Martin’s Video Blog

Check out Martin’s three video blogs from his time with us in Brazil. Enjoy!


After arriving safely in Brazil, Martin gathered his thoughts and impressions into our first video blog.




Martin’s second video blog gives us a glimpse of the favelas of Brazil.


Martin’s 3rd video blog gives us a great view of Aningas- the village itself, the work there, and the land for the orphanage.

Current Prayer Requests

These are some of the battles we’re facing…


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


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


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

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


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

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


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.

Thanksgiving in Our Hearts

With Thanksgiving in Our Hearts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We love you all very much in Christ.

Servants together for Christ,

Thoughts and Prayers

Late Sunday Night, three men broke into the home of Mark and Lori Procopio in Brazil while they were sleeping. They were woken up, and watched as the men stole most of their valuable items, including phones, laptops, and cash. The family is physically fine, but were badly shaken up. Passports for Mark, Caroline, and William were stolen with accompanied belongings. Also taken was the passport belonging to Anna Valance, who is currently visiting Mark and Lori with her aunt Mary Valance.

They covet your prayers for their well-being, their safety, and the continuing work in Brazil. They feel that God must have some big plans for the work there, and Satan is trying his best to discourage them. Pray that all goes well as they attempt to get passports for Mark, Caroline and William, and that Anna can secure a passport in order to travel back to the states.

It has been several weeks since Lori asked me to write a followup entry to my essay. Over the course of those weeks, I have sat down several times with every intention of finishing what I started. However, it was only a matter of minutes before something came up, or I got “writer’s block”. Tonight however, things are different. Circumstances have changed. In light of what has transpired over the past few days, I can only hope that what the Lord has laid on my heart to write will be a comfort and an encouragement to Mark, Lori, Caroline, and William. With that in mind, I am going to break this into two parts: first, I will address everyone else that will read this, and then address the Procopio family.

In addressing everyone else, I want to describe what I saw when I travelled to Brazil with uncle Paul, Stephanie, and Kate. I will tell you that in all the previous times I attempted to write this, I tried to write in-depth, detailed descriptions of nearly every part of the trip. Clearly, that didn’t work. So this time, I’ll cut straight to the chase. I saw two things while I was there. The first thing that I saw there was a need. Mind you, there was plenty of need, and although Mark and Lori have tried to meet those material needs in any way they could, this was the kind of need that only God could meet. The Procopios moved there with a desire to help children on the streets who had nothing and nowhere to go by providing them with a home. Lord willing, they will accomplish their goal of building an orphanage there. However, I believe that there was, and still is, the desire in their hearts to first and foremost present the Savior to these children, and see them saved. After all, what riches could compare to those in Christ, and what better home to have that a Heavenly one?

The second thing I saw there was a family who was willing to give themselves completely to God, and say to Him, “Please use us in any way you see fit to meet the need that there is here.” I have to admit that in my own life, I have fallen terribly short of giving to God all that he deserves of me. I find my mind daily going back to the words of David: “And who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?” So when I see people around me who are willing to give their all to God, I am greatly encouraged by it, and I hope you will be too. Now, I want to address Mark, Lori, Caroline, and William. Yesterday (Monday), when I was shown an email from uncle Paul describing what happened to you, I thought that surely something like that could never happen to someone so close to us. That kind of thing only happened to other people. Then I had to remind myself that, to everyone else on the planet, you are other people. How quickly my mind began to think of what had happened as some terrible mistake, how it was something that never should have happened. And yet, all that thinking changed tonight. As I sat in a quiet circle and listened as one by one, men got up to collectively raise their voices to God in prayer for you and your family, I was reminded in their prayers that this was not a mistake. What happened was all God’s design. I was brought to realize how glad I am that I am not in control of it all. We as humans are weak and fallen creatures, but it is Almighty God who is in control, and what comfort we can take in the fact that he knows the end from the beginning. Through it all, his loving hand was watching over each of you and nothing that happened was outside of His divine will. In those prayers, we were reminded of the words of the hymn writer who said:

He when He sojourned here below,

Poured forth His cries and tears;

And, though exalted, feels afresh What every member bears.

I know that I do not need to tell you this, but we are praying for you. We were also reminded in prayer that, just like Christ feels every burden that you feel now, when one member of His body suffers, the other members feel it too. Which is why the next words of that hymn are so precious:

Then boldly let our faith address His mercy and His power;

We shall obtain delivering grace In each distressing hour.

I believe that it was Chris who reminded us in his prayer for you about several people in the Bible who, although they experienced times of trouble, God had bigger plans. When Joseph was thrown into a pit, sold, falsely accused, and thrown into prison, I am sure he looked around at what happened to him and thought, “This is a mistake! Surely this is not God’s will!” And yet because of his suffering, he was able to deliver his family, and by extension, an entire nation. Perhaps it is His will that your testimony will convict the men who broke into your house of their sin, and will ultimately bring them to Christ. It may be that those around you will, through you, see Christ in the peace and hope that you have. I certainly do not pretend to know God’s will, but I know this, that “…all things work together for good to those who love God.” I am sure that I am not the only one who has been encouraged by your steadfastness and your testimony to God. We are all praying for you. We love you. God bless!

Press forward and fear not! The Billows may roll, But the Power of Jesus Their rage can control: Though waves rise in anger, Their tumult shall cease; One word of His bidding Shall his them to peace.

Press forward and fear not! Though trial be near; The Lord is our refuge, Whom, then, shall we fear? His staff is our comfort, Our safeguard His rod; Then let us be steadfast And trust in our God.

Press forward and fear not! Be strong in the Lord, In the power of His promise, The truth of His word; Through the sea and the desert Our pathway may tend, But He who hath saved us Will save to the end.

Press forward and fear not! We’ll speed on our way; Why should we e’er shrink From our path in dismay? We tread but the way Which our Leader has trod; Then let us press forward, And trust in our God.

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 7, 2009 – Jeremy and Katie Lusk

Hi everyone!
Did ya all think I was becoming a slacker?. Last night we dropped off a young couple at the airport, and we were all very sad to see them go. They had spent the last ten days with us, and we had a awesome time with them. We used the ten days to show them the work God had given us, and to Introduce them to the north of Brazil. I asked them both if they would be willing to write the weeks update before they left us. They were both very excited about being able to give the report. I thought it would be nice for you all to hear about the work from this couple’s perspective. I hope you all enjoy reading this, as I did, and that your able to see this work through the eyes of Jeremy and Katie, and experience the impression that God made on their heart.
I’ll be back next week, till than I’ll say good night.
Love in Christ Mark!
Oi amigos!
It’s Jeremy and Katie Lusk enjoying a quick visit with Mark and Lori. We came down for 10 days to see the work they are doing here in Brazil, and try to help out where we can. We’re almost to the end of our time here, and we feel Mark and Lori have shown us a great overview of their work. We went to Aningas a few times and visited some of the people door to door. We also went to the orphanage to see the work there and spend some time playing with the children. But the work with the street kids was where we were most useful. We helped with this twice and saw it grow from one week to the next. Because this ministry had the most impact on us, we’d like to give you a more detailed description of it.
Each week, Mark and Lori distribute sandwiches, juice and tracts to over 100 street kids all over Natal. They also spend time building a relationship with them and telling them about God and His love for them. Some have estimated that there are about 8 million of these orphaned or abandoned “disposable children” living on the streets in Brazilian cities. Most of them are teenagers, but some kids are as young as 6 or 7 years old. Some of the teenagers have children of their own living with them on the streets. These poor kids are totally destitute with virtually no possessions other than a pair of shorts, a tee shirt, and usually a pair of flip flops. I probably don’t need to mention that they are absolutely filthy. They sleep in cardboard boxes, under chairs, or just on the sidewalk and spend the day washing car windows, selling fruit or trinkets, begging, or stealing to try to eke out enough money to survive. Many of the kids are addicted to drugs or sniffing glue. They find that the high is necessary for the courage to survive in their violent environment. Mark and Lori have discovered that there is an informal network connecting all the street kids across the city. As they got to know some of the kids they learned of other intersections where even more kids live. This network of street kids has helped the ministry grow each week. We were happy to find out that the kids show the tracts to their friends that live on other intersections. One time we were stopped at a light and a street boy came up to the car window. Mark gave him 25 cents and a tract. He got very excited and said “You’re the guys that stop at Ponta Negra.” We weren’t giving out sandwiches so he must have recognized us by the tracts.
The work really started the day before with a delivery of 480 sandwich rolls from the local bakery. Next we made a trip to the supermarket to pick up about 22 pounds each of sliced mortadella and mozzarella for the sandwiches. We also picked up ice and juice mix–enough for about 15 gallons. Many of the kids are barefoot so we bought some sandals to distribute and of course made sure we were well stocked with tracts in Portuguese. As Mark and Lori get to know the kids they uncover other physical needs to meet. They noticed one young mother bathing her baby by dunking him in a bucket of dirty water that the kids were using to wash car windows. The next week we gave her a little baby bath tub. Mark and Lori often make trips to the pharmacy to get ointments for rashes and other ailments, and they always keep a little medical kit in the car just in case.
The next morning we rolled into production mode slicing the rolls, stuffing them with meat and cheese, counting and loading them into plastic tubs. We mixed up the juice and poured it into insulated containers with nozzles to dispense at each stop. Mark has rigged up a system of storing everything in his little Fiat so when we roll up to a stop we can pop open the hatchback and one back door and start serving.
We left the house by 11:30 and headed out to the first of 6 stops. The first stop is a large intersection near a tourist area called Ponta Negra. There are between 20 and 40 street kids working this intersection trying to get a coin or two for washing windows as the cars wait for a green light. There are also a few young mothers (one was pregnant), a couple of babies and some small children. These kids are often high from drugs or sniffing glue.
We drove both cars over the curb and onto the median and set up shop. We gave each kid two sandwiches, a cup of juice, and a tract to start with. Most of them came back for more sandwiches and juice. To the extent possible we didn’t limit their refills; the kids are virtually starving and almost never get enough food. Once everyone had eaten we gathered them all around while I spoke in the gospel briefly. I spoke about I Peter 5:7 and how God told us that He cares for us and also proved it by sending His Son to die for us. No one else cares for these kids so this verse seemed very poignant to me in this situation. I also explained that because they’re sinners, their sin has separated them from God and that their sin must be punished. I told them that God loves them and sent His Son, the Lord Jesus, to suffer the punishment for their sins. Lori translated the message and helped explain things that the kids didn’t understand. The kids listened intently to the whole message. They were fascinated to hear English, but they are also very interested in hearing about God and the gospel. Many of the kids thanked us for speaking to them and quite a few had questions about the message. Its obvious that God has been working in their hearts because they are so open to the gospel and want to talk about Him. The potential in the work with these kids is amazing.
No one has refused a tract yet so we took advantage of the tremendous amount of foot and motor traffic at these intersections by handing out tracts to everyone we could. When the traffic lights turned red Mark would walk among the cars, motorcycles, and buses handing tracts to everyone he could reach. Many of the kids can’t read, but they’ll keep the tract and have someone else read it to them. They collect all the tracts we give them, and they’ll tell you if they already have the one you’re trying to give them.
Once everyone had eaten and we’d spent time talking to the kids we packed up the cars and drove on to the next stop. We made 6 stops in different areas of the city. By the time we got home it was close to 6 and already dark. We had given out 480 sandwiches, 15 gallons of juice, about half a dozen pairs of sandals, and several hundred tracts.
Mark and Lori spent much of the time at each stop finding out how the kids were doing and getting to know them better. We noticed how the kids’ faces light up as soon as they see Mark and Lori and how happy and grateful they are for the sandwiches and juice. But anyone can tell that it’s not just about the food; their physical needs do need to be met, but they are really aching to learn about God. The kids have told Mark and Lori several times that they see God when they see Mark and Lori. Through the love Mark and Lori show the kids, they are able to understand God’s love for them and the gospel. Because Mark and Lori know Portuguese and can answer the questions the kids have about God, it was most helpful for us to hand out sandwiches and fill juice cups, freeing Mark and Lori to talk with the kids.
You don’t need to know the language or the kids to hand out food and tracts, so this is a great work for any visitors. Not only are you are a part of the ministry and a good testimony, but you also get to witness God working. We’ll leave Brazil greatly encouraged by the hunger for God and growth potential in the street kids ministry. There’s still much to do and even more to pray about!!
Jeremy & Katie

November 11, 2009

Hi Everyone!
It’s Sunday afternoon, an absolutely perfect day, and I’m sitting looking out over our back yard. When I look to the right, I see the rock reef, which tells me it’s low tide; looking to the left I can watch the waves roll in, waves large enough to surf on. Whenever I view my surroundings, I’m so thankful to God for the little city of refuge He gave us to come home to every night. It even has walls around it with someone at the gate who has to agree before you get in.
Last Sunday was visit day at the rehab. center, and the boys asked if we would be coming to see them. As hard as it was to leave the refuge, we did make a point of getting there before visiting hours were over. They are both doing great and both have professed to be saved. I think, in their case, the fruits of salvation will be very obvious. There has been such a transformation in Bruno’s life, that the head of the rehab. asked that he give his testimony to a large group of people in the city. The rehab called to tell us about this event on Friday afternoon. They told us that it’s a privilege that only a few are given the opportunity to participate in. You earn this privilege by your behavior and the tangible evidences of salvation that the counselors see on a day to day basis. They asked us to bring some pictures of Bruno when we first met him on the street, (you would hardly recognize him as the same person) and a testimonial from us in the form of a letter that they would read to the audience before he spoke. They also asked that we bring a few candy treats as a gift to present to him afterwords. So, on Saturday, we went to the rehab., bringing the letter to Bruno that we had written and some chocolates for Bruno, for after he gave his testimony. (Seemed kind of like a Sunday School treat!)
While visiting the rehab., last Sunday night, Clessio had given us a letter that he had written to his family. He asked that we deliver it to his grandmother, Valmira. So, on Wednesday Lori and I went to find her little apartment and deliver this precious cargo. We found her with her daughter ( Clessio’s aunt) and both were so happy to see us. Once again, we found ourselves back, sitting at the same kitchen table, but this time the conversation was so different. As we spoke of Clessio and his progress, there was a constant smile on Valmira’s face. Over and over again she thanked God and gave Him the glory. I pulled the letter out that I had folded and tucked in my wallet. She handed it to her daughter and we all listened as the aunt began to read. To our surprise it was the boy’s testimony. He spoke of how Bruno and the counselors introduced him to Jesus. How he realized, for the first time, that only God could help him. He understood God’s tremendous love, in offering His Son so that help could be available to him personally. He told how he had confessed his sin, his helplessness, and asked Jesus into his heart. He spoke of how he now had God with him, and because of that he was going to overcome his addiction. He wanted very much to be the one who would reach out to his lost buddies on the street. He asked his grandmother to forgive him. He spoke to his whole family asking for their forgiveness also. He thanked God for bringing us into his life, realizing how far God went just to reach his lost soul. I was sitting across from the aunt, and could see that she was having a very difficult time reading the letter, at times she had to stop and collect her composure before going on. I believe that I witnessed, for the first time, from the same person, the great contrast between tears of heartache and tears of joy. They flowed freely down the grandmother’s cheeks as she listened to words she had been waiting all her life to hear. What a difference from the last time we sat at this table, watching Satan battle with the power of God for the rights to this precious soul. I left that little home convinced that there could be no experience on earth to rival being a part of what we just saw. I told God that if these experiences were all that make up the balance of what’s left of my life on earth, than I will leave this world a content man.
As we drove from the house, we passed Clessio’s old stomping grounds. While waiting at the light we were accosted by a young man who had seen us pull up. He jumped to his feet with a yelp and came running. He began begging us to do for him what we had done for the other two. “Please give me a chance, take me off the street, help me get off drugs. I want to know your God also”. We hadn’t told any of them about Bruno or Clessio, but evidently word was on the street. And having heard, this boy was also begging us for help. He was so excited to see us, he was laughing, and yelling, and singing, and his demeanor kinda of threw us; we weren’t sure how to respond. The others had come to us absolutely broken and desperate, speaking to us softly with tears in their eyes. This guy was bouncing like Tigger. We talked to him briefly and then left thinking it best to give him some time. We added that intersection to our Thursday route hoping we would run into him again. Sure enough, he was there, and seemingly, waiting for us. Immediately he was again asking, and this time we explained what the rehab. was all about. We told him we would be back at this location, God Willing, at 10-am Tuesday morning. If he was serious, then we would be willing to take him. Pray for Junior, that he genuinely wants to know the God who can save his soul and liberate him from Satan’s vices.
I would guess that we fed about two hundred young people on Thursday. They are now so open to hear the Gospel. And every stop has turned into an open air meeting with, in some cases, over fifty gathered around to hear the Gospel. The intersection that Junior works was a new stop for us and we had no idea how many kids worked that corner. We pulled up, opened the tail gate, and started passing out food. Man, they came out of every corner, having heard about our work (word has spread through the whole city), and hoping that we would come to visit them. They were so happy to see us, and by the time they had all been fed, we were cleaned out. I was amazed at how many kids between eight to sixteen worked that corner. I saw this location as another incredible opportunity to reach souls with the Gospel. We were finally able to pull away with an empty car and a full heart.
There is one young boy; he’s maybe about fifteen years old. God has placed this boy as a real burden on our heart. His body is a mess, his feet are full of sores. Every time we give him new sandals the older kids steal them. Someone had given him a new shirt and the kids stole that from him as well. So his present wardrobe is made up of one pair of very dirty board shorts. It doesn’t seem like he has any family. He sleeps on an old, filthy dirty mattress that he lays out on the sidewalk of the street corner that he works. He works this corner with one other boy that is maybe a few years older than him. He’s soft spoken, and so kind, and does his best to be happy when we arrive, but the pain is all over his face. He told us how much he likes us, and how he looks forward to our visits on Thursday. It seems that no one has ever shown him kindness. He seems so alone in a city that is thriving with people who don’t give him a second notice. We want so much to reach out and help this boy, but are not sure what we can do. We don’t think he has a drug problem and so don’t want to expose him to the rehab element. Pray that God gives us wisdom to do what’s right for his physical and spiritual well being.
Tuesday we spent with Cleide. We had put together a plan to help the orphanage present itself as a well-oiled machine to the judge at the next required meeting (end of this month). We spent the day going over the plan, and told Cleide how her job would become so much easer with the help of some organization and written rules of the house. We talked to her about putting a file together for each kid, with all his medical, schooling, and household responsibilities recorded and filed. We talked about the needs of the orphanage: structure, discipline, accountability, responsibilities for each child and help for each child with their schooling. We are fairly sure that these are some of the basics that the judge is looking for. We could see that she was struggling with the thought of all these tasks, but at the same time she knew it was very necessary. She has been alone and overwhelmed with this work for so long thats she’s desperate for anyone who’s willing to help. Once we knew she was on board we then made arrangements to stand by her as she explained the plan to her staff. From there, we’ll get the kids together and allow the staff to deliver the good news to them. Pray that implementing this plan goes smoothly, and so impresses the judge that he loosens his authority and allows her to continue to operate.
Pray as well for our permanent visa which is such a complicated ordeal. We met again on Wednesday with the professional people that we hired to help us with this process. It seems every time we’re with them we leave the office with a new list of requirements.
Monday was a holiday here, and so some of the Christians we know here asked if they could spend the day at our house. Sunday night we were told that twelve would be arriving in the morning, but this turned into thirty-eight on Monday. We love having them and I know that it’s a real treat for them to be on the beach and have access to the pool.
The high point of the day was a conversation that came up about headship. I was sitting with three of the elders that represented three different local churches, and they all wanted to know how I understood the subject. It was a very friendly, unassuming, relaxed, and comfortable conversation that came about very unexpectedly. They listened as I explained my understanding of scripture regarding this subject. God alone knows what will come of it, but after, when they had all gone home, and I began to think about the days events, I smiled to myself. I could see God’s fingerprints in the whole thing. As much as I have been wanting to have that discussion, I could never have arranged and brought it about the way that God did on Monday afternoon. Pray that this is the beginning of an open door, as well as open hearts, with a desire to understand and a willingness to obey God’s word.
I would say that this has pretty much covered the events of the past week. Again we ask for and covet your prayers. And with that I say to you all good night.
From my family to yours,
Love in Christ,
Mark, Lori, Caroline and William.

October 25, 2009

Hi Everyone!
It’s Sunday afternoon and I thought I’d get started on this earlier seeing that it seems to take me so long to write these updates. First of all, I’ll let you know that everyone here is just fine. I pray that all who receive this update are doing fine, too, and have experienced God’s blessings in your life this week as we have. What a busy, fun, and great time, we all had working this week. It began Monday with us finally having the funds to visit the wholesale food warehouse and purchase the food needed to stock the food pantry we built in the village of Aningas.
After building the pantry, we had locked it up and given the keys to a Christian woman named Nildete. She has proven her genuine care for the folks in her village. She is also aware of those in the village whose needs are desperate because she visits each house weekly, as a health official for the government. We know that she’ll be fair and responsible in distributing the food to those who have nothing. She was with us on Friday and told us that the town surrounded her house when they found out she was the key holder. She had to make it clear to them all, that this was just for the desperate who had no food for their families. Having made that announcement, she promptly sent them all home with nothing.
We arrived in Aningas Tuesday morning with the supplies for the food pantry, and sat in on a meeting that Nildete had called. It was made up of government people, a woman who presently teaches sewing as an instructor in a nearby town, and about sixty folks from the village. The government woman promised to help, the locale woman promised to teach, and we promised the resources as a loan, giving them the means to get started. Wednesday we picked up Nildete and went to the nearby town to see a co-op that is presently up and running successfully. We were able to see how it all functions and also get a list of the things needed to get the woman in Aningas started. There’s presently a building in the village where they will be able to set up and work. It’s structurally a good building, but will need some repairs and modifications before this is able to happen. It will need a ton of lights installed and a fair amount of electrical work. Somehow we have to get rid of all the bats that have made this building their home. They need cutting tables, special industrial type sewing machines, and I really want to give the building a coat of paint. We also got a promise from a local reliable clothing vender, that he would sub out work to the woman once they were set up and had been trained.
When we arrived to pick up Nildete on Wednesday morning, she brought us a young boy form the village and asked for our help. His name is Leandro, and in a matter of two days, he had lost his eyesight. They had no idea how or why this happened. He is an orphan that lost his mom and dad to alcohol when he was ten. Presently, he’s living with his older sister who is a single parent of three young ones. At seventeen, his labor is their only means of putting food on the table everyday; and now he’s blind. As scared as he was about losing his eyesight, he was also very nervous about a visit to the doctor’s. Never in his life had he seen any kind of physician or even ventured outside the little village of Aningas. We got him into the city and brought him to a cornea specialist, who told us that this was something he had never seen before. He had heard of rare cases when this would happen in one eye, but never both. Apparently, he has toxins in his blood, caused by some type of infection. He gave Leandro antibiotics and two other prescriptions. Along with that he also ordered a battery of tests. Friday morning we were up at the crack of dawn so we could have him to the lab by seven. And so this begins the process needed to figure out what has caused his blindness.
Thursday we left the house with two hundred and fifty sandwiches, our cooler of milk, sandals for the barefoot, bars of soap, toothbrushes, powered milk for the babies, and cous cous; all this for the street kids who have become our friends and who have become a burden on our heart. Once again we ran out of our provisions and had to skip one of our stops because we had nothing left to give the kids.
Remember the stop where I got tangled up in a street fight last week? We were approaching that stop, a little apprehensive about what might await us this week. Caroline was a little scared so we prayed that God would allow us to feed the kids without incident. Instead of a street brawl, we crossed paths with two boys we had never seen before. They told us that the intersection they normally work was a mess because of street construction. They took their last two dollars and boarded a bus, to come to the other side of the city. They made their choice, left the bus, and began to work an intersection they had never worked before.
We could immediately see a spirit about these two that was very different from the rest. They stood and waited for us while we served the others gathered around the car. When we were done with this, they asked to talk to us. They introduced themselves as Levi and Lesseo. They explained how they had come to this intersection. They both told us that they had asked God to prove that He cared about them, just last week. They told us that they felt that God had sent them to us and that He was showing them that He cared for them because they were getting a lunch and some supplies. They asked us if we were serving God, so they could know for sure that He cared for them. What a thrill it was to be able to tell them that, yes, we are God’s servants and oh, how He loves you! Their response was to tell us that they wanted God more than anything else in the world. Their life was awful. They had both gone for over a month without taking drugs, but they were petrified that they would begin again. They said that only God could rescue them and free them from their horrible life on the streets. We told them that, in their current condition, they were lost. We told them that they needed to be saved; and we explained what that meant. We told them how God hates the condition they’re in and how He gave everything He had to free them from their sin and free them from the power of the world and Satan. I watched them wipe the tears from their eyes as together they openly said we want God in our life. We told them that God’s salvation is a free gift, quoting Ephesians 2:8. Lesseo said, “I accept it.” Levi said, “I, too, accept it.” We, slightly dazed, offered to bring them to the rehab. center where Bruno is, in Pium. Monday morning at 10:00 a.m., Lord Willing, we will go to their regular neighborhood and pick them up.
Please pray for Levi and Clesseo. We believe God sent them to us because they’re truly searching. It would be wonderful, if along with Bruno, these two have truly accepted the Lord as their personal Savior. It will be a relief to see them tomorrow morning, to know that they are serious about what they said, and to see them off the streets and at a place that preaches the Gospel faithfully several times a day.
Before we pick up Levi and Clesseo tomorrow morning, we have to go to Aningas and pick up Leandro and bring him to the lab in Natal for more blood tests. It’s always a good idea to get there at opening time; the waiting room is always packed full of people and the lab closes at 11:00 whether you are seen or not.
We have also been looking at cars whenever we have free time; that has been hard for me because the cars here are boring. I have always been a car guy and there’s nothing here that I can get even remotely excited about. Along with their nondescript looks, these cars cost a fortune. For the price of a Toyota Corolla, I would be able to buy a Mercedes S-500. We will have to settle on something though because we’re spending a fortune on rentals and the cars we have don’t really serve the purpose needed for our work here.
Once again I’ve done my best to help you all understand the accomplishments of this past week. The days are so full, but it’s very satisfying to lay your head on the pillow at the end of the day and know that what you’re feeling is a good kind of tired.
Please don’t forget to pray for us and some of the very specific burdens that I mentioned in this update. We will continue to remember our family at home and pray God’s blessing on you all.
Good night.
Love in Christ,
Mark,Lori, Caroline and William