Friday, August 31, 2018

One more meeting to go with Romildo and Eduardo as they finish up the Story of Hope. Pray that God will give them direction in their lives. They have been faithful and really into the study. I started teaching the Story of Hope in English with them and they have really enjoyed it. I have enjoyed it as well, so much so that we decided to do another class of it on Wednesdays from 7-8 at night right before we do our Servant Leaders class. This week we had eight in both English Story of Hope and Servant Leaders where we are studying Bibliology! 
Church has been going great since we have been home. We have a great group that welcomed us back and then we gave them a break in some areas! They had worked hard while we were gone. We seem to be a normal church in that there are marriage issues, sin problems and other struggles. Fortunately they are mainly a great group of people, but we all need prayer as we seek together how to be more like Christ. The women's prayer group has been going very strong and they beg to have more and more!  

This week culminated a decision I have been working towards since the beginning of this year. The football team has had a low commitment level all year and with all my other responsibilities growing where people wanted my time, it seemed unwise to spend a good bit of it on a group that did not really show they wanted it. The team has been a great ministry for us and I enjoyed it while it lasted (well, up until last year) and I felt obligated to continue with it due to various reasons. Yet I have been at great peace with being able to let it go. Some of the group have taken the team under their wings and we are cheering for it to keep going despite a tough economy and time and culture to have such a commitment. 
This month’s project has been making the playground safe and ready for lots of action from the kids. They love it already and we haven’t even got the slide up yet! Hopefully that will be up this morning and the playground will be safe and ready to use Sunday night. We still have a bit of work to do on it though. We have had a few people coming out, volunteering their time to help out. One who has not done as much time on the park but has focused on taking care of the grounds is Seu Nino. He has been a huge blessing. Seu Nino never liked church even though his wife and family were in church. In December his wife of forty years separated from him. In March or April he started coming to church and since then has been very faithful. We just started going through the Story of Hope and he has even come to Theology class. 

In October we will have a couple small groups coming to visit us and do some activities. We are excited about them and working on the preparation. One church, Calvary Baptist of Raleigh, is coming with their Pastor David Frye. They are doing a “scouting missions trip” in which they will do ministry, but also familiarize theirselves with the area in order to bring a bigger group next summer. One of the ideas we have is to launch the church in Tupanatinga with their help. We are working on what that looks like. The study group has been strong with several faithful families, but we have been meeting in smaller living rooms which makes it hard to really grow. 

Another reminder that we will be in the states from November 20- March 20. If you would like us to visit, please send me a message! The girls will be doing homeschool, so it might be a little tough for them to travel too far, but please message us to work out the details! 

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah and our third grader Evelyn Grace and our little kindergartener Anna Claire.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Bits from Brasil July

Last update we had just arrived in the US for a few week visit. We are nearing the end of this trip as we head back next Tuesday. Our time has gone better than expected. We started in Chattanooga and headed north after a great Fourth of July at the farm with Sarah’s family. We have never been at the family farm in the summer and it has been memorable. 

On our way to visit my family in Michigan we met up with some colleagues from Servant Leaders and had a good time with them. My family met in Manistee, Michigan. The last time we did a week vacation with my brothers and sister was in 2010. This year there were 7 couples and 8 grandchildren in two houses that were connected by a deck. We had a great time and it was neat seeing all of us within our little families. 

After sharing for a few minutes in our home church in Grand Rapids we left for Washington DC. The main reason for our US trip was to go to a conference for our mission that we are required to attend once every five years. There we did an interview on stage and talked about the church in Brazil. The interview went well and we had a good time catching up with other missionaries we had not seen for a long time. We were also able to go see a few key historical places in our nation’s capitol city. 

It has always been Sarah’s dream to catch a metro or train from Union Station and we did just that. We took the Amtrak to New York City for four nights. Evelyn really enjoyed the Statue of Liberty and Anna Claire liked chasing the pigeons in Central Park. 

We have lots of good news that comes in from the church and the services and prayer times that have happened in our absence. It is great to see our people taking ownership. Seu Nino, who has been unchurched all his life and has found a home with us, is taking care of the grass and plants at the church. Women have stepped up in leading the women’s prayer group. Each week a different man has preached and one of them is even going to Tupanatinga to do the studies. 

This month we will be jumping back into ministry but also rearranging our normal schedules. Pray for wisdom as we work on what our main works will include. Both girls will be studying starting August 15 which will keep Sarah hopping. I am working on trimming down my football activity to make more room for other ministries. We do want to eventually work the Tupanatinga group into a church and then start studies in other towns (Pesqueira might be the next one) and so we need wisdom as we proceed in those areas. 

This trip was mainly for the conference and vacation and so we were not in too many churches. We will be in churches soon though as we will be back in the states right before Thanksgiving until the end of March. So if you would like for us (or it might just be me as the girls will be in school) to come to your church for a visit please let me know. Hopefully we will not need more monthly support as we have had many faithful supporters that have kept us from that need but we have been close to our monthly need lately as some costs have been rising (health care and growing girls mainly). We appreciate you all’s prayers! Pray for our trip August 7!
All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah, and my two little tourists; Evelyn who walked thousands of miles in NYC and Anna Claire who was grateful Pop found a stroller! 

Evie is second from the left and ACC is with her twin cousin Lyla right in the middle. Which one is ACC????? :) She is the first of the two. 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

This last week we had a great group come down from Salem, Oregon. They had three main ministry purposes. First of all they put on flag football clinics for kids and teenagers (and the adults joined in). We had great turnouts from the community and lots of fun. They heard the gospel several times as well. The group left flags, uniforms and lots of balls for them to use. As the amount of people involved in football grows in our community, the more contacts we will have for the gospel. They left many balls that will help the popularity of the sport to grow and thus our influence!

Secondly they did an English camp for three nights. There were several participants that came every night and we made some great new contacts. A couple of them even went to church Sunday night. The camp was mainly conversation and so they were able to share life stories.

Thirdly, a couple of the men in the group focused on building a playground at the church! It is well done and the kids are all really excited about it. 

This month we finished a couple of studies. First of all I did the Story of Hope with two of my English guys, Romildo and Eduardo. I did it in English! They started out as beginner English students in January but were able to study the Bible and English together. Pray for them as they wrestle through some questions. Then I did the discipleship book Way to Joy with Diego and Bruna who said they have never made it through a discipleship book, until now! We finished both these studies in the busyness of the last week! 
Sarah and the women’s group have been going strong with their prayer times. I believe that God has been blessing the church strongly because of this

We are on a short trip to the states right now and arrived last night. We are in for an ABWE conference and some family vacation. Being gone for over five weeks is not easy, especially since our colleagues Roger and Marcy are also in the states. Many people asked us what we were going to do with the church while we were gone. Yet we are not worried! We have a great group of people who serve. We have a good group of people who can preach and the music group is good to go as usual. 

With Servant Leaders I have taken on a project to do a quarterly newsletter to update people on what is happening. If you would like to receive that newsletter please send me a reply saying you would like to receive it and I will add you to the list. 

Your prayers sustain us! Thank you all so much!

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah and my little flag football girls; Evelyn had a couple touchdowns and Anna Claire had fun. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Bits May

“Should we ask for people to pray?” Obviously prayer is good in most situations but you also do not want to scare people when you do not have to. My dad came down for football camp and had gone to Recife with our colleagues Roger and Marcy Smith. I would have taken him had we not been in a crisis in Brasil.

Last Wednesday I was headed to Recife to receive the group of football coaches that come every year. We had heard that there was a strike and some road blockades. Roger and Marcy had come to Arcoverde the previous day and said they had been able to come ok, but that there was starting to be some gas shortages in some interior towns. I was not worried as I had enough gas to arrive in Recife where the gas stations were fine. Halfway into my trip I received a call from another colleague Dan Cook. “Fill up as soon as you can, I just passed four gas stations with no gas and the other one had a really long line.” Messages started pouring into my Whatsapp, “Find a gas station quick!” 

A few minutes later I found a gas station with about 40 cars already but a good amount of gas pumps. I pulled to the right and within twenty minutes had an overflowing tank. After sending a few messages that I had gotten gas I headed out at a much more relaxed gas saving pace. That night news was already coming in of closing airports and gas shortages due to a trucker strike. Blockades were being put up on roads where tires were burnt and the highway would close down. 

Much to my relief my dad and the group from West Huntsville Baptist Church made it in. Our other ride made it as well and we headed out. My car got stuck behind one tire burning that took thirty minutes to clear, but beside that the other blockades were peaceful and let us through. 

Our popular international football camp had not seemed to popular this year for some reason. We moved from our normal spot at a camp in Recife to host it in Arcoverde. Once the strike happened we knew why God had allowed that move. We would only have players from two other teams beside our own team. Fortunately we set up a couple other opportunities for the mission team.

On Friday afternoon we went to the English school Fisk with whom we have a great partnership. All the coaches talked to the students as the students had prepared some cultural foods to show the coaches. Then Hoss (who played offensive line in the NFL) talked to the students about football and God. That night we had our first of four practices. Saturday afternoon we opened up to families and had three football games going; kids, women and men. We had a great time. At night we opened up a time of testimony, music and questions and answers to our church group and the team. We had some great questions and topics and Hoss shared his testimony as well. 

On Sunday morning as we had practice Don shared a very clear presentation of the gospel. There were some great comments on how impactful the times of talking were for these guys. Pray that they would put these truths deep within their hearts and decide to havce a personal relationship with Christ. Our team has been on rocky waters this year and I told the coaches to speak as if it were these guys’ last chance to hear the gospel and they did. 

The whole weekend we were not sure what would happen with the airport, or gas to get home or rides. The coaches were great about being flexible and we tried not to stress, but we did really wonder what would happen. The guy who said he would do it was stuck in Recife and so we had plenty of plans and back up plans. Two big trucks came to pick up our coaches and then my dad’s flight was later and so he stayed and was able to go to our Sunday night service. He then caught a ride with Roger and Marcy on Monday morning. 

When they arrived in Recife he decided to go for a walk to the beach since he had the rest of the day. He said he would be gone for an hour or an hour and a half, got directions and phone numbers and headed out….the back door by accident. He then went the wrong way to the beach and took an hour and a half to get there. By then he was tired and took a little nap after going for a swim. On the way back he got turned around again cause he had probably gone to the wrong spot. He asked for directions and even to use someone’s phone to call Roger and Marcy, but it wasn’t working.

Roger called me after three hours of him being gone and asked if he should be worried. He then went out on foot looking for him. No one had seen him at the beach. After a while he got his bike and our friend Carlos did as well. They rode around for a couple hours. Meanwhile we had the dilemma of asking people to pray which would certainly spread across social media quickly or keeping it to ourselves. Prayer is a good thing and so we asked a couple groups to pray. It spread like wildfire and now my dad is the most famous person in Recife. :) 

After being gone for a long time my dad found a taxi that took him to a nearby hotel where they recognized him and pointed him in the right direction. He had been gone for six hours when he arrived safely at the apartment much to the relief of many people. It was neat to see how many people were very helpful with prayers and spreading the word. Many people knew policeman or fireman or others that would be able to be on the lookout for him. 
The gas situation is still bad here which trickles into other areas. Please pray it will be resolved soon; especially before our other missions team arrives in late June. They are coming to teach flag football. Right after that trip we will leave for the US for several weeks to attend a conference and have family vacations. We are looking forward to that! 

Your prayers and God’s sovereignty give us so much peace as we are here. Thanks for all you do in partnering with us to reach Brazilians for Christ and so they can reach others! We had our church’s first missions conference this month and it went really well! 

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah and our little flag football players that have helped coach and have played. Also, Evelyn just finished second grade and so in August we will have a third grader and kindergartener  

Monday, April 30, 2018

Bits from Brasil April

April started off with a bang when we had our church inauguration on April 7th. We were really excited to see a group of around 80 people come from the mother church in Recife. The room packed out that night and we had the band from Recife lead worship for a few songs and our band for a few songs. We talked about the vision, construction and training we would offer at the church/training center. Our boss Cal Clark brought the message for the evening and then we had a great time of fellowship with the seven cakes we had made for the occasion. I made a video (click on the link to watch) including lots of pictures from the last few years as well as the night of the inauguration. 

Sarah is doing a wonderful job organizing the kid's classes as well as the women's prayer group. The kids have had a great time in their classes and tell their parents they want to keep coming. There have been several women who have been helping as well which makes it easier on Sarah. This next weekend we are having our first missions conference! It will be really neat participating in a conference as one of the Pastors. :) That has never happened before. We are looking at supporting a couple projects as well as taking on a missionary through grace giving. 

The next couple months we have missions groups that are coming down for football. Late this month we have our annual international football camp with our group from West Huntsville Baptist Church. My dad is coming down as well! Pray for the football team! We have had some issues this year. This camp could be a big turning point for some guys. We usually have a couple players in services and a few have told me lately that they need to be in church. Pray that they would come. One of those guys came last night and wants to come more regularly. 
(Roger and Marcy Smith, our coworkers)

The English group we have had has diminished since we started up. People are generally not that committed. We have two guys that have been pretty consistent though. This last month instead of class one Saturday they went with me to Tupanatinga for our Bible study. It was neat having them along! The group there has been strong! We have several families that are faithful and we look forward to our visits there. Please pray about our future there and how God would like us to continue.
We are loving our home here in Arcoverde. Our friends are wonderful to us! Thanks for your prayers for us and for the people of Arcoverde!

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah, my diligent little school girl, and my scatterbrained cutie pie

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Bits March

One week from today, Saturday the 7th of April, we will have the inauguration for our church and training center. The mother church in Recife has around 75 people coming and we are inviting a lot of people here in Arcoverde as well. The Brazil administrator for ABWE, Cal and Carol Clark will be here as well. We are excited and trying to get the building ready for the big day. 

March has been the first full month for Servant Leaders in the church. We have several that are faithful in coming and we have had a great start. I had hoped we would have more students from outside of our church but that has not happened. Hopefully this start and posting some of the teaching online will get more people interested in what is happening, but for now I am thrilled in the members we have that are being faithful in attending classes. One pair of students are Chico and Bia, who are our main leaders in the Bible Study in Tupanatinga. 

This last week we needed to renew our passports in Recife and had hoped to spend a couple days at the beach. One of our friends here hooked us up with a resort apartment at one of the nicer beaches in the area. So we took a couple days to relax around one of the longest pools I have ever seen. While we were there Evie ran up to a little girl who showed up to the beach and invited her to play. We ended up hanging out for a day with them. They opened up some about their spiritual life and we were able to encourage them. We agreed that God had certainly orchestrated our meeting. I am grateful that God uses us even when we least expect Him to. 

During March our sermon series was about the church’s doctrine and values. We handed out membership packets and are seeing who is interested in joining the church. We are planning for membership interviews soon as well. March was birthday month at the church and we had a bunch of times of fellowship. We have a good time hanging out together. Yesterday most people did not have to work and so we had an informal lunch at the church. We have a good bit of contacts in Arcoverde and have had a decent amount of people interested in the church. Please pray that our unsaved neighbors and friends would be more and more open to the gospel in their lives. 

This coming week is a big week! We go to Tupanatinga and then receive the big group for the inauguration. Please pray that it all goes smoothly! Thank you so much for your faithfulness in praying and partnering with us in the ministry! 

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah and my competitive eight year old and my soon to be five year old (Anna Claire’s birthday is Friday the 6th of April). 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Bits February

Servant Leaders has begun! Not that we have not been doing seminars in the past for Servant Leaders, but last week we started from the beginning of the program and are working towards bringing our people through the entire program. We first started looking into Servant Leaders in 2013 and so it has been a long time researching and developing and I am thrilled to have already started. We have started with low numbers, but that does not matter a ton to me. I know that it will catch on. Yesterday we had our main couple in Tupanatinga present for Old Testament Survey which was really special for us. Just being able to train them is worth it! 

The women are taking charge! This month one of our ladies decided we needed a women’s prayer group. They organized and had a meeting and it was fabulous. From that a couple ladies that live close to the church decided to come. Since then they have been in services and wanting to be more involved despite their catholic background. They have really enjoyed the Bible study that our church offers. Our neighborhood is developing even more and there has been interest in the church by some of them, including showing up or taking English. Pray for us as we develop ways in which they can enter the church.

Esio was talking to me a couple days ago and asked which church I was in and what I did in the church. He did not know that it was the certain building. He is a non-practicing catholic and said, “I should try it out; it could be that I actually like church.” We would love to reach the many people in our neighborhood who are like Esio. Several have already come to services. You all would be pleasantly amazed at the questions some have asked like when one neighbor walked in and said: “I have never really been in a church, what do I do?” I replied to come in, sit down, sing and listen. Pray for more like these two that will come in and hear God’s Word and that we would be a light in this neighborhood!

Our official inauguration of the church will be April 7! We are excited as we will be receiving a bus from the mother church in Recife as well as our bosses and several others! As we prepare for this event we are also preparing for membership as we take our people through our core values and doctrine. This month the preaching will be focused on those very topics and we will be giving them membership packets to look through. 

Please pray for the activities we are involved in that aim to make disciples at all different stages: English, football, cheerleading, events at the church, short term mission trips (we have 4 this year coming-three from the US and one from Word of Life Brazil), small groups starting up, the group in Tupanatinga, and the daily interactions we have that our great opportunities to lift up the gospel. We have been very blessed in our area of influence in the community. Pray that we know how to leverage this for God’s glory! We ask for prayer because we know of the many faithful prayer warriors out there who partner so well with us to make disciples here in Brazil. 

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah, our responsible firstborn, and our little chatter box that now likes to go into the office with her daddy during the day.