For a long time I have enjoyed reading, I can remember hiding under my covers witha flashlight to finish reading a book after my partents told me to go to bed. During the past few months I have had more time to read than I normally do. Reading has been a great help for me here in Brazil. First is that it provides some comfort because it is very familiar to me because it is in English. Second it provides something to do that is not studying Portuguese. Third, I am rereading lots of books that bring back great memories for me. The series pictured is the Redwall series which I first read as a child with my dad and then reread multiple times as I grew up. I have great memories reading these books at the house I grew up in, while in college and now in Brazil.
When I left the United States to be a missionary in Brazil I knew that there would be some difficulties that would happen. One of those difficulties I thought through was “How do you deal with the death of a family member?” This has already happened to me. On July 9th when I woke up to a message saying that one of my grandmothers had passed away.
I had thought through two different options: Stay in Brazil or Return to the United States. This is a real issue that I am thinking through again. I absolutely love my grandmother and always thought it would be an easy decision but now that I am facing the decision there is no easy answer. No matter what I decide I will have some regrets.
As a missionary there are difficulties in the course of life that we will face. “The death of a family member” is a difficulty that I expected to have happen during my time as a missionary but I did not expect it to happen so quickly. Being away from family at this time provides a clear opportunity to trust and be comforted by Christ. I am struggling with my love for my earthly family, specifically my grandmother, and my longing for being with my heavenly family. Longing to be with my heavenly family has brought me to be in Brazil. As I am struggling with this difficulty I have had to find comfort in the scriptures. Specifically, I find peace that the scriptures that say leaving your family is worth the cost to share the gospel and follow Christ. Matthew 19:29, Mark 10:29-30, and Luke 14:26 all very clearly teach that being a missionary in another country is worth the cost. The difficulties and hardships are very real but so is the comfort that I find with knowing these scriptures. I am also comforted in knowing that my family is not limited to only those who are flesh and blood. The scriptures say that when you become a Christian you gain more family. Matthew 12:30, Mark 3:35, and Luke 8:21 all say that the Christians family is those who are doing the will of the Father. I am comforted by the knowledge that I am getting to know more family here in Brazil.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I was able to reflect on my last walkthrough Sacramento this past week. I grew up in this city and have many different memories of past events which happened at different places all throughout the city.
When I think of Old Town Sacramento two of the things that come to mind are the Pyramid Building and the Delta King. The Pyramid Building is a West Sacramento landmark which I have actually never been to but have always looked for when in Sacramento. The Delta King is a wonderful reminder of the rich river life history that is found in Sacramento.
I have spent many afternoons walking through tours in the Capital. Many of my thoughts here went to my life during junior or senior high.
When I view this mall I think of my youth when they had a Thursday Night Farmer’s Market which would fill this street with booths and people. I really enjoyed this time in my youth.
The Golden 1 Center is the new basketball arena which was built in downtown. This beautiful building reminds me of watching many Sacramento Kings games when I was a youth. One day I hope to come back and watch a Kings game in this arena.
My mother said that she had a gift for me to bring on my carry on. I decided to wait until Toronto to open the gift. I am so thankful for my mother who decided to look through all of the books that I was taking to find if I had this book or not.
When I first felt this gift I knew that it was a book. The only question was what book. It is great to have this book as a reminder of home and to read while I hurry up and wait on all of the different things that I need to do to get set up with everything here in Brasil.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As I think about leaving for Brazil I experienced something that I didn’t expect to while packing. In packing one of the first stages is to sort what is going to be staying, leaving or coming with me. There are items which will be staying in California with my parents. Other items will be leaving me, these will be either sold or given to the Salvation Army. The last category of items is those who will be coming with me.
When I arrived in Northern California on January 17 I thought that I had roughly packed everything that I would need. I thought that I would have to just go back through and list everything that I packed and I would be ready in a short time. Boy was I wrong. I went back through every bag and not only listed what was in each bag but normally added to the list of items. This took me to the point where I know everything in each bag and now I am able to fine tune what I am taking with me.
The final packing count is 11 total bags which I will be taking with me. Each is packed with a variety of different items which I need/want. I have also been slowly adding to what I am bringing because of the slowly growing list of items that I did not have. I am now packed and ready to go. The next step will be to unpack after I arrive in Brazil.
On January 18 there was a massive storm of wind and rain that hit Sacramento. I was in complete awe of the storm and what happened. One neighbor had part of their roof torn off and another had a massive pine tree fall right next to their house due to the 60+ mph gusts of wind that whipped through my parents neighborhood.
These gusts actually broke off two branches that would have destroyed my car if I had been home. One branch was easily removed from the driveway while the other got hung up in the tree above my dad’s 57 Chevy. After the storm blew past my father and I pulled the tree branch off of the other branch that it had been caught up upon.
After pulling the branch off, without damaging the ’57 Chevy underneath, we cut it up into pieces to be burned or tossed away. The branch was so big and heavy that the sawzall could not cut all the way through it so we had to take a large axe and hack it apart. I was so thankful that I had my towing straps and sawzall available so that we could easily deal with this situation.
When I was growing up I used to go to Weiner Works before almost every Sacramento Kings Game that I attended. It was here that I would get wonderful 14 inch long hot dogs with a great snap.
My favorite hot dog was the number 38, 14 inch long dog with meat chili, cheese, and red onion, Yum. The next best part of the meal was the fries which were home cut and HUGE. I ordered the tiny fries when I went this time and they were still over 1/4 of the tray. I was so thankful to be able to visit this place one last time before I leave for Brazil.