Easter Morning in Aningas!

These two sweeties open the truck’s door for me.

Kids waiting at the door.


Handing out the chorus books




1. After the lesson, the kids help make a cross.  2. Our result needs help.  3. Our inspiration

Joab starts the Candy Scramble!


the kids go wild!!

we get the cutest thumbs up!

A Joyful Noise!

Last Sunday, we told the kids that we were putting together a new song book for them. The girls and I spent a few hours last week gathering songs and pictures and formatting them into a PDF. After three visits to the print shop in the city, Casa Da Cópia, we had the 60 books in hand.




Today was the big reveal. The thin, spiral-bound book contains 38 songs, some of which they already know. The rest will be a challenge to teach – not all the kids here are star singers (and by “not all,” I mean to say barely any)! A handful of the songs are ones we sing at home – Jesus loves me, who made the twinkling stars, read your Bible/pray everyday, His banner over me is love, stop & let me tell you, and others). I told the kids that these books are for them, and it’s their responsibility to take good care of them, because it was more than pocket change to get them printed. They all smiled and agreed, anxious to see what songs were inside.




As soon as the books were handed out, the kids were flipping through the pages, looking for their favorites. A group of kids in the front row starting singing “Opa Jesus me ama” on their own, while Mark, Lori & William tried to get the speaker system up and running (without accompanying music played off of Lori’s phone, it’s difficult to stay on tune). 🙂

After 5 min of fiddling with the speaker, we determined it was going to be an A cappella morning – everybody fasten your seat belts! We sang three songs that I had picked out, thinking we’d ease the kids back into singing and learning the tunes. Nope! As soon as we finished the three, kids were raising their hands and calling out numbers – so we kept singing, another 3 or 4 songs. It seemed like the book was a big hit, and the kids were thrilled to be “making a joyful noise.”




Here are two short clips of the kids singing:






Enjoying their snack – cookies and drinkable yogurt.



After the kids recite their memory verse to Geovane, they can pick up a prize from Joab.



Big group for the adult class today – studying the purpose of the local assembly.


English Lessons



We use a small classroom in the school in Aningas for our English lessons. Today we practiced pronunciation of words and phrases they’ve already learned. Then we added in some new vocabulary – knife, fork, spoon, plate, napkin, etc – and acted out a mealtime scenario.



Passing through the cafeteria on our way out, we saw the kids munching on their afternoon school snack.



Francisco is Natalia’s uncle. He opens the Catholic Church in the center of Aningas every Sunday night, and leads the service. Tonight, his two children came out to Sunday School at the Galpão.
And, as we were singing, several new kids came in and sat down. There were two benches filled with new little faces. And they listened and took their verses home with them to learn.

So, our Kids’ Festival last week helped us to make new friends. It takes time to build relationships with people. Especially when you come from thousands of miles away and look and talk differently. But people always seem to know when you genuinely love them when God is in it. And when God is in it, it is good.  It’s all about relationships. Jesus said it.

‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’
The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  (Mark 12:30, 31 NASB)

Gospel in the Galpão – Parable of the Lost Coin

Layane counted the coins in Andrew’s hand and realized she had lost one. We turned off the lights and began to search, using flashlights.


Once the lost coin was recovered, we explained the parable to the kids.


We asked questions after the lesson and kids who answered correctly got to bowl for a prize.


Mother’s Day Celebration

It’s a relief, for me to be able to write and tell you about our happy, loud, boisterous, sugar-filled evening, last night in Aningas. In the middle of lots of stress and worry, there hasn’t been much good and upbeat news, and I’m thankful for the chance to give you a smile!

We had made these crafty little gifts, filled with candy, for the Sunday School kids to give their moms. We also had candy treat bags for the kids, and three large (3 gallon) buckets of ice cream to serve everyone. We were a little skeptical about the ice cream because each bucket cost only R$15, which is US $7.50! BUT, we stepped out in great faith that the kids wouldn’t be evaluating the cream content, and would inhale it as if it were Ben and Jerry’s.

Electricity in the Galpão was out, so we had our little gathering in the school. I got a little nervous at the crowds entering the school–oh boy, are there enough gifts and treat bags, enough ice cream?!–but we set up and were singing choruses in no time. The kids were so pumped up, at having so many of their moms there to hear them sing, that they were just shy of screaming. It was quite impressive, even if it wasn’t exactly on tune!

Rayane was there, with her mom, Fatima. All five ladies, that we had recently taken to a medical clinic, were there. There were 25-30 moms and they listened and clapped at the kids’ singing and stayed around for ice cream and conversation afterwards.

The ice cream, meanwhile, turned out to have a split personality. It was creamy, until we got towards the bottom of the bucket, where suddenly, it became like Italian ice. But, as predicted, creamy or icy, it had just enough sugar to make the whole lot slide down just fine.

It was so good to celebrate Mother’s Day, surrounded by my two children and about 90 more, and to see the kids so proud to show their moms just how we do things on Sunday nights in Aningas.

Sing to the Lord, bless His name; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day. (Psalms 96:2 NASB)

He is real and He is here… what a joy!

The first week that we split into three groups, on Sunday night in Aningas, was chaotic. The littlest kids were frozen in place and didn’t answer Mark’s questions, Caroline finished her lesson in 5 minutes, and my class had a hour’s worth of questions!

But this Sunday was one I’ll never forget. We had just separated into our groups when a car drove up to the Galpão, with loud, blaring, obnoxious music. Then, the volume increased. Suddenly, it stopped and four young men came in. They sat down, so I handed them each a paper, with the lesson I had prepared, on it.

Thou God seest me” (Genesis 16:13) was across the top of the sheet in bold print. I had written some discussion questions about this verse and supplied the Bible references that answered the questions. One of the questions asked whether God sees more than just our actions. The scripture reference was: “Man looks on the outward, but God looks on the heart.” (1Samuel 16:7)

One of the men looked at me and said, “We came here to make trouble, but this verse is talking to me and I’m going to listen now.” The other three agreed, so we talked about how God knows our motives, our thoughts, and He still loves us. He loves these four men enough to turn their bad intentions into an opportunity to show them Who He is. The end of the verse, “Thou God sees me,” in Portuguese says roughly, “and can it be that I have seen the One Who see me?”

Then Nildete said, “But now you have to choose whether you’re going to accept Him or not.” Then Layane said, “You will choose. If you leave without accepting Him, it means you said ‘no’ to God.”

Then, Natalia said, “There’s a verse here that tells you how you can accept Him.” This segued right into the last verse on the page: “What must I do to be saved? Believe on The Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts 16:31)

Rodrigo, Anderson, Jeferson and Cleiton gave me a hug when they went out and said, “There’s no way we could touch this place. This is God.”

I love when He leads us. It’s so much joy, just knowing He’s real and He’s right here.

Don’t forget to pray for these four men. Cleiton is a crack addict.

A Prayer Request

Lord willing, we are breaking up into 3 classes in Aningas tonight!

Ages 7 and under: Mark
Ages 8-15: Caroline
Ages 16 and up: Lori
Please pray for this. Mark is solo in Portuguese, which he’s apprehensive about, and Caroline will have to prepare a message each week, which is a big responsibility.

My class will consist of the five girls that we do so much with, Joab, Nildete and Valda, all of whom profess to be saved! First, I’d like to hear their testimonies, again, and then, we should study Baptism.

This idea came from a family discussion this morning about how we could change Sunday nights’ content, making it better for the kids. It has started to feel stagnant and, if you’ve visited, you know that the littler kids wander around and distract the older kids and us!



I’m excited about the change because I get to teach my favorite age group, Mark will be speaking on his own which will be great for him, and each child will get more attention.

Please pray for Sunday nights in Aningas.

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

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.