Friday, January 17, 2014

Take Refuge in Me

"What are we doing here Lord?" I cried out to God with tears...

It was the beginning of December and we had just gotten home from the DTS outreach we were leading.  We were tired. No, exhausted to be exact - on every level.  

Our girls were sick, and we had a big task looming over us - painting our whole house and moving all our possesions out of storage and into our new living space.  You see, we are new residents to a YWAM ministry called the Refuge House.  

Feeling overwhelmed I was flooded with emotions...
I suddenly missed my cozy home at the Lighthouse Community Center, with everything organized and in it's place.

I missed my missionary friends/neighbors living on-base there, the green grass and trees on the Lighthouse grounds, the lovely view of the mountains behind the hillside of slum homes, and most of all I missed the community - the beautiful children and families we know and love living in the slum.



I missed the familiar, the comfortable, and the predictable.  

I missed my comfort zone.

I missed the place, where I feel most at home here in Brazil, which was was my home for a total of five happy years. (Felipe lived there for almost a total of 10 years!)

I missed the ministry that kept me in Brazil in the first place and has dramatically impacted my own personal life, and the way I live and see the world.

I missed this special place that was such a huge part of our lives, the place that will forever be a key part of our stories as missionaries, as a couple, and a family.





As I felt broken and a swarm of emotions before God, I began to doubt our decision to move away from the Lighthouse.  
Have you ever doubted a decision that you know was completely 100% God led, but yet it does not "feel" so good when reality hits?
Well, that is exactly where I was at.

I asked the Lord, "Why are we here at the Refuge House?" 
I confessed that I really needed Him to speak to my heart.  I needed a word for our new season.

You see, we are in such a completely different season right now.  We have officially entered into an "in-between season" and it feels quite strange to be honest.  We have this exciting dream for the future that we are beginning to work towards, but we still have 2 years in Belo Horizonte as we prepare for our dream. It is to come, but is not yet.



So, "Bloom where you are planted" -right?
"Live fully in the now, not in the future."  

These are two phrases that keep running through my head. I want to live with purpose and "in the now" during this awkward in-between time.  I don't want to live with my mind in the future, but live today exactly where the Lord has me.

So, on this rainy day in December, as the drops fell from the sky, my tears also fell...  



As I poured out my heart before the Lord, I began to sense His presence and great love.  He is such a good and faithful Father. I spent some time just being still in the Lord's presence and reading His precious Word.  He led me to the Psalms where my eyes were drawn to previously underlined texts and suddenly the word "refuge" began jumping off the page at me. I knew God was speaking.

These words resonated with my heart and the place where I was...

Find rest, O my soul in God alone; my hope comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge.

Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.

~ Psalm 62:5-8 ~

I sensed God speaking a special word,
 "Take refuge in Me."

I knew this was a word for me, for that specific moment, but also I felt God was answering my question about His purpose for our new season.  
God is calling me to take constant refuge in Him.

As I have been reflecting on the word "refuge," I stumbled across a blog online with a study about taking refuge in the Lord. This passage spoke to my heart on the subject.


God is calling me to find refuge in Him alone.
I am to hide myself in Him, seek to know Him more, and in this place, listen to Him speak to my heart in new ways.  The future and our dream will demand much work.  We will likely face many challenges and storms as we prepare and pursue to serve the Lord, but we are to continually hide away in Him and take refuge in Him every step of the way. This must be our priority.  

Every step of the way...

Even as I am processing this through writing, I see that I have been seeing this new season all wrong. I have been looking at it from a very practical standpoint, but God wants to use this time to prepare us spiritually as well.  We are to make Him our refuge and in this place of relationship and intimacy with Him, He will give us all we need.

It's a call once again to Himself. 
Simple...
 He is always inviting and lovingly calling us.
Such a faithful, merciful, and relational God we have.  He cares more about being in a relationship with us than we can even fathom.

I decided to share this on our blog because this word has greatly comforted and encouraged my heart.  I wanted to document it here and proclaim that I want to live this.  By His grace alone, I want to daily purpose to take refuge in God.  May this declaration also serve as a kind of accountability and commitment to Him.

You may be wondering if I still miss the Lighthouse Community Center, our life there and the precious people from the slum, and yes, I most certainly do!  But, I look forward now. I choose to embrace this new season living in the Refuge House and accept this call from the Lord to take refuge in Him alone.
It's all for Him!  
All for His glory and kingdom! 

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.
~Psalm 33:8~

Photo Credit: Kelly van den Brink

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2014 Work Plans!

We are quite excited about our work plans for 2014!  
This year we are working in a variety of areas to better equip and prepare ourselves for our dream for the future.

São Paulo
As we have mentioned before, we have a dream to start a ministry reaching out to children at risk in the city of São Paulo.  We are setting aside time weekly to pray, seek the Lord, plan, and work towards making this dream a reality.  We are also hoping to make a few trips to Sao Paulo to further "spy out the land" we feel the Lord is calling us to.  I recently made a prayer board and we hope to fill it with scriptures and revelations from God as we pray for São Paulo and our future ministry there.


Leadership
Felipe is quite involved in the leadership of YWAM Belo Horizonte. He is a member of YWAM Belo Horizonte's base council, which is a small group of leaders/elders who meet to make important decisions about our missions base  

Felipe also serves in a leadership role as the Community Center Coordinator, which entails leading meetings among the leaders of four different YWAM Belo Horizonte Community Centers, offering support, giving counsel, and helping to develop vision and ideas among the leaders.

Photography
Felipe is continually devoting his time to developing himself in the area of photography.  He is currently revamping his photography site (www.luizfelipematias.com) and is planning to photograph missions outreaches during the World Cup Games - which will be taking place in Brazil this year.

Actually, some of Felipe's photos are already being used in the promotional material for various YWAM missions opportunities during the World Cup Games. Take a look!
"Our passion goes beyond soccer..."

Discipleship Training School
Starting in March, I (Laura) will be working part-time with a Discipleship Training School  (DTS).  Felipe will care for our girls while I work a few mornings a week.    One of the reasons I am working a DTS is to gain experience with this missions training school, as we hope to run a DTS in the future when we are living in São Paulo.

 

I am the only foreigner on the DTS staff (so far), so I am sure I will be translating a lot and lending a helping hand to the foreigners coming to be a part of this program.  If you are interested in doing a DTS, it is not too late to apply. Please email us ASAP at: etedkk@gmail.com

 Children At Risk School 
From September through November both Felipe and I will be serving as staff  for a YWAM school called Children At Risk.   We are staffing this 3 month intensive training so that one day we can lead and run this school ourselves.  Click here to read more about this amazing school which trains people to work with children living in at risk situations. 

In 2007, the year I moved to Brazil, I completed the Children at Risk training and had a wonderful experience. You can read some old posts from this season of my life here and here.

Please be in prayer for us and our work plans for 2014!
This year is quite a different year for us. We are not living in a slum or working directly with the beloved children living there anymore, yet the heart of all our work and the reason we are serving in missions is for these kind of children.  We long to see their lives impacted and transformed by the love of God.  The valuable lessons we are learning during 2014 during our preparation season, will serve to help us greatly in the future.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Bald Head, 80 People, And A Cat!

A Bald Head
We have quite the interesting life. There never seems to be a dull moment and what memories we are making!  I currently have a bald husband, and no this is not a photoshopped photo.  Felipe now has a VERY bald head!


Just a few days ago while I was cutting Felipe's hair with electric clippers, Jessie starting cying and throwing a little fit.  I paused my cutting to help calm her down and a few minutes later returned to finish cutting the edges of his hairline.  In the craziness of the moment I forgot that I had removed the clipper attachment and then I accidentally shaved Felipe clean  (about 2 inches) on the side of his head.  When I realized what I had done I gasped and cried, "NO!!!"  I tried cutting his hair shorter to fix the mistake, but it did not look the best. What to do?

 Felipe then decided, with much enthusiasm and happiness, to shave his head completely! It is something he has always wanted to do at least once in his life, and now he finally had a good excuse to just go for it.  So this is Felipe's new look...  Hopefully his beautiful curly black hair will grow back in fast!  My new rule:  I will ONLY cut Felipe's hair when our girls are sleeping.


80 People
During the month of January we have about 80 people living here at the YWAM ministry house where we are new residents.  It is the summer vacation season here in Brazil and during this season YWAM offers a Christian camp program called a King's Kids Campaign.




During this youth camp, preteens and teens have the opportunity to grow in their relationship with God and participate in presentations where the kids themselves share the good news of the gospel through song, dance and drama.  The kids spend each day learning about God and then rehearsing lots!




We are living in a house FULL of people with about 50 Brazilian youth participating in the King's Kids Camp, a team of about 25 Americans from YWAM Chico serving as staff in the camp, and a few additional King's Kids staff.  The ministry house and grounds are alive and active from morning to night and every space is being used for the glory of God!

Felipe has been taking photos/filming some of the camp activities, helping with driving staff to run various errands, and I have been helping out a little in the kitchen cutting and preparing food for all the people. We are praying God will work mightily in the lives of the kids participating in this King's Kids camp.

During the vacation month of January our work pace is a little more relaxed than normal allowing us both time to do various practical things and for Felipe to focus on his photography.  We have been working in our home and are almost completely settled in - photos coming soon.  We also hope to give our blog a little makeover.  Felipe has been busy researching and learning how to do this, so keep checking this space to see how our new look turns out!

A Cat
Meet the new addition to our family, our Christmas cat named Buzz Lightyear.




  Our other cat dissappeared several months ago and our whole family has been sad about it, especially Sophia.  We decided to try having a cat again, so for Christmas our family got a kitten.  Sophia keeps telling everyone with a smile, "We got a new cat.  We're happy now!" 




Buzz is super sweet and very calm.  A perfect cat for kids!



Stay tuned for our next post which will be about our work plans for 2014!!!