November 11, 2009

Hi Everyone!
It’s Sunday afternoon, an absolutely perfect day, and I’m sitting looking out over our back yard. When I look to the right, I see the rock reef, which tells me it’s low tide; looking to the left I can watch the waves roll in, waves large enough to surf on. Whenever I view my surroundings, I’m so thankful to God for the little city of refuge He gave us to come home to every night. It even has walls around it with someone at the gate who has to agree before you get in.
Last Sunday was visit day at the rehab. center, and the boys asked if we would be coming to see them. As hard as it was to leave the refuge, we did make a point of getting there before visiting hours were over. They are both doing great and both have professed to be saved. I think, in their case, the fruits of salvation will be very obvious. There has been such a transformation in Bruno’s life, that the head of the rehab. asked that he give his testimony to a large group of people in the city. The rehab called to tell us about this event on Friday afternoon. They told us that it’s a privilege that only a few are given the opportunity to participate in. You earn this privilege by your behavior and the tangible evidences of salvation that the counselors see on a day to day basis. They asked us to bring some pictures of Bruno when we first met him on the street, (you would hardly recognize him as the same person) and a testimonial from us in the form of a letter that they would read to the audience before he spoke. They also asked that we bring a few candy treats as a gift to present to him afterwords. So, on Saturday, we went to the rehab., bringing the letter to Bruno that we had written and some chocolates for Bruno, for after he gave his testimony. (Seemed kind of like a Sunday School treat!)
While visiting the rehab., last Sunday night, Clessio had given us a letter that he had written to his family. He asked that we deliver it to his grandmother, Valmira. So, on Wednesday Lori and I went to find her little apartment and deliver this precious cargo. We found her with her daughter ( Clessio’s aunt) and both were so happy to see us. Once again, we found ourselves back, sitting at the same kitchen table, but this time the conversation was so different. As we spoke of Clessio and his progress, there was a constant smile on Valmira’s face. Over and over again she thanked God and gave Him the glory. I pulled the letter out that I had folded and tucked in my wallet. She handed it to her daughter and we all listened as the aunt began to read. To our surprise it was the boy’s testimony. He spoke of how Bruno and the counselors introduced him to Jesus. How he realized, for the first time, that only God could help him. He understood God’s tremendous love, in offering His Son so that help could be available to him personally. He told how he had confessed his sin, his helplessness, and asked Jesus into his heart. He spoke of how he now had God with him, and because of that he was going to overcome his addiction. He wanted very much to be the one who would reach out to his lost buddies on the street. He asked his grandmother to forgive him. He spoke to his whole family asking for their forgiveness also. He thanked God for bringing us into his life, realizing how far God went just to reach his lost soul. I was sitting across from the aunt, and could see that she was having a very difficult time reading the letter, at times she had to stop and collect her composure before going on. I believe that I witnessed, for the first time, from the same person, the great contrast between tears of heartache and tears of joy. They flowed freely down the grandmother’s cheeks as she listened to words she had been waiting all her life to hear. What a difference from the last time we sat at this table, watching Satan battle with the power of God for the rights to this precious soul. I left that little home convinced that there could be no experience on earth to rival being a part of what we just saw. I told God that if these experiences were all that make up the balance of what’s left of my life on earth, than I will leave this world a content man.
As we drove from the house, we passed Clessio’s old stomping grounds. While waiting at the light we were accosted by a young man who had seen us pull up. He jumped to his feet with a yelp and came running. He began begging us to do for him what we had done for the other two. “Please give me a chance, take me off the street, help me get off drugs. I want to know your God also”. We hadn’t told any of them about Bruno or Clessio, but evidently word was on the street. And having heard, this boy was also begging us for help. He was so excited to see us, he was laughing, and yelling, and singing, and his demeanor kinda of threw us; we weren’t sure how to respond. The others had come to us absolutely broken and desperate, speaking to us softly with tears in their eyes. This guy was bouncing like Tigger. We talked to him briefly and then left thinking it best to give him some time. We added that intersection to our Thursday route hoping we would run into him again. Sure enough, he was there, and seemingly, waiting for us. Immediately he was again asking, and this time we explained what the rehab. was all about. We told him we would be back at this location, God Willing, at 10-am Tuesday morning. If he was serious, then we would be willing to take him. Pray for Junior, that he genuinely wants to know the God who can save his soul and liberate him from Satan’s vices.
I would guess that we fed about two hundred young people on Thursday. They are now so open to hear the Gospel. And every stop has turned into an open air meeting with, in some cases, over fifty gathered around to hear the Gospel. The intersection that Junior works was a new stop for us and we had no idea how many kids worked that corner. We pulled up, opened the tail gate, and started passing out food. Man, they came out of every corner, having heard about our work (word has spread through the whole city), and hoping that we would come to visit them. They were so happy to see us, and by the time they had all been fed, we were cleaned out. I was amazed at how many kids between eight to sixteen worked that corner. I saw this location as another incredible opportunity to reach souls with the Gospel. We were finally able to pull away with an empty car and a full heart.
There is one young boy; he’s maybe about fifteen years old. God has placed this boy as a real burden on our heart. His body is a mess, his feet are full of sores. Every time we give him new sandals the older kids steal them. Someone had given him a new shirt and the kids stole that from him as well. So his present wardrobe is made up of one pair of very dirty board shorts. It doesn’t seem like he has any family. He sleeps on an old, filthy dirty mattress that he lays out on the sidewalk of the street corner that he works. He works this corner with one other boy that is maybe a few years older than him. He’s soft spoken, and so kind, and does his best to be happy when we arrive, but the pain is all over his face. He told us how much he likes us, and how he looks forward to our visits on Thursday. It seems that no one has ever shown him kindness. He seems so alone in a city that is thriving with people who don’t give him a second notice. We want so much to reach out and help this boy, but are not sure what we can do. We don’t think he has a drug problem and so don’t want to expose him to the rehab element. Pray that God gives us wisdom to do what’s right for his physical and spiritual well being.
Tuesday we spent with Cleide. We had put together a plan to help the orphanage present itself as a well-oiled machine to the judge at the next required meeting (end of this month). We spent the day going over the plan, and told Cleide how her job would become so much easer with the help of some organization and written rules of the house. We talked to her about putting a file together for each kid, with all his medical, schooling, and household responsibilities recorded and filed. We talked about the needs of the orphanage: structure, discipline, accountability, responsibilities for each child and help for each child with their schooling. We are fairly sure that these are some of the basics that the judge is looking for. We could see that she was struggling with the thought of all these tasks, but at the same time she knew it was very necessary. She has been alone and overwhelmed with this work for so long thats she’s desperate for anyone who’s willing to help. Once we knew she was on board we then made arrangements to stand by her as she explained the plan to her staff. From there, we’ll get the kids together and allow the staff to deliver the good news to them. Pray that implementing this plan goes smoothly, and so impresses the judge that he loosens his authority and allows her to continue to operate.
Pray as well for our permanent visa which is such a complicated ordeal. We met again on Wednesday with the professional people that we hired to help us with this process. It seems every time we’re with them we leave the office with a new list of requirements.
Monday was a holiday here, and so some of the Christians we know here asked if they could spend the day at our house. Sunday night we were told that twelve would be arriving in the morning, but this turned into thirty-eight on Monday. We love having them and I know that it’s a real treat for them to be on the beach and have access to the pool.
The high point of the day was a conversation that came up about headship. I was sitting with three of the elders that represented three different local churches, and they all wanted to know how I understood the subject. It was a very friendly, unassuming, relaxed, and comfortable conversation that came about very unexpectedly. They listened as I explained my understanding of scripture regarding this subject. God alone knows what will come of it, but after, when they had all gone home, and I began to think about the days events, I smiled to myself. I could see God’s fingerprints in the whole thing. As much as I have been wanting to have that discussion, I could never have arranged and brought it about the way that God did on Monday afternoon. Pray that this is the beginning of an open door, as well as open hearts, with a desire to understand and a willingness to obey God’s word.
I would say that this has pretty much covered the events of the past week. Again we ask for and covet your prayers. And with that I say to you all good night.
From my family to yours,
Love in Christ,
Mark, Lori, Caroline and William.

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