Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January is a down month for most of Brazil. Some people go on vacation literally, most just go mentally. We try to schedule few events for January. Our colleague Dan Cook is a camp director and they have camp in January. He asked Sarah to do the crafts for the camp this season. She has been working hard since November getting them ready and for a low price. Mid January I dropped her and the girls off at Camp Paradise for a week along with Evelyn’s best friend Alice. They had a great time and the crafts were a big success! 

While they were at camp Roger and Marcy Smith and I put on an English camp with several other helpers. We did three nights in a row where the group came in and were able to converse in English for a while. It was a great opportunity! At this point we are looking at events that can introduce the community to our resource center and church! Another event this month was a graduation party for one of our faithful attendees. Her family and friends came and we had a thanksgiving service. Our band did the music and I did a small devotional on compassion (she graduated in nursing) and how Jesus gave us the greatest example of compassion. 

In February we will get into some more regular routines as we will be having English conversation on Saturdays and then start our Servant Leaders program on Wednesdays. We will be doing theology in the afternoon and seminars at night. We want to target surrounding towns with a program in which they can come in once a week and receive Bible training. Pray that the word will get out and that we will have the right students for the course. Some of our key leaders have already committed, adjusting work schedules and everything. I have been very pleasantly surprised! Praise the Lord! 

Our building is coming along! We have mostly finished the first floor, yet know it will be a long time before we complete everything! Right now we are making a list and prioritising our spending for what is most important. 

God has blessed us with so much lately. We praise Him for that. Currently I ask for prayer for Sarah’s health. She had a really bad migraine on the 21st and has not been feeling well since then. Please pray she can get back to normal soon! She is our main influencer down here and having her down really stinks! May God bless you all and forgive you for the New Year’s resolutions you have already broken! :) 

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah, my two time costume winner at camp and my other kitty cat woman. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Bits December

Happy New Year! What a crazy year it has been. We started out with a trip to the states from January to April, came back to Brazil hoping we would about be in our building which led to a big focus on construction and finally getting in the building in November! 

Since our first services in November we have kept going on some detail work in the building and then ferociously cleaning the building for use on the weekends. It has been a whirlwind of activity. We did two courses for two weekends and then we focused on our Sunday services and Christmas party. Cam Woolford, the director for Servant Leaders came and visited, saw what we have going here and taught a course with me on Processing your life biblically. We had a really good time. 

The Christmas party was fun! We had around 60 people at the service and dinner and enjoyed wonderful decorations and food. Sarah has done a great job with this organization, mainly because a lot of it was delegated (even though she worked really hard too). We have had several key helpers for events, which is key for the church! 

Sarah has also been running the kid’s programs and they did a little presentation on Christmas night at our dinner. The kids are loving their class and the space of the church, although one night we had 18 kids and it was already a little tight. Sarah has the focus of II Timothy 3 that says from a child we should know the Bible because it makes us wise to salvation (David paraphrase). 

We are grateful that this season sees a lot of people traveling and little activity. We have needed some rest and gotten some, although we have had quite a few party invitations. We told the church how they have been a family to us. It certainly is a blessing to be surrounded by many wonderful people. That includes you all who pray and support us. So many of you are faithful in giving and that means a lot to us. 

We are launching into 2018 with great expectations for what God will do in the church here. There are some great things happening with the contacts God has given us over the past few years and we look forward to the miracles he sends us as we work for His glory in the Sertão!

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah and our two little angels for our Christmas program. 

Evelyn playing her ukulele for the first time in front of a crowd. She played Jingle Bells on Christmas day while people were eating dinner. She played with her teacher Filipe. 

Evie at her ballet open practice

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Bits November

I’m late! I always try to get the update out at the end of the month and the latest the first of the month! But I have learned that you can’t win them all. :)

Well, we are in our building! We started using it a couple of weeks ago as we started on a Saturday night and had a great group. We did more of a thanksgiving type service (more thanksgiving for being there then for the pilgrims :) as Brazilians do not celebrate that holiday). We had three of us give a devotional surrounded by times of praise and prayer. We feel so blessed to be able to use the building…even though it is not quite finished. We continue to work on it to have the finished product downstairs.

We also inaugurated having courses! Dan and Kelly Cook came from Recife to teach Good Soil along with a camp worker he is training. We had a good group and a great time. The students were all faithful to the classes and it was really encouraging to have them there. We are currently teaching another course with Cam Woolford, the director of Servant Leaders International. He has come down for a visit and to see where we live and minister. He has said it has already given him a good context for where we are. 

These courses are giving us a good feel for how course times, prices and logistics will work out. It will also help us determine our target audiences for the courses. We also were able to film the course last night and hope to start to populate our training site so that we can have more people using the content at a longer distance. 

God is good! We praise Him for His many blessings in our life. One blessing was after our first service having our last football game for the year and being able to go to the beach afterwards as our neighbors let us stay in their apartment close to the beach in the city in which we were playing. It was just a day there, but it was nice to get away. We have been blessed in so many ways, including you all who are reading this. I had the opportunity to speak at the Northeast Brazil’s Word of Life Bible Institute on Wednesday about ministry in our region and I told them about the blessing of having supporters like you all that pray and give and that it is a humbling blessing that really keeps us going. So a big Merry Christmas to you and a blessed New Year in which you learn more and more about what it means to be conformed to Christ’s image!

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah, my braces girl that loves ballet and independence, and my little cat that has recently been painting her face to look like a cat….yeah, it is weird, but it is really cute. :) 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Living with eternity in mind

A friend’s mom just found out her cancer returned and has spread and it does not look good for her. One of our study group members is their neighbor and decided to have a service for her. She asked me to speak. What do you speak on in a moment like this? I cannot pretend to understand what they are going through. In a quick search I found out that it seemed like Paul knew what to say, as he wrote the perfect passage in 2 Corinthians 4. 

I started the message in verse 16:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not see. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 

There is a costly gift in experiencing this seemingly hopeless situation. The recognition that our living reality should be in light of eternity. We easily wrap ourselves up in our earthly life and lose perspective on our eternal life. Our constant longing and hope should be eternal life in Christ so that the weights of this world do not boggle us down. Lately I have worried myself with tasks that  need no worrying to accomplish them. This week in a Bible study my daughter’s prayer request was that her parents would not be so stressed out. ha. Thanks baby girl. It was only slightly embarrassing as I have already come to the conclusion that the list is long of my deficiencies, but it did provide some reflection as to my mindset. 

The eternal is much more important than our earthly light afflictions. Verse 16 had started with the word therefore and so we look at the context above to show us why we can have this eternal mindset that does not let us lose heart. Paul emphasizes the gospel in the whole chapter. We do not handle the word of God deceitfully, we know that Satan blinds the minds of those who do not believe, and we do not preach ourselves. We are not the answers. In moments like this, my lack of words makes this entirely obvious as I do not have a clue what to say. But the gospel shines in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. We have a treasure knowing that the power does not come from us, but from God.

For these reasons we can suffer but not break down. We have hope in Christ that stems from the resurrection. Just as Christ raised from the dead, so those who believe in Him will also raise. This hope sustains us! This grace sustains us to the glory of God! So remember when suffering through the reality of everyone’s mortality that it does not matter! To be absent on earth is to be present with the Lord for those who believe! And let these moments remind us that we are to always live in view of eternity, as a friend used for his ALIVE ministry slogan. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Bits from Brasil

Every three years all the ABWE missionaries in Brazil get together for a 5 day conference in a different part of Brazil. Last week we went to Foz do Iguaçu which is a city known for huge waterfalls. Part of the conference was going to see God’s beautiful creation and the display of His power at the Falls. The conference is always a great time to catch up with colleagues, see what is happening within the ABWE world (we just got a new president!) and be encouraged. We do a little course in the morning, have afternoons free and then a service at night. 

Evelyn made lots of new friends and had a good time being independent from her parents. She has been busy with homeschool, ukulele lessons, ballet and then in her spare time playing with Anna Claire. She has also been busy trying to get Anna Claire saved! She is very sensitive and generous! 

Anna Claire just walks to the beat of her own drum. She loves playing. After the conference where she had classes each day with Jim and Susan Cook who travel the world working with kids (mostly missionary kids), was the first time where she looked like she could be understanding the gospel. It was neat to see and reminds me of how much investment has been in her life. 

Sarah has been working hard with hosting and cheerleading. We are also doing a discipleship/counseling with a couple in our church that she has mostly been organizing. Sarah keeps busy with Evie’s homeschooling and washing all my work/sports clothes! She also is a constant encouragement to church members staying active in our groups. 

I have been doing a lot with church construction still! We are near being able to use the building for our services (pray our money stretches here to finish what we need to do). In football we won our final season game (putting our record at 3-1) and made the playoffs. We have the semifinal game in a couple of weeks. 

We are going to start our Servant Leaders program next Wednesday! I am excited about that! Pray that we are able to get a good amount of leaders to come out to the training center! Later this month we will be doing the Good Soil seminar with the Brazil director Dan Cook and then Cam Woolford, the Servant Leaders director will come and do some seminars at the end of November! We are excited to have different partners for our training center! The first teacher will actually be another Pastor from Arcoverde! 

Thanks so much for your prayers and support! 

All for HIS glory!

David, Sarah, my big girl who now has a retainer, and my little wanderer who now is doing well with portuguese! 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Bits September

It is game day! One of the things I miss most in the US is sitting around watching college football, snacking and hanging out with family on Saturdays. My brothers and I (and Dad) used to even go out and play a game of football in between games or at halftime. Today, our team gets to play on a Saturday afternoon into evening underneath the lights. This week we had to come together as a team and go after sponsors for our game. It was neat to see the team work together outside of the lines. Last night at our team dinner I talked from Ephesians 4:16 about unity, working together and love. I told them football needed to be a stage in which they worked on not being selfish, working together and loving one another because once they get a family the stakes are much steeper. The football team has been a great opportunity for us to reach into the lives of these players as well as our community.
Once again, construction has dominated this past month. There is great progress though and Lord willing we will have pictures of a Bible study going on in our building for the next update. Not for sure though! Please pray for everything to come together. We had a workday with our study group members this month and it was fun and profitable! They were excited about what the future holds there! 

I participated in a Servant Leaders Strategic Planning weekend meeting over Skype this month. We are excited about what God is doing with SL. We are in charge of the translation and training for Brazil as well as helping out with organizational development and curriculum. Below is when we did a grill out and taught the Conflict Resolution seminar for the group that had finished the Processing Life Biblically class. 

Sarah and the girls are going with me to Tupanatinga once a month (I go every other week) and this last week we had a bouncy ride out to a rural farm. We met a new family and their relatives and talked about what it means to be a disciple. 

In our Arcoverde study group we have had more families coming, which is neat to see. They are excited about being in the building soon and many offer to help in various ways. It is good to see a big part of our group wanting to serve. In many churches 20% of the members do 80% of the work. We all need to make sure we do our part and work together as the body of Christ!

Sarah’s cheerleaders will be on the field this afternoon! They are really cute. Check Facebook for a video soon! Sarah has also been able to go to an English school and teach recipes. The kids all enjoy that! Thanks for all you do so that God’s kingdom can grow here in the Sertão! 

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah and our little gymnasts; although Evie started ballet again, the girls spend free time playing with polly pockets and performing the floor routine in the kitchen with the youtube gymnast routine music. Also, Evelyn turned 8 last week! 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Bits August

This month we finished our 7 week men’s study on Processing Life. The group seemed to grow as we went which really encouraged us as we look to the future to implement Servant Leaders, our leadership training course. For celebration, we decided to grill out last night as well as do another study on Conflict Resolution. It went really well and girlfriends/wives came and enjoyed themselves as well. 

Last weekend the football team had a road game, a good 8-10 hour drive away. I was able to have some good conversations. One guy told me how he had been pretty much an atheist (I would probably say agnostic) before starting to come to the studies. Now he really enjoys them and doesn’t like to miss. On gameday I gave a devotional on David and Goliath, presenting the gospel once again to the team. We had over 40 players there and they pay attention and are respectful. As I continually evaluate how long I want to be involved with coaching football, I think of the quote by Billy Graham that says, “A coach will impact more people in one year than an average person will in an entire lifetime.” I am not sure how accurate this quote is, but I do know he has a great point. Coaching these guys has been an important place of influence for lots of lives that would be hard to achieve in any other position. Oh, and we played in a World Cup stadium this last game, which was a really cool experience. 

Sarah has started a discipleship with a woman who has gone through some marital issues. She also continues to do a lot of hosting in our home. Frequent hosting in our home might not last too much longer though as we will soon be moving some of the studies to the church building. Maybe not this month, but October will give us a good chance to have some studies start there. I have decided to start the Servant Leaders program November 1st at the building as well. Pray for us as we coordinate the electrician, dry-waller (actually we don’t have dry wall, but the equivalent here), window maker, and tile layer as they come and try to have the building ready for us to use soon. I am in charge of the painting and will be busier carrying out that task this month. This morning I was applying sealer and walling mud. 

This month we were also able to report to our partner/mother church in Recife during their missions month about what God is doing in the Outback. They were excited to hear and I hope challenged in the area of missions. They have been a great partner as we seek to establish a church planting base here. 

Thanks so much for your prayers and support! God is good and keeps working on us! I hope that He has been busy working on you as well!

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah, and our two little ballerinas that are stoked about starting ballet classes soon.