A Day in the Life of Mark & Lori Procopio- A Special Christmas meal!

A Day in the Life of Mark & Lori Procopio: A special Christmas meal, through the eyes of a visitor.

By Sandra Livingstone



THE STREETS OF NATAL– Christmas Meal Delivered

It all starts with two massive pots of baked beans (with lots of other tasty things added in!)  These cook all night and someone has to stay up to stir them every 30-45 minutes




There are also large pots of rice cooked early in the morning.  They are then dumped into two large plastic bins that have a special space on the back of Mark’s truck.





Bags of farofa are emptied into another large plastic bin.




Mark has built a wooden compartmentalized piece for the back of his truck that holds the large pots of beans, container of rice, and juice coolers.   Straps are tightened to hold everything in place.  The food can be served right from the back of the truck.




Our first stop of the day (second day of serving this special meal), we stopped at a favela called Cambuim.  We developed a system with Mark scooping the beans and Layane holding the dish for Natalie to scoop up the rice.  Then I added a scoop of farofa on top and put a spoon in the dish.  Lori then handed the dish to the next person in the line.  Meanwhile, Antonia Bednarik made sure every person received a gospel tract.  There were at least 150-200 people served in this area.





The second stop for the day was at Km 6 of Felipe Camarao where the rest of the food was distributed.  Children came running from all directions, and many adults joined the line also.  The food distribution team:  Layane, Sandra, Lori, Natalia and Mark.  Antonia was busy distributing gospel tracts again at this location.






This is what it’s all about:  touching a life, showing love and compassion, being the hands of Jesus in a world filled with alcohol, drugs, abuse, and lack of the basic necessities.  Mark and Lori are not afraid to get their hands dirty, and they open their hands, hearts, and home so willingly.




This young boy finds it very hard to walk because his feet are so infested by bugs that they are swollen and painful.  He probably doesn’t even own a pair of shoes!




Did you stop today to thank God for a home in which to live? decent clothing to cover your body? a pair of shoes on your feet? a safe environment in which your children can live and grow?  Please take a moment to thank God for so many basic needs that we take for granted but which are not part of the lives of these children.  Also remember in prayer Mark and Lori and the young people who help them when they are visiting these very poor areas and taking food or helping with their medical needs




Even though Lori doesn’t have a medical background, she is often called on to administer first aid for these people.  It might be as simple as cleaning and dressing a wound, as repulsive as digging bugs and eggs out of a child’s foot, or as severe as dressing a stab wound.






Another special event that happens over the Christmas holidays is a fun day for the children in the town of Aningas where the orphanage will be built.  Children wait in anticipation for the afternoon when fun and laughter and color brightens their little world!  A variety of equipment is set up and the children line up and wait patiently for their turn to slide or jump or play.
















After the kids have played for a while, they are all given a corn snack and even the adults come looking for a treat.  There were lots for everyone, and no one was turned away if they came back a second time.

Later in the afternoon when it was hot, we gave out popsicles to everyone.  They are a nice fruit-flavored creamy popsicle that really hit the spot on a hot day!







Please pray for Mark and Lori as they continue their work in Natal and look forward to starting building the orphanage in Aningas.  Pray for their safety and wisdom as they move forward when God opens doors.




There are a number of nice young people who have gotten saved, but during the Christmas holidays while we were there to help the Procopios, we spent quite a bit of time with two young ladies.  Please pray for their spiritual growth and preservation.


Natália and her cousin Layane




Mark and Lori Proopio with four of the young Christians.  Back left to right:  Geovane (age 23), Lori, Natália (age 21), Joab (age 20).  Front:  Layane (age 21) and Mark.



Christmas on the Streets

Two huge pots of beans are simmering on the stovetop and we just finished cutting up the meats and onion and for the feijoada. The farofa is ready to go. Tonight I’ll stir the beans from time to time and in the morning we’ll make the rice and the juice and pack up the truck.
We’ll be on the streets and in the favelas, tomorrow and Thursday with this hot meal and God’s Word.
I love serving Christmas dinner on the streets. I love the way the kids see the truck, whoop it up and start running alongside us. I love the hugs I get all day long and the surprised faces when I tell them that–yes!–the American gringa made the feijoada, and I’m glad it tastes like the real thing.
Best of all, I love the sweet, sweet message we get to bring: Jesus the Christ was born and He came to live among us. He came as a sacrifice to pay our debt of sin. He died for me and you. The best present this season and any season is God’s glorious salvation. I’m praying that this Christmas someone I meet accepts God’s gift and is set free.

For you are saved by grace, through faith; and this not of yourselves; it is God’s gift.
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:8‬ ‭DARBY‬‬

Geovane’s Scan

Geovane’s PET scan has been scheduled for tomorrow morning! After four months of court appearances, trips to the public defender, and finally getting the city’s bank account blocked for the amount of the test, the money got transferred to the cancer hospital’s bank account and they scheduled the scan.

God has been very close to Geovane. He has been speaking to him. And Geovane has responded. He’s been out on Sunday nights and it makes us so happy to see him! We pray for his complete healing and for him to be a living testimony to what God can do when someone calls out to Him and asks Him for His help.

“He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭91:15-16‬ ‭AMP‬‬

Recognizing God

There are times when God has shown Himself, and these are the times I love to tell you about, because we all need to be reminded of our God’s love and power. And there’s nothing better than knowing He’s right here and He can still use me.
Geovane is 23 years old from Aningas. He had three cancerous tumors in his pancreas which were removed in March. His surgeon was confident that he removed all traces of the cancer, but asked for a PET scan, to see if the cancer had spread. The public health system refused to allow him this scan, which costs $7,500 reais.
Natalia’s uncle, Francisco, told us about Geovane and asked us to help. So, we went to visit him the next day. Since that Monday morning in April, we have spent days every week with Geovane, going back and forth to try to get the government’s approval for the scan. Natalia and Layane accompany us. But we never preached to him. Together with the girls, we prayed that God would direct us, prepare Geovane’s heart, and prompt us–in His time!–to tell him about his need to be saved.
One Tuesday morning, I arrived in Aningas and picked up the girls. Natalia said, “Geovane’s mom told my uncle that she’s so happy Geovane is getting out. He was depressed and didn’t want to leave the house.” Then Natalia asked, “Should we talk to him about God?” So we prayed, right there in the car, “God, make Your timing known to us and give us Your words.” And we picked up Geovane at his house and went to the courthouse in Ceará Mirim.
After leaving the court, we went to the market. The girls went in to buy something, leaving Geovane and me in the car.
“I have to tell you something,” he said. “Before I met you I was so scared, and I wanted to know God would hear me. So, one Sunday night there was a bingo game at the church. I prayed that if God was real and He cared, I would play bingo and would get all the numbers except the last. I did that because I didn’t want God to think I just wanted to win the game. I went and that’s exactly what happened. But then I told God how scared I was and I wanted Him to be with me every day, through this. And you came the very next day to my house. I know God sent you.”
It was my privilege to tell him that God did send us and tell Him all about God’s love for him.
Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. 
Psalm‬ ‭46‬:‭10‬ AMP
I have learned this verse this way: Be still. Because if you wait, you will know that God is here. You will recognize Him at work. And He will get all the glory.


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)


Riots in all five prisons, here in Rio Grande do Norte, resulted in gangs taking over the prisons; the facilities were completely destroyed, and lit on fire. The inmates have been protesting the horrible conditions of the prisons for months.  And the structures are so decayed that the inmates were able to chip away at the crumbling walls, knocking down all the cells. All the prisoners in these five prisons are free, within the walls of the facilities.
These gangs then ordered attacks and assaults on the streets of Natal. These attacks started at 4:30 yesterday afternoon and continued during the night. Five buses were doused with gasoline and lit on fire.
They have declared a state of emergency and the national guard has been sent to patrol the streets, and are due to arrive this morning.
We had planned to be in Cambuim and Kilometer 6 today, with sandwiches, juice and the Word, but are waiting to see how the situation is on the streets. We also have kept William at home from school today.
Please pray for safety and protection.


It’s been a difficult few months here. We are waiting to start building. We are waiting on our visas being renewed. Everything is taking so long. It sometimes seems like we are adrift and quite alone.

More than ever, we miss the fellowship and all the familiar faces and conveniences of home. So, we petitioned God for answers and help and direction. I found myself asking God to show me that He was still near.

I think perhaps that it is only in these uncertain, discouraging times that I truly seek God. What if these sleepless nights are what it takes to know He is near? What if, what I feel is a difficult time, is the means by which God helps me to let go of my ways, and adopt His Ways?

Monday morning, the director of the school in Aningas told me that she had written a petition, and the town people had signed it, telling the authorities about how much they wanted us to stay here, and asking the Federal Police to please renew our visas.
This morning, Valda’s husband Van told me how much Valda has changed since she got saved. He said that what she has is real!

If there are months that are hard, there are also reminders, just like these, of the real reason we are here.
Please continue to pray for us. Pray that God has His way with us, and it makes us more like the Lord Jesus Christ, and less like our same old selves.

But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness (‭Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭22‬ AMP)

Another Chapter

So much has changed. And nothing has changed. It’s five years later. The work remains the same, but so many of the kids we loved are gone. Drug debts, fights, stabbings, and drive-by shootings killed them. That has not stopped new kids from taking their place on those same streets.

We were clueless when we started this work. But we learned quickly, about the tragic world of addiction. There is no happy ending for a drug addict living and working on the streets. We have taken well over 100 kids to the rehab, in Pium. Our firstborn son, in Christ, Clessio, was shot and killed, after two years clean. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. His light for God shone so brightly, and we miss him so, but have the deepest joy knowing that we will see him in heaven. Three others are doing very well and give all the credit and glory to God. It’s a struggle with a very small percentage of success. But we still would have come, even for one soul. Because Jesus died for that soul and longs to set it free. Each soul is priceless.

We are on the streets every week still, with sandwiches, juice and The Word. We started to be invited into the favelas, and so, now we also bring first aid and food into several different favelas, in Natal. We still work with Murilo, at the Communidade Nova Aliança, a rehab center, in Pium. We also continue to help Cleide, at Lar Bom Jesus, which is in Pium now. And we still work in Aningas, in Cearà-Mirim every week.

Now, we are looking forward to the opportunity to build a children’s home and community center, in Santa Fé, Aningas, on that piece of land we purchased a few years ago. We believe that a healthy future for Northeast Brazil lies in a serious investment in its children. First of all, they need to be taught about the Savior that loves them and died for them. They need to learn about the Biblical truths and values that will change their lives.They need to be educated about the horrors of drug addiction, certainly. And they need to be given a healthy, happy alternative. They need help with their schooling. They need creative outlets such as music and crafts. They need to learn about the importance of their community and government. It is our desire to be a help and a blessing to this part of the world that we have come to love.

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)

Meeting with the Mayor!

Tonight we had just finished up the adult Sunday School class in Aningas, and started getting things together for the kids, when Nildete said, “The mayor wants to see you tomorrow morning at his house.”
“Huh? What?!”

“He sent a message. He’d like you to be at his house at 8:00 a.m. He wants to talk to you about the building project in Aningas!”

We know you’ve been praying; we have felt God’s Presence and His peace with us. Please ask God to give us His Words, when we talk to Mayor Peixoto, tomorrow morning. Pray that he helps us get this final approval to build. Please keep praying that God works in Aningas, for His glory, and the community’s blessing. 

Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the LORD protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. (‭Psalms‬ ‭127‬:‭1‬ NLT)