Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Family! We love seeing family. A main reason we have done more frequent furloughs is so our families can see each other more often while our girls are younger. However, we were able to fly up to New Hampshire this month to see my brother and his family. Dan has twins Anna Claire’s age and a nine month old. It was our family’s first time to ever see them in person and we all had a lot of fun. We also enjoyed attending a service at their church. 

Our second family trip was to LA! Lower Alabama. Sarah’s mamaw lives down there as well as a couple aunts and uncles. We had some good talks there and were able to visit Silas First Baptist, a church that has been involved in our ministry in Brazil. 

While there I finished a class project for my Strategic Thinking class. These classes have been very practical to ministry and this was no different. I developed a strategic plan for implementing the Servant Leaders ministry in our church plant. When one looks at disciple making it can be divided up into evangelism, discipling and leadership training. The Servant Leaders ministry at our church will help all parts of disciple making, but it is mainly designed for leadership training. Please pray with us that God will already prepare hearts for leadership. 

Servant Leaders for Brazil continues in its development. We have someone translating seminars and then I am working on a new website, power point development and planning for using it. 

On Saturday we leave for North Carolina to visit two supporting churches. Our friend Alison from Brazil is flying in for a few days while we are there and then we will pick up some football equipment in Huntsville, Alabama. After he leaves we head up to Michigan for a couple weeks. Sunday March 19 we speak at our home church, Heritage Baptist. The following Sunday we will be in Appomattox, Virginia. No we will not be ending anything there from our mixed marriage. We will be speaking at our college friend, Jonathan Watson’s church. After that we will head home and should be mostly in Chattanooga until April 20 when we head back to Brazil. Please pray for safety for us as we travel! 

The construction in Brazil is making progress. We are looking to prepare a couple rooms in order to start using the building. There are plenty of details to be working on and we need around twenty eight thousand more dollars to finish this phase. 

We are always looking to the future. If you or your church are interested in going to Brazil, we would love to host trips for VBS, English camps, football, cheerleading or any other specialty. We will have a training building that can be used to teach special skills that can be used as an outreach to the community! 

Thank you all for your sustaining prayers and support! 

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah, my little story writer Evelyn, and her student Anna Claire who is learning to write letters, though not exactly cohesive 

Cousins in South Alabama

Which one is mine??????
Ice skating!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Bits January

Before we left we had one more service. We did not expect many as beginning of the year crowds are generally slim. We had a decent amount, but we had three guests that stood out. One neighbor from the church property came for the first time! Then Gabriel's (who plays the guitar) dad came! Then another gentleman came with his daughter. He normally comes with his ex-wife, but this time she couldn't come, so I was really surprised to see him come on his own!

The day after this service we dropped Evelyn off for her first week at camp! She had fun at our co-worker's camp Paradise. She was able to go with her best friend Alice.

We are back in the states now and enjoying a little bit of rest. Tomorrow we head up to New Hampshire to visit my brother Dan and his family. He has twins that are about the same age as Anna Claire (three and a half) and they haven't met yet! So we are excited about them being able to play together for the weekend!

Last Sunday night we drove down to Atlanta to speak at Yellow River Baptist Church. We enjoyed our time with them and they gave a very generous offering towards the construction of Cetak. We are looking forward to the work of Cetak. The building will serve as our church, but we also look forward to the leadership training that will go on. I am working on a strategic plan for implementing the Servant Leaders program as we head back. We will be looking to have classes there that will cover topics including family, team building, business, English, and who knows what else! It will be a great opportunity to reach our community for Christ! The neighbors that live right around Cetak are already excited about it!

While here I am working on the development of Servant Leaders. Besides putting it in Portuguese I also get to help develop some of it in English. This month we have worked on the Strategic Planning seminar. If you would like to check out the site, click here. We offer free resources for churches that include classes that are different than normal. We also have people that can help set up Servant Leaders in your church to help train. The time commitment is not overwhelming and the program is very practical and helpful. If you are interested in me coming and teaching a seminar one night, please let me know!

I wrote another post about what we are up to on furlough. Feel free to scroll down on the blog or click on this link to read that!

This next month we do not have many meetings, but will go on a couple trips to see family. We are staying in Chattanooga, but still have trips planned to Alabama, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Virginia and Michigan. Please let us know if you would like to meet up!

I have been sad lately with the divisiveness of the country. Let's learn to love more and stop sowing seeds of hate! Watch what you say! We do not have to be so negative, defensive or go on the attack so much! Love God, love others!

All for HIS glory!
David, Sarah, my big reader that loves her Civil War book (we will see how that works with a yankee dad and southern belle mom!), and our cat lover that loves being outside (pray for her as the weather has been cold and she can't go out as much! :)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Presidential Strategic Planning

My current course for my master’s degree is Strategic Thinking where we delve into the world of strategic planning. Throughout this course I have been inside of lots of strategic plans and recognized that Trump has been working under a strategic plan. 

The main recognizable part of his strategic plan has to do with his slogan, “Make America Great Again.” This became very recognizable and he even had it branded. I think that he liked it so much that he decided to run because of it. This is his mission. A mission in what you do; it doesn’t necessarily have an end. His decisions revolve around his mission. 

His vision he sells as well, talking about a safe and secure wealthy country. He throws in unity and a country of patriots as well. 

His strategy has been his main talking points. He calls for secure borders, taking down ISIS, repealing Obamacare, bringing jobs back to the US, and cutting taxes. Of course, he has big dreams and promises, but he does provide a vision of what he plans to do. 

There are other indications of his strategic plan, but without knowing it, the people really resonated with a plan. Whether you like it or not, Trump is a leader. He has a big following, despite most of the following being aware and not agreeing with his many faults. (Admittedly, that statement might be hard to agree with me on). People I talk to mostly say he is crazy, makes promises he cannot fulfill, but are still excited (and nervous) about seeing what he will do. But there is no doubt about it, he is a leader.

Trump turned a million dollars into billions. He is no fool, though one could say he acts foolish. He is a smart man that figured out how to appeal to the masses. Now, what choices do we have, now that we have him as president? 

This is a tough question because we know how prideful he is about being right all the time; yet everyone knows that he is not right all the time. It might be best to just admit that he is right some of the time. Opposing him 100% of the time is only going to work backwards for the left. With the Republicans holding a lot of power right now, he is going to be able to do quite a bit. I imagine that opposing him will only want him not be willing to work with you or your type of people. He is a deal maker looking for deals. If you do not give him anything, he won’t give you anything. 

We can protest. Yes. Sign petitions, wave banners, but for heaven’s sake, quit the violence! Yelling, screaming, burning and breaking things about injustice is kind of ruining to your own reputation and repudiates everything you are trying to state and makes everyone look down on you. While you protest Trump being like Hitler for ruling by force, you try to rule by force! Instead, protest civilly, whether marching, or signing petitions, or calling your representative. That is how government is supposed to work. The government needs to know what its people are thinking. 

The third thing we can do is be leaders ourselves. I do not like the type of leader Trump is; but he is a strong leader that people are following. Learn to lead and may I suggest, learn to lead humbly. One humble leadership skill Trump does have is putting smart people around him. While they are mocked for being so rich….uh, doesn’t that mean they must be doing something right if they are so rich, they are there for a reason and it looks like Trump does want to surround himself with smart people, which is a strong leadership quality. So follow his example in that, surround yourself with smart people. We face a leadership crisis these days and although there is a debate on whether leaders are made or born; there is certainly things everyone can do to improve their leadership skills. 

The last and most important thing we can do is love. Serve one another. Whether you are black or white, rich or poor, look for how you can make our society a better place. There are extremists on all sides of the aisle, may we all learn to be extremists in love. Assuming the other side is always wrong, deplorable, racist, sexist, ignorant, etc…. is not only wrong, but not going to get this country anywhere. I read an article today from a Muslim gay man today who decided to get to know the other side of the aisle right before the election and was surprised to be treated fairly and respectfully. Usually when I talk to my friends from the other side, they still remain friends. The only people I unfollow are the ones who constantly take mirror selfies. Laugh a little; love a little. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

What are we up to on furlough?

Why do we have a furlough? Sometimes we do not really want to have a furlough, but in reality, it is needed. Furloughs are based out of Acts, when Paul returned from his missionary journeys to report to the churches about all that God was doing. We have some main purposes that our mission board puts out for us to accomplish during furlough:
1. Rest
2. See family
3. Report to churches
4. Recruit new missionaries
5. Raise money
6. Use time for education
7. Do ministry from here

People understand furlough to mean rest and so some missionaries do not like to use that word and might go with home assignment as their term for furlough. I agree with them, but I do think we should rest. I know we needed it the last couple of weeks and have enjoyed sleeping a little more and having a more relaxed day.

We love seeing family! This last week Sarah's sister Anna was in town with her son Judah and we were able to spend a lot of time with them as we stay at Sarah's parent's barn while we are here. We get to go see my brother in New Hampshire the first weekend of February and meet his children (twins three years old, one baby not quite a year old yet), whom my girls have never met! Then in the end of March we will head up to Michigan and meet a new set of twins my other brother and his wife had this last year!

We are reporting to a few supporting churches and one new church while we are here. So we will be in Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia and Michigan. If you are semi-close to us in Chattanooga, let me know and we can schedule more.

We need new missionaries in Brazil, especially with us in the Sertão! If you are interested, let us know and we would love to talk to you. We need football coaches for a quick mission trip the end of May if you are interested in that!

We do need to raise some money this trip. We are short around 200 dollars in monthly support and would love to raise the $30,000 needed to get us moved into our Cetak building! (click to watch a video tour of the building)

My main projects these days have to do with my master's program. Fortunately the program integrates your present work into your studies and has already helped me so much practically speaking!

As I work on that homework we are still doing some of the work we normally do on the field. I am using these days to develop the Servant Leaders program for the US and for Brazil. If you are interested in having a seminar in your church, let me know! The site for Servant Leaders is servantleaderstraining.com and has great resources! This is the program we will be integrating in our church and that we would like to help other churches implement. There is actually an external platform that helps with mentoring leaders, going through classes and facilitating learning. There is an application that goes with it as well. Please let me know if you are interested!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Another transition

I remember as a kid crying in the kitchen as President Clinton was elected. "How could this happen?" I asked my mom through my tears. She assured me that God is sovereign and it did not surprise Him.

This last year I watched as Hillary supporters cried when realizing she had lost the election. Come to think about it, each election cycle has spelled tears and doomsday predictions, yet, still we are here. Though many would debate me about the country worsening, the country still exists and is still a beacon of light to other countries. A trip to the US is still the dream of most foreigners as they wonder what it is like in such a great country.

The political state is worsening though. This election year had more votes against the other side than for their own candidate. The fact of the matter is that our politicians are a reflection of the people. Our people created Donald Trump and other politicians. If we have dishonest politicians it is because we have dishonest people. How can we have moral presidents if our people are not moral? People complain about the crude comments Donald Trump has made, but laugh at the same jokes on comedy central or the latest movie from Hollywood. What do we expect?

No matter who you voted for this year, think about the past. Last time your candidate won, or last time your candidate lost (besides a few million Americans). We know how it feels to be on the winning and losing side. Sometimes you lose in life, but it is not the end of the world. I listened to a podcast today where the speaker talked about losing all of his money he had in a sure investment. He said it was the best thing that could have ever happened to him because he could not get comfortable.

We should not be comfortable with where we are at as a society. We need leaders who will influence change on their neighbor and it starts with love. Don't argue, love. Don't shove your beliefs down people's throats; love by listening to them. Last night I listened to a friend from the other side of the aisle. He was not a racist, sexist, murdering, annoying guy; he was passionate about people. Most people who have strong opinions are passionate about people. They do not want their loved one's rights to be infringed on. You see, we are not all that different; we just have different perspectives that are misunderstood by an inability on our part to listen to others.

So start today with love. Love through listening. Don't argue; at this point it is not worth it. Few are convinced by arguing anymore. Love and let that do the talking.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Bits December

Well, last month I told you we were going to party a lot in December. I think I underestimated our partying. We did birthday parties, end of the year parties, wedding partying and family partying. I guess we are turning Brazilian! They love their parties! 

Gabriel and Andressa have been going to our Bible studies for a while now and have been pretty consistent. In November they were married in the civil court and did not have a formal ceremony. So on Sunday the 11th we told them we were having a get together that night for just our Bible study group (we had service that morning) and we planned a surprise wedding for them. Yeah, sounds kind of funny...well, it was kind of funny. But it was also beautiful and fun. (more pictures are on facebook of all these events!) A wedding planner in our group had a dress for her to change into and we had the ceremony planned out. Everyone had a blast and Gabriel and Andressa were thrilled.

The following week we had a service with a baptism followed by the end of the year parties for our Bible study group as well as the football and cheerleading teams. Gabriel and Andressa were baptized as well as Pedro, Bia's brother. The get together was a lot of fun as we had team awards and then games. 

A couple days later we went out to Tupanatinga to have our party and last study for the year. The new couples have been consistent in coming to the studies and are really involved in the studies. It has been neat to hear many changed life testimonies for this year. Rodryggo and Danielle have not made a public decision but ask many questions and have been understanding a lot! They don't miss a study! 

Christmas Eve brought some surprises as well. Walter, who often attends our studies, is from Afogados, a town we considered moving to in our arrival to the Sertão. His family from Afogados was all in town and he invited me to give a Christmas devotional to them before their Christmas Eve dinner. It was a neat opportunity to meet people from a future town we would like to get a church in! Due to traditional tardiness, we were able to get to know them a little more as well! 

On Christmas night we had a dinner at our house with our Bible study group and had basically a Thanksgiving time (they don't have thanksgiving here....). We are grateful for all the friends we have here and told them that they are family to us. So many here go above and beyond for us and we are so grateful. Sounds similar to you all who are reading this who have done so much for us that it leaves us humble thinking of what little we deserve.

On January 13 we head back to the US for three months! Please pray for our travels as we will be in North Carolina, Virginia, Michigan, Georgia, Tennessee and I imagine a couple more places. Let us know if you want us to come to the church. We will be showing a furlough video that will be posted online soon and all the love offerings this furlough will go to the church construction that is really looking sharp lately! My course right now is Strategic Planning and so I am evaluating most areas of my life now. Let me know if you have anything I need to get right! haha.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all! May this year bring you closer to Christ and may we all make more disciples together!

All for HIS glory,
David, my beautiful bride of 10 years as of this month, our little two Polly pocket lovers, the older of which is loving her new roller blades and even can go backwards, and the other who thinks the has two moms in the house most of the time; I don't know how Sarah does not get confused when Anna Claire is calling Evelyn Momma! 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Misconceptions about China

We just took a two week trip to China a couple weeks ago and I noticed a few differences than my previous conceptions about China and thought I would share them. Of course, it was only two weeks in just a couple of towns and so it can in no way be for sure; so I wouldn't state these all as facts, just my opinion. 

1. Dangerous. My first thought about Sarah’s sister being in China is that she is in grave danger. But there is little dangerous crime in China. The Chinese are not really violent. Honor is very important to the Chinese. So to be caught doing anything dishonorable would be very shameful. So while they may do petty thefts at the right opportunity, the major stuff is not too common. Even in the sense of not allowing certain religions to act. They may not allow it, but they are not going to imprison foreigners for doing anything; worst case scenario would taking away their Visa. It seems that living in China is much safer than living in South America. (not a fact, just opinion).

2. Food. Chinese mainly eat dog and cat. Not necessarily true; it seems they ate more chicken and pork. Although I did find out that dog is acceptable in the winter months because it is a warm food. I didn’t really see the grilled scorpions and cockroaches, which does not mean they don’t exist. 

3. Everything is made in China. Not true. Just 99% of things. The ports in Hong Kong are huge! Lots of containers all over. There is a lot of money in China too. I am sure there are parts of China that are poor, but it seems like the Chinese are doing alright for themselves. 

4. No structure. Well, I guess I shouldn’t label this a misconception since I hadn’t heard anything before about the structure. But China seems well structured. Sarah and I were amazed by the complexity of the cities. How difficult it must have been to have an adequate transportation for so many people. There are a lot of people in China. All over. Traffic could get pretty heavy; trains were loaded and buildings were everywhere. 

5. Everyone looks the same. We all have this idea about Asians that they all look alike. But in my experience there were all kinds of different people in China and they did not look alike. I thought that interesting especially since we have that misconception. It is neat to know that God has made us all different and loves us all the same. There are so many Chinese and God cares for each one of them! 

A couple other notes: There are people people everywhere! Not many speak English; I thought a lot more would. 

Note:Both these pictures were actually taken in Hong Kong on our way out of China.