Wednesday, January 28, 2009

from 2008 to 2009

thought i'd present you with a fun update of all the amazing times we have had in the last couple of months!

in December we had our BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING campaign, and distributed over 200 baskets containing a monthly supply of food to poor families in our city. 

PAUL & BROOKE arrived for the holidays, and we had great times together over the next month!

for CHRISTMAS my dad's entire family rented a ranch, and we spent 4 days together, enjoying the sun, ping pong, card games, soccer, row boat rides, food, food, & food! 

 for NEW YEAR, we had a fantastic and eventful day! My family has the tradition of running a 15k race downtown Sao Paulo with another 25,000 people on New Year's Eve. It was a grand adventure this year since a cousin of mine decided to join the race a couple of hours before the running started -- she had never trained before! an absolute Goncalves hoss!
after the race we showered, ate, cramped up, then went back downtown to welcome in 2009! there were 2.5 million people on the main avenue; a celebration similar to NY Time Square.
It was spectacular! we danced and jumped and sang along to the live shows until 4am. My cousin had much difficulty getting up/walking/sitting/standing the next day! hilarious. 

itu hosted the MISSIONARY CONFERENCE this year! we received 25 missionary families from all over brazil, and even a couple from Paraguay. it is a week when great bonds are formed between families who really "get" each other (an example in our life: the Blume family. keep reading). we had the blessing of receiving truth from Don McGlaughlin, who taught our classes for the 5 days. he inspired us. 

after the conference, my family  escaped our surroundings to spend some quality together. we enjoyed the beautiful mountains and vineyards of southern brazil! and of course, we ate like it was going out of style. it was, once again, an unforgettable few days with the stories, laughters, skip-bo games, and dreams for our futures. 
Paul and Brooke are moving to Korea this summer. we will miss them tremendously, and we eagerly await our next time together. 

well, after saying our good-byes to P&B, we crashed the BLUMES house for a week! we met this crazy cool family last year at the missionary conference, and they fell in love with us right away! (right, kevin?) it was an amazing time to visit, jump from crazy high waterfalls (Carys, the 10 year old, showed me how it was done. insane!), eat pastel, live with 6 children, and meet their perspective of ministry and life. (ps -- we are trying to get more pics from the CDs)

we returned to Itu and found our new little INTERN, Mary Lou, along with 6 living at our house. love it. ML is well... adjusting to the language and culture, but enjoying the journey. 
that reminds me, please keep praying for CAROL's return. she is planning to come back next week, and we can't wait!

oh yes, it was also my BIRTHDAY on the 24th! wow! what a night! i welcomed 27 years with 22 friends! (on the 23rd, the youth group had a surprise bday for me! so sweet)... we went to Sao Paulo, enjoyed a friend's wedding, then celebrated my birthday at a very loud, vivacious, delicious italian restaurant! amazing times and amazing friends!

and so here we are. maybe now i will feel [somewhat] caught up with blog world. 

mark and i are well. in love with our ministry and purpose we have found in Brazil. 
your prayers carry us thru. 
we love you very much and can't wait to be with you again! (visitors ALWAYS welcome)

greater things have yet to come -- 

Monday, January 26, 2009

a new role

I believe that with more contact in someone's life comes more opportunity to impact them with the gospel and the way of Christ, so I was glad to receive an invitation to be put on the weekly schedule of our beloved drug-rehab center.  I am now on site in "the Sitio" from Tuesday evening till mid morning on Wednesdays.  Mostly, this just means spending time with the guys.  On Wednesdays I lead a devotional with the guys. This started last week, so tomorrow will be my second shift.  I love hearing the stories of what God is doing in the lives of the guys there!  Marcinho, for example, lost his job, his home and his marriage to drugs.  He was one of the first into the Sitio, and will soon be graduating from the program.  He is full of joy for what the Lord has done in his life!  Not only has left the life of drugs, he has found new employment and begun to date his ex-wife again.  The two of them are now excited in the expectation of a date they have set to get married again and start a new life together!  This is the redeeming work of our Lord!

And a personal blessing- you cannot find a more exciting group of guys to lead a devotional
 with then these 9 guys who are living in the daily excitement of having been changed completely  by a life in Christ! They are a tremendous inspiration to me, please pray that I will be able to return the favor.  

By the way, Dad, you remember how you taught one of the guys there Sudoku and gave him your book to work on?  Here's the pic of the day -
It is now a favorite pastime there!  They pass it around and sign the ones they complete, and then copy the start of the puzzles onto blank papers to do them again.  And to avoid arguments over cheating, they ripped out and threw away the help sheets in the back! :)  Thanks for sharing the love, it has not been forgotten!  They asked me to send you and mom a hug.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

2008 = a deeper understanding and pursuit of community

if we were asked to sumarize our past semester in 1 word we would say COMMUNITY. Because of God we have crossed paths with people this last semester that have molded us, changed us, loved us, challenged us, and opened their lives to us. We have welcomed them into our home and into our hearts, understanding more than ever that this is the essence of our mission: to offer radical free love and pursue community. 

We picked Odair off the streeet on a rainy night after a long conversation about how he had decided to get clean and start a real, healthy journey. That same night we contacted a recovery center and took him into the blessing of the Sition Shalom. Even though Odair remained only for 2 months, our relationship with Sitio Shalom has developed, and Mark has become a weekly volunteer. As a social worker, Mark is naturally passionate about these programs and has much to offer the guys and the directors.


Our semester has been very influened by our interns, Amanda and Carol, who have integrated themselves beautifully into the rhythm of our lives and have exceeded any standard for interns we could have set. They impacted the youth group by connecting to each teenager. The four of us implemented a rotation  of Social Saturdays and Service Saturdays; where one week there would be a social activity, and the next we would serve together. We have watched the youth group merge into a community that seeks time together, accepts outsiders wi love and desires to serve together.



I should also mention that our home becomes some sort of hostile on the weekends. We receive between 4 and 8 friends from out of town, who come for food, conversations, prayers and fun. This group has become a family that is pursuing God and truth and spreading the good news of love.



We were also involved with the married couples ministry this semester. It is a ministry that we enjoy because we are the youngest couple, and it gives us a chance to be with a different, more experienced crowd.





We rejoiced with 2 very special people in our lives that proclaimed their faith in Christ publicly: Bruninho, who we met thru the first Highland Campaing in 2000; and Myuwa, who came to church thru Yeski, and English school owned by a couple of our church memebers.




This fall has also been marked by conferences that have helped us mold and mature our ideas and philosophy of minitry. Lou Secker offered a leadership retreat for the Itu church leadership, Chris Frizzel brought the Itu church a wonderful seminar on unity in the body of Christ, a group of Continent of Great Cities women treated all missionary women and wives to an enriching and restorative week of rest and encouragement. Mark and I and a few of four friends also drove south to participate in an Alpha Course Conference, a great evangelism tool developed in England and Just translated into Portuguese this year.



Mark and I were blessed by our American community as well. We received several visitors and family members that came to meet and love our world. Many came and blessed the church with their gifts and offerings. April, a cousin from Seattle, heard we were gathering clothes for Sitio Shalom, so she brought a bag full of men clothing. Rolando Diaz, a Cuban-Ameircan artist friend of ours, wanted to help the church with the building construction, so he came and did several art shows and all proceeds went to the building fun.



What does next semester hold?

Mark and I will participate in several youth camps and conferences as leaders of the teenagers all around Brazil.

We will be hosting two interns, one as a returnee, and the other fresh out of college.

We will begin a young married and engaged couples group.

We will be planning and hosting a bilingual youth camp, our first medical campaign, the building’s innauguration, and Praise Festival in June/July

We pray that the community around us will continue to grow in depth and numbers. 

greater things have yet to come -- 


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

sign of life

yes, we are alive. 

lots and lots of stories and updates and adventures. 

will blog soon.