October 18, 2009

Hi everybody!
I was sorry to hear that the Sox blew it again. I guess it re-confirms  
the pointlessness of following that stuff. I didn’t forget to write  
last week. On the contrary, I actually had my report down to the last  
sentence. In one swift move (which to this moment I still don’t how it  
happened) I lost the whole thing. Lori worked at it for quite a while,  
but it wasn’t coming back. So, late Sunday night we both gave up and  
went to bed. We have been so busy, the days go by so fast, and there  
are times when after all the day’s activity, you come home feeling  
like nothing was accomplished. Like (for example) the day we were  
called by the rehab to get Bruno back to the hospital for blood work.  
I left the house with William, after he was done with his school, and  
made the trek to the rehab. We picked him up, drove the hour to the  
hospital, waited this side of the infamous swinging doors, all the  
while thinking he was on the other side being attended to. After what  
seemed for ever, he came back out, to tell us, they wouldn’t be able  
to see him today. But certainly they would find time for him if we  
wanted to return on Friday. I finally found some value to the  
childbirth classes that I had left work early to attend fourteen years  
ago. That heavy breathing in and out prevented what otherwise would  
have been the eruption of a devastating volcano.
Lori set out with Inacia to go pay bills. Here, they know nothing of  
checkbooks and paying through the mail. And the idea of paying bills  
on line is just something you might see in a futuristic movie. No, no,  
this is the way it’s done in Rio Grande de Norte: choose a day, (and  
you will be needing the whole day) gather your bills, and board a bus  
( most don’t have a car). You’re heading into the city,  looking for  
these little government owned store fronts, scattered like cities of  
refuges. They won’t be hard to find, you’ll recognize them by the long  
line going out the door and down the street. Get in line and try to  
think pleasant thoughts, because you’ll be there a long while. When  
you finally reach the counter your able to pay such thing as your  
electric bill, phone bill, water bill, internet, or cell phone bill.  
But if any of these bills exceed one thousand reais, you’ll be told  
that it can’t be accepted and must be paid at a bank. What that means  
is basically leaving to go stand in another line. Lori outsmarted  
their system by putting Inacia in line, and going off to do other  
errands, she would come by and check up on her at different intervals.  
There have been times when we’ve come into the supermarket to find  
lines stretching down the food isles. We used to be good customers and  
follow the system that everybody uses. Until there were a few times  
when we waited for over an hour to pay for groceries. Now when we go  
in, if the lines are that bad, one of us immediately goes and stands  
in line, while the rest of us shop. This really boggles the natives  
minds, first that we thought of this strategy, but also that we feel  
that it’s necessary. I don’t know how a person can hold down a full  
time job, or have any kind of a productive week, operating this way.  
Somehow the people have to get to these places during the day, because  
at five anything that matters is closed.
We’ve been working on getting health insurance, and as a result we  
have had to make six visits to this place and we’re not finished yet.  
Every time we go they inform us of something else we need to complete  
before we’re on line. The plan is awesome, when you finally are able  
to nail it down. Complete coverage, with nothing denied, for about  
$3,500.00 a year. Private hospitals, private doctors, who give you  
their undivided attention the moment you walk in. Complete dental  
which includes braces, and all with a R$3.00 (about US$1.50) per visit  
I’ve been working at the orphanage a lot in the last two weeks. I’m  
happy to say that Vanderlay and myself were finally able to get the  
water running. It has been so long since waters ran through those  
pipes, so the minute it was turned on we had leaks everywhere. We were  
able to run around and finally get the house water-tight. I had  
everybody stand around the toilet, while I was given the privilege of  
flushing it for the first time in two years. The minute Cleide saw the  
toilet flush she disappeared. Later I saw her walking around the house  
with wet hair. I found out she had taken off to the third floor and  
for the first time in a long time enjoyed a shower. We also fixed a  
lot of broken switches and plugs throughout the house. I bought a pile  
of light bulbs and sent William around the house lighting it up once  
Tuesday was William’s birthday, and his birthday request was for dad  
and him to go four wheeling. We found a place that would rent us the  
machines with a guide to take us on trails through the woods, over the  
dunes, through rivers, huge mud pits, and up to this gorgeous deserted  
lake in the middle of nowhere. When we were getting directions to the  
place I realized that it was very close to the rehab. So on our way we  
stopped at the wholesale food warehouse and bought a ton of rice,  
beans, cooking oil, flour, sugar, salt, and delivered it as we passed  
by. The director was overwhelmed, and so thankful, reminding us of  
something that we’ve already learned: “God is no man’s debtor.”
Almost every time when feeding the street people they ask us for  
sandals. Many are barefoot while others are wearing what’s hardly  
recognizable as footwear. We have been telling them about the large  
box of crocks ( that Paula gave us) waiting to be released at the  
port. I couldn’t go and face them one more week without shoes, and so  
on Wednesday, while buying Bruno his groceries, we picked up a bunch  
of sandals. Unknown to me, Lori was having the same thoughts, so both  
of us came home holding a bag full of sandals for the kids. They all  
went the next day along with two hundred sandwiches and 14 liters of  
milk. This week there had to be over fifty people at one of our stops.  
They were all waiting for us along with their girlfriends, and all the  
little kids and babies. We pulled up to hear them yelping and  
screaming, calling all their buddies, and running up like we were the  
floor around a Christmas tree. This week at one of our larger stops  
one of the men (who was the spokesperson for the rest) talked to Lori.  
“We know that this is God at work, and if you have a church, or if you  
start one we’ll be glad to attend”. Lori explained that it wasn’t  
about looking for parishioners to fill a church building. God had sent  
us because He had seen their need, loved them, and offered them  
eternal life. “Well, if that’s the case,” he said, “then, can you give  
us a little word right here, right now?” So they all gathered around,  
and we were able to give them about a fifteen minute Gospel message. I  
left there thinking, that again, God has proven that His formula  
really works. Quietly do the work every week, and the moment will  
come, when you will have earned an open door, and a willing spirit to  
hear God’s message of life. We left that stop on one of those God  
highs, and landed at the next, soon to be knocked off our perch.
I had my back turned getting the cooler out of the car, when I heard a  
lot of yelling. Two of the boys we had just fed were screaming at each  
other in the middle of an extremely busy traffic intersection. I saw  
one wind up and throw his glass of milk in the other kid’s face,  
soaking Lori who was behind him. At that point the gloves were off.  
Squeegees, sunglasses, shirts, and our sandwiches, went flying, and  
they were going at it in the middle of what was quickly becoming a  
traffic jam. One of them was obviously high, and as a result of  
flying, was viciously attacking the other kid. He was considerably  
smaller, but he was a scrappy street fighter. I watched for a second,  
and then ran out, and jumped into the middle of it to separate them.  
There was a fair amount of rolling around on the street, but finally I  
was able to get in between them and push one off. The kid full of  
drugs wasn’t going to give up, so I stood between him and the little  
guy, pushing him back into the street till he finally realized he  
wasn’t going to get past me. He tried several times finally giving up  
and going back to his window washing post on the other side of the  
intersection. Lori took the smaller kid to the back of the car and  
started to pray with him, hoping it would settle him down, while I  
picked up the mess left in the street so the cars could start moving  
again. The cops show up with guns drawn and lined them all up against  
the wall. They frisked them, listened to their story, holstered their  
guns, climbed back on their bikes, and left, never saying so much as a  
word to Lori and me. We left that stop very clear that Satan has such  
a hold on these kids. He made a valiant effort that day to discourage  
us, and hopefully scare us away. Dennis was the kid flying high, and  
Lori began to cry as we left the spot, remembering that last week when  
we fed them all, he was there, but he wasn’t high. She said he was the  
kindest, sweetest, most appreciating boy, thanking us more than once  
for our helping them all. This week someone else had control of this  
boy and it was pretty obvious that that someone didn’t want us around.  
Please pray that God will save Dennis’ soul and free him from Satan’s  
Two years ago while at home we were called to Framingham by a  
Brazilian christian couple who wanted us to meet a friend who was  
visiting from Brazil. His name was Eduardo, a missionary who had spent  
the better part of his life working in the Amazon jungle. He went in  
there as a young man traveling through the jungle with a guide. When  
they reached the river, they dropped some trees and carved out canoes.  
Reaching their spot, they beached the homemade boats, and headed back  
into the jungle to meet up with an Indian tribe who had never been in  
contact with another person outside of their own kind. He lived with  
them for years, learning their language. From the language he created  
an alphabet, and from the alphabet he taught them how to read. From  
there he then translated the Bible into their language, and with that  
was able to reach them with the Gospel. We spent the whole afternoon  
with him, hearing his amazing stories of God’s miraculous work among  
what many would call an uncivilized people. This past Saturday we were  
at home when Lori picked up the phone to find him on the other end. It  
seems he had come because he was invited to speak at a conference in  
Natal on Saturday night and Sunday. The Christians where he was  
staying  were very good friends of ours. When he began to tell them of  
a couple, that he had met while visiting Boston, who had a God given  
desire to do a work in the area, they started asking questions. It  
didn’t take too many of his details for them to realize it was us he  
was describing. Our friends were shocked, “We know them, they’re now  
living and working here and they live about an hour from here, call  
them.” He was surprised, they were surprised, and we were surprised,  
when we got the call. He came and spent Saturday with us, encouraging  
us and also reminding us that along with the times of great rejoicing  
there would be times of great sadness. “It’s all part of working for  
God,” he said “but when it’s all said and done, and you’re finally  
able to look back over your life, you’ll know with absolute clarity  
that it was all God, and you would not have wanted it any other way.”  
We stood , the three of us, arms around each other, and he prayed with  
us and for us, and all that God has waiting for us as we move forward.
Along with Eduardo that day, these two other Christian women came, who  
we had never met before. They had come in from the interior with the  
intent of also attending this conference. They spent the Saturday with  
us as well. They had never met an American before. Nor had they any  
idea what life was like beyond their little Brazilian world. We began  
to explain the four seasons to them, and I could tell by their  
questions that this was all flying right over their head. I pulled up  
some pictures on the computer, and showed them our house just after a  
snow storm. I also had a picture of the house looking its best in the  
prime of summer. “We know it’s the same house, but how can that be?  
Does the grass just grow back? Weren’t these the trees that were bare  
in the other picture? Where did the leaves come from? Did they just  
grow back? How can there be ice and snow when the sun’s out? How can  
you drive on the streets? How do you keep your house warm? Can you go  
outside when there’s snow? What kind of clothes do you wear?” Eduardo  
had been to Boston during a snow storm in January and tried to explain  
the beauty of newly fallen snow. He tried to paint with words, that  
tranquil scene that we are all too familiar with. It was fun trying to  
get them to understand the world that exists beyond the boundaries of  
their little and simple life. Beyond their little town there is a  
whole, wide world, that experiences things they have never heard of.
I told you a while back about a woman named Simone who had an eye  
condition caused by a hyper sensitivity to the strong sun here. Lori  
has been helping to get her to and from all of her doctors’  
appointments as they assessed her case and planned for surgery. Well,  
finally it happened and she was able to have the surgery that would  
correct her problem. It was a complete success, and after 15 days  
recovery she should have all of her eyesight back. For the two weeks  
she is recovering, we are making food for her, her husband and their  
son, Lucas. Pray for her and her family, none of which is saved, that  
this experience will be the means by which God reaches and saves them.
Baby Michel is still waiting for his heart surgery. Lori and I plan to  
go into Aningas tomorrow morning to visit him and his family, and to  
spend the day there doing some door to door work. The land purchase  
for the orphanage is on hold for now. We really need to get our  
permanent visa before we can continue to pursue that investment. The  
property owner understands the situation, and is willing to wait until  
that issue is resolved. The visa process is moving along nicely and we  
also received the news that our goods should be released from the port  
here in Natal within the next couple weeks, D. V.
The kids seem to be getting the hang of their new concept of school.  
We changed the kids’ school hours to the evening because it’s much  
cooler and, because it gets dark around 5:30, we’re home and there’s  
not much to do. That freed up our days to keep up with the Sunday  
School lessons in the elementary school in Aningas, the middle school  
in Coqueiros (with 700 students, many of them bused from Aningas), the  
orphanage, the door to door work, and the street work.
Today, same as every Sunday, we thought of all of you at home and  
missed being at the morning meeting. It’s so good to hear from you and  
to know that you’re praying for us.
I think at this point you’re all up to date, with the goings on here  
in Natal. We continue to covet your prayers, for us as a family and  
for the work God gave us to do. In turn, we promise to remember and  
mention our Christian family at home while speaking to our God.
For now I say good night.
Love in Christ,
Mark, Lori, Caroline and William.

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