Text Frames for the Galpão

During our three-week stay with Mark and Lori, Stephanie and I worked on a project for the galpão. Each Sunday night, as part of the gospel lesson, Mark and Lori choose a verse to focus on, going over it with the kids, explaining the Truth, and then handing it out on a coloring page for them to take home and memorize during the week. Every week they print out the verse and tape it up on a board for everyone to see. A plain, wooden board, white paper, black ink, masking tape. Blah!

Lori had the idea to spice things up a little, make this a beautiful display board that Mark would be able to hang up on the wall. So we got to work. We sanded down the boards Mark cut for us and started painting to create frames to mount the verses on. The four girls were over the house when we first started the project, so they were a great help in getting a huge chunk of the painting, beading, and glitter-izing of the boards finished.

When Eliel and his family came over to spend the day, he and his kids, Sofia and Hector, helped paint a few more frames. As we put the finishing touches on, Stephanie typed up all the verses they’d gone over in Aningas and printed fresh copies of them. Then Lori took them to get laminated (quite the process!) so that the printed verses will last longer. Finally we mounted the laminated verses onto the frames using double-sided foam tape. Each week, as new verses are introduced during the lessons, the verses can be rotated out and replaced using the same frames.

While we were busy painting and using gobs of glitter glue, Mark and the guys were putting together a display board for the frames. They painted it white and had it all set for when we came to slide the frames into place.

The Girls

Rita, Layane, Nadine & Natalia

We are so thankful for these four precious teenage girls that live in Aningas. They have become such a tremendous help in so many ways to the work, both in the village and on the streets. It’s difficult to describe just how special they are. They are fun, kind, generous and so loving. They’ve become quite efficient in their sandwich and juice prep for the street feedings, and their efforts and company are a welcome help at each street stop. When we go into the favelas, these girls know what to do. Layane is quick to supply the need from the first aid kit, but she’s also the first to tell the people what they really need- salvation! They come to the lesson every Sunday night and faithfully help Caroline handle the line of kids as they come to recite their verses and pick prizes. These giggly girls are the closest of friends and it’s been such a blessing to have them become more engaged and involved with us over the last year. Pray that they might each have clarity about their salvation and that it might be evidenced in their lives more and more.

Clessio: A Life Poured Out

The first time I met Clessio he was rubbing sleep from his eyes after an afternoon nap. He’d heard Mark and Lori had come to visit and came to meet us in the office. He was happy to give us a tour, showing us around the rehab center, all the while explaining the different ways Christ was working in his life through this place. He showed us the makeshift kitchen, the workout area, his neatly made bunk, and the areas outside under the trees where they read and prayed and studied the Bible. He spoke of the grace of God in saving him from the darkness of his addictions and giving him new life. Watching him there, peace so evident in his eyes, I was amazed.

During our month there, Stephanie and I went with Lori to visit Clessio a number of times. Every time he would come out to meet us as we pulled in, a smile on his face and something new to share about his love for Christ. One night while were busy running errands in the city, Clessio called about seven times trying to get a hold of Lori. The next day she called to talk to him. He had simply wanted to share what he’d been reading and learning in the scriptures. Clessio had a passion for reading and sharing the Word that inspired me.


Steph and me with Clessio at the rehab center

The last time we saw him, he’d moved to the smaller rehab facility. He showed us the hammock he’d been sleeping in and smiled, telling us how he liked the quietness of this place because it gave him more time alone with God. He held the bracelet we gave him in his hands, running the thread through his fingers as Lori told the significance of the colors- red for His blood that washes us pure and white.

I’ll never forget Clessio, his dark eyes bright with love for Christ. Those few times I met him changed me in the ways that they challenged me. Here was a young man who had spent most of his life trapped in darkness, living on the street. The moment he trusted Christ he was forever changed and it was evident to everyone who met him. He’s gone now and we’re left wondering why. The Lord took him home and we wonder why so soon. Why Clessio? But He promises that even when we don’t understand He has the perfect plan for each life (Jeremiah 29:11). While we wait and wonder here, let’s follow Clessio’s passionate example in living a poured out life of service and love for our Savior.

Gospel at Galpao

The wooden benches are in rows and the little kids pile in to listen to another gospel message. Some of the older girls come in and sit on the benches, leaning back against the cement wall of the Galpão. Curious faces peek in to see what’s going on.  Soon there’s a group of about forty kids and a few adults ready to listen. They sing songs from the booklets that Mark and Lori put together. They pick some of their favorites, “Foi Assim,” and “Jesus é Meu Amado,” songs that speak of the Savior who loves them and died for them.

Mark prays and Lori translates. She introduces her brother, Paul, as he steps up to speak to the kids.

“I have a great secret,” he says smiling. He leans in toward the front rows. “Can I share it with you? Can you keep a secret?”

Gabriella, a nine-year-old girl with full cheeks and warm brown eyes nods her head in response. She wants to know the secret. A few kids volunteer to go up to the front as Paul and Lori whisper the secret in their ears.

“Does everyone want to know my secret?” Paul asks. “Jesus loves me!” He reads Galatians 2:20. There’s a group of young boys sitting on one of Mark’s worktables in the back. They’re poking each other and laughing, but Paul keeps speaking. A dog wanders in, there’s music from the bar blasting next door, and there are people milling in and out of the door to the Galpão. But in the back row, there are middle-aged women listening. The little kids sitting on the wooden benches are listening, facing the front, waiting to hear why this verse matters.

“So many times people tell us that they love us,” Paul says, crossing his arms tight across his chest. “Sometimes they say that they will love us forever. But … they leave us heartbroken.”

Joab and Niete have their fingers curled around the edge of the bench. They’re both watching Paul. A little boy in front of them is playing with the edge of his shorts. Lori is translating while Paul continues.

“I look into the faces of young boys and girls and they want more than anything to know that someone loves me. What a disappointment when there is no one to love me.”

He doesn’t stop there. The little faces are still waiting to hear the truth of the verse. They want to know what fills that emptiness when everyone else leaves. When everyone else disappoints.

“That’s why it’s so wonderful tonight, my secret,” he says. “Because the very Son of God, Jesus, says He loves me. Not to love me and to leave me. Not to say He loves me only to hurt me. But when Jesus says He loves me, He will never leave me.”

When the lesson is done, the little girls sing the songs they’ve learned, standing up in front of the group to do the hand motions along with them. Then they clamor for juice and crackers before heading out the door.

Mark and Lori present a lesson every Sunday night around 7:30 in the Galpão. Younger kids make up a large percentage of the audience, and so the presentation has become much like a Sunday school lesson. This past Sunday night, Mark spoke about the serpent lifted up. He made a snake out of rope and wrapped it around PVC piping. Stephanie and I went around with another rope snake to “bite” the kids, squirting ketchup on their arms as blood, wrapping the “wounds” with old rags.

“Just look and live!” he told them, and Stephanie wiped the “blood” from their arms as they looked toward the snake on the pole.

Despite the distractions, the kids who decide they don’t want to sit through the message in its entirety, and the dogs that meander in and out, the gospel is preached faithfully every Sunday night in Aningas. During the week Mark and Lori can help in practical ways; Mark working with his guys, Lori making house visits, or preparing the recent Christmas feast. But come Sunday night, it’s always the clear gospel. Whatever else these men and women and children may need, they need Christ. Pray that as these messages continue, the interest they show will prove life changing in their acceptance of the Lord Jesus as Savior.


Clessio, one of the young men Mark and Lori brought to the Nova Aliança rehab center, is a testimony to the awesome power of God’s saving grace. Back in June when we first met him, he showed us around the rehab center and told us some of his story. He was addicted to crack when Mark and Lori met him on the streets. They paid the 400 reais to bring him there and continued to sponsor him during his stay. He accepted Christ shortly after arriving and became a truly shining example of a transformed life.

Nine months later he moved out of the rehab and he is now working as a mason’s apprentice near Igapó (the last street stop on Thursdays). He also has his working papers and insurance. But more than that he’s had the chance to go and witness to friends that he grew up with who are still living on the streets. Rafael asked about him one day when we gave him a ride. Lori was able to tell him how well Clessio is doing because of what the Lord Jesus has done for him. Luiz is another young guy Clessio grew up with on the streets. He’s hiding out somewhere because of a drug debt. If they find him, they’ll kill him. All for 230 reais.

Clessio has so much potential to lead more men and women to Christ. He was into drugs just as deep as many of these people on the streets still are. Now he can’t get enough of his Bible and he’s thrilled at the opportunity to tell others of his Savior. Even if he were the only life changed by this little testimony in Brazil it would be so worth it. What an awesome God we serve!

Sunday School Lessons

Layane’s sitting in the roped off section of the Galpão where we’ve hung a picture of pigs. She’s playing the part of the prodigal son, pretending to munch on cornhusks while lamenting the fact that all of her friends, Nadine, Cassio, and Manoelhio abandoned her when her ten reais inheritance was gone.

When the prodigal repents and comes home, Layane kneels in front of Rita, playing the father, who promptly tells her to stand up and wraps a robe (a blue towel) and a beautiful ring (one we borrowed from Caroline) on her finger.

For our English lessons this time around, Stephanie and I decided to focus more on the Bible stories. Instead of just telling the story in Portuguese and then having the class learn twenty new English words, we had them act out the story. This was much more engaging and entertaining for the kids and they were able to remember the story and the message in greater detail.

To start, we asked volunteers to come up to play the parts. Then Stephanie read the story from the Bible while I went around passing out the props and the lines for them to read as it went along. Even the shy kids were surprisingly enthusiastic, going so far as to vigorously throw the net over the side of our makeshift boat in the story of the disciples and the catch of 153 fish. After performing the little “teatro” we would go through the worksheet with them and practice a few English phrases that went along with the story for the day.

In the story of O Filho Perdido (the prodigal son) they learned the words run, spend, come, and forgive as well as how to use them in a sentence. For O Bom Samaritano (the good Samaritan) they learned hurt, help, and heal. For each lesson they also learned a corresponding gospel verse. By the end of our final week many of them were able to recite multiple verses from memory. We even offered five reais to someone who was willing to try and they all shouted “não quero, não quero cinco reais. Só os versículos!” They didn’t want the money. They just wanted a chance to try reciting the verses!

Again, we’ve been amazed at how receptive these kids are to listening and learning from the Bible. They see the truck coming through the main road in Aningas and five minutes later they’re all lined up on the benches ready for the lesson to begin. Some of the kids who were coming to the lessons last time we were here brought the little notebooks and paper to classes this time. They keep all of the worksheets and even some of the older kids (around 15 and 16) tuck the coloring pages away for later.

This month has flown by and it seems like we haven’t had enough time to spend with the kids in Aningas. Despite our looming departure in two days, we’re looking forward to going back one last time to say goodbye and to give the kids individual picture collages of memories from our time together.

These are smart kids, kids that hope to leave Aningas and do big things. Some of them want to come to the United States someday. But for right now, we have the chance to share our love of Christ with them. Please pray especially for some of these older girls who have shown an interest in the lessons and in learning more about the gospel on Sunday nights. We hope the lessons have been entertaining, but more importantly that they might bring spiritual blessing through the messages and verses they have learned.

Feeding Kilometer Six

More pictures from Kilometer Six

Gospel in the Galpão

It smells like firewood and dirt and hot Brazilian air. We stop for ice, load the cooler and continue down the road to Aningas. We pull up to the Galpão and Mark backs in so the juice and the music face the open door. Hymns play in Portuguese and people come to see what’s going on. They move into the lit room and we spread the wooden benches into row.

Cold juice attracts a crowd and they come for a sip and a chat. Then slowly they come to sit. The kids pile into the front rows. The older guys stand back by the worktables and some people stay outside. Mark and Lori pull up a chair. Informal. Comfortable.
“We’re here to tell you about God.” He says.
Eyes forward, benches full. The kids whisper and poke and laugh, but we keep praying anyways. Adults walk in and out and talk out loud but we listen and close our eyes and talk to the Lord.
Last night we sang a hymn in Portuguese. Nildete’s voice leading, strong and sure. “E numa cruz por mim derramou sangue tão puro (and on the cross He shed his pure blood)…”
It was the second night that we packed up the juice, crackers, speakers, and bibles and drove to the village. The first time we came to Aningas (When Paul T and Andrew were still here) some of the people thought we were going to have a meeting. Mark’s guys have questions. Lizandra wants to know if she has a debt to clear with God. Can we have a bible study? Why are Mark and Lori here? Why do they come here and care anything about our mud huts and searching hearts?
“How can you be in Heaven?” Mark asks. Lori translates and we strain to hear over the whirring fans and whispers and noise outside.
A few mouths move with shy answers.
“Jesus Christ died for your sins. My sins.”
“Jesus Cristo morreu para seus pecados. Meus pecados.”

Fifty souls are in the Galpão. Fifty hearts needing a Savior. More stand outside, some peeking in, listening to the brief message.
We give out the bracelets. Gospel in a nutshell with the nutshell gospel verse printed on the key. Yellow for the streets of gold in heaven. Black for our sins that keep us from it. Red for the blood that cleanses. White for washing pure and spotless. Blue for clothed in robes of righteousness. Green for walking with new life. They read it, flip it over and read John 3:16. They tie a knot and the beads hang from their wrists reminding them of the message of salvation.
We give out crackers and more juice and the music plays again. More people come and talk and stand and listen. We give out all the bracelets to the 85 people who have come and they ask for more.
“Two weeks. Two weeks and we’ll be back again.”
7 pm. Sunday night. Crackers, juice, music, and a message. They’ll be waiting to hear it. Pray that ears might be opened, hearts might reach out, and lives might be changed.

Bracelets with a gospel message
Lori and Clessio – We visited him at his new location. It’s a smaller,
quieter area of the rehab down the street from the main center.
He likes it a lot better because there are fewer guys and it’s
easier for him to get alone and read his bible.
Some of the group from Aningas holding up their
new bibles that we gave them on the last day of class.
Baby Michel – He had a checkup today and is
healthy and strong. Lori bought him an outfit and
a little soccer ball so he can root for Brazil in the cup too.

The English lessons continue to grow…

We drive down the bumpy dirt road, avoiding the massive holes, crumbling edges of the bridge, and a bicyclist. We pass the mud huts, the small cement houses, and the abandoned church on our way to the Galpão. Natalia and Layane wave from behind the shade of a green tree. Nadine and Janaina stand by their door, peering out to see who is coming down the road. By the time we pull up in front of the building, the kids are piling up around us ready for their next lesson.

Each time we have a lesson the crowd of kids seems to grow. We started splitting the class up into two parts. Anyone ten and under colors pictures from Bible stories in the back of the room while the older kids stay up to participate in the lesson. I’ve never seen such excitement over a few printed coloring sheets and boxes of pencils. Today midway through the lesson ten more little kids poured in to join in the fun. Greens, blues, reds, and yellows spread out all over the table, some spilling on the floor. Content little faces, proud of their work, proud to hang them on the wall.

Yesterday four of the girls recited their verses in Portuguese. Natalia and Layane each said three, and Lizandra and Maria each recited one. They hugged their prizes for a picture, cuddling the beanie babies like precious treasures. We have another lesson planned for Friday Lord willing with the story of Joseph. We’ll have to print more coloring pages for the little kids…I ran out today when they kept pouring in, peering shyly around the corner of the door, wondering if there were pencils and paper enough for them.
Sometimes between coats of paint, Mark’s guys will wander from the other half of the Galpão to listen. They hear the group repeating the verse, first in Portuguese, then in English. They stop to watch the kids color and tape their pictures on the wall. Then sometimes when Stephanie and I are done we get to see their handiwork. We wander over to check out their tables, chairs, and their most recent project- bunk beds. Yesterday they were sanding them when we left and today we came in to find them primed for painting.

The Galpão is more than just four cement walls. It’s a place for learning, working, and creating. The kids, the guys, the women who come in to sew- they’re proud of what they do here. They’re excited to see what they can learn next, create next. Stephanie and I just wish we had more than one week left to be here with them.


Above: One of the guys’ finished products

Above: Advertising for Aningas furniture

Above: Building the bunk beds

Above: The girls who recited the verses

Above: Taking their first quiz

Above: Girls with the highest quiz scores

Above: Proud little artists

English For Aningas

“Errrfah” she says slowly, her little face pouted in concentration.  It feels funny on her tongue so she tries again, “Earfeh.”
“Earth,” Stephanie says. Slower. “Ear-th.”
She laughs at the way it sounds and tries again. 
Tomorrow is the third English lesson Stephanie and I will have in the little village of Aningas. When we told the kids about the classes they were thrilled. There were eight older kids (14-16) in our first class and few younger ones. By the next lesson we had eighteen kids. We’ll see what tomorrow brings…
We plan the classes kind of like Sunday School lessons. We’re just as excited as the kids are that we can help them learn a few words in English, but more than that we want them to learn about a Savior who loved them enough to die for them. 
So far, we’ve read through the stories of Noah and Jonah. Stephanie (who is studying Portuguese at school) reads through the verses in Portuguese so we can be sure they understand the story. The kids applaud her valiant efforts at tackling their language every time she finishes. I draw little pictures to go along with words that we pull out of the text for them to learn. We say the words aloud in Portuguese and then in English.
Their pens move quickly along the lines of the makeshift notebooks we gave them as they take diligent notes. Nadine comes up to ask specific questions. “Why do you use “we” here and then “us” over here?”
Evanoel is a quick learner. He listens, leaning toward us in concentration as we say the words slowly in English and then repeats them back to us. “Hain-bow.”
RRainbow,” I say.
“Rainbow,” he says smiling and then laughing at his own mistake.
After going over the words we play a few games. The kids start off sitting in a circle around one of the big wooden tables in the sewing room of the Galpão. By the time we get to the games they’ve all moved closer, abandoning their chairs to get a better look at the tic-tac toe board.
“How many people were in the ark?”
Then they remember that Shem, Ham, and Japeth were married.  “Ooh ooh! Oito!” Maria blurts out, “Oito!”
“Eight. That’s right!.” Cheers erupt from the winning team.
To end the lesson we go over the verse of the day. Some of them recognize the scripture in Portuguese. They copy the words down to see if they can memorize it for the next class. They’re still struggling to remember the English words in the verses, but a lot of them can rattle off the Portuguese. As long as they’re remembering the verse we don’t really mind that it’s not in English. 🙂
Tomorrow we’ll be jumping in with David fighting the Philistine giant. We have pictures to go with words like “sword, “ “stones” “helmet,” and “valley” and prizes to hand out to the guys and girls that participate and really listen. We have about five more lessons to go and we’d appreciate your prayers that these kids will not only continue to enjoy learning, but that they will recognize the truth in the stories and verses that we read with them and accept Christ as their Savior. 
Above: Classroom front on our first day: rules of the class, the story board and the verse of the day.
Above: English words for the kids to learn.
Above: Some of the girls in class, left to right: Maria, Natalia, Lizandra.
Above: Manoelhio taking diligent notes.
Above: Copying the verse.
Above / Below: At the lake on Saturday. 
Above: Photo break during the 20 minute walk to the lake.