Friday, February 21, 2014

Creating a Prayer focus

Our hillside apartment has two normal sized windows and a couple ventilation windows. The only one we can see out of has a pretty nice view of the city. I like to look out and pray over it. In fact, I feel like God has given us plenty of opportunities to pray with this new work. I have never really started a work from scratch before; which I guess the church in Recife has laid some ground work here, but there has never really been anyone working in the city. So starting from scratch, the only people I know, I have just met and barely know. In fact, I wrote out all the people that I actually know the name of, in the whole city. I am up to 15 names, 20 with some of the soccer guys from Thursday night.

The other time that is good to pray I already mentioned in an earlier post and that is my early morning walks with Anna Claire. Today we went to another high point that overlooks the back part of our hill. It is a neat view. I noticed another city or major part of this city that is a little separated and wondered about the church status there. 

I still think that God could do an amazing work in this region, but I know it is going to take time. Living in our fast-food/microwave world we want everything right now, but reality is that it will take time. 

Another time I pray is right after meeting someone. I think about the possibility of them coming to know Christ, or being a potential church member or I wonder how God could work in their lives. That wonder turns to prayer and it is neat to see how natural the thought is even though I do not consider myself someone who prays often. But with the circumstances we are in, it is easier to think about prayer; basically because we feel like if a church starts out here, it is not because of our ability, it is because God has gone before us. This definitely strengthens my faith. Today I met back to back with two potential church members. Both have either made a profession or been in a church before and both expressed interest in someday visiting the church (once we have one, that is a bit far away right now).

Another reason to pray is the water situation here. Last Friday morning we were excited because they filled up the water box and our apartment building had running water. They told us how big the box is and that it would last a while. Well, either it was not filled all the way, or there definition of a while is different than ours, but 6 days after its filling, it seems to be empty again. My prayers go like this: Thank you Lord for a wife that has a good attitude about this, help us to have water soon, help us to put up with this, and let it rain! They say after 3-4 good rains the water problems will stop. They also say that the politicians have promised sometime in March the city will have water lines from other cities and it will greatly improve the water situation....or something like that. Politicians usually are not the most honest...

So the situation here has been good to help me practice what I have preached lately, and that is on prayer. May we not be so dependent on ourselves!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The effects of an early sunrise!

Our first impression of Recife came late at night in October of 2012 as we arrived on a midnight flight and went straight to the beach hotel. We quickly went to bed, but woke up to a very strong sun and clocks that read 4:45. We wondered what kind of time change there could have been as I had never heard of the sun rising so early. But as we saw the other participants of the next day’s conference, we heard that indeed the sun had risen that early. 

Since we have lived here our wonderful second born has decided that 6:00 AM would be considered sleeping in and only for rare occasions. As much as I resent her for that decision, I do enjoy our early morning walks almost as much as she does.

We have an apartment with a middle room that stays pretty dark, so we put the girls in that room. Although it does not work for the morning, the room is at least dark enough for nap time. 

Recife is really hot and since the sun starts shining early, the heat comes early in the day. On the other hand, Arcoverde seems quite cool to us. Although the sun is hot during the day, we live on a hill that receives quite a bit of breeze that flows through our house very well. We were going to buy air conditioners, but have decided so far that we do not need them. At night it cools down quite a bit to where we can sleep quite comfortably and so we are happy with that!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Finances in the Outback

We have arrived in the Outback...and spent! Before we left we raised some money for O and P, but not a significant amount. We did not think we would have enough money to buy a car with ministry money, but after a good month in December and January, we thought we were close enough to buy a good car and still have some money for furniture.

We found a good car, that was a little less than we originally thought we would pay. They say car prices are 3x as much here in Brazil than in the US. They are right! We found a good 2010/2011 model car that fits 7 people and is in great condition. We have been wanting a car that will last a while and that has enough space. When we agreed on buying the car, the out the door price seemed like it would be lower, but after the final exchange rate, the extra fees and with insurance, it ended up being a bit more. (like over 19,000 dollars)

As we open up the resource center (CeTAK) this week there are still some needs we would like to help with such as putting up a sign for it or finding a solution for the door problem. Right now it just opens up like a manual garage door. So no one can see if anyone is in the building unless the door is open, but if the door is open than we cannot really use the air conditioning. So really, for the center to be useful we need to get this done. I am going to do research this week about how much that will cost, but it will probably at least cost 1000 dollars.

Also, pray for our furniture to arrive sooner than the expected ETA (March 24). We want to start some groups, but are a little hesitant without furniture for them to sit on!

So I am just letting the needs be known. We know that God will provide in His perfect timing just like He did this last year when we thought it would be very difficult to raise 1600 more dollars a month.Thank you all for following us, praying for us, giving to His ministry and for all your love!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Our first week living in the Outback

If you have not heard from us in the last week it is probably because we have not written anything. We arrived in the outback last Friday morning and immediately went to our apartment only to find that we had no electricity or water. Two little needs. They said that the electricity would be on soon and we would have running water as well. The water box was broken and it had to be repaired and the month of January had been rough on the apartment’s tenants. 

So we stayed at a hotel at night through the weekend and went to the apartment during the day to try to settle in some. On Friday Sarah and Carlos the evangelist/mediator/negotiator went shopping for furniture. Unfortunately Sarah’s debit card did not work, but she still was able to get some things. Then my card had trouble as well, but we eventually worked it all out. Sarah found a good refrigerator and good stove both at good prices. She also found a good mattress, full size (much cheaper and better for cuddling in case you wondered) and a water cooler. They were supposed to deliver everything the next day. Saturday came around and we only had the fridge and water cooler since Carlos rode with the delivery truck. On Monday we went to a couple of the stores wondering why our things had not arrived and found out that the address they had given us was completely wrong; name of street, street number and even apartment number!  

Monday night was our first night in our ac-less apartment. We were fine. The temperature is pretty cool at night and because we are on a hill, we get a nice breeze flowing through. We may not even need air conditioning; we will see. The promised running water did not arrive until Friday; on Monday they delivered a big barrel of water to the house that we could dip out of for everything. We were doing water conservation to the max. Since we don’t have our washing machine yet, we have a mountain of clothes that we bought to Recife to wash. 

We have found the people here very receptive as well as curious. It is easy to meet people. The girls attract a bit of attention and Sarah and I have both tried not to be too shy. One man told me he would be a member of our congregation when it starts. We already have contacts that we are hoping to get into Bible studies. One problem with having home groups though is that we only have one chair in our house right now and the couch, tables and chairs (and beds, end tables and rocking chair) are not supposed to arrive until March 24. Pray they arrive sooner! I am not sure about inviting people to have a study in our house and then making them sit on the floor?!?! 

Resource center inauguration is February 22nd. There is a group of 50 church members coming from Recife. We are in Recife now as we needed to go to the Federal Police for document work and then the missionaries are introducing us to the church in Recife and I am preaching Sunday night. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Change of Plans

I am pretty sure that in most of the world the phrase “change of plans” is the standard. You pretty much fly by the seat of your pants and little goes as planned. You must make adjustments in many areas of life. This means that there is not a lot of pressure for perfect performance or for everything to go smoothly; on the other hand, it can be very frustrating.

We knew that we would not move to the interior right away as we had several things to accomplish in the big city (Recife) first. I made a trip with Robert and Carlos on Monday (Feb 3rd) to see the apartment and look at other options. There were no other options, so we planned to return to Arcoverde Thursday to shop. While in the city we found a store apparently similar to Ikea and Sarah found furniture she really liked. So we changed our plans to shopping here in Recife these past couple days and taking a big moving truck to Arcoverde. 

So Sarah went shopping. But her card would not work to pay in one store with all the electronics. While she waited for me to go pay, she went to the Ikea-like store and found a bunch of furniture. However, the furniture was only available March 24, but they are going to ship it out there and assemble it all for less than $200. The other truck was going to cost over $300 (with me assembling, which would cost over $1150 in lost assets). 

So now instead of going to Arcoverde today, we are going tomorrow and since the shipping would only be for the furniture bought in that one store, we will be buying the other stuff in Arcoverde. (Pray Carlos the negotiator is at his best tomorrow). 

So we will be eating on the floor and not have much furniture for a month and a half, but we got good deals on the stuff we can wait on and tomorrow we will be able to buy the stuff with which we need to live. We will transport a little more than half of our other belongings by tomorrow. 

On the ministry end of life here, we did not see too much active involvement with the main church in Recife. However, it just so happens that the youth have just started asking for theology classes. It looks like between the missionary Pastor, the Brazilian Pastor and I, we will be doing a type of Bible Institute with their church. Lord willing, this will bring more active involvement with the church and their missions project as well as train more church leaders. (I will probably come to Recife 1-2 times a month for weekend classes and then the other Pastors will teach when I am not in Recife). 

Through it all we see the providence of God in it all. The “change of plans” might just be our own earthly perspective.  

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Bits from Brasil January

On Monday our mission will start a three week emphases on prayer, but you all started a big emphases on prayer for us in the last month (actually most of you for a lot longer than that). Let’s go over all the answered prayer requests from this month. Before starting our furlough back in 2012 our goal was to be back in Brazil around January 7th. I left the states January 15. One week later than the schedule is nothing. Huge answer. We needed to raise 1600 dollars a month during furlough. The Friday before I left I talked with my administrator about whether we could cut out some expenses cause we still lacked 180 a month, which was a miracle in and of itself; but by Monday I told him to scratch that because you all had come through. Several of you raised what you were already giving and we have several new partners.

You prayed for me as I went to the impossible task of going to the Amazon without my life caretaker to separate between packing and selling all of our belongings. God allowed us to talk on skype some to get rid of any doubts despite having internet that usually boasted of a very poor connection. We did well on the yard sale and then pretty well on packing. Follow this link to read more about that trip.

God provided someone to ride with on the boat and a reliable taxi guy through Manaus. We found TamCargo to send 15 boxes with and we have already picked them up in Recife. 

We needed a car that will be reliable for a long time as we plan on being here for a while. Semi-new Zafiras with seven seats can be tough to find, but Roger Smith (the missionary we are working with) and I looked at 7 different ones and found the deluxe version for a good price for its value. We decided to go for a high quality reliable car that will last us for a while. After the taxes, fees and insurance it has put us at the edge of our budget; but before the last couple of weeks we did not even think we had enough for a car. Then the exchange rate has surged and you all’s giving has surged. Praise the Lord!

This morning Sarah arrived with all of our bags from the US. You all prayed diligently for her trip! She and Anna Claire had three seats to themselves and Anna Claire slept almost the whole way. Robert and Evelyn had three seats together and she slept the whole time as well. In fact, the only hiccup was that they could not wake Evelyn up after the Atlanta to Miami trip. They were the last ones off the plane and the stewardess had to help Sarah wake Evelyn up. They arrived in Recife early and were all smiles!

Praise God for the great things He has done this month. Yesterday Roger said that we must have a lot of people praying for this to go as smooth as it has. I told him about some of you. It makes me cry thinking about your love for God’s ministry. I have not even mentioned all the neat things happening in Arcoverde with the resource center and our grand opening on February 22nd, but I did just write a blog post about our plans for the year so you could be praying.

Thanks for your love and prayers and for taking care of us while we were in the states!
All for HIS glory,
David, a tired Sarah who didn’t sleep last night, an exploring four year old, and a big little one that is taking some steps and making funny noises.

The Outback, now that we are here, what is our plan?

We presented the overall vision for the outback in our video that we showed in churches. Our main goal (besides glorifying God) is to have churches planted in the 17 towns of the outback region. 350,000 people, 1-4% evangelical. Few churches. We want to plant these churches by doing evangelism projects such as soccer tournaments, concerts, church activities and by meeting all sorts of people. We want to train leadership by giving classes, discipleship and then doing community together.

Our first step will be in a town called Arcoverde, which is right on the edge of the outback. There are around 70,000 people in Arcoverde and there are several churches. The reason we are going here first is that the church in Recife (Koinonia) is opening up a resource center for the churches. This past week they handed out invitations to Pastors from all over the outback. The resource center has books to help in their studies and Roger Smith and I, as well as others, will be available for training, counseling and discipleship. The grand opening for the center will be February 22nd. They have already done much work on it (hopefully that link will work, it shows photos of the center). At the opening they will announce that we are planning to do some sort of seminary/classes just like I did in Santo Antonio, although we are not sure about the schedule of it yet.

We also have a target neighborhood in Arcoverde to start a church. It is a middle to upper class neighborhood that does not have a single church in it (not even a catholic church). Our plan is to start with Bible study groups that hopefully in time will have several groups that can join together.

Pray with us that we can be a blessing to the area churches as well as meet the right people to start a new church!