Monday, May 26, 2008

Passion Conference

Can you believe that I (Paul) got to go to the Passion Conference World Tour in Sao Paulo Brazil? I can't believe it either. I have always wanted to go and never got a chance in the States, but the weekend of May 23 & 24 I finally got to go see Louie, Frances, David & Chris live and in person. I have seen the Passion videos so I had an idea of what it would be like, but I was not prepared for what I saw right in the middle of Brazil. There were about 2200 students there and it was amazing. Louie & Frances had translators on stage with them and that worked well and got the message across. But one of the things that blew me away was the music. It was all in English and the words were on the screen. The words were in English and then under that were the words in Portuguese. I don't know exactly what it was that I was expecting, but to hear 2000+ college students that were not all English speakers singing in English was not it. But that is what I got. It was the most amazing thing to just sit back and watch and listen. And they worshipped! It was a true God moment and it took me by surprise. When Louie called on them to pray for each other, we witnessed a group of young people crying out to God on each others behalf and I can't even find the words to describe it. It was just so exciting for me to be in a foreign country that I will be calling home for awhile and see true God worship. It is the kind of thing that people say doesn't happen, but I saw it with my own two eyes and heard it with my own two ears. God used this weekend in my life to refresh me and show me that I am not alone here. We serve an awesome, mighty God and He is the God of entire world, including Brazil!

It was even a special treat that I got to have my picture taken with my good friend David Crowder! He may look a little different, but he is a nice guy!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Please don't stop praying!!!

We still need your prayers, so please don't stop praying. Our language studies continue to go well and we are seeing signs that we are slowly, very slowly, getting it. We are making progress, but have so very far to go. We covet your prayers!
Please also pray for our stress levels to stay low. We are extremely stressed out and that isn't getting any better. They keep telling us that language school brings out the worst in people. That just thrilled my soul to hear! This would be hard with no children, but juggling all 4 of ours is proving to be more of a challenge than I originally thought it would be. Our schedules have been changed once again and we think this will be our schedule until the end. Today was the first day on this new schedule and it has already helped Paul tremendously. So, please don't stop praying for us!
Also, so many of you have asked how Kati is doing and I would like to announce that she is doing fantastic. She has been with her Portuguese tutor for 2 weeks now and it is already paying off. She learns something new everyday and she is even teaching us. They are teaching her some of the slang words that the kids use and she is loving it. She has however been a little bit under the weather with some kind of stomach bug that she can't seem to shake. So, please continue to pray for her also.
Preston is still doing great and so are the babies.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Blooms of Fall

One of the things that we have found fascinating in Brazil is the flowers and flowering trees. It is beautiful here and it seems to be this way all year 'round. Remember it is fall here and a whole new set of blooms are emerging. We don't have this kind of color in the fall where we come from. So, we wanted to share some of the beauty with you.

Preston and I (Keri) went walking yesterday with the sole purpose of taking pictures of flowers. We just walked down our street and these are the pictures we took. Some of them are breathtaking and they are even prettier in person.

The best part of our walk came as we were heading home. We stopped at a gate that had all kinds of plants and flowers and we were talking about them and taking pictures, when we noticed there was someone in that garden. She was staring at us and she scared me to death. When she realized that we were talking about her flowers, she came out to greet us. I told her that we were admiring her beautiful garden and taking pictures of the flowers and she was so thrilled. I'm not sure if it was our interest in her garden or just someone to talk to, but either way she was excited to see us. She invited us into her fence to get a closer look and took us all through the garden. She spoke only Portuguese so Preston and I didn't understand much and she knew that, but it didn't slow her down any! Once we went all through the garden and Preston took all the pictures he could, she then invited us in to see the plants on the inside. So, Preston took pictures of everything. It was nice to see the inside of a Brazilian home and see that they really are nice and warm and cozy, not hard and cold like ours. She said that when we came back we would have coffee, so I think we need to go back to visit. Well, before we left, I asked her if I could have a picture of me and her and she got even more excited. She couldn't believe that I wanted a picture of her! See the picture below...her expression says it all, doesn't it?

We think that Ms. Julietta lives by herself and I'm not sure that she gets too many visitors. So, Preston and I will go back to visit her again very soon. It was a nice visit even if we didn't understand much of what she said, it was nice to think that we may have been the bright spot in her day.

We can show the love of Christ even if we don't speak the same language!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Prayer Request for Team Gaucho

Pray for Jeff Dunson of Porto Alegre’s Team Gaúcho as he leads a team of Brazilian evangelists to minister in the city of General Câmera on June 7. The pastor of the small church in this city has a vision to see 17 new churches started in the city and the surrounding region, and this impact will serve as part of the kick-off for this new church planting and evangelism push. Pray that God will raise up workers for the harvest in the area, and that God will bless with an abundance of first fruits that will be just a small part of a great move of God to come in the following months and years.

Pray for the preparations that are underway for the September Month of Prayer for Urban Gaúchos. Four videos which will highlight various spiritual strongholds which interfere with the spread of the gospel in Porto Alegre are in the initial stages of production. Pray for the video production process, that it will go quickly and easily, (without any more computer problems), and that the Holy Spirit would guide in what is presented. Also pray for the production and distribution of other materials such as bookmarks and refrigerator magnets which will be used as prayer reminders for prayer partners in the U.S.A.

Verse for the day

"I lift up my eyes to the hills -- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip -- he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep." Psalm 121:1-4 NIV

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Mom & Dad need to share!

Last week, Paul and I had parent-teacher meetings with Preston's teacher and Kati's teachers. We met with Preston's teacher, Professor Rose, first. Remember that this is Preston's first real experience in a school setting because he has been home schooled up until now. So, with that in mind, we prayed that he would do what he was supposed to do and wouldn't be a distraction to the class. Well, the teacher starts off talking about how wonderful Preston is. She said that he has completely embraced his classmates and wants to be just one of the kids. He does not want to be singled out in anyway and wants to be treated the same as the other kids. This is a challenge for the teacher because she knows that he doesn't understand the language the way the other kids do, but she said she is trying. She said it is obvious that he is picking up the language and he is not afraid to use it. She said that he uses as much Portuguese as he can while he is in class. She just went on and on about how he has taken to the kids so quickly. She asked when we would be leaving here to go to Porto Alegre and when we told her September, she teared up. She said that she would miss Preston tremendously. She said that he is a very special child and he has challenged her in many ways and stretched her beyond her comfort zone. She said that she talks about him to her family all the time and they even hope to get to meet Preston. Keep in mind all of this is being translated to us and Paul and I are sitting in our own little puddle of tears. We were blown away. We had an idea that he was doing well, but didn't know the whole story, so we were so very proud of him for doing so well. The next day we went to speak with the principal and she told us that Preston has become a Brazilian boy. He plays like a Brazilian boy, he jokes like a Brazilian boy, she said he has taken on the identity of a Brazilian child. She went on to say that this was a unique quality and one that shows his acceptance of a different culture. This too, was so wonderful for us to hear. Even though we know that God has sent us here, we have still prayed for our children as they make the cultural adjustments. Well, God has shown up in a mighty way for Preston and we are still praising Him for ALL of His goodness toward us.

Now, when we met with Kati's teachers, we were really not sure what we get. Kati has been struggling and we knew this but didn't know how the teachers were perceiving it. Well, we got to talk to the Science, History and Art teachers and they all said the same thing. They can tell that Kati is really trying to understand. She is paying attention and trying to keep up with where the class is. She has a great attitude and always has a smile on her face. Well, again Paul and I both cried. She had gotten to the point that she cried almost every night because it was so challenging and she didn't want to go to school. I asked her to commit to pray with us for 6 weeks just to see what would come of it. I told her that she would have to give it 100% and not slack off at school. No matter what she was going to have to try and try harder each day. We had no idea if she was doing it or not other than her telling us she was. Well, the teachers confirmed that she was doing exactly what we were asking her to do. I can't express in words how my heart felt at that moment. She continued to struggle and cry, but according to the teachers she was doing great and was a ray of sunshine for them. They said that she was trying to communicate with the kids even though they knew that she couldn't speak the language. When we told them that she was very frustrated, they were surprised because she didn't indicate any frustration to them. We spoke with them about our plan for an abbreviated school schedule for her along with some outside Portuguese instruction and they thought that was a great idea. They assured us that Kati is the kind of girl that will surpass all our expectations once she finds where she fits and gets into a routine that works for her. So, once again, we were so proud of our child who was so extremely frustrated, but kept plugging away and trying to do what we asked her to do. She didn't give up and we are certain that God will bless her perseverance.

So, this week she began her abbreviated schedule. She is going to school on Monday, Wednesday & Thursday for Science, History, PE and Art. This is all in the mornings and she doesn't do all subjects everyday. Then everyday in the afternoons, she goes to a language school for one on one tutoring in Portuguese. It has only been two days now and we can already see a huge difference in her. It is giving her a confidence that she hasn't had since we have been in Brazil. This is an answer to our prayers. A direct answer and we are so thankful.

I can't wait to report all the Lord does in the lives of these children. Please pray that we will all continue on the path that He has for us and we flourish because of it.

In His Hands,
Paul & Keri