We drove to Pacajá and back yesterday. The team there had a few questions about setting the steel for the bond beam on top of the foundations. Ivanildo talked to the engineer here in Marabá. Then we drove out, helped them get started for a couple of hours, had lunch with them and met the team from Columbus, and then drove home. We left the house at 6 a.m., and got home at 6 p.m. It was a good day.
On the way home I crested a hill in an area in an area where the TransAmazon Highway is almost like a tunnel through the trees. Suddenly there was a truck stopped on the steepest part of the hill. He was trying to pull another truck up backwards, one that had stalled halfway up the hill. As they all discussed endless options, the traffic started backing up in both directions. A bus passed all the cars and trucks from the other side and was coming up close to the broken truck when the cable broke. No brakes! The broken truck picked up speed going backwards. The bus picked up speed going forward to get out of the way. The bus missed getting broadsided by about 2 inches. The truck ended up in a washout gully and twisted it’s frame. The driver’s door wouldn’t open. I felt sad for the driver.
As we drove past there were some flowers alongside the road that were backlit. I took a picture our of the car window with my phone, and somehow the light reflected the flower into the tiny lens. I’ll include the photo. You can see the original backlit flower in the brush in the background.


Alpha Week-end

The Alpha course has one stretch where you set a whole week-end aside to hang out together in a retreat atmosphere, listen to Bible teaching about the Holy Spirit, talk about it in small groups, and maybe experience God.
This was our first time through, so we met for a day-long retreat at the Chacará Sucurí, which is very close to our place. It was my first time there. The Sunday atmosphere at this public club was worldly, which was distracting. Still, our group listened really well to the teaching videos, and then really opened up in the small groups. The ice-breakers, “What do you think about spiritual healing?” and “What do you think about signs and wonders?” were all about white witchcraft, and dark witchcraft. No problem believing it exists. The questions center more around, “Why is God’s way better?”
After the second and third videos we ate lunch and the group relaxed for the afternoon. It reminded me of the many church groups I have been part of in my 52 years. People who hardly knew each other just naturally seem to form into one, big, family.
Thursday evening, at our normal Alpha meeting time, we showed the last HS video, and invited the Holy Spirit to come. And He did. He settled visibly on several of the people, and everyone left very encouraged. 
We still have three more Alpha evenings to go, and then I think everyone wants to do it again. The group is growing. The tables where we eat are no longer big enough.


A family up in BC gave us money to help someone in need, so we helped Eliete get some cement, sand, and bricks, so they could build some bedrooms into their little home. “There was some cement and sand still left over, so I even built a sink area for washing dishes.” Just a couple of years ago Eliete and Cesar were serious alcoholics, everyone slept in one room, stuff (and they themselves) kept getting smashed and broken. Last year Cesar’s brother broke Cesar’s leg. Then Cesar got leprosy and tuberculosis. He was on death’s doorstep for quite awhile. Now he did most of the brickwork to build these bedrooms. Things have taken a turn for the better since they have given their lives to Jesus.
Eliete is a rescuer in our neighbourhood. She functions like a pastor in the way that she cares for people, especially the down and outers.
Last week-end Eliete and Cesar were supposed to come to the Alpha week-end retreat. Everyone was looking forward to this event for some time. But then Leo’s uncle disappeared, and everyone thought he died. (Leo is a 16 year old boy who thinks he is a girl. He dresses, acts, and looks just like a 16 year old girl. He is kind of an outcast, so Eliete lets him eat at her house and sleep on the floor in the girl’s room). Eliete went and found Nailson, a neighbour who has many bullet and knife wounds, who also likes to help those in need. Together they got a motorboat with an outboard “rebetta” (5 hp briggs and stratton) and started scouring the river banks. About an hour and a half upstream they found the man’s canoe, tied up to the shore in a  huge jungle area. The next day they went back and kept looking. Nailson told me the story. “We were going up and down the shoreline, hollering the guys name, when this hunter showed up. He told us his dogs had found a man curled up at the foot of a tree, almost dead. When we found him, there he was, curled up at the foot of a tree. He had gotten lost for 5 days. He had no clothes except his underwear. He was completely dehydrated.” They got him back to Marabá, and he went to the hospital for treatment. He was still there the last I heard.
Then…while they were at the river bank, just a little ways upstream from our place, the same Alpha week-end Sunday, someone told Eliete that a teen-ager had disappeared in the river. Eliete told Nailson. They went to the exact spot where the 16 year old boy had been pushed in. Nailson studied the river currents. Then he jumped in to the same place, let the river carry him a bit, and then he let out all his breath and sank. “I went down and down. The current took me this way and that. I wondered how far down I would go. And then I landed, right on top of the body. I pulled it to the surface.” Later we heard someone pushed the boy in. He couldn’t swim. Someone jumped in to rescue him, landed on the kid who was floundering in the water, and broke his neck. 
And there are more stories. These are just the ones about why they missed the Alpha week-end retreat.
And we feel very honored to be able to help them a little with their house.
Yara, Eliete, Emily, Marlison, Cesar, Luan (Luana was in school, studying computers).

The girls get one room, the boys get the other. There is a race now to see who can earn enough money for the cement, first, to plaster the walls of their new bedrooms.

These bedrooms are very small. Yet this first bed actually has another pull-out bed under it. Eliete and Cesar’s friend, Orlando, got really beat up three months ago. I saw him yesterday. A 2 inch scar on his face, full of stitches, and two more long scars on his arm. Someone cut him up bad with a machete, including cutting the tendon that lifts his hand. So now he cannot lift his hand. It is in a brace. His fingers still work enough to hold a spoon when he eats. Orlando is a strong, 41 year old man, who loves hard labor. He has worked for us on our house. Now he cannot work. And he is illiterate. Eliete lets him sleep in their kitchen. I cannot imagine how big these people’s hearts are. Maybe this is what the Bible is talking about when it says the last will be first, in heaven.

Yara and Deborah

Cesar and the new sink area.

Aline’s Engagement Shower

Aline and Eliel are the first from our church to 1. Get engaged, 2. Get married, and then 3. Start living together. They are on this track. They are greatly loved, as you can see by the amount people who came to their engagement shower. One of Aline’s dreams is that they will be sowing vision to young people, to one day be in weddings of their own. We are very proud of Aline and Eliel. May God bless them with the most awesome marriage ever.
The marriage is set for September, 2013.

Mother’s Day Breakfast

Monica and Deanna organized a Mother’s Day Breakfast at the church Sunday morning. Iza Ribeiro shared her testimony. “My life and family were not going as I expected. I talked to some Christians and realized I needed God. I decided to start understanding God by reading the Bible. I started in Genesis. It made no sense at all! Then I started spending time with my new Christian friends, including Deanna, who was new to Brazil at this time. I was able to start to understand God and the Bible as I saw it lived out in the lives of these Christian friends…”

Who are you becoming?

We just took a couple of days off after a long, strenuous run of events. When we got to the hotel here was this iguana, just outside our window, a perfect picture of how we all felt. We decided to do what he was doing, and just rest awhile.
I used to have one long-term goal in life, to hear God say, “Well done good and faithful servant” at the end of time.
I realize I now have a mid-term goal as well. I want to become the kind of person when I am old that exudes godliness. Maybe this is what Paul is referring to in 1 Cor 4:15, “Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.” Maybe guardians have all the right answers, and they know how to tell others how to keep the rules. Fathers, on the other hand, are just the right people.
Jesus and Paul explain how we are leaky vessels. What is in us will leak out.
Last night at Alpha we talked about evil. “Do you believe in witchcraft, and spells, and black magic, etc.” “Well, I have seen it work, but I don’t believe in it.” And the stories start spilling out. Why is it that people have seen so much evil, and even though they don’t want to, it is hard not to believe in evil more than in good?
I think that as evil caters to selfishness, people who have been selfish their whole lives leak out all kinds of powerful things as they try to manipulate their circumstances without God. In a greater way, people who live sacrificially and selflessly can leak out even more powerful things. Is it possible that the closer we get to God relationally, the more God blesses people around us? From my experience, I don’t think this happens by us trying harder, at least not in the traditional sense of working harder to “be good.” I think it happens by spending daily time alone with God praying the Psalms, sitting quietly with Him, listening for His lessons while reading the Bible, asking for His help and telling God of our dreams and hurts and by learning to use the spiritual authority God has given us.
I realize that when I am anxious, something has become bigger to me than God. This is me breaking the first commandment, and I am helpless to stop it in my own strength. Then I realize that King David was anxious a lot too. And somehow He became a man after God’s own heart, and he had a great influence for good. How did he do it? Continually, though all of life’s circumstances, David took his stuff to God, and committed to making God “Plan A”, and he had no “Plan B”. The anxieties eventually melt, and God takes first place again in our hearts.
Psalm 61:1-3
Hear my cry, O God; Give heed to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For You have been a refuge for me, A tower of strength against the enemy.
In summary,
1. Submit everything to God.
2. Sit quietly with God daily.
3. Be thankful.
4. Expect God to bless people around you.
5. Expect this all to happen in increasing measures.
Your thoughts?

Emma is 17

Emma was born a month after we moved from Santarem to Altamira. It was a difficult time for us as missionaries. Emma was a huge blessings from God in those days, and during the 6,209 days since then. May the Lord’s hand of blessing continue to rest heavily on you Emma, for many more thousands of days.  
Seventeen years ago Iza flew from Santarem to Altamira to help Deanna when Emma was born. Now Dr. Ribeiro and Iza, and Silvia, John, and Antony, drove 25 hours to spend the week-end with us. Emma takes her second name from Iza, who has been an inspiration to us all these many years.