Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Simply Grateful 2016

Lots of Changed Hearts
We've now been in Sobradinho for 12 long years.  It seems we are finally seeing some fruit for our labors.  God is Good and the time is right.  We are thankful for several young men who have made salvation decisions this month.  Some of these are fellows we first met six years ago!

A Son with a Heart for Service

Greyson starting taking violin lessons while we were in the States in 2014.  Before that he played the keyboard and the recorder.  Over the past two years his talents have blossomed in direct proportion to his servitude in the church teaching recorder classes, practicing with special groups and organizing big events.  We are proud and happy to be a part of his life and work.

A Son with a Heart after God's

June and July of this year gave us the joy and privilege of seeing our oldest, William, and his sidekick, Kerri, here in Brazil for six weeks.  We traveled, we got lost, we had a blast!  And we served God together with a three-day VBS and ministering in churches in Bahia and CearĂ¡.  We are delighted with this young man and his lady.  We pray for God's leading in his life and future.

A Son with a Brand New Heart

If you haven't heard it yet, OUR BOY GOT SAVED!  That's right!  Dalton made his salvation decision this fall.  We couldn't be more thankful for him and his lovely lady, Destinie.  We already love little Chase whom we have yet to see in person, and we can't wait to see the new little baby to be born around Christmas.  We are encouraged every week to see the growth of our boy spiritually.  We thank God over and over for the work that He has completed in his heart.  

A Heart Full of Love

I'm thankful for my own heart that is overflowing with love for the man God gave me way back in 1987.  We almost lost it over the years with ministry stress, family problems, and just life, but God kept us together and this year has been beyond any doubt the best of the best.  

May God give you a heart of joy and thankfulness during this Thanksgiving.

 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: 
be thankful unto him, and bless his name. 
Psalm 100:4

Friday, November 18, 2016

Winter Prayer Letter

Please go to the Prayer Letter tab at the top of the blog to stop by and read Byron's most recent note or click the blue link below!

Cactus Flower: Byron's Prayer Letters

Photos from our Children's Day event last month...

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Prayers for My Boys

USA furlough, 2004
When my boys were small, my prayers were for things like colds and getting along with their brothers. I remember asking God that they all nap at the same time and go to sleep at a decent hour - Ah! and sleep all night long, please!  My prayer thoughts included transitions to American life and school while on furloughs and general safety while on the mission field.  Just simple things.  No snake bites, no tropical diseases, please.

safety prayer moment

Now that two of my fellows are far from home and one is almost out of the nest, my prayers for each have changed just a little to things like - help them pay their bills, guide them with life choices, give them health so they won't have to pay for a doctor, keep them away from all those big temptations guys face in today's world, keep them safe. 

For the longest time after William went to the States in 2015 I prayed that he wouldn't go hungry...

Does he look hungry?
Today my prayers also include some special young ladies and one cute as a button grandbaby.... Yes, sometimes I worry about whether they have all they need, if they have enough food,
 and enough bananas since I hear that the little guy loves bananas +mais. 

Just look at all that love.  Photo by William.

Now I also include the little fellow in my prayers and that he may grow up into a great man of God.  I pray that his parents will be wonderful examples for him to follow.  I thank God over and over all through my days for Dalton's salvation decision and for giving this young man a second chance at life. I thank God for the exceptional lady that came into his life at just the right time.  And I pray for the little one that will be born soon.  I pray that she will be born healthy, of course.  And I pray that she, too, will come to know the Lord as Saviour of her life.  

My prayers include this young lady as she studies at an university in the States and looks towards the future.  I pray for her witness and testimony wherever she goes. I ask God to care for her safety on that big college campus and on her drives back and forth to home.  And I remember to pray as she and our oldest consider their future together.

Last one at home
 When this one was a wee little thing, there were lots of prayers for health.  Now I pray for strength for all his projects and for focus as he works mostly independently on his high school work. I pray for safety and he comes and goes at night here in town and by bus to his music classes in the big city.  And I thank God a lot for his mostly happy disposition and his patience with his old parents.

Thank you, God, for each one!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

"It'll All Come Out in the Wash"

"It'll All Come Out in the Wash"  We've all heard the saying but have you ever really seen something fall apart after washing?  Imagine how you would feel after working for days and days on a sewing project just to have it "come apart at the seams" after a test washing!  At first I found myself literally coming apart at the seams.  But I've been through a lot over the past three years, so what's a little spilled milk!  I took a deep breathe after I pulled the little pirate quilt out of the washing machine and found many of the seams on the sailboat blocks open and coming apart.  It was distressing but I could fix it.  I looked for some advice here and there.  I prayed a little.  I got busy.  

I could have thrown it in a corner and given up.  I could have ripped it all apart and started over, but sadly the some of the fabrics had shrunk from the washing experience and there just would have been anything left.  So I had a choice to make - piece it back together with some fine hand stitching, hole by hole.  

It took some patience and some time, but it was worth it.

Last night I finished all the hand work and this morning I threw the thing in the washing machine again.  One little puckery place showed up that I can fix with two little stitches.  Other than that it seems intact.  

Why did I throw it into the washing machine and not hand wash it or dry clean it?  This quilt is going to a little fellow that is going to love it and rub his little banana fingers all over it.  His mama is going to need to wash it sometimes at the laundr-o-mat.  It's got to be sturdy to take the spin cycle.

What analogies to live are in the making and breaking of this poor little quilt project?  

I had to travel far to find good fabric.
All I had was an old machine.
I didn't have any fancy quilting equipment.
I was way out of practice.
It came apart after its first washing.
It's going to be hard to deliver to its recipient.

When I started this project it was to be a work of love to the child of a son who was living far from us and far from God.  Every day as I worked, I prayed.  I told myself that each stitch was going in with a prayer.  Somewhere in the middle of my work is when our boy called to say that he seen God for who He is, asked for forgiveness for past mistakes, and had gotten saved. 

It's been a long journey since the big night that things exploded in our home 
more than three years ago...

We had to travel a long ways to find the right help.
We were just old people and felt quite worn out.
We didn't have any special training in how to deal with it all.
We were way out of our league.
Our family literally came apart at the seams.
We had no idea of what the future would hold.

But God knew.  With much patience and love, He was carefully stitching things back together in our lives.  He was smoothing out the broken seams, pulling out the loose threads and looking for the little holes to repair.  He did this with the prayers of dear friends and loved ones.  God worked it out with the tender loving care of special mentors who never gave up hope and just kept showing their love to us and to our boy.  

Yes, the little patches are visible close up, 
but they are make a part of the grand finished project of a Holy, Good God.

Here's the little fellow that will receive this work of love.

It took patience and some time, but the joy is worth it all.

Thank you, God.

Are you in a bad spot?  Don't give up!  Keep praying.  Keep hoping.  Look for help.  
Send me a message if I can help you.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:3

Children's Day

October 12 in Brazil is holiday called Children's Day.  It typically means that kids get out of school and get gifts from family and friends.  Teachers usually host a party or event at their schools beforehand or close to and frequently take classes on special fun field trips.  Our church hadn't done anything special on a grand scale for quite some time.  Our young people were interested and so they got to work.

They organized a brand new to them skit based on the Wordless Book colors that someone had seen on Youtube!  The puppet people came up with a new story.  Several young ladies made some new song posters. One on the Sunday School classes sang a special song and some of our flute recorder students did a special presentation.  Prize bags were made ready and a snack was arranged.  Invitations were given out by door to door visits around the church and near areas where we have hosted neighborhood Bible clubs over the past year.

Byron and I were minimally involved.  Byron was asked to do the final devotional message and I was asked to take care of a group game activity.  Byron went out with the inviters and I made sure the snack lady had everything she needed to prepare and serve.  Other than that, our young people did it all.

There were about 85 children present and around 10 accompanying adult guests.  All said and done there were more than 100 people with our gang and own regular kids.  One thirteen year old fellow talked to Byron about a salvation decision.  We hope he will start to come to Sunday School and other church activities.

All in all the event seemed to be a success.  Not perfect, but well done!  

Pray for our congregation and our future plans.  We had hoped very much to see the work more independent at this stage with us moving on to some new ministry after our 2018 furlough.  Our group is mostly made up of young people.  We have few adults actively involved in any leadership roles.  Most of the adults who attend meetings are not church members for varying reasons.  We continue to pray for adults that see the need to get right and busy for God.  Pray as we evaluate our future plans and look for God's guidance.
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