Saturday, October 31, 2015

Bits October

October started out with our first football game in Arcoverde. Despite the opposing team arriving late and us losing the game, it was a real success. The city was exposed to football as there were around 1200 fans that day, many more fans than the latest soccer games have had. The city officials are impressed and much more willing to help with the team. We also were able to be more organized as a team after the game. 

The week after we had another service in Arcoverde. There were plenty of people there and they heard an excellent gospel message from Pastor Claudio, a Pastor from our mother church, Koinonia in Recife. The day after, we left to head back to the states for four months. (Although we didn’t actually leave until a few days later due to a passport issue; read about that in this link). 

We arrived in the states on a Friday and left for Orlando from Chattanooga Sunday morning for a leadership conference with ABWE. It is always good to see our colleagues and we received some great training on time management out of the book “What’s Best Next.” We also saw my parents for a few days and then Sarah’s parents came down for the weekend as we went to Disney on Saturday with them and our friends Maicol and Mandy who are missionaries to Brazil and have a little girl Stella who is the same age as Anna Claire. They have also been working with me on getting the Servant Leaders program going. 

This past week our friend Alison has been here mainly to pick up equipment for the football team. We were able to see our friends from West Huntsville Baptist who had a donation of equipment. In addition to picking that up we planned for a football clinic we are going to do together in Recife next June. We are hoping to gather a few teams from the region to train as well as insert the gospel. I never thought football would open up so many doors for the gospel in Brazil. Please pray for this clinic and also for Alison as he is on his way back to Brazil with a few extra bags. He takes a bus out of Chattanooga tonight (Saturday night) to arrive in Orlando Sunday morning where he will catch his plane (that has an expensive extra bag policy). We have a bunch of equipment to get down to Arcoverde and so if you are planning any trips to Recife and don’t have any bags, let me know. :)

Well this month is busy! Sunday morning we are in a Sunday school; November 8th preaching in Montgomery; the 15th-20th I will be at a Next Generation Leader’s conference in Miami; the 29th we will be speaking at West Huntsville Baptist! Pray for us this month to be a blessing while we are here. If our finances continue as they are, we will not need to raise extra money to get back to Brazil; and so all the money that comes in while speaking on furlough will go to our building in Arcoverde. For our first phase of building we are looking at raising 120,000 US$! 

Thanks so much for your prayers this month. They were extra needed!

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah, our little first grader who is enjoying her cousins and shopping, and our fearless (and black-eyed) energetic 2 year old who loves the farm animals (we are living in Sarah’s parent’s renovated barn during furlough) and went right up to all the princesses and started talking as if they were old friends. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Balancing sovereignty and stupidity

Tomorrow we leave Brazil for the US. I said the same thing last Saturday. We have planned a four month furlough for a while and preparations have been made. I saw the Evelyn's Brazilian passport needed to be renewed a couple months ago and picked it up last week so we could travel on Sunday. Things went smoothly as we arrived at the airport three hours early just to be sure and to be able to sit together.

As we went straight to the line I pulled out my folder with all of our important documents. There are several passports in there as I had left a couple expired in there as well as Evelyn having one Brazilian and one American. As I looked at the dates I saw Evelyn's American passport had an expiration date of March 2015. I knew it right away and evidently my face showed it after frantically looking at all the others. Sarah knew something was wrong and I told her about the problem. She handled it well and positively as she thought there might still be a chance with her having another passport and both guardians with her. My stomach did circus loops as we waited a while before confirming what I knew was the inevitable. There was no way we could travel without a valid US Passport.

Defeated they sent us away to take a copy of it and said they felt bad. There we were in the airport on a Sunday night with a Monday Brazilian holiday looming for the next day, without much money in our Brazilian account and without our car that had driven away an hour earlier. Fortunately we have great colleagues and friends around us. I picked out my phone and called Dan Cook, our colleague who would surely be at church at that hour. But I didn't have enough credit on my phone. Fortunately Carlos, the Brazilian missionary that works with us has the same phone company as us and had left his phone on during church which he never does. He went to the airport right away to pick us up and our exhausted selves made it to the Cooks house where we have been resolving everything since.

Tuesday morning our appointment at the consulate went quickly as they were friendly and gracious in issuing an emergency passport. We were gone before nine in the morning. I then went to the airport and picked up Anna Claire's permanent Visa (which she had, just not the permanent card). When we arrived back at the house it took us until six at night to book the best price option with the soonest option. We leave Thursday at 3 in the afternoon and will arrive Friday around noon in Chattanooga via Miami and Atlanta.

During this whole process people constantly said God is in control. A popular phrase among everyone in this state is "if God wants" or wills. A definite true statement. But in all honesty it was my fault for not checking the passports in advance. So do we really need to place the blame on God for our stupidity? Can I pray for God's will and walk across a busy street in New York City hoping for the best?

God is certainly sovereign and can allow or prevent whatever He wants, but we also have responsibility for our actions in life. We must stay focused, be organized and follow God's will for us in the Scriptures. We must use our brain and exercise it as well. Planning is important as well as including God in the planning. Praise God when plans are successful. Then when they do not, you may want to check your own limitations as well as understand it may not be God's will. I try not to blame God for never making it in any professional sports (that was a joke). We live in a day where issues are polarized; try to focus on balance in life. God is Sovereign and we have responsibility (which sometimes reveals are stupidity).

*as an asterisk to this article; I am not too down on myself for this whole event. It certainly was entirely my fault, but mistakes do happen. I am not depressed or anything, but I am a little disappointed about my mistake. Our family has grown closer through this. Evelyn made a book for me Monday that's title was "I still love you," despite being very disappointed Sunday night.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Saturday night lights in the Sertão!

Saturday we had the first American football game in the "Sertão de Pernambuco" which is our area of Northeast Brazil. We played the Caruaru Wolves, a team from about two hours away. They have been playing for about two years and were on their third game. This was our first game.

Normally it takes a while to get the public involved, but we had around 1200 people at the game, which shocked people within the American football community here in Brazil. We garnered the support of city officials and businesses. The event ended up being a big success in which the team made money to buy equipment and be more organized, the community was introduced to the game of football, and the players were able to experience their first game.

Shockingly, the game started at least an hour late due to the late arrival of the Wolves. This stressed out a few people, but didn't seem to effect the environment once we started to play. It did give me the opportunity to pray with the team while we waited for the other team to arrive. It has been amazing how open they have been to allowing me to speak about God and pray.

The game was a close one between a team that looked bigger and more organized as far as equipment goes. We played with borrowed equipment which did not even equip our whole team. We ended up losing 18-8 after they had a pick six in the final quarter as we were driving for the win.

I was able to start the game as quarterback. We drove down the field right away, had a TD called back because of holding and then instead of a 4th down field goal we went for it and they intercepted the ball. We then allowed a safety on a kickoff after they had kicked a field goal and we were down 5-0 without the ball. When finally getting the ball back we started driving and then lost the ball on a bad snap (and bad recovery on my part).

In the second half we started driving and I ended up leaving due to injury. They had been hitting me late and out of bounds all game and the last one did something to my ribs. I was fine, but unable to continue and so our back up went into the game. We got our first touchdown and 2 pt conversion and were only down 12-8. Our defense made another big stop and we soon got the ball back with two minutes to go. Unfortunately our QB threw it downfield and it got picked off and run back for a TD. Down 18-8 we didn't do much more.

But we were proud of everything (and just a little sad about the victory). The other team realized we were not a joke, which is good and our team showed a lot of promise for only being our first game. The community has especially embraced us as the stadium filled up. We had way more fans than any soccer game ever draws. I am grateful that God has allowed me to use sports again to reach people for Christ. Last night in our Bible study (in which our non-religious head coach was present) I told them that football was not the most important thing in life; that we need to glorify God and seek Him. For sure I am looking forward to our four month furlough and a break from football, but I will look forward to getting back to it as well. I will let you know when we post the video from the game, but I hope you enjoy the pictures posted here.