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.

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Enjoying a meeting with leaders at the Church in Santa Cruz

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Visiting Estadio Beira Rio

In this part of Brazil there are two soccer teams which people cheer for, International and Gremio.  In time I will have to choose which team I will root for but prior to choosing a team I have told everyone that I will need to visit each of the stadiums and experience what it is like to be a fan.  Visiting Estadio Beira Rio, Riverfront Stadium, was a great experience for me.

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Selfie at Estadio Beira Rio

The rivalry between the two teams is very serious and both fan bases are very passionate about their teams.  I don’t really know what to compare it to except for the Giants and Dodgers baseball rivalry in California.  Both fan bases believe that their teams are the best and don’t like the other team.

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Roberto, Bladimir, and Me

Going to the stadium was an experience.  I didn’t know that you could sell more tickets than seats for each game.  It turns out that you can purchase season tickets and get an ID card to use when you enter each game.  I am glad that I was able to experience the game with Roberto and Bladimir.

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Great International Fans

One of the things that really stood out to me was the passionate rooting of the fans at the stadium.  I was told that passionate soccer fans are called hooligans and it was amazing to see them standing up and chanting the entire time that the team was on the field.  I had never seen a group of fans stand for the entire first half chanting and waving their arms.

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Watching the Game

I have lots to learn about the game of futbol or soccer.  I still do not understand what they are doing at all times and what the players are trying to accomplish with their formations but I want to learn.  The best way to learn is to watch and ask questions.

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Players thanking the Fans

Before everyone thinks that I have chosen the side, I want to say that I have not decided on a side yet.  Once I choose a team I will write a blog about that but before I choose I still need to visit the Arena do Gremio.

 

 

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.

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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

 

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.

 

Bonsai Trees and Language Learning

I have a special ability to kill plants but against all odds my Bonsai tree has been able to continue to grow and thrive.  I was told that I needed to keep the soil moist and give it at least 3 hours of sunlight each day.  I have kept the soil moist by watering the tree at least once a day and it sits in the window of my apartment getting at least 4 hours of Sunlight each day.

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Bonsai when it arrived

I was scared that I was killing the tree when I saw the leaves folding up each night.  I did some research and found out that the tree is actually supposed to do this.  One of my friends, who is a gardener,  called the tree “Dormi Dormi”  meaning the sleep sleep tree. Over the last few weeks that I have owned this tree it has grown lots.

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Bonsai with some growth

As I have been watching the Bonsai tree I have been able to think of the tree as a parallel to my language learning.  Language learning requires time and effort but you will not always see the growth.  One day you might wake up and think that you are growing because you can speak freely.  Later that same day you will feel like you lost all of the progress that you have made because you can’t hold any conversation.

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Bonsai with leaves closed

Language learning is not a linear process and there will always be growth if you continue to put in the work.  However,  I need to remember not to be discouraged when it seems like all of my language skills fold up and go away just like the leaves on this the tree close each night.  I look forward to seeing not only the growth of my Bonsai tree but also the growth of my ability to speak Portuguese.

 

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Lots of New Growth

 

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.

Bonsai!!!

I have wanted to purchase a Bonsai tree for the last 20+ years.  I have enjoyed looking at different Bonsai trees over the years.  I used to think about stopping to purchase a tree during college when I saw the Bonsai guy while driving home but I never stopped to purchase a tree.  Over the years of moving I determined not to purchase a tree because I never had a place to in my apartments.

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Many Plants to Choose from

Once I arrived in Brazil I saw a sign for Bonsai trees along the road side and determined to purchase one.  One day I stopped by and there was no worker at the roadside Bonsai stand.  A few weeks later I was talking with a friend and he said that he wanted to purchase a Bonsai tree also.  We made arrangements to go together to purchase trees.  I looked at many different tree options to purchase.  Once I narrowed down the type of tree that I wanted, I then had to determine the age of the tree to purchase.

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40 year old Bonsai

The Bonsai pictured above is a 40 year old tree that is similar to the one that I ended up purchasing.  It is actually in the private collection of the owner.  I thought that the root ball and bark looked really cool.  I ended up purchasing a tree that is only 15 years old and has red flowers during the fall each year.  I really like the bark, root ball, branches and the red flowers that are characteristic of this tree.  One day I hope to see this tree at 30 years old.

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My Bonsai

 

 

Overconfidence

When learning Portuguese I feel like I am in a boxing match that I am loosing.  The first two to three rounds have been very rough.  Recently I feel like I have turned a corner and I felt like I was going to either win round four or at least break even.  I felt like I confidence that I would maybe win a round.  This time I feel like I got kicked in the nuts because I have not won this round but I lost yet again.  This loss cam while purchasing curtains for my apartment.  I went with a great family from church to get the original fabric and they graciously took me to the seamstress to get the curtains made.  The seamstress called and said that the fabric that I had purchased was not the correct size.  I felt confident enough to handle this without any assistance.  However,  I was mistaken because the fabric store ladies kept on saying that they gave me the right amount and the seamstress had miss cut the fabric on purpose.  They also said many other things which I didn’t pick up or understand.  I wish that I had brought one of the many people who have offered to help in times such as this.  Instead I felt that too confident and actually ended up purchasing the required fabric again.  I look forward to a time where I will be able to argue a little during situations like this.

 

Curtains

Extra Fabric from Curtains

I am so thankful that I was able to get at least one curtain made that fit where I wanted it to fit.  The other curtain does not fit because of some structural beams that I am not able to drill through.  I am so thankful for being able to finally get the curtains made for my apartment.

 

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Good Looking Curtains

 

 

Time to Read

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.

Reading

Redwall Series