Two New Unique Experiences

This past weekend I had two unique experiences.  The first was that of driving on a car ferry and then crossing the mouth of a large lagoon.  It was really a bitter sweet time for me because I had to drive a girl who got sick to the local hospital.  It was very interesting because when we arrived at the hospital we found out that the doctors had gone on strike so that they were not receiving any patients who were not going to die.  So we simply returned over the ferry again.

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Car Ferry accross the inlet at the lagoon near Laguna, Santa Catarina

The second unique experience was that of riding inside of a car on top of a tow truck.  While on the way back to the rental property I noticed that my car was overheating very quickly.  When I got out of the car I could hear a hissing sound but could not find the leak.  I messaged my mechanic and he said to try and get the car back so that he could take a look at what was wrong.  Other guys at the retreat also looked at the car and could not find the source of the hissing. (It turns out that there was a leak in a hose to the radiator and that was fixed.)

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Friends Looking at the Car

Therefore I topped off the water in the radiator and tried to limp the car back to Ivoti which was about 380 km away.  I got about 2 km down the road when the engine over heated again and I had to shut it down.  We called the insurance company at about 8 pm and it was 10:15 pm before the tow truck arrived to take me home.

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Waiting for the Tow Truck to come

Being as there was 3  people in the car and only two could fit in the cab of the tow truck the driver allowed us to illegally keep two in the cab of the car on the back of the two truck.  It turned out to take about 7 hours to get us back to my house on the back of the tow truck.  That meant that we arrived home at 5 am on Monday morning.

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Arriving at 5 am Monday morning

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Football

This game was the first Brazilian Semi-Pro American football game that I attend.  One of the missionaries on the ABWE team in South Brazil helps coach the Porto Alegre Bulls.

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Game Ticket: Bulls v. Solders

I was excited to see the kickoff of the game.  The last time that I visited South Brazil I was able to help coach the linemen on this team a couple of times.  I was continually looking to see if I recognized any of the players on the sideline.  I did recognize some of the faces.

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Time for the Kickoff

The game was pretty one sided with the Bulls only able to move the ball a little on offense when the Soldiers had penalties.  On defense it wasn’t much better as the Soldiers were able to move the ball and scored every possession.  There were some highlights for the Bulls as I saw a couple of their defensive linemen make some good plays in the backfield.  I look forward to being a guest coach the Bulls again in the near future and hope to help them with some skills that might make this more of a game the next time these two teams face off.

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Halftime Score

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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Post Immersion

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A Healthy Salad

 

Send Off Service

It was a blessing to be sent off by my church this past Sunday.  It was awesome to get up in front of a packed out church and be able to preach the word.  I was so excited to be able to share my heart with Placerita Bible Church.  I preached from 1 Thessalonians 1:2-8 on the Results of Gospel Transformed Life.  This passage is near and dear to my heart as it describes my desire for the ministry in Brazil.  If you want to listen to the sermon please use the link.

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Preaching the Word

I was very encouraged to have my elders pray for me before I leave for Brazil.  I am so thankful to enjoy a great send off service on January 8th at Placerita Bible Church.

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Being Prayed for by the Elders

Prayer is a very important thing for every missionary and I appreciate all of those who are holding “The Rope” for me.  “The Rope” is my monthly prayer letter which is sent to everyone who wants to pray for me.  PBC gave me a plaque with a picture to remind me that they are praying for me.

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Reminder of PBC’s Prayers