Monday, June 23, 2008

AN INSIDE LOOK...The life of one little girl living in the slums of Brazil

The following story I orginally wanted to include in my summer newsletter, but that was getting WAY too long. So I decided to post it on my blog.

I wanted to share this story so that people could get an understanding of what life is like in the lives of children and families who live in the slums of Brazil.

Every life has a different story. Many children are born into complicated family situations and histories, full of harsh realities such as death due to the drug trade, disease, poverty, abuse, neglect...


This is just one story of one little girl living in the slum of Cafezal, Belo Horizonte.

"The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty."


Mother Teresa



Beautiful Maria* is eight years old…

Her parents are separated. Maria, her three brothers and one sister (all under 13 years of age) were all living in their father’s house – yet this father is hardly at home and when he is at home he spends most of his time with his girlfriend. Maria’s mother abandoned the family a year ago. She had no contact with the family, but then in April returned for a visit and is now thankfully a part of her children's lives again.

Maria’s dad often leaves his children to live alone in their small, dirty house for two to three weeks at a time. He travels with his job and although he works a lot, the children do not have the basic necessities--consistent daily meals and proper care and clothing. A few weeks ago, Maria and her two brothers went into a neighbor’s home and stole food because they were so hungry. It is very dangerous to steal within a slum community because the drug lords enforce their own set of laws. If someone steals from someone else who lives within the slum the drug lords will beat or torture the person as a form of punishment.

Maria’s hygiene suffers as well due to not being properly cared for. She often arrives to our morning girls group wearing old, dirty clothing with many holes and smelling of urine. She also recently had a terrible case of lice! I spent some time trying to comb the lice eggs out of her hair, but after three weeks Maria still cannot seem to get rid of them! Maria is hungry for affection from a mother figure. She struggles to express her true emotions and is constantly seeking attention through unusual behavior.

Maria often spends hours playing in the streets. She has no concept of what day of the week it is or what time it is. She often has arrived late to the Light House simply because she has no one to help orient her with what time it is and what day of the week it is. Many times she would ask me, "Laura, do we have YWAM tomorrow?" I have always tried to help her remember the days of the week and when we have our girls group.

Due to many concerns about all the children in the family, some leaders from the Light House recently met with the father and mother to discuss the situation of this family. Thankfully some important decisions were made by the parents and hopefully the overall care and living conditions of the children will improve.

It was decided that Maria and her younger brother, who is six years old, are going to live with their mother and her new boyfriend (on the other side of town). Now these two young ones who need the most care and attention will be living with their mother. Hopefully this will be a good move and the children will transition into a new school and new neighborhood well.

The three older children will continue to live with the father. Both the father and the mother have agreed to do a better job of caring for the children. The parents are starting the process of getting an official divorce and the children will be allowed to visit each other and their parents on the weekends.

Please pray for this family! For healing, protection, restoration, and for the family to respond to the LOVE of God that is revealed to them over and over. There is HOPE for each child and the parents as well through the LOVE and REDEMPTIVE POWER of Jesus Christ!

All five children have participated in some way in the programs offered here at the Light House and we as a staff are going to continue to work with and monitor this family's situation. We desire that God will give us wisdom in how to approach and truly help this family.

* For her protection the child’s name has been changed and the photos are of other children from the same community.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dia da BIBILIA!!! BIBLE DAY!!!

Recently we had a special BIBLE DAY to celebrate the BIBLE here at the Light House with the youngest children that participate in the children's groups here!

Our house leader, Felipe, starting our day with prayer and singing songs!

The children singing and doing motions to a popular kid's song here.
"Read your Bible pray every day, pray everyday, pray everyday...
If you want to grow!"

Me presenting a skit about the value of hiding the WORD of God in your heart.


Two precious ones standing in line near the decorated doorway!



TREASURE HUNT!!!

Searching for SILVER and GOLD!
We taught the kids the following verse

The law from Your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold. Psalm 119:72

Then we sent them on a treasure hunt to find their own piece of silver or gold.
And they're OFF!

Each child finding their piece of silver or gold!


My sweet girls showing their treasure. Each piece of gold has the verse from Psalm 119:72 written on one side.

The afternoon girls group with their pieces of gold and silver!


This smile is priceless!

The children completing a problem solving activity. Each small group organized the words from different scriptures in order - like a puzzle!

We shared with the children about different countries where people can not worship freely or even have their own Bible. The stars are placed on the map marking the top ten nations where there is no religious freedom and in most of these nations Bibles are illegal.


The children SUPER FELIZ with their new, cool and colorful Children's Bibles!

The afternoon girls' group with their new Bibles!

A THUMBS UP for the new Bibles!

Reading away in his new Bible!




Enjoying snacks and our Bible Party in the park!


Our girls coloring a follow-up activity with a Bible verse!

Our BIBLE DAY was fun and each child was SO HAPPY to receive their very own personal Bible!

Thanks again to White Plains United Methodist Church of Cary, NC for donating the money to purchase these Bibles. This community has been blessed by this offering!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Tea and Bibles for the Ladies!

On Tuesday I gave a special TEA for the women from the slum who participate in the water aerobics class here at the Light House!
Here is a photo of the beautiful women, the Light House lifeguard/water aerobics instructor (Professor Nunes) and me!

Enjoying YUMMY treats!

The dessert in the tray on the table is a special apple cobbler recipe that my Grandma Bookout makes. I called my grandma the night before the tea to ask for the recipe and ALL the ladies liked this treat the BEST! Many people want the recipe now!


Delicious Orange Cake!!!



I presented a video about the life, death, and resurection of Jesus Christ! It was beautiful and set to music that spoke of the MAJESTY of KING JESUS.

I recieved a SPECIAL donation from White Plains United Methodist Church (Cary, NC) to buy Bibles to give to the families and children we minister to here at the Light House.

I am happy to say that we were able to bless each woman at this special Tea with a brand new Bible!!! They were very thankful and blessed by this gift!


Women already reading in their new Bibles! They are hungry to read the WORD of GOD!

This sweet elderly lady told me that the Bible I gave her was the first Bible she has ever had in her whole life. I am pretty sure that she can not read, but still I was overjoyed to be able to place a Bible in her hands! Now she has a Bible and even if she can not read, some one may be able to read it to her.

After I gave this women a Bible she said to me, "Laura, this is the best present I have ever received. I never had a Bible before and now I have one. Thank you so much!"

I was surprised to hear that she had never owned a Bible as well and was again so happy that now she has one. Soon afterwards I saw her already searching the scriptures and I snapped this shot.

The woman on the far right with the yellow shirt is currently in two courses here at the Light House. She is in a literacy course, learning how to read and write and in water aerobics.

After I handed her a Bible I said to her, "I know you are learning to read right now so I will be praying that you will continue to learn quickly and be able to soon read this book!"

She said, "Yes, I want this! In Jesus Name!"

HAPPY with their NEW BIBLES!!!

It was a wonderful TEA to celebrate these ladies and honor them by giving them each a Bible.
I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to White Plains United Methodist Church in Cary, NC for donating the money to purchase and distribute these Bibles! God Bless you for giving to this community here in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. May the WORD of God that is going forth produce MUCH fruit and bring transformation here!


Stay tuned... NEXT week we will distribute Bibles to some of our kids groups! I am excited about this!