Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Skating Group

A skating group is starting up here at the
Lighthouse Community Center!

The past few Saturdays children have been coming to the Lighthouse to roll around on skateboards and roller blades.  Salome, a missionary from Australia, is leading up the skating ministry.  Salome held these special Saturday skating sessions to pique the interest of the kids and to see which kids would be serious about learning to skate.  Soon Salome is starting up her skater group, which will meet twice a week, with the aim of teaching the kids skating skills while sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.  

The kids LOVE skating, as you can see in these photos that Felipe recently took!

Here is a shot of Salome skating at a nearby skating park.  Please be in prayer for her as she heads up this group and also please pray for the kids who will be participating.  All of the kids are from the slum and many of them come from harsh realities.  An opportunity to participate in a program like this one is so good for these children.  May the kids encounter the love of God, as they learn of Him as they learn to skate! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Washing Clothes

At the moment my washer is chugging away, washing the clothes of an 11 year old boy, named Jonathan, and his grandmother. They live here in the slum and are going through a really difficult time, with little resources and few friends or family to help them.

Jonathan today during an activity at the Lighthouse.

Jonathan´s mother is in prison and no one knows where his father is.  Jonathan actually spent the last 5 years of his young life living in an orphanage, but then this past April he ran away.  Now he is living with his grandmother who lives here in the slum, only she is extremely ill and bed-ridden.  Because of Jonathan´s grandmother´s sickness much is going unattended in their tiny home.  They have little food, the house is extremely dirty, and there is little help with needs such as washing their clothes or caring for both Jonathan and the ailing grandmother.

Several weeks ago a few volunteers from the Lighthouse team were walking the streets in the slum and met this precious boy.   They were able to encourage him and buy a few groceries to bless him and his grandma. 

Since this encounter, Jonathan has been participating quite regularly in the activities here at the Lighthouse (he was even here today!), people have gone to visit his home to lend a helping hand (I hope to go one day soon), and we have all been praying for him and his grandmother.

Today, when my friend Lonneke (and volunteer here at the Lighthouse) stopped by and asked me if I minded washing Jonathan and his grandmother´s clothes, I was so happy to say, "YES!"   My heart was full of gratitude for my trusty washing machine, which was given to us as a gift.  Using what I have, as simple as it may be, I can serve in a practical way, even while I am at home caring for my little ones.

Please pray for Jonathan and his grandmother. May this precious boy and his grandmother truly encounter the deep love and tender care of a Father who never leaves or forsakes.

Jonathan claims his greatest wish is to one day be adopted. When I hear this my heart swells with pain, imagining the life this little boy is leading.
Please pray for the health of the grandmother to improve as well.
I hope that one day, with much dignity and strength, this dear grandmother can wash her own clothes again...


A little side note:

Lately I have been really missing serving the people from the slum. I miss working with the kids and their families.  I miss hugging their necks every day and speaking words of life to them.  Yet, I know I am in a season in which God wants me to focus on my own family and serve in different ways.  I also know that one way I can always be a part of the work in the slum is through prayer!

I was so happy to be able to help in this simple way today, and my prayer is that God would continually bring these types of opportunities my way.  Divine appointments in which I can share His great love with the precious people here, even if it is something as simple as washing clothes.   Will you also pray for me about this?  There are constant needs around us, so I want to serve as God leads.  Thank you for your prayers! :-)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July 15th - Our Day in Photos

 7:15 -  Felipe and Sophia left for school.  Sophia went to preschool and Felipe went to his first day of staffing the Community Center focused Discipleship Training School (DTS).  It is being held at another YWAM ministry house called the Rock House, which is located in another neighborhood in the city.

7:45 - Jessie and I were having some quality time together, just us two.  We watched a little of a Baby Sign Language video, as I am starting to teach Jessie baby sign language!

8:15 - Intercession time at the Lighthouse. 

9:00 - Jessie and I went to clean up some decorations from a surprise birthday party we had here at the Lighthouse over the weekend.

9:45 - Felipe was at the Rock House working with the DTS.  He ended up translating the first day of class.

10:00 - Jessie napped and I was able to respond to a few emails and clean a little.

 11:00 - Jessie and I walked to pick up Sophia from her preschool.  Now that Felipe is gone most of the day with the car, we are walking to pick Sophia up and then returning home by bus.

11:35 - Back home already.  We made a quick stop at the fruit shop on the way home.

11:45 - A quick fruit snack before lunch!

12:00 - Lunchtime! My friend Andreia was helping me feed Jessie.

12:45 - Making artwork! Sophia was enjoying playing together with Annelieke, who is from Holland and is serving as a volunteer here at the Lighthouse.  Although Anneliekeis from Holland, she actually spent 10 years of her life living in Brazil.  Her parents served as the leaders of the Lighthouse for many years (before I came to work at the Lighthouse), and they really invested a lot in Felipe and mentored him during their time in Brazil.  It is great to have Annelieke here visiting us!

2:00 - Jessie was settled down for her afternoon nap and Sophia was having a quiet/rest time too, so I could have some quiet time myself. I am REALLY enjoying the Beth Moore Breaking Free Bible study. 

3:30 - A few ladies practiced some dances for an up coming children's outreach.  Sophia enjoyed watching them dance. 

Sophia and her friend Sara Joy, another missionary kid.  These girls love each other and spent a good part of the afternoon playing together.

5:30 - I received a super special visit from a friend from the USA. This is Katherine and we did our DTS together at YWAM Denver back in 2005.  She is on a trip, traveling the world, and has already traveled through Asia and Africa!  Read her blog HERE and watch a video about her HERE.  She is spending a few days in Belo Horizonte.

After this we got so busy talking and enjoying our time together, we forgot to take photos! 

Hope you had a great Monday!  
This is just a little taste of our lives in Brazil...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Breaking Free Bible Study

I am leading a Ladies Bible Study among the missionary ladies who serve here at YWAM Belo Horionte
It is my first time ever doing this and so far, so good.  We have already met together two times and we are enjoying the study of Breaking Free, by Beth Moore.  Have you heard of it?

Inspired by the Ladies Bible Study running at my home church, Covenant Church International in Raleigh, NC, I decided to do this study.  It was something I was praying and thinking about for years, but I felt apprehensive about doing it because the material is completely in English.  I did not want to exclude anyone (my exclusively Portuguese speaking Brazilian friends), but at the same time I really wanted to do some kind of Bible Study.  After much encouragement from a friend, I made the decision to just go for it. I bought the material while in the USA and now have a group of girls studying the Bible along with me - in English.

I thought, "This will be worth it, even if I just find one lady who wants to do the study with me."  Well, lots of ladies were interested.  Our Ladies Bible Study group consists of ladies from 7 nations: USA, Australia, Northern Ireland, England, Holland and Brazil!

We are enjoying this Beth Moore study so far.  We find ourselves laughing loudly and deeply moved by the many stories and words of life Beth Moore boldly proclaims in her video sessions.  The homework is also helping us all to dig deeper into the Word of God and apply Biblical principles to our own personal lives. It feels so good to be doing a focused study like this and have other ladies doing it along side me.  I love accountability!

 Please pray for us missionary ladies as we study the Word of God together and grow in our walk with the Lord.  We desire to break free from the things that hold us back, and live in the amazing and abundant freedom God has for us as we serve as His ambassadors of love in Brazil.  
 I am convinced that God wants to use this study deeply in our lives.  He wants to give each of us a deeper revelation of His freedom, and also use our lives to set the captives free here in Brazil! 

  He has sent me to comfort those whose hearts are broken,
to tell the captives they are free,
    and to tell the prisoners they are released.
Isaiah 61:1 ~ New Century Version

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Pray for Paperwork

So, I have been in the process of trying to get my permanent visa here in Brazil for more than 3 years now. It has been quite the adventure trying to obtain this visa, and there have been many bumps in the road, but hopefully I am almost to the end of this seemingly endless journey.  

On Tuesday, we went to the Federal Police (for what we had hoped would be the last time), to submit two big packets of paperwork.  One packet of paperwork was to finalize my permanent visa, and the other packet was a compilation of documents needed to correct/make a name change due to an error I made when filling out a form (upon my arrival in Brazil back in 2007).  We ended up leaving the Federal Police discouraged and frustrated.  We could not submit either packet of documents.

While there, we found out we had been previously misinformed (by an officer at the Federal Police) and therefore we had gotten documents issued to us incorrectly.  What was the mistake?  The documents should have been issued using my maiden name- Bookout.  We had them issued using my married name - Matias.  Time and money wasted.  Now we have to redo the whole list of documents before we can submit them.

We also found out about an extra document we need, that no person or list had ever mentioned before. In order to obtain this document, we have to go to the nearest US Consulate, which is in Rio de Janeiro.  So, next week we have an appointment in Rio to obtain this document.

Will you pray for us?  
We have much to do in little time!
Not only do we have to make a special trip to Rio (during a very busy work week), I have exactly 3 weeks to get at least 10 different documents reissued to us here in Belo Horizonte.  There is an expiration date on one SUPER important document so that is why we need to rush to get all this done!

 Obtaining all the documents in Belo Horizonte involves going to the downtown area of the city, paying for parking, going to various government buildings, waiting in (usually long) lines, paying fees and really working hard to get these documents in order.  Sometimes just making the trip and waiting in line lasts longer than actually getting the document itself.  Felipe has spent the last 2 weeks helping me to do this and has spent hours working on this already.  He is such a servant. Now we have to start all over again.
Did I mention we need prayer?  We also need much grace and patience as we try attempt to get all these documents again.

Long story short, please pray for us.
Pray we can get these documents reissued perfectly and that we will efficiently get everything in order to submit all the required paperwork to the Federal Police.  Pray we won't make any mistakes and/or forget anything! There are lots of details.

I have been told I will still get the permanent visa, so that is GREAT news. The officials just want me to try my best to fix that little BIG mistake that was made upon my arrival in Brazil. To fix it has been surprisingly, extremely extremely complicated.

We appreciate your prayers SO much!  Thanks in advance for standing with us during this challenge.  I am reminded of  Jesus' words in John 16:33,
 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

This is true. God did not promise us that life in this world would be easy. We face struggles and challenges, but we face it with the Lord.  He is with us every step of the way!  I am so thankful for this!
 In this whole situation, I pray we will walk with grace, and use every encounter and situation (even the frustrating ones) to bring honor and glory to the Lord.  His ways are higher than our ways and we want to be directed by Him every day, where ever He leads us, even when waiting in a long line for a document to be issued to us.
We are His and our lives are in His hands...

Monday, July 1, 2013

New Car and New Preschool

We have some exciting stuff going on in our family!

First, we want to share the good news that we were able to buy the car, that we shared about just a few weeks ago.
We now have a family car!

  What a blessing!
Felipe has already driven it several times to help out the ministry here at YWAM Belo Horizonte.

Thanks to those who prayed with us about this or gave a donation towards the car.  With some money we had in savings plus some money we borrowed from my parents (who were so generous to help),  we were able to purchase the car and take advantage of this great opportunity.   We can gradually pay my parents back, and soon we hope to have our "special car loan" (from my parents) paid off completely.  If you still would like to help us pay for the car by giving an offering, we would totally appreciate it.  Thank you!

We also shared a little while back about how we were praying about enrolling Sophia (for a few days a week) at a nearby preschool.  Today was Sophia's first day and she LOVED it!!!

We have been preparing Sophia for preschool for a few weeks now, but today when Sophia arrived there she got really serious and a little nervous.  However, she confidently put on her backpack (like Dora), walked into the school gate and was ready to tell us goodbye.  She really wants to go to school!  Sophia had a great first morning and is eager to go back.  My baby girl is growing up!

We are excited for Sophia to have this experience so that she can improve her Portuguese skills and have more interaction with other children her age. We are also SUPER thankful for the dear person who wants to help us pay half of Sophia's monthly preschool fees.  God continues to amaze us with the way He provides for every need and desire we have.

As a family in missions, it seems there are constantly needs and expenses yet God provides and shows Himself to us through you - our supporters.  Thank you for your prayers, messages of encouragement and the financial gifts that literally meet our needs and pay for our daily bread. 
We are thankful for your partnership with us as a family serving in missions!