Wednesday, January 29, 2014

David's two week moving trip

Two weeks ago today I left Atlanta to head down to the Amazon to make the move to the Outback of Northeast Brazil. One problem. I left my teammate at home and I would feel it later. 

Starting right off the bat I had a cancelled flight, but I was tipped off and was one of the first in line to make it to the other carrier’s flight to Miami. Unfortunately my baggage did not and I spent the next couple days trying to track it down. Fortunately LAN airlines in Leticia gave me see through white shorts and a shirt to hold me through until I could reach more clothes in Santo Antonio. So I washed some clothes in the sink and headed out on the boat trip. The new jet boat was huge and nice and I was able to go through the Old Testament roots of faith cards (50 OT stories) with a Jew from the US with his Australian girlfriend. I think he was excited that she could see the traditions he grew up on and filled in on some of the stories. 

I arrived on a rainy Friday which apparently, by the comments I received, was my fault. After greeting the missionary friends there and a family night dinner I began the work of separating our belongings that were in around 30 big boxes plus some other piles. Sarah was greatly missed as I decided what is worth keeping and what is worth throwing out. Two is better than one and balance in a relationship comes from God allowing two very different weird people to work together. What a beautiful thing (if you let it be beautiful). 

I worked late that night and most of Saturday. By Sunday night I had it separated and most of the boxes packed. My goal of 10-12 boxes had turned into 18 and would later be repacked down to 16. Sunday morning I was able to teach the youth Sunday class, showing our Outback video and talking about having faith in praying boldly. Sunday night I was able to challenge the church in regards to prayer, the Holy Spirit and an outward focus rather than an inward focus as I preached about the church planting done in Acts. 

One guy sobbed on my shoulder Sunday morning as he thought about the trying times we had gone through together and how we would not be living there anymore. That was humbling and hard. His situation was similar to another I dealt with during the week of sexual immorality. That can cause some very complicated and difficult situations that we should all try to have the foresight to completely avoid. The consequences and pain that it causes make me want to weep uncontrollably. God has a much better beautiful plan for us. 

Tuesday through the rest of the week I had a yard sale to get rid of a lot of our things. They grabbed most of the good stuff in the first hour and a half. Throughout the week I sold more things. There was really only a couple things left to sell by the end of the week, which is much better than it could have been!

Friday was fishing day! The exclamation point came before the trip; because we didn’t catch anything by line, just some bait (sardines) in the net. On Saturday we went to the pool and had a soccer tournament at night for the church. I was able to speak again and I talked to the church people out of Philippians 1 where Paul speaks to a church he had worked at as a missionary and about their relationship together. He told them he misses them and loves them and is sure that God will continue to do a good work in them. 

Sunday morning I woke up (before my alarm) at 4:30 and started loading the cargo into the kombi with the help of Chip, Laurie and Lloyd. I was to the port before 5:30 and the boat arrived after 7. I was able to travel with one of the seminary students which was convenient as we could look after each other’s belongings. (My boxes were in the bottom of the boat, so I didn’t have to worry about them). I met a guy from Holland, Michigan and his wife and then several Europeans and Brazilians. Boat conversations are usually pretty interesting. 

Tuesday was the nerve wracking day as we had to get those boxes to somewhere that would ship them. After going to three different places we found out that our first location had been right. After loading up the guy said it would be 3450 reais (around 1600 dollars). Then one of them talked to me about using another business that had a discount with them and it cut it down to 1850 reais! Much better and much less than I was expecting to pay. So prayer works! Or I just did something illegal. I think I am alright though. 

I went to the airport after that and spent the next 12 hours waiting for my red-eye flight that left at 1 in the morning. I then had about a six hour layover before I caught my flight to Recife. So here I am waiting my girls for a couple days since their flight was rescheduled because of snow. Pray for them Friday night as they fly overnight. Pray as I look for a car the next couple of days. We didn’t think our account would have enough for a car, but due to you all’s generosity and unexpected savings and jeitinhos (ways around things) we may be able to afford one with money out of our account. Thanks and God bless!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The beginning of Church Planting

Sunday morning I was able to speak to Cloud Springs Baptist after fellowshipping with them again (in and out) for a year. I wanted to talk about church planting since that was what we are going to do in Brazil. What better Scripture to use than the book of Acts that is a summary of the missions/church planting movement of the early church. The main ideas in Acts show how churches were planted in Acts. 

Depending on the Bible professor, one receives different proposals as to the main theme of Acts. Some would say it is about missions or church planting, others say it is a book of prayer and still others say it is a biography of the Holy Spirit. Looking at all of those we know that church planting and missions exist because of the work of the Holy Spirit and the prayers of the saints. 

We also see the participants of all that happened. The Apostles of course received the Holy Spirit, but it was not just them doing the work. They appointed deacons and the second requirement of those deacons was that they were full of the Holy Spirit. Notice the first martyr, Stephen, who was one of the first deacons, also did the work of preaching! And it was a good sermon too; probably because he was full of the Holy Spirit. The people of the church were full of the Holy Spirit and prayer and that is why the church spread so quickly.

Church planting is not just for missionaries or pastors; it is for the church. We are all to be planting churches. It is not just for a select few; it is for the entire church. For this reason we as individuals in the church need to filled with the Spirit and continuing in prayer. How this leads to church planting for you is up to the the Holy Spirit as He will be your guide. Maybe it is through local discipleship, maybe it is sending church planters, maybe it is planting another church close to you with a group from your church, and of course the most likely that God would have you do is come down with us in the Brazilian outback! But whoever you are, you have a part in church planting!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

"You just made my heart"

Evelyn says "You just made my heart" whenever you do something that really makes her day. That is just one of the 14 things she regularly says that do not make sense. For her and for most other people, little acts of kindness really go a long way. I have found people shocked when I go out of my way to help. On Monday I took three minutes to give a lady a jump on her car. She said that she had asked six people already. Small little acts of kindness in public has brought shocked looks from people. I cringe to think that the reason for this is that kindness is not the norm. People think of themselves and their busy schedule and ignore little needs around them.

Be aware of your surroundings and not so focused on yourself that you forget to reach out to others. In public I constantly see needs as small as holding the door open for someone, helping with change, letting an older or disabled person cut, or lending a hand to someone who only has two when three are needed. God gives us these opportunities for His love to shine; take advantage of them!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bits Beyond Brazil- mid January update

Last Friday afternoon we met with our administrator and the couple that will join us for two years in the Outback starting next year. We had a great meeting and are excited about having them! We decided what costs we could cut out so that we could be at full support as we had already raised 1400 dollars this furlough and had our return tickets to Brazil. I also told him about the dilemma we were having with receiving our medical clearance. There had been some misunderstandings and we were several different documents away from receiving that clearance.

Fast forward to Monday morning when we received clearance that morning after several processes went very smoothly! Fast forward to Monday night when I wrote asking for financial clearance because over the weekend our needs dropped to 6.78. Fast forward to a facebook status this morning when I find out that 6.78 is wiped out as well! We received all clearances early this morning and we are all packed and ready to go! (Sarah is even pretty much ready even though she does not leave for two weeks).

Tomorrow morning I fly out of Atlanta at 10 in the morning and will spend the night in the Bogota airport before arriving at the Columbia/Brazil border tomorrow. Friday I take a speedboat to Santo Antonio do Içá where I will pack up what I can, have a garage sale and participate in Judgment Day (yes, they decided to do Judgment Day II on the dates I will be there; not sure if that happened on purpose or not). On Sunday the 26th I hope on a boat with our boxes to float to Manaus and get on a plane Wednesday the 29th when I fly to Recife and meet up with Sarah, the girls and Sarah’s brother Robert. 

So those are lots of dates for you all to remember, so it might just be easier to pray for us everyday. :) We received Anna Claire’s visa very quickly and we have great news about the housing in Arcoverde where we will live for our first year. We know that everything in this email has happened because of prayer. Thank you so much! God bless you all!

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah, Evelyn and Anna Claire

Thursday, January 9, 2014


One of our main goals for furlough has been to recruit partners for the Outback team. We will have Brazilian partners in a different town than ours (1 hour away) and a veteran missionary couple that has started this project and will be there once a week, but will not be living there (lives 4 hours away). I am 5 days from heading out and we do not have anyone committed to go with us full time. However, we do have some others interested in going for 1-2 years. We could have 2 different families visit us this year to see about future work with us. Tomorrow (Friday) we have a meeting with one of those families and our administrator. Pray that this meeting goes well. (For a small donation I will even tell you the middle initial of one of their names).

Some people have asked what the personnel needs are in the Outback and it is really hard for me to be exact with that answer because the field is really wide open. We will be planting a church so God can use the different skills of many different types of people. Roger Smith, the veteran missionary who will be working with us each week, believes God uses the personalities/characteristics of Pastors or missionaries to form what type of church one will have. For example, in South Brazil, a couple of athletes teamed up to start a church. As you can imagine, the church has many athletes, an outdoor basketball/soccer court and lots of sports outreaches. Another church may have a strong music program because of the great musical talent of the lead missionary. So any church planter will draw different types of people to the church.

I feel like my strengths will be in doing Bible studies and gathering groups of people. We can use people to help with gathering groups together; whether it be through sports, music, conversations, English classes, activities, and special events, each area would help make contacts for people to do Bible studies. We could use someone who enjoys working with children, others who like youth work, others who could work with couples/parents, and still more workers for the more mature adults and the elderly (I tried to put that kindly). I am terrible at singing, so musicians would be a big help.

Interested in missions? Consider the Outback of Brazil with a population of 350,000 people, 17 different towns, and 1-4% evangelical. Join our team as we reach the unreached!

Francisco and Dalva, Brazilian missionaries in the Outback for the last 9 years.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Settling the moving nerves

In 8 days I will fly down to the Amazon and pack up our belongings to move to another area of Brazil. Living and traveling to Brazil was pretty routine during the first four years in Brazil, but this trip seems different. When we moved to the Amazon I had lived there before for a total of almost 11 months. In the Outback we have been there for a total of about a week. In the Amazon we were moving into a beautiful house (well, we knew it could be beautiful once the cobwebs were down and there was paint on the wall) that was waiting on us. In the Outback we are not sure where we will live. 

When we applied for our Visas to go to Brazil for our first term we had full support and were waiting for our Visas for a couple months. For the last couple of months we have been watching God supply our support enough to apply for Anna Claire’s visa. Today we went to the consulate and it appears her visa will be in our hands in a couple of days. Praise the Lord! Somehow the last minute details have made me more nervous; unless I just did not remember how nervous I was 5 years ago. 

So here we go. To a place with few churches and very few contacts. In church planting books they talk about the methods of church planting. It is good to have a core team to go with you, or part of the mother church that separates for a time, or teammates to work with closely. We will have teammates, but none that will actually live in the city with us. Our first target city is Arcoverde, which is right at the edge of the Outback. Our teammates, Roger and Marcy Smith and their church have had a vision for this region for a long time. They have sent missionaries to the region and are starting a resource center in Arcoverde, but there is no one that lives there currently. We will be the first to do that. There will be much work to be done in order to start a church.

We are amazed at this opportunity and are excited to be so close to being there. Pray that our adjustment will go well! Pray that God will give us great friends there. But most of all, pray that no matter what, God will receive glory through us being there.