Monday, December 27, 2010

Taming A Water Buffalo?

Do you know how to tame a water buffalo? Next time we see each other, ask me and I will tell you... Yesterday was Sunday and we took it as a day of rest. We slept in a little, hung out at the pool/beach, and then Angela and Lucio, owners of Vivenda Oriente, asked us to come visit their fazenda (farm/ranch). We have been invited before, but we always felt that we had too many people on our Teams, we felt guilty about taking the time off, and, quite honestly, I thought it would be boring. BIG MISTAKE!! We had the best time EVER!!!

Forgive me for going through so much detail, but I hate to leave anything out. OK, the fazenda has been in Lucio's family for 3 generations and he, as well as his 8 brothers and sisters, were all born in the main house. I think it is 3,000 acres (or hectares - could not get this figured out clearly) and it's main production is sugar cane. There are lots of families who live on/work at the farm, so they have their own school (named after Lucio's father) and all their water comes from a natural spring up in the mountains. It is so good and clean you can drink it straight from the tap! They even bottle it and bring it to the hotel for drinking water for the guests.

When we drove up, there was an ostrich at the gate and a large pond covered with small green algae. Lucio pointed out that a bunch of his water buffalo were lounging in the pond and, for the first time, I saw the big black heads and eyes just above the water line. They were like black hippos and as my eyes focused in, there were hundreds of eyes looking back at me. lucio explained there are only 3 places in all of Brazil with large herds of water buffalo - Bahia, the island of Marajo, and his fazenda. He estimates they have over 180 buffalo, which they raise for their milk - buffalo mozzarella anyone? - and the meat. Initially, many Brazilians in the Northeast did not want to eat it, but now it is highly sought after by all the nicer restaurants and grocers. We parked outside the main gate to the ranch house/estancia, where they had 2 huge water buffalo bulls saddled up for all of to ride! They do not move real fast, but I felt like I was sitting on top of a nuclear bomb and praying that it did not detonate. Next, they had a donkey pulled carriage ready to take us around the farm area to see all the pigs, chickens, ducks, alligators - yes, they have alligators in the water buffalo pond!

Finally, we entered the gates to the main home, where Lucio's family has lived over 100 years. It was a beautiful, open-air ranch-style home with big wrap-around porches, wooden shutters, and lots of fruit trees, flowers, and landscaping. I would be excited about planting stuff in Brazil because you can eat most of it. Ginger, mangos, star fruit, caju, oranges, limes/lemons, bread fruit, maracaju, jaca fruit, coconuts, cararnbola, pineapple, bananas, ... You get the idea and that's just the things I know how to spell/what they are. Half the stuff, I have never heard of, but it is all good. We were directed over to a patio, where they had set-up a sugar cane crushing machine that looked like something that had been outlawed in the U.S. by OSHA years ago. They gave us fresh sugar cane to feed into loud electric powered masher, which reduced the stalks to pulp, while extracting all the sugar water from it. After we all had our thrills of feeding sugar cane into this nasty crushing/mashing thing, they took the juice, poured it over ice, added fresh squeezed limes, and we enjoyed homeade lemonade! What a treat! Lucio and Angela were such gracious and proud hosts.

Next, they saddled up 10 horses and took us on an hour horseback ride to the highest point on the property, deep in the jungle, and showed us the "mother tree," which was the biggest tree in the forest. It looked kinda like that funky tree in Avatar that everything was connected to... Upon our return, they had all the children at the fazenda over for a Christmas Party, complete with Papa Noel, presents, candy, and cake! They were all very well mannered, shook our hands, and enjoyed the celebration. After a quick tour of the the house where they make the buffalo cheese, complete with samples, we got in the truck and drove to see their Italian Bees, the spring source of the natural mineral water - high up in the mountainous jungle, and the massive sugar cane factory that was once owned by Lucio's Uncle. When we got back, they had a large table set-up outside with plates of some kind of sugar cane chocolate fudge, bottles of their own honey, and beautiful Danish china cups with fresh coffee. We bragged on their honey so much that they went and got a bottle for each of us. It is rerally good because the bees get all the pollen from the sugar cane, so the honey has a sugar cane/molasses taste, Very nice and all the better because we saw the hives, where it is collected.They also brought out more buffalo mozzarella and showed us how to grill it, cover it in honey, and then wash it down with spring water. Honestly, we felt like visiting dignitaries, being treated to the best of the best. They waited on us hand and foot, but they were so happy to have us their enjoying their home that we could not say "No." We also got to talk about the work in the Fishing Village, our missionaries, and we prayed over Lucio and Angela. We found out that Lucio has been battling cancer for 3 years and he had surgery, but it has come back in both lungs. He takes chemo pills every day and goes to the clinic for IV chemo every 21 days. He seems very healthy, but the chemo has robbed him of feeling in his fingers and feet (common side effect). We were privileged to have them share such intimate details of their lives. This morning when we ate breakfast together for the last time (this year!), we all had tears in our eyes and Lucio promised to call Wilson to start taking english lessons, so we could talk next time without translators. I told him I would work on my Portuguese as well.

What a great day! What a great way to end a hard week! God is so good to allow us to be surrounded with so many beautiful people. Thank you letting us serve on your behalf! This morning I noticed they had dug out all of our past Team pics, Christmas cards, and photos we have given them over the years and it reminded us again of what a privileged group we have served with in Abreu do Una. Tchau and Boi Noite!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Day!!!

Finally, it's here! Yeah for Baby Jesus and yeah for all of us! Can you imagine the hopelessness we would all be living with, if this was as good as it gets? We had no opportunity at eternal life due to our sin nature? There was no grace, no forgiveness, no sin sacrifice, no ressurection, no ascension, and no hope? Thank you Father for loving us so much that you sacrificed Your Only Son, so that we did not have to pay the eternal price for our sins - seperation from You forever! We have all received the free gift of eternal life, if only we would choose to receive it. Have you? On this day, of all days, we pray that you would all come to know and accept our Savior Jesus Christ!
We got up early and got to the FV in time to drag out all the toys, gifts, dolls, coloring books, crayon pkgs, markers, purses, monster trucks, Legos, soccer balls, footballs, basketballs, jewelry, stuffed animals, Barbies, Happy Meal toys, Silly Bandz, Play Doh, jump ropes, flip flops, clothes, and so much more! Cindy and Tallia arranged them so each child could get 3 things and then we had a bag with the Brazilian translation of the Candy Cane story in it, so they could read about Jesus Christ and His story of sacrifice for our sins. Pastor Josue and Kyria had a great program for the kids in the morning with lots of singing, dancing, and prayer. Boyd and Sonya read the Candy Cane story to all of them, while Kyria translated, and Colin snapped photos of the celebration.
The big program was that night and we had more than 100 villagers attend. I believe there were more men at Church than I have ever seen before, which I think was due to our efforts during the week of getting out to meet everyone as we passed out the Church invites. All the men stayed near the back, but we encouraged to sit with their families, which I think is culturally different for them, but they were nice and did it for us. The children had a big musical, which told the entire Christmas story, complete with angels, wise men (Boyd, Douglas, and Emerson), a manger, Joseph, Mary, and a REAL baby Jesus! One thing about the Fishing Village, there is always a new baby around for a manger scene! On a personal note, this baby was born on Dec. 1st, which just happens to be my birthday, which they all knew somehow... I guess Facebook is good for something!
After Church, we treated the congregation to cupcakes, Rice Krispy treats, and Chocolate Puppy Chow (I know it sounds weird, but it is really good!) that Cindy and Sonya made with the village kids on Friday and Saturday. We stood around under the starry night sky, visiting in our broken english/portuguese, and being thankful for our time of fellowship. Afterwards, we had a private time to exchange gifts with the Church staff and our helpers - Breno, Wilson, Emanuell, Valeria, Elias, Eduarda, Orlando, Bruno, Williana, Aurora, Jose, Ismail, Pollyanna, Junior, Geise, Vania, Emanuelle, Danello, and Gigi. So much fun, just sitting around, talking about the night, and celebrating all that God is doing in Abreu do Una. We will all sleep well tonight! Tchau and Boi Noite!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Night Before Christmas!

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the pousada, not a creature was stirring not even... a rabbit! For those who do not know, we stay in a beautiful little pousada (hotel) on the Atlantic Ocean just minutes from the Fishing Village in a town called Sao Jose do Coroa Grande (St. John's Great Crown). This unique boutique has a strange calling card in that the entire grounds is covered with domestic rabbits! Big rabbits, little bunnies, white ones, black ones, and everything in between. Don't ask me why, but they are everywhere - in the lobby, by the pool, and under every bush. After a while you just get used to them and as I write I can see at least 6 different bunnies lounging about the place. Just another day in paradise!

But I digress... On Dancer, on Prancer, on Donner, and Blitzen! We had lots of work to do today and it was a blessing for all involved. Part of our plan for this week was to minister to the "least of these," so we asked Pastor Josue to choose some of the neediest in his congregation and allow us to help fix up their homes, so the kids would not be sleeping on dirt floors, the roofs would not leak when it rained, and the family would have a working bathroom. Today we visited the rest of the families who had received home improvements, so we could bless them with new sheets, curtains/room dividers, vinyl table clothes, fluffy bathroom towels, and some basic toiletries. The Baileys presented each family with the Candy Cane story book, which we had translated into Portuguese. Boyd did the honors of explaining the meaning of the candy cane to each family.

Cindy gave each house a beautiful framed Portuguese version of the 10 Commandments, as well as a laminated heart with John 3:16 handwritten on it. We told them they could hang these in their homes, so that all who entered would know that this was the House of the Lord and that God lived there. We had lots of tears and stories of how they had struggled to put a roof over their childrens' heads. One woman even had a gift for each of us, which was humbling since the box and wrapping was done with such love. She used old coffee filters, tore them and glued them in a patchwork fashion to cover the box, and then she used some kind of epoxy to seal it all. Seriously, it was a work of art! We did not even care what was inside. The box and care with which it had been created said it all.

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that we had a surprise visit from our "anonymous" gift-giver this morning at the Fishing Village. Claudio, who is a retired advertising executive from Sao Paulo, must have asked the girls at the front desk how to find Abreu do Una because he showed up around 10 a.m. with his wife and her sister to see what we were up to. We were baking cupcakes with the village girls when an older woman came walking into Pastor Josue's compound saying there was a man looking for "Brando," which, in the past, has not been a good sign! Of course, it turned out to be our friends from the hotel and they had been driving around the village asking for the "Americans who were working with a pastor." We greeted them, showed them around, and they asked what else we needed for the children. We told them they had already done enough, but they insisted, so we told them some things we were lacking and they drove off to town, returning hours later with toy trucks, purses, soccer balls, school supplies, and all kinds of drinks/snacks for our Christmas program with the kids. I think they wanted to stay, but they finally tore themselves away and promised to come worship with us on Christmas Day. What an unexpected blessing!

We did not get back to the hotel until late, so they had to wait Christmas dinner on us, which was roasted turkey, ham, beef tips, rice, mashed potatoes, and all kinds of cakes and desserts. Marcos is the chef and he puts out a mean spread! The staff were all waiting in the dining room, along with Angela and Lucio, the owners, and when we finally got to dinner, they lit candles and insisted we fill our plates first. It is so hard to serve these Brazilians because they always beat us to the punch! Claudio showed up again and as they were on their way out to meet up with his wife's family for Christmas Eve dinner, he came by our table and gave Boyd and Tallia gifts, so they would have something to open for Christmas and remember their trip to Sao Jose. Such a sweet man. Cindy and Sonya spent the rest of the night rifling through our gift bags and, thanks to all of you who made and gave so much, we were able to give something to each of the hotel staff, as well as wrap a present for everyone that helps Pastor Josue and Ceca run their ministry at the Fishing Village. Special shout out to Pete Chambers, Brian/Christe Dodds, and Barbara Wade, who gave some really cool stuff that will make tomorrow a very special day for our dear Brothers and Sisiters in Christ. Same kudos to Leslie Dailey, who donated tons of new flip flops from Old Navy, Pepper Pierson, Jan/Lamar Smith, all the gals that Kelly Breedlove asked to donate coloring books/pens/crayons/etc (sorry, but w/o Kelly here, I do not all your names, but you know who you are and so does God!), and all of you who were so generous with your hard earned dollars, which went to repair 9 different homes, buy over 100 food bags that will each feed a family of 4 for a month, and so many other things that I cannot list them all here. You guys have made a huge difference in the lives of so many, so celebrate knowing you have laid up treasures in Heaven!
Now, it is time to hit the hay! All the stocking have been hung with care in hope that St. Nick would soon be there. The rabbits are all snug in their beds, with visions of carrots dancing in their heads. Colin and Sonya in their slippers and Cindy and I in our gowns, we cannot wait for tomorrow, when we get to start earning some crowns. Tchau and Boi Noite!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2 Days Until Christmas!

OK, this was really cool! We are staying at a small hotel (pousada) and every morning we get up, eat breakfast, and then we gather at a beach cabana area, where we sing worship songs and do our Daily Devotional. Sometimes I worry we are causing others at the hotel to wonder who we are and why are we ruining their tranquility (I am not much of a singer, but I compensate by being really loud!). However, this morning, there was a note at the front desk for us in Portuguese, which the receptionist had tried to translate via Google, so we'd understand it. The translation said "One houses that not that to identify itself it donated these gifts to help with the children in Abreu do Una." It took me a moment, but I finally figured out that someone staying at the hotel had wanted to give some presents for the kids/families we were ministering to at the Fishing Village and they wished to remain anonymous. While it was soaking in, the hotel staff started dragging bags of soccer balls out of the closets, as well as about 10 big wrapped gifts! Can you believe it! We were totally blown away that some guests were so moved by our meager efforts that they went out, spent their own money, and blessed us with gifts for the children. I love the way God gives us those "Attaboys" in life to let us know we are on the right track and to encourage us to keep pursuing Him. We think we know who it was, but that does not matter. What matters is that they were moved to a random act of kindness in the name of our Father. I know that makes God smile :)
We could not wait to get to the Fishing Village to share the "God Sighting" with the rest of our Brazilian Team! We spent 2 hours this morning sharing God's truth, praising Him, and praying over Pastor Josue, Ceca, Waska, and Kyria. It was a great time of encouragement and joy. We then finished our invitations for the Christmas morning Church service, so we could go around to ALL the homes in the Abreu do Una tomorrow and invite them to come celebrate the birth of our Savior. We have bags of food for over 100 families, thanks to our generous friends and family members, and at least enough children's gifts to cover everyone and then some! We wish you could be here to see all the happy faces, but we are so happy that you are allowing us to serve on your behalf.
In the afternoon, we visited 4 of the 8 homes that we had raisied support for to see the improvements that had already been done, as well as to deliver new bed linens, towels, tableclothes, and room dividers/curtains. Cindy had also thought ahead to prepare beautiful framed copies of the 10 Commandments in Portuguese, so they could hang them in their newly renovated houses. We took turns explaining that while we are still expected to keep these commandments, we are blessed to live under God's grace since we have all sinned and have fallen short, which is why God sent His Son to die for our sins, so we could spend eternity with Him, even though we could never earn such a reward on our own. Our dear friend Valeria is truly inspiring in how she lovingly tells these families the Good News and the true source of our salvation - Jesus Christ. Of course, none of this would be possible without Pastor Josue's meticulous preparations and good stewardship of the funds we raised. It was a "home run" kinda day! We ended it by celebrating Colin and Sonya's 15th wedding anniversary with a sweet ceremony, complete with flowers and a loving testimony exchanged (under duress from all of us) between the 2 honorees. I cannot remember who said it, but "it don't get no better than this!" Boi Noite and God Bless!

3 Days Until Christmas!

NOTE: No internet last night, so I am covering what we did on Wed. this morning and will get back on track tonight.

Having to follow Boyd on his Blog day is not fair, but we have so much to talk about, we can never get it all covered. Another thing that has worked out really well for our Team are the Operation Christmas boxes. CCBC hands out/collects these shoes boxes well before Christmas, but they have to be turned in by a certain time in order to get shipped to Africa. This year there were 40 or more boxes that did not get turned in on time, so we were able to bring them down to Brazil with us. The boxes are filled by CCBC families with school supplies, toys, games, and candy, as well as a really cool Information Page that has a picture of who filled the box and some background information about that person. Going through the boxes, organizing all the contents into similar piles, I really feel like I have gotten to know so many more of our Church family by reading the pages. We have carefully saved all of them and will hang them up Christmas Day, so the children can see who helped make this the best Christmas ever! Also, by combining all the contents, we will be able to serve 3 times as many children, so everyone gets something. We will shoot plenty of video and pic's to share, so you will get to be a part of our Fishing Village Christmas! I cannot wait!
Cindy and I also had a chance to go into Recife on Wed to take part in the Kid's Place Staff Christmas Party, which was an honor. These men and women run KP all year round, making sure our children from the Coque favela are being fed spiritually, as well as physically, and that they are getting help with school work, learning about music/art, and reminded daily of Christ's love for them. They truly are an amazing team and they all had so many positive things to say about being a part of KP. They also had many anecdotal stories of how KP was making a difference in the lives of the children, their families, and the favela. It was very rewarding to hear them praise KP and see that it was making a difference in their lives as well. The party was hosted at Pastor Lecio's home and Ilma, along with most of the staff, put on a great spread of food. They have a "thing" in Brazil that they eat only at Christmas time that is called a "Chester." It looks like a chicken, but it is bigger and they swear it is not a turkey, but they promise they do not know what kind of bird it is... However, the company that sells them is called "Chester," so that is what they call it! I do not know what it is either, but I ate me some Chester and it was GOOD! The staff followed lunch with a high-spirited "secret friend" gift exchange that included the children of the staff, so it was great watching them have so much fun. Our teachers at Kid's Place are Mehl, Vania, Alexandre, and Suzanna. Our cooks are Sondra and Sylvania and Carlos helps with keeping things spic-n-span. Militza is our KP Administrator and Ilma helps when she can, but with 3 kids at home now (Nathan is 3 months old, Sarah is 2, and Lianna is 5 - I think?), she cannot do as much as she used to 3 years ago when we first opened. Please be praying for our KP staff and the job they do every day - loving on these children, ministering to their families, and fighting Satan at every turn. It is an honor to know them and a privilege to pray for them. Tchau and Bom Dia!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Day to Remeber

Boyd and I agreed to give Brandon the day off... Certainly not from God's work, just from the blog... We had an amazing day today. You'll get the gist of it from Boyd's comments below:

I woke up this morning thinking it was just going to be a day that we were going to walk on the beach to the fishing village but God had some special plans for us and here are 3 of them:

1st: When we got to the point were we stopped walking on the beach a boat pulled up! Some people stayed and walked the rest of the way but Pollyanna, my dad, my mom, my sister, and I got on and rode there.

2nd: We got to go swim in this lagoon that is not very far at all from the fishing village and some people ran and did flips because there is a place on the shore that has a steep drop off and they would not hit the bottom.

3rd: When we were swimming the current was very strong and we ended up wanting to go swim or ride a boat down the river and it was an amazing experience for my dad and me.

Some of the kids went over to the mangroves and caught crabs and I swam almost the whole way and when we got back Brandon was about to get in the water and I wanted to go with him. God has blessed us today.

- Boyd Bailey

Once again, Brazil and the amazing people here surprised us. What started out as just a quick swim in the lagoon with some of the villagers became one of the coolest, most unique adventures I've had in my life (and I've had a lot...). The river and tidal system here is confusing to say the least... Our adventure was the equivalent of a 4-5 mile (2+ hour) ride in a "Lazy River", but the curious thing is we ended up back where we started! How do you ride a river toward the sea, carry your boat across a 15-20 foot stretch of sand and then ride a river back to where you started??? I'm going to study up on this one...

But enough science - back to the adventure... Boyd and I were with a group of 10 guys from the village ranging in age from 9 - 26. We learned that this is something they do occasionally when the tide is right. Since we are having a full moon here and the tidal swing is large, the opportunity presented itself. The 2 1/2 hours we spent on this journey was a special way to enjoy time with our friends. The language barrier disappeared as we relied almost exclusively on laughter and smiles to communicate the pure fun and excitement we were all having. It was obvious the Brazilians were excited to be able to share an intimate part of their life with us. In reality, the beauty and mystery of the Mangrove River likely stays concealed for most outsiders. This was not a guided tour with life jackets and waiver forms... The day was yet another unexpected gift from God.

Boyd & Colin Bailey

5 Days Until Christmas!

Did you know we are 3 hours ahead of you guys back home? I feel like the marines... We get more done before 8 am than you get get done all day! Well, maybe some of you are more productive, but I love the head start we get on the rest. Speaking of which, today was the day of unpacking all those 70 lb bags full of Christmas cheer in hopes that St. Nick would soon be here. WOW!!! You guys sure are generous givers! We sorted, organized, argued, re-organized, bagged, and accessorized all day.

Tallia got her decorating fix in, as she, Polly, and Waska decorated Pastor Josue's compound with garland, wreaths, and ribbon. I also have to tell you about this Christmas tree Waska made before our arrival. He took all these clear empty plastic drink bottles, cut off the bottoms of all the containers, slid one inside the other so they had one big middle with 2 spouts at opposite ends, and then strung them over Christmas lights, forming a 7 ft Christmas tree in the courtyard! It is really much more beautiful than my feeble description and if Colin ever shows me how to upload pic's to this Blog, you will be impressed - I promise. Made us feel a lot better about having to abandon our Christmas tree back at DFW airport.

Cindy and Sonya worked with Valeria and Ceca to get all the linens, towels, and sheets sorted for the 8 families we are doing the Extreme Home Makeover on. They were so busy, they barely had time to boss me, Colin, and Breno around, but they managed to keep us hopping from one pile to the next as we tried to organize all the gifts by age. I mean really, a slinky is ageless and it is good for a girl or a boy! Slinky, Slinky... it's a wonderful toy!

Who walks the stairs without a care
It shoots so high in the sky.
Bounce up and down just like a clown.
Everyone knows its Slinky.

The best present yet to give or get
The kids will all want to try.
The hit of the day when you are ready to play
Everyone knows it's Slinky.

It Slinky, It’s Slinky
for fun the best of the toys
It Slinky, It’s Slinky
the favorite of girls and boys.

Somehow, Boyd got away with playing Futbol all morning with Nando, Jose, and Waska. We had a plentiful lunch of feijoada and lemon-lime dessert mousse. It is always so tough roughing it out at the Fishing Village. After getting it all spread out and organized, we bagged it all back up, so we could restore Ceca's house back to pre-American order. She always has everything looking so good with flowers planted, hanging baskets, and decorations everywhere, then we show up and start playing soocer in the courtyard, destroying all her hard work. Of course, Ceca is the perfect example of grace and mercy. Tomorow, we go to meet our 8 different families, so we can start loving on them! Tchau and Boi Noite!

Monday, December 20, 2010

It Was a Christmas Miracle!

Well, we made it! Unfortunately, as some of you may already know, the Breedloves did not. We were saddened to learn on Wednesday, 3 days before we were to leave, that David had been diagnosed with gallstones and they were requiring him to undergo surgery on Friday, the day before our flight left. It is hard to understand why this happened and to all people - The Breedloves, but we had no choice, except to trust in God's plan (BTW, not a bad idea) and we simply went with Plan B for the B Team. Of course, our journey was not without its challenges and American threw us a loop at the gate by informing us for the first time that we could not check extra bags, even if we paid for them! Wow, I never thought American would refuse money, but we took our 3 seventy pound bags, chunked a bunch of our personal carry on stuff (ie - clothes, books, etc.), and jammed evrything into our roller boards. Pretty amazing! We got everything, except the 7 ft Christams tree that was broken down into 4 pieces. We thought about getting the adults to smuggle it in under our clothes, but airport security has gotten a lot tougher lately. A special shout out to Cindy's Mom, Melinda, who came back to the airport to get the saddened Christams tree and our 3 otherwise empty bags. The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful and all our bags showed up in Recife - all 16 of them! It was a Christmas miracle!
The next hurdle was Brazilian customs and they were looking at us like an invading army! Of course, it does not help that all our big bags are camoflauged, but Emanuell, our Federal Police friend/guardian angel, was there to explain who we were and what we were doing, so they just waived us through. Another Christmas miracle! Lecio, Josue, Anthenor, Pedro, Polly, Wilson, Breno, Ilma, Yohanna, and a few new friends were waiting for us once we cleared customs. Such dear friends and so kind to come all the way to the airport to welcome us to Brazil (again). We enjoyed a quick lunch and some fellowship before loading onto the bus for the trip out to the Fishing Village. I do not know if Santa uses a U-haul, but we had 2 loaded down with gifts and supplies from all of our dear friends, family, and supporters. No reindeer, but it was still pretty cool.
We arrived at Vivenda Oriente (aka The Rabbit Hotel) just as the sun was setting and Angela, the owner, and Lucio, her husband, we were waiting to greet us. In the lobby was an amazing Christmas tree, made from coconut branches, and it was spray painted gold. Love the Brazilian's creativity! Pastor Josue said that although they usually hold Church on Saturday evening, they had waited until Sunday night since he knew we were arriving then, so we could attend services. I love Ted, but he always starts on time and has never moved services to accomodate my travel schedule. Of course, to be fair, I have never asked, so maybe he would...
A quick shower, a snack, and it was off to Church with all our friends in Abreu do Una. We sang worship songs, had a baby dedication, and Pastor Josue preached from the Book of Luke. Funny, but I think we have been studying the same Book at CCBC for the last 2 years. The message was about how God had chosen Mary, a young girl from a small, little known village, to be the mother of our Savior. He pointed out that God can choose anyone to change the world, just as He chose Mary, so there is no reason to belive that He could not choose you to make a huge difference in the lives of others. I think everyone there felt very special that God would choose them to do anything, much less change the world. As we stood for the closing prayer, I felt a small hand slip into mine, and it was litle Emily, all of 6 years old, and I thanked God for allowing me to be in this place. We returned home late that night and we all went to bed with visions of mangos dancing in our heads. All in all, I would have say the whole day was a Christams miracle! Tchau and Boi Noite!

Monday, December 13, 2010

We are less than a week out from heading to Brazil and we are in full Christmas mission mode! All the bags have been packed with care, we have made a list and are checking it twice, and hopefully all of our bags will make it to Abreu do Una - that would be nice! So much to tell and so much to show, but we will have to get back to you because it is almost time to go! On David, on Kelly, on Kent, Paul, and Isabella! On Collin, on Sonya, on Talia, and Boyd! On Brandon and Cindy, even if it is a little windy! Thank you for your prayers and all the support you have shown our Team. We look forward to serving and loving our Brothers and Sisters in Christ on your behalf!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Beautiful Day

Today was an adventure. We woke up at 4:45 this morning to catch the sunrise. Some of our interpreters blessed us by paying to rent fishing boats to take is through the mangrove to the ocean for a truly breathtaking ride.
The rest of the day was spent in Recife. We visited the Coqui Favela, which is a slum here where VFC (Volunteers for Christ) is working to reach out to the people. It was amazing to see the poverty here, but glory to God for the redemptive work he is doing through his servants with VFC.

After some shopping, an amazing dinner, and one last group time it’s off to bed. We can’t wait to come home and tell you so much more about this trip.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Yesterday from the Eyes of a Student

Well today was awesome! I started off the day going on a 3 mile run on the beach with Charlie. Then we went to breakfast. The food is awesome here! That’s coming from a picky eater. Then we headed off to the fishing village. Today was really fun, first we got showed how to play soccer pretty much. The kids are amazing at soccer and all laugh at us for how bad we are. It was really cool seeing the kids start to understand the language barrier and laugh and smile all day. Then we decide to show them an American game that we are actually good at. We played Ultimate Frisbee and they surprisingly picked it up really easily and we had alot of fun! In the afternoon we played capture the flag and soccer. Through out the day we had small group time and it was so awesome to see how God worked through us and through the translators. We left the fishing village a little early today so that we could get back to the hotel have a little time to relax, get changed, eat dinner and then head back to the fishing village to go to church. When we were pulling up to the hotel we noticed something on the tops of the cars in front of us and sure enough and finally most of our luggage was right there pulling up to the hotel as we were. We all celebrated and it was awesome to finally have some clean clothes after wearing the same stuff 4 days in a row. We all went to the beach and went body surfing and just kind of hung out and then we went for a swim in the pool. After having a little fun we all got ready and put our CLEAN clothes on and headed to church! We all sat down outside where the service was going to be held and sat with some of the kids in our groups from earlier in the day. The service began and it was a little bit different but only because we didn’t know the words they were singing and it was hard to sing the English words to the same tune. Then David Holland went up to the front as the worship leader called him up, and we sang “God of the city” and we would sing a verse in English and then they would sing it in Portuguese and it was truly amazing to see how god was right there and that we were all worshiping him the same and there is no language barrier with him. This was probably one of the coolest things I have ever experienced. Then David preached the sermon to the church and did such an awesome job! It was awesome to see how he would speak and the translator would interpret what he was saying and tell the church and we would all know what he was saying and preaching to us even though we can not talk to the Brazilians face to face, but through this everyone was hearing the same amazing message. Church tonight was an awesome experience and not even expressible with words. We got back to the hotel late tonight so we just hung out for about an hour and then are all headed to bed now. Well it’s late here so i better hit the rack. We will see y’all soon!

-James Floyd
Senior, Paschal High School
If you find this post - try reading Davids post on the CCBC blog He has been posting there daily from his iphone app as we have not been able to log on here????

We did received our bags last night - just in time to have clothes for church! (by the way - -thanks for the clothes some of you gathered at the last minute – some were packed in the 3 bags we did receive - we have been wearing them until now - we promise to wash & return them to the Brazilians before we leave!!)
After church last night we had a fashion show with the Brazilian girls & a few american girls wearing clothes they have made with the sewing machines and fabric we brought 2 years ago! A woman has been helping then who owns a store in Caruaru - a large clothing manufacturing city about 2 hrs away.
She brought additional clothes and accessories to finish "the look"....I will get to meet with her today and hear about the plans for all of this - SO EXCITING!!!!!!
I heard a few of the girls from our team negotiating prices last night!
Today we are going to the beach with 80 teens & all kinds of beach games. We will have a BBQ and make S'mores!!!!
Tonight is movie night with popcorn and Rice Krispie treats - yes our bags were packed with 100 bags of marshmallows!!! - a luxury in Brazil.
….and to top it all off.... our fearless leader----- now known as Pastor David Hollandand his very able assistant Kristy Harden have spiritual applications for all of these fun activities! We are excited to learn how Jesus and marshmallows work together for the Kingdom of God!
Please pray for our time with these teens today - please pray they will feel the freedom to tell us "their story" and feel safe to ask any questions they might have about what we have been teaching each day.
Blessing to each of you!

Friday, July 30, 2010

We are here!

The CCBC High School STMT has arrived in Abreu do Una, São José da Coroa Grande
We collected 3 of our 40 bags - hopefully the remainder will come from Miami on July 30th - please pray that they do! We have pooled together anything we had in our carry-on bags and made a quick stop at BomPreco - the local Walmart - for a few extras like sunscreen, soap for laundry, bug spray, and packs of tshirts...... The 3 bags we did receive have just enough supplies for our first day of activities with the teens in the fishing village - God is Good to supply our basic needs once again!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

July 2010 STMT

Sunday, July 18, 2010



Back safe and sound!

Well...we made it back safe and sound this morning around 12:30. After a while collecting all our luggage (yup, it all made it back), we said our good byes and headed home for the comfort of our own beds. It sure was nice to be able to open our mouths in the shower this morning. Our team this year was incredible. We had a great mix of kids, teens, and adults. Everyone proved to be a unique, and valuable addition to the team. It was cool to see how God used each person this week. Just to recap, the team for the summer trip was as follows (from left to right in the pic at the top of the page): Bella Shope, Sophie Duwe, and Pace Warren (second Row) Cruz Shope, Kennedy Castor, Laura Scarborough, Eden Ashley, Taylor Huse, & Sheri Wickman; (Third Row) Elizabeth Burdine, Rachel Shope, Teri Decker, Ginny Smith, Emily Warren, Colin Wickman, Parker Warren, & Gibson Duwe; (Last row) Landry Burdine, Michael Duwe, Daniel Stockman, Jon Castor, & Jared Shope

The trip ended on several emotional notes. After the incredible night we had Thursday night, where an amazing number of the teens made decisions for Christ, we anticipated that Friday would be a little easier on the emotions. We were wrong. The Brazilian teens were truly moved this week and their emotions were running high. Ours were as well, especially after an emotional feet washing ceremony. We can't put into words what the Brazilian volunteers and pastors mean to these kids. Most of the kids were driven home after camp by their pastors. For all of you who supported this trip, rest assured that these children are not being thrown back to the wolves after a mountain-top experience. They will have a shepherd with them to guide them through the process. Our prayer is that these children will become leaders in their favellas, and voices of change. After this week, they know, without a doubt, that their lives have value, that Christ loves them, and that there are thousands of people in the United States that care enough about them to send them to camp for a week. Trust us when we tell you that it means the world to them. I've never seen a more greatful group of teens. So appreciative of the opportunity that all the supporters of this trip provided them. They were wide-eyed when they arrived, and purposeful when they left. Praise God for that and for the difference you have all made in the lives of these beautiful and precious children. Please continue to pray for them and the missionaries that have dedicated their lives to supporting them. They cannot do it without you.

Thanks so much...Brazil summer team 2010

(p.s. we'll have a few follow up posts with some great pics and videos for you to enjoy. Some funny, some emotional...which will capture this trip perfectly!!) Tchau...ate logo!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pea Lasagna with special sauce?

Pastor Josue is the man!!


this is the hardened, drug kingpin that just led a bunch of kids to Christ...amazing night!!

Brazil shirts are cheap after World cup loss

Kids Kamp T Shirts travel 6,000 miles!!

Brazil Night...In Brasil

Tonight we had the special, and somewhat odd-themed Brazil night, right here in Brazil. All the Brazilians and Americans donned their finest yellow, blue and green attire for the evenings festivities. The pics that are included in this post are pretty much self explanatory. It was a great, fun night. The closest thing we've had to a disaster is when Jon Castor left his Iphone on the soccer field. Some of the Brazilian kids found it and turned it into our team. After we let Jon walk around in the rain for awhile, we fessed up and told him we had it. Sorry 'bout that Castor. Also, we had a visit from the King...the Burger King that is.

This was the last night of camp. On this night, the kids are presented with the opportunity to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior. It's an amazing evening. The speaker tonight was a former high-level drug dealer in one of the most violent favellas in Rio De Janeiro. His testimony is incredible. The largest favellas in Rio are some of the most violent, dangerous, drug-infested areas on earth. This man was at the top of the criminal food chain and headed for a life of depravity and disaster. Once he was in, there was no getting out...without God. The kids in the room were locked into his every word. The traficantes (drug dealers) in the slums are the law...they recruit the young kids with the promise of money and security. The kids in the chapel are exposed to this kind of pressure every day. This man lived it and lived to tell about it...all by the Grace of God. At the end of his testimony, he gave the kids an opportunity to accept Christ. The response and the overflowing of emotion was incredible. Kids that wouldn't dare crack a smile at the beginning of the week, had removed the walls and were weeping and hugging each other...celebrating the decision they had made to follow Christ. What an amazing God we serve, and what an amazing night.

To all those that supported others to go on this trip...thank you. We hope that you know that your prayers and financial support have directly impacted the lives of over 150 kids that before this week, had very little hope. Now they have Jesus...and we're all witnesses.

We will say goodbye to the kids tomorrow and head into Recife to relax before the long flight home on Saturday. We look forward to seeing you all soon.

We have seen the King

We have seen the light - or atleast the king, and not the King we are telling folks about down here. Last night was crazy wacky night, or something of the sorts, and the Burger King man made appearances at Camp. Who knew.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hot Dog Anyone?

VFC Shopping Spree

Sophie, Bella, Pace, 4 Brazilians & 2 Red Necks

We are ...REDNECKS.

Ay yay yay. Last night we held a little get together called redneck night. This is when the Americanos dress up like Wally Nascar and the Brazillians dress up as they perceive us. Ironically,as ridiculous as they looked, if I didn't know any better I'd have thought a few of our friends had shown up. These are same good folks that dropped some coinage to fund this little shindig. Fun stuff.

As for today, A Christmas in July of sorts was held in the cafeteria at camp. As a result of many of our kind friends who not only donated money and prayers, they also donated loads and loads of shoes, hats, shirts , dresses and various other clothes.The beauty being when the kids walk in starry eyed and pick out ten items of what we thought was castaway clothing. They meticulously sort through each item looking for the perfect concoction of clothing, and they don't just take something to have it. Clearly, not all of them were impressed with what we brought or the goodstuff was already taken. They are perfectly fine passing if it wasn't an item they would use often. SO, a big thanks for those of you that sent clothing and created one of the most remarkable moments I have ever experienced. For that I am thankful.

On another note, some of the clothing was downright silly and made me a little embarrased to see them wearing it. The sad thing is when I realized it was the clothing from my own personal closet. (not really but don't now want to come across as unthankful.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Brazilian Chicken Dance?

The brilliance of this place is the absolute similarity to "island time." Hurry hurry so we can get ready, only to wait and wonder for the next hour or two what we are waiting around for. That being said, maybe that is exactly what we are supposed to be learning. I and maybe you are constantly running from one event to the next, whether it be work related, sports activities, work out, you name it, and when you get to this place it controls you , not the other way around. We have to learn patience and to not rush everything all the time. The Brazilians make deep friendships in ways that are really so practical ie. odd games, conversation with lots of pointing, lip reading and futbol(soccer). Perhaps its because when you have so little, as it appears many of them do, you learn the value of making friendships, and easier ways to do so.

Today we learned a multitude of things, first off being, you need buns to complete a hamburger. More importantly, we discovered a combination of the Mexican chicken dance, the hokey pokey and a shot of twist and shout, all the while getting lower and lower, and at times trying to hide from how foolish we looked, or I looked. It is composed of running in circles, big circles, skipping, jumping, thrashing the lambada and just an all out workout that I swear we could sell for 19.99, albeit with no commission being paid to Billy Blanks. A blast to say the least and definitely something that puts any quincinera to shame. Anyhow, everybody is safe and healthy, making friends, learning a little patience and having the time of our lives. So until tomorrow, sleep well.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Brazil Summer Camp Here We Come!!!

Boa Tarde friends and family!

Our team has made it safely to Aldeia, the small town outside of Recife, where camp is held and we will be spending our week. Thank you for your prayers. Our travel went smoothly and we arrived with all 30 bags that were filled to the brim with the wonderful donations you generously gave.

Pastor Lecio greeted us at the airport and took us immediately to Kids Place where we were reunited with old friends. The kids are doing great. Learning English and speaking it very well. Many of them came up to us eagerly saying, "Hello, my name is...". So good to see them thriving and God's faithful hand on this wondeful ministry. Then we were treated to a Capoeira performance by a local group. This is the form of martial arts that is disquised with dance and is very popular in Brazilian culture.

After being served a delicious lunch by the sweet cooks, our team split up. The new people to the trip went with Lecio and Alexandre into the Coque favella. There they visited with mothers and children who are being ministered to from Kids Place. As always, the Brazilians greeted the Americans warmly.

The veterans of the group stayed behind at Kids Place, unpacking loads of clothes, setting up chairs and then playing a little soccer.

We've unloaded at the hotel and have a couple of hours before we head to camp for orientation. We are looking forward to meeting all of the volunteers and staff who we will be serving alongside this week. The word is out and about 70 people have volunteered to give their time and service this week to serve these very special teens. We are expecting 150 of them from various favellas and churches around Recife.

Please continue to pray for us as we meet the staff, volunteers and teens. We are looking forward to all that God has in store for us at summer camp in Brazil.

Summer Camp Team 2010

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring 2010 Mission Trip

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Poured Out

Friday morning began the final stretch of our time in Brazil. After breakfast and a great time of worship in song, Brandon encouraged us all to finish strong and leave every once of energy behind at Kid's Place. We boarded the bus and headed over to spend the day with our new friends.
At Kid's Place Friday's begin with singing and a short time of sharing. Singing with the children is an awesome experience. The children sing with full expression emotionally and physically. Dancing and praising at the top of their voices the children taught us songs like the crooked man who became straight. All of our gang enjoyed the worship and the exercise!
We all then went to our classrooms to have our final round of American Curiosity time with the children. After serving the children lunch we all said goodbye to children. Their were tears on both American and Brazilian faces. These children will own a piece of our hearts for eternity.
When the children had gone we sat down for lunch with our translators, pastors and Brazilian team members. We presented the translators with gifts and words of appreciation. These friends were a gift from the Father. Our frail words were reproduce in beautiful Portuguese to children and their families all week. We learned so many lessons of God's love in their service and friendship to us.
After lunch we began to prepare for hosting a special dinner for all of the couples we had whom we had visited in the Favelas during week. We cooked, cleaned, set up and sweated in the unusually hot Brazilian summer. We hosted a Texas style meal with potato salad, black-eyed peas, pico de gallo and grilled meats. Our new friends arrived. Their bright eyes and loving hearts make us feel like old friends. We sang together and worshiped the Father. Some of the new friends are also new members of God's family this week. We ate and then had a fun time making ice cream using two zip lock bags, rock salt, ice and the inner bag full of ice cream mix. This takes about five minutes of exuberant shaking(aka dancing) which was lots of fun for our Brazilian friends. As with anything, they participated with gusto.
Our late night finished with goodbyes and hope to meet again someday soon, but promises to see each other in heaven.
Our team returned to the hotel, packed and crashed for a few hours of sleep before a morning wake up to catch our flight. Our long travel day yesterday was full of sharing with other the memories of our trip. The day was uneventful until we arrived at DFW at 11:30pm and had to wait over an hour for our bags to be offloaded.
What a shock to us to leave a 90 degree Brazilian morning and arrive to 29 degrees and snowing in Texas.
Thanks to each fo you for praying for us as we served. Your prayers and support were foundational to our time in Brazil.
We love you-

Thursday, March 18, 2010

“Deus é tão bom…” (God is so good)

Each day we are here, our team grows closer together and our love for the Brazilians gets stronger. The children continue to get more comfortable with us. Their enthusiasm is contagious. And, they have each found their buddies among the Americans. We play, we laugh, we sing, and we expend so much energy together. Through their time in class learning about American traditions (curiosities) they have grown fond of Dr. Pepper, Easter candy and Christmas bells. Along the way they have also heard much about our Savior and why we celebrate His birth, His resurrection and how that impacts our everyday family lives.
The time with the classes in the mornings is so much fun. The children have bright, shining faces. They are beautiful and smart. To our American eyes, it’s hard to see how can be so bright, clean and happy when they’re living in a pieced-together home. It seems that these families work so hard to provide for basic needs.
Today, we visited a new set of families in the favela. We went to a poorer part of the community called “cardboard village.” It was heart-breaking on so many levels. Most of us saw families struggling to get food on the table each day. Just as we are when we have guests in our home, they are nervous for us to be there. One family has struggles so complicated the mother has no hope. Another family had to build their home on stilts over a sewage drain, because they had no other place to go. While their circumstances are in many ways so different from ours, their hearts are the same. They love their children and want more for them. They need Jesus as their Savior.
Sadly, tomorrow is our last day at Kids Place and in the favela. The time has been far too short. We will follow the same schedule tomorrow, with one addition. The US team will be hosting all the families we’ve met with this week for dinner at Kids Place tomorrow night. It will be an American meal – hamburgers, potato salad and such.
Please pray for our time with the families tomorrow. Pray God would give us wisdom in serving and encouraging these families. Pray for the seeds planted. Pray that the new believers would be encouraged and built up.
Laugh out loud moment: We were entertained by the kids on the team tonight when they serenaded our sweet bus driver, Flavio. The girls made up a song; the boys had an elaborate rap. Flavio loved it and tried to take Cole Miltenberger home with him.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lots of rain, but no dampened spirits

Today was another great day at Kids Place. Once again, we started the day with a great devotion by Randy and Emily Elston. Randy also shared his testimony, which blessed all of us. Mary Ann Miltenberger commented on what a blessing the trip has been. She couldn’t be more right. And, a rain shower during our devotion cooled things off for a few minutes!
The kids were full of energy when we arrived this morning. The children in the families we visited seem to be particularly enjoying their time with us. They were excited to see us again today. It is so much fun to walk into a place and be smothered with affection.
We were all a little more prepared for our time with the kids. One highlight was when Waska, an interpreter, brought his guitar into a classroom. The kids were so excited. They danced and sang with enthusiasm. It was infectious. Being with these kids just makes you smile.
Again, the dads were called on to swing, jump, tote, and even dance with the kids during playground time. John Reding was such a good sport as child after child wanted him to “jump” them up into the air.
After lunch, we prepared to go visit the families again. Today, we repaired the roof of the woman (Luciene) who accepted Jesus as her Savior yesterday. She told us before we went to her house that her husband also wanted to pray and receive Jesus as his Savior. But, he works long hours every day, and we weren’t sure when we could visit with him. So, we prayed for an opportunity on the way to their home. In God’s usual way, He surprised us. Claudio was home when we arrived. He and the men worked together to repair his roof. It was a great time of fellowship. As we were leaving, he prayed with us and asked Jesus to be His Savior.
The Reding family also had the privilege of leading the two girls in the family they visited to Christ. It’s so neat to see God working in such awesome ways.
The home the Baileys and Rizenbergs visited enjoyed an extreme home makeover, courtesy of Sonya. From what we hear, it looks great!
Please pray as we visit new families tomorrow. These two days have been full of significant time with the families. We are looking forward to what God has in store with the other women. Please also pray for stamina. We are definitely tired at the end of each day! And, please be praying for the dinner on Friday night. All of the families we have met with will (hopefully!) come to Kids Place for an “American” dinner.
Laugh out loud moment: When the Dodds met with Luciene and Claudio’s family, Claudio’s mother also stopped by. She enjoyed visiting with us. But, she suggested to Brian that he needed to eat a little less and exercise a little more! You have to love someone who speaks their mind!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Christmas, Birthday Parties, Texas and Easter

What do these things have in common? They are the themes that each family team is using during our teaching times with the kids. Each morning this week, we’re responsible for teaching a group of about 20 kids a Bible verse, telling them about one of the above “American curiosities,” and leading a playground game.
The day started with a great devotion and singing time. Rick and Chad Rizenbergs challenged us to think about what a servant really is. It was a great way to start our day of service.
The kids are delightful and so eager to be with us. The playground time is especially fun. The Miltenberger men proved themselves to be great playground equipment. Lew toted at least a dozen kids around on his back, while Cole was dogpiled by several kiddos. So many of these children don’t have dads at home for one reason or another; they loved the attention from all the dads on our team.
After the morning classes, we had the opportunity to serve the kids lunch. I think I speak for the team when I say that serving these children has been more of a blessing for us than them.
We enjoyed another delightful – and delicious lunch – laughing with the Brazilian translators. They are a wonderful group of men and women.
I’m not sure whether the morning or the afternoon was more fun. Today was our first day to spend time in the homes of four of the families in the favela.
The mothers picked us up at Kid's Place and took us to their homes. With the help of the translators, we evaluated their needs and fixed what we could. The Miltenbergers and and Elstons repaired a roof for a precious widow. They saw the Lord provide in a big way when the woman’s skilled neighbor arrived to help make the roof repairs. (The roofs are easy to fall through, so we had to be careful not to cause more harm than good.)
The Reding family surveyed a home and realized they wouldn’t be able to make all the repairs needed. So, Sarah entertained the beautiful twin girls. Everyone had a chance to get to know the family.
The Dodds also encountered a roof that was beyond our level of expertise. But, it was an amazing afternoon nonetheless. When we first arrived, the visit seemed very “official,” not relaxed for any of us. But, as the afternoon went on, it began to feel like we were just visiting with friends. Lucienne’s delightful mother-in-law dropped in, full of personality. Then the Lord turned our conversation to Him. Lucienne told the translator she was afraid of what her family would say if she asked Jesus to be her Savior. As we talked, her heart truly opened to Him. It was a privilege to be present as she became a daughter of the King.
The Baileys and the Risenbergs spent hours with the family they were paired with learning and sharing their respective lives. Rick said he feels like the people in the Favela saw them as Christ's representatives and one neighbor took the opportunity to come and ask for the group to pray for four of her family members who are currently in prison and need our Lord's grace.
Sonya Bailey continues to be a behind-the-scenes wonder. I’m not sure how she does it, but she always seems to be helping everywhere.
Thank you for praying for us. The Lord’s presence was definitely felt today as we went into the favela.
Please pray for the children to feel Christ’s love through us. Please pray for open hearts for the women/families we are spending time with. Please pray for our submission to the Lord’s direction as we go through our days. `
Laugh out loud moment: After a great lunch and full stomachs the men were asked to unload large and heavy roofing tiles from a van parked out back into the Kid's Place play area. Within in minutes of feeling satisfied of a job well done, a decision was made to deliver the just unloaded tiles directly to the homes in the Favela. So immediately back they went much to the dismay of our sweaty and tired selves.