October 18, 2009

Hi everybody!
I was sorry to hear that the Sox blew it again. I guess it re-confirms  
the pointlessness of following that stuff. I didn’t forget to write  
last week. On the contrary, I actually had my report down to the last  
sentence. In one swift move (which to this moment I still don’t how it  
happened) I lost the whole thing. Lori worked at it for quite a while,  
but it wasn’t coming back. So, late Sunday night we both gave up and  
went to bed. We have been so busy, the days go by so fast, and there  
are times when after all the day’s activity, you come home feeling  
like nothing was accomplished. Like (for example) the day we were  
called by the rehab to get Bruno back to the hospital for blood work.  
I left the house with William, after he was done with his school, and  
made the trek to the rehab. We picked him up, drove the hour to the  
hospital, waited this side of the infamous swinging doors, all the  
while thinking he was on the other side being attended to. After what  
seemed for ever, he came back out, to tell us, they wouldn’t be able  
to see him today. But certainly they would find time for him if we  
wanted to return on Friday. I finally found some value to the  
childbirth classes that I had left work early to attend fourteen years  
ago. That heavy breathing in and out prevented what otherwise would  
have been the eruption of a devastating volcano.
Lori set out with Inacia to go pay bills. Here, they know nothing of  
checkbooks and paying through the mail. And the idea of paying bills  
on line is just something you might see in a futuristic movie. No, no,  
this is the way it’s done in Rio Grande de Norte: choose a day, (and  
you will be needing the whole day) gather your bills, and board a bus  
( most don’t have a car). You’re heading into the city,  looking for  
these little government owned store fronts, scattered like cities of  
refuges. They won’t be hard to find, you’ll recognize them by the long  
line going out the door and down the street. Get in line and try to  
think pleasant thoughts, because you’ll be there a long while. When  
you finally reach the counter your able to pay such thing as your  
electric bill, phone bill, water bill, internet, or cell phone bill.  
But if any of these bills exceed one thousand reais, you’ll be told  
that it can’t be accepted and must be paid at a bank. What that means  
is basically leaving to go stand in another line. Lori outsmarted  
their system by putting Inacia in line, and going off to do other  
errands, she would come by and check up on her at different intervals.  
There have been times when we’ve come into the supermarket to find  
lines stretching down the food isles. We used to be good customers and  
follow the system that everybody uses. Until there were a few times  
when we waited for over an hour to pay for groceries. Now when we go  
in, if the lines are that bad, one of us immediately goes and stands  
in line, while the rest of us shop. This really boggles the natives  
minds, first that we thought of this strategy, but also that we feel  
that it’s necessary. I don’t know how a person can hold down a full  
time job, or have any kind of a productive week, operating this way.  
Somehow the people have to get to these places during the day, because  
at five anything that matters is closed.
We’ve been working on getting health insurance, and as a result we  
have had to make six visits to this place and we’re not finished yet.  
Every time we go they inform us of something else we need to complete  
before we’re on line. The plan is awesome, when you finally are able  
to nail it down. Complete coverage, with nothing denied, for about  
$3,500.00 a year. Private hospitals, private doctors, who give you  
their undivided attention the moment you walk in. Complete dental  
which includes braces, and all with a R$3.00 (about US$1.50) per visit  
I’ve been working at the orphanage a lot in the last two weeks. I’m  
happy to say that Vanderlay and myself were finally able to get the  
water running. It has been so long since waters ran through those  
pipes, so the minute it was turned on we had leaks everywhere. We were  
able to run around and finally get the house water-tight. I had  
everybody stand around the toilet, while I was given the privilege of  
flushing it for the first time in two years. The minute Cleide saw the  
toilet flush she disappeared. Later I saw her walking around the house  
with wet hair. I found out she had taken off to the third floor and  
for the first time in a long time enjoyed a shower. We also fixed a  
lot of broken switches and plugs throughout the house. I bought a pile  
of light bulbs and sent William around the house lighting it up once  
Tuesday was William’s birthday, and his birthday request was for dad  
and him to go four wheeling. We found a place that would rent us the  
machines with a guide to take us on trails through the woods, over the  
dunes, through rivers, huge mud pits, and up to this gorgeous deserted  
lake in the middle of nowhere. When we were getting directions to the  
place I realized that it was very close to the rehab. So on our way we  
stopped at the wholesale food warehouse and bought a ton of rice,  
beans, cooking oil, flour, sugar, salt, and delivered it as we passed  
by. The director was overwhelmed, and so thankful, reminding us of  
something that we’ve already learned: “God is no man’s debtor.”
Almost every time when feeding the street people they ask us for  
sandals. Many are barefoot while others are wearing what’s hardly  
recognizable as footwear. We have been telling them about the large  
box of crocks ( that Paula gave us) waiting to be released at the  
port. I couldn’t go and face them one more week without shoes, and so  
on Wednesday, while buying Bruno his groceries, we picked up a bunch  
of sandals. Unknown to me, Lori was having the same thoughts, so both  
of us came home holding a bag full of sandals for the kids. They all  
went the next day along with two hundred sandwiches and 14 liters of  
milk. This week there had to be over fifty people at one of our stops.  
They were all waiting for us along with their girlfriends, and all the  
little kids and babies. We pulled up to hear them yelping and  
screaming, calling all their buddies, and running up like we were the  
floor around a Christmas tree. This week at one of our larger stops  
one of the men (who was the spokesperson for the rest) talked to Lori.  
“We know that this is God at work, and if you have a church, or if you  
start one we’ll be glad to attend”. Lori explained that it wasn’t  
about looking for parishioners to fill a church building. God had sent  
us because He had seen their need, loved them, and offered them  
eternal life. “Well, if that’s the case,” he said, “then, can you give  
us a little word right here, right now?” So they all gathered around,  
and we were able to give them about a fifteen minute Gospel message. I  
left there thinking, that again, God has proven that His formula  
really works. Quietly do the work every week, and the moment will  
come, when you will have earned an open door, and a willing spirit to  
hear God’s message of life. We left that stop on one of those God  
highs, and landed at the next, soon to be knocked off our perch.
I had my back turned getting the cooler out of the car, when I heard a  
lot of yelling. Two of the boys we had just fed were screaming at each  
other in the middle of an extremely busy traffic intersection. I saw  
one wind up and throw his glass of milk in the other kid’s face,  
soaking Lori who was behind him. At that point the gloves were off.  
Squeegees, sunglasses, shirts, and our sandwiches, went flying, and  
they were going at it in the middle of what was quickly becoming a  
traffic jam. One of them was obviously high, and as a result of  
flying, was viciously attacking the other kid. He was considerably  
smaller, but he was a scrappy street fighter. I watched for a second,  
and then ran out, and jumped into the middle of it to separate them.  
There was a fair amount of rolling around on the street, but finally I  
was able to get in between them and push one off. The kid full of  
drugs wasn’t going to give up, so I stood between him and the little  
guy, pushing him back into the street till he finally realized he  
wasn’t going to get past me. He tried several times finally giving up  
and going back to his window washing post on the other side of the  
intersection. Lori took the smaller kid to the back of the car and  
started to pray with him, hoping it would settle him down, while I  
picked up the mess left in the street so the cars could start moving  
again. The cops show up with guns drawn and lined them all up against  
the wall. They frisked them, listened to their story, holstered their  
guns, climbed back on their bikes, and left, never saying so much as a  
word to Lori and me. We left that stop very clear that Satan has such  
a hold on these kids. He made a valiant effort that day to discourage  
us, and hopefully scare us away. Dennis was the kid flying high, and  
Lori began to cry as we left the spot, remembering that last week when  
we fed them all, he was there, but he wasn’t high. She said he was the  
kindest, sweetest, most appreciating boy, thanking us more than once  
for our helping them all. This week someone else had control of this  
boy and it was pretty obvious that that someone didn’t want us around.  
Please pray that God will save Dennis’ soul and free him from Satan’s  
Two years ago while at home we were called to Framingham by a  
Brazilian christian couple who wanted us to meet a friend who was  
visiting from Brazil. His name was Eduardo, a missionary who had spent  
the better part of his life working in the Amazon jungle. He went in  
there as a young man traveling through the jungle with a guide. When  
they reached the river, they dropped some trees and carved out canoes.  
Reaching their spot, they beached the homemade boats, and headed back  
into the jungle to meet up with an Indian tribe who had never been in  
contact with another person outside of their own kind. He lived with  
them for years, learning their language. From the language he created  
an alphabet, and from the alphabet he taught them how to read. From  
there he then translated the Bible into their language, and with that  
was able to reach them with the Gospel. We spent the whole afternoon  
with him, hearing his amazing stories of God’s miraculous work among  
what many would call an uncivilized people. This past Saturday we were  
at home when Lori picked up the phone to find him on the other end. It  
seems he had come because he was invited to speak at a conference in  
Natal on Saturday night and Sunday. The Christians where he was  
staying  were very good friends of ours. When he began to tell them of  
a couple, that he had met while visiting Boston, who had a God given  
desire to do a work in the area, they started asking questions. It  
didn’t take too many of his details for them to realize it was us he  
was describing. Our friends were shocked, “We know them, they’re now  
living and working here and they live about an hour from here, call  
them.” He was surprised, they were surprised, and we were surprised,  
when we got the call. He came and spent Saturday with us, encouraging  
us and also reminding us that along with the times of great rejoicing  
there would be times of great sadness. “It’s all part of working for  
God,” he said “but when it’s all said and done, and you’re finally  
able to look back over your life, you’ll know with absolute clarity  
that it was all God, and you would not have wanted it any other way.”  
We stood , the three of us, arms around each other, and he prayed with  
us and for us, and all that God has waiting for us as we move forward.
Along with Eduardo that day, these two other Christian women came, who  
we had never met before. They had come in from the interior with the  
intent of also attending this conference. They spent the Saturday with  
us as well. They had never met an American before. Nor had they any  
idea what life was like beyond their little Brazilian world. We began  
to explain the four seasons to them, and I could tell by their  
questions that this was all flying right over their head. I pulled up  
some pictures on the computer, and showed them our house just after a  
snow storm. I also had a picture of the house looking its best in the  
prime of summer. “We know it’s the same house, but how can that be?  
Does the grass just grow back? Weren’t these the trees that were bare  
in the other picture? Where did the leaves come from? Did they just  
grow back? How can there be ice and snow when the sun’s out? How can  
you drive on the streets? How do you keep your house warm? Can you go  
outside when there’s snow? What kind of clothes do you wear?” Eduardo  
had been to Boston during a snow storm in January and tried to explain  
the beauty of newly fallen snow. He tried to paint with words, that  
tranquil scene that we are all too familiar with. It was fun trying to  
get them to understand the world that exists beyond the boundaries of  
their little and simple life. Beyond their little town there is a  
whole, wide world, that experiences things they have never heard of.
I told you a while back about a woman named Simone who had an eye  
condition caused by a hyper sensitivity to the strong sun here. Lori  
has been helping to get her to and from all of her doctors’  
appointments as they assessed her case and planned for surgery. Well,  
finally it happened and she was able to have the surgery that would  
correct her problem. It was a complete success, and after 15 days  
recovery she should have all of her eyesight back. For the two weeks  
she is recovering, we are making food for her, her husband and their  
son, Lucas. Pray for her and her family, none of which is saved, that  
this experience will be the means by which God reaches and saves them.
Baby Michel is still waiting for his heart surgery. Lori and I plan to  
go into Aningas tomorrow morning to visit him and his family, and to  
spend the day there doing some door to door work. The land purchase  
for the orphanage is on hold for now. We really need to get our  
permanent visa before we can continue to pursue that investment. The  
property owner understands the situation, and is willing to wait until  
that issue is resolved. The visa process is moving along nicely and we  
also received the news that our goods should be released from the port  
here in Natal within the next couple weeks, D. V.
The kids seem to be getting the hang of their new concept of school.  
We changed the kids’ school hours to the evening because it’s much  
cooler and, because it gets dark around 5:30, we’re home and there’s  
not much to do. That freed up our days to keep up with the Sunday  
School lessons in the elementary school in Aningas, the middle school  
in Coqueiros (with 700 students, many of them bused from Aningas), the  
orphanage, the door to door work, and the street work.
Today, same as every Sunday, we thought of all of you at home and  
missed being at the morning meeting. It’s so good to hear from you and  
to know that you’re praying for us.
I think at this point you’re all up to date, with the goings on here  
in Natal. We continue to covet your prayers, for us as a family and  
for the work God gave us to do. In turn, we promise to remember and  
mention our Christian family at home while speaking to our God.
For now I say good night.
Love in Christ,
Mark, Lori, Caroline and William.

September 28, 2009

Hi everyone!
I was reading this morning about the Sabbath and found myself thankful that it’s a thing of the past. If we’re expected to continue with Gods strict requirements for His day of rest, then today I would have been kicked out of the pool. I really thought today would be an easy day and went out to take my Sunday walk on the beach. I was met on my way back by Vanderlay who had come looking for me. He’s a Christian friend of ours who has generously helped us with our work here many times. He’s an electrician and a true servant of God in his heart. He’s made his services available and I’ve used him every time I need electrical work done. He had come to the house this morning with his wife and two beautiful daughters. He wanted to finish a electrical project he had started, and his family wanted to enjoy the ocean and pool. He brought his guitar and played some familiar hymns as his girls sang. Two songs into the performance and I’m called away by Lori who has a small situation on her hands….
Yesterday Bruno was taken from the re-hab to the hospital with what they thought was hepatitis. We got the call and had to respond, because right now we’re the closest thing he has to family. We drove about an hour to the hospital and found him in emergency waiting for us. Lori went in with him to talk to the doctor, and emerged with a stunned look on her face. “Behind those swinging doors is about as close to a Mash unit as I’ve ever seen in real life”. While she was talking we saw this kid come through on a wheel chair, blood pouring from his foot, he left a path of blood splashed all over the floor only stopping at those infamous swinging doors. People were walking in the blood and nobody seemed the least bit concerned. Finally, the mop lady showed up, and for a moment, at least, the floor was looking better. Yes, treatment is free; yes, anyone can walk in; no, nobody is turned down, but I gotta say you probably have a better chance of survival staying home and treating yourself. Thank God one of the staff members heard Bruno’s story about our helping him and was so taken that he promised to take the boy under his wing. Turns out what he has is anemia and will be needing many blood transfusions. They wanted to watch him overnight which in our language means being admitted, given a bed, and bothered all night by overweight nurses whose job it is to check up on us. In his case he was shown a chair and told that that’s where he would be spending the night. We left him and started the hour ride back home aware that we would be making this trip again tomorrow. We were within about eight miles of our house when I noticed this weird orange smoke in the sky. I was pointing it out to Lori when six jets made a perfect circle with their colored smoke, then broke from their formation and disappeared behind some tall buildings. Come to find out, France had sent their military team of precision flying jets to entertain the people of Natal. Everyone had known about this well in advance, that is everyone but us. I know that because every car and every person that exisiseted within a twenty mile radius had converged on this one spot that we needed to pass in order to get home. I found myself thankful for police at home who enforce traffic rules,and know how to handle crowds. Here there are lots of cops, but no rules. The accepted practice is that everybody does what’s right in their own eyes. What a mess, everybody everywhere, not the slightest semblance of order, just absolute chaos, and us stuck in the middle. I put the car in neutral, pulled the brake, and “shut ‘er down”, thinking to myself w.w.m.b.p.d. ( what would my brother Paul do) . Well, it was at least two hours before we broke loose, finally pulling into our yard well after dark. So you see I was looking forward to obeying Gods strict instructions regarding the observance of His day, but that wasn’t meant to be.
So today, the hospital called Lori to say they had released Bruno and to ask us to come back and collect him. She was under the weather with a constant cough, cold, and fever, and so Vanderlay and I went to pick him up, taking him back to the re-hab. Well, there goes Sunday, a trip to the hospital, from there to the re-hab, from the re-hab to home, and my day of rest is long gone. I will close off the day by staring at this computer screen so you all can know the stories of the week.
We lost another day this week meeting with lawyers and our accountant in regards to our visa. We also had to spend a fare bit of time with the local shipping company that’s handling the release of our personal goods. Before we left I bought William a new 100cc Honda dirt bike. It was made perfectly clear to us by the US shipping company that getting this into the country was not going to be a problem. Surprise, surprise, no way is that going to happen. On top of that the inventory list described it as a bicycle. I guess they thought no one would notice the large engine and lack of pedals. Not only can we not get the bike, but the federal police see it as us trying to sneak around their laws to get this past their borders. They don’t look favorably at these kinds of people who break the rules and then ask if they can stay in the country. At this point they have every right to send us back home for being dishonest. I know the shipping company was trying to help us, but by doing that they’ve only made things worst. Option one is pay $4000.00 in fines and taxes and be allowed to bring the $2000.00 bike into the country. Option two, completely abandon the bike at the docks and break Williams heart. Option three pay an enormous amount of money to ship it back home. Option four they get annoyed with us and send us packing. Any wisdom or brilliant suggestions on this issue would be greatly appreciated.
I spent some time in Aningas working on the school tables and benches destroyed in the lakes that make up the school floor. I was working alone on Friday afternoon when this little boy came into the galpao and stood around watching me. I could tell that it was more than curiosity that had brought him and kept him with me in that incredibly hot building. Finally he spoke and I looked up to see him rubbing his belly. “Ah moo sa, comeada por-fa-vor” he asked, will you please get me some food, lunch, the belly rubbing meant he was hungry. I know I should have put the belt sander down and walked him to the little market, but in stead I reached into my wallet and handed him a five. I don’t know how long he had gone without food, but I bet my guess would have been close, judging by the way he grabbed the money and ran out the door. I kinda smiled to myself and went back to my sanding, when out of the corner of my eye I caught his shape standing back in the doorway. I let the trigger go and looked his way about to question why he had come back, when again he spoke. “Mute-obgadda amego” he said, and then he was gone. I wondered how far he had gotten, how close to the market was he, when he realised that hunger had clouded his good manners. In spite of his hunger he turned to come back, his reason, to say mister thank you very much. I thought of the ten lepers healed by the Lord Jesus and only one of the ten realising that the least he could do, as small, as insignificant, as inadequate as it may seem, was to go back and say thank you to Jesus. I very much wanted to be sure this morning while walking the beach that God heard me say thank you. How many times God stops what He’s doing and reaches into His bountiful wallet of blessings, and me, so overwhelmed and consumed with the crises of the moment, grab His gift, as if I earned it, and run out then door. How many times, half way to the market, I realise that in my moment of extreme selfishness I never said thank you. I turn and go back only to find Him right where I left Him, as if He knew I’d return. He stops and looks up as I come through the door, a kind smile crosses His face, He gives me his undivided attention, and nods in approval, with that unconditional love, as I sheepishly say thank you.
Wow I really got lost in thought on that one. Anyway, as you know by now, Thursdays are spoken for. I affectionately think of it as the loaves and fishes day (that will ring a bell with those who have made many Bermuda trips,staying at the five star resort called Willowbank) . It seams no matter how many sandwiches we make we always run out. This week we told the local bakery to bump it up to 120 rolls, next Wednesday we’ll be bumping it to 150, D.V. There was a time we’d have to pick the bread up at her place, but now the order has reached the “we’ll deliver them to your house” status. We were at one of our stops this week when Caroline elbowed me and pointed out one of the girls. “See that little girl with the red halter top” I nodded and she continued, ” she has eaten seven sandwiches” Wow, they must be falling out the bottom of her feet. We never say no, we stay and feed them till they have had enough, then close up and head off to the next stop. At one of the stops we came across John. He’s one of the street boys we feed. He came running over, all out of breath and obviously, very concerned. He told us that he had crossed paths with another one of these street kids, who made it clear that before the day was out John would be dead. “I will find you and kill you today,” a boy named Dennis had told him. John was visibly shaken, having taken the threat very seriously. He truly believed that today his life was going to end. Lori stood with her hands on his shoulders in the midst of that busy intersection and prayed to God that his life would be spared, and his soul would be saved. I kept one eye opened and was watching as cars whizzed by. People were staring at this impromptu prayer meeting like we had lost our minds. When finished, Lori looked him in the eyes and said,” You’ll be fine now, you’re being protected by God Himself. Just remember when you wake up tomorrow realising that you have been spared, that God saved your life because He wants to save your soul.” I saw him today as we drove pass his spot, on our way to pick up Bruno. He was busy washing windows, and quickly recognised the car. “Glory to God, thank you God, I’ll see you Thursday” he yelled as we drove through his intersection. God willing, he’ll be around on Thursday and will have the chance to speak to a soul whose heart God has opened.
Pray for Maxwell who professed salvation. Soon after he professed to be saved, he left his spot to go visit his daughter, and we haven’t seen him since. With no way to reach him we can only hope that God allows us to again cross his path. Pray for Bruno’s recovery as well as his serious blood condition; Wednesday we take him back to see a blood specialist. Pray for John that his heart is open to the gospel. Pray for the many who heard or received the gospel this week. Pray for Aningas. This week we’ll meet with the Federal government on their behalf, with the hopes of helping them receive available funding to start a co-op. This will help that village support itself. Pray for the visa situation which has become very complicated. Pray as well for the container of our personal goods, that God will give us the wisdom to know what to do.
My eyes are getting heavy and I’m ready to shut this down. I have Lori sleeping on my right and William sleeping on my left, and now I’m looking to join them. I hope all is well at home and everybody’s healthy. We’ll continue to remember you all in prayer. We love you all dearly.
Yours because of Christ (and mom!)
P.S. I think there was enough in this update to forgo the separate devotion this week. I’ll save it for the next update. Please forgive me, or for some, enjoy the break.

September 14, 2009

I read last week’s report and thought, “I really have to cut this down. I’m getting out of hand with these up dates.” You all know that I’m really not a big talker, right? Anyway, it’s time for another one of those: “this is what happened” reports.
I was reminded yesterday that God preserves us sometimes when we act very stupidly. Inacia and Lori have been washing all our clothes by hand since we arrived. I would feel guilty every time I put my pants in the laundry. I found myself wearing underwear longer than I should. I saw what was involved and felt so bad. Not so bad that I helped her, but bad enough to finally buy her a washing machine. The laundry room is made up of a sink and marble counter suspended off the floor, following the back wall, and attached to a wall at each end. The machine came on Friday so I decided Saturday would be a good install day. I was so anxious to get it in place, that I went to work first thing in the morning without dressing properly for the job. I got out my skill saw with the diamond blade, and began cutting out a section of marble, 27″x 24″, to slide the machine in. I made both cuts as far as possible with the saw, but those of you who know, realize that it leaves you a good 3″ from the back wall. To finish the cut, all I had was my sawzall with several metal blades, and so I began to tackle it with those. I got one side cut to the back wall and went to work the other. I must have been leaning on the top as I was cutting because in a split second, the whole piece broke off and fell to the floor, smashing into a million pieces. I looked down at my bare feet and quickly counted all my toes. One was bleeding, but they were still attached. As I stood there it began to dawn on me what had just happened. God was the only reason I wasn’t collecting my bloody toes in a jar and getting rushed to the hospital. Those of you who know how heavy granite or marble is, know that it’s only God’s kindness that I’m still walking around with just a scratch. A moment of absolute stupidity could have left me handicapped and useless to do the work I’ve been called here to do.
The kids started school this week, so all our days are now cut in half. They start at 8:30 am and we finish at 12:00 pm. I decided to sit in on their first class with Lori and realised that I needed this as much as they did. I really did poorly in school with no interest in learning. My real education began after Dad died and I was forced to take over the business. At 12:00 we have lunch and then head off to do whatever is planned for the day. Monday, I finished the food pantry in Aningas, so it’s ready now to be stocked. Tuesday, we went into the city to buy school supplies for the kids, and to make a car payment on our rental. Wed., we picked up some more stock that I needed and went into Aningas just to check up on everyone and see how they all were doing. Thurs., we were off to feed the street people, and three more stops got added to our route. I realise now how easy it would be, almost natural, to keep these souls at arms’ length, because of how fast you get sucked into their lives of problems when you show them you care. Very quickly, you can become consumed and overwhelmed, wanting so bad to help and feeling so helpless. There’s a vacant lot in the city, that was a part of our route ,where a whole family lived. We would often shop especially for them and bring them a bag of food. We arrived with a bag full of sandwiches, along with rice and beans that they had requested, just to find them all gone. One young man about 19 was still there, and he told us that Sat. night, into Sun. morning, while sleeping, they were attacked, beaten up; and whatever they had of value was stolen. So, the family left to go find another street corner that they could make their home. We asked about another young man, who last week we bought meds for; he was also missing. When we asked we found out that he was in jail. He was so hungry the other night that he chanced stealing some food from the local food store, and was hauled off by the police. I had to leave this meeting to help Caroline find a bathroom. I returned to see that Lori was still deep in conversation. She had her hand on a young man who stood listening with his head hung. She was speaking to him with tears in her eyes, which is my cue to get back and involved in the conversation. She looked at me as I walked up and said, “I don’t know what to do. He’s begging us to get him out of here, He wants to get clean, but rehabs. here cost money. He’s telling me of a Christian rehab. south of the city that cost about $200 a month. We’re his only hope and he’s begging us to help him. Drugs are his escape and without help he’ll wind up in jail or, most likely, dead, and he knows it.” How can you hand the kid a sandwich and walk away, when you know that there is more you can do? Every day we pray that God will lead us where He wants us to go, so we must believe that each person, whose path we cross, has been hand picked by God as one we need to help. This makes all our decisions very simple. Believe and Obey. So, we promised to go back on Monday to pick him up and go find out about this place of rehab.. I guess our only concern is that, while there, he’ll hear a clear Gospel and not get any bad teaching. Please pray for him; his name is Jose Mateus, nicknamed “Bruno”.
Maria is another young girl we have gotten to know. Every time we were with her in the past, she was wearing this plastic, baggy, cape like thing. Thurs. was really hot so when we found her, she was sitting on a wall in shorts and a kinda of halter top. She saw us pull up and stood to come over to the car. As soon as she stood, we realised she is pregnant. Six months pregnant in fact, and about to bring a child into the world with little or no hope of healthy life. She hadn’t seen a doctor yet, and none of the typical medical things had been taken care of. Why? Because she didn’t have any money for the bus. We gave her bus money so she could go get her ultrasound and check-up. We left her, knowing that we will have to keep an eye on her, as well. Please pray for Maria and the unborn baby.
Next, we came across a young fellow who was limping down the street. I called to him and he came over to the car window for some food. He was on my side and I could see while he ate that he had lost all his front teeth. He told us when asked that he was fourteen and held out his open palm to show us three coins he had successfully begged that day. I knew he was showing us with hopes that we would contribute to his fund, which, in time, would allow him to buy some antiseptic and bandages. When asked why, he held up his right foot to show us a raw open sore along the side, full of dirt and still bleeding. Lori asked him where the closest drug store was and found out it was just around the corner. She got out and the two of them went to buy what he needed, to at least clean and wrap his foot. Time and again, we have to keep telling ourselves that we can’t fix all the problems in Natal. We’ve come to help, as guided by God, with the hope that the work opens, first their ears, and then their hearts, to God’s Gospel. Please pray that God Himself directs the steps we take each day.
Last year I had made new tables and benches for the school in Aningas, so the kids could have a lunch area. Well, by the looks of them, I have to believe that since we left they’ve been sitting in a pool of water. I know the school has leaks everywhere, but I was still not pleased to see all the legs delaminating, to the point where they can no longer be used. So, Friday Will and I went to the village, with the intention of cutting off the bad plywood and replacing the leg bottoms with solid stock and setting them up on plastic pads. It’s so much easier to build new then to fix damaged stuff, but we got started and at least got one completed.
Lori’s been helping a young woman in her thirties get medical help for a medical condition in her eyes. She was told by the doctor that many here have this problem because of the strong sun and lack of eye protection. The way it works with the public health is that you show up, get in line, and wait. You may be seen, you may not be seen; when time is up, they close the doors and you will just have to come again another day. So Lori was up at five on Friday morning and had the girl at the clinic by seven. There were already fifteen people ahead of her but they did get seen by the doctor. So, that process has begun and it’s one more thing that Lori will have to see through.
Well, Family those are the note worthy experiences of the week, and once again I was unsuccessful in cutting this down. I feel like Mr Obama with his one hour speech on how to fix your health insurance problems. It’s kinda funny, but as I watched it the other night I had this feeling of being closer to home. There’s something about a live broadcast that makes you realise that what you’re watching is the same thing everyone else, at home, is watching and at the same time, too. That’s the one good thing I was able to get out of Obama’s speech.
Well that’s my missionary report for the week. Good night to most.
NOW! In the words of my dear uncle Fred ( who will always hold a very dear place in my heart and who I will never forget): Those of you with small children who need to be in bed, and those who need to be up early for school or work tomorrow, are free to leave the meeting at this juncture. Have you ever seen anyone actually get up and leave?) Those who can stay would be greatly appreciated, our brother has a short word of devotion he would like to share with us now. Ha! ha!
I’ve been reading in Exodus and thinking about that great moment in the history of God’s people when He brought them out of Egypt, and did it in a way they could never forget.
As a result, God expected to be given that place of honor in their hearts; that place where there’s only room for one. He knew what humanity’s estimation of Him would be. He himself determined it at the foot of Mount Sinai. When giving Moses specific instructions so he could judge fairly and rule His people, God told him that the value of a slave was thirty pieces of silver. Imagine giving that information to Moses knowing that a day would come when humanity would use that very value of a slave to show God what they thought of His only begotten ( only one of its kind ) Son. That’s how the world would respond to God’s mercy and grace but He expected more from His chosen.
( Exodus 19:3-36) “You have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to me. If you will listen obediently to what I say and keep my covenant, out of all people you’ll be my special treasure. The whole earth is mine to chose from, but you’re special, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. In other words, God showed them how special and how precious they were to Him, and the great lengths He went to to call them, and He only asked in return that He would be the only God in their heart. I thought of the countless times that He provided proof of His unique love for them and the special place they held in His heart. He only asked that the feeling would be mutual. He wasn’t asking for a place that He hadn’t earned. He asked them to remember their thirst and the bitter waters of Marah; to remember how He stepped in to make those waters sweet; to remember in Rephidim when Moses acting under His instructions would strike the rock of Horeb, water gushed out to once again quench their thirst; to remember that great battle with Amalek, He knew the day would come when the memory of Amalek would be wiped off the face of the earth. But He instructed Joshua to document that victory as evidence of their God’s power. He told them to carry that proof with them and to never forget. And that jar they carried, did they know what that’s all about? See that white stuff preserved all these years? That’s God given food from heaven provided by a Father who will always meet the need of the children He loves and cares for so much. On and on the list would go, as God would give evidence to His people that He had earned that preeminent place of honor and worship in their hearts. Pass the stories on, tell your children, don’t let the generations forget the great things I did, for a people that were so special to me. Oh, there were times when they were quick to give Him that first place. They stood in reverent awe and Godly fear at the banks of the Red Sea. They watched the waves spit up those powerful Egyptian warriors, as if they were helpless driftwood rolling up on the beach. They would say from their hearts, (ch 15-8): God is my strength ( His presence in the cloud before me, leading me through the walled waters of this great sea); God is my song ( the occupation of my heart in worship); God is my salvation (His presence in the cloud behind, that stood between His loved ones and their Egyptian enemies.) This is the kind of God I have, and I’m telling the world.
(15:10-15). Who compares with you among gods, O God? Who compares with you in power, in holy majesty, in awesome praise, wonder working God?Salvation and strength, they had seen both that day. It had produced a song of worship as they stood on the river bank in reverent awe of their God, who had chosen them, out of the whole world that belonged to Him. Was He asking too much of them when He declared, (20:3) No other Gods, only me. ?
God declared that they should have: (20:4-6) No carved gods of any size, shape or form, ( helpless man made idols); or anything whatsoever, whether things that fly, things that walk, or things that swim. (making creation your idol rather than the creator ); don’t bow down to them and don’t serve them, because I am God your God, and I am a most jealous God. I am unswervingly loyal to the thousands who love me and keep my commandments.
God did so much for them, only asking for one thing in return. Israel only failed at one thing, but it was the only thing that mattered to God. He left them captives to Babylon, He turned a deaf ear to their cry, His heart was broken. What a disappointment, what a failure; they were no longer effective as God’s representation to lost humanity. He had never failed to come through for them. Constantly, in very tangible ways, He showed them He cared, protected them, gave them the best, made them a people that the nations of the world feared. How could they allow this God to be displaced? What could possibly have deserved that place of worship in their heart more than this God?
This is my burden. I believe God has given it to me. These things were written for our learning. God has seen fit to document these stories so that we learn from others’ failures and don’t make the same mistakes.
Make a list of all of our concerns at home: weak assemblies; young people leaving our assemblies; a lack of seeing God’s power among us; lack of great blessing in salvation; our lack of interest in God’s things; our feeling of staleness, coldness, lack of life; and our closing of platforms because we think that will ultimately solve the problem of poorly attended conferences.The list seems to be growing every day. I’ve watched well meaning men run around doing their best to address each problem. The frantic running from issue to issue to plug the holes of what seems to be a sinking ship has to stop. We can’t fix it, only God can. We need to look to Him for help.
God told Samuel to tell the people what He expected of them if they truly wanted Him back:
1. Clean house ( get rid of all your idols)
2. Put God back on the throne of your heart ( that place where there is only room for one)
3. Promise Him undying devotion and loyalty.
I would like all who are reading this to give thought to this verse. ( Exodus 20:22-26) DON’T MAKE gods OF SILVER AND GOLD AND SIT THEM ALONGSIDE ME.
Now my question to you and me: Have we asked a jealous God to share His seat with things that we also think deserve a place of prominence? There’s only room for one. We defend ourselves by saying that God is very much a part of our lives, but have we heeded the God given warnings? Or have we created a God of convenience? Are we are paying the price because of this? After all God did for us, and we all gave great thought to that today, is He asking too much to be number one in our heart. The moment we agree with Gods assessment and confess our sin, He will forgive us and we will see His great power among us again.
I don’t know how many are receiving this email. It started with just my family, but I heard it’s being forwarded to others. Some of you who may not know me very well, may read this and find it hard to take. This has become my great burden for our assemblies. Those of you who know me know about this burden because you’ve heard this all before. I would only ask of others that, before God, you give it prayerful thought. Ask God, from your heart, to show you if there’s any basis to the message. Is this really the sin that has caused what feels like a dormant God among us?
Though I may not know you please know that I pray for God’s people and I love you all in Christ.
Good night from Brazil.