Saturday, March 14, 2009

Brazil Spring Break 2009-Day 2

Greetings from Brazil!!

One year ago the VFC Brazil team left the small fishing village of Abreau de Una after a very emotional and successful week of staging the village's first bible study programs in Pastor Josue's missionary compound. It was evident to all that something very special had occurred that week, as village children and adults alike responded to God's call and took the first baby steps in considering His message of love, forgiveness and acceptance. As the team left the gates for the last time, a clear message was sent by God to the team and the villagers: this was just the bieginning, and God was already extending an invitation to return.

What a difference a year makes. The team arrived back in the fishing village this evening, and found not just a sleepy compound, but a full-fledged church, a church that sprouted from the vacation bible school programs organized by the VFC team last year. What a thrill it was for the team to participate tonight in the one year anniversary of the church, an evening that served as a perfect intro to a very ambitious week.

The day began early, as the team deboarded the plane after arriving in Salvador, Brazil. After a one hour layover, the plane continued its flight to Recife. The door of the plane opened and the first face we see is that of our dear friend Emmanuel, who was such a help and inspiration to all of us last year. We then were able to reaquaint ourselves with Leciu, David, Deborah, Josue, Wilson, Waska, Daniel, Regis and others who came out to greet our flight. Hugs and laughs were exchanged, and they escorted us through the airport to board the bus for the 1-2 hour drive to our hotel near the fishing village. All in all, it took the team 24 hours from our arrival at DFW to reach our destination. But the day was beautiful, the hotel staff had a hot lunch prepared, and the ocean breezes melted away any travel related stress felt by the team.

Fortunately, we had a few hours to decompress and get organized before our first event. At 5:00, Ken Miller led the team though our first devotional, and it was at this time of reflection that the team was able to shut out the rest of the world and fully dedicate ourselves to a week of fulfilling God's mission here in Brazil. With an air of excitement, we ate a quick dinner and boarded the bus to the fishing village for the worship service.

The service could not have been more special. The event was more than just the vacation bible school we left behind last year. It was a full-fledged worship service, with Waska leading a large number of kids, teens and adults through some high energy worship songs. These kids were worshiping the greatness of God with all their hearts! It was incredibly inspiring. Josue graced us with a memorable sermon full of praise and thanks. The American contingent recieved necklaces made by the village children, and enjoyed being serenaded by some beautiful interpretive dancing by dozons of girls. Many of the worshipers were participants in last year's programs, and it was wonderful to recognize and be recognized by these bright-eyed children.

But the highlight of the evening occurred when Pastor Josue recoginzed everyone who had found a relationship with Jesus Christ as a result of attending service at the church in the last year. The dozens and dozens of new Christians that stood on stage brought tears to our team, and we were ever so thankful to have had an opportunity to play a role in the establishment of this special church.

Today's post would not be complete without recognizing five teammates who did not get to attend tonight's celebration. But the presence of the Breedlove family's spirit was felt by all. To Kelly, David, Kent, Isabella and Paul, we want you to know that we carry each of you in our heart and mind this week, and you will continue to play a huge role in the success of our mission. Your example of what it means to live a Christ-centered life has been an inspiration to all of us, and we are forever grateful to be blessed by your friendship. May God bless you all.

The team is now all in bed, getting some much-needed rest before the week's activities begin in earnest. May the love of Jesus Christ fill your hearts in the days ahead. We look forward to posting again tomorrow.
Obrigado e Boa Noite!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Brazil Spring Break 2009-Day 1 UPDATE!!!

The team is on the plane in Miami and ready for takeoff; however, in the space of 20 minutes, while rushing to catch the plane, one of life's unexpected events has occurred and shaken everyone on the team. Young Kent Breedlove, an exuberant young man who was so looking forward to ministering the kids of Brazil, tripped in the airport and broke his arm. No information is currently available, but the entire Breedlove family has remained in Miami to care for Kent. God willing, they possibly could have the arm set tonight and join us in a day or two. In any event, please keep Kent and the entire Breedlove family in your prayers. The rest of the team will carry on in Kent's honor, with an even greater commitment to nurture and care for those in need.
Blessings to all.

Brazil Spring Break 2009-Day 1

Good evening from the runway in Miami!

The Brazil Mission Team has had an uneventful flight to Miami; however, we have an extrmely tight connection to our Brazil flight, so there will be no time to post an extensive blog this evening. Just know that all is well, everyone made the flight, and we are extremely excited. We look forward to a very eventful day tomorrow, and of course all details will be posted on this blog!
God bless you, and have a great evening.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Brazil Spring Break 2009-Prologue

Good evening Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

Christmastime in March; that is what it feels like for the 49 team members set to embark on another magical trip to our beloved fishing village on the coast of Northeast Brazil, Abreu do Una. In just four days, our team will board a flight that will quite literally take us closer to God. Though our destination is too small to even appear on most Brazilian maps, it occupies a huge place in the hearts and minds of this special group of VFC missionaries.

Why does it feel like Christmas? Certainly not from the mild Fort Worth winter we have been experiencing. But a certain holiday-like frenzy has mobilized the individuals and families involved in this spring's endeavor. The team has been quite busy preparing for what should be a truly extraordinary week in Brazil. Meetings have been attended, Portuguese lessons have been studied, supplies have been purchased and collected, support letters to friends and family have been sent out and responded to, prayers have been prayed. Our hearts are full of anticipation, excitement, and perhaps even a dose of anxiety as the big day gets closer. Yes, quite like the Christmas season. But in the end, we know that all our hard work and effort results in a gift; the gift of our Lord Jesus Christ dwelling within us. Quite like Christmas indeed.

Of the 49 people headed to Brazil on Friday, 20 of us are returning from last year's spring break team, extremely excited to renew the friendships developed last year with the villagers, pastors and interpreters. Those of you who followed this blog last spring may recall the amazing blessings God bestowed that week, not only on the villagers but also on each member of our team. God changed lives on that trip in ways none of us could have predicted, in ways none of us will ever forget. In fact, it is extrmely humbling to note that prior to our arrival last year, Pastor Josue had been attempting to establish a weekly service in the fishing village for over three years,to no avail. But God so helped us in reaching out to the children, teens and adults of the village that the week after we left, Pastor Josue was blessed with over 200 people attending his first church service, and attendance of 75-200 villagers has continued on a weekly basis ever since! That kind of immediate and tangible answer to our hopes, dreams, prayers and effort is truly awe-inspiring. It is God revealing his glory to all involved, directly and personally. Thanks be to God!

But the blessings are only beginning. The 20 returnees have been wowed by the enthusiasm, dedication, talent and love for Christ offered up by the 29 newcomers on the team. Blog followers will have an opportunity to learn more about everyone on future blogs, but suffice it to say that this team is truly something special. We are especially blessed to be joined this year by Ken Miller, a pastor with Christ Chapel Bible Church in Fort Worth and his wife Julie Miller, a veteran of numerous summer Brazil teams working in Recife. This team has already proven its tightness by putting on a number of successful pre-trip events, such as a wonderful team-wide yard sale, supply drives and teambuilding luncheons and dinners.

Once again, our group will be ably headed up by Brandon and Cindy Boehme, who have dedicated themselves to spreading God's love to the impoverished children and adults of Recife and the fishing village. The Boehmes' selfless contributions have sprouted amazing results; a church plant in the fishing village, a daytime children's center in the heart of Recife and the purchase of rural property to be used as a Christian summer camp. Any success our team enjoys next week must be directly attributed to the vision and leadership of these two faithful servants.

Our plans for the week are ambitious, building upon the seeds planted last spring. But excitement is brewing both here and in the village, where the children and adults alike are anxiously waiting for our arrival. We are ever so humbled to have the opportunity to allow God to use us to spread his life-giving love and grace to a people in need, and we stand ready to give all honor and glory to Him by ministering to our brothers and sisters in Brazil.

Please keep this team in your prayers, along with the pastors, interpreters, cooks and all other support people in Brazil who will make this trip a reality. May God bless you and your family, and please know how much this team appreciates your interest and support.

Please check back on Friday as we begin our daily blog posts from Brazil.
Obrigado, and Boa Noite!