“I thought we were coming to this conference to learn about how to grow our churches, how to get more done, and to learn some new church strategies. I was so surprised to learn this conference is about learning to how rest. I have not slept well in a long time. I am so exhausted from the work…”
Clenildo and Elba organized a Pastoral Care conference where we taught about the importance of a one-day-a-week of rest, how to read the Bible for your own spiritual health, and how to practice silence and solitude as ways to recharge. As we are pushing 20 years of pastoring, we have many, very-tired, and scarred leaders in our midst. This conference felt like a long drink of cold water to some who have been trudging through a desert land in certain areas of their lives. Sometimes we could see the peace of God descend on the group. There was lots of time for reflection, for rest, and for conversations over meals and snacks.
The site where we had the retreat is our own training center. It is so encouraging to see this place functioning well. For many years this was only a distant dream.
“When are we going to do this again?…”
The four-adult / four-children church planting team from Marabá travelled four hours by car and motorbike to spend the night with the four-adult / four-children team in Pacajá. The next morning the sixteen of us travelled by bus, motorbike, and two 4x4s, to Altamira. There we met up with other families and couples who either live in Altamira, or who had travelled great distances as well. Thursday night all the adults went to the camp for the conference, and all the kids stayed in town. There was a rich sense of family.
For months Elba and Clenildo have planned a Pastoral Care retreat in Altamira. Two days before it started Marsha sent us word that people in Pacajá were protesting by closing the highway. They did this by dragging two huge logs in front of the one-lane bridge, and they also built a fire of burning tires across the highway. We packed our things and left that afternoon, thinking we would likely have to walk across the bridge and take a bus the rest of the way. We were glad to hear, when we got to Pacajá, the police had opened the road back up. We spent the night at the Wilsons and together with the Pacajá church-planting team we arrived at noon in Altamira.
I don’t have any photos of the residue of the road block, but we did take a few other photos along the way.
Bella and Emma drew a few pictures last week, and here they are.
It was Yara’s birthday! The Snells were leaving. The Rae’s had Jon and Daniel Smit visiting from Canada. It was time for a big meal together!
I gave my camera to 12-year-old Marlison before church started last Sunday. Here is what he saw.
About 20 of us eat supper, watch a video, and then talk together in small groups every Friday night. This week it was Deanna’s turn to cook. You can see Bella and Emma testing the potato chowder soup and the rolls hot out of the wood-burning oven outside.
The week the topic was, “What do you think about the idea that God can give us specific guidance in life?” Our group was quieter than during some of the other weeks. It felt like a more mysterious topic than “What do you think about the Bible?”, or “What do you think about prayer?”
The Alpha course is a big hit though. Many of our neighbours now look forward to Friday nights.
Nineteen years ago Anni, at almost two years old, was delighted to get a baby sister. Even though they are now in Canada, we can still open a few birthday gifts together.
Olivia is the first girl in our family to have a birthday without either parent present.
NOTE: As far as I know, I only missed Anni’s birthday one time because of a church conference in Southern Brazil. This is only the second time one of our girls have had a birthday when I was not present (67 out of 69 birthdays), and Deanna’s first time. This has been a priceless gift from God to our family. May God give us grace to enjoy this next season of our lives as much as (or even more than?) we have enjoyed this first season.
Every time I see this certain grass I look around to see if someone was painting something nearby. Each blade looks like splattered it while cleaning a white paint brush.
This second picture is another wild flower that reminds me of a smaller version of Canadian Thistle, except without the thistles.
We look forward to the day when we have a reception room and a multi-purpose, large office at the front of our church. We want people people to feel welcome to come and hang out, get good drinking water, and to sign up for helpful courses that will help them improve their lives.
We are working to become a community center, a safe and fun place to come, a place where people can find peace, and where people can sense God’s love and care.