Tuesday, November 23, 2010

This and That

Since our last post, we've had a few different things going on. Instead of dedicating a different blog post for each one, I'll just mention them each briefly to bring you up to speed.

About three weeks ago, the bulldozer came to clear off our little piece of hillside property and begin digging out the garage/basement. God has been so good -- it will take another post just to write about all of His blessings in getting us to this point.


A couple weeks ago, we left for Curitiba after our Thursday night Bible study to celebrate an early Thanksgiving with our family and other missionaries there. Gabriel had been looking forward for several days to seeing his grandparents and playing with the other mk's. And of course it's always nice for us to see our family and missionary friends too.

For some reason, kids aren't nearly as interested in eating the Thanksgiving meal as the adults are ... :)

Our children are very privileged to be growing up in Brazil with both sets of grandparents living just a short drive away. Juliana is not too sure about the bite of blackberry pie Granddad Nunley gave her.

Juliana and her little friend, the daughter of my good childhood friend who is also working as a missionary here in Brazil.

Valeria, the girl on the right, is expecting her third child this month. She and her husband have been attending our services for a couple of months now and both professed to be saved. Christen and I offered to give her a baby shower, but it's a normal custom here for the expectant mother to throw her own shower. So we went to her shower to show her our love and support, and it was neat to see that there were more women from our congregation at her shower than her own family and friends. I think it was a testimony of the love of Christ that unites people into a family who might have nothing else in common except Christ Himself.

Enjoying plenty of good snacks at the baby shower ...

This week, Christen hosted an afternoon tea for the women with small children. She worked so hard for several weeks putting together advent calendars to give them to teach them to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas with their families. For most of them, it will be their first Christmas as believers and even though Brazil is a religious country, the real reason for Christmas is not emphasized.

The women have already commented about what a good time they had together that afternoon and one has said she wants to have everyone over to her house for coffee and a Bible study one day soon.

Our fun and creative advent calendars -- I even got one too! :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Unbelievers Affected!

Last evening God blessed us with a good group - many unbelievers. My brother James preached from Colossians 4:7-18 on the New Family of God. The passage paints a clear picture of what it looks like to be part of God's family and how incredibly different this is from the worlds view of family and relationship! James was careful to communicate clearly the HOW one becomes a part of God's family. Selfless giving and concern for one another emanates from the cross and establishes communities of people committed to Christ and each other. May God grant repentance and faith to those who heard the gospel this past evening.

On a side note - one of the men that attended is a professional soccer player. I thought that was pretty cool. He came here - to my house in little old São José and heard of Christ!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sheep before its Shearers

Two days ago a neighbor I have witnessed to several times invited me to help him sheer some sheep. My enthusiasm level as I left the house was pretty low. An hour at a coffee shop would have worked for me, but God had something else planned.

As we arrived, the sheep were scattered so they needed rounding up. An initial banging on a food bucket brought them out of the wood work. Now from the big pen to a smaller one. This move had the sheep going bonkers! Let's just say that sheep have "wheels" and "ups"! After quick set up of the electric sheers, Adelar whips a sheep into full submission tying up all four legs into one. At this point, the sheep lays there helpless while his eyes say hopeless. The sheep is as vulnerable as one can be. Each one just lay there quietly as my friend shaved it all off, sometimes cutting into the skin. Once he's done, the sheep gets up and wobbles off like one who has been humiliated. All I could think about was this verse:

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth. Is. 53:7

This verse means more to me today than ever. Why would Jesus do that for me?

Thank you for the cross Lord!

Pray for Adelar to be affected by the cross!

Our First Juntar-Panela (Pot Luck)

Ok, so this wasn't a big neighborhood outreach effort, but I thought I'd share about our potluck lunch with our little church group on Sunday. The reason it was encouraging to me was that it was so nice to see people interact with each other and the kids playing together, just enjoying the fellowship. Most of our people didn't know each other until they met in our meetings, and we want to encourage them to develop friendships amongst themselves. Several of them commented on how good it was to have everyone together, eating together and enjoying each other's company. And of course, the food was great and everyone contributed to the meal.

God blessed us with this sweet couple a few months ago. They are mature believers who were wanting to help in a new church plant and God allowed our paths to cross. They have joined us and have been a huge help in several different ways. Here they're holding our groups' two babies, Juliana and Ana Julia.

Having our own children definitely helps to attract other children to our meetings. A couple of the boys in the top picture often come by themselves. They are good friends with Daniel and now are friends with each other too. It was interesting that last Sunday, when Daniel was out of town, they both still came, even knowing that he wouldn't be here.

Last year, David and a friend built a homemade ping-pong table. It has served a great second purpose in that it fits a lot of people around it for a meal. The young couple in the front of the picture (yes, I know you can't see their faces, sorry) recently professed conversion. They mentioned to us that already their friends are making fun of them for being "crentes" (believers). Pray that God will be their satisfaction and source of strength, that they will grow spiritually and remain strong.

The young man in the foreground is our good friend who has been with us just about from the beginning. There were months and months when he would be the only one who would show up for a meeting. We are thankful for him and we ask that you pray for him as he continues to count the cost of following Christ whole-heartedly. We are in a battle for each person's soul and we've definitely fought hard for this one.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

All Souls Day Update

Today we set up a tent and table at the cemetery. You can read about the holiday "All Souls Day" here. We were able to hand out at least 500 gospel tracts. While several were willing to stop and hear the good news, at least triple that number had no desire whatsoever. The extremes today were interesting.

One response came back: "I don't like Jesus." To which I said "well He loved you." To which he replied: "I sure hope not!" That must be the definition of total depravity- right?

On the other hand, Maria talked to me for at least 30 minutes. She recognizes her sinfulness before God and that something has to change. She said she has a lot of resentment in her heart. So we read through James 4 and she realized that resentment is a result of a sinful heart. Maria said she had never come to the cemetery on this holiday - but felt like she should today and that she was glad we met. Praise God. May God work in her heart.

Before we left I took some tracts and walked through the cemetery. The hopelessness is overwhelming. Hundreds of people burning candles for their loved ones in hopes of speeding up their life in purgatory, or that they might please those who have gone on that they might be looking down on them in favor - in hopes that their loved one might guide them in this life.

I asked a man named Baurilho why he was burning candles. He said: "I don't know why we do this. It's just what I've always done." I asked if he would stop if he found out that it was in vain, to which he said he wouldn't.

This country needs Christ to save them from false tradition. You've heard me say this before, but it is unbelievable what is assumed and believed about God and the afterlife here. May God grant Brazilians eyes to see his glory.