Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Summer 2020 Newsletter

Greetings from Brazil! 

When you hear about Brazil on the news, perhaps you may wonder,"How is the Matias family doing?" We are thankfully healthy and well overall.  Each day is a gift from God. We wanted to send news, as the past few months have flown by for us personally. 
We continue to take measures to protect ourselves from the Coronavirus, as the city where we live (São Paulo) has been hit extreme hard with the number of cases. We have dear friends and know families (within the Casa Semear community) who have either contracted the virus or who are struggling due to the ramafications of it.  São Paulo, the mega-city of Brazil, is very slowly reopening, and many precautions must be taken by all when going out in public. 

How has Covid-19 affected ministry at Casa Semear?

For the time being, Casa Semear is closed due to governmental restrictions on schools and organizations that work with children.  There is a tentative return date for the public schools in São Paulo in September, so Casa Semear may gradually begin reopening around this time.  Due to health risks, there will be some changes in the way the ministry runs as it reopens. 

Although the Casa Semear ministry facility is not bustling with activity and filled to the brim with children and teens inside (as it normally would be), the Casa Semear team is holding distribution days.  On a regular basis, Casa Semear gives out free boxes of basic food items (and other donations) to families in need living in the slum.  Felipe is often helping to pick up donations and assisting with passing them out. 

On some of the distribution days there is not enough food and supplies to pass out to all who are in need. Many people all over the world have been negatively affected by this pandemic, and we are thankful we can help, while also sharing God's love, hope, and care.

Although the kids and teens who normally participate in the minstry programs can not attend Casa Semear as usual, the Casa Semear team decided to create weekly videos with Bible lessons for them.  The kids can watch these videos online and then complete fun activity packets to accompany the Bible lesson (which they can pick up at Casa Semear).

If you want to check out some of Felipe's Bible videos for kids (in Portuguese), hop over to our Youtube channel!  Here is one video below. 

Family News! 

In May we celebrated Sophia's 10th birthday with a Star Wars theme!

And in June we celebrated our sweet Annabelle's 1st birthday!  It is hard to believe that our baby girl is already a one year old.  Annabelle is such a wonderful addition to our family!

On a Zoom call with my family in the USA on Annabelle's birthday!

The second week in June the girls finished up their distance learning at their school with a special Zoom call with each of their classes. 

And now we are embarking upon the adventure of homeschooling.  Laura has been busy at work planning and preparing for Jessie's 2nd grade year and Sophia's 4th grade year.  We will be participating in a local Christian and English speaking co-op, and we are super excited about this new season in our family. Please pray for us in this transition. 

This photo shows some of the curriculum we will be using this next school year.  We will be starting our first full day of school on August 3rd! 

Our New Home
Some BIG news about our family is that we recently moved into another house - larger and more suited to our needs as a family of six (and as a homeschooling family).

The house we are renting is owned by some missionary friends of ours, who are currently living in the USA.  They were unable to travel to Brazil (due to Covid-19) to complete some much needed home repairs and painting, so we agreed to do the work for them ourselves.  It has been a labor of love! 

Felipe has been working non-stop on the new house since the end of May, while I stayed home (in our previous home) with our four kids.  His mom and sister (and other dear friends) were a tremendous help in many ways - working hours in the yard, cleaning, painting, or helping move large, heavy items.  We moved into the house on June 20th, and we are still working on finalizing a few home projects.  We are making the most of the extra time Felipe has at home during this season to get tasks done.

We are so thankful for the Lord's provision, care, and love towards us, and we have seen His hand at work through this opportunity to move.

Felipe laid/installed grass in the front yard just last week!

 Felipe's sweet mom has worked MANY hours in our yard, helping us so much, as she loves working outside and knows a lot about plants. 

We are enjoying a few luxeries we have never had in our homes in Brazil before. We now live on a quiet street, full of beautiful green trees and there is a 24 hour security guard on watch over the street as well. We praise God for this!  Also, for the first time ever, we have a fireplace to keep us warm on chilly nights, hot running water in our faucets to wash our hands and dishes, and a bathtub!  These are simple things, but such blessings. 

The kids are especially loving our new yard and playing outside. We actually have a yard with grass, trees, a small swingset, and even a fountain! Every day monkeys come to visit us, asking for fruit or crackers, which we often will share with them.  There is also an old tree house on the property, which Felipe and the kids have plans to fix up. 

Playing "beach party" in our sand box. 

The owners of the house we are renting have shared with us how they always seeked to share the gospel and God's love in various creative ways with the neighbors.  We pray we can continue to do this too, watering the seeds they planted in the past. May God give the increase!  We want to be a blessing to everyone we come in contact with on our street. Please pray with us concerning this, and pray for our new neighbors.

As we close this newsletter, we want express our gratitude to all of you who pray for us, encourage us, love us, and support us financially as we serve the Lord in São Paulo, Brazil.  

In such a difficult time in the world, we know it is a sacrifice to contribute towards missions, so we want to say thank you to everyone who has continued to give and bless us financially during this time.  Your donations help pay our bills, put food on our table, meet our needs, and make it possible for us to continue to serve the Lord in this corner of the world. Thank you!!! We appreciate your faithfulness and partnership in ministry. 

With lots of love from Brazil,
Laura, Felipe, Sophia, Jessie, Josiah, & Annabelle Matias

Prayer Requests
Please pray for:
- The families who live in the slums near Casa Semear.  There are many in need during this time of crisis due to Covid-19. Please pray that these precious ones would come to the saving knowledge of Christ and experience His love and peace.
-  Pray for the kids participating at Casa Semear as they watch online videos and hear the good news of the gospel in a different way during this time.
 - Pray for our family as we begin our first year of homeschooling and adjust to a new rythym of life as a family. 

Laura, Felipe, Sophia (10), Jessie (7), Josiah (3), Annabelle (1)

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