A Shell with a Heart

I am concerned when I get caught up in the activities of God’s work here. I’ve learned that any activity for God has to be a byproduct of the transformation that is taking place in my heart, otherwise it becomes as mundane as any other activity–no different from going to work every day.

What God requires from me is, basically, a shell with a heart, meaning that there can be nothing left of me. To think that I can contribute to the Work renders me useless. Once God has emptied me of me, He can fill that shell with Himself. Once filled with Him, I begin to see that everything is His doing and I’m just a spectator.

My heart needs to be made willing to empty itself of me and be filled with Him. Then, I am effective for God. He doesn’t need me to do His Work, but He allows me to be a part of His Work here, so that He can prepare my heart.

God will go to great lengths to produce an undivided heart. God’s calling me to Brazil is evidence of just how far He has gone to win my heart. Everything in me longs for an undivided heart, at the same time as everything in me fights against it. This is a painful process that I’ve been struggling with, but a very necessary one, because I crave the end result: a heart that abides in Him and a life that yields fruit and is filled with His joy.

“I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with me] you can do nothing. When you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine. I have told you these things, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing” (John 15: 5,8,11 AMP). 


Rehab Update

We just took three boys to the rehab on Thursday. Two had already been and done the program. Without God they couldn’t resist the wicked one and returned to the ways of the street.  They begged us to take them out of the drug-infested neighborhood they were in, and give them another chance at the rehab.

I’ve been struck lately reading through Samuel and Kings that our God is the God of the “do-over.” Even in Solomon’s prayer, dedicating the temple, He asked God to forgive his people’s sins. He as much as says that when they sin, (because as sinners they are going to sin) recognize the hand of God in discipline, and cry to God for forgiveness, that God forgive them, pick them back up, and start over with them. If that’s God method of dealing with our great falls, then that’s how we ought to handle one another. When these boys come to us asking to go back to the rehab everything in me says no. “We’ve invested enough time and money in you. It’s someone else’s turn.” But the still small voice comes to my heart reminding me that I represent God and that’s not God’s method.

On our last visit to the clinic we received news that the property owner has given Murillo notice. He wants him and the rehab off of his property. Lori and I have been concerned about this and have asked, only to be told that they had a long-term lease. Well it now seems that the lease was not iron-clad and can be broken.  This is something that we need to pray fervently for. Murillo has no place to go. Presently he has over sixty men recovering and no plan B. We need to bring this before God expectantly, remembering that the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:6). We found out not too long ago that the father of William’s best friend in school is the owner of this property. Lori and I intend to approach him on the matter. Pray that God goes before us to prepare the ground. Pray as well that God gives us wisdom to best represent Him in this matter.

While at the clinic Thursday I caught a glimpse of Carlos. He was sweeping up the dining area. Every time I see this man I think of the day we literally picked him up off the street and brought him to the rehab. He’s a quiet man of about thirty-five. Whenever we would arrive at his stop he would always stand in the background. He would quietly listen to others as they would tell of their struggles with Satan’s vices. He’s so quiet that we hardly missed him, and he had been gone for some time. When finally we asked, we were told that he had been in the hospital. It seems his drinking had brought him to the point where only the doctors could save his life. They made it quite clear to him, as he left the hospital, that another drink would likely claim his life. Now here he was, back at his stop, and falling down drunk.

His friends pleaded with us to get him where he could get help. We had never before taken anyone who hadn’t asked for help. This case had become a lifesaving mission, and we needed to make an exception. I got him into the car. He didn’t even know where he was. He slobbered and mumbled senselessly all the way to the clinic. When we arrived he couldn’t even get himself out of the car and up to the admittance door. Even today his rehab friends mimic his state that day he arrived. They stumble around, holding onto one another while he watches and laughs.

Lori and I have been waiting for ten months now. We wanted so much to hear that he had recognized God, and given God the credit for his recovery. A few weeks ago we were telling him about the boys who had asked to come back. ” It’s not impossible,” he said, ” it can be done, but only with the help and power of God.” Pray for Carlos. He’s afraid to leave. He knows what’s waiting outside the walls of the rehab. We have encouraged him to stay put until we find a safer place for him to live and something for him to do. These boys can’t go back to the streets. They need a place to go, they need to be occupied with work, and most of all they need to be in a place where the influence of God is all around them.


“Pray without ceasing…” (1 Thess. 5:17). 


Current Prayer Requests

These are some of the battles we’re facing…


Please pray for the future orphanage. We met with the developer hoping to at least get started on permits. He said it was pointless to go forward until we are recognized as a non-profit by the government here, as we are in the US. A lawyer has been working on that process for us, but it seems slow and endless. Please pray that God expedites what could be a very long and tedious process.


Pray for the street work. The dynamics of that work have changed greatly. There’s not the number of kids working the streets as there once was. Don’t be fooled into thinking things here are improving. They’ve just moved on, and we need to find them. We’ve lost count, but guess that about forty boys have been taken off the street and brought to the rehab. I would love to tell you that they’re all success stories, but that’s not the case. We seek for one lost soul, with the help and diligence of our Lord.


Pray for the work in the favelas. This work in the slums is ongoing. Along with the feedings, we have been doing all day first-aid care, either door to door or by setting up a table near our truck. We’ve been taking some of the teenagers from Aningas to help us. The conditions in the slums seem to become more desperate with time. There have been days when we have left the favelas and gone straight to the hospital with folks whose condition was beyond our help.

We had been purchasing medical supplies direct from a distributor. On our last visit, the owner informed her that the government had changed the rules and we will no longer be able to buy there. Please pray that the Lord finds us another resource.


Pray for Aningas. We have made some real inroads there. Many of the families have embraced us and are so thankful for the times when God, through us, has helped them. Satan is not pleased. There have been a couple of rumblings through the village that some are not pleased with these Americans. “Who do they think they are showing up and taking over?” God knows we’re walking a fine line. We do what we can, we help where we can, and we leave the politics of being accepted to God. It really has been humorous to watch God silence some of the naysayers using their own family members, who have started to attend on Sunday nights. Pray for Fatima, who is in the hospital. She recently began attending on Sunday nights, bringing her little daughter, Kathleen. Fatima’s mother is a devout Catholic and the loudest “rumbler.”

Our Sunday night effort has grown considerably. The kids are now rewarded for learning memory verses. We have changed our approach. We now focus on Bible verses rather than lessons. They need to understand that what we’re teaching is from God’s word. Some statements made they haven’t liked. They need to know that their argument is with God. When we show them what God says and where it is found, they have accepted the truth.


Aningas- A labor of love!

Hi everyone! Guess who’s still alive!

It’s a Tuesday afternoon and I’m sitting half inside, half outside the Galpão, hoping to catch a little breeze and escape some of the noise. My boys- Van, Leandro, and Canende- are busy on our latest project, an assortment of small storage cabinets. We’re hoping to find a buyer who will find the price attractive and give us a big order. We’re not looking to make a profit, just clear our expenses and put these kids to work.  I’m in the village three days a week and it’s so hard to see so many able-bodied young men and woman hanging around with nothing to do. I’m asked constantly if there’s work for them, and for now I have to say, “no.” Please pray that God directs us to the right place where our product is desired.

The work here in the Natal area has evolved to the point where available time almost doesn’t exist. I was thinking Sunday, while putting together an object lesson for Aningas at night, that even Sundays are completely taken. I try to hold Saturday for the family, but last Saturday God brought one of the street kids to me that I’ve been after. He asked if today was the day. So, William and I were diverted from what we were doing and spent the rest of the day getting him to the rehab. Please pray for Jodson who has, since Saturday, made a profession of faith.

I’m up at five every morning, out by 6:30 to drop the kids off at school by 7:30 (trip to school takes an hour), and then I head off for the day’s events. Often I’m not back to the house until 7 p.m., absolutely exhausted. The thought of sitting in front of a computer–well, to be frank!– it isn’t a thought.  I realize that no information has made its way back to the US, and I also realize the responsibility I have to make sure it does. With that in mind, I’m going to try something different, with the hopes of being able to be more diligent in updating the folks at home. First, I’m not going to try and cover all the subjects, but rather choose one. Second, I’ll try to stop in the middle of the afternoon, when my mind is still somewhat sharp, and do some writing then.

Seeing as I’m in Aningas presently, I’ll start today with the work we’re involved in here. I’m sure you all know that we’re here every Sunday night with the Gospel. It has evolved nicely and we have a good number out every night. The number of adults that now come regularly has more than doubled. And now, after a year of doing this, they’re starting to understand what’s expected of them and how to behave. If it’s raining–and we have had torrential rains for the last three months– we get maybe about 30 of the real faithful. If it’s a nice night, we’ll get at least 50 to 80 people. On special occasions we’ve had well over 100 people out, which makes things tight in the space we’re using.

One of those special occasions was Mother’s Day. We did a dedication to the mothers of the village. Lori and Caroline bought little gifts, wrapped them, and the children presented them to their Moms. Susete is a Christian friend of ours who is very gifted with the saxophone. She came and accompanied our singing, which was a real treat to the folks here. Lori bought a large sheet cake and we had a little party. Another Friday night, we had a sing and Susete came again. The special occasion was the one year “anniversary” of our little Gospel outreach here in Aningas. We served sandwiches and a very large cake, and enjoyed a fun evening with the folks. On both occasions, the Galpão was filled to capacity and spilling out the door. On the Sunday nights that followed these sings, the Galpão was packed, and the simple Gospel was presented to a captive audience.

Preta, (a mom who supports six children with no visible means of income) was looking for a little job. I offered her a job cleaning the Galpão every Saturday. I asked her to move all the work tables, sweep up all sawdust, and set up the benches for Sunday night. She has professed salvation as a result of our Sunday nights here. Pray for her, as she just lost her Mom. She comes every Sunday night and we’re looking for evidence of life.

Lori and Caroline have made up hymnbooks and we start our outreach with a lot of singing. They love to sing, so most nights we go through the whole book. We open in prayer, reminding everyone Who it is we’re talking to, then I give a simple object lesson, often getting the kids involved in some way. Many of the Saints at home have sent small gift items that we use as prizes–an awesome incentive here. We remind the folks regularly where these gifts have come from, letting them know that people back in the US  have shown their interest in the work, and care for the people here by sending these gifts along. We close in prayer, then spend about half an hour socializing with cookies and juice. It’s usually at this time that we get our list of needs and try to decide what we can do to help, and who’s asking a bit too much.

One night, Nildete informed us of this square dance celebration/competition that was coming to Aningas the following Saturday night. The event was in honor of St. John. She seemed excited as she described the event. “Hundreds of kids and adults are bussed in for the evenings events,” she told us.

We saw this as a great opportunity to interact with the community and distribute Gospels of St. John! I spent the week with the boys making small items that I hoped would sell at this event, too. We set up a small kiosk to display our stuff. We encouraged the co-op women to cook and sell hotdogs and soda, to raise money for them to buy more material for sewing. We helped them to get a fire going, cooked hotdogs, and sold them along with a can of soda, for two dollars (if you bought a hotdog we threw in the bun for free).

The women of the sewing co-op worked the booth, knowing that all proceeds would go to buying material and sewing supplies for them. We set up a display of Gospels of John, with a sign explaining that they were free. Nine huge tourist-type buses came in and dumped a ton of people in the center of town, which filled this little village to almost standing room only. All the contestants were dressed in traditional Northeastern Brazilian Folk costumes, and the Square Dance music sounded like a cross between Polish polka tunes and the Italian tarantella. The music and dancing went on till well past two in the morning. Thank God for the rain that moved in or they would have gone all night. I moved through the crowd with boxes of Bibles and was able to pass out quite a few, while Lori stayed with the women in the booth. We sold enough to buy the woman quite a lot of material from a wholesaler in the city. The music was loud, the crowd was thick, and nobody wanted to go home except me and Lori. Overall, it was a good night to reach a lot of folks we otherwise would never have crossed paths with, and we were really excited to see a huge crowd out the very next night at the Galpão to hear the Gospel!

Friday’s a rough day here in Aningas, and folks tend to be very somber. That’s the day the little white Fiat, with the ladder on the roof, pays Aningas a visit. People hold their breath as the little car moves up the dirt road, all hoping it passes their house. The car represents the electric company, and they have come to–literally!– cut the wires to the houses of those who are way behind on their bill paying. I’ve been around to watch this happen. No amount of talking or pleading helps. If you’re on the list, you’ll need to get the candles out of storage. We don’t make a habit of it, but Aningas knows that in extreme circumstances they can come to us. We can’t pay all their bills, but we do try to help in some way if we can. I keep track of any whom we have helped, making sure this doesn’t become a habit.

The sick come to us always. Lori’s med box is stocked quite well. She is able to buy wholesale and has all of the basic items they need. If they’ve seen a doctor, we’re next on the list, and we need to visit them. They have no money and no means of transportation, so the little paper with the prescription on it does them no good.

One morning I pulled up to the Galpão to see a mother holding her child, waiting for my arrival. The baby had respiratory problems and couldn’t breathe. A ambulance would have taken over an hour to reach her, and by then it would probably be the Coroner’s truck they’d be needing. I stuck my blue flashing light on the roof–very cool!–got her and the baby in the truck, and made the forty-five minute trip to Ceará-Mirim in record time. I could have done much better if there weren’t so many speed bumps, and the road wasn’t made of cobblestone. The police stopped me at one point, but hearing the story, they were quick to wave me on. I waited while the doctors cared for the child, then took them to the pharmacy, purchased the meds prescribed, and brought the peaceful woman back to the village. I often ask what happened in the years before our arrival. The response is bone chilling. “They died,” I’m told.

Needless to say, that wasn’t what I had in mind for the day’s events. By the time we got back, a better part of the day was gone. That’s how it goes here–you can make plans, and I do, but you had better be ready for on-the-fly changes. I’ve also had the great privilege of rushing a young, soon-to-be mother to the hospital. As I made my way there, I was just thankful it wasn’t Lori.

Right now I have three boys working in the shop. We’re building a selection of products that we can sell inexpensively and quickly. The plan, presently, is to complete them and hand them off to Lori who will go to some of the stores in the city to try and sell them. The boys have come a long way. It’s impressive to watch them work, remembering that only two years ago they were afraid of sandpaper. They operate the machines with a measure of confidence, and seem to grasp concepts that, before, went completely over their heads. As a result of becoming close to them, I’ve also become close to their families and extended families, who now regularly attend  Sunday night. We work the shop three days a week, then I take the boys with us on the street on Thursdays and Fridays. I’ll explain that in more detail when I cover the street work.

The sewing co-op is presently just a handful of women, but they’re very diligent in their work and are starting to turn out some nice stuff. They have orders to assemble pre-cut outfits for clothing stores in the city. They’re payed by the piece and it’s not much. Lori recognized the stores they were sewing for and knows what the product is being sold for; somebody’s making a killing. Oh well, at least the women are working.

We love this little village and have come to know so many living here. As you get to know them, you find that you develop a real burden for their souls. Please pray for Aningas. We know that we’re here because God brought us here. His desire is to claim these simple folks as His own and establish a testimony for Himself among a town that is presently lost.

This is my Aningas update–stay tuned for more to come, God willing. Once again,  thank you all so much for your very obvious support, and the heartfelt prayers lifted to the Father on behalf of the work here.

Yours in Christ,

Mark, Lori, Caroline and William

The Cabinet Shop

Working with the boys in the cabinet shop
Some of the product we’ve built
This is a box built to fit in a pickup truck bed. I told the little kids to fill it with plastic and we
would bring it to the recycle yard and any money they earned would be theirs. 

Trying to get the village to start recycling.

Thanksgiving in Our Hearts

With Thanksgiving in Our Hearts

Where should I begin? What should I include and what should I leave out? So much has transpired since we visited home in July.

I would like to begin by speaking well of our Heavenly Father. God is a good God, His word is reliable, His promises are trustworthy, and He truly does work all things for good.

I really don’t want to rehash the assault on my family, other than to mention the great things that God has brought out of an awful experience.

It was early on a Thursday morning when we were awakened with the call that Lori’s truck had been recovered. Thursday was our street feeding day, but once again our plans were being turned upside-down. We had to take a dune buggy to reach the truck because it had been abandoned it in the middle of a sand dune park, quite a distance from a car accessible road. It had no wheels, no tires, no battery, no radio, no wipers, every fender was either smashed or damaged, and it was sitting on its side half buried in sand. The police let us know that it was our problem to recover it from the dunes and cautioned us that leaving it there another night would mean even more damage.

We didn’t know where to start, what to do, who would help us, or how we could get the car off the dunes and out of the park. We put the feeding off, no doubt disappointing a lot of kids, and went to work. How difficult would it be to buy tires, wheels, and a battery? We spent all day, going from one place to another, at times feeling like we were going around in circles, and nobody was able to fit the correct wheels to Lori’s truck. I remember looking up at the sun as the day was slipping away. I knew that at five-thirty it would be dark, and any hope of recovering the truck would be lost.

Finally, we were able to locate some used, junky-looking wheels, but they would work. We bought the tires, wheels, lug nuts, and battery, and headed back home as the sun began its descent.

Souza is a local buggy driver who, over the past year, has become a friend. He knows the dunes well, so we called to ask for his help. “I can’t help right now, I’m with clients on a buggy tour,” he said, “If I’m able to, I’ll come later”. Nielson, William, and I loaded the truck with tools, shovels, and gas and headed out, knowing that we would have to figure this out on our own.

The sand is really soft, so I didn’t even know if my truck would be able to climb the steep dunes. The sun was now dropping below the horizon and time was of the essence, so I put it in low 4×4 and went for it. I crowned the first dune, dropped into the valley, and then crowned the second. You can imagine my surprise as I  looked down to see Lori’s little truck surrounded with buggy drivers! Souza had dumped his clients, rounded up his buddies, and was waiting my arrival. For a moment I found myself with reason to be thankful as they jumped my truck, unloaded everything, and went to work to save our vehicle. It wasn’t long though before the worry came back. They informed me that the threading was wrong and none of the lug nuts would work.

We were out in the middle of nowhere, it was just about dark, and everything was now closed. I had nowhere to turn and started to feel very alone. I got down in the sand, with my back towards the men, looked to heaven and began to ask, “Why? Lord, I’m yours, my family is yours, our life is yours. Help!” I had done well till now, but no longer could I hold back the tears. I asked God how He planned on producing anything of value from the past week’s events. I asked Him how He could use  me with such wavering faith. My kids were scarred by the assault and were now living with real fear. I  was helpless, as the dad, to protect them. We had lost everything of value that we had. And now, I wasn’t even being helped after the fact, as I tried to get our life back on track. I needed God’s help to get the right lug nuts. I recommitted the car to God, and prayed for His help to get it out of the sand and back home before we lost it completely. It was a moment of real doubt, and I gave up.

I turned to let the men know we’d finish this the next day. But they hadn’t even noticed my little breakdown, they were feverishly making phone calls. “Let’s go,” Souza yelled, “We’re not done yet.”

We climbed in a buggy and headed out to find help. We went through the village, from one house to the next without any luck. Finally Souza called a friend who owned an auto parts store. The friend agreed to open up his place, and see if he could help us. He was able to come up with enough to put three lug nuts on each wheel. “Pay me if they work,” he said. Then, he locked up his store, and we  headed back to the dunes. I was overwhelmed by this effort to help, and felt a bit better.

We crossed the park entrance, climbed the first dune, and then veered wildly off course. The men had caught a fox in their headlights and felt there was time enough to chase him around the dunes. We arrived back at the truck, and it was pitch black. Souza’s friends had lit the truck with their buggy lights. They had dug it out of the sand and were ready and waiting our arrival. Within an hour, the tires, wheels, and battery were installed, and they had pulled the truck out of the sand pit and off the dunes. All I could say was thank you to these friends, hoping that some day I could repay them. With a great feeling of relief we all headed back home.

Would God answer the desperate prayer of a wavering Christian as he knelt in the sand and questioned God’s divine plan? Well, let me tell you about the events of the past few months, and you decide.

It was going great, we were working hard every day and making real progress. The land for the orphanage was just about cleared. I built gates and fences at the entrance, and was looking to get my hands on a backhoe so I could start breaking ground. The plan was to get one house up right away. We had asked the street kids if one day they might want to live with us. We told them why we believed God had sent us to them, telling them what we believed God had in mind. Since then, every time we saw them, they asked if our house was ready yet. “No,” I would respond, “But we’re working on it.

As quickly as this work began it was stopped, dead stopped. We were cleaned out, and didn’t have the means to keep going. Why would God stop the very thing He gave us to do, we wondered. After all this was His project, His work; He loves these kids more than we ever could. Doesn’t He want them off the street and under Godly influence as soon as possible? There seemed to be no barriers, no obstacles, nothing but green lights. We were told by everyone we talked to here to just go build it. Everyone in Aningas was excited about this great new project that had come to their little village.

Suddenly, I was sitting at home, the boys were not working, and, seemingly, nothing was getting done. How hard it was to be still. We were alone here with God. I had no place else to turn, no one to get advice from, so the answers I needed could only come from heaven. I did the only thing I could do, I dove into my Bible. I read with a desire to hear God. I read expecting answers. I wish I could put in writing the wonder it is when God starts to speak to your soul and warm your heart. Maybe on some level I can better relate to those two travelers, trudging along in a fog of confusion and doubts and sadness. Going home to Emmaus was their only option, there was no place else to go. Then the Savior arrived and began to open the Scripture to them. The immediate response to revealed truth is a warm heart and a renewed spirit.

God showed me Lamentations 3, and taught me how to praise Him in the storm. When the hard time comes, wait passionately, seek diligently, and hope expectantly. Wait for Him to right the wrongs, for He must. He can not fail. And as you wait, worship. Seek to find God in the trial, because you are not there alone. Hope expectantly because recovery, restoration, and help is on the way.

Oh how well I remember hitting bottom (says the writer). But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering I keep a grip on hope. God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, His merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great His faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say this over and over) He’s all I’ve got left.

I would love to share more, but suffice to say that God’s Word has been a real comfort to my heart as well as Lori’s. When I put my Bible down, I picked up my many notebooks filled with material that I had been neglecting. I would work hard at the language each day Eliel was teaching, but the next day I was back out working with the boys. I could tell that Eliel was a bit annoyed that I wasn’t being diligent every day in learning the language. One day he said, “Look Mark! I know this is difficult, I know you would rather be out working, but if God’s going to use you then you have to learn how to speak. You have helped me so many times as you shared the things God’s given you. Look around. All these souls, they need to hear God speak through you as I have.”

He’s been so excited the last few months seeing, as he puts it, real progress. One Saturday we had his family over to spend the day. We were in the pool, and I was talking to Eliel’s wife Eliane. Sophia, (their nine-year-old daughter who speaks some English) was swimming at the other end of the pool. I didn’t know she was listening till she yelled, “Wow Mark you’re really learning.” God took me out of Aningas, put me in a chair, and forced me to open the books. I’ve learned so much, but please keep praying! I’ve so much yet to learn.

Our landlord wanted to raise the rent, but we said no way. He kept hinting at it so finally Lori and I went to visit him at his office. We needed to discuss our concerns. Once again we explained why we were here. With so many needs, there was no way that we could commit more than what we were already spending for a home. We made it clear that if he insisted, we needed to start looking for another place to live. He didn’t back down, so on top of all we were doing, we also began to keep our eyes open for another house. We were coming up empty, finding nothing that would suit our family and the many coming to visit us and help in the work. After being assaulted, the kids made it clear that they were scared and wanted to find another place to live. This concern quickly moved finding a house to the top of our daily prayer list. What was once a relaxed and casual looking, became a diligent search.

Rogerio is a character, to say the lest. He lives in our little village, and presents himself as the local real estate broker, with his finger on the pulse of Jenipabú. He spends his days in the center of town, swinging from a hammock on the front porch of a house. He’s waiting for clients to come to him. He only has a bike so if you want to tour available property you had better be able to provide him with transportation.

I had gone into town to collect our mail at the little post office when he accosted me. Determined to sell us something, he never leaves us alone. I’m doing better with the language and most of the time can connect the dots and figure out what people are trying to say. My plan with him was simple, smile and nod till he runs out of words, then move on. He pummeled me with words, as he always does, I smiled and nodded as I always did, bid him fare well and made for home.

I had gone out for something first thing Saturday morning. When I returned, Lori and Caroline were gone. When they returned, Lori was a bit annoyed with me. “Why did you make an appointment to go and see houses with Rogerio if you weren’t going to be home?” Apparently, I had agreed to go house shopping Saturday morning. He had made arrangements with the home owners, and showed up at the house only to find me gone. Lori felt bad, and agreed to go, hoping it would make him feel better. “We saw one house that’s really clean,” Lori said. “It’s small, but the rent would be half what we’re spending now.” After she described the house I felt that I should go see it. “The house is also available for purchase, but something must not be right, because the price seems very low for ocean front property,” Lori said.

The next day I went to see the house with William. I saw tremendous potential and came back really feeling that we should pursue purchasing or renting the house. It is located about ten buildings down from where we’re living now. It’s in a tight little community of very secure homes, all of which are equipped with a security system that includes a Guard physically checking on the properties every two hours. The other home owners even had cameras installed so they could watch the road and beach front and pick up on anything suspicious. We spent the next few weeks continuing to look for a place to live, but also praying specifically about this house. Everyone we talked to felt the price to be very low for ocean front property. Dad and Mom arrived to spend the next five weeks with us. It was very comforting to have family with us, and more than once we took advantage of their shoulders. We told them about the kids wanting to move, and the house we had seen. We asked if they would come and look at the house with us. We made arrangements and were able to bring them over and get their take on the possibility of moving. Mom thought it was nice, though a very simple house. She could see that it was well maintained. But she also saw what would be involved if this house was to accommodate not only our family but also the many that come to visit. Dad immediately saw this as a  tremendous investment opportunity, and encouraged us to make an offer.

Once again it was a Saturday morning, and the persistent Rogerio showed up in the front yard unannounced. I could see that he wasn’t going away until we told him we weren’t interested or made an offer. We got the kids together, and while he waited on the patio, we commended this whole thing to God. “This will be Your house, so please tell us what to do,” I said. With that we had a quick family discussion. Together we agreed on a price that we believed, if accepted, would indicate to us that God was leading us. It was considerably less than the asking price and it was un negotiable.

We arrived at the house, sat with the home owner, and explained everything. We then made the offer.  She immediately refused. She then informed us that this was her daughter’s house, not hers. “She wants to sell because she never uses the house. She lives in France and the burden of maintenance has fallen on me. It’s her house, so it’s her decision.”

After that explanation, she made a call to France. Lori talked with the daughter and explained what we were doing in Brazil. “This house will be used for God and this is what we are comfortable to offer.” Lori said. “It’s a wonderful work you’re doing, the offer is very low, but let me talk it over with my husband and I’ll get back to Mom,” she said.

We were called a few days later with what the mom, Salette, said was good news. “My daughter has accepted your offer and only asked that you take care of Rogerio’s commission. Again a call was made to France and Lori talked with the daughter. She explained that we could not go one penny above what we felt comfortable offering, before God. The daughter said, “Sorry but no,” Lori thanked her for her time and hung up.

The house has a big, covered patio and we were all just sitting enjoying the ocean view and breeze, and so we were slow to get up.  Dad, Mom, and Lori were having a light conversation with Dona Salette while William and I were playing with her dog. The phone rang. It was France again. “I’ve thought about this and changed my mind,” the daughter said. “I want you to have my house, and I’ll sell for the offered price, no strings attached.”

This has not happened yet. We want to do our due diligence. We’ve had an engineer inspect the house, and an architect has been working on plans I drew, so we can see what changes will be needed, along with the cost. We also have a lawyer checking all the house’s documents. If this all checks out, then we would like to go forward, God Willing, and make this purchase. Please pray that God will continue to guide.

Ed and Gilvânia are a couple that we met as a result of our house hunting. We had seen the sign every time we drove by. It’s just about two miles from our present house. We knew that behind those walls was a house with a pool, and it was available for rent or sale. We hadn’t bothered before, but things had changed, and we knew that this needed to be pursued. We made arrangements to visit on a Saturday morning. Ed was waiting at the gate when we arrived. He greeted Dad, Mom, Lori, Caroline, and myself “Bom Dia”, but that was the last thing spoken in Portuguese. From then on, he spoke flawless English, as he and his wife made us feel very welcomed. A quick tour of the house and we knew that God had other reasons for this meeting. “My wife and I met and married in the US,” he said. “We’ve spent most of our life in New York. I received my engineering degree while there, and was involved in developing projects throughout the city. We came back to Brazil, knowing we would have to adapt to a completely different life, but the cost of your stressful life was too much for us. I’m a developer here, and Gilvânia is an attorney. Though our professions are hardly as financially rewarding as in your country, we really like the lifestyle here.”

I was itching to go back to work on the orphanage and saw this as an opportunity to talk to a local construction guy in my language, and pick his brains. He graciously answered all my questions, and I could see a real interest on his part to help.

While Dad, Ed, and I were having this conversation, the women were off in deep conversation with Gilvânia. “Ed,” she said, “Remember the people I told you I saw in the city that day feeding the street kids! Well, these are the people.” We had taken enough of their time and were leaving when they asked if we would come back and tell them more. We agreed and made arrangements to come back the next day.

Ed had his architect Antonio waiting for us when we arrived. “Tell us more,” they said. So we started from the beginning and laid it all out so they could see, if not understand, that we were here sent by God to do His work. “How far into the project are you,” Ed asked. “We purchased the land and cleared it,” I said. “We would have been well into construction but God shut us down.”

“Do you have a detailed plan?”  Ed asked. “Have you checked local building requirements, have you tested the soil, do you have permits, how about septic, water, and electricity?” To all of his questions I answered no. “I know these are all requirements at home,” I said, “But here I was told to just build it.”  “Everything required to build in the US is also required here,” he said. “The problem is, right now no one is enforcing it. The laws are in place, the north of Brazil is about to explode with development. Huge projects have been approved. All these laws are going to be enforced. If you go ahead without your permits in place, you will have invested a lot of time and money into something that could be easily stopped and shut down.”

He described a huge resort project he was presently involved in building, on the coast. When he told us where it was, we realized it was only a few miles from Aningas.  He had already gone through all the steps, he had already dealt with all the same people we would have to deal with. He and Antonio were so excited as they listened to God’s plans, and offered their expertise. It’s not hard” Ed said, ” it won’t take long, and it won’t cost much. We know how to do this, and we can help you through the process. We’ll help get the permits, we’ll help draw plans that work, and get them approved and stamped. I’ve found reliable contractors, and I’ve given them lots of work; I know they’ll help. I have already negotiated with all the local vendors and have volume prices. If you like the products we’re presently using, we’ll add your order to ours and get you the discounted prices. I’ll talk with the investors we’re currently working with, who knows, maybe they will be willing to help.”

Since then, we have met together many times. He took us to see his project, took us to meet some of his vendors, introduced us to his team, and has begun preliminary planning. We took them up to see the village of Aningas, and to look over the property. They loved the land, they told us it was perfect. As we drove through the village, all our friends wanted to stop us to say “hi”, as is always the case. “The Americans are very popular here,” Antonio remarked from the back seat.

God allowed us to face an awful experience. As a result, Aningas and the orphanage came to a screeching halt.  This is His Work, and it will go forward when He says so. We are only stewards of this Work, and our responsibility is to follow and obey God. We needed Ed and his wife; we just didn’t know it. What a disaster had we pushed forward, ignorant of all the requirements, and made a mess. But God wasn’t going to let that happen. As hard as it was to face, we experienced God step in and shut us down. He brought Ed and Gilvânia into our lives, and once again assured us that He’s in total control.

It’s been hard to watch my kids lose the innocence that life, in time, takes away. Dad’s not the tower of strength they thought he was. Mom and Dad can no longer guarantee that all will be well. William told his mom that he doesn’t like that he has to think this way now. “I just want to go back to the way I used to think and feel,” he said. Please pray for the kids, this has been especially hard on them.

I was struck while reading in Luke 15, as Jesus gives the description of what he calls a true disciple. It includes a willingness to be completely empty of self, so God and His will stands alone, a willingness to bear the cross of reproach that comes with your link to Christ, and a willingness to take what is dearest to you and let it go. Discipleship is linked with sacrifice, and without it we are described as salt with no flavor. Sometimes I think we deceive ourselves into thinking that it’s possible to be salt with less flavor. The Lord Jesus says, “no flavor.” Either you are a disciple or you are not. You are effective or of no effect. There are no in-betweens with God.

I watched the life of my family threatened; I almost lost what is dearest to me. Abraham was called to do the same and was willing. I want so much to be His disciple, but the question is, am I willing? I’ve watched as my kids have turned from Mom and Dad, deciding that the best one to trust here is God. They sleep in the same room now, and I listen sometimes as together they pray for God to watch over us all, before turning in for the night.

Caroline and I were out the other day and came across an awful accident. A man was laying in the street face up, his eyes were in that open stare, blood was coming from his mouth. “Dad! He’s dead,” Caroline gasped. Immediately, she turned off her music and began to pray out loud:  “God please save that man’s life, and if he has to die then please God, was he saved, can you take him to heaven? And oh God, please come close to his family.” She said “amen” then sobbed quietly as we made our way down the road.  Our children have been exposed to some very difficult things. It is probably just as well we didn’t know this before coming here. God knows best, and provides information on a need-to-know basis.  Please pray for our children, they are committed to this calling as much as Lori and I are, but they have been asked to grow up so fast.

We found Kilometer 6 just days after our assault. We had been told about it and finally were able to locate where these people lived. I’m going to post pictures on the blog because there’s no way I can describe this living environment with just words. The one thing that will be missing in the pictures is the awful smell. There are probably two hundred people, living in shelters erected from trash. We’re starting to learn their names but there are so many. There must be more than sixty children under ten living in this filth. They have no clothes to speak of, many only have underwear, and that has yet to be changed. They’re dirty, sick, and some of them run around with open sores. If they want to survive then they better be able to fend for themselves. Just last week we heard of a six-month old baby dying because bugs got into her skull, laid eggs, and ate away at the baby’s brain. The need is so great and what we do seems so inadequate. Please pray for this community; they need our God so desperately.

I won’t take the time to tell you how this happened, but we were approached by a local TV station. They picked a day and followed Lori and me and Dad and Mom as we did the feeding. We were interviewed and had a chance to speak well of our God and the work that He gave us to do. They filmed us while we fed the kids, than walked with us up and down amongst the cars as we passed out Bibles and tracts. Pray that God uses this for His glory. So often I worry that this kind of thing will exalt us, while the living God is overlooked. Pray that God will continue to help us decrease so that He may increase.

Currently, we spend two days per week on the streets, feeding and distributing Bibles, tracts, and the Gospel, with God’s promise that His Word will accomplish what it was sent out to do. We speak in the Gospel every Sunday night in Aningas. Sometimes we have a good number out including adults, but most times it’s all kids. There are four teenage girls that come faithfully and listen reverently. Pray for these girls that God reaches their heart with conviction. One day a week is spent with Eliel studying the language. He leaves having given me enough homework to keep me busy throughout the week. At least once a week we’ve been meeting up with Ed and his team as we continue to work towards building a home for these desperate children. Then, we fill in the gaps with the mountain of need here as best we can.

Time goes by so fast, and too much has passed without an update. I feel, in many ways, like we’ve just skimmed the surface, but I hope in some way that this helps you understand what God has been doing, so you are able to pray intelligently. For the many of you who reached out to us, and the many ways in which you did, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. God used you to encourage us, helping us to get back on our feet and push forward. We’re in this together, and lately I have keenly felt the reality of that truth. Please continue to pray for us as we remember you all at home.

We love you all very much in Christ.

Servants together for Christ,

Tables and Benches and Eternal Siblings

Hi everyone!
I’m checking in with you, to touch base with my eternal siblings at home. I wanna let ya know we’re all fine, and spend some time updating you all on the events of the past few weeks.

Did you just shudder at that “eternal siblings” expression I used? Don’t worry, I’ll have my perfect body then, and be much easier to get along with. Don’t forget we’re going to  be together forever. Thank God He’s going to fix all the flaws, and we’ll be the person we’ve always wanted to be in life. And besides that, we won’t be occupied with each other.
I just came across that passage where the religious rulers thought they had backed the Lord Jesus into a corner by telling that story of a woman who married a whole family of brothers. He told them they were narrow-minded fools, who had no idea what heaven will be like. He told them that they thought with the typical, small mind of a human, who can’t get beyond the familiar, flawed relationships of earth. He told them that they will have a partner in heaven, towards whom they can show all their affections. This One will fill every relationship void we’ve ever had. We’ll constantly long to be in His presence, all of our affection focused on Him. It will be a perfect relationship, just the way He always intended relationships to be on earth. We will find absolute loyalty, faithfulness, pure and flawless love, and He will be the spouse we’ve fallen in love with. He will be our better half. Our marriage vows will contain words like forever, no one else, never separated, and everlasting love. I guess that’s why we’re called the Bride of Christ.

I’m finding it difficult punching these keys, with one very important finger fat with bandages. I’m slated for surgery on Wednesday, to re-attach a nerve severed this week while working in Aningas. It happened on a Monday morning and I was delegating jobs to the four boys who are now working alongside me in Aningas, learning how to work with wood and make simple furniture.

One of the jobs I gave out was very unpleasant, so being a thoughtful boss, I went out to help the boy complete it. There was a large, unsightly pile of trash, that had evolved as a result of our remodeling the Galpão, and I wanted it gone. We built a large fire pit out of cement blocks (about six feet by six feet by four feet tall). The idea is to allow the trash to accumulate throughout the week, than burn it on Friday. The present pile was a mixture of flammable and non-flammable waste. We had no gloves, so we began sifting through the pile with bare hands (very foolish). It wasn’t long before my hand came in contact with broken glass and came out of the pile with a large gash. I immediately knew serious damage was done, because I lost all feeling in that finger. I stopped the bleeding, wrapped it up, and finished off the day.

That night I met Lori in the city, and we went to the emergency room to get the cut assessed. The doctor on duty looked at the cut and told us we would need to see a hand surgeon, because he suspected that I had cut through the nerve. They cleaned the cut, bandaged it, and gave us the name of a hand surgeon to visit the next day. The following morning, Dr. Hélio looked at the cut and confirmed that the glass had gone deep and severed a nerve. “I can’t guarantee success,” he said “but the nerve needs to be re-attached.”
With that, an appointment was made at the hospital for the coming Wednesday, and I got ready to go “under the knife.”

We finished our first project, in Aningas, and the boys are so proud of their accomplishments. I decided to start with a simple 60″ trestle table with two matching benches. Considering that it’s the first thing the boys have ever built, and the first time they have ever used a table saw, power miter box, nail gun, screw gun, and a router, they did an awesome job. We made six sets and I think we have sold them all.

It is complicated here because everything is sold in the form of payments, and I mean everything. You buy a week’s worth of food at the supermarket, and the first question they ask is if you want to pay once or if you would like to make payments! The savings for those who make one payment is about ten percent, but most folks can’t go that route.

I gave one of the boys the responsibility of keeping track of these payments for me. We want to move a lot of product at a tiny profit, rather than make a huge profit on lesser volume, so the boys can stay busy, continue learning, and more boys can be given the opportunity.

Covering all expenses I can sell the table and bench set for R$278.00 or about $150.00 US. That’s a good deal, no? We had a local bar approach us after seeing the finished product and ask if we could make several round tables for them. I showed the boys our next planned project and they were all excited. I’m also thinking to create a bunk bed system that can be configured several different ways, and added to, as needed, with a selection of accessories available, as well( dressers, desks, trundles). Most of the folks in these villages sleep on the dirt floor or swing from hammocks, and I’ve been asked several times if we could make them beds. Many of the kids have health issues because their mattresses are on the dirt floor, which is rife with all kinds of unhealthy living things.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been taking my boys into the city, which to them is a real treat. Eliel, my friend and language teacher, owns a small house on the south side of the city, that for some time he has rented. The rent from this house covers the rent on the house his family presently lives in, north of the city. His tenant moved out after running up a huge water bill. He left the house trashed and a mess, and left Eliel responsible for his mess.
First and last months rent as a safety precaution, ha! Security deposit, ha, ha! Signed lease, Ha ha ha, no!

Everything here is based on verbal agreement, and people live month to month, or in many cases, day to day.
With no money coming in, no money to repair the damages, and no one to help him get back on track, I raised my hand, jumped up and down, and begged Eliel to pick me. I leave our house at about seven-thirty, drive the forty minutes to Aningas, get the boys, drive the hour and a half to the city, work till four-thirty, and get the boys home in time for school which starts at seven o’clock.

The school bus leaves the village about five-thirty, and I missed it last Wednesday night, getting the boys back about six. Paulo thought he had wiggled out of school for the night, and quickly lost the grin when I told him,  “No, no, I’ll drive you in,” insisting on the importance of education. These boys are accountable to no one here. No one makes sure they’re at school, no one calls their home if they don’t show up. If you’re not self- motivated, you’ll never get an education. Vaughn, one of my boys, is pushing thirty, with a family to support, and is unable to read or write.
So, that Wednesday night, I waited while Paulo showered and dressed, and collected him along with his pretty, sixteen-year-old wife, and headed off to their school. Forty minutes into the ride, we passed the bus he missed. It was chugging along, making stops and collecting kids as it went.

“Where is this school?” I asked. He smiled and pointed farther down the road. It was a good hour when finally we arrived at the high school that servers the surrounding communities. One hour, driving straight from the village to the school, or an hour and a half ride, on a bus that makes stops the whole way.
“What time does school get out?” I asked.
“We finish at ten o’clock,” said Paulo.
“What time do you finally get home?” I asked.
“We’re back in the village by midnight,” he said.

It was very late when my day finally ended. I made the trip home deep in thought, trying to enter into the hard life these people live just to survive. Paulo’s day starts about six in the morning, he works all day, cleans up, and heads out for school. Then, he finishes the day on a dirt floor for a few hours of rest, only to start it all over again.
I’m getting close to these boys, they look up to me and respect me, and they have even brought me to meet their families. Please pray that I honor God as I work beside them each day. I envision sitting with them someday, as together we remember the Saviour Who died for our sins. I envision the day when, by God’s power, they grow to be leaders that are shepherding the small flock that God called out of Aningas, to honor Him. Please pray that God helps us to let our light shine in Aningas, so men will see our good works and acknowledge and glorify the God of creation. What a privilege to be the ones chosen to bring them the message about a life so distinctly different than the one they’re presently living. This life I’m telling them about is eternal in nature, available to them, and they are being pursued by the great God of love.

Aningas may be an invisible village to the folks in Natal, who know nothing of its existence, but it is a village that has been singled out by a God who has great plans for these very humble people. The people in Aningas have welcomed us into their homes, and by doing so, have welcomed God. That’s the kind of folks that see God’s blessings.

God is now a property owner in Aningas! That’s kind of a funny statement considering it’s all His to begin with. With the permanent visa in place, we were now able to purchase the six and a half acre parcel of land that, God Willing, will be the site of an orphanage. So, we went back to talk to Iranilton and his dad, owners of the land. Maybe he was affected by all God has done in the village to date. Maybe his thinking was that as Americans we were rich, and thought we should be sharing the wealth with his family. Whatever the reason, when Lori approached him on that Friday afternoon, he had raised the price of the land to fifteen thousand reais, from the originally agreed-upon ten thousand reais. Lori told him we would need to pray about this and came home to tell me the news.
We spent the weekend bringing this to God and asking Him how we as His servants should proceed. By Sunday night it had become very clear to us what God wanted. If this was God, if He had a great work for us to do in Aningas, if He had in fact called us to rescue these children off the streets and provide them a home where God could care for them, then the land would be sold, to God’s work, for ten thousand reais.

We found him working in his garden Monday evening, and approached him with this answer. I did the talking and, once again, explained our reason for being in his village.

“We love the property,” I said.
“We have no doubt that it’s worth all of fifteen thousand reais and we think that you should get as much as you can for your land. But this is not our money, it is God’s. This won’t be our land, it will belong to God. We are here as representatives of the buyer, and He is able to make the land available for the original price, if it is His will. And if it is not His will, we do not want the land.”
“Antonio offered me considerably more,” Iranilton responded,  “but I don’t like him and wouldn’t even entertain his offer. Your family has brought blessing to our village since you first arrived, the plans for this property will only bless my people more. I want you to have the land and will sell it to you for ten thousand.”
The next day we received this news from one of our many co-workers at home:
“It is time to purchase the land; we will wire the funds into your account so that they’ll be there and ready to use when the moment comes. God bless you both.”

Did you ever go down a city street full of traffic lights, and time it so that all the lights turned green just as you approach? And you think that’s just the coolest thing and aren’t I lucky today? It took us five weeks to buy a car and I was dreading this process of buying the land thinking it could only be worse. Within three days and two trips to the town hall in Ceará-Mirim, the document was in our hand, and the land belonged to God. Lori did what she does so often, blowing a kiss to heaven, because she’s just been reassured that God is still with us, and He has things well in hand. I enjoyed the run down Main Street watching God turn each light green, just as I approached it.

There’s a window-washing squeegee in the garage, that now stands as a memorial to a very heart-wrenching day on the streets. Lori originally bought it for João, who had asked us for a new one. Every Thursday we made sure it was in the truck as we left to spend the day feeding the city street kids. João was never at his stop, so the squeegee rode back home with us, to be stored with all of the Thursday paraphernalia, waiting for the next week’s feeding.
Frank was good guy. He always had a big smile on his face, and was always so happy to see us. He seemed so out of place living on the streets, and in my mind and heart, I had hopes of seeing him as living evidence of a God-transformed life. We prayed for God to use him to bring the message of life to his street companions. I remember watching him one day as he pulled on this very cool shirt, that I found among the donations and saved just for him. He was so excited at the way he looked in it, and I thought how heart-warming this would be to the saints at home, who had taken the time to make sure Frank had a shirt. If we arrived at his stop and he wasn’t around I’d go find him. I knew where his piece of cardboard was, under a big tree behind a local street vendor. He would be taking his afternoon nap and he was never annoyed that I had reached down and shook him awake. With that so-happy-to-see-me smile on his face, he’d jump up and walk with me back to the truck for some lunch.

I put the squeegee into the back of the truck a few Thursdays ago, with Frank on my mind. I knew he’d be there, his window washing tool was on its last leg, and João was never around.
“I’m giving it to Frank,” I concluded.
We pulled up to the intersection, jumped the curb, parked on the median as always, and started exiting the car. Lori was met by one of the kids waiting for our arrival. I could tell by the look on her face that the news wasn’t good. She started to weep uncontrollably and I couldn’t get any information out of her. Finally, I made out what she was trying to say:
“Frank is dead.”

At eight o’clock, either at night or in the morning-we have heard both-Frank was on his corner in Petropolis, washing windows. A motorcycle drove up, with two men on it. The driver pulled a gun delivering two shots. One shot went to the head, one to the chest, and Frank slumped to the ground, breathed his last, and went out into eternity. Edivan, alias Meio-Kilo, alias Rafael, told us the story.

“I was standing right beside him, I saw it all, and ran for my life,” he said.

The kids all wanted us to believe it was random; they told us that the two men on the moto were drunk. It may have been, but most of the time these shootings are for one of the following two motives: the victim owed money, some as little as R$5, or US $2.75, or the police, on or off-duty, were “executing” a random street kid “purging.” Edivan claims that the second bullet was aimed at him and he narrowly escaped with his life.

After much time, with Frank’s body lying in the street, the polícia arrived, went through the motions, and took his body to ITEP and no one is expecting to hear anything more about this. With no Identification or documents, Frank technically never existed, his body will be buried with other unknowns and forgotten, and life will go on.

It started to pour rain as we climbed back into the truck and made our way to Igapó, the last stop. Lori pulled out her i-Phone and played some hymns and quietly we listened, as through the music, we were reminded of our only responsibility:

“Tell them, even if they won’t believe you,
Tell them, even if they won’t receive you,
Just tell them for me. Tell them that I love them,
And I came to let them know.
Tell them on the streets
And on the high ways
And tell them, even on the bi-ways
Tell them I can mend the broken heart…
And I came to let them know.
We arrived at Igapo, our last stop. It was dumping rain and we just wanted to go home and end, what had turned into, a very sad day for us. We knew we had no right to let the kids down and skip this last stop, so Lori and I stepped out into the pouring rain just wanting to get this stop over with and leave.

Adriano was waiting for us. His clean white button-down shirt was drenched and sticking to his skin. He had ridden the fifteen miles on his bike once more, wanting so much to see us again. He was so thankful that we had been sent by God, who had reached and saved his soul. He stood beside us in the rain. The kids poured out of their shelters, running for their food and drink and then dashing back to any overhang they could find. Adriano spoke to any willing to linger in the rain, telling them of God’s power and the great transformation that had taken place in his life. We stood in the rain till all the sandwiches and juice were gone, hugged him goodbye, and parted company.

As we walked back to the truck, I saw Lori kiss her hand again and raise it towards heaven. To a God who is so good that He sent Adriano to be a comfort to us. With a God this kind and this loving, we can trust Him to always do what is right and what is just.

We drove home and we went to our bedroom. Lori threw herself across the bed and I listened to the quiet sobs. Frank had seen God, in our care for him; we know that because he told us. We had put the gospel in his hands, he had heard it from our mouths many times. He was always respectful, and he bowed his head and closed his eyes as, often, we prayed for him and his street buddies. He told us, on more than one occasion that he “had Jesus in his heart.” He’s beyond help now and only God knows where his soul is. Our prayer now is for his tragic death to be the means of reaching the hearts of his companions.

I would put him in his forties, with the ruts of a very hard life carved all over his body. His hair hadn’t been cut, his face hadn’t been shaved, nor had his clothes been changed, in what looked like years. He had one tooth left, and that one was was hanging on for dear life. We had never seen him before, but that’s not unusual. He lives under the stadium and he hadn’t eaten in a very long time. What caught our attention was how quickly he recognized our being there as God speaking to him and showing him His love. It’s a busy stop, and we did our best to listen to him, while handling the crowd around the truck. He just kept thanking God over and over, and as he did, he began to weep. I turned towards him and he put his head on my shoulder, as if finally God had provided a moment of relief from the pain of what was his life. I held him as he wept, loaded him with food for later, and made sure he knew we would be back next Thursday, God Willing.

Lori and I looked at each other and and she put into words what I was thinking:
“This just isn’t right, this is not what God ever wanted, nobody should have to live this way. If the circumstances surrounding this man’s life touched our heart, how heavy the heart of the Savior must be, as He daily sees the pain and hunger and thirst and injustice, that sin has brought man.”

We were getting ready to leave the Ponta Negra stop last week, after feeding a record number of boys. I was putting everything away when I saw Lori off talking to Luiz-Eduardo. He’s a regular at this stop, along with his wife, four-year-old son, and one-year- old baby boy. When I looked again they were praying, which told me something was up. I made my way over as Lori looked my way with an expression of unbelief on her face.

“He borrowed seventy reais (US $36) from one of his buddies and was able to pay off a drug debt,” she said.
“Monday was the deadline. If he didn’t have the money, he, along with his wife Luciana, and both children would have been shot to death”.

This is a tough street kid who was now standing with tears in his eyes, well aware of how close tragedy had come to his family. The threat was real, and the death sentence would have been carried out. These heartless dealers would wipe out a family and never think twice. His heart was now open to the gospel, and he wanted nothing more than our cries to God on his behalf, and the well being of his family. It was good to see the little family this week safe and sound. We piled them all into the truck and took them to the supermarket for food and some milk for the baby.
The highs and lows of working with these kids leave us drained. Just the experiences we have with them each Thursday leave us spent. After the tragedy of Frank’s death, we are filled with a sense of urgency.  We’ve come to know many of the kids by name and they have shared so many painful stories with us about their lives. Our hearts go out to them as we do the only thing we can: show them the love of God and make sure they understand that, in a city, teaming with people who have no interest in their well-being, God cares, He sent His only Son to die on the cross for their sins, and He sent us to make sure they know.

The editor gets this next, and I know she’ll add anything I may have left out while correcting my many mistakes. I’ll close now thanking you all again for your support through prayer and e-mails. It’s such an encouragement to our family knowing of your burden for the work God has given us to do here. Our prayer is that these updates will help you see just how much you are a part of the effort here as partners in the work of God in Natal, Brazil.
We love you all in Christ and look forward to seeing many of you soon,

Caroline and William

Prayer Request

Lori’s brother Paul and his daughter Stephanie, along with Katie Brescia and Andrew Rockey will be here with us, Lord Willing, this week. We are very happy to have the help that all these extra hands and willing hearts will bring!
Lori and I made up an itinerary for the week to plan each day and allow the kids to know what would be happening, day to day. Every day, Lord Willing, we will be on the streets with the Gospel and three of the days we will have a meal to give the street kids. We left Thursday open for the distribution of the Gospels of John because it is a holiday here. We thought that since we don’t know how the holiday will affect the quantity of food needed, we’d concentrate on distributing the Word and the clothes that the kids are bringing from home. Just as a curiosity we asked what holiday it was on Thursday. It is St. John’s day!

When we ordered the Word from the Sociedade Biblica do Brasil, we were told that just the day before they had lowered the price of the Gospels of John to their cost, 60 centavos or 33 cents each. They had also lowered the cost of the one other item we enquired about, the New Testament, to Real$1 each, or 55 cents each. We ordered five thousand Gospels of John and five thousand New Testaments.
Although the money was wired to SBB’s bank account on the 19th of May, the Bradesco bank is withholding the money from SBB’s account until the government money exchange form is completed. The form registers the exchange, on the money wired, from dollars to reais. Please pray for this paperwork to be completed Monday morning, the Word to be shipped tomorrow, and the timely arrival of the Word here in Natal.
Please also pray for the power of His presence with us, minute by minute throughout the days to come. There is no way to express how your prayer lifts up our hands and strengthens us, but you need to know that it is felt.
Love in Christ,
Caroline and William


Pictures and More!

This post contains over 40 pictures, some with captions below them explaining the photo. If you subscribe to the blog via email and the photos do not come through, please visit the blog online at:


Dad praying with the street kids.

Dad with city workers, we feed them also

Dad giving the street kids a Gospel message

Our mobile canteen

Some of the circus kids

To-To lives on this skate board, begging on the street

John should be dead, however God spared him.
Drug dealers guns misfired, allowing him enough time to run.

Up to 550 sandwiches every Thursday.

Lori treating some of their wounds

Street kid washing a trucks windshield

Two young boys who live on the street

This boy can’t read, so Lori’s reading the gospel paper to him

Adriano road his bike fifteen miles to find us and tell us about his salvation,

This picture was taken on thursday – by sunday frank had been shot and killed.
(franks the middle kid)

The circus people’s trailers

The trucks that God provided us

The road to Aningas

William working on the Galpao

Paulo, one of my guys

Mateus, one of my guys

Leandro, one of my guys

Loved having my brother, was a great help

William with an Aningas creature

The finished sewing room in Galpao

Building completed

Luiz and his family were to be killed on Monday, because of a debt to drug dealers.
At the last minute, he was able to borrow $75.00 and his life for the moment was spared.
He has wife and two children.

Lori praying for his salvation and preservation


Aningas property owners, land for orphanage, outside town hall, father and son

Praying before going in to make land purchase

Inside town hall buying the land

Official documentation for proof of ownership, thank God another answered prayer

Moving one of the christians

Kids having fun on the beach, not all about work

Devotional – The Formula for Christian Living

Mark Procopio

Proverbs 3: 5-12

I called this the formula for Christian living.

1. Trust God with all your heart.

This is an exclusive trust. The idea is that you have nothing else to fall back on, there is no plan B. You haven’t held out a small cavity of your heart for another, whom you also believe to be trustworthy. There’s no room for second-guessing, for reluctance, or doubt. With absolute confidence you moved forward. You stepped out on faith, and entrusted your eternal well-being to God’s finished work at Calvary.

Now, how about the day-to-day living? Does it often display an unwillingness to trust the God who cannot fail?

2. Lean not on your own understanding.  (Don’t try figuring out everything on your own.)

How redundant, redundant, to have a business partner who thinks the same as you, and comes to the same conclusions every single time. Who needs them? How wise a business man who chooses someone whose thought process is leaps ahead of his own and whose wisdom and sense are perfect.

Is it not an awesome thought to know that the moment we trusted Christ for eternal salvation we were provided a partner for life? A partner with all the answers to the most difficult thing we’ll ever face-LIFE. This friend of ours knows the end, the beginning, and everything in-between-and is always available when we’re faced with serious decision-making. What’s even more awesome than that, is His availability 24-7, to consult with us in even the most minute detail of our lives, and we never have to say, “Sorry for disturbing you.”

3. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go.

The “still small voice” wants us to weigh in on every detail. I think sometimes we get so caught up in the moment, allowing the chaos to bombard us. All the external voices batter our minds with their thoughts on what we should do and how we should do it. They’re so loud and forceful, and at times so obnoxious, that we give them precedence, listening to all they have to say, and allowing their voice to dictate the path we take. How important it is to pull yourself away from all the noise around you, and quietly listen for that still small voice that’s present within. How He wants to speak to us, and longs that we would hear, but He’ll not attempt to compete with the chaos around, hoping His voice is loud enough to trump the rest. God is asking each of us to make a deliberate choice to separate ourself from all the external influences and diligently seek the voice of God within. He, above all, has your best interest at heart. He sees the path for your life clearly and perfectly. He knows the next step you need to take, and all He wants from you is: listen and obey.

4. Don’t assume you know it all.

He’s the authority in every subject. I remember my Dad’s response to my teenage spouting. “Wow, I’m so thankful I have a son who knows everything, and is free to give his advise. How did I make it these fifty years without him?” Now I’m the old man with children who think they have it all figured out. It’s amazing how you had all this knowledge as a teenager, but as you got older and faced life’s experiences, that knowledge seemed to slip away. Now I’m the one pushing fifty and conscious of how little I know. How comforting to know that my resource for knowledge comes from One who knows it all-is Omniscient.

5. Run to God. Run from evil.

One is the run of the athlete striving to achieve the goal; the other is a desperate, terrifying dash for your life, from danger. I know that we’re given advise on two matters, but what’s so cool about the advice is that one effectively accomplishes the other. How much more positive and encouraging is the advice to constantly run towards God! How happy the Christian who never loses sight of his Savior’s face, and lives each day   determined to reach the goal and hear the “well done” of approval.

A person that is consumed with running to God may never even give thought to the fact that he is running away from evil. It’s not possible to run towards God without running from evil.

But, if we lose sight of the Savior’s face, we lose sight of our goal and we are found running away from God. That is a place of danger. It’s not long before we are unable to run fast enough. Trouble is all around us and there is no peace in our heart.

The choice is ours. With all my heart, I long to be found always running towards God and to be looking at my blessed Savior’s face-with His peace in my heart and the pure joy that is His Presence, felt in my life.

I hope that God uses this to help you, just as He has used it to help me.