Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Work in Progress.

I want to begin this post with my sincerest apologies... about my 'lack of' keeping up with blogging. God has been speaking, teaching and stretching... we aren't really taught as kids or as adults the importance of a life of transparency, especially when you call yourself a Christian... therefore here is my best attempt of transparency.. its a work in progress...

Campinas, Sao Paulo - BRASiL

Personal Reflection

Before I left home a couple months back, I set up this blog to help me process and keep communication with my loved ones back home. Especially so I wouldn’t hear those things like, “you feel off the face of the earth when you went to Brazil!”, “why didn’t you keep a blog.” etc, etc. You know making you feel like a terrible person because you don’t keep a daily journal of everything you eat and do hour by hour on a blog. Okay with all that said I think you can pretty much tell that I wasn’t too excited. Its true. I’m being honest and open.... I was scared to have a blog. Why scared? What if I don’t met people’s expectations? What if I don’t met my own expectations? I’m not that great at writing. I actually stink at it pretty badly... and so I even asked my self, “are there particular blog rules to follow?” If you can answer that last question, please don’t let me know. Thanks!

The other truth to this blog thing is the pressure. I was and still am super excited to be in Brasil. Its one of those surreal things in life. I never thought that God could bring me here. Wow, I mean ... I don’t mean to put God in a box, what I am trying to say is that I never thought that the journey with God would include a place and opportunity like this one. So I was nervous. I still am at times, a little nervous about how God is using me and going to continue using me. So that’s why I was afraid of writing on this blog. I was afraid of being completely transparent....and having “uneventful” blogs where all I say is “we just hung out with people this week and ate a ton of rice and beans...”

It was hard to let go of that mindset. Sometimes it tries to creep back up on me, and I have to challenge myself to look at things through the best perspective Gods. There are no such ‘uneventful days’ for our God. So why use the word ‘uneventful’ well because usually when people think and hear about someone going off to do ‘volunteer mission work’ for a year they quickly associate it that with whatever short term mission trip they had or someone they know had ... and those are full of what we know as “eventful” (agenda driven) things.... Please do not misunderstand me, I am sure you all and the people you remember did some great things for the kingdom and Glory of God, but It was especially personally hard for me when I would hear about the kind of work the team Ireland and Croatia were doing, because to me their 365M experience sound way more ‘eventful’ than my own experience in Brazil. I had done the week long mission trips, the 10 mission trips, the 2wk mission trips and the 2 month mission trips... I felt ready for a year of hard work. But oh man was I ready for a ride.... God was about to teach me some important things.

Its the first year for 365M. The program is a good work in progress. 365M is different from other mission experience that I’ve had. A good, a great different. A ‘different’ that requires flexibility, adaptability and a humbling willingness to be a continual learner. I’m not talking about building physical things, I’m not talking about reorganizing structures and systems according to what you think is best. I am talking about living out to the fullest the transforming redeeming love of God into the world. And for those of us that are participating in this program that means, a lot of less talking and a lot more ‘living it out’ and being constant representative even when everything is changing around you...

Now for a small recap of the first stay... Campinas, SP!

Participating in Community

So the first couple of months of this abroad experience where in Campinas, Sao Paulo. Sao Paulo is the wealthiest and most thriving state of the country Brazil. It makes part of the Southern Region of the country were the majority population resides. A bus ride from Campinas to Sao Paulo, one of the largest cities in the world, is approximately an hour and a half. Many people make this commute daily, while others once a week and others like us only once during the time we were there. Yes, I was pretty bummed about it because there was so much more to see! Its okay though because I will go back someday, God willing.

Anyway, we lived at the Faculdade Nazarene do Brasil that is located in Barão Geraldo, which is approximately 15-20 minutes outside of the city of Campinas. This was our humble abode for the time we spent in Campinas. During the first month we had some intensive Portuguese classes from the missionaries there. Yes, we are talking bootcamp style to the point that when you get out of class all you want to do is sleep because of information overload...that is how I felt most of the days after class those two, three weeks after we arrived. Our living arrangements for the next three months would require constant Portuguese usage. I was a little nervous about this, actually super nervous about it but I have to take this time and thank God for their patience and willingness to be so helpful and understanding with us and our learning of their culture and language.

During the weekends in Campinas the team had home stays. Some were the four of us together and other homes stays were divided. Aimee and I were extremely blessed to stay with some amazing people. We stayed with a professor from the faculdade Pastor Ramon. His family and the church ... there are not enough words to express how great it was to meet and live life with them, learn about their vision for the church and see their passionate love for God and their community. It was at their church that Aimee and I had our first opportunity to share a small devotional with the teens, yes in Portuguese. It was also at this church that we experienced a Baptism service in Brazil. Wow! The baptism was under the sanctuary platform. Center front, near the people. Not so far away as you see in many churches in the States. As each person went down into the waters there was a crowd of family and friends standing on the other side of the baptism. When they would come out of the waters, the crowd of people near to them and the entire church would celebrate loudly! The crowd near the baptism would help the person get out and they would begin to hug them. It wasn’t important if that person would get soaked, what matter to them was the celebration and embracing of them! I couldn’t stop crying as I watched one of the teens go into the waters and the entire youth group going over and celebrating with him as if he had just won the world cup. They had flags and whistles and were jumping up and down and hugging him. What an amazing blessing to have been there!

There were other great stays too. With the Heaps, who are some of the most extraordinary people. With our Portuguese professor Sirley, she is so sweet. With the Sandra the librarian from the faculdade, fun times. The church in Indiabuta, where each night we stayed at a different house, it was awesome. God has really given us the wonderful blessing of meeting some special people. These special people definitely include our friends from FNB. They are our family. Moments of tears, laughter, theological discussions, political debates, ping pong competitions, UNO and LIFE nights, movies, PSP, nights of just chasing out a mouse from the dormitories, playing music till the wee hours, cooking, birthday celebrations and the list goes on. Community is an innate part of mission as it is an expression of and representation of who God is through the Church. It is the calling of being a relational community, koinonia, that fully expresses The Good News of Jesus Christ....

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A month later... the 1st blog appears!

Almost a month and its about that time... to blog dayy! I must be honest with you, I really didn’t know what to expect when getting to Brazil. There were doubts and of course fear along with the agony of the unexpected. Its beens different, a good different. I’ve been out to the country before for weeks and months at a time, but God doing something new and different ... I KNOW HE IS!

There are times when I can’t completely grasp that I will not be able to see my family until the next year, but I know and can see that God has already begun to provide a family here. We are living at the FNB (Brazil Nazarene University) till Nov 15ish then we are off to Rio de Janeiro! Its been really great to be able to live with the students here in Brazil and share life with them. My heart is so happy to be able to be here, and also be blessed with such a wonderful roommate! The FNB is busy place, more so at night than during the day, especially THE KiTCHEN! This includes: intense games of UN0, English/Spanish/Portuguese 'classes', 'cooking' classes, and like every 'good' Nazarene University intense theological discussions till 2 am, but of course the list goes on.

So how is the Portuguese coming along? Well its been super intense. Its a lot like Spanish, but iTS N0T SPANISH!! That's what I have to remind myself constantly as I attempt to communicate with people. Pronunciation is what is killing me right now along with conjugating verbs!! So I have been watching Disney movies in Portuguese and of course listening to music, its been SUPER helpful!!! We went to a bookstore a two weeks ago and I went straight for the children's section to find a book and they we super expensive so when I get the chance I turn the TV to watch cartoons in Portuguese. Sometimes I feel like I am in 1st grade because I can recognize the letters and make the sounds, and I can understand more than what I can respond. So I'm giving it my all time, but there at times at the end of the day that I am mentally exhausted. If you've ever been a translator or immersed in a culture, you know EXACTLY what I am talking about.

But its going really good. This past weekend Aimee (my wonderful teammate and roommate) had the opportunity to share with about our journey with the teens at a local church and it went really great! She did such an awesome job and I feel like I did too! I really do believe that God was and is still working!

The weekends are my favorite part of the week, we are able to do home stays were we go to local pastor homes or leaders in the church and share life with them. This program is so different from other things that people are used to seeing when it comes to ministry. Its not about the progress of effectiveness or accomplishments of prior set goals its about doing what Christ did when he came. He lived life with us. This is my prayer while being here in Brazil. My biggest fear is to get so caught up in the doing of ministry without allowing God to flow in everything that is life itself. I am not sure if you understand what I am saying, but I am fed up with being placed in four walls and saying, “IN HERE is ministry” just the thought of that makes me want to cringe. Yes, church is a scared place but it is not the only place the God works. He is already at work and continues to work!

So I can't even begin to express how excited and what a huge blessing is it to be here, to learn about what God is already doing here and to share life with our Brazilian brothers & sisters! Thank you so much for your prayers, encouraging words and emails throughout these last days. Please continue to pray for us and the teams in Ireland and Croatia. Blessings!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Without Reservations.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” - Galations 2:20

On July 6 it will be a year since I moved to Kansas City to pursue a Masters of Intercultural Studies at the Nazarene Theological Seminary. God has faithfully lead me to this place. He has provided in ways that only God can. I find myself continually dumbfounded by His magnificent love and grace. My deepest desire is to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. That means to obey wholeheartedlyy anywhere God my lead. To no longer be me, but Christ through me in everything so that everyone may come to know of His amazing, redeeming and transforming love.

I recently received a letter of acceptance to the '365M' program at NTS. I never expected God to open such a window of ministry opportunity. As many of you already know I have a deep passion for Latin America. The 365M program is an opportunity to bridge studies and ministry experience overseas. So I am very excited to take part in what God is already doing in Brazil!

The Brazil team has recently begun Portuguese language classes. In July we have modules and team training for the ministry in Brazil, and we depart the beginning of August to the field. The ministry sites include: Campinas, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Manaus and Recife. We will be learning the language and culture while working alongside in children's ministry, ESL programs, as well as other variations of community outreach programs.

If you would like to learn more about the ministry that will take place in Brazil, please feel free to click on the following link: Here you will find details about our professor of Intercultural Studies Dr. David Wesley’s recent trip to Brazil, where he visited both the field sites along with the pastors and missionaries that will be mentoring our Brazil team along this journey.

Thank you for time, support and especially your prayers!