Saturday, September 02, 2006

What A Difference A Year Makes

September 2, 2005 - The Dunson Family leaves São Luís, Maranhão in Northeast Brazil to move to extreme Southern Brazil. Health problems with our youngest son led the mission board doctors to tell us that we had to move to somewhere with more advanced medical care. As we searched for a place, God led us Porto Alegre. Little did we know how big of a change it would be.

We returned to say our goodbyes to many dear friends and pack our things.
Shortly before we left, I had a chance to return to the Baixada (the area where we did the majority of our work) with a volunteer team from our home church, Springdale Baptist. There, the Brazilians presented me with a flag of the city of Santa Helena, a present that I cherish to this day.

Then, it was back on the boat to return to the city and prepare to leave a ministry that had been exhausting, but in which we had seen God pour out His blessing.

The last thing that we did in São Luís was to preach at our friend Elmo's church plant. I remember standing in the pulpit of the little storefront where they met, with sweat pouring down my back, and wondering what was in store for us in the South.

Just two weeks later, I found myself shivering in a church pew in Porto Alegre, wearing long underwear, a leather jacket, and surrounded by children wearing mittens and wool hats. We had moved from heat to cold, from the "third world" to the "first world," from a place where we were known to a place where we were unknown (and often unwanted) newcomers, and from a place where we had seen God bring tremendous fruit to a place where each and every person who comes to Christ is highly cherished - because they have come few and far between.

It has been a year of changes and challenges. A year in which I have been reminded that fruit comes not from my abilites, gifts or talents, but from the hand of God. A year in which God has shown me that my sense of self worth must come not from ministry results, but from Him and Him alone.

We are enjoying Porto Alegre - but what a difference a year makes! I wonder what God has in store for us this year?

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