Friday, January 28, 2011

It's a Boy!

In December I helped give a baby shower for a pregnant 19 year old girl from the slum. 

I just wanted to share that Maria's baby was born on January 14th!  She gave birth to a healthy baby boy!  They are both at home and doing great. Today I finally got to visit both mommy and baby.  Here are some photos of the beautiful baby boy...
How precious this baby is... 
New life declares the wonder and beauty of God. Isn't He an amazing Creator?  He is the Author of Life!
 Please pray for Maria and her son. Their living conditions are not the best, as they live in a poorly constructed house (which leaks a lot when it rains).  They also live with Maria's grandmother, brother, and 2 little sisters. Pray for good health for both mommy and baby in spite of poor living conditions.

Please pray that this family would  also grow in their relationship with the Lord.  They have seen His goodness and faithfulness during this time. One testimony of God at work is that while the baby was still in Maria's womb he was actually positioned with his head up and it was almost as if he was vertically sitting up.  The doctors kept a close eye on this, as they expected to have to do a c-section on Maria.  We prayed with her that the baby would turn and that she would be able to have a normal and natural delivery, and that is what ended up happening!  Just before the baby was born he turned inside the womb, positioning himself perfectly, head down.  Praise the Lord!

God has also blessed Maria with emotional support from the father of the baby, although they are not married.  There are many teenage girls who have babies here in the slum who do not have any support from the father of their children.  Maria's boyfriend was present during the delivery and is helping Maria a lot caring for the baby.  Please pray for this father that he would be able to get a job to help support both the baby and Maria financially.  Thank you for your prayers!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Captivating Vacation

Our family recently went on vacation to an island off the coast near Rio de Janeiro.  The island is called Ilha Grande (or translated into English "big island") and it is truly captivating in beauty!  God was faithful to provide specific offerings for us to go on this trip.  We enjoyed relaxing in God's beautiful creation and simply being together as a family.  We are SO thankful for this special trip that the Lord gave us! It was a much needed gift from Him.
We took many photos, so if you want to see a few check out Felipe's photo blog.
During our vacation I started rereading the book Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul  by John and Stasi Eldredge.  I read it about 4 years ago and felt God leading me to read it again.  Basically this is a book for women to learn more about God's heart towards them. The book is amazing, as it touches on so many important truths.  I totally recommend it!
As I was reading this book on vacation (and even now as I am finishing it here at home) God has been speaking so many beautiful truths about who He is and who I am in Him.  I have been so encouraged and blessed by this book.

I thought I would just share a bit of my heart here on our blog...

Lately, honestly, I have been a bit discouraged.  I have been in a place of striving, yet not realizing it.  God has been confronting me about this in His great love. I try to push myself as hard as I can to be who I think I should be, or rather "do" all I think I should.  As Sophia is getting older, I find that I am trying to take on more responsibilities, especially related to our missions work here.  I feel I should be super woman at times, but honestly that is not humanly possible.  I think I have written about this before on our blog.  I have a tendency to want to do it all, giving 100% in all areas.  Then in the end I end up totally exhausted, overwhelmed and burnt out. During our vacation it was a wonderful moment to just stop and reflect.  The Lord spoke many things...

Through the book, Captivating, God has been reminding me and sweetly calling me back to sit at His feet in worship. God is calling me to REST in His presence.  He is calling me to just "be" His daughter and to "be" in relationship with Him. It is not so much about what I do, or how much I can manage to do in one day (as I often try to do it all in one day), but He is after my heart.  God wants to know me and spend time with me.  God wants to captivate my heart with Himself and show me how captivating I am as a woman as well...

God is also teaching me once again about setting boundaries. I want to grow in the area of guarding my priorities and guarding my time with Him. I think there is so much more I could write now about what God is doing in my heart, but I will close for now with this quote from Captivating.  I hope it encourages you as it encouraged me.

Jesus says the first and greatest commandment is, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matt. 22:37).  Jesus wants us to love one another, yes.  He wants us to serve one another, yes.  But first and foremost, He wants our utter devotion and love for Him.  It is from hearts filled with love for Him that all good works and acts of love flow. 
(page124 of Captivating)

Ilha Grande

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Application Week!

 This week is application week here at the Lighthouse Community Center.  Kids (from 6 to 16 years of age) are coming daily to get an application form to apply to participate in the various groups that we run here at the Lighthouse. 
The children must fill out an application form, get their parent's signature, turn the form back into us and then in the beginning of February we will post a list of the groups and the children who "got in" this year.

Many boys from the community come to apply to be a part of our soccer groups. The boys here LOVE soccer!   Also, many of the kids want to know if they will be able to swim while they are here at the Lighthouse.  Each group will have a time to either learn how to swim and/or develop their swimming skills.
Some boys were even waiting outside the gates for the doors to open just to turn in their forms.
Applications, applications, applications...
The REASON we are HERE
This is one of the main reasons the Lighthouse Community Center exists here in the Cafezal slum.  We are here to bring the transforming love of Jesus Christ to the many people living in the slum who are in need of a Savior, who are in need of HOPE, and who are in need of God's LOVE. 
We are here for the kids... Just take a look at these beautiful children who are excited about applying here at the Lighthouse.  They want SO badly to be participating in the groups.  Once I even had a girl tell me it was her dream to be in a group at the Lighthouse.
 As the children participate here at the Lighthouse we are constantly sharing about Christ . We use our programs, sports, games, and various activities to teach biblical principles and we simply share our lives with the community. All the while, we are also sharing that God is a real and loving Father who desires to have relationship with His children.  God has a future for the people who live in this slum.  He believes in them.  He says that they are a people of great worth and the Lighthouse team is here to proclaim the Lord's great love for the slum. We want to teach these children the ways of the Lord so that they will grow up to follow Jesus and choose a path of LIFE instead of a path of death...

What is hard for me...
Honestly, the hardest part of this time of year for me is seeing all the children who want to participate in the programs here, knowing that we have space only for a select number of children. This is due to a limited number of staff workers.  Basically, the more workers we have who want to work with children, the more groups we can have, therefore more children can be participating. How I wish that ALL the children in the slum could participate daily at the Lighthouse Community Center. 

So many children apply with high hopes that they will get into a group, and many are disappointed when there is no room for them or no group available for their age.  Unfortunately at the moment it seems we have less groups than we used to have.

In February we will post which children were accepted into the groups. When the children find out if they "got in" or not, it always is a sad time.  I feel so bad for those who want so desperately to be participating at the Lighthouse but simply can not...  Many of these children will instead pass their time at home watching TV, playing in the streets, or getting involved in things that they should not be involved in.

On a happy note...
Sophia has enjoyed working with Daddy while he has been receiving the application forms.  She is quite the growing and happy little girl... She brings much joy to our lives and loves interacting with other children.  The kids were enjoying talking and playing with Sophia as they turned in their application forms.

Please pray for us as we will soon be planning the exact children's groups that we will offer.  Pray for the children and youth who will be entering the groups- that they would encounter God and learn here with us.  Please pray for the group leaders who will be planning activities and choosing children to be in their groups.  We all need God's wisdom and sensitivity to what HE would have us to do as we are planning for the 2011 work year... 

Also, please pray for the children who do not get into the groups here at the Lighthouse.  Pray for their hearts, their safety, and that they will also encounter the LOVE of God. Thank you for your prayers!

Monday, January 10, 2011

170 Children on a Thursday Afternoon...

Last Thursday afternoon we opened the Lighthouse Community Center to have a special children's program. About 170 children participated in all!  Here the children are arriving and waiting for the afternoon fun to begin!
 We currently have a team of 8 people doing their DTS missions outreach here at our ministry. They organized and led the afternoon with the help of the Lighthouse team.  Here two DTS team members are suited up in their clown outfits and ready to hit the streets in the slum to invite children to the afternoon event. I even went along to help translate.
Before the program began, some of the kids from the community had fun playing with and holding Sophia.  She is quite the popular girl here and so many of the boys that Felipe has worked with really love her and are so sweet with her.
Felipe translated for the team and also explained the Lighthouse rules.
At the moment the children here in Brazil are on their summer vacation.  Since we live in the southern hemisphere, summer is during the months of December, January and February.  It gets quite hot here during the summer months and also quite rainy here in our region of the country.  We were thankful for a beautiful afternoon of SUN with the kids!

In different areas of the Lighthouse grounds the children played different games.

I really enjoyed this afternoon because I was able to lead a game for the kids who did not want to play soccer.  The game I chose for us to play was a game of numbers. The little ones loved this game!
The idea of the game is that the children are to make a group of the number I call out. I would shout different numbers out and the kids would then make groups of whatever number I had shouted. All those leftover, who could not get into a group are then out of the game, and so the game continues...

Here are some shots of the kids making groups of 3.
 This time the children are making groups of 5...
 I really enjoyed this time playing with the kids and also talking with some that I already know.   Since I am often taking care of Sophia now, I have not been working directly with children as often as before. Last Thursday afternoon I really enjoyed  just being with the kids, playing with them and loving on them during this afternoon time.

One girl that I spoke with really touched my heart. She was having SO MUCH fun playing the numbers game and it brought such joy to my heart.  This young teenage girl had brought her 1 year old nephew along with her to the Lighthouse, and a friend was helping her take care of her nephew so the girl could actually play along and participate in the fun.

 At first I thought that this young girl (who seemed to be about 13) was actually the mother of the one year old.  I asked her, "Is he your son?"  The girl responded, "He is not my son, but I am the one who is raising him. My sister lives on the streets and is on drugs so I am taking care of her son now.  I am raising him."

I was so happy that this young girl could have a fun time and enjoy a bit of her childhood at the Lighthouse, even though she already has the responsibility to raise a child at such a young age.  It really blessed me to see her running around, laughing and enjoying the game we were playing.

After the games everyone headed back to the main room for a puppet show, a small message, prayer and then back  home they went.  The kids really had a great afternoon!
After events like this one, we usually have a meeting to talk about how the outreach went. We discuss the positive elements and think about ways to improve. We also end with a time of prayer...  It was a successful afternoon and we are looking forward to the next children's program which is planned for January 23rd!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cooking Lunch

For about a month now, our beloved cook here at the Lighthouse Community Center has been on vacation. We have all been taking turns cooking meals for everyone eating here and today it was my turn to cook!
At the moment we have about 20 people eating all their meals here at the Lighthouse.  We have a DTS team from England of 8 people and then a few members of the Lighthouse team (who are here working and not away for vacation).  Today I  succeeded in making a typical Brazilian lunch, but I had lots of helpful tips from my teammates. It can be quite challenging to cook for such a large group of people, but I am happy to say, "I did it!"

My hair net is now in place and I am preparing the meat to go in the oven...
I was most worried about making a large quantity of Brazilian style rice.  Here I am preparing the seasoning for the rice by frying a garlic and salt mixture in some oil.
Next I added in the rice, which had been rinsed in water.  I then fried the rice a bit in the oil/garlic seasoning.
My friend Andreia then helped me put the perfect quantity of hot water over the rice.  I then added some salt and put a lid on the rice and let it cook on low.
 I was super happy that my rice turned out really nice in the end!  Luckily there were already beans cooked that I just had to defrost and heat up.  I did not have to make Brazilian beans in a pressure cooker today...
 AlmoƧo (or lunch) is the largest meal of the day here in Brazil.  Every day for lunch Brazilians typically eat beans, rice, some type of meat, and depending on the person or region of the country, there may be a salad or vegetable.

Dishing up the yummy rice and beans!
Today for lunch we had the following;
Rice and Beans
Pork Sausage
Green Beans
Salad - with carrot, mango, and tomato on the side
Leftover pasta as a side
As our lunch hour was approaching, things were quite busy.  I was finishing up lots of little details all at once.

It can be stressful cooking for a large number of people and also trying to time everything to be finished and hot at exactly noon is quite tricky.  Today the sausages weren't cooking the best in the oven so my teammate Aldenito helped me cook them right up until people were loading their plates with food.  I was thankful for his last minute help. He came to my rescue and I sure needed it!

In the end we all enjoyed our quite "normal" Brazilian lunch, and I went from being focused on getting about 20 people fed to getting my sweet Sophia fed.  It was a good morning!