December 29, 2009 – Mike and Shelby Procopio

I was not pleased as we made our way back to the airport. It seemed as if we had just come from there, and I have no idea where the two weeks went that were in between. But like it or not, the time came for Mike and Shelby to return back home. We were thrilled to have had their help, as they labored beside us in God’s work. There was so much to do leading up to the Christmas holiday, and we so appreciated all the help that they offered. Before leaving they both agreed to write one more update which I’m forwarding to all my family at home.
In addition to all the work you will read about in their report below, there are a few extra things that you should know about. Thanks to all of you at home who so generously gave clothing and toys and shoes, we were able to sort through the boxes of things that had arrived the week before, and put together three gifts for each of the children at the orphanage. We have a list of each child and their age, and with that list we worked late into Monday night going through the boxes of donations. We found suitable gifts for each child, wrapped each gift, and tagged them with the children’s names.
We delivered the gifts to the orphanage, along with turkey and all the fixings for a Christmas feast (their dessert of choice was ice cream). We were also able to deliver turkeys, along with the fixings, to the rehab, so they would have a Christmas dinner.
We also took two large boxes of clothing and shoes with us on the street Tuesday, and distributed them to many of the kids whom we work with weekly.
I will now turn you over to Mike and Shelby wishing you all a Happy New Year full of God’s Blessings. As we come to the close of 2009, I can not begin to list the blessings that God has lavishly poured out on me and my family this past year. Having given it thought, I borrow the words of another and exclaim that once again I am surprised at what the Lord has done. When I think of the blessing that a child often enjoys simply because of the family they were born into, I honestly bow before my awesome God and with a full heart say over and over again, “Thank you Father for making me your child!”
From my family to yours with love in Christ,
Mark, Lori, Caroline and William.
Hi Everyone!
Well this starts my last update – we were so thankful to be able to be with Mark and Lori and the kids for 2 weeks – it was a tremendous experience, and we returned home more convicted than ever that God is working in a tremendous way in the North of Brazil, and we are excited to not only have been able to go down and be a part of it, but to be able be a part of it from home as well.
I was reminded again this week of David’s men after they went up against the Amalekites after they burned Ziklag – when they returned with the spoils, some of the men wanted to hoard it, and distribute it only among the warriors who had gone down to the battle, and give nothing to those that had faithfully remained behind with “the stuff”. David’s response however gives us a beautiful picture of the heart of God, when he tells his men that “those who went down to battle, and those that remained with the stuff…they shall partake alike”. Not all of us can be out in the mission fields full time – for whatever reasons – but God views us as equal partners in this work, had given us a tremendous privilege and an awesome responsibility at home to faithfully support those that are at the point of the spear, and to throw ourselves whole-heartedly into his work, to the furtherance of the gospel and his purposes in these mission fields.
In the middle of the night on Sunday (or really, Monday morning) Alex Lawson and Lydia Perkins arrived at the airport in Natal – thats one thing i learned about Brazilian airports/airlines – they go 24hrs… no big deal to have a flight land or takeoff at 2 or 3 in the morning….UGH! But it was exciting to see them, and we were really excited that out trips overlapped by a week, so we could not only spend time together, but so that we could share with them what we had seen and done the previous week.
Monday morning started out with the fantastic news that Levi, the addict who we had dropped off at the rehab center on Thursday evening had gotten saved. While this was great news, it actually presented a bit of a problem for the rehab facility, although it all worked out. Levi was so excited about getting saved that he immediately wanted to leave the rehab for a day, so that he could share the gospel with his family – he was very conscious of the fact that he was to be in rehab for 9 months, and if something happened to his girlfriend or children during that time, they would never have a chance to hear the good news of the gospel. Finally the rehab director decided that Levi could go for a day to see his family and tell them about salvation, but he had to return the next day, which he did. Another tangible result of God’s work among these street kids for which we were tremendously thankful, and which was a direct answer to prayer for this young man. Please pray that he will be given the strength needed as he continues his rehab, and that he will begin to grow as a Christian. Also remember his girlfriend and children, that having seen the change in his life and having heard from him the gospel, that they will see the reality of salvation, and be convicted of their need as well.
Monday was spent preparing for the next day’s meal. With the number of “events” that we were juggling around the holiday, the meal for the street kids was moved to Tuesday, as Thursday was to be the dinner in Aningas. The difference this week was that we did a hot meal for the kids, and they were all to receive a bible with the meal. Most of the day was spent getting the food, and picking up the bibles from the christian book store – more on this later.
Tuesday started early with cooking what had to be finished for the street meal, and setting up the cars for the day. Since it wasn’t sandwich’s it was going to be a little more complicated to distribute, but we finally got it all squared away and were ready to go. We had the juice station all set-up in the back of the one remaining Amazing Fiat, and the food, bibles and clothes in the back of the pickup. We had picked up 1000 bibles the day before, so with those loaded in as well, we set off for the day around 11:30. It went very well throughout the day – since it was a hot meal, the kids sat down to eat and listen to the gospel message. Natal is very Christmas oriented, as Natal actually means “Christmas” – however in all the statues of wise-men and nativity scenes throughout the city, it all seems to focus on just the fact that “Christ was Born” – so in the gospel we tried to link what they knew of Jesus as the “Christmas Baby”, to the fact that he actually came as their Savior, and went to the cross for their sins!
It took all day for the food distribution over the stops, and by the time we got to the last stop we were as tired as we could possibly be! At the last stop, William and I gave out over 900 bibles. The thirst for the word of God is incredible, and to meet it will require God’s hand in providing the resources. The Portuguese bibles we were distributing cost R$5.50, or about $3.50 US each, so the resources that are needed to simply purchase and distribute bibles is enormous. One young man walked over to us from an appliance store and asked if he could have one – we gave him one, and he walked back over to the store, sat down and began to read it right there – as soon as his co workers saw it they all wanted bibles, and came over in pairs, to politely ask if they too could have a free bible! Even the few people who initially refused a bible, came back within minutes and got them – they had thought there was some sort of a “catch”, and just couldn’t fathom that it really was a free bible! This speaks volumes to the mindset that is so ingrained here – the church is out to extract from you, never to give you something for free – so the concept of a God that does not want anything from them, is totally foreign, and very sad. Pray that God blesses and uses bibles that were distributed – we know he will, as he has guaranteed that “it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper”, but your prayers are needed nonetheless.
Wednesday we spent preparing for the dinner in Aningas the following day. While the girls went to the wholesale food distributor to pick up the remaining supplies, Mark, William, Alex and I headed up to Aningas to buy the supplies and build a massive charcoal grill to cook the meat on. The primary building staple here is this odd-little fired-clay block-like thing. It’s not really a brick, and not really a cement block, but they build everything out of it. They are not very strong – i figure that if a crow built up a good head of steam he could blast right through a wall – but it works, so we loaded up 300 of them and brought them all into the back courtyard of the school where we built a big grill to cook on. With that all ready for the next day, we headed over to measure the land that is under agreement for the orphanage.
The site that is being considered is about 1/2 mile from the center of Aningas, right next to a little village called Santa Fe. It’s 7 acres, and has almost unlimited expansion possibilities, as all the land around it is also available. It’s has a road on it’s front side that goes to Aningas and to the BR-101, the main highway, as well as a road on the back boundary of the land that also goes direct to the BR-101. It’s in an excellent location, and we needed to get some accurate measurements so that we can start getting some of the conceptual construction drawings done.
Thursday was the dinner in Aningas, and as usual, we had to make one final supply run before going up to the village. We pulled into Aningas around lunchtime and they were already busy with getting the meal going. The 2 cows that had been bought and butchered yielded about 500 pounds of beef, which along with some sausages, was the main course. It was served with rice, and beans, and a variety of soda, and was, for obvious reasons, a big hit. We figure just under 2000 were fed, with some sticking around for conversations, and some heading off to home.
Friday was a low-key day spent around the house for Christmas. With Mark & Lori’s family, Alex and Lydia, and us it was alot of fun, and it was nice to be able to relax a little before heading home in the wee-hours of the morning on Saturday.
We made it home in about 22-hours door to door – considerably better than the 31hrs going down – although there were 4 connections, which just makes for a brutally tiring trip! We’re home safe and sound, and very thankful for the opportunity we had to go and help with this work, and to see the progress and the blessing that is being seen. God’s evident working was a tremendous encouragement to us, and we hope that even through these updates, others will be encouraged, and be able to feel apart of the work in Brazil.
Lots of Love,
Mike and Shelby

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