Monday, May 27, 2013

The Lighthouse Community Center´s 21st Birthday Party

Here are a few photos of an event that was held at the Lighthouse Community Center this past Saturday.  It was the Lighthouse´s 21st birthday party!

Everyone from the community was invited to celebrate this special day at the Lighthouse.  Felipe was busy working, so I (Laura) took a few photos until Felipe had a few free minutes to also capture some shots.  Enjoy the photos!

Home Sweet Home!

We have been home now for a little over a week and we are very THANKFUL to be here.   I am reminded of the famous phrase from The Wizard of Oz, "There is no place like home."  This is true...

First, we would like to say THANK YOU to everyone who blessed us through prayer, encouragement and finances during our special time in the USA.  We appreciate your partnership so MUCH, and it is because of your support that we are here in Brazil serving the Lord.  Thank you!!!

Our journey back home was great!  We had the smoothest trip we have ever had returning to Brazil. The girls behaved wonderfully, the flights were on time, and there were surprisingly no problems at all. This is the first trip that everything went so incredibly smooth, and with two small children at that. Thank you to those who prayed for our travels!

Upon arriving at our home we were greeted with a clean home (cleaned by friends), cards, and gift baskets full of fruit and chocolate.  We felt loved!  I especially loved this card made by some boys who live here in the slum.

Welcome Matias Family.  May  God pour out blessings with out measure over you!

This past week Felipe has gotten back into working.  He has had several leadership meetings, worked with a children's group, helped cleaned the Lighthouse grounds, and even manned a fishing game at the Lighthouse Community Center's 21st birthday party.  To see more photos of the birthday party, click HERE.

Here are a few photos Felipe captured this week while working with the kids from the slum.

I have been focusing on getting our home in order.  Upon arrival I decided our house needed a major clean-out and reorganization.  Kind of like a spring cleaning... well, actually a fall cleaning as it is fall here in Brazil!  It is a new season in our lives, so I want to start everything fresh. Getting our home reorganized is a work in progress, so I am still (slowly but surely) getting things done.  I also have some home improvement ideas developing, but that will be for the future...

Sophia's bedroom clean and rearranged!

Another important focus I have (now that we are home), is getting our girls set on a good daily schedule.  The biggest challenge for us while traveling was SLEEP.    All the changing of places and schedules really effected our girls, especially Jessie.  Now that we have a consistent daily routine going, Jessie is sleeping wonderfully!  Jessie also really loves her comfy crib (she hated the pack-n-play).  Yay!  Major victory of the week - sleeping girls!  I am one happy mommy!  

Our kitty, Amora, is also super happy we are back home and is enjoying sleeping in Jessie's crib!

It is great to be back in Brazil.  Sometimes it feels like we never left.  The food, the traffic, the city, the weather, the slum where we live, it all seems so normal, so natural to be here.  Then I will see a kid that I have not seen since before our trip. I notice he/she is several inches taller and I am reminded that we have been gone for quite a while.  This has happened lots!  So many kids I know grew so much while we were gone. Many of the girls from my group last year are now budding teenagers!

It is wonderful to see the kids from the slum again, to walk through the tiny streets and see familiar faces, to smile and catch up with people we know who live here in the community.
This slum is our home... 

The other morning we walked to our dear friend's house to see her granddaughter's newborn kitten.

Sophia and I especially loved meeting this tiny and cute kitten!

God has called us to live our lives in a slum.  It may seem strange, yet in all the messiness, chaos and problems going on in the slum where we live, there is still such a deep beauty.  This beauty is seen through the smile of an elderly man sorting trash on the street, a blessing spoken over Jessie by an admiring lady, a teenage boy playing soccer at the Lighthouse, or even a little girl delighting in her beloved pet. The people of this community are so precious, so beautiful.

Yes, they may live in a slum, they may  not have much materially and they face many challenges, but these people are loved passionately by the Lord.  He sees them exactly where they are. He cares and offers grace to change and be transformed.  We are here to pray, encourage and share this message...

Returning home, I am reminded once again of our call to share Jesus with the people here in the slum.   
Hasn't He called us all to this?
To share Jesus right where we are at...

 This looks different for us all, but where ever we are today, we can share the love of Christ through our actions, our attitude, a smile, or a kind word.  The way we live our lives speaks loudly.  Every single decision we make shapes who we are and effects those around us. Whether I am at home caring for my two precious daughters or I am out and about in the community, my life makes an impact.

It is our prayer that we will be used for the Lord's glory and purposes as we live in a slum and serve with  Youth With A Mission in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  Please keep us in your prayers as we serve, grow, and walk in obedience the path God has set out for us.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New Video

We wanted to share that we have a new video!

The footage you see in the video was filmed by Felipe, in the slum where we serve in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  As you watch this short video, please pray for the many needy children living in slums all over the world.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Back to Blogging and Back to Brazil!

As you can see, I am now back to blogging and very soon we will traveling back to Brazil.

In just a few days we will be stepping into a plane and heading home.  We have spent 4 and a half months away from Brazil, which is a record time away for us!  First, we spent 3 months in Hawaii at YWAM Kona.  Felipe participated in a short term photography course run by the missions organization we serve with (Youth With A Mission).  To see photos and read more about this opportunity Felipe had, click here, here or here.

Then we spent about 6 weeks total in the Carolinas visiting family, friends and sharing about our missions work in Brazil.  Here are a few photos highlighting our time on the "mainland" - what the Hawaiian people like to call the continental USA.

 We enjoyed lots of family time!

Both girls loved spending time with their beloved Grammy! 

Bubble baths!
We don't have a bath tub in Brazil, so the girls have enjoyed taking lots of baths in the USA.

We did not get to visit with everyone we had hoped to due to limited time, but we are very thankful for the moments we shared with special friends and various churches.

My best friend Jessica (Jessie's namesake), her husband Greg and their oldest son Luke.
Ella (Jessica's daughter) holding baby Jessie.
My best friend from college, Carrie. We had not seen each other since 2008.
Bethlehem Baptist Church in Knightdale, NC -  This sweet church body received us in their missions house.
The beautiful home, owned by Bethlehem Baptist, where we stayed in the Raleigh area. It was such a blessing to stay here!
Jessie LOVED swinging in the parks in the USA!
A photo with our dear friends the Walker Family!

We also celebrated Sophia's 3rd Birthday!
To see more photos of her birthday party click here.

Family shot!  Princess Sophia is 3 years old and Jessie is 8 months.

Felipe and I shared one Sunday at Bethesda Presbyterian in York, South Carolina. 

Here we are in Charleston, South Carolina at Cypress Gardens.  We enjoyed 2 days in Charleston, SC visiting my sister Elizabeth.  We really loved these gardens.  It was so peaceful!

We had a special Mother's Day celebrating with my mom, in person!  It was our first Mother's Day together in years.  My parents got a special photo with the 4 grandkids and my sister Becky and me.

Right now we are packing our bags and getting ready to travel back home.  Please pray for us as we make our way to Brazil and transition back into life there.  We are thankful for the time we spent in the USA, but ready and eager to get home and get back into a good routine with our girls.

We will be sending more updates about our work and lives soon!  We really appreciate your prayers, encouragement and support.  We are truly thankful for all who have blessed us during our time in the USA.  We could not be serving as missionaries without the partnership and support of so many.  Thank you!

Now, it is time for me to get off the computer and get busy packing our suitcases!  Pray for us!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sophia's 3rd Birthday Party!

On Saturday we celebrated Sophia's 3rd birthday by having a joint party with her Uncle Shawn who shares the same birthday.  It was a Hawaiian themed celebration!

Saying CHEESE!!!


HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our sweet 3 year old princess!