Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Total Impact: Christmas Outreach Event

This past Saturday, we hosted a neighborhood outreach event at our church in which we offered several different services, as well as clothes and other items, for free. The idea was to give of our time and resources freely as a way of demonstrating the gospel, in which God gives forgiveness of sin and eternal life to us through His Son freely.

Things didn't quite go as planned. For example, one of the things we wanted to do was a car wash. We were all set up, with a pressure washer, lots of soap and rags and tire cleaner. God even gave us a beautiful, warm sunny day. However, as is often the case on Saturdays, there was no water. The city can't keep up with the water demands, so frequently on the weekends, they will just shut off the water. But we were able to provide other services, such as ...


Pictures taken, edited and printed on the spot, and given in a frame


Blood pressure checks (sorry, I don't have an "action shot" of that)

Lots of free stuff to choose from

One on one gospel presentation for everyone who came.

Our church building is located beside a bar. This is not a problem on church nights since the bar is closed. But on Saturday afternoon, there was a lot of activity over there and a few of the drunks came over to get their blood pressure checked. One joked that when he drinks, his blood pressure drops to a normal level, but the next day, it will sky rocket. So sad to see people enslaved to something that is so damaging to them physically as well as spiritually. One man insisted that God would let him into heaven because God is love and won't turn anyone away. He saw no need to repent of his sins and follow Christ in this life.

I checked one woman's blood pressure who had come along with her friends just to look around. At first, she didn't want to check her blood pressure, but her sister insisted, so she agreed. As a former nurse, I have checked hundreds of people's blood pressure, but I have never personally seen someone's pressure be so high as this woman's. It was 210/100 (normal is 120/80 or lower). I had to take it twice because I couldn't believe how high it was reading. I told her she needed to be seen by a doctor right away.

We were encouraged that all of our church people came out to help at some point during the event. It is so good to see young believers learning to give of themselves. We are praying that God will use this event to touch people in our community and bring some tangible result in the near future. One woman who agreed to have us visit her had just buried her brother that very day. Pray that God will open her eyes to the fact that life on earth is short, but it matters because who or what we believe in for salvation determines our eternal destiny.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How Christmas is a Little Different in Brazil

I thought I would do a little cultural blog and point out some things that are different about celebrating Christmas in Brazil. For example, the big celebration is usually held on Christmas Eve with a big meal (often beginning at midnight) and presents. Also, since it is summer time here, you can ...

Go swimming in your kiddie pool with friends ...

Hang up your Christmas lights outside in your summer clothes ...

Have a yummy cookout ...

Buy your Christmas decorations along with your beach toys ...

and make Christmas tree shapes in the sand.

Since we are in the tropics, you can also find palm trees decorated in Christmas balls and lights (although most of the decorations are very American-looking),

but you might have to shake the termite wings out of your artifical tree from when they took over your house last Christmas season.

One of my favorite Christmas foods in Brazil is Panettone. I think it actually originated in Italy, but it is a classic here this time of year. It is a sweet, soft bread with either chocolate chips or crystalized fruits. Prices range from a couple dollars to $20 or more, depending on the size, brand, extras, etc.

I don't know how much an 8 ft. artificial Christmas tree would cost in the States, but this one is R$199, or US$110. But if you notice on the paper on the box, you can pay for it in 10 easy monthly payments of R$19,90 or US$11. That way, you can be done paying your Christmas tree off by next September.

I hope this video works for you because you won't want to miss hearing the gingerbread men singing a traditional Brazilian Christmas song. :)