A healthy spiritual discipline is to sit quietly, with all our electronics off, to think about who and what is around us, and to wonder about God’s hand in it all.
Bella Bergen 2015
Our friend has a loader, so he came and worked for us for a few hours last week. As we get opportunities we make improvements to our property. In this case we have a pond in our field. We look forward to the day when this is part of a training and retreat center.
I was at the neighbours this week, and the news was on. “This guy did this. Then this person did that.” While these might be the facts, they are not the whole story. Paul says that we see through a glass dimly. It is like we are looking in a mirror, and trying to discern what is happening. The gospels say that Jesus was motivated by compassion. This is the lens through which He saw people and situations. As we look at our family, neighbours, friends, and national events through the eyes of compassion, with faith, hope, and love, we can sometimes understand a little of what is going on, and how we can be helpful.
Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. 1 Cor. 13:12 NET
This photo of the Marabá leadership team was taken while Deanna was in Canada last Fall. We are very grateful that her health continues to be good.
In the meantime, we posted this leadership photo on the new Mission Website (thanks to Steve Dolan). We’ll retake the Maraba Leadership Team photo when Deanna gets here, so it will be complete.
I just had coffee with a young fellow who was quite involved here for years, but had disappeared. “I had to get out of here before I ended up shot or in jail.” Then he started telling me of the sad stories of several young fellows his age, and the terrible experiences of friends who go to jail. Our neighbourhood has a bad reputation, which we are working to change. Not all of these young men and women make poor choices as teen-agers. Some of them stick with the church, and their Christian friends, and some of these now have happy marriages. The consequences of the two different paths seem so obvious when you can see them for a little distance.
Our hope is to find more ways to include teen-agers, so they can get past those difficult years, and onto a good path as adults.
Here are two photos of Bella teaching Sunday School. While I think she has been a helper all of her life, this was her first time actually responsible for the teaching. I am very proud of her! Thank you to everyone who supports this work, and enables us to live with and to help these people. We are so grateful.
Bella teaches Sunday School in Maraba.
Bella and I have figured out how to make great pumpkin pies. My part is to buy the pumpkin, build a fire in the outside clay oven, and put the whole pumpkin in there. After a few hours, you can stick a fork in it anywhere. It is all soft. Then Bella scoops it out, adds some spices and makes the crust. You have to taste it to believe how good it is. If you come for a visit, and it is pumpkin (actually squash) season, maybe Bella will make you one.
Bella makes awesome pumpkin pie.
The Snells and Leaos are back from Altamira, so everyone came over to celebrate Bella’s 16th birthday.
Our dream is to plant a thriving church that will be good news in this neighbourhood, a place where children can come and play, where families can come for a walk, and where people can get training for things that will be helpful to them.
This week a grandma came to talk to me, to ask for some money for her grandson. He has a broken leg. He needs a little money for food until he can walk again. And he is hiding for his life in another town. Our neighbors say gunmen are in our neighbourhood this week, looking for him. This story is complicated and sad. But it is even sadder for these grandparents. She ended up weeping as she talked to me, “I don’t want to have to ask you for money.” And this is true for almost everyone here. I always get the impression people would much sooner work for their money, and have true friendships as compared to giver/receiver friendships. But sometimes it just gets difficult. Her 18 year old grandson asked me to take him to the hospital several times over the last few weeks, for x-rays. His knee was swollen and I think it was weeks before he got a cast. His aunt, who is a single mom with five children, (and they all live with the grandparents again) always came with him to help with the registration and lineups. As I would drop them off I asked the sister, “How are you going to get home?” She would kind of look down, so I would discreetly give her about $10 for a taxi, because the hospital line-ups take hours. This happened twice. The third time, she would not take any money from me. “I have money today.” I recounted this story to the grandma, because this was about her daughter and grandson. I said, “I know you don’t want to ask if you don’t have to”. And they have not asked, in all these six years we have been neighbours. It is really hard to be poor.
Many of our leaders received help when they were in need, and now they want to help others. May God continue to transform lives, and empower and motivate them to help others along the way.
Thank you, so much, to everyone who helps this work. Thank you for your support. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your encouragement and friendship.