Friday, December 25, 2009

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Praying you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year celebrating those things that matter the most in life!

Love and Blessings,
Laura, Felipe, and Baby Matias

Saturday, December 19, 2009

YWAM Brazil Conference!

Last week, Felipe and I, along with 80 other staff who work with YWAM Belo Horizonte, took a LONG 12 hour bus trip to the city of Caldas Novas, which is located near Brasilia in Brazil. This was the destination of our YWAM BRAZIL conference!

The purpose of the conference was to bring together all of the YWAM missions bases in Brazil for a time of focusing on God together through worship, prayer, and teaching. During the week, it was also a time of focusing on FAMILY. We had opportunities to spend quality time talking with one another in our YWAM family. It also was a wonderful time - like a family get away - for the many many families serving in YWAM.

Below is a photo of Felipe and I at a special photo booth celebrating our family in YWAM. The sign below us says "FAMILY in YWAM." Some of the photos on the decorated wall include Jim Stier (the founder of YWAM in Brazil), Loren Cunningham (founder of YWAM organization), and Johan Lukasse (the founder of YWAM Belo Horizonte)...

So here we are on the wall with these old photos, because now we are part of the story of YWAM in Brazil. We are making history as we serve in missions here in Brazil!
We are part of the YWAM Brazil Family!

A beautiful dance/drama presented the opening night of the conference. The people are physically making the YWAM symbol, which is also painted to the right on the art easel.

We all enjoyed the great teachings of the week by various speakers. On the last night, Loren Cunningham, the orginal founder of YWAM spoke to us via internet. The main speaker was an American YWAM leader named Danny Lehmann. He has a huge heart to see people come to know God in a personal way.
Danny and his translater! She did a great job translating into Portuguese, but I really enjoyed hearing the messages in English!

A Brazilian couple that are amazing worship leaders. I really enjoyed being in times of worship during the conference.

Here is a clip of a fun and up beat song this couple wrote.
video

On the last day of the conference, a HUGE map was laid on the floor and we spent a whole morning worshiping and praying for the world.

Praying for the world together in groups.

Listening to Jim Stier, who founded YWAM Brazil 30 years ago, teach and pass much wisdom and passion on to us... Jim still serves with his wife here in Brazil. YWAM Brazil has grown SO MUCH over the years with currently 53 YWAM bases AND sending out many missionaries into the world!
Out of the 16,590 missionaries serving through YWAM, there is a total of about 1,300 Brazilians working full-time as missionaries. These Brazilians are not just serving here in the nation of Brazil, but they are also working in 171 of the 238 countries of the world. Incredible!

YWAM Belo Horizonte's information booth. Hanging out talking with other missionaries and the director/founder of our base, Johan Lukasse.

Our week was not just full of intense meetings, but we also enjoyed being able to spend time with our YWAM family - during meals and free times!

Here is photo of Felipe and I are enjoying our breakfast. Felipe is just waking up with his coffee!

We were eating with our good friend Ian...

Me with my friends Vanessa and Rosangela. They are hard workers here at the Light House!

In our free times we would enjoy talking and spending time together in the pools. There are natural hot springs in this area of Brazil, so the pools were all heated with natural fresh water. It was a relaxing treat! It was like we were swimming in a huge bath tub! It was great when it was a little cold outside.

Overall, it was a great week!
Reflecting on the week, a major thing God was speaking to us through the conference was the scripture from Matthew 22:37-39 to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind..." AND "Love your neighbor as yourself."

I saw during this week we did this. We took time out to just LOVE God and FOCUS on Him and what He would want to speak to us individually and as an organization serving here in Brazil. We also spent time loving on each other, investing in our relationships, and just being together...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

CELEBRATING 2009 at the LIGHT HOUSE!

It was a rainy Sunday afternoon in the slum of Cafezal, but that did not keep the kids away from...

The Light House's 2009 YEAR END celebration!

WELCOMING the KIDS!
The children were arriving and everyone was trying to squeeze inside one of the Light House classrooms. Felipe started the afternoon with prayer and a special word for the kids about having a grateful heart to the LORD!

It was a GREAT word because the kids were very disappointed that it was a rainy day and were complaining quite a bit because they could not play outside or swim. All throughout the afternoon we had to remind them to have a thankful heart and to enjoy all the other fun rainy day activities.
Listening to the word...
All throughout the Light House we created spaces with various activities for the children to enjoy during our rainy afternoon of free play time!

ART AREA!!!
Great artists at work, thoughtfully creating ...
One staff member's artwork which shows the Light House Community Center in the rain!
Beautiful and happy artists!
In the Art Area we also made lots of bead jewelry with the kids!
Check out our pretty necklaces and bracelets! Many of the children were making jewelry as gifts for someone else. As soon as they would finish making a piece of jewelry they would give it away. Sweet generosity was displayed!

THE LIGHT HOUSE THEATER
Due to the rain, we had an idea to have a MOVIE room! Since Felipe loves movies he volunteered to be in charge of this room. Here is a photo of some boys are chilling with Felipe watching ICE AGE 3 - which is an amazingly creative and fun animated movie!

GAMES! GAMES! GAMES!
The kids also had fun playing card games and board games!

UNO!
CANDY LAND!
PLAY DOH FUN!!!
Back at the ART AREA we also made the ever so popular PLAY DOH table!
I thought this PLAY DOH creation was so creative and cute. She even has a teddy bear!

SOCCER - A Passion in BRAZIL!
The boys were a little disappointed they could not play soccer in our nice, big soccer court area due to the rain, but at least they were able to play in the small court area. Here is a short clip of a soccer game. See which team scores a goal in the end!
video

SNACK TIME!
We ended the chilly and rainy afternoon with the perfect snack -hot chocolate and warm popcorn! The kids really enjoyed it!


Not only did we have a celebration together as a ministry, with ALL the kids who participate here in YWAM, but we also held special activities to celebrate the end of the year with our individual children's groups.

Ending the Year with
MY GROUP of BOYS and GIRLS!

On our last day of group, a volunteer from Holland named Wieke, led the children in a special cake decorating activity! The children enjoyed tasting the whipped cream and special edible cake decorations in the process of decorating their cakes.
SWEET TREATS!

As you can see, the kids had lots of fun with the whipped cream!

After the cake decorating session, all the children returned to our classroom to watch a slideshow of photos and video clips of our group activities during the year of 2009 at the Light House.
The kids LOVED the video clip I showed them of their dancing/singing performance in the recent parents meeting we held here at the Light House. They laughed SO HARD! This photo catches a bit of their joy in action!

Finally it was time to EAT the beautiful edible ART!

The children's cakes really turned out so pretty and colorful. It reminded me of when I would always make Gingerbread houses at Christmas with my 1st grade students in the USA.
Gathering around getting ready to enjoy!
Happily eating!

In the last weeks, here at the Light House we have enjoyed CELEBRATING!
We have celebrated the lives of all the precious children who participated here at the Light House during 2009. We see how God has brought transformation to so many lives, sometimes the change is in small ways, but we are thankful to be a part of planting seeds and bringing God's LOVE to many children living in at risk situations.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

THANKSGIVING BREAKFAST

It may sound strange to hear that we had a Thanksgiving breakfast...

It was not the traditional American feast of turkey, dressing, gravy, sweet potatoe cassarole, pumpkin pie and much much more! However, it truly was a special time for the staff and volunteers here at the Light House Community Center to reflect on the year and praise the Lord for the many many things that we can be thankful for!

Because of busy schedules, it just so happened to BEST celebrate Thanksgiving on Friday morning (the day after Thanksgiving), so we had a special Thanksgiving breakfast instead!

Everyone brought something yummy to share. Here we are loading up our plates!

I made Chocolate Chip Cookies! Everyone loves it when I make these. Homemade chocolate chip cookies like this are not a common treat here in Brazil. Actually just preparing the chocolate to make these can be difficult, because I have to buy a huge chocolate bar and cut it into tiny bits to make the chocolate chips. I always think of home when I make them, so I decided to make this! They turned out a little different but tasted great!
After we ate we had a time of sharing. I shared about the history of the holiday of Thanksgiving in the USA and how it orginated as a day to thank and praise God. Then, we went around the room and each person spoke about things that he/she were thankful for.

It was a beautiful time of sharing and thanking God and others in our team. Many people openly share about challenges that had occured during the year and how God showed His unfailing love and faithfulness in the midst of difficult situations. Some people even cried as they expressed their gratitute.
Marcelo, a Brazilian staff member who runs the soccer school here at the Light House, stood as he shared about the many things he is thankful to God for.
.
When it was my turn to share about what I was thankful for the main word in my mind was FAMILY.

This word FAMILY came to me for MANY different reasons...

I am so thankful that my family (including Jessica, Amy, and Tom- I consider them a part of my family too because I love them like family) who all came to Brazil this year for me and Felipe's wedding celebration. Words can not express the THANKFULNESS I have for that. It was so special for me to have them ALL here and to be able to share this part of my life with them AND to celebrate such an important day of my life.

Also, financially, my family and my family in the body of Christ has faithfully supported me and helped to make my wedding day possible - financially. God provided in our lack in amazing ways!

I am also thankful for my YWAM FAMILY! Although my family is living far away from me, in the United States, God has placed specific people in my life here in Brazil to be my family here. I am so thankful for the deep and meaningful relationships I have made in my YWAM family.

Also, I am thankful for the FAMILY God has given to me personally.
This year God showered His love on me through the gift of marriage. God has blessed me with an amazing friend and husband who is so full of the grace and wisdom of God. God shows me HIS unconditional love and care so much through Felipe. I stay amazed...

And now we are SO BLESSED to be starting our own FAMILY soon! After difficult news of my fibroid condition, I was extremely fearful of never being able to have children. However, God blessed us and I got pregnant just weeks after our wedding day. God is fulfilling the desires of our hearts and giving us a FAMILY!

I am THANKFUL for FAMILY!

Overall, it was a great Thanksgiving celebration for us! We even had ice cream together (but after lunch) which was SO perfect because it is now SUPER HOT here in Brazil!

Hope all of you had a memorable and special Thanskgiving holiday weekend!!!

There is SO MUCH to be THANKFUL FOR!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ice Cream Outing!

On Monday we took our kids group on an Ice Cream Outing as a way of celebrating the end of the year together as a group! Enjoy these photos from our special outing!

Off we go! Walking down our HUGE hill to the Ice Cream shop!
I really enjoyed the time we spent walking to the ice cream shop. I had some great conversations with a few kids about my baby, loving others, and a bunch of other stuff.
During the walk several kids just wanted to talk talk talk! They were almost fighting to take turns to be able to speak to me. I see how valuable outings like these are. It provides a fun and different atmosphere to talk about all kinds of subjects AND to listen to kids. I think often adults do not take the time to really listen to kids. I felt God speaking to me during this trip to listen and just enjoy talking with these precious children...

Waiting patiently as the many orders are being made. I was so proud of how well they all behaved!
After a bit of waiting, everyone received their ice cream.
I scream. You scream. We all scream, for ICE CREAM! Horray!
Cool kids!
If you look closely, she has a bit of ice cream on her nose. So cute!
All smiles and enjoying her ice cream treat!
Walking back up our huge hill to the Light House. We burned off some ice cream calories on our walk back.

Overall, it was a great afternoon of spending quality time together!