Preaching in Ivoti

I had the joy of preaching in Ivoti on July 1.  I preached on Philippines 1:6 on that God Began and will Complete all of his work.  I have seen great improvements in my Portuguese sense the first time I preached.  I am also thankful for the improvements that others are talking about sense the previous time that I preached.  I felt more comfortable preaching in Portuguese than I ever have.

Preaching

Beginning the Sermon

While preparing for this sermon it was great to feel more free in being able to express what the passage is saying and more confident that people will understand the points that are being made.  I was very encouraged in that I had only a couple of handfuls of words that I needed to look up because I didn’t know them.

Preaching 2
Making a point during the sermon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was great to feel comfortable enough while preaching to add some unplanned sentences and to also be able to emphasize different words or parts of phrases.  I am so thankful that my language abilities are improving.  It was also encouraging to hear comments from people as to how they were encouraged by the sermon.

Preaching 1

Final Prayer bringing the sermon to a close

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Fear and Forgiveness

Discipleship

Proverbs 27:17 – Sharpening One Another

As I disciple men I am continually encouraged to follow Christ more and also to review some basic truths of the Christian faith.  This are two of the things that I enjoy most about discipleship, 1) the continual sharpening of my walk with Christ through being challenged to remember things I forgot and 2) seeing the scriptures through the eyes of a different believer.

Discipleship 1

Proverbs 9:10 – Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom

The other day I was discipling a  young Christian and he was talking about two things which confuse him when he looks at other Christians. The two biblical topics were the fear of the LORD and the necessity of forgiveness.

Discipleship 2

Proverbs 8:13 – Fear of the LORD is hatred of evil

The first thing which he talked about not understanding was Christians continually struggling with the same sin in the same way over and over.  He talked about how he doesn’t understand conversations with some Christians, who are supposed to be more mature in their faith, that struggle with the same sin over and over.  Our conversation continued and he spoke about how he really fears God and that stops him from wanting to continue to sin.  Our conversation continued with me affirming that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, Proverbs 9:10.  We further talked about how fear keeps us from continuing in our sin.  This is a simple lesson from Acts 5.

Discipleship 3

Acts 5:11 – Great Fear came upon the church

The second thing that we talked about is forgiveness and how he thinks that forgiveness is a fundamental part of being a Christian.  He was marveling that there are mature Christians he knows who do not forgive others but does not forgive those who were responsible for sinning against them (either real or perceived).  We continued our conversation with talking about how those who have been greatly forgiven should forgive others.  Our conversation was centered around the scriptures which tell the believer to forgive.

Discipleship 4

Luke 7:47 – Those who are forgiven much love much

When we have been greatly forgiven it is easier to forgive others.  Understanding that great love is a result of great forgiveness but little love is a result of little forgiveness.  As a newer believer it was awesome to hear this man speak about how he forgives because he knows he was a great sinner and has received great forgiveness.

Discipleship 5

Matthew 18:21-22 – Forgive 70 times 7 times

The other passage we talked about was Matthew 18:21-22 specifically talking about forgiveness and how many times we are to forgive the brother who sins against us.  Christians are to forgive and it was so encouraging to hear how he recognizes that forgiveness is a real struggle for some Christians.  It was encouraging to hear him say that he desires to forgive and understands the importance of forgiveness in the Christian walk.

Year in Review: Great Opportunities

When I thought of the experiences that I would have in Brasil this year I never thought that I would experience all of the great opportunities that I have had.  One of the great opportunities was to get to know all of the possible future ministry partners that I have met with over the years.

Santa Cruz

Talking with Possible Ministry Partners

I have been able to preach in Portuguese once this year.  It was more difficult than I ever thought it would be but I am so thankful for being able to do it and I am looking forward to preaching in Portuguese again.

Preaching 3

Preaching in Portuguese

Being able to baptize two people during this year was awesome.

Baptism 3

Baptizing People

I was very thankful for the opportunity to join the church in Ivoti earlier this year.

membership

Becoming a Member of at the church in Ivoti

Getting to see Carlos get baptized was amazing.  I can remember praying for him ever sense I first met him towards the end of 2015.

Baptism 2

Being Part of Other Baptisms

 

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.

Real 4

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.

 

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

 

 

 

New and Old Buildings

The new building was not completed in time for the dedication service last Sunday.  Instead we had a time of prayer and gratitude before the church service.  It was great to see the looks on some of the people who attended the time of prayer and gratitude.

church

Entrance into New Building

Everyone enjoyed the progress that has been made on the building.  The main area will be a great place for church services, soccer, basketball and other activities.

church 1

Gratitude for New Building

After seeing the new building we came back for the church service in the current building.  It was great to see all of the people worshiping.

church 2

Packed Service

This church service also was a send off for the missionary who helped start this church.  The Richner’s are going on furlough and last Sunday was their last service in Brasil.

church 3

Expression of Gratitude to Missionaries

 

Baptism

On last Saturday I was able to attend a Baptism.  I was so excited to come to this baptism because I remember sharing the gospel with Carlos when I last visited in November/December 2015.

Baptism

Pre Baptism Fellowship

Carlos was one of the stories that I shared about my visit to Brazil while I was raising support to come back.  Carlos was one who attended the Hangout but didn’t want to talk about spiritual things.  While I was visiting the Hangout one night he asked a question that lead to a conversation where I was able to present the gospel to him.   He did not repent at that time but eventually he did repent.

Baptism 1

The Immersion

Over the last year and a half Carlos has repented and been discipled by one of the missionaries.  The missionary who has been discipling is going on furlough and he wanted to be baptized before the missionary left.  It is great to see answered prayers.

Baptism 2

Post Immersion

 

Missions Team

A couple of weeks ago we had a missions team visit our field.  It was my first missions team experience that I had as a missionary.  The team was made up primarily of college students.  The team was lead by future members of the South Brazil field team.

Missions Team 3

Missions Team

One of the events that the missions team did was to help paint sealant on the new church building.  It was great to get all of us together to do some painting.  I really enjoyed my time with the team.

Missions Team 2

Painting the exterior wall with sealant

I had the privilege of reaching the high panels while others were painting the lower panels.

Missions Team 1

The short and tall

Sometimes it is good to be tall and have long arms.  We were able to pant most of one exterior and interior wall.  Check out the progress that we made.

Missions Team 4

Painting the interior wall.

 

Enjoying the New Diet

I am really enjoying my new diet in Brazil.  I am a fan of many different foods but I especially enjoy different meats.  Churrasco is Brazilan for BBQ.  The classic BBQ is done over a wood fire with simple seasonings like rock salt.  I enjoyed the beef, pork and chicken BBQ one Sunday afternoon with some people from the church.

Food 3

Backyard Churrasco

Schneider’s is a very nice and expensive Churrascaria (BBQ Restaurant) that I had the privilege of going to one day.  Some of the best things that they do is cow hump, filet minion, garlic roles, mozzarella balls, and their roasted pineapple desert.  Being a missionary is tough some times but for the sake of the gospel I will rough it.

Food

Schneider’s Churrascaria

As I was car shopping with one of the missionaries it came time for lunch.  We were driving by a place and he told me that this is the best Thai food in South Brazil.  The name of the restaurant is Thai in a Box.  I have to say that I was disappointed because I went to a good Thai food place just two weeks earlier before I left the states.  However,  I am told that in about 6 months to a year this will be a great place for Thai food.  On a side note this may be the only Thai place in South Brazil.

Food 2

Thai in a Box

One of the meals that I had was a great fresh chicken, fruit, and nut salad.  It is great to enjoy some awesome food.  This might have been the most healthy thing that I ate in the 3 weeks that I have been here.  I do have to say that I have been enjoying the food here and have found it good to only eat a couple of meals a day with the major meal actually happening around lunch time.

Food 1

A Healthy Salad