October 31, 2005

Caj (Cashew Fruit)

Many people in the US enjoy eating cashew nuts. Few, however, realize that the cashew nut grows on the end of a cashew (or caj, in Portuguese) fruit. Above is a picture of Itacyara holding one of them.

On Sunday we went to a local church in the area, and the pastor's son showed us how he harvests and processes the nuts so they can be sold to factories that prepare them for the consumer...including people in the US. It is possible that you have eaten a nut that he picked. Click here to see the series of pictures on the cashew nut.

The fruit itself is also very good to eat, and commonly used for juices and soft drinks.

Posted by Andrew at 6:26 PM
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Red Tape

I should have been expecting this, but for some reason I was not. This morning I went to the Federal Police to get my i.d. card and register as a foreigner living in Brazil. I was about halfway through filling out the paperwork when the lady working on my case came up to the desk.

"We have a little problem." she said.

It turns out we have two problems...and they are big enough to cause me some extra work.

Problem #1: When I was in Brazil before as a student, I had a student i.d. card. This card expired in 1996. I can remember going through some of my things a few years ago, seeing the card, and thinking, well, I won't be needing this anymore. As it turns out, before I can get my i.d. card now, I have to turn in the old one. By the way, this i.d. card is the equivalent to a Social Security number. I can do nothing here without it--and that includes getting our sea container out of customs.

Solution: I need to write an "official" document on my computer, telling them what happened to the document. I then need to print it out and take it to them.

Problem #2: When I was filling out my paperwork in 1994 for my student i.d., it asked for my mothers full name. So, I wrote down her first, middle, maiden, and last names. When filling out the paperwork for my permanent visa in Miami, I put just her first, maiden, and last names. The lady told me today they have no way of knowing if she is the same person.

Solution: I must go to the US consulate office on the other side of town and get an official statement saying that the woman in the first set of paperwork is the same as the one in the second.

I probably would have been able to take care of a couple of things today, except that we as yet have no vehicle, and are depending on the goodwill of others for our transportation. So, this could take a couple of days.

I was surprisingly un-frustrated by these events. I guess three years of deputation has served to make me deal with disappointments a little better. Anyway, please keep praying as we deal take care of paperwork issues.

Posted by Andrew at 2:22 PM // Comments: 3 //
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Mikey's First Brazilian Sunday School Class

Yesterday we had the opportunity to accompany the Dennis family to their ministry in a neighborhood close to the Fortaleza Academy. The church is called "Igreja Batista Regular Nova Vida" (New Life Regular Baptist Church). Here Michael participated in his first Brazilian Sunday School class. The picture above shows him giving a "report" with the rest of the class as to what they studied about. Actually, the teacher gave the report and the students just kind of stood there.

Posted by Andrew at 2:20 PM
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October 29, 2005

First Day in Brazil

Reflections on the morning of our first full day in Brazil.

MP3 File

Posted by Andrew at 6:57 PM // Comments: 2 //
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Chegamos--we have arrived! Our plane touched down at the Fortaleza International Airport at approximately 2:30 pm local time yesterday. We were met at the airport by two of our BMM missionary family here, and taken to the guest house at the Fortaleza Academy. We have set up temporary houskeeping there while we wait for the sea container, and get our documents squared away.

I will send a prayer letter out--hopefully later on today. At that time we will hopefully be able to post more pictures here. Right now I am using a little internet caf down the road from the school. We should have some sort of wireless access this evening.

Posted by Andrew at 11:39 AM // Comments: 3 //
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October 26, 2005

"Special" Music

On Saturday our home church held a send-off for us. By popular request, I did a special number with my brothers Daniel and Joseph. Here it is in it's entirety. Enjoy.

Posted by Andrew at 12:06 PM // Comments: 4 //
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October 25, 2005


Life is full of disappointments. The knowlege of that fact, however, does not make them any less disappointing when they come. Right now, we are facing what in the great scheme of things is a small disappointment. Due to the closing of the Miami airport after Hurricane Wilma, our flight to Brazil has been postponed from today until Thursday.

God is sovereign, knows what He is doing, and was not taken by suprise. We are resting in this knowlege, and looking forward to Thursday.

The following verse has taken on special meaning:

Nahum 1:3b The LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.

Posted by Andrew at 11:29 AM
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October 22, 2005


I am now holding--in my formerly chocolate-stained fingers--our tickets to Brazil. We are really going! Still kind of hard to believe.

In other news, Daniel and I just got done practicing for our "special number" this evening. It is going to be fun!

Posted by Andrew at 1:07 PM
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Enlightening Conversations

Conversation #1

While having my devotions by the pool in our park yesterday, I was approached by three teenage girls.

Girl 1: Hey, do you go to our school?

Me: Um...no.

Girl 1: Oh wait! You're an OLD GUY!

Me: Thanks a lot!

Girl 1: (to her friends) I can't believe you made me talk to an old guy!

Conversation #2

At Shanna's house last night we were preparing to watch a video.

Shanna: Tassie, what kind of video do you want to watch?

Tassie: Oh, I don't know. What about a chicken flick.

Shanna: You mean a chick flick? (any romantic movie loved by girls and loathed by guys)

Tassie: Same thing.

Posted by Andrew at 1:00 PM // Comments: 1 //
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For The Geek Squad


This is for all my geeky friends out there. You know who you are.

Posted by Andrew at 12:50 PM
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October 20, 2005

Now I Know What I Want for Christmas

My very own Hugo Chavez action figure. Complete with sound.

Posted by Andrew at 11:25 AM
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Selling the Car

I took the car down to Car Max yesterday, and they gave me a decent offer on it. Not what I would have liked, but better than the Blue Book price. I will take it back on Monday for the final sale.

I remember reading the post on Mission Safari when he sold his car in preparation to go to the field, and I wondered if I would ever get to that point. Well, now I am there, and it feels good.

Of course, it would feel a lot better if somebody would buy my house, but I guess I shouldn't get greedy.

Posted by Andrew at 10:47 AM // Comments: 1 //
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October 18, 2005

Moving Day

Last night was a big night for the Comings household. With the help of a host of guys from Fellowship Baptist Church, we packed most of our earthly belongings into a sea container and sent it off to Brazil. It should arrive there about two weeks after we do. You can see more pictures of the event here.

This picture shows Mikey doing his part in the moving process.

Posted by Andrew at 10:00 AM // Comments: 1 //
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October 14, 2005

Mikey Rides the "Train"

While in Miami to get my permanent visa, we had some time to kill, and discovered their elevated transport system. Mikey was absolutely thrilled with the ride--he might as well have been at Disney World. And it was free, which made it great for Mommy and Daddy, too!

Posted by Andrew at 1:34 PM
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Update on New Tribes in Venezuela

The BBC News Service just posted and article in which New Tribes denies any connection with the CIA--one of the accusations leveled at them by crackpot dictator Hugo Chavez. See previous post for more details.

Posted by Andrew at 11:31 AM
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Brazilian Visa

As of yesterday, I am the proud owner of a permanent Brazilian visa. This has been a long time coming. We greatly appreciate the professionalism and efficency of the Brazilian Consulate General in Miami.

Posted by Andrew at 10:30 AM // Comments: 2 //
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Chavez Takes Aim at Missionaries

This morning I was greeted with the news that Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, has announced that all New Tribes missionaries must leave the country. I have frequently reported on Chavez's activities here because I believe what he does affects all of Latin America, and because of his close ties with Brazilian president Lula.

This latest anti-American, anti-Christian policy is not really that surprising--but quite disturbing and far-reaching in it's implications. I have two takes on this.

Take One: I would not be surprised to discover that this is retaliation on the part of el presidente for comments made about him by Pat Robertson--specifically, the comments he made calling for Chaves' assassination. If this is the case, it would behove Mr. Robertson and other Christian leaders to examine the impact their political views have on the larger cause of Christ.

Take Two: It is quite obvious that Mr. Chavez is using this as another way to gain support for his failing government. He has consistently done this during his administration--offering free rides to the downtrodden in exchange for their political support. The fact that he would target a group of people who have only the best interests of the indigenous people at heart is especially heinous.

The New York Times article on the subject can be seen below. Also, click here for the official response of New Tribes Mission.

Continue reading "Chavez Takes Aim at Missionaries"

Posted by Andrew at 9:36 AM
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October 11, 2005

Missionary Blogs

I just wanted to draw your attention to a site that I believe is providing an incredible service to Christians: Missionary Blogs. They have cataloged several weblogs run by missionaries (including this one!), which provides a real window on what God is doing through missions around the world. Maybe more missionaries will wake up to the great communication opportunities offered by blogging.

Posted by Andrew at 7:07 PM
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Visa Update

Today was a "good news bad news" day. The good news: our visa request has been approved! Bad news: we will not be able to pick it up until Thursday. Thanks to all who have been praying. Don't stop now! Also, a big THANK YOU is in order to the folks at Broadview Baptist Church in North Lauderdale for letting us stay in their missionary house while we take care of this!

Posted by Andrew at 6:49 PM
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October 10, 2005

Prayer Request

Please pray for us tomorrow afternoon as we go to the Brazilian consulate in Miami in hopes of getting my permanent Brazilian visa. This is the last major hurdle we face before going to Brazil.

Posted by Andrew at 6:35 PM
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Update from the Leonards


Many of you have been praying for the Leonard family over the years. I have posted parts of prayer letters they have sent in an effort to keep you updated on what is going on in Brazil, even as we are still stateside. Above is a family photo--something to help you pray better for them.

The following is an excerpt from their latest prayer letter:

Last week we heard a great testimony from a former Catholic priest in Fortaleza. Apparently some folk in his parish came to him some questions in connection with lessons from our Source of Light Bible Correspondence School. This happened at a time in his life in which he was searching for the truth, and so he took the lessons to read for himself. God worked through His Word and gloriously saved this priest. Today he is ministering the Gospel in an independent Bible Church. He made plans to visit our school in January, and would like to work with us in the distribution of these Bible lessons. God's Word certainly is powerful!

Also, don't forget to be praying for Jim's brother, John, who was shot in Brazil in July. Here is an update on his condition from the same letter:

I, Jim, was able to spend a day with John's family at their home in Ankeny this week. John arrived at home on Monday and is doing well. Improvement in his mobility continues, though very slowly. They began dental work on his teeth and he is going to be needing at least ten root canals. One of the bullets broke both jaws and many of his teeth. Because the jaws were wired shut for nearly two months, this furthered the teeth decay.

Posted by Andrew at 5:59 PM
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October 4, 2005

Pray for Your Missionaries in Brazil

I just got the following in an e-mail from Rick McClain, one of our veteran missionaries in Belem, Brazil:

Last week at this time we were praying about a problem in the poor neighborhood about a half mile from our church. Many kids and few adults in our services come from there. A well established drug dealer was beginning to pay some of our older children to carry messages to certain locations. The next step would be packages. And the pattern has been that some would be be abused sexually and perhaps beaten. Actually this guy is the brother of one of the new converts whose picture I showed last year on furlough. But the new convert has sinced moved to the interior. On Monday three gunmen shot him nine times with nine millimeter pistols. He was buried on Tuesday. Some of our people in that neighborhood spent Tuesday night in the church to avoid being at home at that time. There was another related murder Tuesday night but it was in the next neighborhood. Other than that it has been a quiet week and I had a good baptism class on Thursday with five in attendance. Now we have a request for a class for those who are not yet saved but want to know more.

Posted by Andrew at 4:03 PM // Comments: 3 //
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October 3, 2005

Caption Challenge

Congratulations to the winner of last week's caption challenge, Allen Carpenter, who won with the following entry:

ahhhhh memories...memories of the day the custodins installed velcro on the lockers at school!

Here is this week's picture:


After this week, we will be taking a break from the caption challenges for awhile. They may appear again at a later date. Stay tuned, and enjoy.

Posted by Andrew at 10:22 AM // Comments: 15 //
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Fun with Brakes

We had a great time of ministry in Cape Coral, FL this weekend. Upon our arrival, however, our brakes began making funny noises. We took the car to Midas today, and it turns out I need about $350.00 worth of repairs. We are praising God that we discovered the problem here where it could be cared for, and not on I 75 somewhere between Ft. Meyers and Tampa.

Posted by Andrew at 10:12 AM
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Private Library in Brazil, Owned by Illiterate

Here is a link to a very inspiring story in the LA Times about an illiterate Brazilian man who runs a private library out of his home.

There are some interesting statistics in the story as well. For example:

The average American reads five books a year, as does the average Briton. In literary-minded France, that number rises to seven. In Brazil, it's fewer than two.

The reason given for this is as follows:

Brazilians are handicapped by lack of access. Government officials say that nearly 1,000 of the country's 5,500 municipalities have no public library. Buying a book is even less of an option.

I remember going towntown in the city of Crato (located in the northeastern state of Cear) and seeing a building called the biblioteca municipal, or public library. Upon further investigation, I discovered that it contained no books.

In my wife's hometown of So Lus, there is a beautiful old library, that actually contains books. However, the last time I was there, it was in a state of great disrepair.

Perhaps there is something I can do when we get to Brazil to encourage literacy. I will definitely try. After all, if people cannot read, how are they going to be able to study the greatest Book ever written, and know the eternal truths found therein?

In the meantime, you have to admire this guy who gives the gift of reading to his community.

Posted by Andrew at 9:55 AM
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