Thursday, June 16, 2011

Volunteer Team Log - Day 3

On Monday, we got an early start. We met the team at 6:00 am and headed down to the juvenile prison in the Menino Deus neighborhood. We got there a bit early and waited for Adriana, the Brazilian Baptist Home Missionary who has been working there for the past several months. Once we got through the front gate, we left everything in the van (hence the fact that I have no pictures from the prison - sorry) and headed in. We had to wait for quite a while once we got in. We finally figured out that instead of being together as a group, we would be split up into 4 separate groups, each going to a separate wing of the facility. We each grabbed some breakfast stuff that Adriana brought and headed out.

I went with Brad, and we went in and laid out a small breakfast for the eight or so "monitors" (guards) who were present. They gathered around and told us that nobody had ever done anything like this for them, and that they frequently get blamed for anything and everything that goes wrong with the inmates. Brad shared a bit of his testimony, and then we got to talking with one of the monitors. He told us that this is where the worst offenders in the state come, especially those who have caused so many problems in other facilities that they could not be controlled. He took us upstairs and showed us the cells, bathroom, etc. We got a chance to witness to him some and to lead him a step closer to a relationship with Christ.

We waited for a while longer, and then, after the inmates came down out of their cells, we were able to go out into the yard with about 15 of them and to share some with them. Brad told his testimony and sang a song, and I was able to share with them a bit about their value in the eyes of Christ. We finished up there, and then went over to one of the other wings and were able to share with them as well. We were all well received and the staff told us to come back whenever we could.

After leaving the prison, we headed to the public market in downtown Porto Alegre. We walked around the market and I was able to show the team a bit about the spiritist religious influence in the heart of the city.

We then headed out to Menino Deus to meet Felipe and Ana, church planters who are in the beginning stages of a new church that we have dreamed about for many years. They asked us to help them develop some relationships they have been working on. We went to eat at a restaurant where the church will begin meeting in a few weeks. After our meal, we gathered the restaurant staff, thanked them, and prayed over them. They thanked us and said that nobody had ever done anything like that before. After we thanked them, three of the employees came up to Felipe and asked him what they could do to get involved with the church! Go God!

After lunch, we split into two groups. One group went to a hair salon run by a member of Felipe's core church planting group. They got haircuts and their nails done, giving them a chance to witness to the workers. They also witnessed to several other workers at businesses on the block. The rest of us walked to a natural foods store. The ladies at the store received us very well and we helped Felipe develop the evangelistic relationship that he has been developing.

After a snack back at the same restaurant, we all headed back to the natural food store. I now know more about lactose, gluten, and sugar free products than I ever cared to know!

That night, we split up into groups and went to pray over people and/or do small group studies. One group went to a nursing home, another went to visit the owner of the hair salon's parents who have been resistant to the gospel, and another went to still another home. During the time with the team, the hairstylist's parents who have been so resistant to participating asked for the next small group meeting to be in their home! At the end of the night, Felipe was so happy that he was practically floating. He said that the group advanced the work of the church plant as much in a single day as they had been able to do in a year (probably an exaggeration, but still good to hear!)

It was an unconventional day of ministry - going into prison for breakfast, eating in a restaurant for an evangelistic purpose, getting nails and hair done, drinking organic tea and nibbling on sugar free treats, sharing in people's homes, etc. However, God worked in great ways, and we were able to mesh with the needs of the local church planter - it was a good day.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Volunteer Team Log - Day 2

On Sunday, we held a training for the volunteers and translators at the common room of our apartment building. It was an opportunity for us to meet each other, eat Cam's homemade cinamon buns (yum!),review the coming week, and to get on the same page with the local worldview and evangelism method we would be using during the week. We use a Brazilianized/Catholicismized version of Billy Graham’s “Steps to Peace With God” tract. We’ve added verses and illustrations to make it specifically address many of the key world view issues in the lives of the Brazilians.

After the training, we headed off to the mall food court for lunch and a few shopping opportunities. After wandering around for a while, we met our new van drivers and headed to the local craft fair/open air art market. Unfortunately, we were in a big rush because ofthe need to get to church, but we were able to spend half and hour or so, bought some goodies, and checked out this guy playing a leaf (yes, from a tree), a guitar, and a tamborine all at once - he was pretty good, too!

After tracking our van back down, we took Cam and Parker home and then headed out to the city of Guaíba on the other side of the river. There, we met up with Pastor Andre Luis and had a time to talk with him about his ministry. We then had a snack dinner at the church and then participated in their worship service, with several of the team members giving their testimonies and Pastor Chris bringing the message.

It was a good first day of ministry, and the next day promised to start very early in the morning!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Volunteer Team Log - Day 1

Over the next few days, I'll be posting a log with pictures and information about last week's time with the volunteer team from Hebron Baptist Church in Hebron, KY.

The team arrived on Saturday after a 24 hour trip. We decided to eat lunch at the airport before checking into the hotel. Some of them went to a buffet, while the rest of us got pastries and met them in the restaurant. Blake (our 11 year old) and Parker (our 6 year old) ordered chocolate strawberry pastries which they managed to evenly spread all over the table, their faces, their clothes, and their hands - worthy of a picture, to be sure, but we didn't take one. There's nothing like getting the illusion of the nice, neat missionary family out of the volunteer's heads early!

After cleaning up, we headed to the hotel and got them checked in.

That night, Blake and I picked them up and took them to the Galpão Crioulo Churrascaria (Brazilian Steak Restaurant with a Gaúcho cowboy show) for dinner. We had a briefing there, and then enjoyed all you can eat steak and the boleiro and dancing shows.

After a long trip and a late night, we finally let them get in bed to get ready for the next day!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hebron Baptist Volunteer Team Back in the USA

Our volunteer team from Hebron Baptist Church in KY is finally back in the USA. It took a day longer than expected and involved a good bit of flexibility on everyone's part, but they are home safe and sound.

Thanks so much for your prayers!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

God is AWESOME - Testimony of Your Answered Prayers About the Volcanic Ash

Yesterday, we were in crisis management mode all day. The volcanic ash shut down our airport, and 203 flights were cancelled.

We asked you to pray that the ash would disappear. At that time, the ash cloud was expected to stay over our state at least through Sunday, and the airline was saying that THE VOLUNTEER TEAM wouldn't be able to leave until next Thursday.

I figured that if Jesus can control the storm on the Sea, that he can control volcanic ash. I spoke directly to the ash and commanded it to disappear, and we prayed that God would send a strong wind to blow it away, just as He separated the waters of the Red Sea with a strong wind. We also prayed that the team would still be able to leave on Friday.

During the middle of the afternoon yesterday, I was reading a chat with a meterologist talking about the conditions here, and she said that very strong winds of 150 Km/hour high in the atmosphere were blowing the ash cloud out to sea. She also said that satelite images of our state didn't show any more signs of the ash cloud!

Shortly after that, we were able to reschedule all of the flights so they would fly out on Friday, spend a day doing tourism in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, and fly to the USA Saturday night. If it all works, they are getting a bonus day in Rio!

So, we got just what we prayed for - the wind, the ash disappearing, the team getting off on Friday, and the bonus of a day in Rio!

THANK YOU FOR PRAYING! Prayers and declarations work! God is still in control of the planet, and even the airlines!

The Volunteer Team Is On Their Way to the USA (Sort of - keep praying!)

Thank you so much for your prayers for the Volunteer Team from Hebron KY, that has been working with us for the past week.

Their last day was supposed to be restful (after a exhausting week of ministry), with a nice late start, lunch, and an afternoon flight. However, instead of being restful, it turned out to be stressful! At 7:30, I got a wake up call from our van driver telling me that the airport was closed because of ash in the atmosphere from a volcano several countries away that none of us have ever heard of.

After numerous phone calls, skype calls, trips to the airport, negotiations, changed plans, prayers and declarations, God miraculously opened the way and the team finally got away at 9:10 last night.

The plan (which I don't know yet if it worked or not!!!) Was for them to fly to Rio de Janeiro to meet some Brazilian friends of some Brazilian friends of a couple of our Brazilian translator friends here in Porto Alegre. They would pick them up from the airport last night, take them to a place to sleep, and then take them around and show them Rio de Janeiro today in the church van, and then get them back to the airport tonight.

Please pray that this plan will actually work! Thank you so much to Paulo and Jaques, our faithful Brazilian friends here who stepped up BIG TIME in the middle of a crisis yesterday to make something happen that I never could have pulled together!

HERE are some photos of how things looked at our during the shut down at our airport.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pictures of the Volcano

The volcano in Chile that "modified" our volunteer team's plans threw ash so high in the atmosphere that it is stretching all the way to Australia! It shut down airports in Argentina, Uruguay, and of course, Rio Grande do Sul (bummer for us).

We can't see anything except haze, but HERE IS A LINK to some very dramatic photos from the volcano itself and the ash layer in nearby cities. After seeing these, I feel much better about how light we got off!

Volcano Ash Closing Down Airport

Hi, folks,
We have an emergency prayer request. Our team of volunteers from Kentucky are scheduled to leave on a 3:50 pm flight. We just got word that our airport closed last night due to volcanic ash from Chile. It's 8:00 am now.

In other news, the team had a great week! They had a great reception, great results, and many prayers to receive Christ. Everyone stayed healthy and safe, but they are really tired and ready to get home.
You can follow their adventures HERE

Thanks so much for your prayers!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Hebron Baptist Volunteer Team Daily Updates and Photos

If you would like a daily update and photos on the activities of the volunteer team working with us from Hebron Baptist Church. You can read about it from their perspective HERE

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Volunteer Team from Hebron Baptist Church, KY

On Saturday, we will be receiving a group of five volunteers from Hebron Baptist Church in Hebron, KY. They will be coming to work with us for a week.

We covet your prayers for the group while they are here. Please pray for their safe travel, health and safety, divine contacts during their time here, for everything to work smoothly with the translators, and for God to richly bless the ministries that will be receiving the team.

Here is our tentative schedule (which always ends up having some modifications :)

On Saturday, they will arrive and we'll spend some time doing some general orientation and introducing them to good Brazilian beef!

Sunday, the team will meet their translators, and we will have a time of training in the morning in the evangelism method we will be using during the week. Sunday afternoon, we'll go to the craft market, and then on Sunday night, the team will be giving testimonies and bringing the message at Second Baptist Church of Guaíba.

Bright and early on Monday morning, they will be ministering to the workers at a juvenile prison at an evangelistic breakfast, as well as the juveniles in the prison. After lunch at the central market of Porto Alegre (also the hub for Afro-Brazilian spiritism - it's a very educational place!), they will be ministering through evangelistic visits in an upper-class church plant in the afternoon, and leading small groups at the church plant at night.

Tuesday, we will be in the neighborhood of Rubem Berta, helping the church plant there through evangelistic visits and an evangelistic service.

Wednesday, the team will pair up with our Canadian missionary friend Lyndell and her husband Paulo at their church plant in the neighboring city of São Leopoldo. They will be doing evangelistic visits and leading a church service in a home that night.

Thursday, the team will be doing in-depth evangelistic visits at the church plant on the Ilha das Flores.

Friday will be for wrapping up final details and heading for the airport.

Thank you for your prayers. Stay tuned for updates and photos!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Prayer Requests for our Family During the Volunteer Team

On Saturday, we will be receiving a group of five volunteers from Hebron Baptist Church in Hebron, KY. They will be coming to work with us for a week, and will be doing various evangelistic ministries alongside one established church, at a juvenile prison, and four of our local church plants.

We covet your prayers for the group while they are here, as well as for your prayers on the home front during this time. We have seen a pattern over the years that we frequently suffer physical and spiritual attacks during the period immediately before, during, and after hosting American volunteer teams. Just in the past week, my mother has been hospitalized, I have gotten a severe cold which I’m still trying to get over and have now passed to Cam, and I am having severe muscle pain in my back for no apparent reason. We know that these attacks come because of the tremendous spiritual benefit that volunteers always bring when they come, but we also know that it is a battle that can be won in prayer. Please pray for spiritual, relational, emotional, and physical protection over our immediate and extended family, our volunteer team, our translators, those we will be ministering alongside, and those to whom we will be ministering.

Your prayers are essential to keeping us up and running in the battle!