Saturday, March 8, 2008

Brazil Spring Break 2008-Day 2

Greetings, Friends!

We are happy to report that the team arrived safely this evening in Sao Jose da Coroa Grande on the Northeast coast of Brazil, after enduring 36 hours of airports, lines, car transfers, planes and busses. Going through customs in a foreign country after three plane transfers is never easy for a group of 38 adults and children, but with the 19 extra duffel bags full of 900 pounds of supplies for our ministry, our hands were full, to put it mildly. But God's grace was in evidence, as the group hung loose and went with the flow. The children behaved amazingly, without a single gripe or fuss. Wow, God is powerful!

From the airport, the group met with our wonderful team of translators, who will accompany us the entire week in the fishing village. These young men and women greeted us with huge smiles and warm hearts. The love of Christ was evident in each one of them, and their mere presence seemed to infuse everyone in the group with an immediate love for the Brazilian people.

After a two hour bus ride through the beautiful, lush Brazilian countryside, we finally arrived here at our base of operations for the week. Following a quick dinner, prayer, scripture reading and devotion time, the group discussed the next day's activities. Anthenor, an attorney and pastor from Recife who has helped VFC immeasurably over the last few years in the purchase of the Kid's Place after-school center in Recife and the soon-to-be constructed Christian camp, joined us for dinner with his lovely family. His easy going demeanor, friendly manner and obvious love of Christ further underscored the fact that God has placed a very special community of Christians here in Brazil.

The team is motivated and unified! We feel extremely fortunate and blessed to be right here, right now, to honor our God who has given so much to set us free. We thank you for your continued prayers, and ask you to pray again tomorrow for a successful first visit to the fishing village.
Obrigado, and Boa Noite!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Brazil Spring Break 2008-Here We Come!!

Oi! Greetings from the 2008 Spring Break Brazilian Mission Team! Our group of 38 enthusiastic teammates, consisting of 19 adults and 19 children, are extremely excited about the experiences waiting for us in Brazil. We plan to post a daily entry to this blog, keeping our families, friends and supporters up to date on our activities and God’s amazing grace as he ministers to the children of Brazil through us. We invite you to check this blog daily for news and photos from the day’s events.
As we submit this first blog entry, our team is set for departure at DFW Airport. Today we leave Fort Worth with snow on the ground; in 24 hours we will be soaking up the sunny, hot, humid climate of a Brazilian summer. A change in the weather is not the only change our group will experience on this trip; we are confident that God will use this week not only to change the lives of hundreds of Brazilian villagers, but also to produce a profound change in the hearts and minds of our team members.
Our team has been preparing for this mission trip for months, attending meetings, learning Portuguese, buying supplies, planning programs and skits, packing bags and most of all, praying for a successful week. Our travels will take us through Miami, Rio de Janeiro, Recife and finally to tiny Abreu de Una, a small fishing village on the northeast Brazilian coast. Once we arrive, we will hit the ground running, setting up for a week full of Vacation Bible Schools, special programs for teens and moms, medical assistance for the villagers, and spreading a message of love, peace and joy to be found only through a personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.
Along with our personal belongings, our team has packed over 900 pounds of supplies that will accompany us to Brazil. But for our group, perhaps more important than what we take with us is what we leave behind: our jobs, schools, bills, homework, friends, families, comforts of home… and our egos. This Spring Break is not about us; we must leave the needs and concerns of our everyday world behind, and focus solely on spreading the love of Jesus to a village of God’s people who are truly in need. But by humbling ourselves to the needs of the Brazilian people, by serving them with a servant’s heart, we know we will experience God’s joy in our own lives.
We also know that this trip will not run smoothly. We have prepared ourselves for the inevitable issues and problems that will arise daily. But we will place our trust in God, and know that whatever we face, God will guide us, and we will persevere. Already, our group has experienced adversity. The passport of one of the key members of our team has inexplicably disappeared at the last minute. Our teammate, who has worked so hard to make this trip a reality, will not be able to leave the country with the rest of us. This event represents a perfect example of a question that dogs all of us: why do bad things happen to good people? (and believe me, this team member qualifies as a good person, in EVERY sense of the word) But the closer we get to God, the more we begin to understand. God uses times of adversity for His purposes, to strengthen our relationship with Him, and to further His kingdom. What good has come out of today’s unfortunate event? Well, for one, it immediately moved everyone on the team to pray for God’s help. We all of a sudden realized that this trip will not be successful unless we lean fully on Him for guidance and assistance. We must admit that we need Him, and we will rely on Him, through prayer. And pray we did! Boy, have we prayed today! We are fully confident that somehow, some way, our teammate will find a way to join us in Brazil, and God’s purpose will be served.
So onward we march. Brazil, here we come, ready or not!