Friday, August 24, 2018

Friday, Reflecting on the Week 

Wow! Words cannot describe the week we’ve had. We started out last weekend as more or less strangers to our fellow team members and for most of us, complete strangers to the AMO team and people of the favelas. That was to be short lived, however. By Monday, we had all become dear friends with our teammates and with the AMO team, and several of the children who visited the AMO campus and church services. By Tuesday, I was already planning my next trip to São Paulo.

The people of Brazil 🇧🇷 are so warm and open-hearted. Even those with almost nothing offer hospitality, whether it be a cup of coffee or a cookie or a warm embrace, as if you are a long lost family member.

The children light up when receiving a ziplock bag with candy, crackers and a happy meal toy, as if it were a gift 🎁 on Christmas 🎄 morning! For some, it is the only toy they have, yet there is no fighting or arguing over who got what. Instead, they all share! 

Today we continued various work projects around the property, and for lunch we treated the AMO team to an American meal consisting of cheeseburgers 🍔 and 🌭 hot dogs, Cole slaw, potato salad, Coca Cola 🥤followed by ice cream 🍦 sundaes for dessert. (They were very pleased)

In the afternoon we went into another favela that does not yet have a church. It is the favela where team members Daniela and Robson grew up. They are now married, and have been ministering to the people for five years, building trust, friendship and relationships along the way. It is their dream to build a church ⛪ there one day and, for Daniela (a gifted singer), to start a church choir to praise Jesus with song and provide a positive extracurricular activity for the children there.

Along our walk this afternoon, Robson delivered water filtration systems to multiple families, explaining to them, that just as the filter cleanses the dirt and toxic chemicals from the water, so Jesus cleanses the sin from our souls. Just as our physical bodies require clean water to survive, our souls need Christ to have everlasting life.

Since there is no church in that favela, we invited those we encountered to meet us on the soccer ⚽️ field, where Tim amazed yet another captive audience with his painting (met with enthusiastic applause)and Daniela, Nate and Julianna sang for us. Many people whom were not invited drifted in after hearing the singing on the PA system, in time to hear Tim and Pete’s message. All of them stayed.

After the message, we once again distributed reading glasses 👓 to those in need. Over the two evenings of doing so, we have blessed 104 individuals with clearer eyesight. Several tears of appreciation were shed, both by those receiving and those giving. (It truly is a bigger blessing to give than to receive!) The AMO team still has 102 more pairs to distribute at the two favelas we did not already bless, so more lives will be impacted for the better. 

Reflecting tonight on this amazing week we’ve had, I have so many beautiful memories. Some sad, some tragic, some hopeful, some funny (my name translated into Portuguese is Gianna, the same as Diana. So, every day at least one child called me Wonder Woman, whose alter ego was Diana Prince). I think I can speak for the whole team in saying that we were the ones blessed the most by this mission and all the glory belongs to God alone. We are all humbled to have been His hands and feet here on earth and look forward to returning to do it all again! 

Good night and God bless you! ~ DeeAnna

Thursday: Gardens, Walls, Blocks, Meat and Worship!

Our week continued with a beautiful day. We are in a setting where you can see God's handy work whether the country side or people.  The AMO vision to address the spiritual and physical needs of the people they are reaching out to is amazing. Included in their vision is a building for vocational training. A building to move their current equipment into from the church building. It may take a while to complete but God is providing.

Yesterday we planted. Today we water. Watering freshly planted vegetables, spreading compost on dirt rows for more planting tomorrow of beets and peppers. Oh yeah, sweet potatoes too! Much of what will be grown will be given to those desperately needing it in the favelas. Food... physical and spiritual spread by people who deeply love the Lord that rescued them.

Part of the garden success is compost for organic gardening. Here Nate, Washington, and Tim are mixing the compost - leaves and chicken poo. I got to throw some chicken poo too!Some of the Starfish team continued prepping walls at one house for painting. Sanding was the order of the morning. Another team member, John, continued laying block. He may have started a new career direction!  

Lunch today was a treat although it is really hard to beat the meals prepared on the AMO ranch. Different, yeah, that's the word for today at the Grill Sul. Different. Skewers of meat, so many kinds I cannot remember, brought to your table and cut for your plate. Delicious! No supper for me tonight!

The Starfish team of Kimberly and Laura grocery shopped and then began the preparation of a big meal American style for the AMO staff. Starfish doing the cooking one time. We will have to see how all that turns out tomorrow.

Thursday nights for the AMO team is worship and classes. Anderson, my Brazilian brother, asked if I would like to ride with him to pick up those needing a ride to the ranch. Turned out to be a van load of kids and adults. Beautiful friendly smiling faces. What a blessing to ride along with Anderson and here his story. Wow! Amazing. Two words that come to mind. He shared his journey to of Jesus, struggles, and his very passionate commitment to the Lord. "I don't want to just be a believer. I want to be a disciple," he said. His love of Jesus, God, changed everything for him. He passionately shares the gospel because he believes it can change wrecked lives like his. He loves teaching and mentoring the teens.

Worshipping here is moving and special. It may be in a language foreign to me but I recognize the songs, some of them anyway. I closed my eyes and just listened to the voices. Tears. Young or older voices with enthusiasm and love. The promise to Abraham being realized in worship together.

Tim brought the lesson with Nate of AMO translating for our friends here. Naham from II Kings was his core text. What great relaxed spirit Tim showed along with his passion to encourage to be faithful.

On now to Friday to see what blessings the Lord has in His plans for us.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Wednesday: A pepper plant, eye glasses, a soccer ball, and the gospel...

You might think that’s an odd combination. What could the connection be and what does any of that have to do with the gospel? 

Well, actually everything... these are just a few of the things that AMO uses to help meet needs, build relationships and share the gospel with the precious people living in the favelas. 

As we continue to serve this week in São Paulo, God continues to amaze me more and more. 

This morning several of us headed back to the gardens here on the ranch and we continued our planting and harvesting work from earlier this week. 

Today we planted corn, onions, herbs, squash and green peppers as well as harvested a rather large pile of carrots. These crops play a vital part in providing food and nutrition to the amazing people here on the ministry site as well as the people living in the favelas.  

Providing food for the people ministers to the physical need of so many, while laying the foundation for the greater spiritual needs. 

 We also had team members helping with construction and Chevene taught a class for the AMO staff in the afternoon. 

After lunch we loaded up and headed back out to the favelas where we went visiting and inviting people to church. 

We had the opportunity to go into several homes, pray with families, and share soccer balls with children. The children were so excited to receive this small gift and it will serve as a reminder of the free gift of salvation that only comes through Jesus.

We concluded our evening at the church with a full house! We had a great night of worship, discipleship and fellowship. Afterwards the adults that needed eyeglasses could go downstairs and pick out a pair of donated glasses. It was exciting seeing them trying on their news frames! 

All these things, from vegetables to glasses are making an impact and as a result of meeting needs, building relationships and showing compassion, the gospel is changing lives. 

The needs here are overwhelming. Yesterday, as I sat out on a patio area that overlooked a section of the favela, I became overwhelmed at the sight before my eyes. It’s hard to put into words and describe what my brain was trying to process. Even pictures lack the ability to truly put things into perspective here.

There is so much hurt, so much desperation, incredible suffering and so much need. The good news is we have a solution and that is Jesus! The truth is no matter where we live, whether Paducah, Brazil or anywhere else on the globe, our need is the same...we need Jesus.

In wrapping up this long, exhausting, glorious day, I would just like to say thank you to all those that have donated goods, services, or money to make this trip possible. Your valuable resources are being used in the best manner to make the most impact. Thank you again....

In Matthew 11, John the Baptist was in prison and he had been hearing rumors on the street about the Messiah and the miracles being performed. He sends his disciples to ask Jesus if he’s truly the messiah or should he be expecting someone else to come along later. Jesus replies back to them, "Go tell John what you’ve seen and heard. The blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them."

I’m a witness and I have watched God do amazing things here this week. Continue to pray for us as we finish our work here and head home this weekend. Pray for the AMO team as they daily minister in the favelas and pray for the people of São Paulo that they would follow after God with their lives. 

Blessings! ~ Tim

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A Wonderful Tuesday in Brazil

We had such an impactful day! We woke up and shared breakfast together. Our team’s friendships are developing, and we are growing much closer to the Brazilian team, too.

We soon headed out to the favelas with supplies in hand. This Community is on a very large, very steep hill. We were a bit of a spectacle walking up with our supplies for the day. It was a blessing because we could tell everyone "good morning" and invite them to the church. Once we settled in, our team started preparing breakfast and coffee for the community . Many people came to the church to eat, and we walked around chatting with people on the street and offering breakfast. It was a good opportunity for us to reach people who don’t feel comfortable going to a church.

Most of our day was spent visiting homes. We divided into teams and just went around dropping in on friends from church. It was good to develop deeper bonds, learn more about their children, hold their babies, and pray specifically for their needs.

In the afternoon, we had 3 classes. The first was for women, and one of the volunteers watched children while their mothers learned. We shared about wisdom, obedience, and patience. Different people from our team were given the opportunity to talk to the group of women. There was also a cooking class. Many women aren’t taught to cook by their mothers, so the Brazilian team spends time helping them learn twice a week. There was also a class for older boys, and a class with young children.

As soon as the classes were over, we headed back out for more home visits. This time, we took lettuce we harvested yesterday. It was such a blessing to see the families excited about receiving something we worked so hard on!

Finally, we headed home to shower, change, and relax a bit. Then we had the opportunity to take our hosts to dinner. We liked giving them a break on cooking and cleaning, and we all loved the food we ate.

We pray that we keep getting good rest and food that is healthy to our bodies.

Good night from Brazil! ~ Kimberly 

Monday, August 20, 2018

Life on the Ranch

This morning the Starfish mission team was honored to work along side some of the AMO mission team on needed tasks around their ranch. With AMO's direction, the Starfish team worked laying block, tending to their garden, help to finish walls in one of the new missionary houses, and we mixed compost.

The first picture is of the AMO team members and our Starfish team preparing to lay block. The house is being built to meet the expanded needs of the AMO team. Each house is occupied by a couple who came from the favelas, found Christ through the work at the AMO ranch, and now work to share the gospel. These couples also take in kids who have been growing up in a similar situation to what own their childhoods once were. Because they know what the kids have gone through, the couples are able to help them along the path of kingdom work & discipleship.

Rescued from the darkness within the favelas to later be agents of light to the favelas!

In the second picture is Nate with AMO and Tim with Starfish are working in the garden. Today the garden needs we're tended to and lettuce was pulled which we enjoyed with our meal tonight. At the ranch they grow a variety of vegetables including beans, corn, sweet potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, herbs, egg plant, okra, and quash. A portion of the food raised goes to feed the AMO mission team and the rest is given to the needy within the favelas as the teams take the gospel into Sao Paulo. Those in the favelas can rarely get vegetables, so the AMO team feeds them physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Picture #3 is of Laura helping to finish walls to prepare them for painting. This is Anderson and his wife's home. He was rescued from the favelas and now has brought a number of kids from there to Christ, some of which are now AMO mission team members.

In the evening AMO and the Starfish mission team members visited three families to encourage, share the gospel, and invite them to the coming Thursday night service here at the ranch.

Picture #4 is with the first family. This family worked hard to build their house. They saved and built the house over a five year period. Some if the family attended last Sunday's service at the ranch and then invited Glen, a Starfish team member, to his home. The team was blessed to hear their salvation story, to share the Word with them, and enjoy fellowship. The team prayed for the family and health struggles different members were burden to have.

Picture # 5 is of the second family visited. The grandmother is raising a number of her grandchildren and the son does not attend church with them. Tim shared a gospel message and Laura shared as well the message of the shooting at Marshall County High School to illustrate the need to come to the Lord. Tje family was prayed over. The grandmother was hugging all for coming.

Picture #6 is of a brief stop to encourage the girls to come to the ranch Thursday night for worship and lesson. Prayers were offered and he team said goodnight.

We loved the full day of work on the ranch, listening to the stories of a number of the AMO Brazillian mission team members (quite moving), and visiting homes in the area. 


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