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

 

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Foz de Iguacu

In order to get the best price on the plane flight I flew in a day early and left a day after the conference ended.  Due to arriving early I was able to go to both sides of the water falls.  I really enjoyed my time at both sides but I have to say that I liked the Brazilian side the best because you spent lots of time at the base of some of the largest falls.  The water falls are actually named as one of the new seven natural wonders of the world.

Foz

Enjoying the Foz

I wish that I could share with you the raw power that I felt while standing at the base of this glorious water fall.  The mist kicked up by the water fall was so heavy that we got pretty soaking wet just standing at the base.

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You can feel the power of the Foz

There are something like 150-300 unique waterfalls which make of Foz de Iguacu depending on the water level.  Due to all of the different unique waterfalls the park offered many great viewing points.

Foz 1

Spectacular views

On Tuesday the entire conference went to the Argentina side of the water falls.  We were able to walk to a platform right above the Devil’s Throat waterfall.  It was amazing to be able to stand above the water fall and hear/feel the power of the water crashing over the edge.

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The mist was unreal

The Devil’s throat is the highest of the water falls.

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Looking at Devils throat

We also were able to walk along the edge of many of the water falls.  It was spectacular to be able to see all of the unique falls that we saw.

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So many waterfalls

On the Argentina side of the water falls I brought up the end of the group so the picture below was often my view.

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My view of our group

 

Beach Day

I was told that I needed to visit the beach in South Brazil.  It seems to be a highlight for many of the people that I have talked with.  On Good Friday a group of us went to Torres Beach.  While at the beach we went walking along the beach and one of the missionaries kept on joking with me that I looked like an American.  That works for me because I am an American.  The beach was nice but not quite as nice as many of the beaches which I have frequented in California.

beach

Torres Beach

After a fish lunch at a restaurant along the river we went for a short walk across the bridge to the next state.  Now I can officially say that I have been in 3 states in Brazil (Sao Paulo, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande Do Sul).  The bridge was pretty rickety and it felt like you were going to fall due to how much it flexed.

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Walking to Santa Catarina

After the bridge we went for a hike along the cliffs north side of the beach.  It was very beautiful and I enjoyed the time up at the top.  One of the missionaries was pretty scared of us falling off the edge of the cliff.  It was not that scary and the rock edge was solid.

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Cliffs north of the beach

After hiking the cliffs on each side of the beach we decided to get a group shot of all of us who hiked them.  I enjoyed my time at the beach and look forward to going back with another group of people.

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Group Picture

 

Deputation and Training Trip Results

Cross Country Trip Map

Cross Country Trip Map

I have completed the majority of the travel during a planned 3 month long support raising.  I have been on the road sense July 6th and will not return to my sending church till the first week of October.

EMC

ABWE Training Diagram

There were 4 goals that I had for this trip:

  1. Attend Training in Harrisburg, PA in July 25-29
  2. Connect with Families
  3. Connect with Churches
  4. Raise Financial and Prayer Support
Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages in Carlsbad Caverns

Trip Statistics:

  1. Attended Essential Missions Components Training at ABWE Headquarters
  2. Personally Presented 58 different families along the trip.
  3. Presented at 8 churches, preached at 1 church, met with 10 additional churches.
  4. Received pledges from 15+ families for financial support and 40+ individuals for prayer support.
  5. Over 10,500 miles driven through 21 states.
Drive

Lots of Windshield Time

The final portion of the trip will be in the Sacramento Area where I will get to visit a couple of more churches and meet with families/friends.

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Redeemer Bible Church Youth Group

Luxury Camping

I have been camping many times in my life.  Normally I get to sleep on an air mattress in a tent.  This trip I got not only a tent but a cot.

Camping

The Tent

I left the rain fly off the tent so that I could see the stars as I slept.  It was a great night that I got to spend at Jacobs Lake.

Camping 1

The Cot

While in Kansas I also slept under the stars in a tent.  It was beautiful to see the stars.  In the morning I woke up to dew on everything.

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Camping in Kansas

AWE of the Grand Canyon

I was amazed at the beauty of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  The shear beauty caused me to sing for joy.  On July 7th I had the privilege of going to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

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North Rim

I could not help but stand in awe of the LORD’s creation.  I spent the rest of the day rejoicing in the LORD’s creative majesty.  The Grand Canyon is amazing.

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North Rim

Even in black and white the different vantages in the Grand Canyon are breathtaking.  Point Imperial was impressive.

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Point Imperial

The Destination or The Journey

While hiking in the Rocky Mountain National Park I had some time to think about many different things.  One of the items that I contemplated was “Am I focused on the Destination or the Journey?”  The hike was the catalyst for this train of thought.  I would pass groups going up and down to different destinations and wonder why it took them so long.  Was it just my long legs that carried me farther and faster or was it my drive to get to the end?

As I contemplated this on my hike I came to the conclusion that I was a destination focused hiker and also destination driven as an individual in life.  In hiking and in life, I typically think of what I want the end goal to be and then just go for it.  I do not often stop on the way or look at scenery along the path but keep on striving for the final destination.  This leads to the end result of getting to where you are going faster than others but not always seeing the beauty that you passed getting to your final destination.

Walking Perspective 1

Beautiful Waterfall Destination

I am not typically the kind of person who enjoys the journey to get to the destination.  The one who enjoy’s the journey at times does not get to the final destination in an expedient manner or by the most direct route.  However, their view of the journey is probably more enjoyable than mine as my view is normally of my own feet making sure that I arrive safely to the next mile marker or interim goal.

Walking Perspective

My View on the Way

As a destination person there are some issues. Some of these issues are that I can forget the beauty along the way, miss unexpected opportunities, and hurt people as I drive towards my final destination.

I hope to be able to enjoy the journey more in the future.  Not only when I am on a hike but also in life.  I know that I tend to be driven to arrive or achieve a goal but there are many great things that I know I am prone to missing along the way.  I hope to enjoy the best of both being destination and journey focused in the future.

Evangelism while Traveling

While on my journey I have had the opportunity to share the gospel with a few people.  The gospel is defined as the good news.  The good news that there can be salvation for people who have rebelled against a Holy God and justly deserve his punishment or wrath.

Each and every person has broken the law and rebelled against the Holy God.  The consequences of this rebellion is that each and every person deserves to feel his wrath for eternity.  The good news is that Christ died on the cross and bore the wrath of God that you deserve.  If we would repent (turn from our sins in thought and action) and trust in Christ we can be saved from the wrath that we deserve.  Not only are we saved from the consequences of our sin but we are welcomed into God’s family.  I love to be able to share the gospel with different people.

There have been 3 primary ways that I have gone about sharing the gospel while on this trip.  I use gospel tracts, life situations, and intentional notes.

Gospel Tract

Thank You Gospel Tract

As I travel I have to stop and eat.  While ordering food I have had the opportunity to give a Thank You gospel tract to many of the servers.  I have had some great responses.  My favorite was from a lady who asked if she had to pass this on to someone else.  She wanted to be able to keep the gospel tract.  I told her ‘No’ you don’t have to pass it on and that I just wanted to say Thank You and for you to be able to read the gospel.

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Rocky Mountain National Park

While traveling I also have an opportunity to interact with people over different life situations, the gospel opportunities abound.  I was hiking in the Rocky Mountain National Park and I got tired.  I sat down on the side of the trail and an older couple came by and I asked how they were doing.  They said they were doing good.  We talked about how I was a Missionary to South Brazil.  Then I began to share the gospel with them.  After sharing the gospel we parted ways and I continued up the trail as they went down.

Loveland CO

Lake in Loveland, CO

The final way that I have been able to share the gospel is with intentional notes that I write to them.  One time I was staying at a person’s house in Loveland, CO that I found through airbnb.  After I stayed there I left a note with a gospel tract.  I got a response the lady saying that she was offended by some of the things in the note and that Jesus would just love her where she was.  I then responded to her with another note.  In the note I shared with her that Jesus would visit people where they were but that people did not stay the same after Jesus visited them.  I specifically shared about how Zacchaeus  was visited by Jesus where he was at.  However, Zacchaeus was completely changed by the experience.  He renounced his sinful ways and his life was changed forever.

Towsley Canyon

I have enjoyed hiking Towsley Canyon very much over the past few months.  Every time I get back into the Santa Clarita Valley area I get to take a walk on this trial.  Here are a couple of the best views, in my opinion, on the trail. This time there happened to be some cloud cover which was over the Santa Clarita Valley.

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Towsley Canyon View

Towsley Canyon 2

Towsley Canyon View

Hiking Highlights

Hiking this past week was very interesting.  A couple of days I began my hike before the sunrise in the morning.  During those days I was able to enjoy beautiful sunrises.  It is interesting to begin a hike in the dark and then get some light later along the journey.

Beautiful Sunrise

Beautiful Sunrise

One of the hikes that I went on during the week was up to the top of the hills behind where I was staying.  It was great to have a beautiful view about half way through the hike.  Although I enjoyed the hike I actually walked one of my companions into the ground.  On the way back Stormy would walk ahead of me to the next shady spot and then lie down.  She proceeded to do this for the last half a mile of the hike.

Out of Gas

Ran Out of Gas

For the last few weeks I have noticed that there are many more snake crossings on the trails that I have been hiking.  I was walking back one of the days and I almost stepped on this racer.  Although not poisonous I still am glad that I avoided stepping on this snake.

Racer Snake

First Snake Sighting