Happy Faces!

Shopping cart loaded with turkeys for the rehab and the Lar Bom Jesus.


Happy face at the Lar Bom Jesus



Yummy! Our favorites! Turkey, raisins for the rice, peas and corn, farofa, Coca Cola and ice cream!



The building process for the Children’s Home has started! I cannot believe I’m writing this. Thursday we met with an engineer and architect, and got a list of permits that are needed. And yesterday we paid for an official land topography survey, which is the first step in construction.
Like with everything else here, we are completely dependent on God to direct every part of this process, and thankful for His promise to do so.

God will make this happen, for He who calls you is faithful. (‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5‬:‭24‬ NLT)

The Mayor

Ceará-Mirim is the main city about 40 minutes from Aningas. Mayor Peixoto welcomed us to his home this morning and spent some time talking about our work in Aningas. 

He asked if he could be a help to us, so we asked him to help us get the city’s approval, register Vá Livre in Ceará-Mirim, and give us an operating ID number, as a non profit here in Brazil. 

He told us he is traveling tomorrow and Wednesday, but told us we could arrange to go back on Thursday, if his schedule permits. He will call the official responsible for this work, so that he can be there, with his stamp and signature. With this approval, we then take the signed paperwork to a cartório, or records office, to register the Vá Livre foundation. Next, we take all of this to one of the city’s accountants, who will take the paperwork and generate an operating number. With this operating number, we can start to build. 
Mayor Peixoto also offered to show the construction plans, that Daniel Valvano did for us, to the city’s engineers. Hopefully, they can stamp the plans, approving them and making them certified to use, here in Brazil. This would save a lot of money. (Something else for prayer!)

I hesitate to say that this can be done in the coming week or so, because living in Brazil can be like living a good news/bad news roller coaster. But, I will tell you this: today Mark and I felt real hope. And just a little excited! More than that, and far more significant, we felt that God arranged this. Really. The mayor? Out of the blue? Serving The Lord certainly brings us to places we’ve never been before!

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭3‬:‭5-6‬ AMP)

Designing an Orphanage

As papers are translated and lawyers review documents, we are getting closer to the day when we can actually start building! While there are still many things that need to be worked out, these details are all in His hands. In the meantime, we’re excited to share a bit about how things have been progressing.

In December of last year, Dan Valvano from Livingston, NJ, visited us to help Mark draw up the architectural plans for the orphanage. We asked him to jot down some impressions, reasons for visiting, and goals he kept in mind while working on this project.

Why visit?

I visited Brazil hoping to both see and help the ongoing work there. I wanted to familiarize myself with the area and hopefully get a better understanding of the needs and lifestyles of the people as well as the land, construction methods, and climate of the surrounding area.

Why the orphanage?

I chose the orphanage as my thesis project because I knew I could use what I had learned in school to help the ongoing work. I also wanted to be a part of a real project and a project that I could continue to help develop after I graduated.


What struck you most while in Brazil?

When I was there the willingness for people to listen and learn, and the reception of gifts was amazing. I had never seen so many people so willing to listen and receive.

Priorities in planning?

As far as the project goes, there were a few main priorities when coming up with the idea for the design. Keeping it simple and easy to build at low cost was definitely a factor. I wanted to use the local materials and surrounding environment in the design. For example, the wind in Aningas blows at a constant 19 mph average, year round. Given the area is very hot, it makes sense to orient the buildings in specific ways to help optimize the wind for natural cooling of the buildings, while also orienting them in a way to help protect them from the sun.

Finally, I wanted to make sure I continued to listen to advice from Mark and Lori since they live there, know the area, and have seen other buildings like this.


How was your choice of project supported at home?

Back home I got a lot of support from my family for picking this thesis project, but it was not understood the same way at school. I got a lot of scrutiny about my thesis project from both the teachers and other students. They did not understand the project, could not see why I wanted to do a project that had boundaries, and were not sure if I could design a project thousands of miles away. Many of my friends and other students, to this day, still say I “took the easy way out” by doing a simplistic design, but I don’t see it like that. I simply tell them I designed the best solution for the needs in the area, being simple, inexpensive, and having boundaries just happened to be some of the needs.



Airton is 15 years old. He’s lived at the Lar Bom Jesus for four years. He has four brothers and sisters that live there, too.

His mother, Paula, found a new boyfriend and the new boyfriend didn’t want her kids, so she abandoned them. The minors’ judge sent them to Cleide.

This morning when we went to bring the monthly groceries to the Lar, we found Cleide crying. Airton had gone to the hospital with stomach pain and they had admitted him. His sister Romeika, is at the hospital with him, and she had just called. The doctors took some tests because they suspect he has leukemia.

We stood together and prayed for this boy. We prayed for the Father of the fatherless to draw near to him and be with him, as He has promised.

Please pray for Airton, his brothers and sisters and Cleide.


Although my father and my mother have forsaken me, yet the Lord will take me up [adopt me as His child]. (Psalm 27:10 AMP)


When Mark went to install the kitchen cabinets he made, at the Lar Bom Jesus Children’s Home, he saw that the kids were all sitting on the floor while eating.
So, he bought some pine and some plywood and voilà, four 7 foot tables and benches that we delivered yesterday and today.

Thirty-two happy kids are eating dinner at these tables tonight!


Kitchen Cabinets

The Lar Bom Jesus is a children’s home. We have known, and worked alongside, Cleide since 2007. We were so excited to see the new place that God provided for her and the 33 kids she has taken off the streets.

We were concerned when we delivered a truckload of food and had to store most of it on the floor in the kitchen, though. Cleide was using two shelving units that Mark had made for clothes, but the kitchen really needed cabinets.

So, it has been déjà vu for Mark these past few weeks as he worked, once again, with kitchen cabinets! Van and Leandro, from Aningas, helped him build the cabinets, load them in the truck, deliver and install them.


Cleide shakes her head and laughs, because God gets everything they need, and even delivers it to their doorstep! For Mark and me, it just never gets old, seeing a living and loving God at work. Just like He promised.




Although my father and my mother have forsaken me, yet the Lord will take me up [adopt me as His child]. (Psalm 27:10 AMP)

Pictures of Lar Bom Jesus



Here’s the first completed building at the Lar Bom Jesus, a children’s home we’ve been helping in, since 2007. There are three houses being built. This one is for the girls; there’s also one for the boys, and the third is for the kitchen and dining room. Right now, there are 33 children ready to move in and so excited!



This is the front door, with louvered side panels, to the girls’ home. We bought this door a few months ago, when we learned that the current landlord wanted Cleide and the kids out of their rental property. Cleide was praying for doors when we showed up with fellowship that we had received. We have had the joy, so many times, of arriving with food or goods, just when Cleide is in her room, on her knees, telling God about her need. It leaves us speechless, with the thrill of His care for these children, and His care for us. He’s real!


Inside the girls’ home, this is the the main living area. We purchased the inside doors for the home.


Supporting the Rehab


Outside the kitchen area, the guys show us their soap-making room. Bottles of green, purple, and white disinfectant soaps are stacked in neat rows, filling plastic crates ready for sale. They recycle two-liter soda bottles, scrubbing and washing them outside and then organizing them to be filled inside. There are two cement washing sinks filled with bottles caps ready for use. The guys are eager to show us their finished product. They smell fresh, clean, lavender, citrus.


Ricardo is one of the guys who takes the soaps to sell in the city. The two-liter bottles sell for five reais (about $2.50). They go door to door in the mornings, and then sell at the street lights in the afternoons. The guys responsible for producing and selling the soap, like Ricardo, get a cut of the profits to save for when they are ready to leave the rehab. Jobs like these give them a sense of purpose. Saving money helps them prepare for the future. And as they work together to provide for the rehab, and to work to make it more functional, they take pride in their responsibilities.


Seeing God at Work

Mark and I spent the morning with Cleide. Here she is in the doorway of the new Lar, which is almost ready for them to move in. They need to be ready on April 1st, as their present rent is up.

We pulled in and she came out very quickly. The stress of building four, quite large, buildings has driven her without end to her knees. Once more, we showed up just at the right time- an affirmation of God’s great care for her.

She woke feeling worried and read the following passage:

Don’t worry—I am with you. Don’t be afraid—I am your God. I will make you strong and help you. I will support you with my right hand that brings victory. (Isaiah 41:10 ERV)

She needed to rent metal supports for cement, but was without the funds. They cost 70 centavos (35 cents) per day and she needed 20 for 20 days. Without this rental, the workers would be at a standstill. The building team itself is a donation from a large construction company.

So, off we went to rent the supports. The rental came to R$280, and Mark and I had a total of R$250 (beyond the budgeted funds) in our pockets. The man said he would give us a discount and our total came to–R$250!

We then went to order eight interior doors for the first house. Until the other buildings are built, boys and girls will be living in the first house, so doors are a must.

The door in the photo below is the one VL bought. The middle section isn’t hung yet.


What struck me–again!–so forcefully was her admission: “I have not bought a single thing for these four buildings. Not one nail! All the materials have been donated by people, companies, strangers who arrive here from Europe. I have no car, but all these materials come to me.”

This is God’s Work. And we get nervous and anxious all the time. But we do not need to be. So gently He reminds us of His Promises, through His Word; then He backs it up with His action. Cleide and Mark and I got to be there to see Him at work.