First Visitor

I had the privilege of hosting my friend Wagner this past week.  Wagner is my first visitor from the United States and is looking at the possibility of returning to Brazil as a missionary.  Got to show him some of the missions opportunities in here in South Brazil.

Visit 2

Wagner and Friends over for Lunch

It was a blessing to have Wagner visit.  Wagner is a Brazilian who speaks very good Portuguese.  I am so thankful that he had the opportunity to share with the Youth Group.

Visit 3

Wagner preaching at the Youth Group

There were other brothers who also were visiting South Brazil to look at the opportunities in South Brazil.  It was great to be able to spend some time with Wagner, Ronaldo and Justin.

Visit

Wagner, Me, Ronaldo and Justin

Wagner’s visit also provided an opportunity for me to preach as he was able to translate the sermon this past Sunday night.  It was a blessing to be able to share with the body.  It was a great blessing to be encouraged by Wagner during this visit.  I look forward to more visits from friends.

Visit 1

Wagner translating as I preached

Building Dedication Service

Dedication

Outside of Church Building

Last Saturday evening we had a building dedication service.  It was a great event that is the culmination of lots of work but the beginning of lots more.  The building is awesome.  When I visited South Brazil in 2015 the church was in the process of purchasing the land for this building.  I can remember talking with the missionary about his dream for the building.  I think that this building is different than his dream but it is still awesome.

Dedication 1

Pre Service Conversations

The dedication really showed off how large the church building is.  There was plenty of room to have 200+ seats for a service and then to also have enough room to have an after service hang out area.  It was very encouraging to see people from 5+ churches attend the 8 pm Saturday night service.  I was so encouraged to see all of excitement that the church body had at this dedication.

Dedication 2

Packed House – Church members brought their own chairs

I am looking forward to all of the different ways that this building is going to be used.  It is my prayer that the LORD would use this building for his glory and many opportunities for ministry would be facilitated through this building.

Dedication 3

Someone Wanted a Picture with Me

Culture Shock: Battle for Control

I still battling culture shock on many different fronts.  One of the fronts which I have seen the war rage is that of control.  When I first arrived in Brazil I was warned by other missionaries that control would be one of the areas that I struggled.  I have strived in my life to be under control in many ways.  It actually scares me to not be in control.  In Brazil I am not in control in many ways.

food 1

Cheese Stuffed Bacon Avocado Burger

The lack of control has been difficult to deal with.  I find myself complaining when I am not able to control the situation.

food 2

Grilled Chicken and Pad Thai

I am able to control what I eat when I cook the food.  It is good to be able to cook different kinds of food that feel like eating.  I really enjoy using all of the fresh ingredients and great meat which are available around here.  The only draw back for all of this cooking is that I have to do all of the cleanup after cooking.

food 3

Steak with Bell Peppers and Onions

As I battle culture shock by exerting control I am continually reminded that I need to trust that the LORD is in control even when I am not.  I have found myself thinking of Proverbs 3:5-6 continually and trusting in the LORD to work everything out.  I am also thinking lots about Romans 8:28 where simple truths are presented that are a great comfort to me.  The truths which bring me comfort are “God is actively at work,” “God is working these events together for good,” and “God has made a plan.”

food

Chicken Fritters and Rice

Church Building Dedication Service

Lots of work has gone into completing the church building for Ministerio Biblico Ivoti.  I have had the joy of helping with many different parts of this construction.  I am looking forward to the dedication service which will take place on July 8th.  However before the dedication service the church will be hosting a missions conference on June 30-July 2.

 

building

Dedication Service Poster

 

Portuguese Learning

There are two major difficulties which I have faced in learning Portuguese.  The first is figuring out how to study a language again.  I did not begin with the best language learning skills or abilities.  I believe that I have let that color my study of Portuguese.  It is easy to come up with excuses as to why I am not doing as well.  However,  I have begun to embrace studying more.  There are a couple of ways that have really helped me in my language acquisition.  The first is the use of quizlet.  Quizlet is a free app which has allowed me to study vocabulary by typing in the words and mixing up how it is presented.  Working with this has helped me more than traditional flashcards.  The second is the use of white boards to write out the different things that I am trying to learn.  If I can see and hear the words than I tend to remember them better.

Language 1

Conjugating verbs in class

Besides how to study I have also had a great difficulty learning one specific section of language school.  That section is groupos.  Groupos are a series of questions and answers that I have to memorize and repeat in a time limit.  There is a catch,  I only have to remember the groupo until I have completed it.  I find it very difficult to memorize, perform and then forget.  I am thankful for my current teacher helping me with this by giving me flash cards to match.

Language

New Groupo Study techniques

 

Love from the States

It is so encouraging to know that there are many people in the United State who are praying for me and care about me.  I know that every missionary enjoys to hear from the people who helped send them to their final destination.  There are four specific ways that I have felt encouragement from those back in the states.  The most simple was is the e-mail and phone communication that I have received from supporters in the United States.  I really enjoy reading all of the e-mails that I get in response to the prayer letters and updates that I send out on a monthly and quarterly basis.  If you want to receive the monthly prayer letters and quarterly updates please sign up here.

The second way that I feel encouraged is by the communication that I have gotten from my sending church.  I have gotten messages from different leaders who are my friends.  One of the other major ways that I have felt encouraged over the past couple of months is a Skype call that I have received from my sending church pastors.  I remember talking with another missionary who had been on the field for over 11 years before getting contacted by their sending church.

Sending Church

Skype with Placerita Church Pastors

The third way that I have been encouraged is from receiving gifts from different families in my sending church.  These gifts have normally come in the form of different items placed into a white envelope.  Each envelope contains different items which represent the individual or families who have filled it.

May Gift

Contents of a Gift Envelope

The fourth way that I have felt encouragement from the states is to have my sending church and many others lifting me up in prayer.

Sending Church 1

Sending Church Updating the Body

 

 

 

Church Construction

The construction has continued in the church and lots of progress has been made.  I am so excited to see how the new church building is progressing.  It took a long time but the concrete floor has been poured.

construction

The floor has been poured.

After the concrete was poured it was time to start the block wall construction of the rear rooms.  The first floor rooms are walled in with blocks.  It was great to see the walls going up in the rear of the building.

construction 2

Walls are going up.

Not only did the rear walls go up pretty fast but the installation of the stairwell meant that we could finally access the second floor without a ladder.

construction 6

Rear walls are almost completed

Not only has the interior been worked on but the exterior has been coming along as well.  It is great to see the after effects of the blasting that was previously done.  The church is built on bedrock and the bedrock had to be blasted to open up a space for the septic system.

construction 3

Septic tanks have been installed.

The area around the septic tanks is being backfilled with soil to eventually provide some parking places for the church.

construction 7

Septic tanks have been almost covered

The view from the second floor shows how large the church actually is.  There is a huge concrete area where soccer, basketball, and sports can be played.

construction 5

The interior of the church is huge

 

CPF

In order to officially exist in Brazil an individual has to have a CPF.  CPF stands for “Cadastro de Pessoas Fisicas” and is essentially an individual taxpayer registry identification number.  Getting my CPF required a tight parking job,  I am so thankful for the parking skills that I learned while visiting my parents in San Francisco.

CPF

Tight Parking Spot

We not only had to go to the building below to get my CPF number.  I thought that the bureaucracy in the USA was difficult at times but Brazil takes it to a whole new level.

CPF 1

Government Building where I get my CPF

To pay for my CPF identification number I had to not only go to the main building but walk next door to the building below so that I could pay the required fee.  I am so thankful for the team here in South Brazil who were able to walk me through this process.  I would be so frustrated if it were not for them.

CPF 2

Government Building next to the CPF building

 

First Sunday

I don’t know if it was the jet lag or the lack of understanding or some other reason which caused my inability to stay awake during the first service I attended in Brasil.  I want to blame it on my jet lag but I really think that not being able to follow anything that is said or done during a 2+ hour church service is very hard.  I feel like a little kid again in need of something to do while I listen to things that I don’t understand.  The only thing that I understood was when communion was offered at the Sunday Morning Service.  What a great reminder that communion translates to every language, tribe, and nation.

first-sunday

Communion Sunday.

Sunday evening was at a different church that I knew more people at.  I remember coming to this church in December of 2015 and there were less chairs present.  I remember excitedly waiting to see people that I know and faces that I remembered.

first-sunday-1

Worship Practice before Church.

I enjoyed trying to join in the worship through song.  The slower and quieter worship style at the church in Ivoti allowed for me to try and imitate the sounds of worship that I heard.  I say that I am imitating the sounds because I didn’t really understand what I am saying so it is not really singing with any intelligence but actually mimicking sounds.  It was a joy to also be able to follow familiar melodies.

first-sunday-2

Almost a packed house.

During the sermon I had a hard time following when I didn’t get what is being said.  I believe that I was used as an illustration because I heard “Benjamin” and some of the people turned around to look at me after I heard my name.  However, I think that I will be trying to redeem this time by reading scripture and also trying to enlarge my vocabulary by adding flash cards of words that I hear.  The power point and sermon notes which were handed out helped me to figure out the proper spelling and what some words mean.  I am so thankful for visual aids during the sermon as they will help me to enlarge my vocabulary.

first-sunday-3

Listening to Preaching in Portuguese.

 

Quilted with Love

It seems like every time I leave for a major life change it is marked with a quilt.  By the time that this posts I hope to be on the plane to Brazil.  I will travel from San Francisco through Toronto and Sao Paulo, and then to Porto Alegre.

The first quilt that marked a life change was given to me by my parents bible study when I left for college.  This quilt has lasted very well over the years and still reminds me of all of their prayers from the Sacramento Area.

 

quilt-2

Quilt Two: Marking the Transition to Tennessee

The second quilt was given to me when I left to help plant a church in Tennessee.  This quilt has traveled all over the country and still reminds me of all of the prayers from friends in the Murrieta Area.

quilt

Quilt Three Title Block

The third quilt marks the transition to being a missionary in Brazil.  This gift was an amazing and completely unexpected provision.  The quilt reminds me of my friends and their prayers from the Santa Clarita Area.

quilt-1

Quilt Three: Marking the Transition to Brazil

As I write this blog I am amazed that 1) I would have friends who would quilt 2) Each quilt marks a specific massive change in my life and 3) Three different networks of relationships which have helped shape me and continue to do so.