Friday, August 29, 2008

Sitio Shalom

It is nice to be able to write about our various ministries here for all to read... but I really wish I could take you to Sitio Shalom (Shalom Farm). This is the drug and alcohol rehab center we came into contact with alongside our new friend Odair who has been a resident there for the past 26 days.

Side note - in addition to counting days he's been in the program, he also counts the number of times he has eaten at the Sitio.

Last Saturday the Sitio became a place for our youth group to put the love of Christ into practice. In a caravan of two cars and one VW bus we rolled into the Sitio and the kids took on 3 hours of gardening. Odair spent much of the time with us so our group got to know him and a couple of the other residents as well (who really need the extra attention and friendship). As a group we all got to hear a bit of Odair's story as he went into a spontanious "thank you"speach. The most encouraging part to me has been how many of our kids have come to us since the visit eager to plan another trip out! In fact last night at youth group when we asked what were three great things from the past week they all exclaimed, "Sitio Shalom!" It is wonderful to see Christianity in action as a lifestyle instead of a study!

Please pray for Odair's continued recovery in Sitio Shalom. This has been a very dificult week for him. He was ready to quit and just wanting to go out and get drunk Tuesday night. I drove out to talk with him and we had a long heart-to-heart. One difficulty for him was that he has not had short term goals to celabrate and to feel a sence of success. We are working on that now. The first was, stay clean one more week, and I'll set up with your mom to drive her out here for a visit. It has been seven years since Odair's mom has seen him not living on the street and doing drugs. Thank you for keeping him in your prayers!

Okay, sorry for recycling this old picture of us with Odair! I will try to get some of the pics that others took of the service day and add some color to this blog soon!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

surgery : success! part 2

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you can keep up with Itu thru these blogs, too!



surgery : success!

Mark had his surgery Friday afternoon. 
It was a surprisingly long wait... and they informed me i could not be in the room with him... so my dad came to Campinas with me, and we spent some amazing father-daughter time while we waited for visitation hours. 

Can i just say we had NO IDEA what to expect? wow. 
i got to the room expecting to see him in his jeans and Buckeye t-shirt...
oh but he had the whole humiliating hospital robe and IV tower! we both laughed for a good 10 minutes! i only had a couple of hours that i could be there, so we watched The Office on our laptop, went down to the cafeteria for a soda (he put jeans on for that), and hung out on the varanda to watch city lights. 

and of course, a la Kaiser, we left the hospital on Saturday morning, headed straight to the church leadership retreat, and from there went straight to a youth pizza party that night! 
poor Mark, he was in pain! but such a trooper! we left the party very early (11:00pm) and rested a lot. 

the pain is now gone! and he is even driving himself everywhere!

ministry is going well. please pray for our interns as they also engage in God's work here. 

much love 

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

more on the crazy long walk

and the stories continue... 

one thing we did DAILY during our walk was EAT SUGAR CANE! yum! 
it's possible that many of you gringos have no idea what i am talking about... or what this would look like. there are some photos, worry not. 

mark carried along a ginormous machete on the walk. as big as a child's leg. he'd swing that thing along, and every time i'd mention the desire to have some sugar cane,  he'd whip it into place and start chopping away at the plantations. (we walked thru sugar cane farms most days!) 
towards the end of our insane journey, my jaw became very tired... chomping on canes of hard sugar ain't an easy job, let me tell you. 
so my dear husband had a splended idea!: he would peel the cane, then cut bite-size pieces for his wife (awwwww)... tricky stuff, when you think about it: to hold sugar cane in your hand and trust your ability with a machete! 

genious move: bite-size piece sugar cane are a miracle for us TMJ patients! 
not-so-genious-move: cutting your index finger with a machete! 

so off we go to the emergency room on our LAST DAY !
4 stitches later, we are back on the road for the final 10 miles of our journey! (yes, he continued walking after the brutal cut!) 

we went for a cut-check-up last week and, low and behold, mark cut his tendon and sensory nerve... i thought the lack of sensation and movement was due to swelling, oh but no!

so he will have surgery on friday. yes, surgery! can you believe it?? all because my jaw was sore after 10 days of sugar cane! ... what a man! 

pics that tell the story:

pre-surgery cast

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

please pray for our friends!

hello to our readers!

we have a special prayer request today. 

i have a very close friend from college - her name is Amy. 
this past year has been a rough year her and her husband (mike): he was stationed in Iraq, and she was finishing Law School and preparing for the BAR exam. 
they are now moving to California, where he is stationed for the next few years. 

i just got an email from her telling us that the van that was moving EVERYTHING they owned caught on fire and EVERYTHING was burned down! all of it. furniture, pictures, letters from Mike while in Iraq, family quilts, family China, etc. 

i want to ask you to please pray for Amy & Mike. 
their blog is a link on our page -- under "Mike and Amy" blogspot.

thank you for your compassion. 

Friday, August 8, 2008

Exciting days

Many of you know of Bruninho.

back in 2001, i lead a small group of ACU friends on a short mission trip to BR. 
we worked with the orphanage, and lead a VBS with their kids and from the community. 
we went to several public schools during the week, talking to the students and inviting them to come to VBS. 

then we met Bruninho. he was a short 12 year old who became very attached to our campaign group. he would guide us around town for lunch, introduce us to all his friends at school, and at the end of the day we'd take him home. a very small, poor, far away shack that he and his family lived in. 

i fell in love with Bruninho. he has the most precious smile, a kind spirit, and a victorious character. mark and i started helping him with some basic necessities - dental care, english classes, and big dreams for his life. we wanted to do so much more, but we lived so far away... 

every summer that i was home from college, or when mark and i came on campaigns, he was there! involved, learning and eager for more. 
when we moved to Brazil last September, we were so glad to be closer to him. 
Bruninho is now 19 years old, 2nd year of business school, full-time employee at a tech support company, and very good in English! He plans on going to CANADA at the end of the year for a month to practice his fluency... CANADA! 
we have watched God transform his life in so many ways. 

and this past weekend was the biggest way yet. 
Bruninho decided to publicly declare his faith in Christ and thru baptism! he came to our home a week before, and shared his faith, and as i listened to his heart pour out before God, i was taken back to 2001... and the short 12 year old boy... and all the potential we saw in him, and knowing that God would bless him, and praying over him for 7 years... 

God is moving mountains around us in very visible ways. 
and we can't believe we are a part of this process! 

and you are a part of this, too. 


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Amazing Providence

The last few days have been pretty incredible, and Pictured. They have brought some great landmarks in this journey of life and faith and service and seeking. But difficult to fit into a blog. :)  Here's a try though - First off, Friday night we were waiting outside of a little diner for some old high school friends of Ali's that we had arranged to meet up with. A man walks up to us and starts spilling out his story starting with his recent suicide attempt in a grocery store that made the paper. His name is Odair, he's 24 years old, addicted to drugs, and has been living on the street for quite a while. There wasn't much to say to Odair's intro other than, "Well... you hungry?" So we had one more for dinner.

Barbara, Odair, Mark and Ali

As we talked we asked Odair, 'So, what are you really after?' He claimed that what he most wanted was a rehab program that he could get into. We talked for a bit to get an idea of how real this claim was - 'You sure??  Rehab is rough!  I could go to work on that, but there's no point if you don't really want it...' - He insisted that he wanted to change, and so the calling began.

So about the providential- Friday was the day I started working on developing the purpose statement and objectives of the program for the unemployed project that has been under discussion. Also a wonderful girl named Barbara was visiting us on a break from a seminary up north. Earlier that day Barbara had been telling us about a residential rehab clinic in a neighboring city that might be a good contact for us in the future. Suddenly it was the future. :)

After about 20 minutes of calls, Barbara had the director of the program on his cell and had gotten a green light on Odair entering the program.  The plan was for him to enter the program the next day, so after dinner we went to our place, and Odair took a shower and slept the night on our sofa.

Saturday morning we called to confirm that we could take Odair to his new home and we learned that he could go, but only after taking a TB and HIV test.  He also needed a police report.  There was no way to do all this Saturday so I told Odair he would have to take care of himself 'till Monday morning.  So, Odair had breakfast with us, then was off on his way.  We didn't know if we would see him again or not.

Monday morning came and Odair didn't disappoint!  He was there and ready at 8:30 .  In a miracle of the social health care system (no joke), we encountered a manager who changed the blood sample collection scheme to accommodate Odair that day, and and we experienced an unthinkably empty waiting room that packed out with other patients arriving right after I was attended to.

Amazed that the Lord had seen us through this process in a single day, we jumped in our car with Odair and headed off to the rehab facility.  Once we arrived we were amazed!  The location was perfect (middle of nowhere, with nothing to run away to) and the director was inspiring.  He is a pastor who is passionate about the power of the Lord to restore the broken.  

The program started about 3 months ago, and is what I would dream of our program for the unemployed becoming.  Beyond this, they are waiting on the Lord in expectation of the further help they need, and I am pleading that the Lord would help me find how to live out this vision of ministry.

How wonderful is this God of ours?!  I was helping Odair, but in the end God was leading me straight into what I had been seeking from Him.  It didn't come in the form I was expecting it or planing it.  Now I am praying about how I can serve and help further establish this existing program.  I will be talking further with the director there, Loris, tomorrow.  Please pray that the Lord will continue to guide this development!  Also pray for Odair, please!  He needs courage to stick with this program, and a spiritual awakening for true healing and a financial sponsor for the program he is in.

Okay, so I try to have a "short blog policy," (looking out for you Bobby Haring, the pic is for you) but some blessings don't fit as well as others.  Thanks for reading and sharing our joy with us!

Friday, August 1, 2008

videos say it best

first of several  videos we plan on posting... 
since they take about 30 min to upload, please be patient. 

this was lunch on day #6
and also notice that i am quite tired... as in, finding it difficult to keep a stream of thought! ahah!