Several years ago we began a process of becoming an organization / association of semi-autonomous, de-centralized mission bases. Our goals remain the same: “…North Americans and Brazilians working together to form a sustainable church planting movement to the remote people of the Amazon Basin.” It became clear as we expand into this vast wilderness region we need to give as much freedom as possible to local teams, while still requiring enough accountability to have confidence that we are all representing the Mission in a legal and healthy way.
To find this balance we meet together formally twice a year. After months of living and working far apart from each other it feels very good to encounter our other team members again, and to encourage each other forward in the Lord’s work.
NOTE: We had a time of “blessing” prayer as Jim and Sharon Stevenson, and Tim and Betsy Kubacki are moving on in their journey to follow Jesus wherever He leads. Both of these families will be very missed here in Brazil, for their wise council and for their friendship. Jim and Sharon are returning to Canada, where Jim will continue to serve as an XMC mission board member. Tim and Betsy are joining SIM in Angola, a Portuguese speaking country in Southern Africa which is recovering from a devastating civil war.
Marabá Board Meeting
Every year we need to have at least one formal board meeting to meet the requirements of an active registered organization in Brazil. We need to give a formal report of our bank account, projects and plans. I feel so blessed to be working with the team below. Four other board members who were unable to be present at this particular meeting are Clenildo and Angelita, Nira and Abilene.
What if you come from a dysfunctional home? What if your parents, your relatives and your circle of friends all have less than good marriages and friendships? What if you don’t know who your dad is, or if your stepdad’s mom has to come and rescue him because your mom beats him up too often? What if you crave good friends, and long for a husband and a family who will love and respect you, but you don’t have any models? The soap operas on tv which are blaring all day in your house model worse relationships than you are experiencing. We pray for God to intervene. We have also come up with a few practical ideas.
1. We model a good relationship. The neighbourhood youth cannot believe we have a “date night”. Dating is for illicit activity, not for married people. Yet, the possibility that you could date your spouse even after you are married does sound appealing.
2. Deanna is doing a Bible Study with these teen-age girls based on a book called “I Kissed Dating Good-bye”, which talks about the results of recreational dating and the path to the longed for lifelong partner/lover/friend. It is the most popular Bible Study we can remember.
3. When our new church building is functional one of the first “programs” we would like to host is a series of Marriage Workshops”, for the adults in our neighbourhood. We are hoping to create a pleasant environment, have the youth serve some delicious snacks, and to teach some basic ideas about how married people can get along together.
Dan Thiessen arrived from Canada yesterday. On Wednesday we will fly to Altamira together. From there Dan will travel spend time with other missionaries while I will return to Marabá.
Sunday at church Dan told some stories about his childhood in Indonesia where he grew up in a jungle mission station. Dan also told the story about how he (11 years old) was playing with my dad’s tractor, pushing the buttons around the steering wheel, while I (three years old) was playing around the fan belts of the same tractor. The starter button turned the engine over. One of my fingers got permanently shortened.
Dan is on the XM Canada board. We are so grateful to have someone whose whole life has revolved around missions and Christian leadership on the team.
“I really like the tia, (sounds like “CHEE as”) (“aunt” meaning Deanna)), and I really like the little tias (our girls), but who I really like is the tio pelada (pay LAD a)( (the bald headed uncle). He meant me.
Dedé, one of the moms who came to church Sunday night, was walking up the hill with a group of children. She overheard Adriano talking to his friends. This seems kind of odd to me, as Adriano is the first person I ever kicked out of church, and that was only two weeks ago. I have been asked by church authorities to please participate or please leave myself, many years ago, but this is the first time I remember requesting this of someone else. It is uncommon how often these things come around. To loosely quote Mel Gibson in The Patriot, “I have often been afraid that the sins of my youth will overtake me and I will not be able to bear it.” I think maybe Apostle Paul felt the same way at times.
Adriano lives in a broken home. He always is getting into trouble and bothering people. Right while I am preaching he will come to the front and start snapping his fingers. Two Sundays ago when Deanna preached he started acting up. I was kind of tired. I went up front, got Adriano and walked him out the door and up the hill to our gate. I told him we were here to hear from God. This was not the time for playing. He could not stay if he was not going to behave. He nodded calmly, thought about it a bit, and left. That was two weeks ago.
At this children’s conference he was exceptionally well behaved. He surprised everyone. Did I already mention this his home life is a disaster? Here is a photo of Adriano worshiping Jesus at the children’s conference.
Everything was quiet and controlled. Several leaders up front were holding out the grape juice and the crackers. Then Zezim noted that more people were going to Deanna’s plate than to his. So he started smiling and pushing his plate in front of those still coming forward. When Yara, who also had a plate full of the condiments saw what was going on she said to Deanna, “He is stealing all of your clients.”
This added to the joy of the moment, and the sense of God being with us. Getting closer to God and helping others get closer to God is always a good thing.
One highlight of the Acampamento Kids retreat was the ministry time. A lot of the children felt God’s presence in a real and strong way. There was prayer to break off generational curses. Most children indicated their parents called them things like “worthless”, “fools”, “vagabonds” etc. The leaders prayed to break the power of those words, and prayed blessings on the children.
Fabiana is the young girl who snuck out of her parents home and climbed this cajá tree by our front gate. When Annika got there Fabiana was lying on the ground like she was dead. With the corner of her shirt Anni wiped the blood that had trickled from her mouth. Then she came to get Deanna. Others ran to get Fabiana’s parents. Deanna drove them all to the hospital. Fabiana’s dad prefers to be called by his nickname “Onça Preta”. It translates to “Black Panther.”
If you look close you can see this tree is loaded with small orange fruit, about the size of big cherries. Each one has as much flavour as a package of tang juice crystals. We have several of these trees on the church property, but no one is allowed to climb them. We enjoy the fruit after it falls to the ground.
The parents and Fabiana came to church Sunday night. Fabiana has no internal injuries, which seems miraculous to me. We think the branch is 7 or 8 meters high (20-25 feet). Thank you to anyone who has ever prayed for God’s blessing and protection for us and the people who come here.
Friday night, Saturday and Sunday.
Deanna got a team together and pulled off an Encounter Week-end, modified for kids twelve and under.
We are so grateful for good help, and of course, God’s mercy.