Wednesday, October 28, 2009

We will miss you Lady!

Our beloved guard dog here at the Light House, named Lady, was put to sleep today because she has a serious sickness, and could possibly pass the illness on to other dogs.

I have cried a lot. Lady has been such a blessing to me personally as I have transitioned into making Brazil my home. I love animals and there is just something about having a pet that makes you feel more at home.

Out of all the dogs I have ever had in my life, Lady was my favorite. Felipe and I really considered Lady our personal dog, although she was much loved by almost everyone in the house - staff workers, the children from the slum, the volunteers, and the many international teams that visit here.

Yesterday Lady had a fun time playing with the kids from our group in the Light House park! Her last full day of life was a happy one filled with treats and special attention and love.

Lady was a beautiful dog, with a loving and sweet temperment. She will be missed dearly here at the Light House Community Center!

Monday, October 26, 2009

HAPPY NEWS!!!

We are VERY happy to announce that we will become proud parents in May of 2010!

We got pregnant during our honeymoon and are so thankful for this gift of life that God is giving to us! To read more details about what has been going on with us personally, just keep reading on. We also wrote this in our Fall Newsletter that we recently sent out.
If you do not receive our quarterly newsletter and would like to, please email us at laura.felipe.matias@gmail.com and we would be happy to add you to our newsletter email list!

A Visit to the Doctor

At the end of June, about a month before our wedding, I was sitting in the doctor’s office waiting to be called. I had recently completed several standard tests in preparation for my upcoming wedding day, and was just checking back with the doctor to confirm that everything was fine.

Thankfully, Felipe accompanied me to this appointment to support me and help with translation if needed. We thought it would be a quick and easy visit. When the doctor arrived, we were surprised to learn that I have three fibroid tumors in the walls of my uterus.The doctor counseled us to start having children soon if we wanted to have a family.

As we left the doctor’s office, I was in shock and felt many emotions. Both Felipe and I love children and have a strong desire to have a family. We also have a vision to adopt in the future.

Before we heard this news, Felipe would often joke with me saying, “Laura, let’s go ahead and start having kids SOON after we are married, please! Let’s not wait a long time.” I would respond, “Yes, I want to have children soon too, but it is wiser to wait at least a little bit.” But after we learned about my fibroids, we prayed and sensed that God desired for us to start trying to have children as soon as we were married. Although it was difficult to hear this news, we also felt a sense of expectation, hope, faith, and joy as we thought about starting a family sooner rather than later.

BIG NEWS!

After returning from our honeymoon, both Felipe and I were curious as to whether or not I could be pregnant already. Could it have happened so soon?

We were told it could take us possibly a year to actually get pregnant, so we were trying to be realistic and trust God’s timing either way. The second week in September we bought a home pregnancy test—and it was POSITIVE!

So, our BIG NEWS is that I am pregnant—already! It is amazing to see that on our first attempts of trying to get pregnant, during our first weeks of marriage, God blessed my womb and we are now preparing for our first child. We are going to have a honeymoon baby!

This wonderful blessing presents many challenges and transitions for Felipe and me. However, we know that God is working and ordering everything in our lives, for our good and HIS GLORY. We are excited about this life inside of me and feel privileged to become the parents of this very special child!

Complications…

Since becoming pregnant I have already had some complication due to the fibroids. Please be in prayer for me. In late September I began to experience extreme pain and made several trips to the hospital. I also spent over a week in bed unable to do anything. We were afraid that I may miscarry, but the doctors explained that some women experience pain while pregnant with fibroids. During the next month or so I should expect to feel pain off and on as my uterus is growing and changing.

The good news is that the baby is doing fine! I have been resting lots and have adjusted my working hours so that I can take better care of myself. The fibroids will not hurt the baby, and I am so thankful to say I am feeling better already! The pain has lessened and hopefully will not return again anytime soon. Felipe has also been a huge support to me during this challenging time. I am so thankful that God has blessed me with such an amazing husband and friend!

REJOICING!

We are rejoicing in the LIFE God has placed within me! Please be praying for protection and health over this precious life. We desire prayer for God's blessings over our marriage and grace, wisdom, and health during this season of being pregnant. THANK YOU for rejoicing with us, and for your faithful prayers!

Remain in Me...

Remain in Me and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.

If a man remains in Me and I in him, He will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.

This is my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit... John 15:4-5,8

This is a passage of scripture that keeps coming to my heart and mind over and over the past few weeks... Almost every day I think about it and it keeps returning to my thoughts. It is almost like God is pressing the repeat button and the message continues to play and replay in my mind. I know it is a message that God is speaking to me.

"REMAIN... ABIDE... be CONNECTED to ME."

From this place of knowing Him and being connected to Him, I will bear fruit. Not just a little bit of fruit, but the word says MUCH fruit.

How I so desire to bring glory to the Lord through a life that bears MUCH fruit, and this scripture tells me how. I just need to REMAIN in HIM.
I don't need to work more, do more things, pray more, read my Bible more. So often I think I can accomplish things in my own efforts. I often think -if I can just do this more or that more, be more disciplined and check off more things on my "to do" list. This leaves me in frustration with myself so often when I cannot fulfull what I feel I should be doing.
This frustration is not from the Lord. He is not expecting me to fulfill such high expectations. He is not demanding more of me. He accepts me as I am, weaknesses and all. He looks at my heart that so wants to please Him. He respects my limits as a human being. He helps me in my struggles. He is loving and infinite in understanding. He desires RELATIONSHIP with me above all. I matter more to Him than anything I could ever DO for Him. This is truth.
Psalm 51 beautifully expresses God's heart to us.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it... the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart O God, you will not despise.
It is so good to know that my loving Father is looking at my HEART... He sees my heart and loves me in all my brokenness. He is not looking to see what sacrifices I am making. It is about my heart.
But yet I struggle on. I work on. Trying to be SUPER Laura! You can ask my husband Felipe. He often says to me, "Laura, you are just one person." Many times I have so many ideas and so much enthusiasm to DO! DO! DO! Yet, GOD is calling me FIRST to abide and be in relationship with Him and through that place of knowing Him, HE produces MUCH fruit in my life.
I want to be like the "tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought, and never fails to bear fruit." Jer. 17:8
I am praying for this revelation to become a reality in my life. I need His grace to LIVE in this beautiful place of REST and REMAINING in Him, so that HE will be glorified.

Friday, October 9, 2009

100 DAYS in YWAM!

The chalkboard above says 100 days in YWAM!
This week in our children's group we happily celebrated the 100th day of our group. It was a day to rejoice and celebrate all that God has done over the past 100 days and a fun way to celebrate the number 100 and teach math skills.

Since the first day of our kids group back in February we have been counting each day of our group during our special calendar time. I did this educational activity when I was a teacher in the United States, and it is a great way to teach and reinforce various math skills. During the year we have been especially focusing on place value skills.

Here is the helper of the day showing our place value board that shows how many numbers are in the ones place, tens place, and hundreds place. We also count craft sticks to have a visual representation of each day.

We started our 100 Day Celebration with prayer and reading the Psalm 100. Listen to Psalm 100 read aloud in Portuguese!
video

During this special 100 day we had various centers to reinforce math skills. This is the 100 day headband center where the kids made decorative headbands and drew exactly 100 things!

Here the kids are making bead necklaces. Each necklace should have 100 beads! They were SO FOCUSED during this center. We were proud of their concentration, perserverence and discipline.

In this center the goal was to make 100 little things with Play Doh, as a team working together.

MISSION accomplished! Great Work!

We also had the children count out 100 beans, grouping the beans into groups of ten. If you do not know, these are the typical beans that Brazilians eat every day. Beans and rice is a staple here and Brazilians truly LOVE beans and rice. I have to agree, beans and rice are a tasty and healthy meal!

Here is the SURPRISE center! Each group got to do some baking and mix together a small cake for the 100 day party planned for the very end of the day.

These kids got to use some funny hair nets!

Our group lining up, decked out in their 100 Day headbands and necklaces, getting ready to head to the park for our 100 Day party!

This precious one praying for our refreshments. This little girl is an inspiration to me. She has a special relationship with God at such a young age. It is beautiful to see and I pray that she grows up to be a woman after God's own heart.
The rest of the group... praying along.
Time to eat! Chowing down on the snacks!
The cakes were a success and they turned out extremely delicious! These guys were serious about getting a piece of cake.

The girls enjoying the treats!

I had to get a photo with this special girl. On her headband where she drew 100 things, she put my name (Laura) and Felipe's name 10 different times. You can kind of see it in the photo here. So sweet!
Overall the day was fun and the kids enjoyed celebrating the number 100!
We are thankful for the 100 days that have already passed this year in our group. We have seen God work in beautiful ways in the lives of these children.

One of the things I most love about working with this group, is I love to see the kids just being able to be kids. I love to see them playing and laughing! Here at the Light House Community Center they can experience a taste of childhood. They can taste and see the goodness of the LORD.

The reality of life in the slum is that many children live in situations where they do not have the freedom to just be kids. Some of these very children in our group face harsh realities at home such as - a parent with HIV, lack of proper food, a father who recently died, a dad who abandoned the family, divorce, and a parent suffering with alcoholism. These are just a few of the problems present here in the slum and these children live in this reality.

Praise the Lord that here at the Light House these children encounter LOVE and can experience being the child that God has created them to be...even if it is just for a few hours.