Sunday, August 19, 2018

Sunday the Brazilian way! 

Today our team woke up in comfortable houses with very kind hosts. We are constantly surrounded with hospitality and kindness from the full time staff and volunteers here. As soon as we came down to the common area, breakfast was ready and waiting.

After we cleared the dishes, we headed outside to greet our guests. Staff here provides transportation from the favelas so they can come to church. We waited at the top of the hill for everyone to arrive, and hugs and smiles and handshakes were exchanged immediately. It was lovely to see how comfortable everyone felt together. Until service began, the visitors (mostly kids) played soccer and climbed trees.

When it was time for church, we walked down and took our seats. We worshiped together, enjoyed "God’s Grafiti" and heard about God’s grace. Then, we broke into groups. There is a class for children, a class for adults who are believers in Christ, a class for non-believers, and a class for teenage girls. It was great to see how much care went into preparing for each of the groups, with material designed for each need. We all enjoyed lunch together. 


In the afternoon we visited another favela. We walked through the neighborhood and invited nearly everyone we met to church. We visited the families that are regulars in the church. We were welcomed into their homes to pray and visit.

When the evening church service began, it was FULL of children. Many parents send their kids alone. We watched many young children bring themselves to church. A child of 6 leading a child of 3 by the hand into the church. It’s great that parents trust the church with their kids, but also so sad that children come through the neighborhood on their own. We sang, worshiped, saw more painting, and broke into groups for more directed study. After service, we enjoyed some home baked goodies that EVERYONE loved and appreciated.


Over, we were so blessed to have a day of family, friends, food, peace, joy... and GOD.

~ Kimberly 

Welcome to Brazil! Saturday, August 8th

Today was an amazing day for our team in Brazil. About 24 hours after leaving the Starfish office, we stepped onto the mission field. We left the airport early this morning and went straight into the slums of São Paulo. Some of us first went door to door, inviting people to come at 2:30 to watch Tim Bertram of God’s Graffiti work his God given talent with his artwork. The huge group that has come to see it were mesmerized!  There were even some local men there, who don’t usually come to gatherings in their community.  
Chevene worked with a group of Mom’s, giving them encouragement and sharing how God values them and their children. 
AMO fed lunch to everyone in attendance and taught the women to make cinnamon twists. They tasted amazing!  After lunch in the favela, we went to another shanty community across town.  This one is very close to an area called Crack Land, where people do nothing but smoke crack. Because of the problem with crack cocaine, there are many children running around with no one to look out for them. It’s common to see a 4 year old caring for a one year old.  
We took food, candy and treat bags and went visiting people. When we prayed for them some people wept. You could tell that most of the people in these slums know and love the AMO team that we work with. They have built relationships in these places that many won’t go, and they have gained trust and respect of those who live there. This is my third time to Brazil and it never ceases to amaze me. The people that we are meeting and serving are in a dark and sad place, but they have not been forgotten! ~ Laura

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Friday is for Friends & Fun on the Beach! 

There truly are no words to describe how today was. But so that you can have an idea I’ll use the only words I know to use. Today was a true blessing from God. With it being our last day here to a very busy and tiring week we spent the entire day at the beach with an orphanage that is for mentally handicap adults. From the moment we all got there it was nothing but smiles, laughter, and love from these children of God. We threw each other in the pool, had a dance party, made bracelets, and threw each other in the pool again. But eventually all things on this earth must end. After the orphanage left, we all went out for one last meal together with the Sus Hijos team, we had pupusas and tamales and drinks from El Salvador I can’t begin to pronounce or spell. Of course more laughter, smiles and Love. Goodbyes can be hard, you’re having to leave the ones you have come to Love and care for and not only call friend but you can call family because you know that if you ever needed something, these are the people who you can count on. But goodbyes can be a blessing as well, for with that good bye, you get to go wherever it is God intends to take you and make great things happen, make new friends who you can call family. And simply Love like God intended for us to Love.  Thank you to everyone who made this week possible, whether it was a donation, a card you sent, driving us to the airport and back, or simply just a prayer to God. You were just as much a part of the team as everyone here. And whether you know it or not your action of love helped change lives for God this week. God bless Starfish, God bless Sus Hijos, just simply God bless you all!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Thursday's BIG Adventure!

 (For privacy reasons & safety of the children, the team was not permitted to take photos of the children they worked with today.)

Thursday, honestly the day I looked forward to the most, simply because I’ve never been to a volcano. Originally, we were go
ing to be taking the kids from a local boys orphanage, but because of a few things going on at the orphanage, they had to cancel. Upsetting as that is we were able to take 8 of the kids and 2 leaders from one of the special needs centers. You could tell they were nervous but very excited to get to go with us. I guess you could say we were packed in like sardines on the bus, with a long ride to where we needed to go to hike. We were told it was going to be a 4 kilo-meters hike to the top of the volcano.
After an hour and a half hike and exhausted like we’ve never been before, we finally made it to the top. It was pretty chilly when we got there. We were warned and told to bring a hoodie of some sort but most of us didn’t.
 We took our pictures we wanted and admired the view for about 20 minutes, then it was time to start our descent down. The young guns made it down, in no joke, about 25-30 minutes, and waited at the bottom of the volcano for about 30 minutes while the remainder of the group was finally getting down. 
As we got back to the bus, Noah and I decided to throw football outside. Next thing we know there is about 4 kids wanting us to teach them how the throw an American football, there were even a couple translators learning as well. As we took the children back to Guirola, they had finally opened up and the bus was as loud as it was going to get. Man aren’t we truly blessed? Blessed to put smiles on boys and girls faces who literally don’t have much at all. Blessed to go out and show Gods love. Blessed to have such an amazing group to work beside and lean on when we’re tired. Finally, just thank you for another amazing opportunity to show Gods love to men, women, and children that none of us know, or even have the first clue of what to say to them. All praise to our God.

Griffin 

When we were on the way to the volcano I was sitting in the bus next to one of the teen girls. She had my phone and was playing with it. When I looked down she was going through my pictures. She originally found a picture of my wife and used one of the translators to ask if I was married. She admired the picture of my wife and then found a picture of my family. She looked over to the girl that was sitting next to her and smiled. She then changed the background to that picture. I set in awe for a moment thinking about what she saw in my family, wondering if she saw something that she knew she did not have. It made my heart break and at the same time made me appreciate my family even more. 

-Keith

 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Wednesday, What a WONDERFUL Day!

 

Today was my birthday and for the first time ever I got to experience giving others something vs. others giving me something. Today we revisited the community where we built yesterday. We cleaned, furnished, and dedicated that house to the family.

It was such an amazing experience to watch this mother and her two daughters rejoice in the fact that they 
actually own something now. That house is always going to be theirs and it looked like they just won the lottery. It was so rewarding when the team looked at that house after completion because each and every one of us could look at a certain part and say “hey I helped with that.”
Around lun
ch time something I saw hit me hard. All the neighbors of the newly built house had come over and started celebrating with the family. They also toured the house. It was such a cool experience because every single child, adult, and all ages in between had taken their shoes off for the 30 seconds they were inside and then put them back on when they got outside. It was eye opening because back home were just so accustom to having an actual home that we couldn’t care less if we walk inside with shoes.
After dedicating the home and praying with everyone we got out b
ags of food we packed last night and broke up into groups of about 5 or 6 people. 3 from our team, 2 translators, and a local to guide us to homes in need. In each bag there were beans, rice, flour, sugar and a bible for the family. It was amazing talking to the families and praying with them about certain things they were struggling with as a family. It was everything from illness, praying for the children, praying for the community, or even praying for marriages. Experiencing that in person so close to the locals like that, words can’t explain the flood of feelings that took over each and every one of us today. It was an amazing day and he best birthday I could ever imagine. God bless you all. 

Sincerely, 

Tanner Clough


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A New Day, Tuesday

Life as a missionary can take oneself out of a comfortable place and push the limits of everyday tasks and expectations.  To see this be idea be put into action – take a banker, pharmacist, lifeguard, as well as many others, and expect to see a house be not only put together, but painted as well, with the future residents fed, all in approximately 5 hours.  Tuesday, July 17th, 2018 we, Starfish Ministry representatives, accomplished this task with smiles on our faces.
Now, to describe the location of where we built this 
house is another story - imagine riding in a five-speed bus, with fellow gringos and others, an hour outside of the large city where you reside, and take the city life you grow accustomed to and trade that for single lane dirt roads, cows, and dirty water.  We dug a foundation of cinder blocks to set the floor on, and later would line up the walls, to eventually take a lunch break and finish up with painting, door and window installation, and the roof with a gutter system on the back.  I quickly explain this to let whomever may be interested in reading know, the house was a substantial upgrade to what was previously used, but the blessing didn’t entirely lie within the house – the blessing was in the family that introduced us into their gate from the start, let us gringos poorly communicate with their children, and the family within the community that was so interested in watching us they waited outside the entire time and was hesitant to take the water I offered, but the smiles on their faces let me know how grateful they truly were.
 It is apparent to many the bigger blessings in life, the ones that a blind man may be able to see, but I have found in my walk with Christ, to slow down and notice the small opportunities and blessings that God provides, and through the smaller blessings, one may find a peace in knowing God is present.  Tuesday, July 17, 2018 God was present.

 

Just another Gringo,

Chandler Bohannon