Saturday, February 4, 2017

A Reminder of Reality

Yesterday I went to Casa Semear together with Felipe for the first time in quite a while.  I took both Jessie (our 4 year old) and Josiah (our 4 month old) along to play and enjoy some time there.

It was a relaxed morning at the ministry, as Fridays are the free-play days where the children can choose what they would like to do, whether it be playing on the playground, doing an art activity or playing a game like ping-pong or fooseball.  

Often on Fridays, quality time spent with the children and teens lead to spontaneous conversations. These conversations are valuable, and also a window into what is really going on in their lives.  Often kids will chat and open up, revealing problems or difficult situations they are facing.  In response, the missionaries at Casa Semear can encourage and know how to better pray and help the kids and their families.

Yesterday I was reminded of one reality that many of the kids face.  
A teenage girl was sharing about how her mom had lost her job and was not able to find a new one yet.  Her mother was hoping to find a job in January at the beginning of the new year, but she still has not found one.  The family is struggling to pay bills and to have enough food to eat.  They have been able to get some food donations from a church in the slum, but still it has been extremely hard for them.

This is the reality of many of the families in the slum - who are often led by single moms raising their kids without a father present or helping financially.

Yesterday I was shocked by the reality of a child not having enough food to eat at home. I never had to worry about this as a child.   Did you?

 I was reminded once again of the reality of children we know personally and see on a regular basis. A basic need these kids have is not always being met, and that is a part of their normal life.  It should not be so, but it is. They as children are effected by this and worry about these needs too.

Please pray for the mom who urgently needs a job, and also pray for the many children in the slums of Brazil (and all over the world) who are need of food.  

Every once in a while it is good to be confronted with some of these realities happening in the world. 
It reminds us to pray, 
to remember
to care, 
to give, 
to help those in need,
to be generous, 
and to be thankful for the way our own personal needs are being met.  We have MUCH to be thankful for!

May this be a reminder of reality to us all today...

Friday, February 3, 2017

News About Jessie

For some time now, Felipe and I have been concerned about Jessie's speech.   Living in Brazil she is exposed to and learnng two different languages - Brazilian Portuguese and English (the language we speak at home).  Jessie's English is much much stronger than her Portuguese, but she honestly struggles to communicate well in both languages.

Jessie is not an extremely talkative girl (by nature), and several months ago we began to notice her frustration increasing significantly when she would try to tell us something and we could not understand her.  Jessie would often end up in tears and we would still be clueless as to what she was trying to say.  

In November we did some formal testing, and now Jessie is going to speech therapy sessions every Thursday morning.  She also does daily speech exercises to practice various sounds she has difficulty pronouncing.   The exercises also help strengthen the muscles in her tongue, which will aid in improving her overall pronunciation. We are already seeing improvements, and Jessie seems to be communicating better and better every day!

Jessie's speech therapist also strongly suggested that we place Jessie in a preschool as a part of the speech treatment.  This would force her to speak and have social/speaking interactions.  So just last week Jessie began preschool! 
Jessie's 1st day of preschool!

Jessie is going to a little Brazilian preschool located right around the corner from our home. I can easily walk her to and from school, which makes things easier logistically for our family when Felipe is at work (Casa Semear) with our family car.   

Jessie is loving preschool so far, and we can tell she feels extra special that she is now going to school like a big girl! Please keep her in your prayers as she overcomes her speech difficulties, and as she is learning to speak more in Portuguese at preschool.  Thank you!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Our Brazilian Summer

So while the northern hemisphere is enjoying the winter season, we here in the southern hemisphere are experiencing the season of summer!  

Sophia was out of school for her Christmas/Brazilian summer vacation from December 17th until just two days ago.  I enjoyed having long days at home together with all three of our kids, and we also went on a few special day outings and trips. 

I wanted to share and document here some of our favorite family photos of our Brazilian summer!

A fun afternoon at a park near our house.  They have a sprinkler area and the girls love it!

Celebrating Christmas!

We played Monopoly Jr. lots over the summer vacation.  It was one of our favorite Christmas presents!

New Year's with our friends and coworkers, the Meikle family!

One of our biggest accomplishments during the past weeks is that we finally had time to paint and finish making Josiah's baby room!

And now for some photos from some of our adventures at the beach!
Read a little story about God's provision for one of our beach trips here

We are now getting back to our normal schedule, but we are super thankful for the special time we had as a family during our sweet Brazilian summer this year.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Tears of Thankfulness

"Hi Laura, I want to give you an offering to spend at the beach. 
And take the girls to the amusement park..." my sweet sister-in-law messaged me.

My eyes began to fill with tears of thankfulness
at the goodness and generosity of God.

It is summer vacation time here in Brazil, and we as a family have been able to take two separate day trips to the beach (since the ocean is just a short hour and a half away from our home).  We decided on day trips to keep costs low, however I was really longing for our family to return to the beach again, but this time for a few days.

My sister-in-law had no idea how she was being led and used by God to bless us...

Literally just hours before sending her message I had said dreamily to Felipe, 
"I would love for us to go back to the beach,  but this time for a few days... and it would be so nice to take the girls to the amusement park too. BUT, the financially responsible thing to do is NOT GO."    
I was feeling a little sad and disappointed that evening about the decision to not return to the beach, so the timing of my sister-in-law's message could not have been more perfect.  Only the Lord knew our desire and our dilemma.   I was so touched and encouraged by the provision of God to meet a desire that we had as a family.

Through this the Lord is reminding me of so many truths:
He sees my longings.
He knows my thoughts.  
He knows me, little me.  
He cares.
He is close.
He is a generous Father, a giver of good and perfect gifts.
He provides, not only for our needs, but also for our wants.
He is faithful!
He is a good! 

I am always amazed at how even in the littlest things God shows up and chooses to bless and love us, even though we do not deserve it. This is grace!

My heart was filled with much gratitude this particular night. I cried many tears of thankfulness over this special gift from the Lord and also as I meditated on His faithfulness to us through so many faithful supporters who give to us on a regular basis.  We are so thankful for you!

God's sweet care of our family astounds me! 
I wanted to share this story here to give praise and glory to God! 

Soon we will be taking a family trip to the beach for a few days, and God has provided specifically for this trip.  We are SUPER thankful!  

"A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul..." 
Proverbs 13:19a

"Every good and perfect gift is from above..." 
James 1:17a

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Recent Video Projects

In the recent months Felipe has been asked to help with filming in various capacities, both personally and to promote mission work.  Although Felipe says he is first and foremost a photographer, his photography skills, camera equipment and creativity lend towards making some awesome videos too.

Below are some of the recent video projects Felipe has completed.
 Happy watching!

A fun family video, showing what happened in our lives during 2016!

Felipe went on a special trip touring ACTION Ministries in various cities throughout Brazil, filming at each location.  He will soon be making more videos for ACTION, but this is the first video teaser of what is to come!

A thank you video Felipe made in Portuguese, to help a local children's shelter that is a part of ABBA - the local Brazilian mission we serve in partnership with.

Felipe filmed Sophia's school Christmas program! 

And just for fun, here is a fun video Sophia and Felipe made together!

Stay tuned for more videos to come in 2017!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Thank You Christmas Sponsors!

This post is to say thank you to those who sponsored children this Christmas!

The body of Christ helped to make this Christmas super special for the kids who participate at Casa Semear (a ministry reaching out to children and families living in the urban slums of Sao Paulo).  For many of the children and teens, the presents from the sponsors are the only nice Christmas gifts they receive. 

We especially want to thank the sponsors from our church here in Brazil, Calvary International Church, and also the women's circle at my mother's church, Bethesda Presbyterian.  

Thank you for blessing the kids beyond measure with clothing, a pair of shoes, and a thoughtful gift!

Just a side note:  Our daughters, Sophia and Jessie had so much fun helping us gather the gifts from the sponsors.   It truly was a fun family Christmas project. 

 Each week at church people would give us their gift donations for the kids at Casa Semear.  On the day of the Christmas party, where we gave out the gifts, the girls helped us take all the Christmas presents downstairs and load them in the car.

Enjoy seeing these photos from the annual Casa Semear Christmas party! 
At the party, we the Semear team, were able to spend time with the kids and families, share about the Lord Jesus - the true meaning of Christmas, provide a yummy Brazilian barbecue lunch and offer a fun-filled, relaxing day to the families.  We held the party at our mission's main headquarters, which is a more spacious green environment, and a little more the 200 people were in attendance.  At the end of the party the kids received their much anticipated Christmas gifts! 

Robert, the leader of Casa Semear, starting the day off with a special message and prayer.

Felipe leading a time of fun worship with the kids!

The kids presenting a special song for their parents!

Fun activities galore!

Felipe was on lifeguard duty!

 The extra special moment that the kids get most excited about - gift time!

Again, THANKS SO MUCH to those who sponsored these precious children (and many more not pictured here) this Christmas!  Thank you also for partnering together with Casa Semear and our ministry.
Your generosity and care is much appreciated!

‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to Me.’
Matthew 25:40