Friday, July 29, 2011

A Day at the Refuge House

Our life in missions is very different at the moment... As I shared before,  Felipe and I are temporarily serving at a ministry called the Refuge House,  a shelter for children with HIV/AIDS, to help take care of the two boys still living at the shelter. 
I am still adjusting to the new flow of our daily schedule. Every day is different and has it's own sets of challenges. I see that I have more of a "mommy" focus being here at the Refuge House as I am taking care of my daughter Sophia along with the boys here.  I like this and I am enjoying the different season we are in as a family.

This post shows a day of work for us here at the Refuge House.  Lately, one of the boys has been away visiting his extended family (during his school vacation) so we have been working with just one boy named Daniel*.  We have really enjoyed getting to know this precious boy.

A Day at the Refuge House
I wake up every day to Sophia calling out " Mom!  Mom! Mom!"  around 6:00 or 6:15 in the morning and so my day begins...  It is actually funny because Sophia has not gotten the last part of Mommy yet. She just calls me "Mom".

I let Sophia play in her bed a while so I can get a few things done or have some time to pray or read the Word before rushing into the day...  By 6:45 or 7:00ish I am getting Sophia up and out of bed.

Sophia and I wake Daddy up and then we all start to get dressed and ready for the day.

About 7:30 we wake up one of the boys, named Daniel, who has been living in a room connected to our house.  He drags out of bed and showers while one of us walks (with Sophia in the stroller) to get bread at a nearby bakery here in the neighborhood.

Here in Brazil it is common to get fresh baked bread at a local bread shop every morning for breakfast. I am enjoying the delicious fresh bread from this nice bakery.
 Once we return to the Refuge House, Felipe makes coffee - Brazilian style!  He boils water on the stove and uses a filter to make our coffee.
By about 7:45 or 8:00 breakfast is on the table and Daniel is out of the shower. Daniel takes his medicine at 8:00 am.  Actually, one of our biggest responsibilities and concerns of the day is to remember to give medicines on time.  The medicines for HIV are super important for the boys to take on time, every day. We enjoy our breakfast together out on our patio here at the Refuge House.
We clean breakfast up together and then take laundry downstairs to the laundry room to wash any dirty clothes or bedding first thing in the morning.
On some mornings we pray together with other missionaries who serve here at the Refuge House. Sometimes we need to go to the Lighthouse Community Center for various meetings.  Felipe and I are still a part of the leadership of the Lighthouse ministry although we are helping out at the Refuge House at the moment.  If we go to the Lighthouse, we usually take one or both of the boys with us.  At the Lighthouse, the boys can play outside, fly kites, or go swimming while Felipe and I are working or in meetings. 

At 9:30 am Sophia goes down for her morning nap. Usually during this time I have my daily quiet time. If there is a meeting or some other reason I can not have my quiet time during the morning nap, I try to have it during Sophia's afternoon nap. Finding this time alone with God is always a challenge as a mom.  Felipe helps me to protect this precious time in various ways. He is the best!

Also, some mornings I have kitchen duty and I am responsible for cooking lunch for the small team and children here at the Refuge House.
We enjoy eating family style as a team.
If we are working during the day, we spend time after lunch cleaning the kitchen.

At 2:30 in the afternoon we pray together with team members, as we either end our day shift (if we worked during the day) or begin our afternoon/night shift.

When Felipe and I work, we work as a family, with Sophia by our side the whole time.  Basically we fill our work hours spending time with the boys doing normal things that a family would do together.  We clean, complete tasks around the house, cook, bake, watch movies, read, play games, have long talks, go on walks, run errands and the list goes on...

Daniel loves pushing Sophia around in her stroller when we walk around the neighborhood.
Felipe is enjoying introducing Star Wars to the boys.

 We also have devotional times with the boys where we study the Bible and/or pray for various things.  We are praying that each boy will grow to have an intimate relationship with God.

If we are working the afternoon/night shift we have the whole day free and begin work at 2:30 in the afternoon.  We spend time with the boys in the afternoon and I make dinner or heat up leftovers and we eat by about 6:30.  After dinner I focus on caring for Sophia more (giving her a bath and getting her ready for her 7:30 bedtime) while Felipe continues to spend quality time with the boys.

Felipe prays with the boys and puts the boys to bed by about 9:00 or so and then we are off to bed too! I go to bed early and Felipe stays up a little later as he is the night owl in the family!

So this is basically what our life is like at the moment.  We are enjoying this new and different season God has blessed us with, as we are working directly with children and really investing in the lives of the boys living here.  We feel this is a special time for us as a family, a time that is a gift from the Lord.  We came to the Refuge House to be a blessing, to the boys and to the staff here, but God is blessing us back SO much in many different ways.
 We are thankful!

*The name has been changed for the protection of the child.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Stronghold

Every once and a while I share songs here on our blog.  Below are the lyrics to a song that has been singing in my heart since we have arrived to work at the Refuge House, a YWAM shelter for children with HIV/AIDS.

 As I mentioned before, the shelter part of the ministry is in the process of closing down.  There are two boys still remaining here at the Refuge House under our care and two other staff members - Carla the founder and leader of the ministry and Joshua a missionary from the USA.

 We are fervently praying for God to open the right doors for the two boys to be adopted by loving Christian families or to go to another shelter.  Above all we are praying for miracles to happen and believing God's best for their lives. Please pray together with us for the two boys still remaining here at the shelter. His plans for them are GOOD and God has a wonderful future and hope for them!

I am declaring the powerful truths from this song over the boys...  Jesus Christ is their protection, their defense, their stronghold, their hope and Jesus has made them whole by His victory on the cross

By: Watermark

Lord You are my light and my salvation
Whom shall I fear if You are near
Lord You are my peace when there is war all around me
Even here inside me, I will have no fear

Oh Lord You’re my protection
From my enemies
You set me high upon a rock
And You defend my soul
When their ways advance against me
I am confident
That they cannot make me less
For You have made me whole
Oh Lord, You are my stronghold
You are my stronghold

Lord You are my strength
So let my head be lifted up
That I may glory in the ways
You’ve overcome
Lord You are my hope
‘Cause You’ve created in me
A heart that lives the victory
That You’ve already won!

To hear this song click here!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Our First Week at the Refuge House

We have been here at the Refuge House for 5 days now!  We arrived Monday afternoon with a lot of our things, settled a bit into our new home and started working with the boys right away.

We are enjoying all the space in our temporary home. It is quite large compared to our little round house at the Lighthouse.  We feel very blessed to be living in such a lovely and spacious place. Here are a few photos of our apartment!
This week we have been spending lots of time with the two boys who are still living here at the Refuge House. We have been playing with them, cleaning together with them, learning their daily routines, and simply spending time getting to know the boys better.

Felipe has really been enjoying playing with the boys.  Over the next few months Felipe is going to have so much fun "playing" and the boys are totally loving this attention and interaction.  So far, the boys have enjoyed playing cops and robbers, video games and of course the favorite game of most Brazilian boys - soccer.  During the first night of working with the boys, after a time of running around outside, Felipe came into the kitchen out of breath proclaiming,"I am so out of shape!"

Today, Friday, is our first day off after an intense week of moving here mixed with a busy schedule of meetings (Felipe had to go to) and also working with the boys.  Sophia and I (Laura) also have been a bit sick fighting off a allergy/cough thing.  We had today off from work to rest and settle into our house some more and then this weekend we will be caring for one of the boys named Daniel*. We will be his host-family for the weekend!

Daniel is a beautiful and sweet 11 year old boy who loves helping and spending time with people.  Daniel and I have spent lots of time this week putting together these puzzles.  Daniel loves puzzles!
In our new home here at the Refuge House, there is a spare room that is connected (from the outside of the house) to our house.   It was an office/storage space, but this week we have cleaned out this spare room and we are in the process of making it into a nice bedroom for Daniel.  He will be moving from his bedroom downstairs to sleep upstairs near our family.  Of course Daniel is SUPER excited and happy about living so close to us!   
Daniel has lived here at the Refuge House since he was 3 years old.  Basically, life here at the Refuge House is all Daniel has ever known.  I see the amazing love and mercy of God so clearly over Daniel's life.  God has protected Daniel from so much because he has grown up here. The Refuge House has literally been a place of refuge for him. I praise God for this!  However, I am also saddened because Daniel has spent most of his life here, instead of being in a family.  We are praying for Daniel to be adopted by a loving Christian family.  Please pray together with us for this! 

*The name has been changed for the protection of the child.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A New Adventure!

We have BIG news... We are going on a new adventure!
God has brought an opportunity to us and we felt compelled to respond and serve.

We as a family will be going on a short-term missions trip (as we like to think of it) for a few months.  
 Until we go to the USA in October, we will be temporarily living and serving at another ministry here in Belo Horizonte, BRAZIL within our Youth With A Mission (YWAM) base.  We serve with YWAM Belo Horizonte a mercy ministry missions base which focuses on reaching children at risk through a network of various ministries. Click here to see the official YWAM Belo Horizonte website.

The ministry we will be working with is called Casa REFUGIO or the REFUGE House.  It is a shelter for abandoned children with HIV/AIDS.  

To make a long story short, the Refuge House is in the process of closing down permanently as a shelter for children.  There are currently two boys still living at the shelter, and there are only two full-time staff caring for the boys, one being the leader and founder of the ministry, Carla.  We will be serving at the Refuge House because there is an extreme need for staff to help take care of the two precious boys still remaining at the shelter.  
Our family in front of the Refuge House Ministry with leader and founder, Carla, a missionary from Holland.
At the moment my little house is a mess!  I am in the process of cleaning, organizing, and packing up most of our clothes, some books and kitchen essentials to move to the Refuge house for the next few months!  Of course we will be taking our new kitten Amora along, which we know the boys will love!

Here is a little information about the REFUGE House taken from the YWAM Belo Horizonte official website.

Thousands of children are born each year with the HIV virus which eventually causes AIDS. At this present time, there are approximately 40 million people in the world with HIV/AIDS, of whom more than 2 million are children.  

In 1992 the Refuge House was opened to take in orphaned and abandoned children with HIV/AIDS. Up until today, it is one of very few evangelical shelters for children with HIV/AIDS in South America.

An international team of staff live with the children in the Refuge House to look after them in a family environment and teach them that God is a loving father. The children in the Refuge House are like any other child. They play, dirty their clothes, laugh and cry. Besides the usual necessities, like a healthy diet, they also need special medical, psychological and educational attention.

A big challenge is to find families to adopt the children. Even so, more than thirty children from the Refuge House have been taken in by new families. But we need many more evangelical families who can adopt!

 Please pray for the adoption of the two boys who are still living at the Refuge House. We are hoping they will find good homes where they can encounter the love and acceptance of a family.

Please be in prayer for the ministry of the Lighthouse Community Center and the 2 missionaries (Dave from England and Maarten from Holland) who will be leading the Lighthouse while we are away for the next 5 months.

Also please pray for us, the Matias Family, as we work with the two boys at the Refuge House.  We need the Lord's wisdom and guidance in all we do and we truly want to be a blessing to this ministry.  We sense this is something God has called us to do for this short season and feel it will be a special time of growth for us on many levels.
Stay tuned, as we will write more here on our blog about our adventures of serving at the Refuge House.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

We were happy to have my mom here in Brazil this 4th of July holiday!  To celebrate we took photos together wearing red, white and blue.  


Happy Independence Day!