The Missions Visit – Surprised by God
Right after the teams left we got very sick, but praise the Lord we are all well now.
Indeed we saw the hand of the Lord in all that happened during the two weeks the teams were here. Your partnership and prayer was definitely vital for the success of the trip!
In the last post we talked about the doors God was opening and the confirmations that were needed…
Well, as the team arrived everything started falling into place, although there were still many things “trying to fall apart” by way of cancellations and changes of schedule. But God showed us He was in it by making it all work out and putting down the obstacles that were appearing so that we would be able to do the work — and with results that were above and beyond our expectations!
If we were to write down details of everything that happened this would be a very long post, but we do want to give an idea of what happened during that time.
When the first team arrived after a very long travel time, we still had to face a 6-hour journey to get to the church (where they were lodging). The travel time from the airport to the church usually takes about 2.5 hours, but because of the constant rain we had before they came, a lot of dirt and trees had slidden down from the mountain into the express way.
We prayed and prayed for the weather to be good as we had rain every single day before the teams came. That was a major concern. Praise the Lord! For the two weeks they were here we only had rain a few times – and then only at night! Thank you Lord!
In between breakfast, quiet time, lunch, dinner and fellowship, the days sort of looked like this (but not necessarily in this order):
– Saturday(the day they arrived): Meal and getting to know church people. Organizing and settling in. Youth group meeting at church where the team did some skits and gave testimonies. Late night. Long day!
– Sunday morning: Meeting and introduction to Camboriu/ orientation meeting. Prayer walk. Drama and puppets practice. Church clean up. Service (7:00 pm) with testimonies from the team, drama, message, and prayer for people.
Then during the week the first team got busy with all types of things like: visiting an orphanage, a drug rehab center, the PETI school (after school program for underprivileged, neglected, and abused children), Kids’ Club on our street, ladies outreach meeting, construction work on the church building – fixing the sanctuary floor that was sagging and damaged by termites and replacing all the carpet, as well as some painting work, prayer and worship night at the beach — a few bold ones took a swim in the cold water!, handing out fliers for a Sunday event on a busy intersection, Anita Public School outreach day, free day — riding cable cars (at Parque Unipraias) up a mountain and going down to the beach on the other side, some shopping, and of course, dinner at a real Brazilian steak house: A Gaúcha.
Steak House Shots:
The second week with Trip B. We took Trip A to the airport and picked up the second team which had to also face a real long journey to church. Sunday a group of guys (David, Mark, Blake, Matt) went to do some drills with the newly started American football team where they played, gave out some gifts and shared an impactful testimony, Kids Club again, ladies outreach meeting, Clotilde Public School and a basketball game with Camboriu’s local basketball team, PETI school meeting for the mothers of students there, two orphanages, a nursing home, Ivone Public School, ministering at Betesda drug rehab (again).
having a little fun at the church.
Church people, especially those who were more involved with the activities were amazed at the team’s motivation to come, the sacrifice they paid to be here (which was used by the pastor to exhort and encourage the church to be more purposeful in serving the Lord), their hard working posture and beautiful attitude toward everything, although it was a full and tiring week.
A guy from church came in awe and confusion to say, “You have to see what they are doing upstairs! They all have a little tiny putty knife in the hands and are scraping the glue off the floor! That’s a lot of work!!! What is this? They came here from so far away and spent their own money to scrape our floor? Dude! Who is paying for this carpet? They are?!? Why would they do all this?” By this time he had his hands on his head trying to understand what was going on and what “these people” were about. Then finally he said, “This is like a slap on my face to wake up! I can’t believe this people!”
Then at the end of the week others commented, “Really, my hat is off for that “old guy”… He really worked…I mean, the other guys helped and some of us too, but man, that guy really worked hard…”
People were impressed at the quality of the work performed by Ken, Eric, Clint and the whole crew that helped in a way or another by ripping the carpet, scraping the glue off and pulling out staples, fixing the floors, installing new carpet, painting the walls…. Your hard work, your joy in serving and good attitude about serving really spoke louder than any words could ever do! And the church building looks SO much nicer as well. What a blessing!
Most of the meals were deliciously abundant throughout out the week, although there were times when we had to quick grab a bite and run. Well, one evening some of us came back to church after dinner was over, sat at the table in the kitchen and ate whatever was left, which was french bread which they stuffed with cold rice and beans. So some of the church guys said, “Man, they are eating bread with cold rice and beans! We can’t let them do that! We gotta do something about it!” So we went to the bread shop and they bought all kinds of breads, various cookies, donuts, sweet breads with coconut toppings, etc. to bless the group of “bold” guys who were eating whatever was available to them.
with help from his mother-in-law, Tina Pals.
Anita Public School At the first school we went to, we ministered to a total of 1300 + kids from ages 6 to 15. We spent all day there presenting the gospel in a very clear way through drama, puppet shows and testimonies. The topic at target, as requested by the principal, was bullying and respecting each another, teachers and parents. So that was our focus, presented from a biblical perspective and in light of what Jesus has done for us and how He has made us fearfully and wonderfully. Pastor Carol (Pr. Facundo’s wife) also came to participate in the presentation as a clown as well. We did our presentations in a room with capacity for about 250 people, which is why we had to be there all day in order to do the presentation for all of the students. There were kids that were playing around in the beginning of the presentations, but many left the place in tears as they were touched by what the teams had ministered. The local newspaper and a politician (from the City Council) showed up to see what was going on, then she (the politician) set up for David Hamstra (Cross Point Church) to be on the local radio to talk about the work they came to do.
Menina FM is known as the number one radio in the region. They also broadcast the program on their online TV. There Pastor David Hamstra (Cross Point Church – Crown Point, IN), Jane (the politician) and Fabio were able to talk about the needs in the community and the work we do as a church with the partnership of the churches from Chicago area. After this, we went out to some other schools and orphanages to see if they would be interested in us coming in the case that we had an opening in our schedule, and they were like, “Sure! We know you all. We heard about you on the radio!”
At Betesda Drug Rehab Center
Ken and Clint shared their testimonies, showing the power of Jesus Christ in their lives. Then David preached on Jesus being the author and perfector of our faith. He is the One writing our story and our story is not over yet. All were very touched by it, some shouted, others cried, while some would just raise their hands in thanks to God. They all know this is a difficult time in their lives as they are trying to get rid of drugs and alcohol but they were assured that God wasn’t done with them yet and there was still hope for each one of them, as He who started the work in their lives will bring it to completion! Then the group (David and Beth, Mark, Ken, Matt, Clint, Bruno, Fabio) went to each one of them to pray and it was evident that God used them all to minister in that place.
At PETI schoolMany of you blog readers may remember the PETI school where Elizabeth taught English classes weekly for most of last year. Well, we had another opportunity to reach out there, not just with English, but with the love of Jesus and the message of the Gospel. Because the PETI school is smaller than the other large public schools we went to, we were able to give it all a more personal feel, have lunch together, and spend some time just playing after the presentation. The team brought a parachute to play with, as well as Follow-the-Leader and other games.
Something else that was really neat, is that the principal of this school was recently saved! She is so on fire now, and really wants to reach the families of the PETI students. She invited us to come back during Week 2 to speak to the mothers of the students. Ellen Barker and Tina Pals shared from their hearts about building relationships with your children, what a blessing family can be and God’s heart for family life. Many of the moms were very touched, and five afterward came to the front to leave their names and contact information, asking for a visit in their homes in the future because they want to hear more! Praise the Lord!
At the Football Outreach
David, Mark, Blake, Matt were able to teach some techniques and things at the American football practice with the newly formed team Lobos do Mar (Sea Wolves). After the practice, they gave out gifts of some footballs, gear, and shirts/shorts with the team’s logo they had had made in the States and brought along. Mark shared his testimony and it really caught their attention. They were really impacted by their generosity and the message they brought. Then we invited them all to come to MANG church for a movie night to watch Facing the Giants. You can see a pic and read their post on their blog: http://bclobosdomar.blogspot.com/2011/04/evento-sexta-e-treino-domingo.html (you might need to use Google translator).
We just spent some time loving on these needy children too. They are so hungry for attention and affection that they just jumped in the arms of anyone who would hold them and eat up all the lovin’. Jessica brought these bubbles, and they were a big hit!
At the Nursing HomeI get tears in my eyes just thinking about how precious our time at the nursing home was – far beyond my expectations! The Lord accompanied us there with the sweet manifestation of His Presence, and many people were deeply touched. They presented the puppet shows, and then we had some time to pray for them individually. During this prayer time, the Lord moved Ellen Barker to share with them from the parable of the generous master of a vineyard in Matthew 20. Moved with much compassion, Ellen shared with them that it is never too late – that no matter if they come to the Lord on the last day of their lives, or if they have served Him since childhood, that He loves us the same and offers the same salvation for all. It was a moving time.
Once each week, we took a group of the team members out to our road to do a Kids’ Club there.
The only open slot we had in our schedule was in the afternoon, both times. This was both good and bad. You see, the way school is set up here, the kids go either in the morning or in the afternoon. Most of “our” kids from Kids’ Club go in the afternoon, so they weren’t around for this special Kids’ Club. The good part of this equation, however, is that we went a few streets further to invite kids to come, and thus extended our outreach that way, where we otherwise might not have.
We were able to give the kids these stuffed animals and the painted bags that were sent here for them from America! They were just tickled pink! THANK YOU all who participated in sending these special gifts for them!! Also a very special THANK YOU to Vicki Hillis who was the one who coordinated the bag-painting “Brazil party”. We so appreciate your thoughtfulness!
As we were finishing up kids’ club, “our” kids who usually come were coming back from school and we chatted a bit. One noticed the soccer ball on Courtney’s shirt and wondered what the words said? “Coach”. When he found out she was a SOCCER COACH!!!, he challenged her to a game in the sandpit nearby that they use as a soccer field. We were able to get in a little ball before we had to head out. 🙂
At Clotilde Public School
We met at the gym for a basketball game with the local Camboriu basketball team. Lots of excited children, loud music, hip hop dance during break time and a lot of noise! We spent one whole afternoon there, and then the morning of the next day as well, in order to minister to all 1200 + kids. Again (after the basketball game), the children were presented with the talks about bullying, respect and most importantly JESUS, through drama. There were games and testimonies with a clear presentation of the gospel. The local TV broadcast came and interviewed David and Pastor Cristian (from MANG), and that footage was aired on TV next day. Before we left Fabio talked to the principal who was very touched by the testimonies of lives changed by Jesus.
At Ivone Public School
Going to Ivone Public School was fun, because it is right here in our neighborhood, so all the children we have been reaching out to for all these months through kids’ club go to this school. We knew a lot of the kids there! We split the team into two groups in order to minister to all the kids – one group downstairs did drama for the older grades, and one group upstairs did puppets for the younger grades. It still took us a good, full day to be able to reach all of the students.
Chuck Olthoff in particular was touched at this school by the openness of the students, and their willingness to believe – faith like a child.
Movie Outreach Night
The grand finale of the second week was on Friday night – an outreach at the church using the movie Facing the Giants. Our church building used to be a theatre, so it has the perfect set-up! We gave out bags of popcorn to complete the effect. 🙂 The movie itself gives a clear gospel message, but was also followed up by a mini-message by Pastor Facundo. Then, we had a HUGE give-away of footballs, jerseys, hats and other misc. stuff. It was a lot of fun! And, the ENTIRE football team turned out for the event! One of them is already coming now to MANG church faithfully the last few weeks, and says that MANG is his church now.
Thank you all for making it a special time for them, too!
Mark with sleeping Johann:
THANK YOU, every one of you who prayed, who gave to those who were coming to make it possible for them to come, who gave toward the construction projects at the church, and who sent love gifts for us. We cannot adequately express our appreciation for your love and care. None of this would have been possible without you! And the victories we saw during this time were victories won in the heavenlies through the prayers of God’s people! Thank you for being our Aarons and Hurs!
We feel that this is only the beginning of the impact that can be had on this society and community! Already we are seeing the continuation … yesterday Ivone Public School invited us to come back to do a presentation for Easter. Today we were able to go into a new school to invite the students to come for a special play at our church on Sunday. Fabio has been working on a plan of action for a year’s worth of material in the schools to teach biblical principles, and we already have a foot in the door! We have a great sense of excitement and anticipation as we look toward the future. Thank you for helping us open doors during this time!