Monday, September 28, 2009

Back to Life...Back to Reality!

After an amazing honeymoon here in Brazil, Felipe and I are back at home in the Light House Community Center located in the slum of Cafezal.
Our honeymoon was very relaxing and such a gift to us from God. We visited three different beaches here in Brazil and truly enjoyed being together and being outside in creation. Times of rest and investing in our relationship are SO important. At times our life can be really intense living and working together in ministry.

We have been back working now for almost a month and are getting adjusted to life as a married couple. Life is busy, but rich and full of adventures and challenges. God is constantly teaching us new things about Himself and the children and people we work with.
Above is a photo of our little round house! We are living in YWAM accommodation and feel blessed to actually have a small home inside the Light House grounds.

In this post, enjoy the many photos, videos, and writings about the many happenings of our lives here at the Light House Community Center!

Meetings, meetings, and more meetings...
So an important part of Felipe's role as the Light House Director and my role now that I am also a part of the leadership of the Light House is MEETINGS. So we are back to work and we are going to meetings!

Felipe is in many more meetings than me, and it may seem like not a very "missionary -like" thing to do. However, this is actually an extremely important part of leading the house. It is through one on one meetings and meetings with various people and leaders that unity comes, problems are resolved, prayers are answered, and we can together communicate and support one another to help bring the kingdom to this world.

Each week we participate in the base leadership meeting with other leaders from various ministry houses who work with our YWAM base. We also have meetings to sit with the staff and just talk and help support them in their missionary journey.

Praying for the WORLD!
One Friday afternoon, the Light House hosted a international party/prayer meeting! Each ministry house that works with YWAM Belo Horizonte presented a different continent.

During this time, we as a YWAM base prayed for all the continents of the world and also enjoyed learning new and interesting facts and needs about each corner of the world.

The Light House staff presented North America and we prayed for Mexico, USA, and Canada. We also presented a little something from the culture of Mexico and everyone did the Mexican Hat dance! I was dancing and presenting so I unfortunately have no photos of this, but I do have a video clip of the Africa presentation. I LOVED the dance and music that they presented. This prayer day was also a great time of celebrating diversity, interceding for the nations, and also remembering our calling to spread the good news of the LOVE of Jesus Christ to ALL in the world.
The Restoration House presenting Africa!

Teaching and Preaching!
Since we have arrived back in Belo Horizonte, Felipe has had the honor to teach and preach more! He preached at a worship service and taught for 3 days in a Discipleship Training School (DTS) at a nearby YWAM base in a city called Contagem. The YWAM base in Contagem was actually the very first YWAM base in Brazil. Felipe also preached just last week at the Thursday night service here at YWAM Belo Horizonte.

A photo of us before the service.
A video clip of the message Felipe was preaching. He is preaching in Portuguese and it is being translated into English.

My group of PRECIOUS kids!
Above our kids are listening intently to a new leader in our group! Melina, a fun loving Brazilian, came on staff here at the Light House in July. She has been a great blessing to our group and has been helping out A LOT since my life has been pretty busy over the last consecutive months.
Roller Skating once again! The kids love any chance they get to roller blade here at the Light House. We have enough old and repaired skates so that each child in the group can skate.

One boy was combining soccer and skating!
Beckie teaching a lesson about dental hygiene. If you look closely she placed HUGE teeth in the puppet to teach her lesson. The kids loved it!
We think the RAINY season is starting! It is not raining every day yet, but more and more recently there has been RAIN!
Just last week we had such a sweet time with some of the kids in my group. All the kids were swimming in the pool and then suddenly a HUGE thunderstorm arrived. In the pouring rain we had to get all the kids out of the rain and into a safe and warm place. The warmest place we could think of was the Light House Kitchen!
While in the kitchen Felipe, Beckie and I played games with the kids until the thunder storm passed and they could safely walk home. We were in the cozy and warm kitchen at least 30 minutes playing games. It was such a fun bonding experience together!
The boys in our group were really enjoying Felipe joining in and playing the games with us! I could see how much the boys were looking to Felipe as a male role model and really seeking his attention and affirmation. This is a strong need that young boys have - a good male role model.
A fun parachute game we were playing one day!

The Light House BOYS!
Recently another Light House group of boys held a special presentation of things they created. They were challenged by their group leaders to create models representing their dreams for the future of the Cafezal slum.
They did an amazing job with their creations and were so proud of their accomplishments! Many staff and other children visited their "exhibit day" and supported their hard efforts.

Just look at their beautiful smiling faces. They were so proud of their work. Unfortunately, many children from the slum are very critical of anything that they do or make, so activities such as these are really EXCELLENT to encourage and show the boys that they have worth, are intelligent, and have something valuable to contribute to the world. I was so full of joy on this day when I saw how happy and proud these boys were because of their special presentation.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Our Beautiful Wedding Day!

Enjoy looking at these amazing photos of our wedding day!

Our wedding was decorated by an talented group of faithful friends who work with us as missionaries here at YWAM Belo Horizonte. So many of our friends truly blessed us by decorating and serving in the preparation of our special day. We are extrememly grateful to all who helped make our day SO beautiful!

The Preparation of the Bride
While the wedding location was being prepared the bride was also being prepared!

A dear friend and bridesmaid, Rosangela and I, at the hotel where we girls got ready.
During the morning my mom, sisters, and bridesmaids all came to visit me at the hotel. It was wonderful to have SO many special people with me while I was getting ready.

Make-up and hair almost done!

Ready and waiting...

On the Way!
There was a MAJOR traffic jam and we ended up starting the wedding 2 hours late. Everyone was stuck in traffic! Here I am in traffic reading over and practicing my vows on the way to the wedding site.

I arrived at the wedding site earlier than many so I was hiding in a room, waiting and waiting for the wedding ceremony to begin!

A photo of a few of the beautiful children from the slum of Cafezal who were invited to our wedding. We invited many children that we work with here at the YWAM Belo Horizonte base to our wedding! These girls in the photo below were flower girls during the ceremony.
Guests waiting for the ceremony to begin!

The Ceremony!
It was a blessing to have so many people important to both Felipe and I at our wedding! Many many people from Felipe's large family, my family and special friends from the USA, and also our YWAM family were all present to celebrate with us.

My handsome husband Felipe and his mother entering in.

I was SO THANKFUL to have my parents, Ernice and Jim, my two sisters, Becky and Elizabeth, my brother-in-law, Shawn, and two of my best friends, Jessica and Amy (and also Amy's husband Tom) present at our wedding. A total of 8 people came from the USA. Well, actually 9 people came because my friend Amy is pregnant with her baby girl Lydia!

My mom and dad!

My dad soon came to keep me company until it was my turn to go down the aisle.

Walking in to meet my beloved...

Suddenly, as we were walking down the aisle, the little flower girls began to throw their left-over flower petals at me. It was a joyous, beautiful, and spontaneous moment! I was laughing as I was making my way down the aisle.

The ceremony was in both Portuguese and English. We were greatly honored to have Tijs, the former leader of the Light House Community Center and mentor to Felipe, officiate our wedding ceremony. My friend Michelle (a fellow YWAM missionary) translated the ceremony excellently into English.

The first thing Felipe and I wanted to do as a married couple was sing in worship to our loving Father. At the end of our wedding ceremony we sang one song in Portuguese called Ao Unico and How Great is Our God!

Laura and Felipe MATIAS!


The Reception!
Our first dance together. We danced to the song "You are So Beautiful to Me" which is the same song Felipe sang to me the night he asked me to begin a relationship with him.

My best friends from the USA! Amy, beautiful and pregnant, and Jessica, a wonderful mom of two little ones! They both blessed me SO MUCH by traveling all the way to be with me on this special day. I am thankful for such loving and faithful friends!

The amazing SWEETS table! So beautiful and delicious!

YUMMY ~ Passionfruit mousse!

Our beautiful cake!

Dancing with the kids! This was a moment I loved!

Boys from Cafezal slum, all dressed up and enjoying the party! Felipe has worked with each boy and personally invited them all to our wedding.

Amy and Tom enjoying the reception! I am so happy they came to Brazil and they are hoping they will be able to come back and visit again soon. Hooray!

Felipe and I at sunset, sitting to eat during the party.

Boys enjoying the music, the lights and dancing the night away!

A fun self-take of me and Jess during the party!

Eating our cake!

It was a beautiful night with a full moon.

Arriving at our hotel - super tired, but happy. It was an unforgetable and special day!

We would like to say a BIG thank you to all our friends who helped serve in any way with our wedding - preparing for the wedding, decorating, preparing the food, cleaning up afterwards and even helping taking photos and filming. THANK YOU!
All of the photos I have posted here are from friends and family! Thanks!

Also want to say THANKS for those who supported us from far away. Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, financial gifts, wedding gifts, and simply for loving and supporting Felipe and I, as we are following God's calling to serve together as a married couple in missions.

Also, I want to say a special thank you to my wonderful family and friends who traveled such a LONG distance to come to Brazil. We made some funny and unforgetable memories during your time here. Thank you for showing me your love and for giving me one of the best wedding gifts I could have possibly recieved - your presence here! I love you all, and Felipe and I are so thankful you ALL came!

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
His LOVE endures forever!
Psalm 107:1