Saturday, August 16, 2008

Last Day

Our last day of the trip occurred in the fishing village. We arrived fairly early and walked to the beach. It was very beautiful!

Vaction Bible School began at 3:00 p.m. We ran a condensed version of what we did this week - the bracelets and the flip-flops. About 170 kids/youth showed up. Probably one of the most exciting times for us, besides the kids, was the excitement that Josue possessed as he showed us the future site of a Kid's Place. These children are very impoverished, but extremely happy. There is a joy about these people that touched each one of us.

That evening we were able to attend the church service, where Josue had asked Kevin Peet to share his testimony. Josue then preached the gospel, using Kevin's story as the base. We know of at least one person who came to know Christ because of what Kevin shared. It has been truly amazing to see what happens as we share our stories about how God has worked in each one of us.

We are sitting in the airport listening to the last couple of testimonies from our group.
This blog will be a little bit different today. I am an English teacher, so I thought it would be fun to write a poem commemorating all that God has done this week.

Lost and Found

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Day 6 - Thursday

What a long, and bittersweet day!
We talked to the kids about the Ten Commandments today. In crafts, they made hanging door thing-a-ma-jiggers (It's 12:30 a.m. Please forgive me I am a little tired - I can't remember the word.) with stickers. It was truly a day to enjoy the kids.

Kid's Place - We had 190 kids. After we fed the children lunch, we washed the feet of our missionaries, pastors, and other workers who had helped us this week. It was very moving, a way of saying thank you for letting us work alongside of them for the week.

At Anthenor's VBS, some members of our team - Kevin Peet, Amy McConnell, Teri Decker, Joe Sansanelli, Elizabeth and Landry Burdine - went out into the favela with Pastor Anthenor, Emanuell, and Wilson to talk to the people. Amy was able to lead several children to Christ, but many of the adults decided they weren't ready.

Landry was also able to talk to our bus driver, Sergio. He is a devout Catholic and read the verse, John 3:16, for the very first time.

Tonight, the men stayed at Favela da Linha for the Men's Night, while the women headed back to Coque Favela and Kid's Place for the Mother's Dinner.

Favela da Linha -
Anthenor invited around forty men; they swam and ate barbeque, which included beef, chicken and chicken hearts...yep! Chicken hearts. They are not too bad; they don't taste anything like chicken. The men were split into small groups. It started off slow, but pretty soon the men from the favela were asking some pretty deep, yet blunt questions, questions that would've taken a small group in the United States at least six weeks to feel comfortable enough to ask. Kevin Peet shared his testimony and he found one of the men in his small group carried a similar background. Many seeds were planted tonight.

Back at Coque, Amy McConnell gave her testimony to more than seventy women. Two American women sat with a translator and a group of ten to eleven women from the favela. All of these women had children who attended VBS this past week. At the end of the night, the women from the favela were given a bag of food that will last a family of four at least a month or more.

Linda Ryffel shared Christ with a woman who had recently been let out of prison! Amy was able to minister to a woman who shared the same heartache and brokenness as she experienced in her marriage. Terry Decker was also able to pray with a woman about her son as he is experiencing health problems. God has been so faithful! We also saw Maria Jose, the woman who Joseph S. shared the gospel with on the plane. It has been a good day!

"Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him." 2 Corinthians 2:14

We go to the fishing village tomorrow. Please pray for a fresh burst of energy and continued good health. May we all abound in His fragrance. We love you all and we will see you soon!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Day 4-5/ 2nd and 3rd Day of VBS

Greetings from Brazil!
Tuesday - 240 kids were given flouride treatments and made first aid kits. We discussed prevention and resistance.

Two stories from our kids:
1) At Kid's Place and Anthenor's, Cruz Shope picked up an evangecube and shared Christ with Evandrul (Kid's Place) and Guillerme (Favela da Linha), two of his new friends. Both accepted Christ!
2) At the end of our day at Kid's Place, Joey Sansanelli witnessed to two boys using the evangecube; these two had not attended VBS on Monday. Joseph S. helped translate and Francielle and Thiago both accepted Christ! It's amazing how God has used our children/youth in this group to change Brazil. One of the teachers from Kid's Place explained to us that because many of the kids have been hurt by adults, they do not necessarily trust adults. Our kids have this phenomenal advantage that the adults do not have, at first. How necessary our children are! Jesus says "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to little children" -Luke 10:21. Our children get salvation; they get the necessity of our Savior...

Teen Night. It was great! We met many of the youth in Favela da Linha and listened to David Vanderlei; for twenty years he has been talking to teens about drugs and alcohol. In fact, he has had many drug dealers threaten his life for speaking the truth. David mixed theater with music - a kind of one act show - and he showed photographs of the atrocities of experimenting with drugs and alcohol. He preached the gospel to these youth, and at the invitation many raised their hands to receive Christ. Our wonderful ladies that cooked for us last year made hotdog stew for the kids and we served them dinner and Guarana. It was a great, but a long day!

Wednesday - We talked about Joseph's coat of many colors. The children made these groovy clear pipe bracelets with beads floating in water. It was a lot of fun!

At Favela da Linha, five members of our group street-evangelized during VBS. Amy McConnell, Tammy Crooks, Matt McClellen, Joseph Sansanelli, and Craig Crockett took a couple of translators through the favela. This group talked to several people. Brazilians are very gracious and receptive to hearing the gospel, but many choose not to make a decision. It's pretty frustrating because we want people to know Christ, but we have to remember we are planting seeds. Matt talked to Maria and she prayed to accept Christ! Tammy ministered to a woman named Linda, who also accepted Christ. Please pray for healing for Linda because she has some sort of disease in her legs.

Please pray for these new Christians that they would have people placed in their lives to grow them in Christ. Pray also for God's strength and perseverance for Pastor Anthenor and the group of teachers and ministers at Coque's Kid's Place.

Thanks for praying...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Day 4 - 1st day of Vacation Bible School

Hello from Brazil!
We had a fantastic day today. We began our day at Coque favela, where sixty kids showed up for a morning of crafts, sports, worship and a puppet show. It was very exciting! These kids are poverty stricken, from broken homes, and many do not even know how to respond to something as simple as a hug. We presented the gospel through the wordless book. Many children listened. Please pray for them, especially a little boy that was dressed in orange. He was very violent and disruptive today. Pray that these children will hear the gospel and believe. Pray that they learn how to respond appropriately to hugs and discipline. Pray also for the workers, who have such a heart for these children. What a blessing they are!

We ended our day at Favela da Linha. Those of us who came on this trip and worked with Anthenor last year were joyous to see some of the same children, only a year older. We presented the same lessons and crafts to this favela as we did to Coque favela. Linda Ryffel talked to a group of kids about the gospel. After she talked about the color white, which represents Jesus washing away our sins, purifying our hearts, she asked each one of the kids if they had asked Jesus into their hearts. Many of the kids said yes. However, a little boy named Andre said he had never asked Jesus into his heart. Then, she asked if he would like to accept Jesus into his life. He said yes! Pastor Anthenor took the boy aside to confirm his decision and prayed with him. What a day!

We are all doing well. A few of us have had some stomach issues, but nothing major. Please pray for our stamina. Also, pray for us to be transparent, so that the Brazilians would see Jesus. Your prayers mean everything to us.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Day 3

Today we visited Coque favela and Favela da Linha; these are the two spots we will be working at this week. Coque favela's Kid's Place is absolutely a dream come true for many of us on this trip. This is the same building we visited last year, but it was just a cleared out automotive transmission shop. Now, there are bathrooms and classrooms and paint on the walls to match the desks in the classrooms. There is a also an indoor caged court for soccer and other sports. This doubles as a sanctuary, which is how it was used tonight.

We were able to walk through the Coque favela to tell people about tonight's church service. Jesus says, "Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" -Mark 1:17. Just by word of mouth, the church service tripled in size. Pastor David was very encouraged. Our group, especially the kids/youth made new friends today.

Carter shared the gospel with Everton; Everton then brought his family to meet Carter, so that he could share the gospel with them. What a testimony!

Tonight we have pictures of Kid's Place and the service.