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.

Santa Cruz 1

Enjoying a meeting with leaders at the Church in Santa Cruz

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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.

car

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

 

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

 

First Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a holiday that I normally spend with friends and/or family.  This year was my first Thanksgiving as a full time missionary in Brazil.  This year I was in charge of making the green bean casserole and the broccoli casserole.  I enjoyed making the casseroles and it seems like people enjoyed them because there was only a couple of servings of green beans left when I came home.

Thanksgiving

Broccoli, Bacon, Rice and Cheese Casserole

I loved that we were able to get together as a missions team for Thanksgiving.  We also were able to have some other expat’s come to the Thanksgiving festivities.  It was awesome to see the great turkey’s carved and then enjoyed by all.

Thanksgiving 1

Carving the Turkey

There was plenty of food for everyone to enjoy at the meal.  After the meal we were able to watch some American Football and play some games with the kids.  I really enjoyed my first Thanksgiving as a missionary in Brazil and I look forward to many more Thanksgivings in the years to come.

Thanksgiving 2

Plenty of food for everybody

 

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.

Preaching 3

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.

Preaching 2

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.

Preaching 1

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.

Preparation 3

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.

Preparation 2

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.

Preparation 1

Reviewing the grammar with a Pastor Friend

 

Car Problems

Last week I saw my check engine light come on my car as I drove home Tuesday night.  I contacted the mechanic and then took my car in.  When I got in on Wednesday I talked with the mechanic and he said that the car should be fine to drive until this week when I had an appointment to install a new engine head gasket.  On my way home I noticed that the engine seemed to be overheating.  As I pulled into my garage I saw the engine oil light start to flicker.  I took a picture and shut off the car.

Car problems

Overheating and Engine Oil Pressure Light

When I saw the engine starting to overheat I saw some wisps of smoke coming out of my engine compartment.  When I got home about 2-3 minutes later I opened the hood to see what was going on and I was greeted with smoke pouring out of my motor.  I took a video if it is you want to see just click on the link.  I got to learn that insurance in Brazil includes towing services which I used with the help of a Brazilian friend to tow my car back to the mechanics.  The mechanic checked out the car and said that I had burned up the engine head gasket and it would take them a week to fix the car.  So I had an opportunity to rent a car in Brazil for the second time.  It is great practice for me to be driving a stick shift around here.

I am very thankful for all of my friends and team mates who helped me with some of the very difficult phone conversations and in person conversations which are required with the mechanic, towing service, and car rental place.  Without you this would have been an even more sanctifying situation.

Car problems 1
Rental Car

 

 

 

National Bird Park

During afternoons at the conference we had free time where we could go and see some local sights, play games, catch up on sleep or get some work done.  On Monday afternoon a large group went to the National Bird Park.  I got a picture with my room mate Nathan at the entrance to the park.

Birds

My and My roommate

For the majority of the park I was walking with Jackson.  We had a great time seeing all of the different birds, crocodiles, snakes and lizards.  We got a great picture with Jackson’s favorite bird, the Toucan, in the background.

Birds 1

Me and Jackson

This bird park had different aviaries where we could view some very cool birds.

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Cool Parrots

Many of these birds were so used to humans that it seemed like they would pose for the picture.  I found this bird hiding behind a pillar so that most people would not see him.  However he was at eye level for me and I was able to get some cool close up shots.

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Poser

I forget what this bird’s name is but he has a very distinctive bump on the top of his head that I felt was very cool.

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Unique Birds

This Parrot seemed to be modeling when I was taking pictures of him.  He would move a little and then pause and then reposition himself and pause again.  It was a great opportunity to see all of the cool birds at the park.

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Big Parrot

 

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.

Foz 4

The mist was unreal

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

Foz 5

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.

Foz 3

My view of our group

 

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.

Conference

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.

Conference 2

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.

Conference 1

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.

Conference 4

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.

Conference 3

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.

Conference 5

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.

Wisdom

Receiving Wisdom from Veteran Missionaries