Friday, June 27, 2008

Our Last Day

Tomorrow we leave Brazil, so we made the most of our time today. We went to the old Recife prison, which is now what we would call a "mall". After bargaining, and shopping till we dropped; we headed off the the newly bought camp property that Volunteers For Christ has purchased. It was really awesome seeing this large piece of land and knowing that many souls will be saved there in the days to come. The campground was BEAUTIFUL, with bamboo trees and all.
After seeing the land, we headed straight to Kid´s Place to start the teen ministry. It was just a few hours of hanging out and playing games, and a movie and testamonies to follow. Most kids were really receptive, even though no one got up to accept Christ. The seed was planted though, and those teens will have something to think about.
Today was another emotional day since we had to say goodbye to all of our beloved translators. Some were crying, others not; but everyone felt the sadness. Today is the last day for this blog, because tomorrow we will leave to come home in the afternoon. Check-out is at 2 and we will be heading to the airport soon after. It is a long trip ahead of us, so we ask for your prayers for safety, and that we will be able to rest. We look forward to seeing you all again! Goodbye for now!!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

June 26th

Today was a day filled with many mixed emotions for our team and for the Brazilians as well. It was an encouragement to see the continued work of the evangelism team as well as to see the progress the kids have made throughout their week at the VBS. It´s quite the amazing sight to look around and see kids praying with adults and other kids to receive salvation. Some of the kids are so eager to accept Christ that they came up to us asking if they could pray with us. Praise God for working in the lives of these kids.

By the end of the first session most of us were pretty tired and mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausted from the previous days and from having to say goodbye to a lot of our new friends... and then we realized that we had to do it all over again this afternoon!!! In the midst of our tears and hugs Pastor Darril told us that crying wasn´t so much a bad thing, but instead it meant that we had done our jobs this week in sharing the love of Christ with these kids.

Tonight was a special night because there were close to 200 men and women who came to a service that we held. The guys were at Kids Place to attend a `young men´s night.´ They learned about what it means to be a real man of God. The ladies had a Women´s Beauty Night at Imperial Baptist Church (the other VBS location). The women talked about being beautiful on the inside and then us `Americanos´ had the opportunity to wash the women´s feet and paint their fingernails. Both were very powerful experiences for everyone.

Thank you again for your prayers. We can see God working so much here in Recife.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Answered Prayers

Today´s VBS was much the same as yesterday´s: fun, exciting, and tiring! Some of the kids from the community (a.k.a. favellas) that our team met yesterday came to VBS this morning. It was so encouraging to see their bright, smiling faces and recognize them from the day before. One thing that many of us noticed today especially was a growing attachment to the kids. We have formed stronger friendships with the translators as well. It is going to be hard to say goodbye to all of our new friends on our last day tomorrow!
The Evangelism team witnessed many answers to prayer today. To start, it was pouring rain in the morning, and the team was worried that they might not be able to go out. But just in time, the rain stopped. They ventured out and encouraged some believers and evangelized to non-believers. Some people on the E-team talked to one man who was very opposed to the message; one member prayed nearby for those who were talking to him, and by the end of their long conversation, he trusted Christ. Perhaps the most amazing ¨God-thing¨ that happened to the team today was that, while they were returning, Robin prayed that she would get to talk to a young man she had met the day before. Soon after she finished, she and Wilson (a translator) saw him! She had been praying that that young man would hear the gospel from a male perspective, and coincidentally Pastor Craig was there today with her. He was able to witness to the young man, and he responded positively. The interesting part of the story is that this man had commited murder and was on temporary release for good behavior. He was due back at jail in fifteen minutes! Talk about divine intervention!
By far the best part of the day for many of us was the church service in the evening. Before it began, the only people sitting in the room were us Americans and the church staff. To be honest, it looked pretty pitiful. Many of us had invited people from the favellas to come, and we weren´t seeing much of a result. Morgan prayed that God would fill all the chairs that had been set up. While the music was playing and we were worshipping, more and more people showed up at the back gate. Many of them were kids from VBS who had come with their friends, and most of the the others were the families of kids who had attended VBS. Not only were all the chairs filled, but some of the boys had to bring in more chairs! It was a very awe-inspiring moment, to look at all of those people and see what this week has done in the lives of the locals. In all, there were 97, including our team, that attended. The worship ended with the song ¨God is Able¨ in Portuguese - a truly perfect song for what we were seeing God do. After the service, several of the first-timers trusted Christ and prayed with Pastor Lecciu and Pastor Darril. It was a beautiful service, and a fitting end to a day that far-surpassed our expectations...but not God´s.

P.S. Thank you to everyone who has left comments on our blog. They have been very encouraging to us, and we look forward to hearing from you more.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Today we realized that the physical and mental workouts we are experiencing are beginning to wear on us. Yawning and dragging our feet, we got out of the hotel and piled onto our bus at 8am as usual. Walking in to see the smiling faces of the brazillian kids raised our spirits and got us ready to face the day! During VBS we had several children raise their hands to accept Christ, and everyone who shared the Gospel felt very encouraged by the outcome. Bonds are being made with those "special" children to each of us, and we make friends and show the love of Christ to these beautiful kids. Please pray for us so we can grow these relationships even more so the kids might trust us, and listen to what we have to say. Pray that our words will be God´s words, and that he will be strong when we are weak. Our E-team that goes out each day goes right into the slums where these people live. Here is a look into the E-team by Mike Darrow:
Monday during the VBS a group from our team went out into an area known to many as the favellas, but the people within this area call it their community, a more positve approach. For myself, it was the first time sharing my faith in this capacity. It was difficult to relate to the people that we encountered. Me describing what it looked like would not do justice to what it actually was like. Knowing that there are areas like this is totally different from walking through and experiancing first hand the living conditions. On every ally corner is a fire, stray dogs bone thin roam the street and the ocassional dirtbike speeds by. The remains of building spill into the street, little kidos run the streets with no shoes, no shirts. Drug addiction and drinking control many of the adults. We came upon one group of people in which our translator offered to share the new of Jesus and they agreed to hear. It had started to rain, and so she invited us into her home. about 10 kids and 4 adults jammed into a space no bigger than your bathroom. What we learned from these people is that they do trust Jesus as their Lord. I felt impacted that these women, despite their living conditions had a belief in God, that He was good and had a plan for their lives. They had huge faith, i admired them for that. I huged each of the women, kissed them on the cheek and prayed with them breifly. Walking in thier shoes opens my eyes to whole new world.
As the week goes on, we will only get more and more tired, so please pray for our strength. We are all excited to continue this mission, with the help of all your support back home. Keep praying for the precious people of Recife, Brazil!
Boa Noite (Good Night)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday, June 23rd

Today, breakfast started around 7:30, and by eight, we were on our way to Kid´s Place to greet the kids. You could see how anxious they were to meet us, but they seemed nervous too. However, they quickly warmed up to us, and once the worship and activities started, they forgot about the barriers between us. Many of our crew leaders were touched when some of the kids from last year´s VBS ran up to them and greeted them with a big smile and a hug. They were more than enthusiatic to play the games and make crafts with us, and the many times throughout the day that we shared the gospel with them, they were intent on what we had to say. When asked if they wanted to trust Jesus as their Savior, MANY of them raised their hands. It was a heartwarming experience to hear them repeating the prayer in Portuguese in unison (with an interpreter). We all felt truly blessed to spend this time with the kids. Their pure excitement just to be with us, and their heart to know more about God has been incredibly impacting. Who knew it would be so much fun to play with kids you can´t even communicate with?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday, June 22nd

This morning started with a short team meeting outside the hotel. Pastor Darril spoke to the group about the purpose behind our trip. Since today was our first full day here, and VBS doesn´t start until Monday, the Brazil team got to enjoy the beach for a little while. After some time in the sun, we headed to the new Kid´s Place, which, through a lot of prayer and hard work, has been renovated and is now a beautiful facility for the kids to enjoy. We set up for the evening church service and waited for our translators to arrive. Some returning team members enjoyed reunions with their former translators who´d become good friends. We feel privileged to have the opportunity to work with these remarkable young people in the week ahead. Soon after we were acquainted with the translators, the newly planted Community Bible Church service began. It was an impacting experience to see the smiling faces of the Brazilians who really had a heart for God and were so welcoming. When we began worship, we sang in Portuguese along with the rest of the congregation, but Marcel was unexpectedly called up to lead the group in an English version of the songs. It was an awesome experience for the team to praise ONE God in TWO languages. To top off the night, we met and talked with children from the slum who will be attending VBS with us starting tomorrow. We need your prayers as we start off our journey with these kids.