Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ivanete's Wedding Day!

Recently a very dear friend of ours got married.  Her name is Ivanete and she is the cook at the Lighthouse Community Center, where Felipe and I served as missionaries for an extended period of time.

Last Friday morning, Felipe had the honor of driving Ivanete and her man, (his name is Carlos - also lovingly known as "Branco" or translated into English "the white") to downtown Belo Horizonte to get married!   They had a simple civil marriage ceremony with close friends and family, and Felipe took the photos.  Later in the evening the Lighthouse team threw a party in honor of the couple.

I will not write Ivanete's story here, but I just want to mention that her testimony is a truly amazing one.  She has lived in the slum community for many years and has overcome many challenges. God has proven Himself faithful and good in her life, in the midst of adversity. 

  We are very happy and thankful that we could be a part of Ivanete and Branco's special day! 


The glowing bride!

A special time of prayer over the couple, led by Ivanete's pastor.

May the Lord bless this marriage with His amazing love and give Ivanete and Branco many years of happiness!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Just 7 Weeks!

It's starting to hit me, and hit me hard.
Time is short, and many changes are ahead...

We, the Matias family, have just 7 more weeks of living life in the city of Belo Horizonte.
Just 7 weeks!

Can you believe it?
 Our season of living life in Belo Horizonte is coming to an end.

Belo Horizonte at sunset.

On November 4th, our family will board a plane to travel to the USA for an extended visit. After our USA trip we return for a quick visit to our current city (Belo Horizonte, Brazil), but with the challenge and focus of making our move to São Paulo.

Here is a quick run down of our upcoming schedule!

                                 September & October  - Belo Horizonte

                                 November thru March - United States of America

                                 End of March - Return to Belo Horizonte

                                 April - Quick trip to São Paulo to search for housing, then back to BH to get                                                                  our belongings. 

                                 End of April/beginning of MayMake our big move to São Paulo! Yay!

                                 May - Settle in and begin our new life.

So, this is what our next 9 months look like!
These next months are going to be extremely exciting, full of adventure, challenging, encouraging, overwhelming and super stretching at times, but we know above all,
it will be a faith building time for us.

Please pray for us during this transitional season, and especially pray for all the changes ahead for our precious girls.  Oh, the places these little feet will be going!

We want to end our time well in Belo Horizonte, and we have MUCH to do in the next weeks before we travel to the USA, both workwise and personally.  Soon we must begin packing up our belongings to place in storage as we will move out of our current YWAM housing before traveling.  All our stuff will stay inside boxes in storage for about 6 months, just waiting for our move to São Paulo.

We seem crazy don't we?
But you know, it is ALL for His name, His glory and His purposes!
We feel much peace, joy and favor from the Lord over our plans for the future.
He is calling us to "press forward" so that is what we will do!

This verse from The Message expresses well my heart in this season...

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
 ~ Phil. 3:12-14 ~

We have decided to follow Jesus...
We will follow Him to serve in the slums of São Paulo and to a life that is radically different.
  We follow Him to know Him more, to make Him known, to love Him, and to bring joy to His heart.
We have decided to follow Jesus, and there's no turning back!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Celebrating Jessie!

This past Monday our little Jessie had a birthday. She is now officially 2 years old!

I always like to make photograph filled blog posts around birthdays to document the special occasion and so I can look back and remember our girls at each birthday.  Years from now I know these posts will be so special to me.

We hope you enjoy seeing a few recent 2 year old photos of our precious Jessica Hope Matias and our family celebrating her 2nd birthday!

For a fun family date to celebrate Jessie's birthday, we went to a play center with games and a few rides!

We also celebrated Jessie's life with a small family party.  Aunt (Tia) Renata decorated the party with a character from a  popular kid's show here in Brazil called Galinha Pintadinha.  The main character is a cute blue hen and Jessie absolutely loves her!

Wardrobe change... Jessie got a new dress! 

Jessica Hope Matias

Jessie has a great sense of humor, loves music and has some pretty cool dance moves.  Jessie is a more quiet kind of girl, so she is not talking tons, but she is already saying words in both English and Portuguese.

 This little girl is naturally sweet and loving.  She loves to cuddle and give and receive kisses.  Affection is definitely a major way she gives and receives love.  It's her love language!

Jessie adores babies and animals, and gives lots of hugs to her own baby dolls and our cat Buzz.
Jessie loves her big sister Sophia and wants to do everything Sophia is doing. She really looks up to her big sis!

Jessie is a very happy girl and brings a smile to my face every day.  I love her cute dimple and her bouncing curls!

  On this 2nd birthday I truly am delighting over my precious Jessica Hope.  I feel a taste of the Father''s amazing love for her and I am overwhelmed!  I sincerely feel so blessed to be her mother, and I am looking forward to seeing her develop and change over years to come.

May Jessie continue to grow up to be a girl who brings much joy and hope (her middle name) to all she comes in contact with. She is truly a joy bringer!
May she come to know the Lord personally and intimately, and may many encounter the Lord's love and great hope shining forth through her life.  This is my prayer for our Jessie...

We love you immensely sweet Jessie!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Our São Paulo Trip

We are back home in Belo Horizonte!
We just got home from our São Paulo trip a few days ago. We spent five rewarding weeks visiting and preparing for our future life and ministry in the huge mega-city of São Paulo.
Here are a few photos from our time there!

We volunteered at a ministry to children and teens living in slums (similar to the kind of ministry we want to start) called Casa Semear, which translated into English is the Sower House.  Here is a photo of us in front of the cool mural at the entrance of the ministry.

At the Sower House I specifically worked with some preteen and teenage girls, teaching them about human trafficking and how they can avoid falling prey to this, through a program called Libertodos While using the Libertodos material, I was able to have many deep and meaningful conversations with the girls.  Conversations covering topics such as what to do if someone is trying to sexually abuse you to precautions the girls should take in order to not fall into the trap of becoming a modern day slave.

One of the most significant things we took away from our time working at the Sower House is that there is MUCH need for more people to be reaching out and working with children and teens living in the slums of São Paulo.  These precious ones face extremely harsh realities and have few people really taking time to invest in their lives.  I wrote a little more about this here.

Our Tree of Thankfulness!
One of the activities I did with the girls was focus on thanking God for the blessings in our lives.  Each week we wrote down various things we were thankful for on colorful leaves and then we pasted them on this tree.  Over time the tree became beautiful - full of reasons to give thanks to the Lord!

Felipe preached at a special service at the Sower House.

Sophia helped out one day with some of the construction going on at the minstry.  This sweet builder was so kind and patient with her, even allowing her to help out during easy tasks.  She loved it!

While in São Paulo we had a special visit from our future teammates Anna and Fabricio, along with their sweet son Paolo.  They are currently serving as missionaries with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Belo Horizonte and plan to work along side us to establish a YWAM ministry to children at risk in São Paulo.  We are excited and thankful for the team God is raising up to work together with us!

 Felipe took this sweet photo of our girls with Paolo during a fun outing to a park.

In preparation for our move to São Paulo next year, we spent hours driving around in our car in search of properties for sale or rent, which could serve as potential housing and/or for a future ministry location.  This is one empty property for sale that we especially liked. 

 We see lots of potential for building something at this site to bless the people living in the nearby slums.  Close by there is also a big house for sale that we are also very interested in buying. If God opens the doors and we can raise enough money to buy both locations to use for ministry, it would be a dream come true! We are praying and trusting God to lead and show us His will...

I must also confess, we got lost several times driving around in the HUGE city of São Paulo!

Felipe spent some time waking through the slums, filming for a video project he wants to make. Some boys helped him and enjoyed taking photos and filming with his camera.

The weather fluctuated quite a bit.  It was very chilly and rainy at times (it is winter in Brazil), but for one week it got really hot so we let the girls play and cool off in buckets of water! 

Felipe and I both celebrated our birthdays and our wedding anniversary!

I got pretty flowers on our anniversary!

Overall, our São Paulo trip was an extremely encouraging, motivating, and renewing time for us as a family and as missionaries.  God is confirming more and more His call for us to reach out to the needy children and teens living in the slums of São Paulo.  Please continue to pray for us as we prepare for our future move and ministry! Thank you!