Sunday, November 28, 2010

Louv'Arte - An event of worship through art.

One of the guys who lives in our home and works as a partner with Ali and I in our ministry is Carioca. Here's his pic. He is a marketing professional who was searching for a way to live out his faith in a real way when he came to our house. Now he lives with us and is a huge important part of our ministry team.

Carioca recently headed up an event in our church called Louv'Arte. This event was all about worship in community through the expression of creative gifts. Sixteen artists came together and used their artistic talents in a beautiful mixture of art through dance, sculpting, painting, music (from classic violin, to contemporary worship, to Italian opera), culinary creation, crochet and poetry. We had participants that ranged from 15 to over 80 years old. Members of our church, famous Itu artist Paulo Lara, famous Cuban American artist and friend of ours Rolando Diaz, and professional dancer Jackie Beth Shilcutt (who lives with us too at the moment - all part of our amazing life!) all came to get in on the action.

It was incredible and inspiring! God was praised in wonderful communal celebration. Check out these pics.

David starts the night off with sounds of classic violin

Ismael offers artful creations from his culinary talent

Heidi uses craft skills to create beautiful gifts

Simone's poetry corner

Ricardo works on his sculpture entitled "Original Sin."

Rolando Diaz paints a piece on worship in dance inspired by the dancing of Jackie Beth.

Worship through song by Deborah.

Pedro and Heloisa work on sketch pieces, which include subjects from our lunch for the homeless (I'm really proud of these kids!)

Walkeria works on a humorous self portrait depicting herself and her husband.

Paulo Lara painting a work for our church

While artists perform, participants are invited to add to a mural with various expressions of worship.

The event was a great bonding experience for our church members too. Doing what you love together in worship is powerful, fun, exciting... just not easy to describe!

Thank you God for the variety of gifts you have blessed us with. May our use of these gifts always be a pleasing offering to You.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Ali is currenlty in the middle of an online masters program from Rochester Christian Colege. One of her recent assignments was to describe her ministry context. I'd love for you to read it, so I've posted it below. Enjoy.

It’s a small house, smaller than one might imagine after hearing about the movement going on inside. The metal farm bell hangs next to the closed gate and ivy wall, and when it’s rung the entire neighborhood knows someone has arrived. The house sits at the back of a lot four times its size, and has the built area of approximately 600 square feet, which include 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, 2 bathrooms, and a garage (the guys’ room). There is a large front yard (Brazilian standards), with 7 different fruit trees, an attempt at a garden (plans in the works), and a pergolado (a wooden structure, similar to a gazebo, but square). The pergolado is an external extension of the house, and serves as the eating area, nap area (in the hammock), and a place where life-changing conversations hover over the leaves of the trees, waiting for the next companions to have a seat.

There are six of us that live here. Yes, six: Mark (my husband), Barbara, Brandon, Carioca, Manu, and myself. We call ourselves a “non-nuclear family”. Mark and I have a room, and Barbara has her own room, but she has to share the bathroom. The guys have made the garage into a very comfortable habitat for 4. The living room couch often hosts 2-3 friends on the weekends. Twice a week (Thursdays and Fridays) we receive homeless and youth, each night between 30-40 beautiful people come to share life. Our home hosts life. We are couched in between the local church building we serve with, and the bus station, and both receive very different crowds. One caters to the middle class, the other to the low income. One has a parking lot for the expensive cars that park once a week, the other welcomes the sojourners dependent on public transportation. One has the mission to offer donations from their excess, the other is dependent on the city’s low budget to function. And we chose this location on purpose: to bring the rude and the crude realities to encounter each other over a meal, sitting at the same table, dancing to the same music, wondering about the same questions, struggling with the same disconnection. This home invites you to open your wings.

As we’ve listened to our friends share their first impressions about entering our home, many details stand out in their memories: the surplus of sleeping bags, always anticipating the unknown visitor; the Kombi VW bus, to carry the most amount of people; the messy scribbled walls, used to visualize new ideas and dreams; the lack of TV, to emphasize human interaction and connection; the music, used to awaken, to inspire, to calm, to unite. All of these items (or lack there of) are symbolic of the identity we want to carry, they are ways we want to express our calling to live simple and communal life.

But there is one common aspect to every room of the house that I find the most symbolic of the life style we’ve chosen. Every cabinet, every closet has no doors. Our kitchen pantry is wide open, as well as our dishes and appliances clearly exposed. Our clothes hang with no protection (often slightly dirty from the breeze bringing in dust), and are surprisingly unissex. Our toiletries are on open shelves (Carioca had 3 tooth brushes chewed up by the dogs last month!) and available to whomever is using the bathroom. Our shoes hang on walls, and we use the first pair of flip flops we can reach. The front door is never locked.

We want to question what there really is to protect in this world. We want people to know that what is available in the house, is available to them. We want to expose our lack of organization in a way that helps people understand they don’t have to have it all together and spotless and sterile to come and contribute to this home. And yes, sometimes it’s frustrating, and it’s messy, and it’s crowded, and it’s cluttered (because we receive all the donations to pass on), and the grass grows too tall (literally), and this is when we have to count on other’s abilities and availabilities to help us clean and eliminate and simplify and refresh.

This is our house. This is our home. This is my context, creating the synergy that inspires me and others.