Monday, January 8, 2018

Believing

During our wild month of Stateside tourism with our Brazilian neighbors we visited the NC Transportation Museum in Spencer NC.  It was a bitterly cold day!  But we all had a great time.  It was especially interesting for me since it was one of the stops I would always take my fourth graders way back in the day when I taught school before going to Brazil.  Fourth graders had to study North Carolina history and Spencer was a good place for a field trip even twenty plus years ago.


As we walked about we came upon this lovely red antique pick-up with the word "Believe" on the windshield.  The truck caught my attention as I'd been thinking on what would be my key word for 2018.  "Hope" got repeated for me in 2014 and 2015.  My hope was renewed in 2016 when we saw our middle son get saved and right with the Lord.  I'm not entirely sure if I had chosen a particular word that year but "Grateful" and "Peace" were often on my mind all of the fall of that year and into 2017.  Hope was hard to really truly Believe in for some time for me even though I worked to keep on trusting in God in the midst of some difficult time.   

Now here we are on furlough seeing the end result of God's Faithfulness in our lives...


 

 
When thoughts of the past crept up behind me and doubts about the future come, I want to be reminded this year to just Believe that God is indeed in control - then, now and in the future!

1 Timothy 4:10  That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, 
and especially of those who believe.

Monday, January 1, 2018

"Home" for the Holidays

On December 7th we hit the ground running in Washington DC for this fifth furlough of our 25+ years of service in Brazil.  Tagging along with us were our best pals from Sobradinho...


We did everything you can imagine that a Brazilian in the winter time in the USA would want to see and do...




It was an unique change-up to our normal routine with lots of sightseeing and activity.  

Andressa and Jonas shared in family holiday fun and got to meet almost all of our immediate family on both sides and then some!


Things are quiet in the missions house today.  This week Byron will start scheduling meetings with our supporting churches and we will soon hit the roads to visit each one over the course of the next six months. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Bahia Interior Survey Trip


You know that road you see every day but you've never been down it and don't know where it goes?  That's how our trip started out, heading down a path less taken and coming home by a road few would dare to pass.  

On Tuesday, November 14, we headed out to find as many "unreached" communities within 150 miles of where we currently live.  Our method was simple:  Stop and Ask!  Most of the places where we visited are not marked on any of the maps we own.  Some are identified on Google Maps.  Most all are on dirt roads - either roads that have always been dirt or old highways in need of repaving.
 

At each group of more than ten houses we stopped to ask the name of the community, took note of how many houses there were and asked about churches.  We visited about 200 such communities over the course of our trip of seven days.  

Going was slow due to the bad roads and all the stopping.  Few places have any sort of sign identifying them.  Most cross roads also have no sign indicating what lies beyond.  We marked major crossroads and some points of interest along the way for future reference.
 

We found it very interesting that often people in one place did not know what lay ahead of them especially if any important town lay behind since there would be no need to go in the less traveled direction.  Often people gave poor information about the towns near them simply because they don't have cars and don't travel much.
 

We came across community after community with no church at all, period.  80 of the almost 200 places we surveyed had NO church of any kind - good, bad, or ugly.  Three places had only Umbanda Spiritist Worship Centers.  Many places didn't even have a traditional Catholic chapel.

We traveled simply, eating food we took, cooking some easy meals at night we a mini gas butane bottle.  We stopped at good and safe places to sleep and took advantage of hotels on two nights for a good bath along the dusty roads.

We found people to be very friendly and receptive.  Many asked the reason behind our questions.  Even though our purpose was to hit as many places as possible in a limited amount of time, we did have good spiritual conversations for several individuals and made a visit to a lady that had attended our church in Sobradinho but had moved away.

People along the roads we traveled suffer much like those in all of Northeastern Brazil from cyclical drought.  Many people live with no running water, only water collected from what little rain there is or bought from government wells with special filters because most ground water is "salty" and undrinkable.  Those who can afford it, dig wells and put up windmills to pump since many communities are off the electrical grid.  The most recent cycle of drought in our area has lasted for the past 14 years.

Continue to pray for us as we crunch all the data from this trip and look to God for direction for our next term of service in the land of Brazil.  Look for a prayer letter from Byron in the days to come regarding our trips and our furlough.  

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Looking for God's Will


On Monday, November 13, Byron and I head off on another crazy trip.  Where are we going this time?  Glad you asked!  We are heading for the middle of our state of Bahia.  Below is what our route might look like...


Most of the roads we take will look like the one above - 
dirt and dust!  

If you remember the post about the least evangelized people groups in Brazil, this area is right up there on the list - the hot, dry, desert Northeast.  But as Byron found out on his trip to the Amazon, it would seem that many statisticians haven't physically visited the areas about which they report.  Byron saw many churches in the cities along the rivers that he visited.  Definitely some were not high quality and certainly there are places with no churches at all, but the Bible is around in the Amazon.

We've done some research about the places we will visit this next week.  Presbyterians have had works in this region since the 1950's.  Southern Baptists have quite a few churches as well.  But we will look and see what there is to see up close and personal.

We have four weeks before we leave for furlough.  There is a lot to do before we travel...

Pray for us - for safety and for guidance.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

New Pastor Installed

Last night, October 28, 2017, Pastor Antonio Máximo Neto was installed as the first official Brazilian pastor of the Maranatha Baptist Church of Sobradinho.  There were well over 150 people present for the occasion.

 It was a joyous day to be able to see the end of a work. Many times missionaries don't get to see the fruit of their labors in a particular place.  We have been in Sobradinho since 2004, thirteen years of service and care.

Pastor Máximo and his wife, Lidiane, have two children - Neemias pictured here and Noemi who was sleeping on a pew at the time.  They are from the state of Ceará and he is a graduate of the Cariri Bible Seminary.
Deacons of our work's mother church in Casa Nova and area pastors dedicated the new pastor after Pastor Victor Bruno gave a challenge to the pastor with applications for all that were present.

Each deacon from the Casa Nova church prayed a specific prayer for various needs of the new pastor as he starts this immense task.  I do believe there were quite a few tears shed by all as the men prayed over Pastor Máximo.
A fine group of our young people gave a loud and well prepared and memorized choral reading about the responsibilities of a new pastor with all the church members standing to their feet to repeat the final lines.




Byron and I are very happy to have lived to see this moment and ask for continued prayer for the work in Sobradinho that it might thrive and grow for God's honor and glory.
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