Friday, December 2, 2016

CL Litergy

Our halfway house has a lot of programing that helps our friends form a new way of life. The “Programing” usually happens at night when most of our residents are back from work. I lead a weekly Bible study where we focus on redefining character and self analysis, our psychologist offers individual and group sessions, we have therapeutic music sessions, and we go to church together as a household. Beyond this I have been thinking of ways to use regular moments of the day to influence thought and direction. Without additional groups or “programing” how could I insert “food for thought” that will inspire further conversation and offer insights to new ways of thinking?

I decided to utilize our lunch and dinner prayer time, since they were pre-existing moments when we were already together as a household, to implement a practice that has not been much a part of my life experience: liturgy. We picked a topic for each day of the week and put together a text using Scripture and prayer focusing on that topic. Everyday before lunch and dinner we read the text together and say a prayer. It’s not much, and that's the idea. But in subtle ways and with repeating rhythms, we work to keep truth at the forefront of our minds and on the tip of our tongues. I have been pleased with the conversations that have been inspired by these mini liturgies, and moments when I have heard them quoted later in the day.

Here they are, translated to english -

Confession (Monday)
I confess to Almighty God, and to you brothers and sisters,
That I have sinned by my own will in thought and in action,
Through what I have done and what I have left undone.
I ask you, brothers and sisters
To pray for me to the Lord our God.
*silence (for confession to God)
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy,
Brothers and sisters, have mercy.

Humility (Tuesday)                                      Job 1:21
Naked I came from my mothers womb, and naked I will go.
The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Glory to the Father, glory to the Son, glory to the Holy Spirit.
Who was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.

Forgiveness (Wednesday)                                           Eph. 1:7 and Mt 11:25
By the death of Christ on the cross
We are free and our sins are forgiven.
How wonderful is the grace of God that He has given with such generosity!
When you are praying, forgive those who have offended you,
So that your Father in heaven will also forgive your offenses.
Increase your grace in us, Lord
So that we can forgive all, even as we are forgiven all.
Make us truly free.

Identity (Thursday).                                             2 Cor 5:17-18
Whoever is in Christ is a new person,
The old has gone and the new has come.
All of this is the work of God, who in Christ transforms us from enemies into friends.
God gives us the task of bringing others who to also become friends with Him.

Father in heaven, help us to live this new identity.  
Help us to live as your friends.

Consecration.   (Friday).                                                 Romans 8:13-14
Whoever lives according to his human nature, dies spiritually;
Whoever by the Spirit of God puts to death sinful ways, lives spiritual life.
Whoever is guided by the Spirit of God lives as God’s child.
Surround us with your Spirit, Father.
Help us to be committed to Your path.

The beauty of liturgy is not that it is magical, but that it is rhythmic, historical, and physical. We have joined a tradition of God's gathered people to speak daily reminders of the ultimate direction we long for.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Our Housing Ministry gave birth to a Garden

As many of you may have known, one of our main projects in the last has been the building of our Crescimento Limpo Garden, as a place to compliment the triage process for men and women leaving homelessness. Many of you helped this dream come true and a year after kicking off the process we want to share with you some of the things we have seen God unfold in this place. 

What are your thoughts about the garden after a little more than a year?
It's a place that has generated and given life, in many different ways.             

How complete, how perfect a service for Casa CL: in the process of triage for new people, in the opportunity to work for the residents, and as an entry point for those on the streets with Café/Xic-Xou on Sundays. And even more so to expand our partnerships and opportunities in the city: with our pies, the kitchen space, and hosting the youth group and other events for our community. 

In what wonderful things have you made investments over the last year? 
- Construction: we built a wall; a building with a kitchen, bathroom, and storage area; a reception area, the aquaponics system [greenhouse, fish tanks, produce beds].
- 2 fixed workers from Casa CL to care for the garden and attend the public for sales.
- Hiring a manager to develop the Horta: construction, aquaponics system, and the integration of Casa CL residents into the work.

What are the results of these expenses/investments
that you are seeing?

The picture above represents so well what happens in the CL Garden as a result of these investments. The project of the day was laying a brick floor in the greenhouse to create a space apt to receive groups and host our church youth group. In this picture Zelão and Pedro, our house residents on permanent staff at the garden, are supplying the bricks to Rogerio, our evening house monitor, for him to lay the floor. Welington, homeless at the time but now a house resident, is laying the sand bed for the bricks and Luis, the most recent house resident at the time is leveling out the foundation. In sum, the garden gives us a place to work “shoulder to shoulder” with our residents. It deepens our relationships and allows us to direct our support to those who “put the work” into recovery. 
Smores at the CL Garden
What are the next steps/dreams/actions for the garden? 
At the end of November, we're looking forward to hosting a block party and inviting the neighborhood and church to join us. We also are looking forward to using our kitchen for different activities, including our Miss American Pies   as well as other local culinary specialists who are hoping  to employ CL residents as a part of their work making natural foods, juices, and coffee. We have recently been given access to additional land to begin raising chickens and other produce to sell at the garden as well. 

How do you see the Garden as an extension of the local church in Itu? The Garden has become a place of connection and life shared between church members, homeless individuals in Itu, and our CL House residents. Our Sunday morning breakfast, for example, has become a weekly meeting of food, life stories, and prayer together. The garden has received many individuals who witness the gospel in action, and the influence of a church who serves the community. 

Back to blogging

I have a confession to make as a missionary; I am a lousy reporter.  Its a professional handicap. I'm working on it and this is my new attempt at keeping our work in Brazil transparent and accessable to acompany. I'm also a lousy speller, and my spell check is set to portuguese (as long as I'm confessing, I thought I might as well throw that in there). With these confessions made that may affect your enjoyment of this page, we are reviving our blog! May it serve as a window into our world.
Peace to your home.
Mark and Ali Kaiser

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New Site!!!

Ali and I have made a communications change! Since we are slow blog updaters, and tend to update Facebook more regularly, we've opened a Facebook page for regular updates on our life and ministry. Please click "like" on our page to receive our updates automatically and to see pictures, notes and videos, like the following, on our lives and ministry. Thank you for accompanying life with us!

Okay, so it seems the blog can't upload our video... so off to Facebook we go!

Our new page -

Friday, May 25, 2012

New Beginnings

We have had a lot of support and inspiration from friends as we've been working towards a major goal - the opening of a halfway house for our homeless friends who want to change their lives. This goal has been coming to life faster than I can keep up with! As our three small households have become ready, Eric moved in with his wife Kenya and their baby daughter Lauren. They will serve as our case managers, and have been getting settled in and preparing to serve incoming residents.
Two weeks ago we took in our first resident, Samuel. Sam has been a friend of ours for a long time. We've seen him through rehab twice... but without a supportive home to come back to he ended up back on the streets and in his addiction both times. We have hoped that a long term supportive housing for Samuel might help him to stabilize in his recovery. I don't assume to speak for tomorrow, but I have been encouraged by his progress so far. Samuel is working for a friend in our church, and has been excited at his own new lifestyle. In this picture he's helping me do some baking for our church café.
Samuel has also been very supportive of our second resident, Daniel. Daniel is going through dialysis treatment and so he has had a rough start as he is learning to live with new physical and working limitations. Today we were surprised to learn that in talking between themselves, they had decided that tomorrow Samuel would accompany Daniel to his dialysis treatment, so that he could talk to the doctor and get better information to help Daniel eat right at the house. That was a pretty cool surprise- the helped becoming the helper is a tremendous step in the walk of recovery!
I give thanks to God for the great things that have taken place! And thank you for you prayers, financial support and encouragement of this process. It continues to be a great adventure!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Camp Roots 2012

Camp Roots 2012

So at the end of Camp Roots 2011, while we were still driving home on buses full of ecstatic teenagers and all their unorganized luggage, left over camp supplies, and the oh-so-recognizable blend of pure exhaustion and fulfillment … right then I was poked and asked, “What’s the theme next year?” Seriously? Let me survive the hangover of Camp Roots 2011 first, please!

But the question would not leave me alone. I, too, was curious about what God would create and inspire in 2012.

I don’t remember exactly how it happened, except that one day I realized “reconciliation” would be the theme of Camp Roots 2012. Reconciliation. Still not sure what will flourish during our 6 intense days with 100 teenagers in 2 languages, but I am waiting with eager longing the full revelation of this theme in our midst.

I have invited 10 core Camp Roots staff members to compose my dwelling group in 2 Corinthians 2:14-17. The core staff is somewhere between 18 and 30 years old, most are single and going to school. Some have grown up in church, others are recent converts, but they seek the deep and want to invite teenagers deeper into this great adventure of faith. We will dwell together during our home’s Saturday morning breakfast gatherings, and each week I will present a question to guide the conversation and reflections towards our preparations for Camp. One specific aspect I am excited about shaping through this period of dwelling is our “causes” at camp. Each year we chose 5 social causes in Itu to support. Everyday at camp the students produce goods that will be donated to each cause. As I dream about this dwelling community, I pray that together we will chose social causes that connect to our hear as we are shaped by the passage.

Just as a side note, last night I went to the airport in Sao Paulo to see off one of my best friends ever! Carioca has lived with us for the past 2 years and has been an essential part of the Spirit-generated movement in Itu. Carioca and I worked closely in the development of Camp Roots in 2010 and 2011. It’s difficult to imagine building momentum for Camp Roots 2012 without him here, brainstorming and dreaming together. In some instances, I wondered if anything would spring up as I sought a word from God. So it’s a true gift from GOD that today I am able to state with conviction that we have a theme, a direction, a specific word for our upcoming summer. The LORD is faithful to His mission!

Let the dreaming begin…

Saturday, March 3, 2012

all of the sudden significant

i know Mark just posted recently, but i had to write for one of my classes, and i'd like to share it with you...
glad to share our life with you!

All of the sudden significant.

His name is Bruno, and he is 16 years old. He is wrapped in beautiful dark chocolate-colored skin and his white teeth practically glow when he smiles. He is short and lean, and can play a mean soccer game. Bruno is my most recent “suddenly significant” other and my life is fuller since he entered.

His story is very different than mine. I grew up in a healthy home with parents who loved each other and loved me very much. Bruno was raised among shouting fights and he is not sure which man in mom’s life is his real dad. My childhood years were spent with friends, dolls, coloring books, and bicycle. His older brother traded his bike for drugs two years ago. I had the means to travel between two countries, ride a car to school, and carry my material in nice backpacks. Bruno’s been bullied while walking to school and mocked for carrying his school material in grocery bags. My first job was teaching English to business men in town. Bruno’s first job was delivering drugs to the sons and daughters of the rich business men.

And here we are. God’s wondrous braiding kept bringing Bruno into our lives, and the more time we spent with him, the more we wanted to overlap our life and his. Three weeks ago we invited him to be a part of our home, and sudden, enormous changes followed.

You might think the sudden changes were seen in Bruno – that all of the sudden he stopped cussing, or all of the sudden he was incredibly grateful to us, or all of the sudden his music taste improved and now he jams out U2 in his bedroom. But, no. Bruno is still a 16 year old adapting to new and shocking amounts of structure in his life and testing our limits of patience and authority.

But I have changed. As I invite Bruno into a communal, intimate relationship with all the homework, the dirty clothes, the soccer practices, the lack of discipline, the stories of the past… the invitation reframes my own identity. I am, for the first time, keenly aware of how much his identity formation and transformation is dependent and watchful of my reactions and interactions with him and others.

As I am surprised by unpredictable interactions with Bruno, I have started asking myself, “How can I be a person of peace in this situation?” Never before have I been more convinced that example speaks louder than words… especially as I catch his big black eyes closely observing my reactions to him, to other friends, to my husband, to our neighbors, and to tense situations.
How will I show love to Bruno? How will I discipline Bruno? How will I challenge him? How will I help him open his wings and fly high?

How do I understand salvation differently as I reflect on my relationship with Bruno? More than ever before I am challenged to consider the practical aspect of hesed in our reconstituted communal home. I remember my dad preaching about family dynamics and saying, “A family will not know what love is until the parachute is thrown out the door.” He explains that as long as families have a trump card to threaten each other with, an exit strategy up their sleeve, there will be a dysfunctional and insecure dynamic in the home. Hesed, or “steadfast love,” is not a romantic, sweet, dozen-roses kind of love. Hesed is “covenant reliability.” It does not look for a way out at the beginning of the first crisis. It won’t keep the parachute strapped on in case the engine stutters. Hesed is about the long run – good or bad.
As I recognize and live in hesed with the Creator, I am called to extend this depth of commitment to the “other” in my life. I am called to extend this depth of commitment to Bruno, my suddenly significant “son.”

The phone just rang, and it was the school principal where Bruno is studying. They asked for us to come pick him up early, because he started a fight at school. What is hesed now? What does this commitment look like when his behavior is so backwards from an ideal. I think I know what it’s not… it’s not asking him to pack his stuff and leave our home because he once again failed the standards. Maybe it looks more like not protecting him from consequences with the school, then taking him on a long walk and talk, listening to his side of the story and explaining why this will not be allowed as a pattern in this family because no one in this family will be physically aggressive towards him.

I pray now for two things: One, that grace will be extended from the LORD’s throne over us as we make mistakes along the way; and two, that the LORD’s hesed will overflow in our lives onto Bruno’s beautiful self.