Friday, May 22, 2015

What We've Been Up To....

Singing songs,
 playing the guitar, 
playing games,
 making arts and crafts, 
giving hugs,
and just being present and attentive to a bunch of kids
who live in a Sao Paulo slum...
 This is what Felipe and I have been up to lately.

Some boys doing the motions to a song about Jesus being GOOD!

A coloring sheet Felipe drew for a Bible study about Hannah as she prayed for a son (Samuel).

For the rest of 2015 we are volunteering at a ministry called the Sower House, a ministry of a missions organization called ABBA Brasil.  We are helping out in this ministry until we can establish/plant a YWAM ministry which will be located in another slum close by. Members of our YWAM ministry team will be arriving in January 2016, so until then we are doing preparatory work for the future, while also serving at the Sower House.

Working directly with kids again has been so refreshing!
Both of us have missed doing what we passionately love and feel so fulfilled doing - working with children living in at-risk situations.  We are called to do this!

Just this week I led two fun times of praise and worship with some of the younger children at the Sower House. As I stood before the kids, with their beautiful, eager faces full of smiles, I could feel the delight and tender love of the Lord as they sang their hearts out to Him. 
How He loves them!

Sophia helping me lead a song about the Love of God!

After our time of worship, I talked about the great love of God and how through the Holy Spirit, God pours His love into our hearts, teaching from Romans 5:5.   I led a quick brainstorming activity with the kids, thinking together about all the ways God pours out and shows us His love to us, and then we made a little craft.  It was a fun time!

From now until the end of the year, I will be leading music and craft times like this as much as possible with these precious little ones!

Another moment, which has been especially impacting, is the Tuesday morning prayer times I have participated in during the teenage girls group called "Super Woman."  I also worked with this group last August (click here to read more).

Every Tuesday, the girls gather around a table and openly share personal prayer requests, which are like windows into their souls.  I can see glipses of their harsh realities, and the longing for love they so desperately crave.

 God is growing a burden in my heart for these teenage girls and also for the younger girls, who will very soon grow into teens.

The end of innocence comes way too quickly in the slum.
Childhood is over in a blink of an eye.
For the younger ones, I want better for them.
I pray that even in the midst of unfortunate circumstances, these precious ones will encounter Love Himself, and therefore avoid the heartache and pain from poor choices.

A photo taken by the ABBA team.  This is the slum where most of the kids who participate at the Sower House ministry live.

Please pray for the children and teens living in this Sao Paulo slum, where we are currently serving alongside the Sower House team.

Please pray for:

1. The kids to know the Lord intimately and to follow Him all the days of their lives.

2. Upcoming extended weekend-long camps taking place in July.   These camps are excellent opportunities for the kids to learn and grow in God.

3. The ministry of the Sower House, as they need more volunteers and staff to reach out to this slum area.  There are more than 40 children on the waiting list to participate at the project.

4. Our future team and the many preparations for establishing a project in the next slum over from the Sower House.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support of our work.  
May God's Kingdom and will be done in the slums of São Paulo!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Celebrating Sophia!

Last week our precious first born daughter, Sophia, turned five years old!
To celebrate her birthday we threw Sophia a little party, and Felipe's sister (beloved Tia Renata) came to visit us.  We had a wonderful birthday (and Mother's day) weekend.

Here are a few photos of us celebrating our spunky Sophia Grace Matias!

I made a piñata for Sophia's party and the kids loved it!

On Sunday the fun continued as we showed Aunt Renata around São Paulo and had a fun birthday/Mother's day outing in the rain!

Some of Sophia's favorites at the age of FIVE:

Favorite color:  Purple, like Grammy
Favorite song: Jesus Loves the Little Children
Favorite food: Chicken
Favorite fruit: Strawberries
Favorite treat: Ice Cream
Favorite thing to do: Draw
Favorite animal: cats
Favorite toy: Stuffed animals
Favorite book: Waiting for Baby
Favorite movie: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Favorite thing to with our family: Going out to a special place

So thankful for this sweet and energetic girl who continually makes me laugh, surprises me almost daily with her unique and strong personality, and who has such a big, caring heart.
We are excited to see all God has for this little lady during her next year of life!

Happy 5th Birthday Sophia Grace!
  You are loved by many, but most of all by our faithful and loving Father God.
 May He be glorified in and through your life always!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Two Weeks in São Paulo

It’s been a little quiet over here on our blog…

We made our move to São Paulo on April 18th, and have been living here in our new city for exactly two weeks now.  Ever since we arrived we have been SUPER busy adjusting to life in a new place and also unpacking and fixing up our new home.  It is coming along VERY VERY slowly, but surely.

Eventually, once we get more settled and finish a few painting projects, we will share some photos of our lovely new place.  After traveling for a little over 5 months, we are extremely thankful to settle into our very own home!

Today I thought it would be interesting to share several things about our adjustment back to life in Brazil, and specifically our new city, São Paulo.

A Colder, Warmer, and Rainy City
São Paulo is colder, warmer, and more rainy than our former city, Belo Horizonte.

São Paulo city has cooler temperatures in the winter and hotter temperatures in the summer when compared to the temperatures in Belo Horizonte.  Here in São Paulo, temperatures can reach the 90’s in the summer season, and can get as cold as the low 50’s in the winter season.
We are coming into the winter season now so it is feeling very chilly at night!

Typically São Paulo is also known as a rainy city, and carries the nickname of "a cidade da garoa" which translated is, "the city of drizzle."  It drizzles quite a lot here and has already rained a few times since we moved here.

 Talking about rain... there has actually been an extreme water shortage in São Paulo due to lack of rain.  Just before we moved here it rained A LOT so the water situation has improved significantly, but still Felipe and I are trying to do our best to economize our water supply (and to help keep our water bill down).  We save our leftover laundry water and shower water and use this extra water (that is really very slightly dirty and soapy), to flush our toilets, clean our outdoor patio areas, and mop our floors.

"The window is open, and so's that door!"
(If you know Frozen - you will get my reference.)  
So here in Brazil most people do not have air conditioning/heating systems in their homes.  Our AC is simply opening the front door and the windows to allow fresh air to blow in.  
I am really enjoying our open windows and doors here in Brazil!

Cooking Brazilian Style
 Back to Brazil, back to eating rice and beans!  
In Brazil the daily lunch is fresh rice and beans with some sort of side of protein/meat and a vegetable.  There are sometimes other food items  in addition to this, but simply put, this is the main meal of the day!  

A new healthy meal I just started making. This was my lunch today!

I officially have my very own kitchen again. Yay! I am now devoting more of my time to cooking rice and beans and preparing other fresh foods daily, as is common here in Brazil.  I am especially enjoying all the yummy fruits and veggies that Brazil has to offer at reasonable prices.

Our Hammock!
I just wanted to share one of my favorite spots in our new house.
I am so happy to have our hammock hung, and it is situated in our cozy little back patio area.

Internet and Phone in São Paulo
Felipe has had quite the adventure in trying to sort out the phone and internet services for our new home.  We have never had to deal with this before as we have always lived in YWAM base housing where everything was already organized for us.  We are currently having some challenges with extremely slow internet, and we are still trying to fix that.

I think the most interesting challenge though was our telephone landline.  One day a worker installed our landline on a nearby powerline, while we just happened to be out.  Once we realized the phone company had already come by and installed the phone line on the power line,  we were informed that we were responsible for getting the phone line (on the power line) to connect to the inside of our home.  Different huh?

Felipe was researching how to install the line himself. He bought the electrical line and all, but then by chance (with God’s favor and help) he ran into a guy who offered to help him.
The phone problem was solved within the day.  We are thankful!

Our cat was poisoned!
Yes, you read that right.  Our resilient cat Buzz, who survived our absence for 5 months (staying at his Brazilian grandma’s house), and then traveled wonderfully by car with us to São Paulo, was poisoned upon arrival in our new city.

We are not sure if someone gave him the poison or if he found it himself.   After he got poisoned we learned that a few other cats in the neighborhood were recently found dead, and unfortunately it is common in some areas of the city for people to purposely poison cats. Isn’t that sad?

Due to our all-natural “open doors and windows” AC system here, it is very challenging to keep our kitty as an exclusively indoor cat.  He ventured off one morning, but quickly returned vomiting and convulsing.  

In a matter of 20 minutes he was increasingly becoming more weak.  Our neighbor told us, “He has been poisoned.  This is what it looks like when an animal gets poisoned.” 

Felipe rushed him to the vet and miraculously Buzz survived because we were able to get him medical attention so quickly.  The vet was even surprised he survived with no side effects.  She even commented, “He just used one of his nine lives!”

Now Buzz is very hesitant to wander away from our front patio area.  I think he learned his lesson, and I am praying he will not be poisoned again. We are thankful he survived!

What's Next for the Matias Family?
This Monday we will happily begin working with kids in a nearby slum.  We are partnering and volunteering with a ministry called the Sower House. Click here to read more about this ministry.
Robert, the leader of the ministry, leading Bible study with a group of boys.
The Sower House attends about 80 kids a week, but has a waiting list of almost 60 kids who want to enter into their program.  We hope to help out with this ministry as we prepare for and work towards starting our own similar ministry in this general slum region.  Together with the Sower House we hope to reach out to kids living in the slums of São Paulo with the love and hope of Jesus Christ!

 God bless you and thanks to many of you who have been praying for us as we have begun this new advernture of living in the city of São Paulo. Overall, we are enjoying our new city, and we are extremely happy to have a home again! God has been good to us and we truly see His faithfulness through the care and support of the body of Christ partnering with us.
Thank you and God bless! 
A fun family selfie as we drove from Belo Horizonte to Sao Paulo!