Growing up in Brasil

Two posts in one month?! You know something’s up…

Finished homeschooling is what is up!!

It’s been awhile since I wrote about the biggest (and sometimes, hardest) part of my day {here}.
But, all said and done, I shed some tears when my 6th grade graduate walked down the hallway (in his socks) to receive his diploma. And officially became a junior higher.

Somehow, all the uncapitalized letters or unpunctuated sentences don’t matter as much as…
Does he know how precious he is??
Does he know how bright a light he has to shine??
Does he know how dearly he is loved??

 



We won’t let #growingupinBrasil keep us from having a 6th grade Graduation or Awards Ceremony OR Swiss Cake Rolls for that matter!!

It just may involve a lot more construction paper. And include Awards such as “Student recognized for excellence in doing the most work with a worm stuck in his head.”

 

I’m not going to pretend we didn’t have our “moments”… It was stretching for ALL of us to switch from public school in US to homeschool in Brazil. There were times I may have dreamed of a yellow bus coming to drive my children to a capable and cheerful teacher who could teach them long division and also feed them lunch…

BUT, after teaching our oldest 4th grade, then 5th, then 6th… he started Brazilian school in the fall! (which is another blog post needing to happen 🙂 ) All of a sudden ALL of those dear ladies who stopped me with my babies in the grocery store to tell me how fast it would go were not kidding!!

We mommas gotta hold our babies close while we have the chance.
{Seriously, WHO IS THAT MAN SITTING ON OUR PORCH?!!}

It may have taken me longer to learn portuguese…
I still may not be as proficient in the language as I would like…
I may be misunderstood at times (as it’s considered illegal in Brazil to homeschool)…

BUT, I don’t regret teaching my boys for a single second.
In fact, I think I’m really going to miss it this year!!
{Just look at these itty-bitty buddies ❤️}

 
 
 
 
 

Here’s to learning to love the stage we’re in. Wherever we are.
It all passes too quickly……❤️

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.
{Psalm 90:12}

 

 

 

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Graduates Banquet | 2017

Every year Peniel’s 1st year students put on a banquet for the graduates (2nd year students).

The theme, the menu, the decor– it’s all a secret until that night. I’m always SO impressed with what they’re able to pull off– with little resources and a LOTTA creativity.

This year’s theme was Pioneers of the 21st Century.
The undergrads all dressed up as famous pioneering missionaries.

They planned SUCH a thoughtful, compelling program– complete with a candlelight song about sharing our light, then at the end they passed their candle off to each of the graduates.


  
 

Look at my handsome dates!! {But please ignore the fact that my baby on the left appears to be taller than me!!}

 
Our oldest two sat at one of the “teen tables.” And our youngest took this picture of us.


Some of our lovely graduates


Greetings from some dear former students and coworkers in the tribe


Andy doing his thing– inspiring us all to “fix our eyes.”
Which I’ve been thinking about ever since, inspiring this last post.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
{Hebrews 12:1-3}

Let us run

We just finished reading Missionary Stories from Around the World with our kids.
It was eye-opening and inspiring for all of us!

It’s easy to assume those pioneer missionaries didn’t struggle– That they had some superpower-faith to take on the world, and were never discouraged. That each day was filled with such significant kingdom work, there’s NO WAY they ever washed dishes or laundry, changed diapers or mopped. That they left such an impact, because they were the “strong ones.” Honestly, I forget they were real. people!! Real people whose surrendered lives birthed extraordinary movements. But, how much of their days were filled with a million ordinary, mundane, and sometimes, intensely difficult moments

** Jim & Elisabeth Elliot: Jim was one of five missionaries killed while participating in Operation Auca, an attempt to evangelize the Huaorani people of Ecuador. Jim didn’t even make it into the tribe. After his murder, Elisabeth spent 2 years in the tribe. But, God used it all to reach this savage people group, and inspire countless others to missions.

We can read the books to learn what it must have been like for his wife– widowed mother of a small child. It’s not an easy task to learn another language, whole ‘nother way of doing things. Let alone to reach the very people who murdered your husband! Their lives exemplified their words– “he is no fool to give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
How many times were they told what they were doing was “foolish”… Did they ever second-guess if it was or not? 

** William Carey: “father of modern missions”– served in India for 41 years (without furlough!), translated the Bible into Bengali, Sanskrit, and numerous other languages.

Abandoned his pregnant wife and two little children to go to India. Eventually she joined him, but her unhappiness there eventually turned bitter resentment. Poverty, illness, and loneliness took its toll. She suffered from delusions, and eventually died. He sent his kids back to England and kept going in India. Whether or not we agree with the toll his ambition took on his home life, there is NO doubt the Lord used William Carey.
But, I wonder how many days he was tempted to give up…

** David Brainerd: missionary to the Native Americans– his journal, edited and published by Jonathan Edwards, has inspired countless over the years (including William Carey and Jim Elliot).

His diary reveals how hard his ministry was, especially suffering from tuberculosis. But also, he dealt with many other discomforts– sleeping on straw, living in a wigwam, and riding full days through the rain. Which I imagine was even more so difficult after growing up in a prominent, wealthy family. He struggled with depression and loneliness. Though he had made friends among the Indians, he longed for a soul mate. He shares repeatedly his longing for death as a way to escape his depression. At the young age of 29, he died of tuberculosis. His mission only lasted 3 years. 3 years, you guys!!! In fact, if he had given up after 2 years, it’s said that he may not have had such a great impact, because it wasn’t until his 3rd year that his ministry showed much fruit.
How many nights did the disappointments of this life weigh heavily on his mind, with no one to share them with?

** Adoniram Judson1st missionary sent out from the US. The church wasn’t theologically convinced that they were to be sending missionaries– Judson paved the way, served in Burma for almost 40 years, translated the whole Bible into Burmese and established a number of churches.

When he entered Burma in 1813, it was a completely hostile, unreached country– ALL the previous missionaries there had died or left. William Carey even told Judson NOT to go there. Adoniram and Ann went through many hard times in Burma– Ann suffered from smallpox and spinal meningitis, two of their babies died, and they both were imprisoned (not to mention the poor food and unbearable heat). Took him 12 years to see his first converts! But when he died, there were 7,000 baptized believers, 63 Christian congregations and 163 missionaries in Burma!!
Do you think he ever watched his wife suffer and just wanted to quit and go home?

** J. Hudson Taylorfounder of the China Inland Mission. He changed our thinking about missions– that we should become like them rather than “them” needing to become like us. He wasn’t trying to “civilize” the heathens, but deliver the Gospel message in their context.

His 1st journey to China took half a year, by boat. At first, he was not accepted by many Chinese who viewed him with suspicion as a foreigner. {Hence, adopting Chinese clothing and hairstyles.} The Taylors had their share of hardships as well– 5 of their 9 children died, his medical supplies were destroyed in a fire, and was robbed of nearly everything he had. At one point, due to his own health problems, he returned to England to rest and recover. Taylor battled severe depression all his life. He says, “I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.” His 51 years of serving in China may be done, but missions was forever impacted by his faithfulness, despite the frustrations.
He gave his all to follow God; in the midst of all those hardships, did he ever think “why me?”

** Amy Carmichael: opened an orphanage and founded a mission in Dohnavur– served in India for 55 years and wrote many books.

She suffered from neuralgia, a disease that stimulates the nerves to feel pain and caused her to have to spend entire weeks in bed. Perhaps even harder than her physical suffering was her overwhelming grief and sorrow when she would lose a child she thought she had rescued. Despite the difficulties of her life, the books Amy has written have been such an inspiration, a callig to deeper love and communion with our Savior.
Give me the love that leads the way,
The faith that nothing can dismay
The hope no disappointments tire,
The passion that will burn like fire;
Let me not sink to be a clod;
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.
But what about the times when the isolation, the loneliness, the pain was more than she could bear?

We love the legacy they left, but we forget the cost.
I wish it hadn’t been so hard for them. But I find such comfort in their stories, courage in their example. Because reality is… missions is hard!! Ask any missionary– isolation, troubles, weariness, loneliness, anxiety, sickness, rejection, temptations, discouragement, transition, unknowns– come and go.

But, this!!!!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
{Hebrews 12:1-3}

Fix your eyes on Jesus, come what may…

Isolated… Fix your eyes on the One who never leaves.
{Hebrews 13:5-6}
Troubled… Fix your eyes on the One who overcame.
{John 16:33}
Weary… Fix your eyes on the One who will give you rest.
{Matthew 11:28}
Lonely… Fix your eyes on the One who, surely, is with you always.
{Matthew 28:20}
Anxious… Fix your eyes on the One who cares.
{1 Peter 5:7}
Sick… Fix your eyes on the One who heals.
{Malachi 4:2}
Rejected… Fix your eyes on the One who will never forsake.
{Psalm 94:14}
Tempted… Fix your eyes on the One who was too.
{Hebrews 4:15}
Discouraged… Fix your eyes on the One whose love makes us more than conquerors. {Romans 8:37}
Transitioning… Fix your eyes on the One who is our refuge.
{Psalm 62:8}
Unknowns… Fix your eyes on the One who knows.
{Psalm 32:8}

SO THAT you will not grow weary and lose heart.

We don’t know what the future holds. Some paths have more bumps and bends than others. Ours certainly has!! SO, I’m thankful for the reminder that it’s not about comparing our paths with others’, but about fixing our eyes on the One who marked out our race.

ALSO, never underestimate those ordinary, mundane, and sometimes, intensely difficult moments… because the God we serve doesn’t necessarily operate as we would imagine. We see “just” 5 loaves and 2 fish. But Jesus multiplies that simple offering to feed the masses, all because a boy was willing to step forward and offer what he had.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared for those who love him.

{1 Corinthians 2:9}

So, let us run!

 

There’s NO way I could remember all the deets of those stories, so props to these guys:

  1. http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-36/william-carey-gallery-of-missionary-pioneers.html
  2. https://urbana.org/blog/21-missionaries-you-should-know
  3. http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/how-few-there-are-who-die-so-hard
  4. http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-90/man-who-gave-bible-to-burmese.html
  5. http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-52/hudson-taylor-missions-to-china-did-you-know.html

A week in our life

Though some months have passed, we are still grateful for these dear visitors entering our world, cheering us on. THANK YOU to all who had a part in Ryan, Heather and Ava coming to visit!! Having them here was like fresh wind in our sails.

They took a bunch of photos of our “day to day.” Things we often don’t take pics of.
But, very special to capture a bit of what a “week in our life” looks like here.

Sara leading a ladies’ meeting in our home.
     
Some of the sights and flavors of Jacutinga.
 
 

 
Our campus garden that students plant, maintain, and harvest.
  
Professor André doing what he does.
And that Bible translated by some Peniel grads into a tribal language is why we do what we do.

When they asked how they could best serve our family, I was half-joking that Ryan could homeschool the boys. But he prepared an understandable and accessible explanation for creation and the fallacy of evolution, which couldn’t have been more timely– Miles had just gotten points deducted on his science test because his answer to the question “How did the world come into existence?” was “God created the world.” Thankful for others speaking truth into their lives.


For all you Princess Bride fans… “R.O.U.S.” DO exist!
(Pictured above: capivara, which is the largest rodent in the world.)



 
We got to play tourists ourselves 🙂  HOW FUN to find this waterfall 40 minutes from our house!


If she charged me for every medical question I asked her… plus all the students and staff who needed a consult… AND doing a check-up for every. single. kid at the orphanage down the road… oh man. Instead, she listened and cared and advised. SUCH a gift! 
  

We spent Saturday afternoon at the orphanage down the road– 1st time our kids have ever been. Honestly was unsure how they’d do– briefed them real quick on things NOT to say. In the end, they happily played with the kids for 4 hours and never once asked to leave. Don’t know what the future holds, but am certain we’ll be back.   

Our kids had a blast “hanging out” with Ava (Pictured above: our favorite rubber tree).
What a good sport she was– fishing with Jack and scorpion-hunting with Jude, and going to school with Miles for a day (all in portuguese).
 
  
 
(Above: the weekly fruit/vegetable “feira”– where else can you buy fresh-caught fish from the back of a truck!)

Gotta love drives through coffee country. And, #jacutingastyle traffic.
 
(Note the red berries above: coffee-picking time!)


We don’t have it all together. Spend a week with us and you will see that we have our share of struggles and loneliness and discouragement.

BUT, this country and people and ministry has become so dear to our hearts.
So, HOW GRATEFUL we are to welcome friends into our world– for them to see for themselves the beauty of this place, and to cheer us on because it’s not about us, you guys!!

Fórum Missionário | 2017

It’s been almost a week… and I’m still not sure what to say about last weekend…
But, I know some of you were in prayer, so I have to share!!

Andy’s been planning this Missionary Forum for months— a weekend for Brazilian pastors and church leaders to come to Peniel to be exposed to the need for tribal missionaries, and to learn more about getting involved— from praying, to sending, to building a missionary care team, to perhaps…. going.
 
It was lots of work, for a lot of people. And alllllll the labor would have been nothing if the Spirit didn’t move. So, we asked God for this over and over and over.

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name goes all the glory
for Your unfailing love and faithfulness. {Psalm 115:1}

It turned out to be a very teary weekend, as I kept seeing evidence of His presence, HIS work in people’s lives, HIM raising up His church, the display of HIS splendor!!
 
I was challenged by the speakers’ motivation for missions– “to love God and serve wherever He wants.” Not the lost, not the dying, but the LOVE OF GOD should be the motivation for our mission!

He also said, based on Acts 13:1-4– “We are instruments of the Holy Spirit. Where the Holy Spirit is at work, there you will find missionary work.” (the best translation I could come up with 🙂 )

I was moved looking out over the diversity in the room– diversified, yet unified.
 

I was so encouraged by this missionary couple who has stepped out of the tribe for a year to take care of some health issues. As we are about to do the same, I asked her if it was hard for them to be away. She said it is, but that she’s committed to use this year to take every opportunity she has to share a vision for reaching the unreached.
 
She also told me, “You just keep inspiring other women to love God.”
Oh, how I needed to hear that!

I am so inspired by the faithfulness of these dear white-haired missionaries, who yeeeeears ago, put their hand to the plow and never looked back (Luke 9:62).

I love that when one couple was asked what impacted them most, they said, “the faith and the happiness of your students.” SO true. LOVE it 🙂
 
We pray that the Lord would raise up more workers, that He wouldn’t just bring more students to Peniel, but future missionaries!

I guess I didn’t think he’d be raising up our boys… After the Forum, Jack told us, “You know, God did something in my heart. I mean, I’ve thought about missions. But I’m thinking about going to those places that are really hard to get to.” Jude chimes in, “Me too! I just keep thinking about those missionary stories we’ve been reading, about those men who were killed because they went into tribes who had never heard about Jesus. I want to go there, to tell them about Jesus.”

Can’t say what all that does to my momma heart…
It made me wonder if the strong-willed children of today are growing up to be determined missionaries to take the Gospel where it is most difficult. Oh Lord, give us wisdom and endurance, grace and faith to parent our strong-willed children today to be the strengthened church of tomorrow… 

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however,
it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.
{Hebrews 12:11-12}

From the opening prayer to the last line of the last song {Marcheremos},
there is NO doubt that the Lord is at work in and among His people!!
So, Marcharemos na coragem do Senhor. 
{We march on, in the courage of the Lord.}

      // Marcharemos //
Nós queremos ouvir tua voz
Teu louvor sempre esteja entre nós
Queremos ser, Senhor, mais sábios
Na verdade e no amor
Marcharemos na coragem do Senhor

Marcharemos cheios de coragem
Seguiremos seja onde for
Embora a dor nos cerque na viagem
Marcharemos na coragem do Senhor

E quando a escuridão da noite descer
Queremos só pela graça e fé viver
Com esperança e com coragem
Na alegria ou na dor
Marcharemos na coragem do Senhor

Resurrected Hope

Holidays can be hard to be away. Easter was no different.
We felt the absence of our family, friends, church, Cadbury cream eggs.. 😉
But we do our best to make it special– invited some families over for a cookout and opened our home to students who don’t have a car (or a way to get to church) for an evening Easter service.

 

While Andy was passing around the bread and the communion cups, it hit me.

Sometimes following Jesus doesn’t look anything like the path you had planned.

His disciples have always had these moments…
It’s not too hard to imagine how they felt the day their hope died…
because how many of us can relate.

The Bible doesn’t really say what they were thinking, although we can read between the lines—
the disappointment, fear, confusion— so intense that Peter would, for a moment, deny Truth Himself.

They were told they’d never be left, but sure felt alone.
They expected to reign with Him, but weren’t thinking that meant a crown of thorns.
Who would have ever dreamed He would take up a literal “cross”!

At some point, Jesus’ disciples have a choice to make—
To leave, or believe.  John 6 tells us that after some hard teachings, many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. He didn’t seem surprised by this. Instead, he asked the twelve, “Do you want to leave too?” I love Peter’s response: “Lord, to whom would we go? YOU have the words of eternal life!” In essence, we may not understand Your ways, but we will trust Your word.

So, those moments of disappointment, fear, confusion— what do we do?
I think we take our cues from those who have gone before us.
We look back and see that He has always been faithful, so
we remind each other of His words.
We do what He said, and
we wait for Him to show up.

Just like His disciples have always done—

They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.
{Acts 2:46}

That right there is the dawning of resurrected hope!

Leaving a Legado

In January New Tribes Mission in Brazil (MNTB) hosts a field conference for its missionaries. This week is always a highlight of our year, as brazilian missionaries gather for a week of meetings, fellowship, and of course, “futebol” (soccer)… ’til all hours of the night. 🙂
img_1096
img_1110
img_1143I treasured it all up as best as I could–
the dear ladies who gave me these tribal treasures and soap made from exotic fruits,
to see not 1 blue macaw in the wild, but 16!!
our boys translating for those who don’t know Portuguese, chatting in the gazebo, seed pod-swords,a coworker asking Miles to take their family pic,former students lending Jack their bike, Jude saying Brazilian food is the best food ever,
sitting on the couch of a couple who sat on our couch for premarital counseling, now married and deciding which tribe they will go,
all the stories from the field…

This year’s theme was “Legado” {Legacy}. The focus was on what kind of legacy are we leaving; what kind of legacy do we want to leave. {I’ll tell ya. I’ve been thinking long and hard at this. And I fear that the kind of legacy I want to leave doesn’t always match up with the kind of legacy I’m actually leaving. SO, I’m gonna do some more thinking and praying bout that and talk more today about the kind of legacy that has been left for me. Mmk? 🙂 }

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A special surprise was when Andy’s parents were honored for their 41 years of service in Brazil. They are in the process of moving to serve at the NTM Headquarters in the US. Their leaving is certainly bittersweet–Bitter because of all those who will miss them. Sweet because of all those they have impacted in their 41 years here.

Andy’s grandparents moved to Brazil in the 60’s, with their 7 kids {their pic above on the screen}. His dad grew up in a riverboat on the Amazon river until he went back to the US for Bible School, met his wife, and they moved to Brazil in the 70’s, where Andy was born and lived until he went back to the US for college, we met, and now here we are.

{Andy giving an update on Peniel}
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{Our little (and giant!) MK’s singing their song}
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I don’t think I ever realized the legacy we’ve been left— more valuable than gold, more secure than any trust fund– the conviction that there is no hope apart from Jesus, perseverance to be a part of making Him known where He is not, and faith that He is absolutely worth it all, even our very lives. The stories they have to tell…… {are cRaZy!!} but testify to how faithful God has been through it all.img_1084

But it’s not just Andy’s family. We sit behind all the white hairs and it’s humbling. People who have done this for 30+ years with no fanfare. Just faithful servants who have kept their hands to the plow. Even when the path is harder and rockier than they had hoped. Some of them are in more pain than we can imagine (and they will ever tell). Yet. FOR THE JOY they endure hardship. We have got a lot to learn from them.

And it’s not just the white haired-missionaries. But when there’s talk about legacy, I think about my parents….
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My parents have been by our side for birthdays and surgeries. They have come to our rescue when we needed a date night or our laundry folded. They have planned family vacations and silly-string wars. They have not only listened to their grandsons talk for hours about fishing and minecraft, but they have even taken fly-fishing lessons to teach our kids how to tie their own flies and played minecraft with our kids. They flew down to be with us and write emails when they can’t.

It’s hard to condense the legacy they are leaving into words, but here’s a few…
Affirmation— The other day our kids got off the phone and said “I like talking with them. They’re so warm and comforting. And they only say things to compliment.” That’s high praise from a 12 year old boy!! It’s the truth! Just scroll down the comments and you will see.
Belonging— It’s a big thing to be welcomed home, regardless of whether or not you have colicky babies or jet-lagged teenagers, and however long you’ve been away. But it’s what they do. Dad fires up the furnace and mom makes your favorite pie.
Faith— How many times have I called and heard “we were just praying for you.” People often ask me how my parents feel about us being missionaries. I’m sure it doesn’t “feel” good, but I’m thankful for their example of faith, that God is good and He can be trusted… even with our kids.
Joy/Gratitude— (Both, because I don’t know that you can have one without the other). I never realized how much my mom says one phrase until our kids picked up on it. Whether we’re headed to the store or just sat down at the table together, she’ll say “Oh, yeah!” But it’s not just circumstantial. Their joy is a matter is of perspective– looking for grace and celebrating it.
Love— I don’t know how they do it. They have beared all things, believed all things, hoped all things, endured all things. Not just when we’re love-able. In spite of our multitude of sins and offenses, they have given us the greatest gift of all– Love.dsc_0309

I don’t know if their photo will ever be on a projector (although it should!) I don’t know if they’ll ever be recognized for all their years of faithful service (atleast on this side of heaven). But I have no doubt that one day they will hear those words “well done, good and faithful servant,” because the legacy they are leaving is that whether you’re a mechanic or a cook or retired or a missionary, what is important is in all you do, you do it for the glory of God.