Thursday, August 29, 2013

Recent Videos

Recently Felipe has been having some fun making videos related to our work here at YWAM Belo Horizonte.  These have been fun side projects he has been playing around with.  

This 1st video is of the Community Development - Discipleship Training School (DTS) Felipe is currently working with.  Felipe filmed some footage of a special night where the  students were discussing and processing through material learned during their class times.

 This 2nd video is of a boy named Jon who lives here in the slum and participates in a hip-hop rap class that runs at the Lighthouse Community Center.  This class is run by a rapper  (Kdu dos Anjos) who lives here in the community and is well known in our city, Belo Horizonte.  Two nights a week Kdu dos Anjos meets with boys, teaching them how to write and develop rap songs.  Jon wrote such an impressive song!  Check it out.

Remember seeing this photo before?  It is Jon!   Last year when Felipe had this photo idea, he called Jon to help him out with it.

 Felipe has known Jon since he was 3 years old.   For several years now Jon has participated regularly at the Lighthouse.   Recently, Jon stopped going to school and it seems his parents are not enforcing that he goes.  This boy has such talent and is extremely intelligent. If he gives up on school now what will his future look like? Please pray for his life and that he will return to school.

Hope you enjoyed the videos!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Our Dream for the Future

We decided that now is the time to officially share here on our blog a BIG dream we have for the future. 

We have shared this personally to many friends and family,  but now we want to share it here.

God has placed a special city on our hearts - São Paulo - the largest city in Brazil and the 9th largest in the world.  We feel God is challenging and calling us to pioneer a work there, with a focus on working in poor communities and reaching out to children living in at risk situations. 

Our Connection With  São Paulo

Felipe was born in São Paulo and lived there until he was 10 years old.   For many years now, God has been placing a desire in Felipe's heart to return to this major city to establish a ministry there.   There is MUCH need in this very populated city.  Actually, before Felipe and I began dating, Felipe dreamed of moving to São Paulo to start a project working with children in one of the many slums located in the city.  (São Paulo actually has the largest slum population in all of South America).  He shared this with me when our dating relationship became serious.  He wanted me to know his plans and dreams for the future, to make sure I was open and willing.  And boy was I ever, because São Paulo is quite special to me too!

My first trip to Brazil was in 2000.  I was 20 years old at the time.  I minored in Intercultural Studies at Lee University and was required to have a 10 week missions experience abroad.  I spent many weeks in São Paulo serving in a shelter for street kids and working with children living in a slum. 

2000 - Working at a shelter for street kids called the City of Refuge..

During this trip the Lord spoke to me about my calling to work with hurting and needy kids.  I knew I would return to Brazil one day to serve as a long-term missionary.  The city of São Paulo holds a dear place in my heart because it was there that the Lord showed me a great need in the world.  He was also calling me to be a part of the answer to that need.


For years now we have been praying about "when" the Lord would lead us to move on and establish a ministry in São Paulo.  We were not sure of the timing, yet it was always in the back of our minds.  At the beginning of this year, during a season of prayer over the matter, we sensed God was challenging us to, "step forward in faith with what is in our hearts to do."  

We are still praying about the timing and specifics of it all, as we know it is a BIG change, but we sense God's peace, joy and courage as we are making steps towards this new direction with our lives.  Will you pray for us about this too?

Practically what does this mean?
We will have to move cities.  We are currently living in a city called Belo Horizonte which is about 9 hours (by car) from São Paulo. 

We hope to move to São Paulo in the beginning of 2016.
This gives us time to really pray, prepare as much as possible, raise up a team, and make steps to establish a YWAM ministry in São Paulo.  We don't want to rush into anything, but take our time and end our season at YWAM Belo Horizonte well.

So for the next year we will continue serving as missionaries with YWAM Belo Horizonte. We are strategically working in different areas now to gain skills to take with us when we leave.   We want to put as many tools in our tool box as possible, so we will be well equipped for what God has for us in São Paulo.

At the moment, one of the new challenges we are taking on is leading a two month Discipleship Training School (DTS) missions outreach. We wrote about it HERE if you want to read more. 

We will be serving in ministries in the city of São Paulo for a big part of the DTS outreach.  We are excited about being in São Paulo so we can "spy out the land" the Lord is calling us to.  

Please pray for us as we pursue this dream of pioneering a YWAM ministry in the city of São Paulo, Brazil.

"How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?
And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard?
And how are they to hear without someone preaching?"
~ Romans 10:14 ~
We desire to go, so that they will hear of God's great love...

Friday, August 23, 2013

The First Time I Saw My Husband

I can remember the very first time I saw my husband, Felipe.  I even know the date.  It was April 12, 2007.

I had just started serving as a missionary with YWAM Belo Horizonte.  I had been in Brazil just a few days before unknowingly laying my eyes on my future husband.  I can remember the night quite clearly. I was excited to participate in my very first YWAM base service, and guess who was preaching that night?  My beloved...

 I can remember shyly sitting there at the service. I was the new girl, and I knew very little Portuguese.  It was a little LOT overwhelming, so needless to say, I was very thankful for the provided English translation of the service. I was expectant about what the Lord would speak to me, full of hope and faith for my future in Brazil. 
That night, as Felipe began to preach, I thought, "Wow, cool guy! I really like his heart."  I remember enjoying his preaching and the funny stories he told, and I could clearly see Felipe's heart for working with children at risk. Felipe preached about "calling" that night, and I was inspired in my calling as a new missionary.

Much time passed before Felipe and I actually met and became friends.  We really were "just friends" for a long time before we dated and then married.  This phase of being friends is kind of fuzzy for both of us. Knowing what I know now (and did not know then), I wish I could go back in time and just observe both Felipe and myself - just for fun!   

When I began working at the Lighthouse Community Center, Felipe became my leader and this is when we got to know each other better.  I grew to really respect and appreciate Felipe's heart for the Lord, but it was only at the "right time" that God brought us together for His purposes and His glory.  It was like a bright light was suddenly shining on Felipe. God was singling Felipe out to me, showing me to be open to starting a relationship with him.

Last night, Felipe preached again at the YWAM Belo Horizonte service.   He challenged us all to be strong and bold for the Lord - to advance the Kingdom of God with courage!   As Felipe was sharing, I was sweetly reminded of the first time I heard him preach, in the exact same place, almost six and half years ago.   Wow!  So much has happened since that night!  Back then, I never would have imagined that the funny, inspiring guy preaching would become my husband, my best friend, partner for life, and the courageous leader of our family.  I am so happy and thankful the Lord brought us together in His perfect timing!

Note to you single ladies out there:  The person you least expect could be your future husband.  Wait on the Lord's timing, seek Him first and allow Him to reveal His purposes for your life.  I did not date for 11 years before Felipe and I got together. During those years of singleness God did so much in my life, and I had the opportunity to have amazing experiences working, traveling and serving the Lord.  Be encouraged - God loves you and wants the best for your life.  His timing is perfect!

Friday, August 16, 2013

August 15th - My Birthday in Photos

A few days ago, I wrote here on our blog about what I wanted for my birthday.  You know what?  My birthday wish came true!

 7:15 - Sophia gave me my first present of the day - new flip flops!  She picked them out herself, with Daddy.  They just had to be pink and purple.  I actually knew about this present for a few days already because Sophia is not good at keeping secrets.  The day she and Felipe bought them I overheard her praying at bedtime with Felipe, "Thank you God for mommy's present, for her purple and pink flip-flops..."  So cute!

7:30 - Smiley face honey on homemade bread for breakfast.

8:30 - Worship time at the Lighthouse!

9:00 - These two sweet volunteers from Holland came over to babysit my girls to help me out.  Thank you Annalieke and Lieke!!! 

9:05 - A few quiet moments of prayer and preparing before the girls from the slum came over to celebrate my birthday with me.

From 9:30 until 11:30 I enjoyed a time of reconnecting with girls I have worked with over the years serving at the Lighthouse Community Center.  

I received a few birthday presents and several girls even wrote me sweet letters. It was very special to me, but the best present of all was their presence.

Reading the Word of God during a time of sharing.

My girls prayed for me since it was my birthday. I loved it!

Laughing and talking together!  I was able to share some special things on my heart with these girls.

Our refreshments.  My friend Poly helped me put the frosting on the cake and cupcakes. She made everything look so cute! 

The girls played in the park!

Seven girls (the perfect number), plus the cousin of one of my girls (she was responsible for taking care of him), showed up to celebrate with me.  My birthday was a city holiday so the kids had off from school, which made it possible for a few of the girls to actually come. Yay!

 Singing Happy Birthday!

Tea time! 

Jessie had just woken up from her morning nap and the girls LOVED cuddling with her. 

Meanwhile Felipe was across town at the Rock House working with the DTS.  This week they are having morning classes with a national YWAM leader named Gilberto. 

The topic of the week is "laying down your rights."  Felipe says that this week of class has been amazing!

12:00 - Our friends Kelly and Tijs came over to visit and eat lunch with us.  My girls helped me open a present from them.

12:30 - Felipe came home from work early (since it was a holiday and he had no afternoon meetings) and we were able to enjoy some quality time with our friends during the afternoon. It was a great way to spend my birthday. It is so cool my birthday fell on a holiday!

Felipe captured this moment.  
Sophia having a heart to heart and contemplating life together with Lieke.

1:30 - Another present from my family.  I got my very first blender in Brazil. I am excited about being able to make smoothies and juices now. I have been wanting a blender for a while now, but did not want to spend the extra money.

2:00 - Jessie did not want to sleep during her afternoon nap. Too much excitement!

 3:00 - Watching some Dora the Explorer!

3:30 - A fun shot with Sophia! 

4:00 - Sophia said, "Mommy, I am making you birthday cards."

5:00 - In the afternoon it became quite chilly and windy!  Well, it is "winter" in Brazil now...

5:30 - While Felipe gave our friends a quick ride home, the girls stayed home with me and were busy playing with our kitty Amora.  She is so patient with our girls.

6:00 - An early bath time! 

 Jessie loves playing beside Sophia when she is in the bath tub.

6:45 - My very own personal pizza delivery man. We had pizza for my birthday dinner!

7:25 - Bedtime story with Daddy.  Felipe read one of our favorites, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

8:00 -  The girls were fast asleep and Felipe gave me my last present of the day.
A box of chocolates!  He knows he can never go wrong with chocolates or flowers.

I had a wonderful birthday!  
Thanks for those who prayed for the special time with the girls from the slum, and thanks to those who sent me birthday messages too!  I have to say, it was one of my best birthdays ever.  I sensed God's love and goodness in every part of the day!  I am very thankful!  I am looking forward to all that is to come during my next year of life.

"Surely Your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life..."

~ Psalm 23: 6 ~

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What I Want For My Birthday...

Over the years, I have noticed something particular about the girls who live in the slum.  They stay at home.  Many times they have the responsibility of cleaning their house or taking care of younger brothers, sisters, nieces or nephews.  They are not out and about in the community very often.  I actually think this is a good thing.  As girls, it is safer for them to be off the streets, and whenever I see any girls I know hanging out on the streets, I can tell,  it is usually not a good thing.  

Felipe sees boys from his past groups ALL the TIME.  It is more normal for boys to hang out in the streets playing or flying kites, and often the boys from the slum are coming in and out of the Lighthouse, as there are always soccer games going on here. 

So quite naturally and easily, Felipe has lots of opportunities to reconnect with boys he knows.  Some of the "boys" who Felipe worked with in the past are now even grown, young men.

Yet, I do not see the girls from my past groups very often.
 It is almost like they are in hiding.  

So I realized, in order to see my girls, reconnect with them, have a good chat with them to see how they are really doing, I need to have some kind of gathering and invite them to come over.  

Lately, I have really been missing the girls who I have worked with over the years of serving here in Brazil.  I was praying about how I could touch base with these precious girls again, and then I had an idea - I could invite them to come and celebrate my birthday with me!

This morning, with Jessie bouncing on my hip, I went on a quick walk in the slum to a few houses of the girls I know.  I was able to invite several girls, who participated in my past groups, to come over tomorrow (on my birthday) to hang out and eat cake together. I am super excited about reconnecting and sharing my special day with some amazing and precious girls!

Today someone asked me,
 "Laura, what would you like for your birthday tomorrow?"  
Honestly, THIS was the biggest thing in my heart.  I want to spend time with these girls and be able to share a part of my birthday with them.  I want to be able to give them each a big hug and remind them of the Father's great love for them.

Will you pray for our time together tomorrow?
I am really praying God will bring the girls who need to come and also give us a special time together.
Thank you!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Street Kids

The following was written by Josh White, a student in the Discipleship Training School (DTS) Felipe is currently working with.  On Friday evenings the DTS students go with the Rescue House Ministry to work with children living on the streets.  Some of you may remember that I worked with this ministry for the first 5 months of living here in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Click HERE to read a post from that season of my life.)

Here is Josh's account of his first experience of working with the street kids last Friday...


My heart is heavy tonight. For the first time since being here, our group went out to the streets of Belo Horizonte to minister and spend time with the street kids. We met a close-knitted group of kids tonight, ranging from 10-20 years in age, both male and female, and most of them call the dark sidewalks home.

We were warned ahead of time that these particular kids are addicted to inhaling toxic fumes, and have other addictions well. I think the choice chemical tonight was turpentine poured into a water bottle and huffed. If you have never seen this or those addicted to it, they're personalities are erratic at best. Then I watched 3 of those kids break up and snort what appeared to be a rock of cocaine. I found myself at one point holding back tears because I was reminded of the kids I used to work around at Colorado Krav Maga. I remember what a blessing it was when the kids and teens would hang around my desk between classes, seeing how much having people in their lives that believed in them, protected them, and guided them did wonders for their potential. And then in contrast witness tonight children of the same ages huddled with one another under blankets, on a cold stretch of cement under a bridge, lost in a world of pain, rejection, and drug abuse, some victims of physical or sexual abuse, was just so heartbreaking to see.

You know what was amazing to witness? How the simple act of spending time with them, praying for them, listening to their story and reminding them that they are human beings that matter took them from being hollow zombies to suddenly having a tiny glimmer of the adolescence one would expect in people so young (yet was stolen from them at some point in their story). Sadly, some are too far gone into the drugs and isolation to come back around in such a short encounter, and they will be on mind tonight.

I will leave you with two things on this matter:
1) Parents, God makes it so painfully clear in the bible about your responsibility to your children. Make sure that they know your love and His love, guide and nurture them, protect them, and have high expectations for them. You never realize just how far they can fall until you see this kind of stuff. It will be a major reminder to me as we raise Sir Maximus.

And 2) Those kids matter. Those people we pretend to not see matter. You would be amazed at how letting them know goes a long way. You aren't there to save them, or solve world hunger, so don't build it up. Just take some time once in a while to hear one of their stories and buy them a coffee.

Love you all. God bless. Hug your kids. Good night.

- Josh White

Reality is hard to face at times, but Josh described so well the reality of these kids' lives.   I absolutely loved the points Josh shared at the end too.   I was challenged and I hope you were too!

Josh is from Denver, Colorado, is married to a beautiful Brazilian named Patricia and they have one son named Max.  We are super happy this family will be a part of our DTS outreach team.  Please be in prayer for them, as they are a family starting out in missions and adjusting to life on the mission field.  We know God has amazing plans in store for them!