Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Bits December

Party hardy! Does anyone else say that when it is time for a good party? Brazil is the party capital of the world (don't quote me on that). They love getting together here and this month has been more laid back (well, the second half of the month) and we have had more time to spend just sitting around with people. Last week former english conversation friends came over for the morning and lunch. They both study out of town and so it was good to catch up with them.

On both Christmas Eve and Christmas night along with later on tonight we have gotten together with friends over a meal. Usually the holidays are the hardest to be away from home, but we feel like this year has been really special in Arcoverde. We have so many good friends and were excited to celebrate in our home with all our traditional fixings of decorations and food. As our family reflected this morning on this past year we had so much to talk about. This year we had a blast!

We had a Christmas dinner the Sunday before Christmas. It was a big blessing having everyone together, eating, singing and hearing from the Word. The kids did a little presentation and then others did special music. I even played my trumpet. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

This last Sunday we had baptism service in the morning at a place with a pool. We talked about baptism being symbolic of our decision to be a disciples of Jesus Christ and then what that looks like. We baptized five including Anna Claire. She was really excited about it and of course we are proud of her as well.

The first day of this month we inaugurated our upstairs for our children's ministry! It was amazing. We had a bunch of kids there and they have loved it ever since. They say it is like children's day every Sunday night! It is also a big relief to be done with overseeing construction!

One exciting thing that happened to our family this month was that Sarah's parents bottled their famous white barbecue sauce.  Have you ever wished you had an idea that could go on Shark Tank? This family likes that show and so it is almost like we have an idea that could go big and so it will be interesting to watch the process.

Pray for some of our goals over the next year of growth in Tupanatinga, growth of our small groups and pray for the marriages in our church. When we went to Fortaleza last month we bought a bunch of books for counseling. Many of them are little books that help on different subjects. We are praying that people would read these books this year and work on spiritual projects in their lives.
Thank you all for your love and prayers and support. Each month we have been in the black as far as our account goes and sometimes I wonder how! Basically it boils down to a lot of faithful givers and then surprise amounts that randomly come in; which of course we know are not random. We are extremely blessed to live our lives here serving the Lord. Sometimes we are discouraged and imagine what a life in the states would look like, but it usually passes quickly as we realize how blessed we are to live here and do what God has for us here.

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah and our girl headed to camp next week (no, it isn't snow camp), and our newly baptized Anna Claire.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Bits November

Thanksgiving lunch with Roger and Marcy Smith

Ho Ho Ho; almost. Crazy how we decorated our tree already signaling another Christmas arrival and year ending. Next year is 2020! Crazy. Sunday we will have our inauguration of our second floor Koinolandia, which links Koinonia, our church name, and landia which is kind of like the end of Greenland, Iceland or Finland…. To get Koinolandia our floor for kids. It is complete with a town look where each classroom is a shop or part of the town and a town square in the middle that is basically a park. Our chapel is the big room where we will have kid’s church, then there is a sweets shop, construction store, pet shop (Anna Claire’s favorite) and bakery. The kids are going to love it! 

This month we also inaugurated our rented building in Tupanatinga. We had a crowd from Arcoverde go and there were plenty of guests from Tupanatinga. Pray that some of those guests will continue to attend! One has come back a couple weeks since the inauguration. We have been doing outreach with English there and that has been neat. 

This month we all went with Sarah to her Master’s class. The drive is about ten hours and we took advantage of Fortaleza to visit the great beach and an awesome water park. We all had a good time and it was a great break for us from the normal routine. I was able to sit in on Sarah’s class as well. Counseling is a very practical course to take for Sarah and for me to be around as well! Whether you or I like it or not, people ask for advice and counsel. We need to be prepared to give them good biblical counsel! 

Amazing view of the Northeast
Sarah spoke to the women about prayer this last Wednesday as they had their monthly prayer night. The women’s discipleship groups are going strong and they are not wanting any Christmas (summer) breaks. The men’s group rejected one as well; so those are good signs that the groups have been meaningful. Pray that out of them leaders will be developed. 

Decorating for Christmas
We hope that your holiday time is full of peace and love! We have great reason as Christians for great joy! May we all focus on Christ this season! God bless!

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah, my Christmas ballerina, and our veterinarian who thought her cat had vanished when we were gone for a week! 

Friday, November 1, 2019

Bits October

Music for children's day!

Children’s Day was a big event at our church again this month. October 12th is aimed at pleasing the kids; actually most schools have events the whole week to celebrate. We had an event that afternoon and had a good amount of kids running around all afternoon and evening. We had a theater group from the church in Recife come and our church people put in a lot of work. We had a great time and even saw some neighborhood kids present. 

This month we planted trees in our neighborhood with some of our neighbors. I try to be involved as I can in the neighborhood so that people will feel more comfortable with us being there. Lord willing we will see them start coming to church. It is a long process though as most are wealthy catholics. They have been fine and friendly but are very reserved about coming to a service. Fortunately we have had lots of opportunities to get to know them. I believe that slowly there will be a greater acceptance. One influential neighbor tells others about us and promises me he will come to church that Sunday almost every time I interact with him but is yet to come. I bet he has made ten promises to attend. 

Service in Tupanatinga
This next month we are going to have an inauguration service for the church in Tupanatinga. They were waiting to get the banner ready to put up until they had an official service. I think they really want an opportunity to invite friends and family. We have a great solid core group. Pray that God will use them to win their friends and family to Christ. I see they have a great desire for that but the field is hard. 

This month we are also driving to Sarah’s master’s class as a family. It is about a 12 hour trip, which seems a little harder than an equally timed trip in the states; mainly because the roads and cars are not as good. We are taking the girls to a big water park they have there (yeah, summer is here and it is hot). We will get a chance to see where Sarah’s classes are, take some books home for our resource center and counseling ministry and then have some family time as well. 

Sarah was one of the main organizers for a baby shower
We have done some counseling this month as well. Sarah is learning a lot in her classes and we see how effective this ministry can be. Pray less people in our church need counseling! Actually, I am kind of serious because our discipleship groups have great potential for spiritual growth that can help avoid some of these crisis that happen. Right now we have about 15 men and 12 women involved in groups but we are hoping these numbers grow for next year and we are deciding on how we want to structure them. 

Anna Claire loved the paddle boats
Partners have been key for us here. Knowing how many people pray and support us as well as all the teams that have come down and been influential here. We have a small team coming next week to check out the work for their trip next summer with a bigger group. Our co-workers Roger and Marcy Smith who have been here all along, but been much more present in the last year and a half, are great mentors for us in missionary life and work. All the work we all have put in has seen fruit and we get to see it up close even though we are just a fraction of all the work it takes to have a ministry here. Thank you for your service! 

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah and my ballet girl (Evie started ballet again last week) and my little painter (Anna Claire was helping paint yesterday on our second floor which is almost finished and ready to use! 
We enjoyed a trip to visit our missionaries in Triunfo, that also has some tourist things to do! 

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Bits September

My girls are stuck watching the series When Calls the Heart that is one of those love series from the early 1900’s. The setting is Hope Valley. Hope has been a theme for us lately here. As we preach through Romans we often talk about Biblical hope (not an uncertain longing, but a certain future) and how God will one day complete the good work He is doing in us. Hope is a key word in counseling as well. As Sarah studies more and more and we counsel a little more as well we are seeing just how key that is. After counseling recently Sarah was so excited to say the counselee had reached that point of having hope. Just a couple weeks ago we were at a point with little hope. 

The women had a mid week prayer meeting this month and had almost 30 present! They were pretty excited and said it went very well. They plan on doing those once a month or so. Even the men have gotten on this band wagon. We have had a couple of these times together, although ours is not as focused on prayer. Both men and women combine the discipleship groups on these days. After the last one we added a couple more men to the groups. On a weekly basis we focus on a chapter of the Bible (going through books like James or I John) and talk about what we learn and how it applies to our lives. We have a group of younger guys and decided to do Story of Hope with them. That seems to be going well. 

The Tupanatinga group is alive and well. They are doing discipleship groups on their own during the week. The time we used before (right before the service on Saturdays) I decided to do an outreach using English. We have some contacts from when the big American group went and have reached out to them. Pray that some of those contacts will be disciples of Jesus soon! 

Next week I get to go teach at Word of Life Recife on missions in Northeast Brazil. I believe there are around 20 students there and I am excited to be able to dream with them about their future as well as in some way influence how they can be involved in the future. I am using material from my college professor as well as from the Servant Leaders Missions Academy. This reminds me! Next year the Missions Academy will be in Equador July 25- August 3. We have spots open for college age or young adults that have an interest in missions! It is a great time as well as lots of learning and students could possibly even earn college credits for going! If you have someone interested, or are interested yourself, please let me know and I can send you the flyer. 

Your prayers are a blessing to us and we know that our ministry would not exist without such great and faithful partners! God bless!

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah and my ten year old Evie (Sept 20) who had a wonderful American style birthday party with eight of her friends and my cat loving, jewelry adoring, energy spending Anna Claire. 

Friday, August 30, 2019

Bits August

On Saturdays this month we have been busy going to Tupanatinga to work on the space we rented. We prepped for painting one week, painted the next and the following week we finished painting and worked on pallet wall with a cross. This week we should be just going for a study and service. We have had some visitors in the new building, but we really need to get out and invite more. For now I am really happy with the few we have had as they have been very faithful for more than two years now. I think I would definitely rather have a couple faithful people seeking to be solid disciples than a dozen members just wanting to be called a church member. 

 Our finishing work on the upstairs is in full swing and we hope to be using it in the next couple of months. Our people have been faithful to give and so far the work has not had to stop. We are really looking forward to having the space for the kid’s ministries. We also started Sunday School this month and we are going through the Roots of Faith OT.

Our discipleship groups are going well. We read the same chapter of the Bible for a week and then gather to discuss it. We don’t really have enough time for all the groups we could have, mainly cause most people can only meet at night and our nights are limited (at least we have decided not to load every night with activities. We have services in Tupanatinga on Saturdays, Arcoverde on Sundays and so we left Wednesday and Thursday for discipleship group nights. I have two groups on Thursday evening, one at 5 and one at 7. Our colleagues Roger and Marcy have groups as well (Marcy is about to start her own as she has been with Sarah). 

We have looked at this year as a year to focus on people’s spiritual growth rather than making a big evangelism push. It has been good, but also sad sometimes. Some people don’t always want to grow; they are happy with where they are at or satisfied with just attending church and checking off their church attendance box for the week. Others fall away for some reason. As much as we wish we could just have microwave ready mature Christians that pop out quickly, the reality is that maturity is a painful, long process. We are preaching through Romans this year and are now on chapter 8 in the chapters on sanctification. Pray that our church will catch the vision to work hard on their sanctification! 

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah and the girls who are on their 12th day of school! Evelyn is focused, diligent and finishing her school days before our perfectionist second born who has a higher amount of papers to do in first grade than she had in kindergarten. Our house also turned into a farm as we were give a cat and four chicks!  

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Bits July

Sarah and Sarah

It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks. We have someone here, Sarah Rogers, who is deciding on her future in missions. We met her in Germany at the Missions Academy which was for young people interested in missions. She has been staying with us to see what it is like here in Brazil and to see about plugging into ministry here. Pray for her as she understands God’s will for her and the next steps in her missions journey. She has been a great servant here the last couple of weeks!

The mission team with some from our church
On the 23rd a group from Calvary Church in Raleigh, North Carolina arrived. Their schedule was loaded! I appreciated their willingness to do everything I put them up to! The first three nights were English camp. We have lots of good contacts in the Arcoverde English world and this event is always a highlight for everyone mainly because they can all communicate. There is no curriculum, just conversation, and so the Brazilians get to hear about what the U.S. is like and the Americans can find out more about Brazil. There are also opportunities to share the gospel. 

Musicians from the concert
From Wednesday through Friday, we made the trek to Tupanatinga. Because of the time of the year (rainy), holes have opened up and so it took us almost an hour and a half both ways. We visited schools, sang, presented the American culture and presented the gospel. Some of the students later went to the service on Friday night at the church that was launched there. We have been meeting in homes but now we have rented a small place to hold services. Saturday night will be our first service in the new building. Pray for this group that God would bless them. 

Our church service in Tupanatinga!
We had a youth event on Saturday afternoon, a concert Saturday night and a women’s event on Sunday afternoon before our regular Sunday night service. Our days were packed and we had a great time. When our partners can see Arcoverde and Tupanatinga and meet our people, our whole ministry becomes so much more real to them. These have proved to be great opportunities for us. 

This month we will be launching Sunday school right before the Sunday evening services. We will be teaching through Roots of Faith, which is a very in-depth look through fifty main events in the Old Testament. Our discipleship groups are going well, as well as our services. Thanks so much for your prayers and support!

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah, my translator Evelyn and my cat lover Anna Claire who had a kitten for a couple days again this month, but it ran away; she was super sad. 

Evelyn at Catimbau National Park

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Bits June

Our small group in Tupanatinga

Small groups have been a main focus since our return. Currently David has three groups in Tupanatinga with three other men in each of them. Sarah has one with 6-7 women. We have been encouraged at times and slightly disappointed at other times in relation to these groups. We realize that some are not ready for a bigger commitment and others excel in these growth groups. We study the Bible and look to apply it to our lives. Ideally we read the same passage of Scripture daily for a week to discuss it at our meeting. Our discussions have gone well for the most part but we could be more faithful in the reading and putting it into action.

Our craft table
At the beginning of June I committed to the group in Tupanatinga that I would go every Saturday to have our Bible study. We also started small groups with them. They were proactive with these from the beginning! It was neat to see them get excited as I talked about our goals for the small groups including them being able to run the studies on their own. I want to at least be present for a few weeks before they take them on during the week. While I would love to have a permanent location for this group (I recently sent a project to ABWE that projected it would cost $35,000 dollars to buy land and build a church), we are looking into renting a place for around $150 a month. We have challenged the group on contributing to this and are excited about it working out. Right now we are waiting for the owner of the building to show it to one more person that was in front of us. 
Tupanatinga group

In April’s bits I mentioned how we had challenged the Arcoverde church towards giving to finish the upstairs for our kid’s, teenagers and other class space. It took them a couple weeks to get going but they have been really creative. The women have worked on crafts that have been bring in money. We have also had good offerings that have had us start on the work that needs to be done. Right now the walls are being plastered and the bathrooms are about to get the cement and tile work done on them this week. 

We enjoy having people to our house for pizza
This month is a big month for visitors. We met Sarah Rogers while we were in Germany. She just finished college and is interested in missions. She is coming for three weeks to see the work here! Please pray for her trip. She will be here while the mission team from Calvary Church in Raleigh is here. That will be a big week for us (23rd to the 30th). Please pray that the youth group will get a good boost as well as the church group in Tupanatinga! 

It is neat to see all the fun things our friends and family are doing during the summer months! Have fun and please enjoy your family! 

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah, and our two little girls who upon finishing school for the summer proceeded to play school all day for 2-3 days… they have now moved on to Polly’s, arts and crafts and asking for friends to come over. Evie finished third grade and Anna Claire finished kindergarten


Friday, May 31, 2019

Bits May

Greetings to you from a three person Carrel household! Yes, we are down one here in Brazil! The most important one as well! Sarah is in Fortaleza for her Biblical Counseling module. I am here with the girls trying to survive. (please send peanut butter!) 

This month we went on a trip we hope to never forget. I wrote last month about the opportunity to go to Germany for a missions academy with Servant Leaders. We imagined it would be a great trip, but our imagination might have been too little. On the last night in Germany I asked the girls the favorite part of the trip. They both said being with both sets of their grandparents for a couple weeks (to be fair and honest, Anna Claire’s first favorite thing was all the ice cream (gelato) that she ate all week). Both Sarah’s and my parents had a wonderful time and we were so grateful for that).

While we did get to do a good bit of sightseeing, the main event was the missions academy. The days generally started at 8:15 and went until ten at night, although we ducked out early a couple times. Sarah and I both learned a good bit and were able to have some great discussions with students. I was able to teach on “Reaching your community with the whole gospel.” Then I moderated a panel discussion having to do with missionaries and their local churches. I also co-led a small group with afternoon discussion times. There were young people from Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Equador, Iran, Ukraine, Ireland, Germany, and a few different states in the US. We had quite a variety of youth and all were interested in missions. Please pray about two girls who are interested in doing an internship with us in Brazil. We are working and praying about the details. 

This month we have also started small Bible study groups. These have to do with some training that Sarah received while in the states. We are starting to implement them and so far happy about what we have seen. Please pray that we would have leaders grow out of these groups. 

In July we will have a group from Raleigh come down to work with youth, women and help with our plant in Tupanatinga. We have looked at a couple buildings to rent or use for weekly Saturday night worship services. Please pray for these details. Bia has arranged for us to be in three different schools morning and afternoon for three days (6 separate presentations for full school assemblies). Please pray right now that these will be effective and will get their families out to the town square for the Friday night grand finale. 

For now, pray Evelyn and Anna Claire don’t starve to death on my watch (I am just kidding). Pray for our small groups and Tupanatinga. Pray for unity. Pray for the two possible interns. 

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah, my little travelers who enjoyed their almost daily gelato with both sets of grandparents, along with a park with a zip line and a boat with a slide on it. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Bits April

This month has focused on settling in on the ministries on which we will be focusing. We have some of our discipleship groups structured and they start tonight and Thursday night. Our focus this year will be spiritual growth of the members we already have at the church. We have some outreach events scheduled, but do not really have outreach on the weekly schedule. One main reason for this is that we already are getting up to fifteen visitors per week! If we do not strengthen our most faithful members we most likely will be a church with a rotating membership. 

Last week we hosted a Biblical Counseling course for leaders of local churches. We had several pastors participating and then some of our members. Over thirty people participated during the week and it went very smoothly. Part of our vision for Cetak (our training center here) are courses that are different and helpful to the community. This course went really well for our vision in the community. 
The counseling class
 So during the month of May we are taking a big trip. Servant Leaders has been planning a Missions Academy for youth to have an intensive and practical ten days of classes where they hear about missions and church planting and get to see it in action. In a couple years they want it to be in Brazil and so they asked us to go to the first one and see how it is run. This year it is in Germany. Sarah and I wanted to go together and after checking out the options, the best one was to get two sets of grandparents to watch the girls while we are at the Academy. We are going a couple days early and flying into Paris to sightsee. Although the trip is primarily a ministry trip, we are using personal funds for it, just to lighten up that it is a really cool opportunity for us and seeing the world. Please pray for our travels from May 13-28 and that there will be young people called to the field as a result of the Academy. I am teaching one section and we are mentoring in small groups as well.

Please pray for our small groups as they get started. Please pray for our weekly services to start soon in Tupanatinga. At this point we are borrowing a small space from someone’s relative there. We are going to clean it up, but it will be temporary. We are still praying about either building or renting another space and for the right timing for that. It is probably around a forty thousand dollar project to buy land and build a church building. 

Speaking of building, we have challenged our church family to be involved in completing our upstairs that has the brick structure but needs the finish work on the walls and floor, including electric. They are already putting their heads together for how we can come up with the money. 
Our boss Cal teaching in Tupanatinga

Praise the Lord for all the needs He has supplied. We feel unbelievably blessed. Thank you for all your prayers!
The girls for Easter breakfast

All for HIS glory,
David, Sarah and my brickmason helper that helped me fill in some cement around the church, and my big six year old who had a birthday this past month!