Monday, September 24, 2012

Photography School


Felipe has been chosen to participate in a Photography School at a YWAM base located in Kona, Hawaii.   

 This Photography School combines two of Felipe's passions - missions and photography!   Felipe has never had any formal photography training and this school sounds perfect for him. Felipe hopes to grow in the area of photography and use what he learns to impact children living in the slums of Brazil.

We, the Matias Family, will spend a short season of three months in Hawaii (January until March of 2013) and then we will quickly visit our supporting churches and loved ones in the continental USA.  We will return to Brazil in May of 2013 to continue serving strong as missionaries with YWAM in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.   God has called us to reach out and minister to children living in at risk situations in Brazil. This is our life calling! 

God has miraculously provided the funds to buy our airfare (read about it here).  Now we are in the process of raising money to cover the Photography School tuition, the room and board fees, health insurance and other various costs for our family of four.

If you would like to help support us financially in this amazing opportunity, please check out the Photography School page. There are various ways you can contribute and every little bit helps and is a huge blessing to us. 

 Thank you for your encouragement, support and prayers as we follow Jesus on this exciting journey of faith in missions.

To read more specifically about this YWAM Photography School click here.

To read blog posts about what God is speaking to us, click on these links: 
Hawaii Bound, if all the doors OPEN!   &  "My Favor is On You..."

To see more of Felipe's photography, take a look at his photography website:
  www.luizfelipematias.com

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"My Favor is on You..."

For a while now I have been wanting to share a story here...
A story about God encouraging us, reminding us of His favor. 


 A few months ago we went to a little party for all the missionaries serving with YWAM Belo Horizonte.  At the party there was a raffle type game.  All the names of the women present were thrown into a one pot, the men's names were thrown into another pot, and all the names of the children were thrown into a third pot.  Then the drawing of the names began!  Ladies went first and my name was chosen!


I was excited because I never win anything.  My prize was a nice glass jar, that is supposed to be used to store pasta or cookies, but we are using it for something else.
(It's our Love Jar- where we save money to invest in our marriage. I got the idea from Ann Voskamp.)

Then a man's name was drawn and it was Felipe's name.  He won the book, A Cry From the Streets,  (in Portuguese- Um Grito das Ruas) written by Jeannette Lukasse one of the founders of YWAM Belo Horizonte.   (Awesome book, by the way, that tells the story about how the missions work here at YWAM Belo Horizonte began.)

Next a child's name was drawn and yes, you guessed it... Sophia's name was chosen and she won a CD of Christian children's songs.



Our whole family won something!  I was so surprised because like I already mentioned,
I NEVER WIN ANYTHING.

But then it gets even funnier... The drawing continues, and the next name pulled out is the name JESSICA!

I turned to our friend Jessica and pointed to my pregnant belly and jokingly said, "It is for this Jessica, not you..."  We all laughed!

Interesting enough every single name in our family was CHOSEN during this drawing.

I know this whole situation may seem like something small and maybe even silly, but on this day God began speaking to my heart in a BIG way. He said to me, in that still small voice, 
"Laura, my favor is on you and your family. Believe Me. Trust Me."

During the days leading up to this party I had been struggling in my heart about believing God for the impossible.  At this moment God gently and lovingly reminded me of who HE is.  He is the God of the impossible!  He is a God that grants favor and  He wants me to believe in Him and trust Him with my family, our finances, and our future.
If He can cause each name in our family to be drawn in a random game, surely He can do even greater things.  He is with us and His favor is on us.


The Challenge Before Us


As many of you know, in January of 2013 we are planning to go to a YWAM base in Kona, Hawaii for 3 months so Felipe can participate in a photography training school.  God has given this amazing opportunity to Felipe, and I know He will use this time in a unique and special way in our lives.

I am the money manager in our family, so when we started taking steps of faith towards participating in this photography school, I constantly would think about our financial condition.   We receive no salary and live completely by faith in missions, trusting God to provide for all our needs through donations, but in order to do this school we need MUCH more money than usual.  We need miracles to happen!

Felipe, full of faith, continually proclaims how God will provide for us as a family if it be His will for us to go Hawaii, but I have moments where I really struggle with believing God for the finances.  ( I am improving though. God is working on me...)

I look at the numbers and the amount of money we need to raise to make it possible to even cover the travel costs and I am overwhelmed.   I see the reality of the challenge before us, financially.  In the whole process  I have prayed, pouring out my heart over and over to God asking Him, "How are we going to do this financially?"  
It really seems impossible to me at times.  Yet God keeps sending reminders of His favor and love.

Recent Reminders

Just last Friday, I woke up to an email from our dear friend Kate, who served as a missionary here at the Lighthouse a few years ago.  Now she is a YWAM missionary in another city in  Brazil, is married and has a precious little girl.    

Kate felt God prompting her to write us to encourage us. She shared her own personal testimonies of God's amazing provision for her family, as they are serving in missions.  Kate encouraged us that God would provide for us in miraculous ways just as He has been providing for her family.

  I was in tears as I read her email and was encouraged deeply in my spirit.
  Again, God reminded me of His favor, telling me,
"My favor is on you..."

Then the very next morning I woke up to another encouraging email!  This email was from YWAM and it was a financial statement listing all the donations that we had recently received. When I opened the statement my mouth dropped.  I was shocked and overjoyed.  One of our dear and faithful supporters (which I lovingly call "the faithful ones") sent us a VERY generous donation.  Thank you- you know who you are!!!  I woke Felipe up immediately (it was 6:30 am) and told him the great news.  I just couldn't wait to tell him! 

As soon as we received this special donation we knew exactly what the money was for.  We had been praying about how we were going to buy our airplane tickets to Hawaii.  The earlier you buy tickets, the better the price and since the school begins in just 4 months, we really needed to buy the tickets soon. The special offering was a direct answer to prayer.

So with GREAT JOY we can share that we just purchased our airplane tickets this week, thanks to the money God provided for us.
GOD is faithful!  We still need to raise funds to help pay for the school and to cover other various expenses, but God is really encouraging us.
He is repeating this same message to us over and over, 
"My favor is on you..."



So, now I feel like I can finally say with confidence and certainty, 
"We, the Matias family of four, are FOR SURE going to Hawaii (for 3 months) so Felipe can do the YWAM photography school!"

Also, since we will be in the USA already, we will be visiting South Carolina and North Carolina for 6 weeks after our time in Hawaii.  By paying just a little bit more, we were able to purchase tickets to pop over and visit the continental USA before heading back to Brazil to continue our missions work.  We are looking forward to visiting dear family and friends in the USA after our short season in Hawaii.

  We are thankful and excited about the doors God is opening for us.
I just wanted to share here what God is doing and give Him all the praise and all the glory!
It is all for His Kingdom!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Welcome Jessica Hope!

Last Saturday, September 8th, 2012 at 1:10 am
Jessica Hope Matias
was welcomed into the world, and she came quickly!


Baby Jessie was born weighing 3.230 kg = 7.1 lbs,
and measuring  48 cm  = 18.9 in.


After a busy Friday, I started having strong contractions around 5:00 in the afternoon.  By 11:00 pm (when my contractions were 8 minutes apart) we left for the hospital.  I must say, the 30 minute ride to the hospital was quite an adventure!  With every turn or bump my body was jolted into another contraction, but we made it to the hospital!

Upon arrival at the hospital we found out I was already 8 centimeters dilated.  The doctor jokingly said, "You almost had this baby at home!"   I was then rushed upstairs to get ready to have our baby girl.    All the nurses were impressed and saying, "Wow!  You look good for being 8 centimeters dilated!"  By 1:10 am, Jessie made her grand appearance!

Enjoy this little video Felipe made of our beautiful Jessie!





Sophia was super shy to meet her little sister.




Our first photo as a family of four!




Jessie was born full of health and is continuing to do wonderfully! 




She even has one cute, tiny dimple!




  We are in love with her!




Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from Him.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are children born in one's youth.
Blessed is the man who's quiver is full of them...
~ Psalm 127:3-5a ~

Friday, September 7, 2012

September 7th - Our Day in Photos

7:30 am -  I open the door to Sophia's room and find her in this dress.  Since waking up she's proceeded to take off her pajamas and diaper and then dress herself! Her dress is on backwards, but she did pretty good.



8:30 am - I am making breakfast - french toast with homemade bread!  We often will eat french toast on the weekends and since today is Independence Day here in Brazil (and we have the day off), I decided to make a special breakfast.  



9:30 am -  Felipe spent some time during the morning hours working on some video stuff.  He is currently filming footage for a video about our work here in the slum and the YWAM Photography School he is planning to participate in this January.  He is borrowing our friend Kelly's awesome camera for the weekend to be able to do this.  Thanks Kelly!
 Sophia is "helping" Daddy and enjoying seeing some video footage of herself on the TV!



10:00 am - My mom made a call using Skype to talk with my dad back in the USA.



11:00 am - We were in the YWAM Kombi van on our way to visit Felipe's family.  We decided to visit them today since we all had the day off from work.
We got stuck in some traffic along the way.

video


Many people in the downtown area of the city were enjoying their day off and celebrating the holiday by attending the Annual Independence Parade.



11:45 am -  We arrived at Felipe's family's apartment.



12:15 pm - Sophia is helping Grammy give out gifts she brought from the USA for Felipe's family.





We ate a traditional Brazilian lunch and spent the afternoon hours just visiting.  Sophia loved spending time with her beloved Aunt Renata!


Here I am showing Renata my new point and shoot camera!  My old and faithful camera broke recently.  I actually I bought it back in 2007 when I began my adventure here in Brazil!

My family surprised me with a new simple point and shoot for my birthday!  Perfect for me!  I am so thankful for this, as I have NO CLUE how to use Felipe's fancy professional level camera.  Now I can take photos again and we have a little handy video camera too! :-)


4:00 pm - We are back home!
 Felipe is opening the gate to drive into the Lighthouse Community Center.  Most places are gated and protected with high walls here in Brazil for security purposes.  This is a normal part of our daily life, opening and closing this big green gate to drive in and out of the Lighthouse.


5:00 pm - After we got back home my mom, Sophia and I take some time to rest and have some down time.  I went and laid down because at this point in my pregnancy laying down is the most comfortable position.  I am 39 weeks pregnant today!

Sophia laid in the bed with me for a while watching a little video on the computer, while I read. Felipe is out in the slum filming for his video again.  He wanted to film during the best hours of lighting.  Our home is nice and quiet and very peaceful...



 6:00 pm - It's started getting dark and Felipe arrived back from filming footage in the slum...



7:30 pm -  A late dinner!    Felipe ordered a few sandwiches from a nearby sandwich shop and they were delivered here by a delivery boy on motorbike.

Here is a look at hamburgers Brazilian style!  There are lots of little potato fries on them.



I was not in the mood for a sandwich tonight and was craving southern comfort food, so my mom made me some grits ( from the USA) and scrambled eggs! 


8:00 pm - Felipe put Sophia to bed (a little later than usual).  As I was working on this post, I think I may be starting to get contractions.  They started around 5:00 pm and feel stronger than the Braxton Hicks contractions I normally have.  Could this be just a false alarm?

 We shall see.  Time will tell.
  Maybe our Jessica Hope is on her way...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Story Behind the Name

When we found out we were having a little girl at our ultrasound back in May, we soon realized we were faced with a big challenge.
What would we name our little girl?


We had a boy's name picked out (actually since I was pregnant with Sophia), but we had no girl names strong in our minds.  We were super excited about having another girl, but for us it is also important that we choose a name with great meaning and significance.  So the challenge to come up with "the name" was upon us...

In the USA people can often give creative and interesting names and everyone easily adapts and learns to say the name (even if it is uncommon).   This is not the case in Brazil.

As we began to make a list of the girl names we liked, almost every name just did not seem to work.  The pronunciation of the name would be majorly altered here in Brazil, thus loosing the fullness of the beauty of the name.  Also, I could just imagine the endless problems I would be bringing upon my child if I were to give her a really strange name (for Brazil).  Can you imagine having to live your whole life in a country where everyone says your name wrong and having to deal with that? We wanted a name that would work easily here in Brazil. 



So as my belly grew more and more, we kept thinking and praying about our future baby girl's name. Our conversations often went like this...

Felipe:  Laura, what about the name _____ ?
Me:  No that won't work...  I don't like it so much.
(I must admit I am picky!  I did not like many names Felipe suggested...)

Or I would be the one to think of a name...
Me:  Felipe I love the name _______.   What do you think?  Will it work?
Felipe:  Well it will probably end up being pronounced like this________.
Or
Well, actually that is not a name, but it is a word in Portuguese.  It means ______.
Me:  No, that won't work then...

From the beginning, both Felipe and I loved the name HOPE, but it would just not do for a first name.  The pronunciation here would actually be "Opie" -you know, like the name of the boy on the Andy Griffith show - Opie Taylor.

We decided to save the name HOPE and use it as a middle name. A different or uncommon middle name is bearable here in Brazil, but the first name needed to at least be easy and doable here...

One day when Felipe and I were once again playing the name game, Felipe suddenly looked at me and said, "I know!  I got it!  What about the name JESSICA?"

I looked at him and smiled, "That could work..."

One of my very best friends (since I was a child) is named Jessica.  We met in the 4th grade at school (when we were just 9 years old) while participating in a talent production together.  We performed a number to the song, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."    I was cast to play the part of the main character, singing the popular song, as about a dozen little girls (dressed up as trees) danced around me singing back-up.  Jessica was one of the many graceful, dancing trees...  How I wish I had photos documenting those days!

Later on,  when we were 12 years old, we were assigned to be roommates at a church camp.  The rest is history... We became best friends for life!  I realized today that we have known each other for almost 24 years! (Starting to feel old here...)

 We have been through SO much together over the years - really hard and painful things, beautiful and precious moments, major life changes - just so much!


Even though we live far apart from each other now, it does not change our friendship.  I still know that Jessica is there for me no matter what.  She knows me and understands me in a unique and special way.  She knows where I have come from and  (since we grew up together) she is literally like another sister to me.  Her friendship has blessed my life immensely and God has used her to speak deeply into my life!

 

So after kind of "sitting on" the idea of the name, thinking and praying about it, we have joyfully decided to name our soon coming baby girl...

JESSICA HOPE

These two names together create SUCH a beautiful meaning...
  The name means:
"RICH in HOPE"

The Lord also confirmed the name through a sweet time of worship and He gave me this  scripture:

"May the God of all HOPE fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may ABOUND in HOPE."
~Romans 15:13~
This is our prayer for our new baby girl. We pray she will ABOUND in HOPE and be one who is abundantly RICH in the great HOPE of the LORD, Jesus Christ.  We pray that her HOPE will always be in Him, no matter what comes her way in life...

So, we will soon have two amazing girlies with beautiful, strong and meaningful names (that work both for Brazil and the USA)...

SOPHIA GRACE , our 2 year old daughter's name means WISDOM and GRACE...
(To read about the name of our oldest daughter - click here.)

And  JESSICA HOPE, our soon to be born baby girl, whose name means RICH in HOPE.


So this is the story behind the name...

Soon our JESSICA HOPE will be making her appearance into the world and we will be sure to post lots of photos!

On a more funny note...
We actually are going to call our new baby girl "Jessie" as a nick name.  I LOVE the nick-name Jessie. I think it is fun and super cute!  Felipe LOVES the name Jessie too, but for a different reason.  He is a big fan of all the Toy Story movies, and as soon as we started considering the name Jessica he said, "And we can call her Jessie, like Jessie from Toy Story!"



I wanted to be sure to mention this, because for Felipe this was one of the MAIN reasons he wanted to name our girl Jessica.  Funny huh?  Only Felipe...  :-)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Month of Celebrations!

Every year during the month of August we have a lot to celebrate...  
August is the Matias Family's month of celebrations!



First we celebrate our wedding Anniversary, which is August 7th.  This year we celebrated 3 years of marriage with homemade gifts and a simple candle-lite dinner (which we set up inside a classroom here at the Lighthouse).  It was wonderful! 



I framed the vows I made to Felipe on our wedding day, and Felipe drew this picture for me...




Felipe also made this sweet slideshow video.  I love the song he chose...




This year, on August 11th, Felipe passed his driving exam and officially became a driver.



August 12th was Father's Day here in Brazil.
As a Father's Day gift, I made a fun blog post, on Sophia's behalf...

On August 25th, my wonderful and thoughtful friend Kelly threw me a diaper shower to celebrate our baby girl who is almost here!  It was such a great afternoon hanging out with friends.  I felt very loved and was blessed with lots of diapers!  Thanks girls!



Felipe and I both celebrate our birthdays during the month of August too!  
This year I turned 33 (on August 15th) and Felipe turned 29 (on August 28th).   On Felipe's birthday some of the boys from the slum came in to wish Felipe "Feliz Aniversario" by egging him. Egging someone and also throwing flour on the person is a fun birthday tradition among kids here in Brazil. This year, Felipe just got egged - no flour... 




Here is a photo of Felipe in his new birthday shirt (from my sister Becky), with his two new coffee mugs (of his favorite soccer team - São Paulo).  He loved these gifts!




We also are celebrating the arrival of my mom.  She arrived in Brazil on August 29th and will stay until the end of September to help us during the arrival of our soon to be born baby girl.  




My mom also showered us with birthday and baby gifts from friends and loved ones in the USA.  Thanks SO much everyone!  We are extremely thankful for all the blessings and much needed items!




Now that my mom is here, we already have taken advantage of having free childcare.  We decided to have one last romantic date night out (before our baby girl arrives) to celebrate all the special August dates.




We went to a nice Brazilian Steakhouse, and we go here only on VERY special occasions.  Like any good Brazilian, Felipe loves steak and really enjoys eating Brazilian barbecue.  This is one of his favorite places to eat.




August was full of many reasons to celebrate life and God's goodness and faithfulness to us as a family.  We are THANKFUL!  
We are now looking forward to the next BIG celebration... The arrival of our daughter, who is due to be born sometime in the next 2 weeks!