Saturday, February 23, 2008

My First Week with the Girls!

This week we started our work with the children here at the Light House community center which is located in a slum called Cafezal in the city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

I am working with two groups of girls with ages ranging from 5 to 9 years old. I, along with my coleader, work with a group in the morning and a group in the afternoon. In Brazil children only go to school for half of the day so for the other half of the day they come and have fun and learn about the Lord here at the Light House.
It is much better for these children to be here at the Light House than to be on the streets playing or home alone. A lot of the children come from difficult family situations and have many many spiritual, emotional, and educational needs.
I had a great first week with my 2 groups of girls! Enjoy these photos and see some of the fun stuff we did!!!

Playing on the playground! The girls LOVE this part of the day!

A girl who just turned five so now she is old enough to join in on the activities here at the Light House! She is happy about that!

This was her first time on a swing set and she is 9 years old!
There are no parks in this slum (except inside the Light House property) or even close by. I was surprised that this girl had never been on a swing before and happy to be able to document and take a photo of her first time ever on a swing.
She was a little afraid to swing too high but she really enjoyed it!

This sweet one loves to swing! She would stay on the swingset the whole time if we let her!

We did a name activity with the girls during the first week to get to know the girls. Here one of the girls is presenting her name creation! This little one is 5 years old but has some developmental and growth problems. She is very smart though and tries so hard to do things independently, even though it is challenging for her.

My co-leader Kelly, who is a Brazilian, teaching a Bible Lesson to the girls about Creation! My co-leader is an awesome story teller and is wonderful with the girls! I am so thankful for all the ways she is helping and teaching me during this time. She is a blessing to work with- esspecially because she can speak Portuguese! She worked here at the Light House last year and loves working with children. She is teaching me SO MUCH.

Playing Games and doing Puzzles!

I think the favorite activity of most of the children is SWIMMING!!!

Here are the girls getting ready to jump in and enjoy the pool!!!

Once a week we give one meal to the girls and every day we give one piece of fruit.

These children are so beautiful and precious. I am so thankful to be here working with them!
Please pray for the girls, their families, and for our times working with the girls here at the Light House. We are praying for all of the girls to know the Lord personally and to grow to become strong women of God who walk in His ways. Our hope is also that they would have a good life- not trapped in poverty or poor choices. We want them to have an abundant and happy life!
The reality here is that often the girls get involved in relationships at an early age. Many are pregnant as young as 10 or 11. There are many broken relationships in the families of the girls and also much abuse and drug involvment in this slum. We are praying for a better life and praying for protection and transformation in the lives of each girl and their families.
I invite you to pray for these girls and for me and Kelly as we lead them.
We want to be a blessing in this community!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Update on Marcos

I met with a friend of mine who works at the Boy’s Home called the Restoration House.
She told me more of the story…

Marcos did NOT run away. He had to leave the house because he was using drugs in the house. If a boy gets caught using drugs he automatically has to leave the home because the boy could influence the other boys to use drugs too. He is NOT allowed to go back to the YWAM home because of his drug involvement and his age. I learned that he is actually 17. If he was younger and having this problem he could possibly have a chance to return.

I also learned that because of his involvement with drugs Marcos was supposed to be in a teen prison . My friend was VERY surprised that we had seen him on the streets.

During our conversation with Marcos, he mentioned he may try going to another shelter that is known to be a fairly good place. Please continue to pray for this boy. He really has a lot of potential! I am praying that he chooses to make good choices and follow a better path! The path God has for Him.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Divine Appointment

Today me and my friend Janete had a divine appointment.

After getting lost in the city of Belo Horizonte and walking and walking for at least two hours in search of two different banks to run an errand... we both decided it was time to STOP and just go home. We walked to a nearby bus stop, sat down, and began waiting for the bus.

Throughout the whole afternoon we had seen many street boys sniffing paint thinner, laying on the streets, or hanging out in different areas. We both had been surprised with the number of street boys we had seen during the afternoon hours and our hearts were heavy for these youth. As we sat talking, I saw behind my friend Janete three street boys walking towards us.

As they came closer I asked Janete, "Is that Marcos*?"

She glanced back and said, "Marcos from the Restoration House... No, I don't think so."

As he walked closer, we learned it was in fact Marcos.

Last May Marcos came to the Rescue House and completed a triage. Both Janete and I worked there at the time. The government here in Brazil had refered Marcos to the YWAM boys' shelter, but before entering the shelter Marcos had to successfully complete a trial program at the YWAM Rescue House. He passed with flying colors! He had a good attitude, was laid back, and had no problems during his time in the Rescue House.

Marcos moved on and lived at the Restoration House until January... then he ran away.

Marcos is a quiet kid, with a kind and genuine smile. He has lived in shelters for most of his life and on streets when he has not been in a shelter. He doesn't have any parents, only an aunt who he isn't close with. He basically has no one... He has been through much in his 16 years.

Janete and I stood to greet Marcos. He was offering his kind smile and was happy to see us.

His friends continued walking and I honestly thought he was going to speak to us only for a moment and then go on to be with his street friends. BUT instead of moving on, Marcos stayed. He walked over and took a seat where we had been sitting. He wanted to sit and talk with us.

We began asking him questions.

Why are you back on the street?
"I had a fight with another boy in the house."

We encouraged him that he could work it out. We encouraged him to return!
Marcos can return and make things right. If he really wants to... He will have to undergo some disciplines for leaving the shelter, but he will be given another chance if he returns.

How long have you been on the streets?
"About a month...more or less..."

Marcos had his right arm in a make-shift sling (made of some cloth material) and he had red marks all over his arms.

Why are you all marked up and your arm in a sling? Who did this to you?
"The police. We were staying in an abandoned building and the police entered and beat us all up."

Unfortunately, it is normal for the police to beat and abuse street children.

Have you eaten today?

I gave him the only food I had. Two granola bars and a box of cereal that I had just bought at the store. He was a lot thinner than the last time I had seen him. Life on the streets will do that to you.

Janete and I sat with Marcos for at least twenty minutes encouraging him to return to the boys' shelter. Telling him that it is not too late to return.

Marcos listened as we spoke words of truth and life to him,
"What do the streets have to offer you?"
"If you stay on the streets what kind of future will you have?"
"If you go back to the boys' house and keep studying and keeping walking the right way you will have a great future! God has better for you than this! God has the best for you! NOT this life on the streets. All you have to do is return to the boys' house. You can work things out there... We love you Marcos. God loves you SO MUCH! The people at the boys' house love you. Return Marcos! Return! You are worth more than this. Your life has value. God doesn't want you to be in the streets being beat up by the police. Your life has value!"

He listened... His only response was, "O.K. O.K. Maybe I will go back... "

I could see him really thinking about all we were saying. He was taking it all in. He was really thinking.

Our bus was now passing for the second time. We had missed the first one because we were talking with Marcos.

As I gave Marcos a hug good bye I told him, "I want to see you again. Return."

I then ran to catch the bus...

I know the Lord ordered our steps today.
We had been lost earlier in the day and we were annoyed at not being able to do an errand we wanted to do, BUT God had other things in mind. He ordered our steps to meet up with Marcos.

God wanted us to speak words of life and truth to him. To challenge him to return.

Please pray for Marcos to return back to the boys' shelter... God has a better life for him than a life on the streets. Pray that he can believe this for himself. He is worth SO MUCH!

PLEASE pray for this precious son!

*name has been changed

Friday, February 1, 2008

My New Home!

My new home!
This is the Light House Community Center (in Portuguese known as Luziero) which is located in a slum called Cafezal. The goal of the center is to impact the community around us with the love of Jesus Christ through offering programs to children and families. This year I will be working with groups of children here at the center! I am excited that I will be working with groups of younger children again.
This is a photo taken from one side. There are actually many different levels with many different parts to the house. Keep scrolling down and you will see more of the house!
The Light House is located on a BIG hill that overlooks the city of Belo Horizonte.
I have a great view of the city!

I like this shot, showing homes on the hill in Cafezal. Check out the dog sitting on the roof of a nearby home.

This is my bedroom! I am on the top bunk!
I share my room with two Brazilian girls who are working as staff for the YWAM Discipleship Training School (DTS) here in Belo Horizonte. The Light House offers DTS, a type of missionary training school, twice a year. Currently there are people here receiving training from England, Brazil, and Holland.

The view from my bedroom window!

One of the classrooms where we do educational activities with the kids!

The soccer court/hockey court/basketball court area where the Light House staff leads physical activities with the kids! AND the YWAM Hockey team practices and plays hockey (with rollarblades)!

The pool area! I will be swimming lots with the groups of children I will be working with. The kids LOVE the pool! It is a BIG treat to come and swim here.

This is Lady! She is the guard dog here at the Light House. I am so happy to have an animal at our house. I want to give her lots of love too!

Beautiful flowers blooming here at the Light House.

They remind me of the quote, "Bloom where you're planted."

God has planted me here at the Light House and my prayer is that I will grow, bloom, and bring joy to God's heart (just as flowers do...) as I serve the children and families here in Cafezal.

I am excited about the year ahead and thankful to be here!