Prayer Request

Just got home. Looonnnng day. Brought Luiz to rehab after Igapó. There are 5 in! I think they are all serious. I’m so praying for the good soil.

Member the bicho de pe guy in Cambuim? He’s sitting at the rehab, shaking his head and saying, “This is no coincidence; this is God. I can’t believe He would do this for me.” His name is Edilson. He had a really difficult 3 days; he was shaking a lot.  I called this morning and he still had not eaten, but had a few bites at lunch. It’s been months since he ate regularly.

Today, one of the guys sat next to him and took 148 bichos out of his feet, one by one. (John 13:14) His feet are full of holes, he’s on amoxicillin, and I got a tube of ointment for him to keep them from getting bacteria and fungus.

Please pray for these five souls:

Isaías, 23, crack addict–Ponta Negra stop, lives in K-6 (deformed hand)

Luis-, 20, crack addict–Ponta Negra stop

Edilson, 50, Alcoholic–Cambuim

Manoel, 18, crack addict, Machadão stop. (deformed leg-was shot by police)

Mattias, 27, crack addict–(Bruno) 2nd time in.

I can’t stop from crying each time we drive up the dirt road to the rehab. Clessio.

The Father knows–Sorrow’s chains are heavy.
But Joy is a footfall away.

Let My Heart Be After You

Driving home from UConn the other day, I had my iPod on shuffle. The song “Garden,” by Needtobreathe came on and made me think of Clessio: “If tomorrow means my death/ Pray you’ll save their souls with it./ Let the songs I sing bring joy to you/ Let the words I say confess my love/ Let the notes I choose be your favorite tune/ Father let my heart be after you.”

The thing that stood out the most about Clessio was just that: his heart was after Christ. For being saved only sixteen months, he radiated with peace and a passion to share it with others. You didn’t need to spend more than ten minutes with him for this to become obvious.

Lori and Clessio at the smaller rehab facility

I met Clessio in the summer of 2009 when we went to the rehab center to bring him some food staples and toiletries. He was very excited to show us around the center, the small garden, the workout area and the pool. More than those things, he wanted to show us his bedroom. Nothing grandiose, of course; just a small room with double bunkbeds and some furniture. But it was his.

One of his friends was in the room at the time. As Clessio was talking to Lori and my dad about how changed his life was, his friend made some interjection. And with that, Clessio began explaining to him how he too could have this peace. I don’t remember exactly what Clessio said but his confidence in Christ struck me. He was seizing even the smallest opportunity and proclaiming the good news, as we all should be.

Walking with a smile

The last time I saw him, he was 8 months drug-free, looking healthier and happier than ever. He was at a smaller branch of the same rehab center, just down the road from the old place. He was pleased that there were fewer people there and said it was easier to foster friendships at the smaller facility. Kate and I listened while he chatted with Lori, sharing with her scripture he had been enjoying recently.

Before leaving that day, we gave him one of the bracelets we had made for distribution on the streets. It was a thin piece of twine with six colored beads. The attached paper was a gospel message in Portuguese that explained the bracelet. Clessio nodded his head in agreement while he read the paper, all the while smiling. He thanked us for the gift and thanked Christ for saving him. He told us that if the Lord hadn’t saved him when He did, he doubted he would still be alive.

Clessio’s salvation was an awesome testimony to God’s power and he knew it. Truly, he had become a new creature, transformed from a homeless, helpless, sinful drug addict to a confident and peaceful man who had an eternal home in Heaven. He strongly desired for his friends to be saved and their lives to be changed like his had been. Even in the final moments of his life, Clessio was telling others of Christ’s love.

Since the moment of his salvation, Clessio’s life was a confession of the love of God. He didn’t hide it under a bushel, no! He let it shine in all its glory and shared it with everyone. His testimony should be a challenge to our every heart. He only had sixteen months. How long has it been since Christ saved you? How much of that time has been lived for Him? Like Clessio, may our hearts be after Christ and may we share the joy of our salvation with the world.

Clessio: A Life Poured Out

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

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


Steph and me with Clessio at the rehab center

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

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


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

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

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

Without God I wouldn’t be here today

“I was using crack daily when Mark and Lori brought me to the Nova Aliança rehab center. Without God I wouldn’t be here today,” said Clessio.

Saturday afternoon after all the Gospels of John and tracts were passed out and the market had closed we headed to the Nova Aliança rehab center to meet with Clessio. He spoke of the love of Christ and the need to meditate daily on the cross and the love that was displayed there. How that love sets free and liberates from the bondage of sin. We talked of how the Lord Jesus holds us secure and will never leave us or take away His love. Clessio is a bright light in the rehab center and a joy to speak to. When you hear him talk of the old life and the wreckage of sin and then the glorious transformation you stand amazed at the marvelous grace of God.

There are 70 people there at the center. It costs R$400.00 (200.00 dollars) to bring someone there. If you do not have the money they will not turn you away. Once in the center it costs R$300.00 (150.00) a month to keep them there. Clessio’s family is hours away and cannot help so he has come to depend on Mark and Lori to provide for him. The rehab center provides them with a busy daily schedule that includes work- gardening, cleaning, kitchen duties, caring for the animals, or chores- and bible study, gospel messages and a new state run funded program to educate them to the 11th grade level.

He gave us a tour of the center and stood proudly beside his bed. I thought of all the “beds” I had seen by the roadsides, nothing more than a piece of cardboard or a threadbare blanket in a median along the road, but here he was in a simple center with a bunk bed yet in his right mind and praising God… what a miracle salvation truly is. I know he will appreciate your prayers for him.

BELOW: Clessio in the chicken coop…..

BELOW: Kitchen of the center
BELOW: Clessio beside his bunk

Pictures and More!

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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

The Street Children of Brazil | A Research Paper by Andrew Rockey, 2010

When Andrew contacted me and told me he was writing a research paper on the street kids of Brazil, I was thankful. There is so much injustice, here on the streets of Brazil. There are so many children crying for help. There is so much need, hunger, sickness and death that these kids face daily. Their voices echo in my ears and in my heart throughout my days and long into my nights.

My heart cries out to the Father of the fatherless, to the God of Justice, to the One Who sees everything. My heart has one cry: “Lord save them!” I can’t help the appeal that would have me begging God’s people, “Pray!” Please pray. Pray as if they were your children. Pray for their precious souls. And do not stop.

What Andrew has written will help us all to pray more intelligently. We will understand better the plight of these children and the obstacles that they face. We will realize that the only answer for these children lies with God.

I pray that God touches your heart and renews within you a love for Him, a love for others, and an appreciation for all we have in Him.


January 25, 2010

Hi Everyone!
It’s been a while since I punched these keys, in an attempt to update you all on what God is doing here in Natal. I was quick to take advantage of the young people who came to help us in the work here, knowing that you all would enjoy hearing from them, as they described from their perspective, God’s work that they were exposed to in Natal. Unfortunately, they have all returned home, so once again it’s up to me to keep you all posted. Lori’s folks have arrived safely, and will spend some time with us. We were all so happy to see them, and the kids were thrilled to, once again, be with Papa and Nona.
It’s Monday morning and Lori and I are about to go out looking for one of the street kids, who asked last week if we would take him off the street, and give him an opportunity at the drug rehab. Before leaving I will attempt to at least get started on the past week’s events.
His name is Rafael. Our first exposure to this boy came in the form of a street fight. Rafael and Dennis were both rolling in the middle of a busy intersection, so I jumped in to break them up. I pushed one boy across the street and back to his window washing post. Rafael was pointed in the direction of our car, and as he approached the car, saw Lori and Caroline crying. He felt so bad that he had caused them to be so upset, and attempted to comfort them. “You scared us and broke our heart” Lori said, “and if we were heartbroken, imagine how the Saviour felt.” He left that day very bothered, and God spoke to him in a way that shook him to realize how desperate his life of drugs had become. “I live in an abandoned building with no electricity or water,” he said. “So, I spend the evenings reading the papers you leave each week by the light of a street lamp.”
He told us that as a result of the message contained in those papers, and the kindness we have shown to him, God convicted him and he asked Jesus into his heart. Pray for Rafael, that his words are sincere, and that in fact God has reached his heart. Pray that his rehab experience will be the beginning of a God transformed life. Would it not be awesome if he were used by God to reach his peers caught in Satan’s snares.
The rehab called us a week ago last Sunday to inform us that Bruno had checked himself out, determined that he was healed and had no need to stay in the program. He still had three months left, but pride and a rebellious spirit caused him to leave. We didn’t pursue him, but heard that he had gone to his Dad’s house in the Planalto. This Friday, we got a call from his stepmom saying that he had to return to the rehab, and could no longer stay at the house. We drove the hour trip through the city and arrived at his father’s house. We were ushered into a very humble home, and invited to sit around the kitchen table. His Dad poured his heart out as he told us that Bruno needed to go back where he would be under the influence of God’s power. “He can’t stay here, he’s not able to do this on his own, I can’t help him, his only hope of survival is God, please take him, he has to go back.”
For three hours we sought to reach him with the gospel. Again we explained why we had sought to help him. I said, “Bruno, we didn’t come to Brazil to get kids off drugs, we came to introduce you to the Lord Jesus Christ. You’re at a crossroads tonight and you will make a choice. Choose God and He’ll possess you, giving you the strength needed to defeat Satan and the addiction you battle. Choose your own way, and we can’t help you. We’ll commend you to God and go home. You have no hope without God, and you will fall to Satan’s power. The day will come when we hear that the police have gathered your remains off the street, and as your family grieves, you’ll begin your first day in eternity”.
His Dad was supporting our no-nonsense appeal, so Lori turned to ask if he was a child of God. You could imagine our surprise as he told us how God had reach and saved his soul. He told us that his mom was a Christian, and he was raised to hear the gospel, and as a young man he trusted Jesus as his Saviour.
It was a very proud boy that we returned to the rehab, who only went because he had no place else to go. We don’t believe that this boy is saved, and would ask that you pray that God breaks his spirit and saves his soul. I had visited the food warehouse that afternoon, and had filled the back of our rented truck with food for the pantry in Aningas, as well as food for the rehab. We arrived and I called, some of the boys standing around, to unload the truck, as Lori and I went inside to plead Bruno’s case. They told us that they had over seventy boys there and only a few of those were able to pay their way. They had promised God that they would never turn anyone away, who came to them for help. Food supplies were getting low this week, and nothing was coming in. While we were there, the cook came in the office to say that after supper had been served, and the boys had been fed, all the food was gone, and there was nothing for the next day. And then, we had arrived. They told us that they have had this happen so many times before, but they never get used to the ways by which God provides for those who seek to serve Him. They thanked us for being willing to let God use us.
The holidays were such a busy time that we never had a chance to go through our belongings and unpack the things we could use. Leaving the goods in cardboard boxes means exposing them to severe moisture and mold. There is so much moisture in the air that every morning I wipe up a puddle of water sitting at the base of our bedroom fan ( no AC here). I cleaned out three stores-of the plastic tubs with locking lids-so we could store the stuff not being used, and protect it from the extreme humidity. I took one whole wall of our car port and built cubbies that would accommodate the tubs so they could be neatly stored and protected.
I have a primitive wood shop in Aningas where I’ve been building whatever is needed, so I headed up there to build my shelf units. On the way I stopped and picked up ten bags of cement. The purchase was for a family in the village who had severe health issues. Nildete was walking with us one day, as Lori carried her little medical box, and we visited door to door. Nildete is employed by the government as their health official in the village. Her job is to visit each home and report their needs back to her superiors. Nothing comes of this, except for the fact that she has her finger on the pulse of the town folks. She took us to a home made up of Dad, Mom, and five children, all of whom have severe respiratory problems. She picked up the baby and held him close to us so we could hear his labored breathing. She explained that this is caused by living in a house that has dirt for a floor. The fix is simple, but they don’t have the resources, so they live with this condition. I thought how wrong and unfair this is, how unbalanced and upside down our world is, that a family should have to suffer for years when $120.00 American dollars, a quick stop, and a willingness to add this to the day’s agenda, and this family could be healthy again.
Pretty much all of the donated clothes sent by those who gave to the work here have been given out. We went through all the boxes and categorized the clothes and shoes by age groups. We supplied the orphanage, took clothes to the kids on the street, and brought a truck load into the village. It’s funny seeing the kids walking around with crocs, because no one else has them here. We showed up one day in the village and picked up Nildete, who took us to the families who were in dire need. Word quickly traveled through the village that we were there, and soon the truck bed was mobbed with people wanting what they really didn’t need.
Nildete closed up the boxes and said, “Let’s go, this is getting out of hand and the people who need this are not going to get it.” We took the clothes to the Galpão (the building we have been allowed to use) and locked everything inside. She let some time pass and allowed the town to settle down. Then, she invited one family in at a time to go through and pick out what they could use. Everybody wants everything you have, and will take it whether they need it or not. It’s been an active learning experience on how to work with extremely poor people. Please pray that God teaches us how to handle what He gives us and gives us wisdom and fairness, so that our effectiveness is not thwarted or our testimony stifled.
The street work in the city is a constant encouragement, as the numbers grow and the kids, who are reluctant to trust anyone, are beginning to really believe we care. It’s been six months of being out there every week. At first, they doubted us and wondered what our alternative motive was; now they are accepting us as servants of God and God only. In addition to feeding them each week, Lori carries her medical box and treats cuts, infections, skin rashes, tooth aches, and last week infected stab wounds on a boy brought to her who had been fighting.
God has handled all the hurdles that have stood between us and being able to stay here. The latest was opening a bank account. It took three banks, six months and an unbelievable list of required documents to prove that we didn’t come just to launder money (a real problem among those moving to Brazil). The bank account was a government requirement in order to receive a permanent visa. Also, it’s necessary for transferring moneys from the US to us here. Thank God, finally this has been accomplished. Also, we heard today that our visa application is progressing quickly and were given a link to track its progress online. When the lawyers and accountant originally explained the list of requirements for a visa, I remember being overwhelmed and wanting to quit, but we have watched God take on each requirement, one by one, and now the visa is all that’s left to be resolved.
I’ll end now thanking you all again for your support and faithfulness in prayer before the Father. We would like to be an encouragement to you all by assuring you that God is listening and answering, and wonderful things continue to develop, before our very eyes, as God works in a mighty way among souls here in the north of Brazil.
I’ll say bye for now with much Love in Christ,
Mark, Lori, Caroline, William, Dad and Mom.


January 4, 2010 – Alex Lawson

Dear Family and Family in Christ,
It’s Wednesday afternoon and we just returned home from the airport. There were tears as we dropped off the last of our holiday visitors, whose time had come to make their way back to the US. My nephew Alex made his way back to Boston, and his girlfriend, Lydia, headed back to Chicago. Lori thought it might cheer them both up this morning to mention the present temperature at home as they gobbled up the last rays of sun here before leaving.
It really was tremendous to have them both with us. They truly shared with us the burden for lost souls. They were both able to experience the work and get a taste of all that God is doing. They were more than willing to get their hands dirty, as together we labored to reach out to these poor souls and bring them the glorious message of the Gospel.
Alex has been a big part in God’s enabling us to be here. Lori and I cannot put into words how much we appreciate all that he has taken care of at home, and the peace we have here, knowing that he’s on the case, caring for all the responsibilities there. It was a real joy getting to know Lydia and I can only hope that my constant sarcasm and teasing didn’t scare her away, because we would love for them both to come back. I know that as a result of being here they will both return home with a fresh perspective on their God and the work He’s accomplished here since we arrived. Alex spent time yesterday putting into words all he and Lydia experienced, and so I’m going to close this by bidding you all farewell, and encouraging you all to read their update.
We’re all doing just great and things seem to be going along smoothly for the moment, as God continues to bless our efforts, and be a blessing in our lives.
Goodbye for now, with love in Christ
Mark, Lori, Caroline and William.
Well, time travels quickly, and it is almost time for Lydia and I to leave Brazil and travel back home to Chicago and Boston respectively. I can’t believe that it has been over two weeks since we first arrived here in Brazil. Since that time we have seen so much, that will affect both of our lives in so many ways.
You already heard of many of our earlier activities in the reports written by Mike and Shelby Procopio, but work did not cease after their departure. It only takes a quick glance around the streets of Natal, the village of Aningas, or the orphanage in Ponta Negra to realize how much work there is to do. You have read in weeks past of the hunger for food (both physical and spiritual) in these locations. Seeing this hunger never loses its effect, and it shows that God is working daily in this area.
After Mike and Shelby left, we began planning the events for the next week. Mark and Lori were exhausted after weeks of preparation for the holiday festivities on the streets and in the village of Aningas. The weather was considerably cloudy on Sunday (a rarity here), so time was spent sorting through the boxes of donations. There was a strong exercise to get clothing up to the little village of Santa Fe; so much of the sorting time was utilized for determining what clothing would fit those in that village.
Monday was sort of a hodge-podge day of activity. Clessio needed to get to the dentist, and Lori was going to bring him. While at the rehab, I did not have an opportunity to meet Bruno or Levi. Bruno was visiting his father for the week for the New Year and Levi had taken one last sabbatical with his wife for a day or two. It gave Lydia and I both a chance to tour the rehabilitation center. I was impressed with the concept of this facility. While the structures themselves or the surrounding land would not grace the cover of any magazine, it was clear that this was a place where people could come to get clean, but only with the help, and by the grace of God.
We spent the afternoon in the orphanage run by Cleide. She was not there that afternoon, but the women who were helping were grateful for our presence. Our being there allowed for them to complete necessary tasks, while we took the time to color with the kids and attempt to show them the concept of baseball. A few bumps on the head, and many broken crayons later we were on our way. Mark and I went to the Plan Alto to pick up two sewing machines for the Aningas co-op that had been in storage there. When we returned to the house we spent some time preparing more clothes for Santa Fe, which we planned on visiting the next morning.
We arrived in Aningas mid-morning on Tuesday and dropped of the sewing machines at the Gampau, the building used for the co-op. We picked up Preta and Nildete and traveled down the road a little ways toward Santa Fe. No one was visible as we approached the gate to this little community of seven homes, but as Mark honked the horn, the distinct sound of children could be heard behind the homes. Within moments children came running to the gate, opening it for our entrance.
We stayed for a few hours, passing out a truck full of clothes and shoes to families that were destitute. I played baseball and football with them for a while, as Lori and Nildete talked with the families to see what else was needed. As we headed back toward Aningas, we saw a woman and her children who were in dire need of clothing. We noted their sizes and told the woman (Maria) that we would be back the next day with some clothing for her and her family. Nildete told us of some other families in Aningas that were in need, and immediately our plan for Wednesday was born.
Twice a week, what would be considered in the US, a public health nurse visits Aningas. We wanted to talk with her and see if there was any pressing medical needs for anyone in the village, as well as ask her permission to visit people with medical issues on Monday. Early on Wednesday we were on our way to Aningas to meet with the nurse at 8AM. The nurse did not anticipate any problems with visiting people, testing their blood pressure, and seeing if they could use any antibiotic creams or ointments. We learned that the doctor rarely ever visits the community, and when he does it is only for an hour or two per month.
We distributed clothes throughout the morning, bringing them to a family in the center of Aningas and to Maria’s house on the outskirts of town. Before leaving town we noted additional families with a need for clothing. That afternoon, we visited a medical supply store to stock up on some needed items, such as saline, gauze, blood pressure cuff, and blood glucose tester. We also visited the supermarket in preparation for the Thursday feeding of the street kids.
This event was something that touched both Lydia and myself in a way that is difficult to explain in words. After hearing Mark, Mike, Shelby, Katie and Jeremy expound on this event, all of you probably understand the concept and exactly what happens. We woke up early on Thursday to prepare the sandwiches, 472 of them to be exact. Caroline and William were staying home, allowing the four of us to fit comfortably into the truck for the day. After loading all the sandwiches, 50 liters of juice, supplies, tracts, the remainder of the Bibles, and clothes for distribution, we were on our way.
Our first stop went along as normal, but we received some news on our second stop regarding one of the “regulars”. The night before, he was sleeping on the side of the road when someone drove by and shot him ten times. According to the source, he was killed instantly. The week before, the same man had received a pair of sandals and a Bible, along with his Christmas meal. It was sobering to think about his situation, and we can only hope and pray that his spiritual condition had changed over the past week.
The rest of the day went on as normal, with all of the juice containers and sandwich boxes empty on our drive back to the house. Before leaving our second to last stop we were spoken to by a man named Rafael. He was so grateful for the sandwiches, but he also told us something else. Months before, Mark and Lori had witnessed a violent altercation between Rafael and another man. Mark had broken up the fight at the time just prior to the police arriving. Rafael had left the street corner that day strung out, but still with a gospel paper in hand. He knew that his life had to change. Since then, he was living in a little place without any water or electricity. There is not much for him to do there, so he has spent the time reading the papers that he had been given over and over again. He told Lori that he knows that drugs cannot satisfy him anymore and that he realized that the Lord Jesus Christ was all that could fill him. He told us that he has trusted in Christ and what was done for him, and that now for the first time ever, he feels truly satisfied.
Rafael’s story really spoke to me as we drove to the final stop in Zona Norte. I kept wondering where I would be if I had never been saved. Would I be in a similar situation to Rafael? Even as a Christian, I find it hard to be satisfied many times. When you listen to someone like Rafael, who has next to nothing and is completely satisfied, you realize that because of Christ we all have the ability to have this feeling day in and day out.
We welcomed in the New Year that evening on the beach. It was a New Years celebration personally unrivaled in my opinion. Fireworks illuminated the skyline the entire length of the beach, about four miles in each direction (and probably further). Fireworks could be seen from Ponta Negra in the south to the fishing villages to the north, as Natal and its surrounding cities, towns and villages welcomed in 2010, two hours before those in Times Square.
Because of the holidays, we spent the weekend at the house. The last unsorted boxes of donations were unpacked and categorized, ready for distribution. Boxes for Aningas were packed. Nildete knew of the families who were in need there, and we were going to leave them in the Gaupau for distribution. On Monday morning we loaded the medical supplies and made our way back to Aningas one last time. We spent a little time talking to people in the Health Post, a small community clinic open two mornings per week. We met with a woman named Jose, who told us about a strange painful rash that comes and goes that no doctor seemed to know the cause of.
Nildete brought us to see an old woman named Donna Iracema. She was lying on a bed in one of the houses in Aningas, unable to see, talk or move much. She wouldn’t drink, and a brief evaluation of her skin indicated that she was severely dehydrated. We prayed with her, for her soul as well as for her to have the physical strength and desire to drink some water. We left her daughter, who was caring for the woman with instructions on preventing skin breakdown and ulcers, and made our way next door to meet with Donna Francisca.
This woman had a skin disorder so severe, that it made both of her lower extremities appear to have scales. Nildete told us that the mother of the twins in town died of a similar appearing disorder, which frightened Donna Francisca. Nildete gave Lori the name of an antibiotic cream that was used sometimes for similar cases, and Lori made note so she could swing by the pharmacy and get some for the woman. After we left Donna Francisca we spent some time teaching Nildete how to use the blood glucose testing kit and the blood pressure cuff.
Now, the sun has long since gone down, and it is only 6:45. Lori and Lydia have taken the kids to their dentist appointments in the city. It seems darker than usual tonight, but it is still relaxing as I lie here in a hammock and write this report. The sound of the waves crashing on the shore continues as it has since I arrived. I am not looking forward to leaving Brazil. It has been a much-needed experience. I leave with additions to my prayer list, and I trust that this report will leave you with additions to yours as well. It feels wonderful to be used by God, and I have felt used over the past two weeks. I can’t wait to return and see the physical blessings and growth in Aningas, the orphanage and the work on the streets in Natal. Thank you all for your prayers.
Warmest Christian Love,
Alex Lawson

December 22, 2009 – Mike and Shelby Procopio

Hi everyone!
It has been hectic here as we plan all the activities for this holiday season. We promise to keep you all posted as these activities evolve, Lord Willing.
Our family was very sad to bid farewell to Jeremy and Katie, but took advantage of the following week to address any pressing matters before more guests arrived. The week was spent working on our visa and getting the final requirements to the port authorities, after our Visa protocol number arrived, so they would release our personal goods as well as all the donations that were sent along with us.We had been calling out to God asking that He would see to it that we would have all these goods by Christmas. So many of the kids desperately need the goods that were sitting in the port of Natal. It took all week and a fair amount of funds because of storage fees, but finally the day came when we met the truck at the port gate and escorted the driver and his helpers to the little town of Jenipabu. We were so thankful to God that finally we had been able to claim all the clothing and toys sent, and immediately began unpacking boxes and categorizing the goods so they all could be distributed to the needy folks we have been working with.
We also dove into boxes of our own goods and began moving some of the things into the house that we now call our home.
On Sunday, Mike and Shelby Procopio, from Saugus, arrived; they immediately went to work, helping us with all the preparations for the planned activities among the street kids, at the rehab, orphanage, and the village of Aningas. We are so happy to have them here with us.
I asked them both if they would be willing to write this week’s update to you and was very glad that they were willing. It’s great to read their update and know the effect that God has had on them this past week.
Having said that I’ll sign off and pass you all off to this young couple as they tell you the story through their eyes. Once again I say good night to all, thanking you all from my heart for your faithfulness in commending my family and our work to the throne of God.
Love in Christ,
Mark, Lori, Caroline, and William.
Well the week started with just about the longest flight of our lives – we left our house in Saugus at about 4:30 on Saturday morning, and arrived at Mark and Lori’s at 11:30 on Sunday morning – about 31 hours of planes and airports – to say the trip was tiring doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface!
Since we got in on Sunday it worked out nice, as that is a low-key day around here – we spent the day catching up and enjoying a beautiful day in a beautiful creation.
Monday morning we headed to Aningas to check in with the folks there and to have a little meeting with some of the women there to better plan for the Christmas dinner, which is planned for next Thursday. Our plan Lord willing is to feed the entire village, so we’re planning on a couple of thousand people – they exist daily on basically rice, beans and whatever they can grow in their gardens. This goes along way toward the credibility of the gospel – they have been abandoned by their government and their church, so even with something as simple as a free meal, it becomes remarkably apparent to them that God not only exists, but is interested in their wellbeing.
The plan is to have the big meal, perhaps play some games with the kids, and have a gospel message. The dinner will be served in and around the local school, which is located right in a small square in the center of the village, so Sonia the headmaster of the school and Nildete, one of the Christians in Aningas are very involved, and worked out the menu and logistics for the “feeding”!
When we first arrived in the center of the village we were talking to several of them and getting the scoop on what was new – one older guy was very upset because the sun hurt his eyes so badly that he could barely keep them open – a simple pair of sunglasses fixed what to him was a major issue, and again, proved to him that God cares.
Before we left the village for the day we drove the Amazing Fiats waaaaay out in the boonies near the village, and then walked out even further into the bush to a farm where we chose the 2 cows that will be killed and butchered for the dinner – they’ll yield about 450-500lbs of meat combined, which will be enough so that everyone can eat until they are full – a very rare thing in these poverty-stricken villages.
Monday night we got a call from the staff at the rehab center, with the news that Clessio had some sort of tooth infection, and needed to see a dentist, so first thing Tuesday morning we headed off to the rehab to pick him up and get his tooth checked. When we arrived a the rehab I was impressed immediately by the demeanor of the guys – Both Bruno and Clessio, former drug addicts from the streets were clean, sober and cheerful – Bruno was working in the kitchen, and Clessio came out to meet us holding his bible! From street addict to an amazingly satisfied Christian – the change in both Bruno and Clessio is tremendous, and a great encouragement to Mark and Lori in this work with the street kids.
Lori took Clessio off to find a dentist, and the rest of us headed off to the orphanage to get a handle on the kids needs prior to Christmas. Since the Port Authorities finally released the shipping container last week, we wanted to get the kids updated sizes and needs, so clothing outfits could be put together from the donations, and be wrapped for Christmas. Words cannot really explain what goes through your mind when you see these kids – heavy on my mind was the importance that the Lord put on children and his anger at those that would turn them away, or harm them. The conditions in the orphanage are such that they are surviving, but not much beyond that. Pray that God will give guidance as the work with these orphans continues, and plans are worked out to get the kids into a better environment with more education, structure and discipline. The resources that will be needed for this are tremendous, and your prayers for these young boys and girls, as well as the older women that care for them are needed!
After bringing Clessio back to the rehab that night, we headed back to the house, to begin the work for the next day. The girls set about making mango jam in an effort to show the ladies in Aningas how something they have in abundance – mangos – could be turned into a marketable item to provide for their families.
Wednesday was spent opening the boxes from the container and organizing the contents. Tons of clothes, toys, shoes and other items that people donated had to be sorted by size, type etc, so that distribution would be easier. This proved to be a daunting task as the donation boxes seemed endless (a good thing) and it was about 90 degrees in the garage while we were working (definitely a bad thing).
Thursday we started early making the sandwiches and juice for the street kids. 25lbs of meat, 25lbs of cheese, 500 rolls, 20 gallons of juice and hundreds of tracts. It takes all morning to make the sandwiches, so you can get out on the streets at lunchtime. Mark has the coolers mounted in the back of one of the Amazing Fiats, so we could just pull up to a spot, pop the hatch and start serving. Jeremy gave an excellent overview of this last week so I won’t belabor it, however it does bear repeating that this is a very active work, and God’s hand is very visible in it. About 8 or 10 stops throughout the center of the city, with a whole group of young people at each stop – they are fed, get a tract, and listen to an open air message, before going back to their “work” washing peoples windshields and begging. They range from 10 years old to 35, with a few mothers and little kids in the mix. The mood at several of the stops was subdued and somber, due to the fact that on Tuesday one of the regular girls from the first stop, a cute 13year old, was shot and killed while she slept, by her 13yr old boyfriend. This news had spread rapidly, and impacted several of the guys at another stop, so that they were attentive and interested in the gospel. Pray for these kids, that God will preserve them on the streets, and that he’ll work in their hearts to bring about salvation, sobriety and the purposes he has for each of them.
Next week Lord willing they will get a hot meal instead of the sandwiches, and bibles instead of tracts. Pray for this.
The last stop is a little more hectic than the rest as it is much larger and very busy – it started with a bang however as 2 young guys that had been on “the radar” for some time, and were mentioned in Mark’s earlier emails immediately came up and began earnest conversations about getting clean and getting saved.
Levi (pronounced Lev-ee) had been a regular sidekick of Clessio’s, and had wanted to go to rehab and get clean with him, but had a girlfriend and children at home, and couldn’t leave for the 9-month program. Since then however, his girlfriend kicked him out because of his drug use, and he has come to an end of himself, and desperately wants to be clean, and get right with God. In the past week he sold absolutely everything in the house, including food, and his children’s crackers for drugs – he was openly weeping on the street talking to us, and he realizes how out of control his life is…
Junior is also a familiar name – he was the crazy man that came up randomly to Mark and Lori jumping around and yelling that he wanted “what Clessio has” – don’t ask me how these guys hear about these things, but he knew that Clessio was a changed man, and he desperately wanted it…
So finally, with the food cleaned out after this stop, we loaded up Junior and Levi and brought them to the rehab center, where they will detox and begin a 9-month rehab program based on this simple foundation – without God you have no power over Satan and your addiction – with God, you are born again, a changed person, with his power to be victorious over your addiction. In addition to the counseling and rehab activities, they hear the gospel 5 times a day from men who are living testimonies to the life-changing power of salvation.
The day ended with that unplanned, but very exciting event, and we headed home. Remember these guys in your prayers – they are in for a very tough time as they detox and commit to this rehab. No doubt Bruno and Clessio will be great helps to them, but pray that God will continue to work in their hearts, and that they’ll realize the need for salvation, so that they can experience the same life-change that Bruno and Clessio have.
One final word on the street-work; The word has spread through the city about this – the street kids, of which there are thousands, all know about it, and want to be a part of it. They want the tracts, and will ask for them if you forget to give them one. They are impressed with the fact that God loves them – at one stop one of the guys looked sheepishly up at us after hearing the message and said, “You mean Jesus loves me?” Yes. Yes he does.
Friday we had to turn in one of the Amazing Fiats to the rental place and get a pickup to handle the large amounts of food for the various dinners at the orphanage, rehab, Aningas, and the street kids’ hot Christmas meal. Mark, William and I then took the truck to the wholesale food store and loaded up on what was needed – in the parking lot, a boy approached us and started helping Mark haul one of the 3 flatbed carts, which had several hundred bottles of soda on it – Mark asked him who he was and he replied “you feed me on the street” – he then helped us load the truck and refused the few Reais Mark offered, which impressed me greatly as to just how much these kids appreciate and love Mark and Lori for the work they do among them, and the love they have shown to them.
While we were at the food wholesale shop, Lori, Caroline and Shelby stopped by the orphanage to drop off the ingredients for their Christmas dinner, and were met with an interesting situation. The day before, Nicholas, a 13 year old, had fallen out of a tree and broken his wrist – the doctors at the public hospital put a cast on his arm from the wrist to the mid bicep. The problem was that the cast was much too tight and was cutting off circulation to his hand, which was incredibly swollen, and causing extreme pain. Realizing what was causing the swelling and pain, the girls took him to a private clinic where the doctor removed the cast and examined his arm. The doctor was weeping after his exam and said, “they are people just like us, there is no need to treat them like animals”, referring to the orphans. He said that the cast had been cutting off the main veins in the elbow and wrist, and it wouldn’t have taken too much more time before they would have had to amputate the arm. After some new x-rays, and some blood tests to test the oxygen levels, they re-casted the arm, and pronounced him good to go, and after dropping him back off at the orphanage, the girls got home at 2am.
We’re starting our second week here and are very excited for what lies ahead. The week will be busy, but our hope and prayer is that through the dinners and food and activities, God’s care and love will be shown to these poor people, and that through this, they can be pointed to Christ – the ultimate display of God’s love for them. The opportunities for God to work are endless, and I have been impressed at how he directs and opens doors to accomplish his purposes each day.
I’ll wrap up with that – I thought no one would write longer epistles than Mark, but I may have succeeded, so I apologize for the length – chalk it up to my enthusiasm for the subject matter!
Mike & Shelby