Monthly Archives: June 2014

Love in Focus (May)

May ushered in celebrations for our favorite 11 year old!
photo (72)photo (43)
He requested a Minecraft cake and a trip to the mall. We were shocked to see BBQ Pringles (his favorite) here on the day of his birthday. It was a birthday miracle! And feels like another Milestone, as we celebrated one more holiday and found ways to make it special here2014-05-01 17.24.09 2014-05-02 14.11.41 This sweet gal came over to make pão de queijo together. I’ve been making these gluten-free Brasilian cheese bread ball thingies for 13 years now, but it was fun to learn from a brasileira. And, encouraging to manage to hold a conversation for the entire 2 hours in portuguese (who knows what all I said 🙂 ) 2014-05-09 15.43.36 For Dia das Mães (Mother’s Day), the boys took me out for ice cream in town. It’s no Winona, but still charming and quaint and really growing on us. 2014-05-11 16.11.39 After the boys’ “restaurant” had a few large trees cut down on top of it (in the background), they have been working on rebuilding and making it better than before. Now serving cake, coffee, sodas, mashed potatoes and cat food. I love my kids!! 2014-05-22 17.03.09 Each year, the undergraduate students put on a banquet to honor the year’s graduates. I think I lucked out with the best dates! 2014-05-05 21.04.29 This year they chose an Oscars theme. In honor of the verse 2 Timothy 2.15: Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2014-05-05 21.22.58 We have had a blast getting to know this group of students. For this month’s time together, I wrote names of people on masking tape on their foreheads and they had to ask yes or no questions to figure out who they were. 2014-05-26 20.45.07Of course we made one “Gina” who has been the face of Brasilian toothpicks since 1947.  gina

The Bible Institute where Andre is teaching just switched to a module system this year, which means they have three 45-day modules in one semester. The school took 10 days off in May between modules. It was a much-needed break for our fam. photo (11)With this only 4 hours away, we just couldn’t help ourselves to spend a few days (39)Brasil considers this “winter” – not sure why because it was 80 degrees. But hey, we had the beach to ourselves!photo (38)Just so thankful that he not only knows how to work hard (and does! getting up most days before the sun to prepare and grade). But when given a break, he takes the time to play hard!photo (12)

You know, something occurred to me in May. We moved here 6 months ago never having met any of these people we now call coworkers. Guys, that could have been bad! Like really, really bad. And yet, we have already grown to appreciate these people. This is most of the staff here at Peniel (professors, wives, maintenance, finance, cook). 2014-05-27 21.09.32 We love getting to know them. And feel so honored to be a part of the team.



Go and Do

Things are about to get craycray round here!

In 6days150hours9276minutes556500seconds [and counting] the World Cup hits the stadiums in Brazil. Our fam has been counting down to June 12, 2014 since the last World Cup!

You can feel the intensifying anticipation and excitement, as store shelves are lined with noisemakers, crazy hats, jerseys, fireworks, and all sorts of green and yellow. This country pretty much shuts down in order to live up their World Cup games! Literally…grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, banks, post offices…shut down. Even schools are dismissing a month early, in order not to disrupt the games with studies. Last time we were in Brazil for the World Cup, our flight was delayed (ironically, until after the game ended).

I have been so preoccupied with teaching long division and conjugating 501 portuguese verbs that I almost forgot…
Then THIS happened! Scrolling through news, I come across “it’s a penalty” campaign.
That familiar lump in my throat and pit in my stomach returned
…as I remembered.

While the rest of the country enjoys a day off from work and school to watch the World Cup, there are an estimated 250THOUSAND children engulfed in prostitution, bound by drug addiction.

While we gather with friends and family to cheer on our team, innocent children are forced to sell their bodies every night for the price of a cup of coffee.

While we tuck our children in all comfy cozy, other mommas feel the constant sting of wondering where their children are, and how, and with whom.

I don’t think you need convinced what a real-life nightmare this is.
You know this is not a modern-day “Pretty Woman” fairytale, where the girl is treated with dignity and respect and shopping sprees. It’s real. And it’s devastating.

There are estimated 29.8 million slaves in the world today. |Source
Human trafficking is the most common form of modern-day slavery. |Source
About 70 percent of individuals trafficked internationally are female, about 50 percent are children. |Source

This is nothing new. It’s not just Brazil. It’s not just the World Cup.
It’s just that now there is no way for this tragedy to avoid the spotlight.
It’s allover the news.

Last June during the Confederations Cup in Brazil, underage prostitutes and street children were swept up by police and taken to a shelter outside of town. But after the tournament was over, they were turned loose. Police refused to speak with CNN for this report. “They aren’t worried about these children growing up in a healthy environment, with jobs and housing, health and education. They’re worried about hiding them.” |Source

Up to half a million children as young as 11 are abused with the consent of their families, and pimped out to tourists or truck drivers. Brazil’s government has launched a new drive to remind visitors that child prostitution is illegal, but tourists are rarely prosecuted for having sex with minors. |Source

“These girls come from extreme poverty, a culture of social exclusion and a tradition of profound disrespect for women,” says Antonia Lima Sousa, a state prosecutor. She says the desperation is so great, some parents even put their own children on the street. |Source

The desperation is so great.
So great that Rose was forced to sell herself for sex on the main streets of Recife, a city in poorer north east Brazil, late at night outside a motel with a group of other very young girls dressed up to look older than they were. Rose was 11 years old when her mother sent her to the streets to beg for money because there was no food at home in the favela where they lived. On the streets Rose, like other street children, was vulnerable to the pimps and soon became a victim of the child sex trade. Her clients came from Europe, America and Africa as well as from Brazil. By the age of 16 she had given birth to two babies who she had given to her mother to look after in the favela. Rose had to keep on ‘working’ to provide money for her family. She had lost all sense of self-worth. As night fell her pimp expected her to sleep with as many clients as possible to make as much money for him as possible. Rose was a silent voice in a world that couldn’t hear her cry for help. She had no hope, no future and knew no other way of earning a living. |Source

That’s what desperation does. It doesn’t think down the road. It only feels in the moment, the empty pit and knows no limit to fill it. Child prostitution is the tragic result of a greater problem. If you take the girls off the streets, it doesn’t solve the problem of how did they end up there. And thus, an international event given the chance to showcase a nation’s stunning features is showing its devastating flaws. And really, this could be a very good thing. Giving a voice and shedding the light on what has been kept silent in the dark for way too long. We don’t have to read much for our stomach to churn over this. It’s disturbing!

What if it were…my son?? daughter? sister? neighbor? friend? you?
The thing is she is…someone’s daughter, sister, neighbor, friend, someone!
Precious soul created with the ability to laugh from her belly and love from her heart.
Knit together with a voice to sing and joints to dance.

We don’t have to imagine how the Creator feels about those who mess with His creation.
He has made it very clear: If you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.|Matthew 18.6
Judgement is coming.
The wrath of God will be poured out upon those who lead His little ones astray.
I’ve been asking this question for months. I mean, what can a mother of 3 like me do? Really?Really. I don’t know where this will go, but here’s a start.

You must love the LORD your God with all your heart,
all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.
AND Love your neighbor as yourself. |
Luke 10.27 

Jesus talked about a man alongside the road who had been beaten, bruised, left for dead. Some people stumbled on the scene…good people, best of the best, neighbors and priests. But they just didn’t have the time of day to help. So, they passed by, pretended like they didn’t see.
Then along comes a foreigner. An outsider. An outcast. The most unlikely hero. He wasn’t the most qualified. He simply was the one who took the time to care. The one who showed mercy. Jesus said “now go and do the same.” |Luke 10.37

I just love hearing stories of people going and doing! People who won’t look away. This world is a better place when good people take the time to notice. stop. care. help. When they refuse to simply pass by, pretend like they don’t see. But stop and do something! 

– British Airways will be airing this video on all flights to Brazil during the World Cup to raise awareness.
– Nuns will be passing out pamphlets at airports and key tourist areas to encourage people to report suspected child prostitution or enslavement. |Source
– German authorities have established a website “nicht wegsehen” [translation: don’t look away]. On the website witnesses can fill out where and when they saw what offense. German authorities are allowed to investigate German perpetrators once they return home, even if the criminal act occurred in a foreign country. |Source
Happy Child International works to not only rescue kids from the streets of Brazil, but rehabilitate and reintegrate them back into families and communities.

Awareness of the crime of human trafficking is the first step to eradicating modern slavery. |Source

You may one day stumble upon someone along the road who needs your help. You may one day be in a position to spare a young child from a life of torture and pain. In case…write down these numbers. Put them in your phone. If you see something, say something!

There is nothing the criminals involved in the modern-day atrocities of human trafficking and slavery [the recruiters, the traffickers, the pimps and others] want more than for decent people to remain ignorant about what they do. All they ask is that we do nothing. Simple silence. If the myth that “it doesn’t happen here” can prevail, they have won. |Source

In US, call 1-888-3737-888 [National Human Trafficking Resource Center] to report a suspicious situation that may involve the prostitution of children.
In Brasil, call 100 from a Brazilian line. The call is completely free from any local or public telephone in Brazil and operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Then Jesus said, 
“Yes, now go and do the same.” |Luke 10.36-37

Mercy may take different forms according to another’s need and our ability.
But the moral of the story is now go and do the same.