Arena do Grêmio Experience

When I moved down to Rio Grande do Sul I was told that there were two major teams here: Grêmio and International.  Furthermore, I was informed that I needed to choose between the two teams.  I pushed off the choice of choosing a team until I visited each stadium and was able to get a fan experience at the stadium.  I first visited the Stadium of International in November of 2017.

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Arena do Grêmio

On Tuesday I went to Arena do Grêmio with a friend to watch a game.  The game that we were able to go the Copa Libertadores quarter final games.  For American’s who don’t know about Soccer teams play a home and home match for each playoff round the Copa Libertadores.

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Douglas and Me Before the Game

Grêmio won the first match at the home stadium of Atlético Tucumán, 2-0.  This time Grêmio won this game 4-0 and the 2 game series also.  Grêmio now moves onto the semifinal round of the Cope Libertadores.

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Grenal Fan Club

Now that I have been to both Stadiums and experienced what it means to be a fan I will have to choose.  Look forward to a post in the near future where I will choose which team I will root for in the future.

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GOOOOAAAAALLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!

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Improving Every Time!

I was very encouraged after preaching in Church on Sunday.  I had multiple people come up to me after and tell me that they see an improvement each time I preach.  It was encouraging to listen to the worship leader thank me for preaching.  I was very thankful for the compliments that my girlfriend and her mom gave me after the service, but I think that they might be a little biased.  I even had one lady from the church come up and say that she always enjoys when I preach at the church.

Preaching

Editing my Sermon Manuscript

Preparing for this sermon was enjoyable and I definitely felt my language abilities growing.  Don’t get me wrong but there are still MANY things that I need to improve upon in speaking Portuguese.  To be able to sit down and write a sermon manuscript only using google translator to look up a few words that I don’t know or to make sure that I can spell a word properly.  I was very thankful to be able to express most of what I really wanted to express in the sermon.

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Mark 2:1-12 – Jesus has the power to forgive sins

After competing the sermon manuscript I took it over to my girlfriends house to have her edit the manuscript for me.  I expected that it would take 3-4 hours for her to complete the editing process.  However, thankfully it only took about 2 hours for her to edit the manuscript.  I am so thankful for her help in preparing for the sermon.

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The Revelation – Point 5 of 7

I do have to say that I am always nervous before I get up to preach in either English or Portuguese.  However, preaching in Portuguese is definitely something that makes me even more nervous.  I am so thankful that my Portuguese is improving.  At this point I am still glued to a manuscript which I write before preaching.  In English I am able to modify the sermon on the fly but in Portuguese I am very much limited to what I have written.

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The Conclusion

After preaching this Sunday I went to dinner with friends.  It was very thankful to see one of the visitors from the church join us for dinner.  It was great to see everyone talking and enjoying one another’s company after church.  I am thankful that my Portuguese abilities are improving to the point that I can even talk and hang out after preaching a sermon in Portuguese.

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Post Preaching Meal with Friends

Visit with Pastor Steve (Part 3)

When Pastor Steve came to visit I was very excited and wanted to show him a great time and to introduce him to multiple different experiences.  I prepared a detailed plan for our time together and fortunately we were able to fulfill the plan with only minimal changes.  One of the experiences that I wanted to introduce him to was the variety of quality food which we have here in South Brazil.  Pastor Steve was able to help me even prepare some of the food like the cheese ball in the picture below.

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Cheese Ball and Candied Peanuts

Another experience for Pastor Steve was to be able to visit the church in Ivoti.  He had a wonderful time at the Church during both Sunday nights.  I am thankful that he was able to come up with so many encouraging comments about the worship and preaching even though he was unable to really understand everything that was going on.  His quote about the church was “The preaching was excellent, their theology is reform and it has a very warm family feeling with lots of conversation and some hugs after the service.”

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Sausage and 3 Cuts of Beef on the Grill

Meeting the people was a vital part of the experience which I wanted Pastor Steve to have.  There are two general categories of people who we met, those who speak only Portuguese and those who speak Portuguese and English.  I tried to divide our time between both groups with an emphasis on the people who speak only Portuguese.  However I was warned that translating for someone is really exhausting so I really tried to only schedule two things a day for Pastor Steve and me.  Even though I was translation was very tiring for me I was encouraged by the amount of Portuguese that I understood and the ability to translate for Pastor Steve during many of these conversations.  I feel like Pastor Steve was able to meet such a wide variety of people during his time here.

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Chocolate Mousse and Coffee for Desert

A part of the time with Pastor Steve was letting him see the normal daily activities which I participate in during a normal week.  I hope that he enjoyed normal activities like morning exercise and prayer, discipleship and evangelism opportunities at The Hangout, Church in Ivoti, lunches with friends, and football practice/game.

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Meat Fondue platter

Beyond the current schedule I wanted to give Pastor Steve the opportunity to see different future ministry opportunities.  Pastor Steve was able to come to Santa Cruz and to see a little more of the state’s interior along with going to Dois Irmãos.  We had a great time going and seeing different opportunities and talk about future dreams or possibilities.

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Chocolate Fondue Platter

Another experience for Pastor Steve was meeting the entire team with the exception of those who are on furlough.  Pastor Steve was able to talk with each team member family individually.  I think that they were all encouraged by the visit by Pastor Steve and also the gift which he brought for each team member.  I am so thankful for a sending church that not only wants to encourage me but each member of the field team also.

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Caesar Salad

The final experience which I wanted to give Pastor Steve was a cultural perspective of what it is like to be down here.  He was able to talk with many different friends over the 10 days he was here.  The stories of the Brazilians and expatriates which he was able to listen to during his time here revealed a lot of cultural experiences.

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Wood Fired Pizza

3-0 and Playoff Bound

On last Sunday with Pastor Steve we drove to Porto Alegre for a football game in the rain.  The weather was great for a football game, Canoas Bulls vs. Cruzeiro Lions.  I enjoy coaching the Offensive Line for the Canoas Bulls.  The Canoas Bulls came out victorious over the Cruzeiro Lions and are now 3-0 in League and will be at worst a 3 seed going into the playoffs, which means a minimum of one home game.

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Pre-Game preparation with the Offensive Line

During the game the offense was able to run against the Lions but it seemed like at every drive would be interrupted with a fumble or a negative play that would kill the drive.  The line was not always responsible for the breakdowns.  I enjoyed watching the line block and the running back make the proper reads.  Our running back would always come back to the sideline after each drive with praise for the offensive line opening up big holes like on this play.  During the course of the game we actually had 3 offensive linemen go out with an injury.  I remember a time when we did not have enough linemen to withstand even one or two injuries.  I was very proud of all of the offensive linemen who were ready and able to play during the game.  We actually played 9 of the 10 offensive linemen and the backups were able to step in and still continue the good play.  On this running play we have two non-starters in and they still open up a big hole for the running back.  I am so excited that now we actually have great competition for the starting spots on the offensive line.  I look forward to seeing the continued improvement and play of these guys.  We are looking strong after this close win, 10-9.  In the playoffs we will be a dangerous team and the offensive line has been a large (pun intended) part of our success.  If you are an offensive linemen with the Bulls and reading this know that you still have lots to improve on.

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Post Game Celebration with the Offensive Line and Tight Ends

 

Visit from Pastor Steve (Part 2)

As the week continued it was great to have Pastor Steve around.  I tried to keep him busy with meeting people and experiencing new things having to do with the culture or the church here in Brazil.  One of the things that Pastor Steve enjoyed was getting some time to talk with Tati and me.  Wednesday night Tati was able to come over to the apartment and talk with Pastor Steve and me.  It was a blessing to have Pastor Steve encourage her through the scriptures and use the new bible which was given to her by friends from Placerita Bible Church.

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Bible Study with Pastor Steve, Tati and Me

On Thursday morning Pastor Steve and Tati were able to join me on my morning walk due to the state holiday celebrating Farroupilha. Farroupilha celebrates the end of a 10 year rebellion by this state against the rest of Brazil on September 20, 1835.  It was a treat to have company on my normal route.

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Morning Walk with Tati and Pastor Steve

For lunch we had a traditional churrasco experience in my house.  We grilled sausage, and 3 different types of beef which are common in Brazil.  We used the standard Brazilian style and seasoning on these meats. We also had rice, potato salad, and chocolate mousse for desert.

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Churrasco

It was great to have 10 of us for about 4-5 hours of eating and talking.  My request to all of my friends who I invited was two fold.  First that they would speak English, to give me a break from translating as much. Second was that they would share some cultural story or experience about Brazil with Pastor Steve, to help broaden his understanding of the culture here in Brazil and specifically here in Rio Grande do Sul.

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Holiday Celebration with Friends

Friday I took Pastor Steve and Erin to Gramado for the day.  We enjoyed wonderful weather and great fondue.  This was an opportunity for Pastor Steve to really experience what a Brazilian winter vacation destination.  I think that they both had lots of fun at Gramado on Friday.

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Visit to Gramado with Pastor Steve and Erin

Saturday I took Pastor Steve to visit Santa Cruz do Sul.  I took the picture below to symbolize us both looking ahead at what Christ is and may be doing in the future while standing at the foot of the cross.  As much as we pray and plead for Christ to work we know that it is ultimately up to him to start and complete the work of salvation in the life of a person and to build his church.

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Long Term Vision Thoughts in Santa Cruz

During our time in Santa Cruz we got to hang out with Maicol and Mandy.  It was a blessed time to see these two dear friends and their children.  During Pastor Steve’s trip here he was able to meet with every member of my team individually and also with many of my national and expatriate friends here in Brazil.

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Dinner with Maicol, Mandy and Pastor Steve

First Orthopedist Visit

Ever sense my fall my wrist has been getting better and better each day and I began to think that I didn’t break my wrist because of the lack of pain.  I also began to look forward to having the cast removed but before that could take place I needed to go and visit an orthopedist.  So last Wednesday I went to visit the hand specialist and he was to examine the wrist and determine what was the next step.  When I arrived at his office I came with some missionary friends who offered to come into his office and help me understand what he was saying but instead I told them I was feeling adventurous and went in by myself.

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Ace Bandage Wrap

While in his office he asked me if I had my x-rays and I told him that I was not given a copy of my x-rays after they were taken and was not even told that I needed to bring a copy to the exam.  I had wrongly assumed that he would have access to the x-rays because he also worked at the hospital that I went to.  He eventually was sent a picture of the x-rays and proclaimed to me that everything looked normal.  He said that he thought there was the possibility of micro fractures in some of the bones but that the real damage was ligament strains and bone bruises.  He said that he could remove my cast but I had to purchase a splint cast with a hard brace to wear for the next three weeks or until I didn’t have any more pain.

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Wrist Splint

When I exited the exam I didn’t have a cast on and I was as surprised as my missionary friends.  I was thankful to not have the cast on because it allowed for freedom of motion that I was missing.  I went to purchase a splint which fit my orthopedist recommendation and could not find any that fit in all of the pharmacies which I visited.  Instead I purchased an ace bandage equivalent which I used to wrap my wrist until my wrist splint from the USA arrived on Saturday with my Pastor.

Visit from Pastor Steve (Part 1)

Pastor Steve arrived at the Airport in Porto Alegre on Saturday around noon.  I thought that his flight was arriving earlier so I arrived and waited for him to walk through the door.  While waiting I had the horrible feeling that I missed something about his travel plans or that he got lost or stopped by customs.  It seemed like eternity passed before I saw him walk through the door with a smile on his face and two suitcases at his side.  We had a great time catching up and were even able to Skype his wife on the way home to let her know that he arrived safely.

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The Eagle has Landed

One of the things that I was expecting from his arrival was a few gifts.  I figured that it would be like having Christmas in September.  I did not expect to receive this many gifts.  I was very blessed and thankful for so many people at Placerita Bible Church and the Santa Clarita area were able to send down so many wonderful gifts.  I can guarantee that everything will be well loved.

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Christmas in September

One part of the Brazilian experiences which I desired to give to Pastor Steve was a real Brazilian churrasco that was cooked by my friend, Fritz.  On Monday we had our Brazilian churrasco experience at Fritz’s house.  What a blessing to hear of the great work that God as done in the life of Fritz to save him and bring about the church in Ivoti.  We not only enjoyed great conversation but had wonderful food also.

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Gaucho Churrasco experience

Monday night I was honored be able to host my girlfriend, Tati, and her mom, Angela, for dinner.  We ha a wonderful time having a simple meal while talking about the word of God.  I enjoyed being able to translate for Tati and Angela during this time.  It was during this great day Monday that I started to realize how tiring it was to translate and how much more I needed to be able to sleep and rest while Pastor Steve is her just to keep up with our schedule.

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Dinner with Tati and Angela

It was on Monday night that I realized that I had been doing a disservice to Steve during the first 2 1/2 days that he was here.  I learned that he likes to drink hot drinks and I had not offered him either coffee or tea or any hot beverage during his stay so far.  It was that night after I took Tati and Angela home that I brought down my large mug and finally gave Pastor Steve a much needed healthy warm beverage, with apple cider vinegar and fresh local honey.

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Preparing a Warm Healthy Drink

First Youth Conference

Last weekend Ministério Biblio do Ivoti hosted the their First Youth Conference.  It was great to have about 300+ people attend each night.  The youth conference began with setting up and decorating the church.  It took many hours to get it all set up but it was also a great time to see the youth and the youth staff serving.

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Setting Up for the Conference

The conference theme was the “My place in the World”.  It was a great conference and we had people who were trying to imitate the promotional picture for the conference.  During the second night we even had one guy who repented after listening to one of the sermons.

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Imitating the promotional Banner

I was excited to see our church and specifically the youth serving in so many different areas during the conference.  The first area was setting up, the second was greeting people when they arrived, the third was serving food at the cantina during intermissions, and the fourth was cleaning up after.  Not only was the conference about finding your place in the world but the conference was actually an opportunity for our youth to serve.

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Welcoming Conference Attendees

I was so excited to see 5+ churches represented by the youth who came.  The conference was for the youth but not limited to only the youth coming.  I was encouraged to not only see the youth staff from other churches but also many members from Ivoti and other churches who also attended.

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Praying during the conference

Other churches also had an opportunity to serve at the conference by leading worship, leading in corporate prayer, and even performing an evangelistic play.  The Saturday afternoon session featured an evangelistic skit by students from the local Word of Life Camp.  I thought that it was great to see all of these men and women interacting with each other to act out the gospel work in a person’s life.

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Evangelistic Skit Saturday Afternoon

While greeting and being hospitable some of our youth, me included, would sit by the door and open the door for those who arrived late or went outside to take a phone call.  I took an action shot of Tati, myself and the lady who sold books at the conference sitting by the front door while we were listening to a session Saturday night.

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Greeters Focused on the Preaching

In most youth conferences that I have been there is a din that never seems to leave the conference even during the preaching.  However, this conference was a little different.  I think that this can be traced to two different reasons in my mind.  The first is that the youth in Brazil has a wider age range and there were more youth that were older (for those in the US think college age and unmarried under 30).  These older people are more likely to sit and listen quietly and to not tolerate younger people talking while they are trying to listen.  The second reason was that the main conference speaker was a very dynamic communicator.  Tiago Mattes, is a pastor in Sao Paulo, and was the speaker at the youth conference.  He is from around here and is a very effective communicator.

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Tiago Mattes bringing the Word

First Hospital Visit

On Tuesday morning during my morning walk I had an accident.  I had noticed that the sidewalks in Brazil are especially slippery during and after a rain.  This morning I was being especially careful walking but that did not help.  I took a step and felt both feet slide out from under me and I reached out with my right hand to brace my fall and heard a pop in my wrist.  I got up and thought about heading home but I decided to test my wrist before heading back.  I had full movement but it still hurt and I decided to continue my walk. After about another 1 km my wrist started to swell, get more painful, and lose movement.

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Returning from the Fall

After returning home I decided to take a shower and then head to the hospital to get examined.  I picked up another missionary on the way to help me.  We arrived at the Hospital Regina and began the check in process.  It was a fairly quick but when I tried to move my fingers during check in the pain was excruciating.  The other missionary was able to capture one of these moments.

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Pain during hospital registration

After getting checked-in, I was examined by a doctor.  His exam was pretty simple and quick.  I was glad that I understood most of what was said and also that the other missionary was there to help when needed and document the adventure.

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Doctor’s Exam

The doctor determined that I needed to get some X-Rays taken.  I went into the X-Ray room and had 3 different shots taken.  After the results were in the doctor determined that I needed a cast.  He said that the results were that there was no clear break but it is likely that I have small fractures.  He is going to send the X-Rays to an expert.

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Half way through getting my cast

I was surprised that his diagnosis was a small fracture and that he said I should come back in a week or two to have the temporary cast removed and to get re-examined.

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Ready to leave the hospial

Biblical Counseling Conference (Part 1)

This week I have been at the Associação Brasileira de Conselheiros Bíblicos (ABCB) in Curitiba, Brasil.  I was invited to come by one of my teammates who was going to speak at the Conference.  I expected to simply attend the conference and be listening to the conference while I sat in the back of the classroom.

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Host Church for the Conference

Instead of being a fly on the wall I was actually signed up to participate in the conference.  This was quite a surprise for me.  I would have liked to have had time to prepare mentally to be participating in the conference but it will all work out.

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My Workbook for the Conference

During the conference we have had 3 different speakers so far.  The first speaker was Allan Yoder.  Al is another ABWE missionary and is very animated as he teaches through the material.  It is good to have him here and even though he speaks pretty fast I am able to understand and keep up with his teaching.

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Allan Yoder – Animated Teaching

Randy Richner was the missionary who invited me to come to this conference and I enjoy listening to him.  His teaching style is very story filled.  He might not cover all the material completely but people will remember all of the stories that he has been telling about the different points in the class.

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Randy Richner – Teaching through Stories

The third teacher which we have had is Paulo Bondezan.  Paulo is the pastor of the host church and he is probably the one I have the hardest time following, not because of his Portuguese but because of his attempts to interact with the class.  Paulo seems to like to teach through interacting and using pictures to illustrate different points.

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Paulo Bondezan – Interactive Teaching