Visiting Igreja Batista Pioneira

When I returned from the youth retreat last week I immediately left to go and visit Igrejas Batista Pioneira in Santa Cruz and Vera Cruz.  I was very encouraged to be able to meet with these like minded men.

Santa Cruz

Cal, Jair, Marco, and Me at the Church in Vera Cruz

One of the great things that happened during this visit was being able to hear the philosophy of ministry for these churches.  I was impressed by their articulation of the philosophy of ministry and it excites me to see these men desiring to radically pursue Christ and see the church body also do likewise.

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Listening to a presentation on the Philosophy of Ministry

With any good church there is a group of men who lead the church.  It was great to hear the excitement of the men on the leadership team at the church in Santa Cruz.  I am thankful for the opportunity to spend the day with such great guys and to have so many good encouraging conversations about ministry and the churches.

Santa Cruz 1

Enjoying a meeting with leaders at the Church in Santa Cruz

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Youth Retreat in Santa Catarina

I had the privilege of preaching at a youth retreat this past weekend.  I was so thankful for the opportunity which was presented to me.  I prepared to preach 4 different messages on Evangelism over the weekend.  The three messages were 1) Our Great Salvation, 2) The Gospel Messenger, 3) Preaching the Gospel, 4) Examples of Gospel Proclamation in the Scriptures.

retreat

Awesome Retreat Housing

The youth message was well received by the majority of the youth at the retreat.  I heard that one of the non-Christians repented during the retreat and that many of the Christians were challenged by the different messages.

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Breakfast at the Beach

I enjoyed the various beaches we were able to visit while at the retreat.  I had a wonderful time at the great beaches with the youth group.  One of the cultural takeaways for me from the weekend was how much Brazilians enjoy their beaches.

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Beach Day

I also enjoyed talking with all of the youth at the retreat.  I was reminded of how much progress I have made in my Portuguese language skills and also how much farther I still need to grow.  It was frustrating to not be able to communicate at times and how I could only understand some of the general conversation topics and not all of the specifics.  One of the encouraging parts was listening to the translation and being able to understand most of the translation.

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Bonfire Preaching Opportunities

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Beautiful Beaches in Santa Catarina

 

Preaching in Portuguese

I am thankful that I was able to preach an entire sermon in Portuguese this past Sunday.  I not only prepared the message in Portuguese but I also prepared slides so that people could follow the message easier.

Preaching 3

Beginning of the Sermon

The message was written in manuscript form and was on Hebrews 2:1-4 with the title A Great Salvation.  There were three points to the passage, A Great Savior, A Great Message, and The Great Messengers.

Preaching 2

Looking Up from the Reading

There are many different errors that I can remember in my sermon.  Of the problems that I identified there were none that are not correctable.  I am so thankful for the gracious people who listened to my sermon and gave me many compliments after in spite of the miss prounced words, poorly contrasted slides, and poor reading skills.

Preaching

The Power Point needs work

I am so thankful that despite all of the errors this still represented great progress in my Portuguese language abilities.  I am also thankful for all of the kind words of encouragement from not only the members of the church but also from the visitors who came not expecting an American to be preaching.  Most of all I am thankful that the LORD will continue to do his work through his word even with the poor delivery from this messenger.

Preaching 1

Making an emphatic point

 

Preparing to Preach

It takes a long time for me to properly prepare to preach.  The normal process begins with prayer and reading the passage multiple times.  Following reading the passage in English I then turn to the Greek or Hebrew and look at the passage in the original language.  Following the study of the language in the original languages I will then outline the message in English.  After that I would be ready to preach in English.  However, the process is much longer to prepare to preach in Portuguese.

Preparation

Lots of Time Typing the Sermon in Portuguese

My limited language abilities in Portuguese necessitate me writing a manuscript of the entire sermon.  The manuscript is then edited and revised multiple times.  I think that I have 6-7 different revisions that happened to help me prepare for the message.  I am so indebted to my professor and all of the Brazilians who helped me with the grammar and revisions of what I was trying to express in Portuguese.

Preparation 3

Grammar Editing by my Portuguese Professor

One of the great things was thankful for were the people who didn’t know that they were going to help me with my sermon but did anyways.  One day while I was at the Hangout, a coffee shop in Sao Leopoldo, I couple of people who came in were able to read the entire sermon that was prepared at that point and give me some pointers with my grammar.

Preparation 2

Grammar Help from Non-Christians

One of the last steps was to meet with a couple of friends for the purpose of helping me with fine tuning what I was trying to say and also helping me with my pronunciation.  It was difficult but one of the meeting was held at the local Mexican food restaurant, this was good for Brazilian Mexican food.

Preparation 1

Reviewing the grammar with a Pastor Friend

 

All Brazil Conference

My first all Brazil conference was a great experience.  It was about a week long and had all of the ABWE missionaries from Brazil who were not on furlough.  It was great to have all of the visitors from the states there.  One church even sent 7 individuals to serve us at the conference.  There were also 13 other people who came to serve us at the conference.  I am so thankful for all of the different ways that these servants blessed us missionaries.

Conference

Introductions to the team from Bethesda that served us

We had a great time singing together during the conference.  It seemed like we would sing before and after each session.  It was the first time in 9 months where I was able to sing each song that was played during that part of the worship service.

Conference 2

Worship as a group

4 mornings during the week we had a training session for at least 3 hours.  The topic of this conference was Essential Mission Components 2.  During EMC 2 we learning about holistic ministry, networking, partnerships and some other topics.

Conference 1

EMC 2 in the mornings

At EMC 2 all of the different teams worked at different tables to go through all of the different topics.  It was a great opportunity to get to know my team better and to work as a group to better understand our region and how to strategically reach Rio Grande Do Sul.

Conference 4

Singing before each Session

One of the ways that us missionaries were blessed was all of the different candy that was brought from the US.  Our table especially liked the Reeses Peaunt Butter Cups.  I had some fun with our answer paddles on the table.

Conference 3

Fun with the answer boards

One evening we got to hear a story of how Al Yoder almost crashed his airplane once.  He was a great storyteller with not only great verbal inflections but also fantastic mannerisms and expressions.

Conference 5

Listening to Missionary Stories

A favorite part of the conference was talking with many of the veteran missionaries.  I was extremely blessed to have them drop some serious wisdom on me about missions and some practical tips specific to Brazil.

Wisdom

Receiving Wisdom from Veteran Missionaries

 

A Missionaries Real Day

After giving my perspective on what I thought was the ideal missionary day I want to give you a picture of an actual day in my life.

I wake up early so that I can study, pray, and exercise before class.  After reading my bible I normally begin to do some studying before it get’s light enough for me to go and get some exercise.  The bible reading and prayer times are not as rich as I would hope for.  At times it feels like I am talking to a wall instead of the God of the universe when I am praying.

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How devotional and prayer time feel at times.  Just empty framework.

The day continues with me not understanding what is going on during my Portuguese class.  It seems like I am starting to understand what is going on during class but my mind is not functioning properly.

Real 3

Pictorial representation of the mess in my brain during Portuguese class at times

I get to go and have lunch after class with friend.  We talk in English and for that I am thankful.  At the end of lunch I forgot that I had a meeting later that day.  I check my phone for the time and figure out that I can actually make the meeting on time.

I get to my meeting and the person that I am meeting is going to be getting there late.  We had a great conversation and I eventually look at my watch and realize that we just spent 3 hours at the meeting and not 1 hour like I planned.

Real 2

Empty Parking Space means I get to walk to class

After the meeting I run to the auto mechanic to get car fixed.  The day before I noticed that my air conditioner was not working and my car wouldn’t two minutes after I turned it off.  I get to the mechanics and thankfully he is still there.  I then called uber for the first time in my life to get home.  I am now going to have to uber back to the mechanic tomorrow to pick up my car in the afternoon.

Real

Time to clean so I can study

When I get home I remember that I still have to clean and do laundry today before I begin to study for class tomorrow.  I am actually hungry and open my refrigerator to reveal that I have some pasta left over from earlier in the week and not much else in the fridge.

Real 1

Home to an almost empty refrigerator

I was able to study for 2-3 hours at night before I got too tired and began to watch the Thursday night football game until I went to sleep.

 

Baptism in Brazil

It was so exciting to be able to baptize two men this Sunday evening.  I have enjoyed watching these two guys grow in Christ during the 9 months that I have been in Brazil.  A few weeks ago we were talking and they both expressed interest in getting baptized.  On Sunday night I had the pleasure of baptizing Richter and Thomas.

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Pre-Baptism Picture with Richter and Thomas

One of the best parts of a baptism is listening to the testimonies of those who are getting baptized.  It was great to listen to both of these young men testify to the work that Christ has done in their lives.  After the testimonies I gave a short devotional in Portuguese about the purpose of baptism.  The worst part of giving this devotional was getting bitten by the bugs.

Baptism

Explanation of Baptism in Portuguese

The pool was a little deeper than I thought it would be but it made it really easy to baptize these two young men.  Thomas was the first man that I have ever baptized.

Baptism 1

Baptism of Thomas

I absolutely loved the fist pump that Richter gave after being baptized.  I look forward to more baptisms as the LORD works in the lives of many people in Rio Grande do Sul.  It was awesome to be able to get to baptize these two men.

Baptism 3

Baptism of Richter

 

A Missionaries Ideal Day

When I thought of being a missionary I had many preconceived notions of what it would be like and how I might be different than the norm.  I knew that my day would never mirror the day that I describe below but it didn’t keep me from dreaming that this day might actually happen.

The ideal day would begin with getting up and having a wonderful 1 hour devotional time studying the scriptures and praying.  Following the studying of the scriptures and prayer I would go and get about an hour of exercise during which I would be able to continue to pray.

Ideal Day 2

Portuguese Class

After this I would prepare to go to Portuguese class.  While in class I would instantaneously understand all of the material for the day and be able to clearly articulate these things to my teacher.  Following class I would go to the local supermarket and pick up the exact food that I am wanting to eat for the day.  I would run into a neighbor who want to talk.  We would have a great conversation about life that would end with me inviting them to come to church and them saying that they would come next Sunday.

Ideal Day

Quality Conversations

On my way home I ran into the lady who cleans the common space in the apartment building.  We have a great conversation that began with the current weather and ended with a great conversation about how she is Roman Catholic and how that is different than being Christian.

Following this conversation I was able to study and understand all that I was trying to learn in my Portuguese class.  After about 5 hours of quality study time I feel very accomplished and ready for my guests to arrive.

Ideal Day 1

Fellowship with Church Friends

That evening I have a family from the local church come over to my house for dinner.  We have a great time over food and I am able to clearly communicate with them in Portuguese.  We play games until midnight and then I get some quality sleep until I wake up the next morning.  Thus ends my ideal day.

Church Membership and Preaching

This past Sunday was a big day in my life as a missionary.  I became a member of the local church in Ivoti that I have been attending and I also preached at the evening service.

membership

Membership Testimony

It was great to be able to begin the day with seeing about 20 people become a member of Ministerio Biblico Ivoti (MBI).  I enjoyed being able to listen to all of the testimonies of the others.  Many of the testimonies were very emotional.  My testimony, in Portuguese, was short and sweet but it was well received.

 

Preaching

Reading the Sermon Introduction in Portuguese

 

Later in the same day I preached at MBI.  This was a difficult sermon not only because of the topic (giving) but also I began the sermon in Portuguese before switching to a translator.  I was very nervous to begin the sermon in Portuguese.  I think that it was well received even with all of the miss pronounced words, miss conjugated verbs, failed gender assignments for the nouns, and the poor reading tempo.  I look forward to peaching a whole sermon in Portuguese in the future but for now only the introduction will have to do.

Preaching 1

Full Church listening to me speak and understanding what I am saying.

Agape Fellowship

Two Sunday’s ago my church in Brazil had an Agape Fellowship time of prayer, communion, and fellowship.  It was great to have about 30+ people come to the Agape Fellowship.  I enjoyed listening to all of the people praying and the devotional.

Agape

Corporate Prayer

After corporate prayer, the devotional, and communion we had a potluck.  It was great to have all of the people make different things to eat.  For this Agape Fellowship I made Mac & Cheese similar to what my grandmother used to make.  The big difference is that they do not have Velveeta cheese in Brazil so I had to use a combination of cheddar and mozzarella cheese to make the cheese sauce.  The Mac & Cheese was well received by the people at the church.

Agape 1

Lunch is Served

After getting your food we all sat down at one long table to eat all of the food.  I am thankful for my friends at the church who speak a little slower when I am around so that I can better follow the conversation and even participate.

Agape 2

Meal with the Church