Saturday, November 5, 2011

Workin away

We've started a non-profit that has started taking over our lives!
We have put new plumbing in, ripped out the old sewer system, and now we're putting our new electric lines into the houses which will receive guys coming out of drug rehab. Our church has been a huge help! This week I got help from João Ortiz, Edson and João Victor to install the conduits for electricity, Carlão to dig for the new sewer lines.

As a means of raising funds our guys to go through rehab we have started Chance Bags. The very cool Chance Bags site was set up for us by our friend Deborah.
We just finished and sent off our second batch of these bags. They are going to be sold at ACU, the ArtReach fair in Austin, and Midland Christian Schools store.

One of the cool things about this project is how it has involved those who want to serve but who have a very different skill set from what we would normally look for to help the chemically addicted. The other cool factor, is that these bags are just stinking cool! Thank you Midland Christian Schools, Abilene Christian University and Centennial High School for donating the old jerseys to make this work!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Seeing a life restored

We had a great evening with Alermão and Cida Wednesday night. Alermão was one of our homeless friends who we helped go through rehab, see previous post for more explanation, but he making it great in his now role as a family man!
What was set as a double date turned into a terrific party of 12! We had a very cool family of friends who came in from out of town, and Alermão and Cida's kids all joinded in. We had a great time planning Alermão and Cida's wedding, and getting to know his wonderful family better. They have fun kids! Here are some pics -

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Double date

Ali and I are heading out on a double date tonight.  Besides being a date with my favorite wife in the world, it is going to be fun because we are taking Alermão and his bride-to-be out.  
Alermão was one of the early regulars to our homeless lunch.  As a homeless crack addict he decided to accept our offer to go through drug rehab, and after 6 months he came out ready to live a new life. He got back together with his ex and is raising his kids again, now as a dad worth looking up to.  Alermão and Cida are now planing their wedding, which is a dream come true for Cida.  God really does make all things new, and it's a lot of fun to see it happen... And then to go on double dates with renewed friends!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

fully back...finally!

it took us 4 weeks to be home for good! but we are here now!

i have to admit, i did not recognize my bedroom when i first got home! we proceeded to spend the next several days deep cleaning, organizing, and simplifying our home.

here are some interesting adjustments since our arrival:

1) there is a newborn in the house! Kenya & Lauryn, Eric's wife and baby girl, have moved to itu and will be living in our home until the halfway house is ready to move into. It's been sweet having a baby around! surprisingly, no one in the house wakes up with the cries at night =)

2) CHANCE BAGS has moved in, also! our little CHANCE bags factory is in the outside area -- here is our fb with pics : -- We have 2 friends that work on the bags daily, and i have added this small project to my under-challenged life (please insert sarcastic tone). we are LOVING the chaos CHANCE bags has brought, and hoping to watch the production grow and bless many lives.

3) We are so proud to see the ways the youth group continues to bless the community around them even in our absence. We have 15 graduating seniors to send off this December, and my heart hurts just thinking about it! -- the Lord will do mighty things through them!

4) i seem to STILL be adjusting to grad school, even though i've been taking classes for 13 months now. Several papers to write within the next week, and i am hoping my faithful proofreader is more excited than i am! (thank you, jackie beth)

we have been reminded that adjustments are a time to exercise flexibility
and to be reminded that God controls the flow.

may you have a chance to be flexible.
peace to your home.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Half back!

We are "half back" in Itu now.

I (Mark) am home and Ali is finishing her last week state side. Ali is doing an online masters program with Rochester Christian College, and she has one intensive week of classes to kick off her semester of online studies.

I had a great day here in Itu. It started early with work on the halfway house. Eric and I were taking off more mortar to apply water proofing. My plumbing is done!!! What a huge gift and great donation of service!

Next I was doing some organizing of paperwork and seeing where my fundraising process was. I was down from what I needed for my payment this week... so I was prepping to deal with the lack when I got news of two amazing acts of kindness and generosity that puts us over our goal for this weeks payment!!! I am so humbled, and thankful! It still amazes me. As faithful as God has been, and as consistently supportive as the community around us has been, it still floors me to live it. Thank you.

And the day was brought to an end with work on our Chance Bags project. Look up "chance bags" on Facebook. We unpacked our new jersey donations from ACU and Centennial high school (my old jerseys!) and our 3 new donated sewing machines (thank you Granbury) and Susanie was very impressed and excited that we had a "Project Runway" edition machine! :) We got the Chance work space from cluttered and full of leaves to open, clean, and ready for action.

At the end, I'm just thankful that God has given us this chance to use our passions and skills for His glory and for the betterment of those around us, humbled by the amazing support we get in carrying this on, and, glad to be back! Half back. Ali, we're ready for you now!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

the strange "land" in between

we spent wonderful time with mark's extended family in Canada for the past couple of days. We had 4 generations present for the weekend! This was a great event to close our time in the States.

Now that we are back in Ohio, we are living in the strange "land" in between the US and BRAZIL. Last minute shopping (brownie mix!), gifts for friends, calls back home, travel arrangements, good-byes... these activities have a way of throwing us into a stage of being both places and neither at the same time. Honestly, it's the most uncomfortable place to be. It's like temporarily trying to have a foot on both continents and painfully realizing there are 9 thousand miles in between.

my prayer is that none of us try to live this way for very long, that we all learn to practice full presence wherever we find ourselves today.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

can we still be blog friends?

You know those friends with whom the connection seems so entirely natural that even when you have been separated for weeks or months or years, it only feels like a few hours have gone by? … well, welcome back! It’s been a while, but my hope is that this will be a natural continuation of good conversations.

i will attempt a rough catch up in this post, and then we will move on from here knowing that there are PLENTY of adventures for us to live out together in the future!

Our summer was incredible and chaotic and beautiful! Camp Roots joined 127 ppl from Itu & San Angelo and we celebrated our week with the theme “My Story Belongs to You,” which culminated with an hour-long CIRCUS production offered to our community!

The CURA medical campaign continues to grow and impact our city! This last summer we assisted over 900 people in 5 days. We now are brainstorming what it would look like for our church to have a year-round presence at the local schools where we usually set up CURA.

Several of you have seen us closer to your home lately… or IN your home! =) we’ve enjoyed the several weeks spent between Texas and Ohio visiting old friends, making new ones, and spending qt with family!

Exciting things loom on the horizon – we will share more about them on this page.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


we are so sorry for not keeping you updated!

as you can imagine, life is spinning at very fast speeds!
since the beginning of June we have welcomed campaign groups through our home and ministry context, spent long hours preparing for Camp Roots 2011 & medical campaign CURA 2011, and began remodeling all 3 halfway houses!

we will post pics and videos soon.
please know we appreciate you and look forward to sharing stories soon!


ps - be sure to look us up on facebook!

ps 2 - we spent 10 days with some amazing AGGIES, and they shared some of their experiences on their blog

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Crazy as usual

We had an event this Thursday that, as bizarre as it was, seemed fitting given the way that our work with drug rehab has been moving forward. Around midnight we were at "Fora de Hora," our town's only open all night place, chatting with our friends that help us with the youth group. A guy walks in and sees Eric (pictured here) and walks by motioning for him to come to the bathroom. When that doesn't work the guy motions to him from the bathroom. He thinks that only Eric can see him, but most of the table is watching this guy through the mirror next to him as he gestures and asks, "Cocaine? You got cocaine?" Eric shakes his head and the guy goes back outside. Most of the table is laughing in disbelief of this guys bold shot in the dark! But Eric was indignant for having been treated like a dealer and decides to go out and confront the guy. He finds him in the parkinglot -

"Hey, do you know me?"

* "Aren't you Chez's friend?"

"I don't know Chez and I've never seen you in my life! I'm an addict in recovery and you wanna come in and push me for drugs? And in front of my family???" (family - that's us)

* "Dude, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I didn't know. You're in recovery? My bad... so... no disrespect... but do you know where I can find some cocaine?"

"Man, I can't help you."

And he comes back in. This grinds on Eric the rest of the night. The next morning Eric brought it up again, "I thought about that kid all night - I saw myself in his eyes. I know what that phase of withdrawal feels like, and it bugs me that I didn't talk him about Jesus."

Later that morning we were prepping for homeless lunch and there's a knock on the gate. Eric answers it, and guess who? A friend of ours from the next town over, and the cocaine kid!

Our friend - "Eric, I have a friend for you to meet,"
Eric - "I know him..."
Cocaine kid - "I know you... I tried to buy drugs from you..."
Our friend - "How do you guys know each other?"
Eric - "Come on in and let's sit down."

So apparently cocaine kid used all night long, and then that next morning went to our friend's LAN house and asked for help with his addiction. "I know of some friends who can help you," our friend said, and brought him to us.

(He just called and Eric is on the phone with him right now)

They talked for about two hours. The plan right now is for him to start attending our support group. We'll be keeping close contact to support him in his recovery, and if it proves necessary, help him get into a rehab clinic.

Running into people who need help, that happens. But this being followed up with them being brought to your house within 24 hours to get help... that doesn't just happen. But to me it's one more confirmation that God is in this... and given the way things have been progressing, it makes sense.

Crazy crazy life!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Visit from friends

We have often said that we keep an open home and love visiters, last month two of our friends from Texas took us up on our standing invitation. Chris Frizzell and Billy Martin and pitched in for a week of service. They did an amazing job of using who they are to bless our community!

The first day they arrived was my night to spend at the rehab clinic, so Billy jumped right in. A little nervous about not being able to converse, Billy took a special snack to prepare for the guys upon his arrival, and immediately made friends in the process! Early the next morning we had a devotional led by Billy. He shared how his relationship with God has led him to care for the oppressed, and pointed to our responsibility for having received mercy, to be a people who extend mercy.

After speaking at rehab that morning, Billy spoke to the youth group at night. He pulled from his experience working with fingerprinting in the FBI to share how we are each uniquely created. He illustrated this through some fun FBI stories from his past, and by finger printing our kids and allowing them to see the differences. He also used this to communicate our worth as unique and valuable members in the kingdome.

After this we had two great seminars led by Chris Frizzell. His first dealt with conflict management and led to some really good discussions. My friend Zacca who manages a car parts store commented afterwords how helpful the subject was to him given his daily responsibilities.

Chris and Billy, thank you so much for coming! Granburry Church of Christ, thank you for sending them! We know we are all part of the same kingdom and the same work, but having you here in action was a wonderful tribute to how big and widespread the movement of Jesus Christ actually is.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Mothers Day (to a great Buckeye mom!)

Dear Mom,
I have to admit I'm a little jealous of Scott, Danny and Carla... because I would loooooooooooooove to be able to be there to have lunch with you today! I miss being able to do that. You put on the best Sunday lunch in the western hemisphere.
Even though I can't be with you for Mothers Day, I want you to know that I love you very much and am so thankful for who you are in my life.

Thank you for your warmth and readiness to receive us kids back home any day, and for your supportiveness in our leaving to live our our dreams and callings.

Thanks for passing on a simple love for nature that has kept me enchanted with God's creation and critters.

Thank you for teaching us the simple enjoyment of life and light heartedness that makes you so fun to be around.

Thank you for the high value you have given to friendships, and quickness to take in my friends as your own.

And thank you for the love of family that comes through so clearly through your time spent with us.

I miss being with you today mom. Know that the blessing of who you are in my life is not lost on me. Thanks for giving me a life full of so many great memories with you. I love who you are and look forward to the next time we get to be together.

Happy Mothers Day!