Friday, May 30, 2014

The Last Week

This past week was the last week of the teaching phase of YWAM Belo Horizonte's King's Kids Discipleship Training School (DTS) (which I have been helping to staff), and it was my last week of officially working with this DTS.

The past 3 months have been a super busy and rewarding time for the students participating in the course.  They have heard teachings each week learning about various topics, and also had the opportunity to share the love of Jesus (during evenings and weekends) with street kids, prostitutes, prisoners, children, and church congregations. 

 My absolute favorite part of working with this DTS has been meeting and praying together with these two students on a weekly basis.  These beautiful and lovely ladies have such a heart to know God more and serve Him with ALL their lives.  I am excited to see where God will take them and how He will use them in the future!  It has been such a pleasure and an honor to get to be a part of their journey of knowing God more during this special DTS season.

Rebecca (from Germany), me, and Kelly (from Holland)

This week we had two special events to conclude the first phase of the DTS.  On Wednesday we had a party to celebrate the great finish of the teaching phase!  The students threw this party to honor all the missionaries serving and helping to run the DTS.

It was a fun and special night!  We laughed, we ate A LOT, we enjoyed time together, and many words of encouragement and thank you's were spoken.

This was our favorite photo of the night. A fun shot of the "chubby bunny" game, except instead of saying "chubby bunny" the players had to say, "The joy of the Lord is my strength!"

The Refuge House ministry also hosted a YWAM Belo Horizonte base worship service.  This was a special "Commissioning Service" where we prayed for the DTS students as they begin the outreach phase of the school.

During the outreach phase of the DTS the students will staff a King's Kids Camp (which will take here on the ministry grounds), participate in various outreach/evangelistic activities connected to the World Cup Games, attend a King's Kids conference, and minister in a church in the city of Santos, Brazil.

Please pray for these awesome students as they continue to grow in God and shine His light in the nation of Brazil!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Our Trip to the South!

Just a few days ago, after a 17 hour road trip (including many stops for our girls), we made it back home to Belo Horizonte. We, the Matias family, were on a little family missions trip to the south of Brazil!  This post shows a few photos from our special time away.

As I wrote here on our blog, we made this trip with the purpose of sharing about our future work in São Paulo, Brazil.  Felipe was able to share at two different YWAM bases that currently have mercy ministries working with children at risk. 

The first YWAM base we went to is called Monte das Aguias (translated into English this means Eagles' Mount).  

Besides sharing a bit with the staff about our future project, Felipe also had the opportunity to share an encouraging word to the mercy ministry department and take photos of the YWAM soccer ministry which reaches out to at risk boys. 

The other YWAM base we visited briefly was YWAM Ponta Grossa.

Felipe spoke with this fine group of young people (who are currently doing a YWAM Discipleship Training School), inviting them to pray about joining our team to reach out to children at risk in São Paulo.

During our trip, we also had the priviledge of sharing in a Presbyterian church.  During the Sunday service, the pastor interviewed us about our experience as a family in missions. 

We also were able to speak about our plans for working in São Paulo and share a video Felipe made about God's heart for children living in slums. 

Here is the video we shared, if you would like to watch it. 

While in the south of Brazil, we were able to see a few tourist sites and also visit with several friends who live in this area of the country.

Sophia made friends everywhere she went!

Sophia and Kayleeana, both American-Brazilian missionary kids, with an American mommy and Brazilian daddy.
Luana, another American-Brazilian buddy!

At a fun park with animals in Curitiba!
Our friend Ricardo petting a friendly toucan!

A very special part of our time in the south was spending the weekend visiting our dear dear friend Kelly (with whom we worked with for many years in YWAM) and meeting her family.  It meant so much to me to see Kelly, as she is soon moving to Europe to make a new home with her husband there.

  Sophia had lots of fun playing with Kelly's niece.

Kelly and her sister's family attend the Presbyterian church where Felipe and I shared. 
We took several photos before the church service began.  As you can see by our clothing, it was COLD there in the south of Brazil! It is almost the winter season there.
Me and my girls with Kelly and her niece and newphew.

Overall we had a great trip! 
Several people are now praying about possibly joining our São Paulo team and more people know about and are praying for our future ministry plans.  We had wonderful moments of catching up with old friends -many of them are not pictured here, as we often forgot to pull out the camera because we were enjoying talking and visiting so much.

We are very thankful that we were able to make this special trip!
Please pray for us as we prepare for our future work in São Paulo and continue to invite people to join our team!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Curitiba, Here We Come!

Today the Matias family is going on a road/mission trip to Curitiba, Brazil!
Please pray for us - for safe travels and happy girls while traveling by car for approximately 14 hours (or more depending on traffic).

We are going to spend the next week and a half in the city of Curitiba (which is a major city in the south of Brazil), where we will be sharing at various Youth With A Mission (YWAM) bases about our São Paulo project.  We will be inviting people to pray for our future ministry and to consider even joining our team.

See on the map where Curitiba is located in relation to Belo Horizonte, and click here to read info on our new São Paulo project page.

Throughout the rest of this year, one of Felipe's main focuses is traveling to share about our future project and recruiting people to work with us.  He hopes to travel around to spread the news about our project in many different YWAM bases. Felipe recently had the opportunity to share with one of the Discipleship Training Schools running here in Belo Horizonte.

Next week, besides sharing at various YWAM bases, we are looking forward to reconnecting with several friends who live in this part of the country.  Felipe also has been invited to give a special training to encourage and bless the mercy ministry department at one YWAM base.  What a cool opportunity!

We are excited to see what God will do during this trip.
Please be praying for us!

Curitiba, here we come!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day Half Marathon

This is surely one Mother's Day I will never forget.
This morning I ran a half marathon!

Training for this half was much more challenging than the last half marathon I ran (which was my first and only half marathon up until today).  I wasn't able to train with as much dedication as I had wanted.  With two small girls and a more busy working schedule than expected, I had to squeeze in runs in the wee early hours of the day. I was often running completely exhausted, but knew I had to log the training distance to be able to run on race day.

During the training I was learning a lot about perseverance.  So many times I wanted to just give up altogether on running the race. Right around the time I was MOST tempted to throw in the towel, Jessie just happened to be repeatedly watching this one particular Sesame Street music video called "Don't Give Up!" by Bruno Mars.
Here's the song. It's really cute!

Every time I would hear the song play, I would feel almost like a conviction that I should not give up. Almost like God Himself was singing this song to me and encouraging me to not give up... Funny huh?

So, since I had already signed up for the half marathon in January, paid the participant fee, and made the commitment, I did not want to go back on my word.  So then I made a choice.  I decided to fulfill what I started out to do, even though I was often feeling discouraged with how my training was going.

Isn't that what we have to do sometimes? 
We have to make a CHOICE to do something, and CHOOSE not to give up, even when discouragement hits.  
So, by God's grace, I did not give up.

Through it all God has been teaching me MUCH about perseverance.  This has been one of the themes of the current season I am living. 

One day as I was doing a LONG run, listening to worship music, I was meditating on the word perseverance, and I really sensed God encouraging me to persevere... Not only in my running journey, but also in my life with some personal challenges I have been facing.  

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
 fixing our eyes on Jesus,
 the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  
Heb. 12:1

This is what Jesus call us to.  We are to run this race of life steadily and with perseverance, and as we run, keep our eyes completely and solely fixed on Jesus.

In the midst of the messiness of real life,
I want to perservere and I want Jesus to be my focus.
This has become my prayer as I change dirty diapers, deal with disciplining an emotional four year old, and struggle to balance work and family.   I want Jesus to be the focus, the center of every aspect, every moment of my life.

So, today I am celebrating my personal victory of actually completing another half maration,
AND I am rejoicing in these revelations from the perfect perfecter of my faith.

I did it!  Slowly but surely,  I ran with perseverance the race marked out for me!

And now just for fun, here are a few more photos Felipe captured at the race today.

The top three men winners!
This sweet couple finished the race holding hands!
An amazing and inspiring runner.  He ran faster than me! 

This daddy's son ran to him close to the finish line so he picked him up and carried his son as he finished the race!

A fun shot of me on the winners' podium!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

4 Days of Celebrating Sophia!

This year, it just so happened that Sophia's birthday fell on a Tuesday, therefore we began celebrating her birthday a few days before her actual birth date. For fun, we decided to make it 4 days worth of fun and celebration since she was turning 4! 

Celebration Day 1 ~ Saturday

A family tradition we are creating is that whenever our kids have birthdays we will go out on a special family outing. For Sophia's birthday we chose to go to an amusement park (as we had briefly and spontaneously gone to one earlier in the year while on our trip to Sao Paulo).  We had a great night!  

After our outing Sophia then went to spend the night with her Tia (Aunt) Renata and Vovo (Grandma).  She loves spending the night with them and feels very special because she sleeps there "by herself" without mommy, daddy or Jessie!

Celebration Day 2 ~ Sunday 

We had a little birthday party with family at Felipe's mother's house. Felipe's sister, Renata, did an amazing job decorating and preparing all the party treats, and Sophia LOVED the Frozen theme!!!

Everything looked so pretty!

Sophia with her beloved Tia Renata!

 Sophia's fancy and delicious cake!

Sophia was so overwhelmed with emotion that she became quite serious during the party. All during the party she came over to me or Felipe and repeatedly said, "I love my birthday..."  She really appreciated the party.

Celebration Day 3 ~ Monday

Felipe did a birthday photo shoot with Sophia, another tradition we want to do at each birthday.  We thought of this idea when Jessie turned one. (Click here to see Jessie's one year photo shoot. It was SO cute!)

Here are a few shots of our beautiful 4 year old Sophia.  She is growing up so fast!  She seems so much older than she is.

And of course, Felipe had to do a Star Wars themed shot!

Celebration Day 4 ~  Tuesday, May 6th, 2014  ~ Sophia's 4th Birthday!

Sophia shares the same birthday with her Uncle Shawn, who lives in the USA.  We took this photo to wish him a happy birthday!

And to finalize all the celebrating we had a little ice cream party after dinner with all the children and people who live together with us at the Refuge ministry.

Sophia received lots of attention, love, and presents and truly had a wonderful birthday!
Thanks to all who helped to make Sophia's birthday so special!

Sophia is a precious gift to our family.  She makes our life much more fun and interesting.  There is never a dull moment with Sophia.  Her smile lights up the room, and her generous and kind heart makes us very proud. We are so thankful for her life, her health, and her presence in our daily lives.

 May Sophia continue to grow, become strong, be filled with wisdom, and have the grace of God upon her life. (Luke 2:40)