Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Big Changes!

Lately, our blog has been pretty quiet concerning our missions work in Brazil ...

Besides our happy family news of being pregnant and my whirlwind trip to the USA, we also have some other BIG changes happening in our lives ministry-wise.

These are happy and bittersweet changes...

Changes that we sense the Lord is right in the middle of, guiding us in.
Above all, we have a deep sense of peace knowing we are following the Lord's leading and pursuing His will for our lives.

Together, Felipe and I made a major life decision and then began to communicate this decision personally and gradually to the people closest to us. Now the time has come for us to share officially here with you - our dear friends, family in the Lord, and faithful supporters of our ministry to children at-risk in the slums of Brazil.

After months of prayer and consideration, Felipe and I have made the decision to officially end our time of working with the missions organization Youth With A Mission (YWAM).

We are extremely grateful for our years of serving as missionaries with Youth With A Mission!
God used those years in our lives to teach us many lessons and we grew in countless ways. Felipe and I met through serving in this organization, and we are extremely thankful for how God brought us together.

After resigning from my teaching job in 2005, I went to a Youth With A Mission base in Denver, Colorado to do missionary training.  Felipe had the same training in 2004 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and immediately continued serving as a full-time missionary after completion of his training. Felipe spent a total of 11 years serving in YWAM. I moved to Brazil in 2007 and then began working with YWAM full-time, so I worked with YWAM for a  little over 8 years.
2007 - My first months in Brazil, working with girls living in a slum. 
A photo from our engagement days in 2009, walking through the slum where we lived and worked in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

If you scroll through the many years we have had this blog going, you will see countless posts and photos which serve as a beautiful testimony of what God has done in and through our time serving as missionaries through YWAM.  As I reflect on these years of service this verse from Psalm 126:3 comes strongly to my heart,
"The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy!" 

Truly the Lord has done great things during these many years serving as missionaries in YWAM!
2012 - Celebrating the 20th birthday of the Lighthouse Community Center! 
2009 - Working with a group of kids at the Lighthouse Community Center.
2012 - Our amazing team at the Lighthouse the last year Felipe was leading the ministry.  He led the Lighthouse for 4 years.

It is bittersweet to be leaving this organization.  We leave with many wonderful memories, friendships, lessons learned, and beautiful testimonies of God's goodness and faithfulness.  We dearly love and respect so many fellow missionaries who serve through YWAM today, and we will miss being a part of the YWAM family, however we clearly sense God leading and guiding us into this change.

So what's next for us concerning our work on the mission field?
We have applied to two missions organizations that work in partnership with each other.  One organization is called ABBA and is a local, Brazilian organization serving to reach children at-risk in the São Paulo area. Check out their website in Portuguese here.

The other organization we have applied to is called ACTION International (click here to check out their website). ACTION International is a missions organization with a specific focus on reaching out to children and to the poor, which is completely inline with our vision and calling in missions.   This organization also will provide practical help to us personally on many levels. Processing donations from the USA is one of the many support services they offer for their missionaries serving on the field.  We are currently in a very extensive application process with ACTION International and will soon have an interview at their US offices - more news about that in another post coming soon!

(Just a note:  Until we have all our paperwork finalized with ACTION International, we will continue receiving donations through YWAM.  Soon we will communicate when we officially have our missions account set up at ACTION International, and can begin receiving donations through their financial office.)

Practically, what is changing for the Matias Family?
Practically, in our day-to-day life, not too much will change for us. We will continue to live in the city of São Paulo and work at the ministry center where we have been volunteering since May of last year, which is a ministry of both ABBA and ACTION International.  Now we will become official team members at this ministry, instead of YWAM missionary volunteers. Felipe works at the ministry center full-time and I work part-time.

As I have shared before, the name of the ministry community center is Casa Semear (or the Sower House translated into English), and we work there with at-risk kids and teens who live in a nearby slum. Click here to see the ministry blog!

We love this ministry and the work we do there, investing in the lives of precious children and teaching them about God.
The Casa Semear logo! 
2015 Group photo from the annual camping trip with teens who participate at Casa Semear! 

Will you still start a ministry in São Paulo as originally planned?
Our dream to one day open a ministry reaching out to at-risk kids living in the slums of Brazil is still alive and strong! 

Realistically, we see this as something that will happen in the future.  Hopefully it will come to pass in the not too too distant future, but time will tell.  We plan to work faithfully in the new missions organizations we are joining, and in time develop our ideas concerning this ministry goal.  There are thousands of slums in Sao Paulo and much need for more programs reaching out to at-risk children living in these needy slum areas.  In God's timing, we trust our dream will come to pass, as He wills it.
Last year we worked for several months on the weekends in this needy slum area in Sao Paulo.

I have written this post today with much joy and gratitude in my heart for all God has done in our lives through our years serving in YWAM.  We also have much hope and expectancy for all that is to come in the future as we serve in ABBA and ACTION International.

If you have any questions or want to contact us about this big change in our lives, please email us at: laura.felipe.matias@gmail.com.  Soon we will communicate more news!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Half Way To Our Goal!

Yesterday we shared this video about our family and our need for a car!

We are half way to our goal of saving and raising funds to purchase a newer and more reliable vehicle for family and ministry purposes.  Please consider joining us in reaching our goal by sharing our need with others, praying for this need, and even giving if you feel led to do so.  

Also, a BIG thanks to those who have already given towards this need. We are thankful for your partnership! 

Click here to read more details about our need for a car (and the financial breakdown), and click here to see several ways you can donate.

Thanks so much for your support of our family and work on the mission field in São Paulo, Brazil!  

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Our USA Trip, So Far!

Jessie and I have been enjoying our time in the good old US of A these past three weeks, and we still have three more weeks to go!  We are missing Daddy and Sophia terribly at times (I have come to tears at various moments due to missing them), but at the same time we are super thankful for this special time with people we love dearly.

Since arriving on American soil in the middle of February, we have been traveling around and seeing lots of friends and family.  I am not a photographer, so I often forget to take photos because I am completely wrapped up in the moment or the conversation with whomever we are visiting. However, here are a few photos I have snapped here and there highlighting some fun times during our trip, so far!

My youngest daughter, Jessie, is my adventure-loving, travel partner for this trip!  
After just a few days with family, and enjoying some good home-cooked Southern food...

Jessie and I kicked off our time in the USA by traveling to Tennessee to visit Lee University (where I graduated in 2001), and we spent precious time with my college roomie, Carrie, who lives nearby.  It was just like old times, talking for hours on end and spending time together in our college town!

Carrie, Jessie and I

Jessie and I then traveled to the Raleigh, North Carolina area where I grew up and lived most of my life.  I stayed in the home of my childhood and lifetime best friend, Jessica (Jessie's namesake), together with her family of five.  We had so much fun and enjoyed our time there so much, but I completely forgot to take photos. 

Here is one photo snapped of Jessie and all of Jessica's kids squeezed together in the hammock! 
Jessie (3), Ella (8), Luke (10), and Asher (5)!
Jessica's sweet son Asher (5)  and my Jessie (3).

In the middle of my time in Raleigh, I went away to another nearby city for a few days to visit another one of my best friends (Amy) and her family!  
At Amy's house! Lydia (6), Jessie (3) and Jim (4).

A girl selfie! Amy and I with our girls!
We also had fun playdates, lunch dates, dinner dates, and coffee dates with more special people!
  I must say, I tried to squeeze in seeing as many people as I could in just seven short days in Raleigh, but I did not get to see everyone I had hoped to see, or visit all the dear people at the churches we usually visit. Next time we will try to make that happen! :-) 
My sweet friend Peggy (we taught together at Swift Creek Elementary) and Jessie at Chick-fila!
Park fun with friends!
A few days ago, Jessie and I returned to South Carolina to officially begin the "family time" portion of our trip!  During the next three weeks we will spend lots of quality time with our family, staying with Grammy and Grandpa, and Aunt Becky and Aunt Elizabeth (my two sisters).  Jessie is loving all the individual attention she is receiving!

While we are here in the USA, Felipe and Sophia are having some great adventures of their own in Brazil!
They took a daddy-daughter date to the zoo, and this coming weekend they hope to take a quick day trip to the beach with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law who will be visiting them.

Since we got here, Sophia also lost her very first tooth! She was super excited and proud of this achievement! You can see a small gap in the bottom row of her teeth. This photo was taken just after the tooth came out.

We are all missing each other, but before we know it we will all be reunited again!