Steve took a couple of nice photos of toucans. I modified the photo a little.
Family Update and Two Stories
I am with Deanna and our girls again in BC. Five weeks has been our longest separation in our twenty years of marriage. We are in Canada for March, April and May. Suddenly this year seems almost done! The girls are doing well in school. Via is now registered at UFV. Anni is finding the second semester better than the first one and she has part-time work with Karen’s Katering and at the ABC Restaurant on Clearbrook Road. Deanna and I will be doing deputation work (building our support team) during these remaining weeks and I will be taking several more intensive courses at the Justice Institute of BC (jibc.ca) at their School of Community and Social Justice.
Two stories from my flight home:
1. The airplane left Marabá at 5:30. A young fellow wanted to sit by me where there was an empty window seat. He was a collage student in a State in Central Brazil. He was returning home from visiting family in Altamira. “Have you ever heard of Igreja da Vinha?” “Yes! All my relatives go there now. Cleber. Tatianne. Was it called ‘Igreja da Vinha do Mirante?’” It made me feel like we are starting to make an impact in Northern Brazil when a stranger in an airport 500 kms from Altamira, a city of over 100,000 people, has heard of us in a positive light.
2. In São Paulo I had a 9-hour lay-over. I found a quiet corner in a waiting area with a two foot square coffee table at the end of some chairs. I curled up on my luggage, the table and a chair and fell asleep, exhausted. When I opened my eyes an hour later there were suitcases piled up around me people sitting and standing very close to me, talking to each other. I lay there quietly for half an hour soaking it in. Finally I took out my ear-plugs and tuned in to their chatter. They were a Brazilian church group of 14 people heading to Northern Mozambique. They knew Pastor Abe and Pastor Geraldo, the people we worked with when we first moved to Brazil. This is in a country of 200 million people! They said that if I thought any part of Brazil was poor, Mozambique is completely off-the-charts. No work. Everything is imported and expensive. The poor just eat farinha with nothing else. I told them we originally wanted to be missionaries in Northern Mozambique. We are now dreaming of sending missionaries from our churches in Brazil. They think this is a good idea, “You need to come check it out personally first, to see what you are sending your people into. Come with us now!” Well…I’ve been away from my family for five weeks already. We traded email addresses.
Photos 1 – 2. Ivanildo and Monica discuss Ivanildo’s Facebook technique. a. Ivanildo asks Monica to open his Facebook page. b. Ivanildo asks Monica to post a picture for him. c. Ivanildo admires his handiwork. “I decided to get my own page so people can get to know me better”. (You can be friends with them by looking them up on Facebook at Ivanildo Leao and Monica Braga Souza Leao and asking them to be your friend. They are learning English, and Google has a good translator app if you want to translate a sentence to Portuguese for them).
Photos 2 – 4. Marabá Church Coffee / Tea Bar
Photo 5. Lord’s Supper / We all partake, and it’s a joyful occasion. This Sunday two key youth who are struggling thought they could not join us in this family bonding ceremony. I brought them the sacraments and explained to them after church that the early church, as described in 1 Corinthians 11, was fighting and arguing. They all brought sacraments for themselves and their best friends but would not share them with others in the church. The whole event got very confusing and off-track in that scenario. Paul never meant that after we realize we have sinned and we wish we hadn’t sinned and we want to do better we need to withdraw from God’s family celebrations for a period of time. “Run towards God with your sins and your attitudes. He is the only One who can help you through it”. (It may be helpful to step down from visible leadership roles for a period of time, and there are other reasons why this can be helpful). It all went very well.
Photos 7 and 8 – Marabá Church Sunday School program.
Photos 9 – 11 – The band has dwindled to three for awhile, though others can join in for pre-service prayer.
Photo 12 Douglas has a cool hair cut. I am thinking of getting a cut like this. I am not sure how well my thinning hair will stick up.
Photos 13-17 A few more miscellaneous shots before church before I put the camera away.
JohnLennon called me aside after church on Saturday night and told me he bought an engagement ring for Miriam and was going to propose to her in front of their church “tomorrow night”. She knew nothing about it. He invited me and some leaders from our church to come to their church after ours got out to witness the great event.
Miriam said “Yes!”
They have been dating since she was 14. Now at the mature age of 16 she is engaged, and they hope to be married at the end of the year, when she will be almost 17. JohnLennon is in his young 20s. He graduated from high school last month. He is working for an air conditioner company, and will probably get ticketed and make a good living in this way. He has been saving his money and bought a little piece of land on which to build their home.
This is a very good story. We are very happy for them. Their parents are thrilled.
1, 2 and 3. Here are some photos of our neighbours. These three little children’s mother died last year in a drunken motorcycle accident. They are raised by their grandma, along with a lot of other kids and grandkids. They are looking forward to Deanna and the girls coming back to Marabá. “When Deanna gets back I am going to send all these kids to Sunday School”.
4. Eduardo lives in this home. He seems like a very sincere boy. Grandma Esther is so proud, “He goes to your church”. Sure enough, he was at church Sunday.
5 and 6. Here is a photo of Luana and Yara’s mom, Eliete, and their brother, Marlison. Eliete and her boyfriend Cesar quit drinking around the beginning of this year and look like different people. “Everything Deanna told me I am doing. I am sorry my girls quit going to church. They say they will start again when Deanna gets back. There are a lot of Mom’s waiting for Deanna to come back. We need help with our daughters”. Eliete is going to have her sixth child, Emily Raquel, in March.
JohnLennon taught himself guitar, but since he is left-handed but only had access to a right-handed guitar, he learned to play it backwards. And he can really play! If you know anything about guitar, watch JohnLennon’s right hand play all the chords backwards, with the small strongs on the top of the neck. He comes from a long line of musician’s. His brother, Johnny, has a very popular band that plays in the clubs and bars every week-end and holidays. I asked his dad if he named Johnny after Johnny Cash but he said, “No. I just liked the name Johnny”. In the video below you can see John Lennon’s mom Penha worshipping God, and in another photo Johnny’s wife is there too.
JohnLennon spoke at our church last night. He was one of the key young leaders here during our first two years or so. This past year he joined another denomination, as you can possibly tell by the clothes he is wearing. He came to see if he can help us as our band has drifted into difficult waters (we are wounded healers). Ivanildo and Monica asked him if he would be the speaker at the Saturday night youth service. He ended with this song and an alter call.
At six a.m. this morning the guys loaded up a car and a motorbike for another survey trip. We have heard a big mining company found a large mineral deposit (gold?) under a village, and they are constructing a new village so they can raze the existing one. It turns out to be true. We can get 3 city lots for R$150 if we will build a church building. They are moving all the residents of the old community to this new location and they want an instant town. We have until the end of the month to get back to them. This is an unusual opportunity.
Our guys came back from this survey trip encouraged. Two buses full of local residents were leaving when the team arrived at the coffee shop, and then three more buses full of people pulled in. Ivanildo feels this is a real hub into the ranch country and settlements of that region. They pulled into a restaurant / bar alongside the highway that had a nice lake / swimming hole. Apparently the owner was a Christian but when the pastor put her under church discipline she left the church. She was playing Christian worship music in the bar.
To get started out there I kind of think we need to commit to visiting at least twice a month. It’s a two hour trip each way. We could start working on our property (if we make the deal). There are two suitable lots available. Each one is 100 feet square (three city lots). One is right downtown, in a lower piece of land, and one is a few blocks away by the main road in and gas station, and it has a nice view as it is higher up. We could get a fence or wall around it, and start out by putting up a roof to meet under and place to stay overnight. Then we could hang out and get to know the town people when we visit.
I don’t know. This is a prayer request. Is this our first church plant outside of Marabá? We are familiar with two ways to plant churches. One way is to look around, like we are doing, and then get to know the people where we want to start a church. The other way, which is much easier I think, is to go where we are invited. Sometimes we need to invite ourselves first, and as we get known we get invited out. Does that make sense? In Marabá, for example, we invited ourselves. Tres Poderes has some of the same feeling about it at a much smaller scale. So…what do you think?
We drove around the river downstream, over the Tocatins dam, and back again the same day. It took 15 hours, including some side excursions. This reservoir covers 2800 square kms, and is one of the largest dams in the world. It includes a “lift” which allows barges full of iron ore to pass over. It is still not open to public line boats or ocean going sea vessels. There is a 43 km rocky stretch between the dam and Marabá that needs to be cleaned up first. The last president guaranteed the money for the project, but the new President, Dilma, says no. Speculation on the internet says that they would like the big mining company in this region to do it.
I translated for Art. Art and Cyndi have been living here since September 2011 with no translator. They can talk quite a bit already, and they are looking forward to understanding and talking more.