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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Baptism of Richter

 

Church in the Dark

On October 1st the storm in Ivoti caused the power to go out at the church.  It was a blessing to see the body still come together for worship.

Night

Fellowship in the Dark

The conversations that normally happen before and after continued as if there were lights in the building.  Even with the only lighting being emergency lights the fellowship was real.

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Singing in the Dark

Normally we have the songs projected onto the wall of the building.  This time we passed out song books and the worship band played a few songs while the church sang into the dark.

Night 1

Preaching in the Dark

Andreu still preached but it was very hard to hear him without amplification and with the rain pattering on the roof.  It was very difficult for me to follow what was being said without the amplification and also the slides which are normally on the wall.  I have to say that I was impressed that we even had church without power.  My first thought was to go home when I saw that there was no power but I am glad I stayed.

Importance of Friends

During the very quick trip back to California I was able to spend a couple of meals with some friends.  Unfortunately I was unable to see and meet with every friend in the area.  One of my oldest friend’s Ken and his wife Sherrie happened to be visiting my parents at the same time I did.  It was great to be able to have breakfast with Ken and my Dad.

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Dad, Ken, and Me

I was also able to have dinner and catch up with two dear friends of mine.  Matt and Josh are also old friends of mine.  It was great to have a meal with them and their family one evening.  I am so thankful to have faithful friends who support me.

Friends

Josh, Matt, Seth, and Me

No missionary is an island unto themselves.  I was reminded of this during my visit to the United States this past week.  I am so blessed to have many friends all over the United States who are faithfully supporting me in many ways.  I wish that I could have spent time with all of my friends who contacted me about visiting when I was in the States.  I think that I will need at least 6 months to visit everyone when I return again in about 3 years.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Meal with the Church