Saturday, August 17

Check out some pics from our trip!

One of our students, Sarah Lego, put together this video slide show. It is a great representation of our trip. Enjoy!

Monday, July 22

Breakfast in Houston

Well we've landed,  been through customs and security.  Now for some breakfast.  We will board our flight at 830 and will land in Sacramento around 11. 

Thank you for your continued prayers as we travel.

Saturday, July 20


What is it to be an instrument of God?  For me it is being willing to serve, to give freely of your time.  To prepare yourself for whatever God has planned.  To listen, for God is always ready for you to be his willing instrument.  We began 10 months ago to transform ourselves into willing instruments of his desire.  We found ways to bring money, ways to form a cohesive team, ways to serve our Great and Glorious Lord. 

And now here we sit in Nilopolis, having spent many days working in the poorest communities, being His instruments.  We may not have always been doing the most back breaking work, but we have affected lives.  We have blessed families who needed what we Americans could bring.  Fresh faces, Joy, the Love of Jesus.  We have played silly games with kids, blown balloons into hats, snakes and dogs.  We have seen God move in our lives and in the lives of the people around us.  Our translators are on fire for God and excited to help us communicate where we cannot. 

Soon we will come home, we will be tired from working, from traveling.  But we cannot stop.  Just because we are not in a poor neighborhood in a poor country does not mean we cannot serve Jesus.  Jesus tells us over and over to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Are YOU doing that?  I know I am guilty of not loving MY neighbor as myself, but being loved on by the people here has changed my perspective.  After hearing the story of Rosasana’s desire to go to Africa as a missionary, but realizing that she had opportunities in her own area has really sparked with many of the students.  Seeing how easy it is to put together a care package, and get toys and candies, to go to the neighborhoods.  It is a great way to minister to our Neighbors. 

So as we come home, instruments of the Lord, please continue to be in prayer for us.  Pray that the spark that has begun here will continue to grow.  Pray that we will be willing to serve Jesus just as freely as we have here.  Also pray that we could partner with people at home, that we could continue to build bridges within our community and that we could Love our Neighbors as ourselves. 

Big Red Beard

Friday, July 19

Storytime Continued...

So I sat down with some of our students today. Here’s their thoughts about the trip and what they are learning!

Sam M.: It’s more than I expected. I am so glad I can help. My favorite moment so far has been the worship in the church. It’s more than worship, its true passion, and I haven’t felt that is so long. The people are so passionate and truly embrace God. Even the little kids, the people in Esqueleto have so little, but not only do they get by, but they do so with happiness and joy in their hearts. It’s just amazing. It inspires me. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt God’s presence so strongly. Here in this place where there is so little, is just amazing. Back at home there are lots of people who just sing the songs and don’t truly understand the words, but here, they all deeply feel the words and meaning behind them. It’s incredible to watch and experience. When we’re here in Brazil helping those in need, my question is why here? Why now? We can do this wherever we are. It doesn’t have to be in a foreign country. It can be in your own city, in your own neighborhood, in your own house. To my friends and family at home: Thank you to everyone who supported me, it would not have been possible without your help. I’m amazed at this opportunity and thankful to God for allowing me to be here. Amen

Nicole G.: I really liked that this time we actually got to see how the church in Esqueleto is when there are people here. This time we got to experience the VBS and how enthusiastic they are. There are not many differences between the church service here and the church in Nilopolis, where we have attended services. They have the same passion and excitement. I really loved praying for the church in Deodora. I’ve never been part of a group on a missions trip where we actually prayed as a group for the church as a whole. For me personally, on my first trip here, I learned to be more comfortable worshipping in public, to sing and be more expressive in my singing. This time around, God is working on making me more comfortable praying in public, since I seem to have been chosen a lot to pray out loud. I was chosen to pray for dinner the first night, then while delivering care packages, I was able to pray for one of the families. On our way back to the church, we encountered a man who needed prayer, and I was chosen again to pray for him. Then that same night, I was chosen to pray again for dinner. I have probably prayed more on this trip out loud than I have in the entire two years since we were here last! That’s something God is working on me and showing me about the people here in Brazil, they are much more comfortable with public prayer, and that’s one thing I love about them. To my friends and family: I wish you guys were here too, so I would never have to leave. I love you all, and Nate, don’t forget to clean the bunnies cage tomorrow!

Zach K.: Last night, the youth service spoke to me quite a bit. Because of the language barrier, things don’t always translate and get through appropriately. However, God was able to speak to everyone, because when the altar was opened up, even the Brazilians came forward, to the point that it was three rows deep and down the aisles across the width of the church. The first time we went to the church, the prayer really surprised me because I had never seen people get on their knees and turn around in their seats to pray. I watched many Brazilians do this very thing. I think that Americans are very self-conscious in this, because we are too concerned about whether other people will think we look dumb or foolish if we were to get on our knees in front of God. I loved being able to play soccer with the kids at Deodora. One of the children, whose names was Philip, was easier to talk with, because he was better able to do gestures. We really were able to connect because of this. I think we need to have more passion for God and not hold back anything because it is unfamiliar. Here we aren’t as worried about seeing people again, so we’re freer to say and do things that we might not do at home. My lesson in all of this is that we need to be more passionate and honest about who we are and for God in all that we do. To friends and family: I’m alive. I miss you mom, Ethan, Madison and Happy. I’ll see you soon.

Jacque M.: At the beginning of my last mission trip, I didn’t feel like I would want to do another one because it was very difficult. It was physically and emotionally exhausting. But after the mission trip to LA, I was excited about how much God used me and I knew that he would want to keep using me in that way. So, on this mission trip I feel more vulnerable and confident and completely open to what God has for me. I’m really enjoying meeting the people here and doing all the work, the painting, passing out of gifts, and praying with people, as well as getting to know the team better. I’m really enjoying experiencing God in a different culture and a different language. It’s so refreshing and eye opening to see people outside of the American culture having such passion for God and his love. It’s crazy how, even though there is a language barrier, I feel myself enjoying everything much more. I think we tend to limit God to think that he is just working in the areas around us. But in reality, He is working in so many places that we don’t even realize. It doesn’t matter where you are at emotionally or physically, God can use you to transform your community, your family, and the way you view the world. To my friends and family: Thank you for allowing me to experience God in ways I never could have imagined. Mom, I’m not sad or mad, I’m having a great time!

Sarah S.: I’m not tired, but I’m not super energetic! I’ve been getting good sleep, which is pretty nice, and I got to play with paint today! It’s nice to see the kids from last time, to see how they’ve grown and changed. Some of them even recognize us which is really neat. I’ve enjoyed seeing the progress from last time and being able to build upon that. This is the first time we’ve been able to go back somewhere, and to be able to see the growth and change has been awesome. Getting to work with some of the same people has been very cool too, and then you add new people who bring something new to the table. I’ve really enjoyed that also. My favorite moment this trip has been when Tanner gave his testimony, and then later went down to the alter for prayer. He’s like a brother to me. I’m really happy to be here, and have this opportunity. Today we’ve really been able to do lots of physical work, prior to this, a lot of our work has been social type things, and I prefer the physical work. Right now I’m learning to trust. I’m learning to trust other people and God. I used to have friends that were untrustworthy, so I was always unsure of who I could trust. It is nice being able to walk up to someone in our group and be able to share my concerns and problems and be able to trust them, where as some of my other friends are not so dependable. To my friends and family at home: I miss you all, you’re all great. And I miss my cat, even though you can’t read the blog! We’re all having fun!

Sarah L.: This is my second time to Brasil and my 4th missions trip.  I have learned that I need to look at the positives and not focus on the negatives in myself.  I must focus on the gifts that God has given me and not the things I don’t do as well. Because God gave me those gifts for a specific reason to glorify him.  When we were in Deodora we met a lady who was washing laundry and praying for a miracle, feeling like there was no hope and wanting God to move in a big way.  And then we knocked on her door.  When we came in it we were the answer to her prayer.  We talked and prayed with her and afterwards we could see God had blessed her and was with her.
I would like to thank all those who helped with financial support or prayers.  Even when I began to doubt God, you were all there to help to remind me that He would provide everything I need.  Dad, Frank, Anna, I miss you guys and wish you were here with us and I will have lots of stories and pictures to share when I get home.

Jonathan D.: This trip has been perspective changing.  I knew there were slums, or communities, but did not realize they were as big as they were. They don’t look like a poor city would in our country. Josh had said to me as we were driving, “Why don’t we go to some of the other places that need our help?”  So we discussed how our time is limited. Also not all the communities are safe.  I have enjoyed that when we see someone working on a job that we all pitch in, and get the job done fast.  My favorite moment on the trip has been during the youth service on Monday when they had the prayer call.
All the stuff that has been going on in my life over the last 3 month, all the things that have been difficult could help them if I share my testimony with them, because of how God has been helping me get through it all.  It has been nice to have time to be counseled by Leigh Anna.  It has also been nice to see people that we met before and still remember us from before. 
I also enjoyed praying for a woman in Deodora. She couldn’t walk well and was deaf, and you could tell she really wanted to go to church but she couldn’t.  I liked being able to bless her with the care package.  I have learned no matter where you are, what situation you are in, you can still be happy, you can still have joy.  Many of my friends say that they are having a rough life, but it is nothing compared to what the people here are enduring.  They are still happy regardless of their situation.  People should remember that God is everywhere, not just in our rich churches, but in pieces of trash that have been built to make a house.

Luke B.: This Missions trip has been eye opening, I realize I have a lot of stuff to transform when I go home.  I need to change how I look and treat stuff and people. I also want to change the way I feel about certain situations. I have seen so many children that need to be raised up to be a great generation. I see that the church here is helping to make them that generation and am so fortunate to be a part of that transformation.  I can see the changes since we were here last time. There is a noticeable change in the size of the church body at all the churches we have able to visit. 
My favorite thing I have been a part of was the church service on Monday night.  Worship was really refreshing, as was Pastor Brent’s message. I really felt the presence of God, and the atmosphere of the people here really help bring that out.  I have learned chupa su munga (suck the mango), thanks Marcio.  I have learned that it’s always good to return to a place when you have your last great encounter with Christ. It feels like a mist on a hot day, it’s a boost for me, it’s refreshing to be around people who are so Godly, that are really striving for God.  It gives me strength to preserve through what I have waiting at home.

Josiah D.: Day one was a day of adjustment, getting used to the time difference, the language, the food.  By day three I was able to feel more normal. I have really enjoyed all the worship, they are very passionate about everything here.  It was really cool to see all the people from the last time we were here.  When we were going house to house delivering the care packages, I was amazed how much they are praying and asking prayer for their family instead of themselves.  I have learned on this trip to be more open with people about your emotions, it can help settle things better.  The most interesting part was going back to Esqueleto,  getting to see the kids and moving a 6 foot mountain of dirt.  It was heartbreaking to see the kids playing in the mess we were cleaning up.  I would like to thank people who got us here, all the money that they gave has been a wonderful investment in the lives of those who have been blessed here.

Translator:one who speaks multiple languages in order to make information from one language understood in another.

Brazilian Translator: so much more!
Christian, Edson, and Diogo
Edson: I am 19 and have lived with my grandparents since I was born.  I am the oldest of 6 children, having 1 brother and 4 sisters.  I was brought up in a Christian home, always learning about God.  My Grandmother was the one who always told me about God, and I have never desired to live any other way than the way she taught me.   I have finished school but have not started college yet.  When I do start I would like to major in publicity, and find a job in marketing.  I like to use Photoshop and am a bit of a photographer.  4 years ago I learned to play the guitar by watching YouTube videos, now I play on the worship team at church. 

I enjoy baking cakes with my girlfriend.  My favorite is chocolate, but I also like passion fruit and coconut.  Someday I might like to have a cake business, like The Cake Boss.  If I could make a cake for anyone in the whole world I would want to make it for my Grandma. 

I would like to see the leaders of the church give young people the opportunity to influence some things that happen within the church, for the opportunity for young people to be leaders.  My favorite Bible story is the Sermon on the Mount, it creates a good example of how to live your life.
The best thing about Brasil is how everyone always has their arms open, willing to embrace anyone.

Christian: I really like to enjoy life and live in the strength of the Lord.  My family is the base of my life, I live with my parents, and my sister Mirim.  I like to play sports, listen to Reggae music, and be with my friends. I have been studying English for 4 years, now and I am preparing for college where I hope to become and English teacher. 

When I was not a believer my mother always prayed for me.  Now I am always talking about the Lord. I would like to go to America and attend Seminary.  I am saving money and getting better at English, praying God will help me get there.  My favorite Bible story is in John 5, when all the people are leaving Jesus, and Jesus turns to Peter and says what about you?  Then Peter says, “what can I do if only you have eternal life.”  He really felt what Jesus wanted him to do, to have no option but to follow Him.  If I could change one thing about the Church it would be how selfish some people can be, so many people look out for themselves and not what God wants them to do.

The best thing about Brasil is how Brasilians do things differently. They like to think out of the box.

Leopoldo:  I am 27, and live with my family.  I have 2 sisters who are both married. I work as a pharmacist for the state of Rio de Janerio government, and am working towards a federal government job similar to working for the FDA.  In September I will return to college study medicine. I have been speaking English for 7 years.

I have been a Christian for as long as I can remember, since my birth.  My favorite story from the Bible is about Daniel. I like when he decided not to eat the food of the king and continued to be faithful to God.  If I could see something change in the church, I would like there to be less emphasis on prosperity.  My favorite thng about Brasil would be the football, I am a big fan of Vasco. For those who visit Brasil don’t just focus on the tourist areas, but remember that there are other issues.

Antonio: I am 17, and I am still in high school.  I live with my mom and one of my brothers.  My other brother lives with my father.  I am would like to go to college to study History.  I have been studying English for 5 years, my mom told me it would be essential to my future. I have been a Whovian for 2 years, don’t blink, don’t even blink.  If you blink you are gone. In January I had the chance to go to the Dr. Who Experience in London.

I was born a Christian and grew up in the church. My favorite Bible story is about David.  Everyone looks at him and he little, but when God is with him his the top one.  God helped him to grow.  If I could see a change in the church, It would be more love being taught.  Also there is too much focus on using the Church as a way to prosperity. 

Maggie: She says, “My real name is Daiana, but I go by Maggie, and I just turned 22.” Maggie has been the secretary of the church for 2 years now and loves her job.  She gets the opportunity to work with missionaries often in her job and is enjoying that. She is going to college, majoring in tourism, and has 2 years to go until she has finished.  She hopes to find a job as a concierge in a hotel and help people who come to Brasil.  She understands a little Spanish and wants to learn to speak English fluently.

Maggie says, “Last year I lost my mother and brother, I still have one brother who is alive. My church family is my family.  I began to go to church when my brother was having some problem with drugs. I realized the only person who could help was Jesus. My favorite story in the bible is the story of David and Goliath. We think that we can’t do something, but with Jesus we can.  If I could see a change in the church, I would like to see the denominations done away with, because Jesus did not have denominations.  My favorite thing about Brasil is that the people are so friendly and are willing to receive people. I would also like people to know that I am nice.” (Which we can agree with.)

Joice translating for Pastor

Joice: I am 21 years old, I live with my parents and my brother.  I have been studying to be a dietician in college for 3 years, I have 1 year to go. Currently I am working in the community teaching people how to eat healthy, teaching them good, healthy recipes.  In school I am helping our teacher with seeing what the composition of foods are.

My family was not Christian. When I was 7 years old, I went to Vacation Bible School where I was invited to church. After that, my family all went. My parents got baptized first and then myself and my brother. Joice’s favorite bible story is David and Goliath. She feels like she can relate to David, being small in stature, in that everyone thinks because she is small, they shouldn’t expect great things from her. As a Christian, she has the opportunity to discover people’s stories. She once had a boy say he had sin and didn’t want to go to church, but she was able to tell him he can still go. In the church, she says, “I see problems with not talking about salvation. I think we should go back to the basics; talk more about being saved”. Joice is the secretary of the youth and Sunday School English Bible class.

If she went to America, she would want to see California.  She would come see us, so we could show her our country.  She has a dream to go to America someday. She believes though, that no matter what state she goes to, the people will treat visitors well. She has been to Corcovado (Christ the Redeemer Statue) on five separate occasions.

Joice really loves the people of Brazil. They are very nice. A fun fact about Joice is that she really likes barbecue.  In the southern part of Brazil, the barbeque portions are bigger. 

Joice started learning English 11 years ago in school, and admits she was very bad in English. Her mom decided to send her to the course and she hated it. She would go to the class crying, telling people she hated it. Then, however she met her best friend.  After 2 years she started to like it realized how she could use it. Now she has been one of our primary translators and we are so thankful for her.

Neilson is one of our regular van drivers.  He likes to drive, and he does it well! Our team has enjoyed his incredible smile and joyful spirit, as well as his ability to navigate the streets of the greater Rio de Janeiro area. He has been married for 9 years. He has a sister and a brother.  He can drive all kinds of cars, from motorcycles to vans, cars to a bus.  He is a happy person likes to joke and have fun always happy never sad face.

In 1995, at the age of 12, Neilson came to Christ at church. Act 4:12 is his favorite bible verse. “It’s good,” he says.  If he could change one thing about the church it would be the fact that there is sometimes a lot of grouping that happens and he would like to see everyone welcomed more as a whole. At the church he attends, in the beginning of the service, if there is someone who is not known, they are invited to the front and the church prays for them. There is a focus on including them and making them feel as part of the church body, rather than an outsider.

Neilson’s favorite thing about Brasil is the opportunity to travel and know about all the regions of the country. He tells us that the northwestern part of Brasil has beaches with warm water for swimming. He also enjoys riding motorcycles as a hobby.

Henos Filho has been such a joy to us during the time we’ve been here. He is constantly laughing and joking with us, teaching us new words and laughing with us when we don’t pronounce them correctly. He has a beautiful wife of 41 years, three sons and four granddaughters. Henos has been driving since he was eight years old.  He used to take his father keys and drive. Football and swimming are his hobbies.

Henos was born a Christian in a Baptist church. He has two favorite bible stories. The first is the story of the Cross. His other favorite story is the history of Paul’s life and how he was essentially, the first missionary.  He would like to see Christian churches to be more united to make missions work a priority.

He likes the people in Brasil because everyone has arms wide open to welcome eachother and newcomers even in a spontaneous way. He would like to have many opportunities in his own life to participate in the changing of other people’s lives.

Thaysa:  I am 25, and work as English and Portuguese teacher in a public school. I work with students ages 13-19 the most. I serve as the Youth Vice President in the Nilopolis Church. I serve in many different roles in the church, I am on the Church Board, sing in the youth Choir, helps with a girls ministry, helps with youth meetings, teaches a bible study class in English. On Mondays I write a blog for an interdenominational group “Eu Nao estou so” ( I’m not alone ).  It helps with relationship advice for thousands of young people all around Brasil.  I live with my parents and younger brother and we all have jobs in the church.

I was born a Christian, I always went to vbs as a child, and was always interested in what they taught. I gave my life to Christ when I was 12 and was baptized when I was 13.  By the time I was 16 I felt God calling me to be a pastor.  I have not attended seminary yet but I hope to start next year. I try to do so much with the youth because I feel the need to form new leaders and invest in their lives. When I get married I want to focus on one ministry.

I started college when I was 17, focusing on Portuguese and English.  I love to teach English in a public way. My mom had passion for learning English so she studied English and taught it for years, later she began to teach Portuguese. My mom taught me to study English, knowing it would serve God one day, but she did not know it what way.  I started at 12 to study English.

One of my favorite Bible stories is when Peter walks on the water, he starts to come, walking on the water and then starts to sink because he didn’t have enough faith.  It teaches me to always walk by faith.  It helps me to walk by faith, helps me keep my eyes on Jesus as I walk.  If I lose my focus I will sink. If I could see a change in the Church it would be that we need to love, we don’t do it the way God wants us to. God says that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, but we don’t always try to help them, especially when they are in need.

My favorite thing about Brasil is how people are so warm and hospitable.  Here in Brasil people are always welcome to come and visit and see the church. We are here to help people, you should never give up on your dreams. I believe if you have faith, and you put your faith in God by being obedient to his will, everything will be ok and you will live a successful life.