Monday, June 27, 2016

A COLD Brazilian Winter!

The weather lately in our city has been shockingly chilly and even cold (for Brazil), with São Paulo registering its coldest day of the year (so far) at 37oF (3oC)!  This year we are experiencing a COLD Brazilian winter!

This past weekend our ministry team held a Bazaar (kind of like an indoor yard sale) at the ministry where we serve - Casa Semear.   Many of the children and families who live in the nearby slum are in desperate need of winter clothes to keep warm during cold temperatures.  Our team saw this need, and with donated items we were able to sell warm clothing (at very low costs) to the families in the slum.

Also, while I was visiting the USA earlier this year, I received a generous donation of warm hats from a friend who attends NewPath Church in Raleigh, NC.  My friend even lovingly handmade some of the hats herself!   

I decided to wait for cold temperatures before distributing the beautiful hats.  Last week, we decided to go ahead and hand out the hats to the kids we work with at Casa Semear.  They felt so special in their new winter gear!

Last, but certainly not least, one of the handmade hats was given to a baby boy who was just born last week.  His mother is a teen mom, who previously participated at Casa Semear.  When we went to visit this teen mom, we delivered the hat to her precious newborn, Pablo. 

We so appreciate the donations we receive at Casa Semear!  
Many lives were blessed and God provided for tangible needs through the items given by the body of Christ.  
Thank you and may God bless those who gave!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

What Happened...

This image describes perfectly what has been going on in our lives over the last months....

For many years now, Felipe (and I too) have had a plan - a great dream, a goal, a burden and a specific direction from the Lord.  The plan was to move to São Paulo and establish a new ministry reaching out to children at-risk living in the slums.  Our hope was to go to a new slum area, where no one was working, and to reach out and share the message of the gospel with the kids and families living there.

We prayed a lot about this dream!
We searched God´s Word and sought His heart concerning it.
We planned and researched.
We took appropriate, strategic steps.
We fulfilled requirements in the mission we were serving in.
We began raising financial support so that we could take appropriate steps toward the plan.
We raised a team of eight people to be the pioneering force to start a ministry.
We worked hard, prayed some more, waited, and continually sought the Lord concerning it all.
We even moved to São Paulo and began working towards the dream while also serving at an already established ministry reaching out to kids living in slums (Casa Semear - ACTION International - where we still joyfully serve today).
Felipe and I with some kids who participate in the afternoon at Casa Semear - the ministry where we serve!

Then things began to go differently than what we had planned and expected...

Several team members decided not to join our team after all, and our plans and hopes of what we were wanting to do began to get more and more challenging.

In the midst of it all, the Lord was ALSO doing a new work personally in our hearts.  Ever so gently we began sensing the Lord leading us to leave the mission organization we had been working in for many years (Felipe, 12 years & I, 8 years).

Many thoughts and feelings raced through my mind as we made this decision to change mission organizations. "But our plan to establish a ministry? What about what we told everyone?  I want to be faithful to our word!"  I would think these anxious thoughts and many more.

And yet, we knew God was leading us, so we obeyed and now we are serving through a mission organization called ACTION, working in partnership with a local Brazilian mission called ABBA. (I have written about this here.)

And our DREAM? Our big PLAN?
Yes, we STILL dream about one day establishing a new ministry to kids living in slums.  Our dream to multiply this kind of work is still alive in our hearts, but now we see that it will not come to pass in the way we had originally planned or thought it would.  It could take years before our dream becomes a reality, and we are trusting God with the timing of it all.  We surrender to His will for our lives...

Yesterday I received a message from a close friend, and she sweetly reminded me of how God´s plans are so much better than ours.  She said, 

"Sometimes we make a plan, and we have an idea of how it is going to be, but then suddenly God comes in and changes everything. It is only later on that we can see that God´s plans are much better than our plans."

Isn´t this true? How many times has God orchestrated events and changes in our lives for His purposes, for His glory, and for us to grow in our walk with Him?

And really, it is all about this journey of knowing Him more, and really not so much about "the plan" in the first place.  The plan is good, and for His glory, and for our benefit, but ultimately knowing Him more is the greatest joy and prize of all.  He is the greater thing!

So as we move forward in "what happened," we rejoice that it is God who determines our steps and governs our lives.  We serve a perfect and sovereign God who is continually pursuing our hearts.

He is the One who reigns over the crazy looking path of "what happened," and I am ever so thankful!