Claire (who has a cat, but recently a stray dog adopted us and stays outside our gate). 

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Bits February

The year is now officially starting. Brasil has always been interesting in this respect; people do not take the year too seriously until after Carnaval. Every year numbers are down in church until after Carnaval. But this year was different for us; we experienced only one week of this in our church which is normal due to retreats, beach trips and such to get away from Carnaval. This was really exciting for us as we feel we have continued momentum in the church and are experiencing good spiritual growth. 

The women are organizing discipleship groups for the year as well as continuing their prayer meetings. The men have been going through the course “How to Biblically Process Life” and we have had good turnouts. Our services have been dynamic. We are about to start an eight week series on the church that everyone is excited about. 

Sarah had her Counseling Module this month for a few days and it was all about practice. They went through counseling situations and received instruction. Our colleagues Al and Kim Yoder are her teachers and have been amazingly helpful in training Sarah. 
As we have preached through Romans 8:28-30 and how God uses circumstances to draw us to Him we have both experienced and seen this in the life of our members. Walking down tough roads can seem so difficult, but it is so comforting to know we serve a sovereign God who has a plan and purpose in all these rough details. Pray for the maturation of our church! We have a lot of great people that are learning so much through their own study and through the church. Pray we will be good stewards of the gifts He has given us. 
This month Roger, Anderson and I went to a town of 65,000 people about 35 minutes away where my friends Wilker and Ricardo live. Wilker was on the football team and turned into a good friend. He sometimes watches our live feeds although he doesn’t belong to any church. He gave us a tour of Pesqueira showing us some of the churches there and giving us a rundown of the town. Pray for wisdom for us as to whether this could be a possible future Bible study/church location. We are praying about it and continuing some research as we make long term strategy to reach the region for Christ. 

Thanks so much for your prayers and investment in God’s work here in Northeast Brasil!

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah, my Bible study girl Evelyn (she does the adult Sunday school class on the OT) and my puzzle genius Anna Claire

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Bits January

We had a group over for New Year's.

Happy New Year! How are your New Year’s Resolutions going? I hope that you are in the Word this year! There was a good group from our church that decided they want to focus on reading through the Bible this year. 


Evelyn went off to camp for a week this month. She had a great time and even won camper of the week for her room. They have theme nights and one was profession. Here is a photo of her as a stewardess. I was able to go to the camp (our mission has a camp that has been around for over forty years) during Adventure week where we camped in tents and did lots of outdoor activities. I spoke five times to over 50 young people. It was a great opportunity. 

Evelyn with some girls from her room
Sarah and I are taking on some counseling and this last month we got beat up a little. Pray that we would grow in wisdom in dealing with difficult issues. We had our office redone so that for the first time in her life, Sarah has an office. We are together and then we have an area in the office for counseling as well. We inaugurated it this last week. In a couple of weeks Sarah travels to her class for a few days. 

Sarah is very involved with our kid’s ministry. I begged for involvement as well and finally get to follow in my dad’s footsteps as a doctor. I am Doctor Kid who sees spiritual sicknesses with kids and treats them. You wouldn’t believe it, but my first treatment plan was for obedience. We have a Farmacist in our church who helped me (she is legit) and we have a nurse as well, but didn’t realize it until afterwards… but we will use her in the future. 

It has been hot! This is our little
blow up pool
Our Tupanatinga group has remained firm and have had some extra people attending as well. We are praying and looking for what God will do and what the next steps will be. We are also praying about starting a smaller study in another town as well as we see how long the process of planting a church takes. Getting our foot in the door and testing the waters is a very first step and Roger (our coworker in Arcoverde) and I are praying and looking towards a survey trip possibly this month.

Thanks so much for your prayers! This month our needed support went up once more cause of health care increases, but so did what came in for the month. God seems to touch hearts in a rhythm that always meets our needs.  

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah, my little camper of the week Evelyn and my other little water bug Anna Claire

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Bits December

Party hardy! Does anyone else say that when it is time for a good party? Brazil is the party capital of the world (don't quote me on that). They love getting together here and this month has been more laid back (well, the second half of the month) and we have had more time to spend just sitting around with people. Last week former english conversation friends came over for the morning and lunch. They both study out of town and so it was good to catch up with them.

On both Christmas Eve and Christmas night along with later on tonight we have gotten together with friends over a meal. Usually the holidays are the hardest to be away from home, but we feel like this year has been really special in Arcoverde. We have so many good friends and were excited to celebrate in our home with all our traditional fixings of decorations and food. As our family reflected this morning on this past year we had so much to talk about. This year we had a blast!

We had a Christmas dinner the Sunday before Christmas. It was a big blessing having everyone together, eating, singing and hearing from the Word. The kids did a little presentation and then others did special music. I even played my trumpet. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

This last Sunday we had baptism service in the morning at a place with a pool. We talked about baptism being symbolic of our decision to be a disciples of Jesus Christ and then what that looks like. We baptized five including Anna Claire. She was really excited about it and of course we are proud of her as well.

The first day of this month we inaugurated our upstairs for our children's ministry! It was amazing. We had a bunch of kids there and they have loved it ever since. They say it is like children's day every Sunday night! It is also a big relief to be done with overseeing construction!

One exciting thing that happened to our family this month was that Sarah's parents bottled their famous white barbecue sauce.  Have you ever wished you had an idea that could go on Shark Tank? This family likes that show and so it is almost like we have an idea that could go big and so it will be interesting to watch the process.

Pray for some of our goals over the next year of growth in Tupanatinga, growth of our small groups and pray for the marriages in our church. When we went to Fortaleza last month we bought a bunch of books for counseling. Many of them are little books that help on different subjects. We are praying that people would read these books this year and work on spiritual projects in their lives.
Thank you all for your love and prayers and support. Each month we have been in the black as far as our account goes and sometimes I wonder how! Basically it boils down to a lot of faithful givers and then surprise amounts that randomly come in; which of course we know are not random. We are extremely blessed to live our lives here serving the Lord. Sometimes we are discouraged and imagine what a life in the states would look like, but it usually passes quickly as we realize how blessed we are to live here and do what God has for us here.

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah and our girl headed to camp next week (no, it isn't snow camp), and our newly baptized Anna Claire.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Bits November

Thanksgiving lunch with Roger and Marcy Smith

Ho Ho Ho; almost. Crazy how we decorated our tree already signaling another Christmas arrival and year ending. Next year is 2020! Crazy. Sunday we will have our inauguration of our second floor Koinolandia, which links Koinonia, our church name, and landia which is kind of like the end of Greenland, Iceland or Finland…. To get Koinolandia our floor for kids. It is complete with a town look where each classroom is a shop or part of the town and a town square in the middle that is basically a park. Our chapel is the big room where we will have kid’s church, then there is a sweets shop, construction store, pet shop (Anna Claire’s favorite) and bakery. The kids are going to love it! 

This month we also inaugurated our rented building in Tupanatinga. We had a crowd from Arcoverde go and there were plenty of guests from Tupanatinga. Pray that some of those guests will continue to attend! One has come back a couple weeks since the inauguration. We have been doing outreach with English there and that has been neat. 

This month we all went with Sarah to her Master’s class. The drive is about ten hours and we took advantage of Fortaleza to visit the great beach and an awesome water park. We all had a good time and it was a great break for us from the normal routine. I was able to sit in on Sarah’s class as well. Counseling is a very practical course to take for Sarah and for me to be around as well! Whether you or I like it or not, people ask for advice and counsel. We need to be prepared to give them good biblical counsel! 

Amazing view of the Northeast
Sarah spoke to the women about prayer this last Wednesday as they had their monthly prayer night. The women’s discipleship groups are going strong and they are not wanting any Christmas (summer) breaks. The men’s group rejected one as well; so those are good signs that the groups have been meaningful. Pray that out of them leaders will be developed. 

Decorating for Christmas
We hope that your holiday time is full of peace and love! We have great reason as Christians for great joy! May we all focus on Christ this season! God bless!

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah, my Christmas ballerina, and our veterinarian who thought her cat had vanished when we were gone for a week! 

Friday, November 1, 2019

Bits October

Music for children's day!

Children’s Day was a big event at our church again this month. October 12th is aimed at pleasing the kids; actually most schools have events the whole week to celebrate. We had an event that afternoon and had a good amount of kids running around all afternoon and evening. We had a theater group from the church in Recife come and our church people put in a lot of work. We had a great time and even saw some neighborhood kids present. 

This month we planted trees in our neighborhood with some of our neighbors. I try to be involved as I can in the neighborhood so that people will feel more comfortable with us being there. Lord willing we will see them start coming to church. It is a long process though as most are wealthy catholics. They have been fine and friendly but are very reserved about coming to a service. Fortunately we have had lots of opportunities to get to know them. I believe that slowly there will be a greater acceptance. One influential neighbor tells others about us and promises me he will come to church that Sunday almost every time I interact with him but is yet to come. I bet he has made ten promises to attend. 

Service in Tupanatinga
This next month we are going to have an inauguration service for the church in Tupanatinga. They were waiting to get the banner ready to put up until they had an official service. I think they really want an opportunity to invite friends and family. We have a great solid core group. Pray that God will use them to win their friends and family to Christ. I see they have a great desire for that but the field is hard. 

This month we are also driving to Sarah’s master’s class as a family. It is about a 12 hour trip, which seems a little harder than an equally timed trip in the states; mainly because the roads and cars are not as good. We are taking the girls to a big water park they have there (yeah, summer is here and it is hot). We will get a chance to see where Sarah’s classes are, take some books home for our resource center and counseling ministry and then have some family time as well. 

Sarah was one of the main organizers for a baby shower
We have done some counseling this month as well. Sarah is learning a lot in her classes and we see how effective this ministry can be. Pray less people in our church need counseling! Actually, I am kind of serious because our discipleship groups have great potential for spiritual growth that can help avoid some of these crisis that happen. Right now we have about 15 men and 12 women involved in groups but we are hoping these numbers grow for next year and we are deciding on how we want to structure them. 

Anna Claire loved the paddle boats
Partners have been key for us here. Knowing how many people pray and support us as well as all the teams that have come down and been influential here. We have a small team coming next week to check out the work for their trip next summer with a bigger group. Our co-workers Roger and Marcy Smith who have been here all along, but been much more present in the last year and a half, are great mentors for us in missionary life and work. All the work we all have put in has seen fruit and we get to see it up close even though we are just a fraction of all the work it takes to have a ministry here. Thank you for your service! 

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah and my ballet girl (Evie started ballet again last week) and my little painter (Anna Claire was helping paint yesterday on our second floor which is almost finished and ready to use! 
We enjoyed a trip to visit our missionaries in Triunfo, that also has some tourist things to do! 

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Bits September

My girls are stuck watching the series When Calls the Heart that is one of those love series from the early 1900’s. The setting is Hope Valley. Hope has been a theme for us lately here. As we preach through Romans we often talk about Biblical hope (not an uncertain longing, but a certain future) and how God will one day complete the good work He is doing in us. Hope is a key word in counseling as well. As Sarah studies more and more and we counsel a little more as well we are seeing just how key that is. After counseling recently Sarah was so excited to say the counselee had reached that point of having hope. Just a couple weeks ago we were at a point with little hope. 

The women had a mid week prayer meeting this month and had almost 30 present! They were pretty excited and said it went very well. They plan on doing those once a month or so. Even the men have gotten on this band wagon. We have had a couple of these times together, although ours is not as focused on prayer. Both men and women combine the discipleship groups on these days. After the last one we added a couple more men to the groups. On a weekly basis we focus on a chapter of the Bible (going through books like James or I John) and talk about what we learn and how it applies to our lives. We have a group of younger guys and decided to do Story of Hope with them. That seems to be going well. 

The Tupanatinga group is alive and well. They are doing discipleship groups on their own during the week. The time we used before (right before the service on Saturdays) I decided to do an outreach using English. We have some contacts from when the big American group went and have reached out to them. Pray that some of those contacts will be disciples of Jesus soon! 

Next week I get to go teach at Word of Life Recife on missions in Northeast Brazil. I believe there are around 20 students there and I am excited to be able to dream with them about their future as well as in some way influence how they can be involved in the future. I am using material from my college professor as well as from the Servant Leaders Missions Academy. This reminds me! Next year the Missions Academy will be in Equador July 25- August 3. We have spots open for college age or young adults that have an interest in missions! It is a great time as well as lots of learning and students could possibly even earn college credits for going! If you have someone interested, or are interested yourself, please let me know and I can send you the flyer. 

Your prayers are a blessing to us and we know that our ministry would not exist without such great and faithful partners! God bless!

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah and my ten year old Evie (Sept 20) who had a wonderful American style birthday party with eight of her friends and my cat loving, jewelry adoring, energy spending Anna Claire.