September 30, 2006

More Cidade Feliz Photos

We just finished up the latest filming session for the Cidade Feliz program. This week's story is called "The Path" and deals with the fact that the only way to salvation is through Christ. Here are some photographic highlights of the filming:


Setting the stage


Tia Manu and Lili

The chair was necessary for Emanuela to be on the same level as the puppets.


The main cast

Left to right: Jnior, Lili, and Seu Sebastio.


The puppeteers

Left to right: Fabiana, Nice, and Yours Truly.


No moneying around!


Snakes on a...puppet show!

I posted the picture below last week...

But it was just today that I noticed its uncanny similarity to this one...

The quality of our production has gone up with each filming. Today we filmed for the first time in the little studio we have set up here at the house. Even though the conditions were somewhat rudimentary, it was still our best filming experience so far. As soon as the film is edited, I will post it for your viewing pleasure.

Don't forget about the Cidade Feliz Store!

Posted by Andrew at 6:55 PM
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Missing Plane Update

It would appear that the missing plane has been found. The following is from the BBC:

BBC NEWS | Americas | Wreckage of Brazil flight spotted

The Boeing 737, which had 155 people on board, was flying from Manaus to the capital, Brasilia, when it vanished.

It was found in a remote area of the rural state of Mato Grosso.

"At this moment there is no way of telling if there are any survivors," said Denise Abreu, a director of the Brazilian Aviation Agency.

Reports coming in from Brazilian sources say that the chance for any survivors is slim.

Update: According to this report from Rede Globo (in Portuguese), preliminary evidence shows that the plane hit the ground nose first--essentially making it impossible for anybody to have survived the impact.

Posted by Andrew at 10:10 AM
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Plane Missing in the Amazon

When I checked my computer this morning, the feeds were buzzing with news of a Brazilian plane lost over the Amazon. Here is the Boston.com report:

Brazil plane crashes with 155 aboard - Boston.com

Brazil plane crashes with 155 aboard

By Terry Wade | September 30, 2006

SAO PAULO, Brazil (Reuters) - A Brazilian airline passenger plane with 155 people on board disappeared over the Amazon jungle and was believed to have crashed, local officials and news reports said.

The brand-new Boeing 737-800 operated by Brazilian low-cost carrier Gol disappeared Friday afternoon after losing radar contact during a flight from the principal Amazon city of Manaus to the national capital, Brasilia, the company said.

From the passenger list published by Rede Globo, it did not appear that there was anybody we know on board. Please be praying for any survivors, and for the families of those involved.

Posted by Andrew at 8:00 AM
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September 29, 2006

What If We Have a Debate, and Nobody Shows?

Last night I watched with great interest the presidential debates. The big news was that President Lula, up for election, did not show.

BBC NEWS | Americas | Lula boycotts pre-poll TV debate

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has pulled out of a final TV debate with other candidates fighting Sunday's presidential election.

He withdrew hours before the live broadcast, saying other candidates would launch personal attacks on him.

Lula is still well ahead in the polls, but his lead has narrowed amid claims of dirty tricks and corruption.

On Sunday night, his decision to avoid this debate will look like either a masterstroke or a huge tactical error.

Several items made this especially interesting:

1. Lula is famous for bullying people during debates, leveling accusations and personal attacks. It would appear that he can dish it out, but cannot take it.

2. Lula made the announcement just shortly before the debates were to begin. He then proceeded to attend a huge rally of his own supporters.

3. The Globo TV network (the biggest and most influential media company in Brazil) is hopping mad. They took great pains to show Lula's empty chair throughout the debate. (see picture below).


The empty chair

It is possible that this will take the elections into a second round. If this happens, there will be a debate between the two main candidates, which it will be very hard for Lula to escape.

Between now and Sunday (election day), Lula can count on some VERY bad press. If he should happen to win the election, he can count on bad press for the duration of his second term. Ticking off Globo was not a good idea.

Posted by Andrew at 10:23 AM
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Brazil at War

I was looking around YouTube for some footage for English class this afternoon, I came upon this gem.

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September 27, 2006

Go 7-11

If I lived in the US, I would definitely be shopping at 7-11 now.

7-Eleven drops Citgo gasoline; cites Chavez speech | Top News | Reuters.com

HOUSTON (Reuters) - 7-Eleven Inc. will drop Venezuelan-controlled Citgo Petroelum Corp. as its gasoline supplier, the convenience store operator said on Wednesday, a week after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called President Bush "the devil."

7-Eleven said in a statement it was switching to its own branded gasoline at more than 2,100 company-owned and franchise U.S. stores. Citgo has been 7-Eleven's gasoline supplier for 20 years.

A Citgo spokesman was not immediately available to comment on the 7-Eleven decision.

Dallas-based 7-Eleven expressed sympathy for anger at Chavez due to comments made in a U.N. General Assembly speech last week.

"Regardless of politics, we sympathize with many Americans' concerns over derogatory comments about our country and its leadership recently made by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez," 7-Eleven said in a statement.

Posted by Andrew at 3:44 PM // Comments: 4 //
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September 25, 2006

Weekend in Lavras

I spent Saturday and Sunday with Washington Lu�s and Francisca Maria at their ministry internship location--the nearby city of Lavras da Mangabeira. They were hosting an evangelistic conference, and I was the speaker. This was one of the most eventful trips I can remember. Below are some pictures:

The first event in the "adventure" department happened as we were out inviting people to come to the conference. We came upon this bridge, which looked rather precarious to me.

I decided that if anything exciting happened as we crossed, it should definitely be caught on film--for posterity's sake, if nothing else. So I sent Daniel, another seminary student who was with us, to the other side with the camera. Then we started out.

Going across the area where the water was running over the top was by far the most nerve-wracking part.

From that point on it was pretty smooth riding.

Notice how little "wiggle room" there is on this bridge. One false move and you go in the "drink".

Another exciting part of the trip was our excursion to this isolated lake, surrounded by rock cliffs. I had to use the four-wheel-drive to get there, but the view was worth it. Some of my friends in the US would drool at the rock-climbing potential here. I was content to take pictures.

Before the evening service, we had an uninvited guest in the little hotel room were we were staying. This is not the biggest scorpion I have seen here,. but I was assured he packs a wallop. I found him on my shirt as I was packing my bags. Needless to say, I went through all my other clothes very carefully.

As we were leaving, I stopped to take some pictures of the very ornate Catholic church in Lavras. I was accosted by this gentleman--who was in a somewhat inebriated state--and asked to take some pictures of him. He wanted them taken on the steps of the church. Afterwards, he urged me to put them on the internet. I told him I would, and then gave him a tract and told him to read it when he was sober. As to the pictures on the internet--I am a man of my word!

We had one final adventure on the way home, for which I have no picture. It was close to midnight, and as we rounded a curve on the road, we saw a man stretched out on the pavement, a bicycle on its side close by. I was able to swerve and miss him fairly easily. At this point I gunned the engine, since having people lying in the road pretending to be hurt is one of the most common tricks used by highway robbers here. As soon as we were in cell-phone reach, we called the police.

All in all, a pretty adventuresome weekend.

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September 23, 2006

Making Of

I am on my way out the door for an evangelistic conference in Lavras da Mangabeira, but I thought I would put up some pictures of our taping session on Thursday:


Puppeteers in action.


Jnior and Max


Doing the "wave".


On stormy seas.


The cameramen.

Don't forget, you can check out the finished product here.

Posted by Andrew at 11:44 AM // Comments: 1 //
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World Magazine on President Lula

World Magazine has this excellent analysis of Brazilian president Lula:

WORLD Magazine | Weekly News, Christian Views

Brazil is in a position to lead a bloc of moderate leftists against Chavez. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is up for reelection Oct. 1 and is almost guaranteed a win. As a longtime union leader and member of the far-left Worker's Party, da Silva tried for the presidency three times before recasting himself as a moderate and winning in 2002. During his first term, he has largely maintained the policies of his center-right predecessor, allowing for slow but steady economic growth and a stabilized currency.

At the same time, appealing to his original base, da Silva has increased social spending. Under his tenure, the minimum wage has increased 25 percent. A cash-transfer program for poor Brazilians now reaches 8.7 million families, a fifth of the population. A hands-off management style and distancing from the corrupt image of his own party have earned him comparisons to Ronald Reagan as the region's "Teflon" president.

The whole article is worth a read, as it contrasts Latin America's center-left leaders with the Hugo Chavez crowd.

Posted by Andrew at 10:32 AM // Comments: 2 //
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September 22, 2006

Proof that John Piper Reads This Blog

Actually, I kind of doubt it. However, his article expresses exactly the points I was trying to make in my Bring on the Barbarians post. One of the big differences is that where I listed four attitudes Christians should take, Piper lists ten.

It is a very well written article on a timely subject, and I encourage anybody to read it.

Posted by Andrew at 12:33 PM
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Cidade Feliz

At long last, we are able to publish an episode of Cidade Feliz--our bi-weekly televised puppet program.

The title of this segment is "Junior's Boat", and it illustrates how God bought us back after we sinned.

We are still a very amature production, but we are improving. We now have a team of six people working on the project.

If you are interested, Itacyara is the operator and voice of Max (the big blue puppet). I make a brief appearance as the salesman.

Later on I will some pictures taken during filming last night.

If you have trouble viewing this video, you can check it out on youtube.

Posted by Andrew at 9:00 AM
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September 21, 2006

Men in Black

My bro Daniel posted this blast from the past over at his site, and I just had to include it here. It shows he and I (sans beard) at the wedding of his sister-in-law.

The real "Men in Black"

Posted by Andrew at 9:12 AM
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September 20, 2006

Brazilian Elections Heat Up

The main candidate running against Lula this year--Geraldo Alckmin-- looks for all the world like he does not want to win. In all honesty, I have not seen a more lame campaign since Bob Dole ran against Bill Clinton.

That being said, this piece from Reuters surprised me:

Brazil electoral court opens probe against Lula | Sports | Winter Olympics | Reuters.com

BRASILIA, Brazil (Reuters) - Brazil's electoral court has opened an investigation into the campaign tactics of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a move that could hurt his chances of an easy victory in the October 1 election.

The court is investigating whether Lula and two senior aides took part in an orchestrated smear campaign against opposition presidential candidate Geraldo Alckmin and Jose Serra, the opposition candidate for Sao Paulo state governor.

All the news outlets have been predicting an easy win for Lula. This may change.

Here is another part of the article that grabbed my attention:

Already two Lula advisers and the director of a state-owned bank have stepped down this week over the scandal. One adviser is Lula's personal barbecue chef as well as head of intelligence in his campaign.

Personal barbecue chef AND head of intelligence! How did those two offices get merged into one?

In all seriousness, please be in prayer for my adopted country during this election season. The feeling among believers is that they are "fried" no matter which way they vote. Pray that we would be able to keep in mind that "the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord".

Posted by Andrew at 9:33 PM
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The Crazy Guy to the North

...was just gave a diatribe at the UN. Here are portions of his speech, via Hot Air and youtube:

Oh, and if you listen carefully, he quotes our own President Lula.

This from Fox News:

"The United States empire is on its way down and it will be finished in the near future, inshallah," Chavez told reporters, ending the statement with the Arabic phrase for "God willing."

Makes you wonder if he knows something....

Posted by Andrew at 5:02 PM
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September 19, 2006

Bring on the Barbarians!

What do Christians do when "civilization" is overrun by the "barbarians"?

A week ago I read two articles, both of them in August's "Tabletalk" devotional, that have greatly influenced my thinking. The first, by R.C. Sproul Jr., is called Bread and Circuses. In it, Sproul goes back to the fall of Rome, and shows how God used that cataclysmic event to advance His kingdom. He then draws parallels to today's age.

Just two pages later in the same devotional was an article by Gene Edward Veith--cultural editor of World Magazine--entitled Back to Barbarism. In it, he calls upon Christians to be salt and light in a new barbarian society.

With these excellent articles fresh on my mind, I prepared a Sunday School lesson for our young people entitled The Barbarians in Rome--Christians and the Fall of Civilization.

The Fall of Rome

In 410, a Goth named Alaric (the bearded gentlemen pictured below) entered Rome with his innumerable hordes.

Alaric in Rome

The whole world was shocked, including St. Jerome.

St. Jerome

Sproul quotes B.K. Kuiper:

Jerome was sitting in his cave in Bethlehem, writing in his Commentary on the Prophecies of Ezekiel, when he heard the news [of the fall of Rome to the Goths in 410]. He was overwhelmed with anguish and consternation. he believed that the antichrist was at hand. He said: "The world is rushing to ruin. The glorious city, the capital of the Roman Empire, has been swallowed up in one conflagration. Churches once hallowed have sunk into ashes."

The reaction of another Christian luminary of the same time is educational.

St. Augustine

St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, was concerned that pagans were blaming Christians for the disaster at Rome. After all, this had never happened before Constantine declared Rome a Christian empire less than a century earlier. Augustin sat down and penned an obra prima which has since become a classic of Christian literature: The City of God. In this magnificent--and massive--treatise, he contrasts the city of man (earthly civilization) with the City of God--that eternal kingdom which is right now being built in the hearts of men.

The civilization that has been so painfully constructed since the fall of Rome is on the verge of destruction. It is decaying withing, and being threatened from without. We live in a new age of Barbarians.

Paganism

The nations of the West in general, and the US in particular, used to pride themselves on being a Christian society. Not only is this no longer the case, but very few references are made anymore to "Christendom". Popular media never misses a chance to promote some form of pagan worship or another. When--by some fluke--a quality film such as "The Passion of the Christ" is released, it is subject to relentless criticism. All religions are in vogue now, except for Christianity.

The Culture of Death

Abortion. Euthanasia. As a society, we are taking great strides in the cheapening of human life. Our evolutionary underpinnings have brought us to "survival of the fittest" mode. Our insatiable desire for pleasure is quickly bringing us to the point where any sexual deviance is considered "good", no matter how dangerous it is to others and to society. Ex: "I am concerned about AIDS, but don't expect me to give up my sodomite lifestyle."

Do you wonder where that road takes us? All you have to do is look at some European countries where child-molesters are coming into the mainstream of society. Think it couldn't happen on this side of the Atlantic? Think again.

Terror

Up until now, I have dealt with the barbarians within. As Veith said:

Judging from our art, our education, our manners, and our morality, it seems indeed that we are back to barbarism.
However, serioius attention must also be given to the barbarians without.

Like the Goths and Visigoths of old, the Islamic terrorists have no respect for international law or civilized order. They have no regard for innocent life--or any life for that matter. They love death. That is what they say, and that is what they demonstrate by their actions.

Once again, if you think we are far removed from the problem--if somehow you feel that September 11 was a fluke, some re-thinking may be in order.

Clicking on the above image will take you to the site of the Venezuela chapter of Hezbollah. Right here in our own hemisphere, the Islamic radicals are carrying their message with missionary zeal. Interestingly enough, they are doing so in a country that just recently kicked out a group of Christian missionaries.

So what are we to do?

R.C. Sproul Jr. puts it very well in his article:

The barbarians have come to teach us to toss our petty stratagems and to give up our hope in princes, so that we, "the civilized", might rest upon and serve alone our great king.

I would like to add four important principles we as believers should follow during these exciting times:

1. Be careful not to confuse human "civilization" with the kingdom of God. While Christianity has had a purifying effect on nations at various times throughout history, no human society can make the claim to be fully "Christian".

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. John 18:36

2. Remember who the real enemy is. We get so caught up in the human events around us, that we begin to view Bill Clinton, Hugo Chavez, or Jimmy Carter as "The Enemy". Scripture is clear that this is not the case:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]. Ephesians 6:12

3. We must continue to exercise our biblical function in society. And what is that function?

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:13-16

And finally...

4. Don't be surprised when we run into human opposition, or even persecution. I am reminded of the video I saw this last week of Rosie O'Donnel claiming that Christianity in the US was just as dangerous as Islam. And she was applauded!

Christ was very clear:

But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. The disciple is not above [his] master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more [shall they call] them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, [that] speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, [that] preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

In short, as the city of man crumbles around us, we must hold all the more strongly to the City of God. In fact, as both Sproul and Veith point out, this may be God at work to bring the "barbarians" to Christ, as happened in the years immediately following the fall of Rome. In that case, bring on the barbarians!

Posted by Andrew at 10:18 PM // Comments: 1 // TrackBack: 0 //
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September 18, 2006

Book of the Week: The Hand of God

This week's Book of the Week is "The Hand of God" by Alistair Begg. I received this book as a present from a pastor-friend of mind in NY, before leaving for Brazil. Reading it this past week was a great pleasure.

"The Hand of God" is an in-depth look at the life of Joseph. Begg takes him from childhood to the grave, all the while making timely applications for today's believer. Of particular benefit to me were his chapters on temptation and forgiveness.

I must admit that when I began to read the book, I felt something was missing. Then I began to read, imagining the words being pronounced in Begg's native Scottish accent, and the book came alive. He writes like he speaks.

I did a little research and discovered Alistair Begg's Truth for Life broadcast available as a podcast here.

As always, below is a link to the book on Amazon. You can also visit previous book-of-the-week offerings here, as well as check out our library and book store.

Posted by Andrew at 10:29 AM
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September 15, 2006

It's Romaria Time

Yesterday for about two hours, pilgrims paraded near our house. They were riding in everything from air conditioned buses to rattletrap pickups. The noise was deafening.

Some background may be necessary. Every year our city, Juazeiro do Norte, is flooded two or three times a year by pilgrims coming to pay homage (worship) to Padre Cicero--a cleric who died in the 1930's. The pilgrims--called "romeiros"--come from all over Brazil. Their devotion to this man, who supposedly performed miracles, and who was summarily excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church--is amazing, and sad, to see.

Below are some pictures I took of the parade:

This is a "Pau de Arara". They are supposed to be illegal, but it seems that during the Romaria (pilgrimage), the officials turn the other way. After all, if they kept them out of the city, they would be removing a huge source of income.

I have traveled in some pretty uncomfortable circumstances before, but I cannot imagine spending the better part of a week in these conditions.

Most of the trucks have an image of the Padre somewhere on them--usually on the top.

Correct spelling is not high on the priority list here. The word is "romeiros", not "rumeiros". Oh well. It's not like my spelling is all that stellar.

Believe it or not, this is only the second-biggest pilgrimage during the near. The biggest one takes place in the beginning of November, and is the focus of a huge evangelistic outreach on the part of our seminary and our local churches. As I watched the buses go by yesterday, I could not help but wonder if we should concentrate on the second-biggest one as well.

Posted by Andrew at 12:37 PM // Comments: 1 //
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September 14, 2006

Ball Boy Scores Goal...Now with Video!

I have seen a lot of strange things in Brazilian soccer since I arrived here (not the least of which was Brazil's thrashing by France in this year's World Cup). Nothing quite so strange as this, however, from Yahoo News:

Ball boy scores in Brazil - World Soccer - Yahoo! Sports

RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept 12 (Reuters) - A Brazilian referee faced suspension on Tuesday after she awarded a goal that television pictures showed was scored by a ball boy.

The 89th minute goal allowed Santacruzense to snatch a 1-1 draw at home to Atletico Sorocaba in the Paulista Football Federation (FPF) Cup on Sunday, a regional tournament played in the state of Sao Paulo.

Pictures showed that after a Santacruzense player shot narrowly wide, the boy collected the ball with his feet and took it back on to the pitch.

However, instead of returning it to the goalkeeper, he subtly tapped it across the line into the net.

Heads are going to roll over this:

"It was a very serious mistake and, unfortunately, the punishments will have to be applied for the referee and linesman," he said. "There was a lapse of concentration and that can't happen in football."

Update:

It was only a matter of time before this hit youtube. Here is the video:

Another Update:

Here is what I find to be an amazing quote by one of the players of the team that benefited from the bad decision, via rawstory.com:

"I simply shot the ball," he said. "If the referee recognized the goal, then it's her problem, not ours."

What about honesty? Good sportsmanship? Character? Nada?

There is a huge difference between the attitude of this player and that of the Argentine(!) players in 1914.

It was the first official game between the Brazil and Argentina. At one point in the second half, an Argentine player named Leonardi made a goal with his hand. The ref, a Brazilian, validated the goal.

Nobody celebrated. Presently the Argentine captain, Gallup Lanus, informed the ref that they would not accept the goal because they knew it was illegal. Brazil went on to win the game 1-0.

Somehow, the attitude of the game has changed. I do believe it simply reflects the attitude of the culture.

(Information on that game--in Portuguese--can be found here.)

Posted by Andrew at 5:25 PM // Comments: 3 //
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Brazil/Bolivia Conflict Heats Up Again

Tensions are rising between Brazil and Bolivia again. Bolivia has said that it is assuming operations of the refineries of Brazilian-owned Petrobras. Chron.com reports:

Brazil Cancels Meeting With Bolivia

Mines and Minerals Minister Silas Rondeau and Petrobras chief executive Sergio Gabrielli backed away from plans to fly to the Bolivian capital on Friday after Bolivia's Ministry of Hydrocarbons set new conditions for international companies extracting gas and producing petroleum products.

Earlier, Petrobras said the new rules would make its Bolivian refining business "totally inviable." Rondeau then decided to cancel the meeting and suggested rescheduling it for Oct. 9. _ eight days after Brazil's presidential elections.




This could have interesting implications on the upcoming Brazilian elections. It is in Lula's interest to make this go away--fast.


Posted by Andrew at 5:12 PM
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Cidade Feliz

I have mentioned in previous posts the Cidade Feliz project--a puppet segment on the local TV show run by our area churches. Yesterday Shanna--a friend from our church in Florida--sent us this logo she made. I think it is a winner!

Having this attractive logo in hand, I got inspired and set up a Cidade Feliz Cafepress store, where proceeds will go to help us fund this project.

Right now I am writing four scripts for use with the show. On Monday we will be getting together to review the scripts and practice for the filming--which will probably be on Thursday.

Posted by Andrew at 6:46 AM // Comments: 5 //
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September 13, 2006

Back Seat Confessions

I promised in my previous entry on last week's visit to the Vacaria settlement that I would relate a funny incident that happened there.

Here goes.

After the birthday party was over on Saturday night, many of the people present asked if I would take them home on my way to the place where we were staying. Of course I agreed, and soon the bed of my pickup was full of people. Beside me in the passenger seat was my wife, and in the back seat rode two young ladies from our church, and an older woman from Vacaria, who we shall henceforth refer to as "Strange Lady".

No sooner had I started to back out of the driveway when Strange Lady began to pray fervently out loud, "Lord Jesus, protect the driver, please keep us safe, don't let anything happen to us."

Now I am not opposed to praying for safety during travels, but there was a note of panic in her voice which caused me concern. Thus I turned around and said to her "Minha Senhora, est tudo sob controle" (Ma'am, everything is under control).

"I know," replied Strange Lady. "It is just that I have a real problem with fear."

She was not kidding.

The roads in Vacaria are not paved, and at their best are full of potholes. Add to this the fact that the community itself is nestled in among steep hills and you have some very challenging driving. Every time we would start to go up one of these hills, the prayers from the Strange Lady would begin. At this point I remembered that there was a very steep incline coming up, and I wondered what her response would be. I soon found out.

As we started up the hill, I began to shift into lower gears. As the truck was loaded with people and supplies, the engine began to work hard. Strange Lady began to pray in earnest.

"Lord, please help the driver. In fact, You drive the car Yourself. My daughter is in the back, and needs your protection. She is only thirteen!"

As the sound of my hardworking engine intensified, so did her prayers. Soon we became aware of the fact that she was in tears.

"Oh Lord! I am too young to die! I don't want to die!"

Then the confessions began.

"I can't die yet! I need to ask forgiveness of my father, who I have been mistreating all these years! I need to talk to my husband, who left me after five years! Of course he left me...who could stand to live with a woman like me? Please don't let me die!!!!"

I glanced over at my wife, who was doubled over in silent laughter. The two young ladies from our church who were in the back seat were doing their best to be polite. One of them had a blanket and was biting it, hard, to keep from laughing.

Finally we reached the top of the hill. To our utter amazement, the waterworks stopped immediately. Without so much as taking a breath, Strange Lady turned to one of the girls next to her and asked, in a matter-of-fact way, "So, would you like to stop by my house to pick up some hammocks to use tonight?"

Mercifully, her house was our next stop. As soon as she got out of the truck, all of us burst into gales of uncontrollable laughter.

If ever Strange Lady is convicted of a crime, the police need not worry about the interrogation process. The ride to the police station is all it will take for her to spill the beans.

Posted by Andrew at 8:16 AM // Comments: 5 //
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September 12, 2006

Book of the Week: The Grand Alliance

Sail on, O ship of State! Sail on, O Union strong and great! Humanity with all its fears, With all the hopes of future years, Is hanging breathless on thy fate!

These words, written by Longfellow and sent in a letter from President Franklin Roosevelt, made a profound impression on Churchill as England's struggle with Nazi Germany intensified. Indeed, so profound was the effect they had that he included a copy of the hand-written note in The Grand Alliance, third in his series on the second world war.

As with the first two in the series, I have thoroughly enjoyed this book. Churchill gives us a detailed view of his activities during those trying days, peppered with interesting anectodes. One of my favorites was the story of a German U-boat that surrendered to a British plane, and was later commissioned into the Royal Navy.

Perhaps one of the most striking parts of the book to me was Churchill's description of America's entry into the war after Pearl Harbor. Having just passed the fifth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks at this writing, the following paragraph hit home:

Silly peopleand there were many, not only in enemy countriesmight discount the force of the United States. Some said they were soft, others that they would never be united. They would fool around at a distance. They would never come to grips. They would never stand blood-letting. Their democracy and system of recurrent elections would paralyze their war effort. They would be just a vague blur on the horizon of friend or foe. Now we should see the weakness of this numerous but remote, wealthy, and talkative people.

As I have mentioned elswere in the blogosphere, it seems to me that these "silly people" were only 65 years ahead of their time.

I highly recommend this book. Click below to purchase it from Amazon. Also, don't forget to check out our library and our bookstore, as well as other "Book of the Week" offerings.

Posted by Andrew at 12:27 PM
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September 11, 2006

I Will Not Submit

The Arabic above means "I will not submit". I got the image over at the blog of Michelle Malkin--one of my favorite political commentators.

I already did one 9-11 piece today, so bear with me as I say what is on my mind.

Islam is a religion that tolerates no dissention. Our post-modern culture has done an excelent job of labeling Christianity as intolerant, and in excluding it from all society. However, in doing so, they have opened the door for a religius system which will rule with iron hand.

If the current trend continues, much of what was once called Christendom will be under the direct or indirect rule of Islam. Individual Christians must be prepared to make a stand, one which may cost dearly.

It might be well for us to learn the above phrase--which according to Michelle is pronounced "lan astaslem". It could come in handy.

Posted by Andrew at 5:37 PM // Comments: 17 // TrackBack: 0 //
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Photos from Vacaria

We spent Saturday and part of Sunday in a little settlement called Vacaria. Vacaria is quite a ways off the beaten path. In fact, in many respects, it is reminiscent of Dogpatch of Li'l Abner fame--the main difference being that the accents of the people are Brazilian hillbilly instead of American hillbilly.

This is a picture overlooking part of Vacaria. There is no real center of town in Vacaria. The dwellings are spread out and connected by precarious dirt roads.

When I say precarious, I mean precarious. One thing that made me laugh was this sign, warninig of a lombada--speed bump.

That is the speed bump in question. It is less worrisome than all the other bumps in the road. A very funny event happend during our time there, which I will relate in a future post.

Vacaria is home to a few man-made lakes. We took advantage of one to do some swimming and boating.

The name "Vacaria" is derived from the Portuguese word for cow. Much of the economy of the area revolves around beef farming. Here are some Brazilian "cowboys" driving their herd.

Our main reason for being in Vacaria was to celebrate the birthday of our neighbor, Crizelite (above in red) who is from there. Here in Brazil, believers usually include a service which features singing and a short gospel presentation. I was invited to bring the message, which was well received. We are grateful for the opportunity to get to know this unique place and it's people.

Posted by Andrew at 10:34 AM
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I Remember Lance Richard Tumulty

Actually, I never met Lance. That will not stop me, however, from remembering him. Today marks the day when Lance, along with 2995 others perished at the hands of Islamic terrorists.

Lance (pictured above) sounds like the kind of guy I would like to get to know. The following comes from a profile page set up by his employer--which by the way lost several other employees when the World Trade Center collapsed:

Lance Tumulty had a great sense of fun and adventure. He loved to motorcycle and hunt, but he was equally happy doing household projects with his brothers, challenging them to see who could paint a wall fastest or chop more wood in 15 minutes.

Lance was not merely a number, he was a person, who left behind a wife, Cynthia, and two daughters. My son was eight days old when Lance's daughters became fatherless.

Today we all should pause and remember what happened on that day five years ago. It seems like we have forgotten all too quickly. I'm sure Cynthia has not forgotten.

Should Cynthia or any of her family read this, they should know that they were prayed for today in this household in northeastern Brazil. May God bless them, and may they know the peace, comfort, and joy that comes through knowing Christ.


This entry was written in participation with the 2996 project. You can see other tributes by going to their site.

Posted by Andrew at 9:04 AM // Comments: 4 //
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September 9, 2006

TV Program Update

I just got done watching the program. It is a big improvement over last week, but we still need help with the sound, and with editing.

Baby steps!


Posted by Andrew at 7:47 AM // Comments: 4 //
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September 8, 2006

Posing Puppets

I have been trying in vain to get some video footage up of the puppetry segments of our TV show. The segment is called Cidad Feliz (Happy City), and yesterday we filmed our second episode. However I have not been able to get my hands on the video files to show you.

Today however I did some "headshots" today for use in a logo Shanna is making for us, and so I thought I would share some of them with you.

Our next episode airs tomorrow. The story is about loving your neighbor--with a few asides about the importance of doing what the Bible says. It is sandwiched between Bible studies presented by two of our most gifted pastors. Pray that the Holy Spirit will use the entire hour to advance the kingdom of God.


Posted by Andrew at 9:20 PM
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And The Announcement We Have All Been Waiting For...

THE HOUSE HAS SOLD!!!!!!

I just got off the phone with our agent, and she informed me that the contract was signed just a few minutes ago.

Praise God!

Posted by Andrew at 5:43 PM // Comments: 3 //
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Quote of the Day

Quote Details: Hannah Arendt: The most radical revolutionary... - The Quotations Page

The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.
Hannah Arendt
US (German-born) historian & social philosopher (1906 - 1975)


Posted by Andrew at 5:49 AM // Comments: 2 //
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September 6, 2006

House Update 3.1

Just got off the phone with our real estate agent, and it looks like closing is set for Friday (the 8th) at 4 pm.

Here's hoping!


Posted by Andrew at 1:38 PM
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September 4, 2006

Book of the Week: Fool's Gold

John MacArthur and his staff have put together a much-needed treatise on the spiritual discernment necessary in today's age.

I thoroughly enjoyed the chapters evaluating the Revolve New Testament (a Bible packaged as a fashion magazine for teenage girls), the modern practice of altar calls, and John MacArthurs own particularly insightful and balanced contribution on sacred music.

Admittedly, I have not read "The Purpose Driven Life" (or anything "Purpose Driven" for that matter), however the critique given in this book rings true with the results I have seen in popular culture.

I am going to have to withhold judgment on Daniel Gillespie's review of "Wild at Heart" until I read the book myself. Two men who I admire greatly have read the book and heartily recommend it, which does not mesh with the panning given it by Mr. Gillespie.

By far my favorite parts of the book were the contributions by Phil Johnson of Pyromaniac fame. I have been a fan ever since hearing his "Dead Right" treatise on modern Fundamentalism at the 2005 Shepherd's Conference. In this book, he ably puts the "new perspective on Paul" into perspective, and sheds light on the "let your light so shine" injunction of Matthew 5:16.

Although this book does not attain the theological level of "The Gospel According to Jesus", it is a good read and I recommend it.

If you would like to see the other "Book of the Week" reviews, click here. You can also check out our library and our bookstore.

Posted by Andrew at 9:27 AM
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Three Churches in One Day

Sudays are genrally busy days for the Comings family. Yesterday ranks up there as one of the busiest.

In the morning I went to First Baptist Church here in Juazeiro to "peek in" on some of our seminary students who work there.

The church is pastored by Francisco Fabiano, who is in his last year at the seminary. Here he is seen giving the announcements. Pastor Fabiano comes from a broadcasting background, and is heading up the TV project here in Cariri Valley.

I was very impressed with the music program at First Baptist. Two of our seminary students take a leading role in it--Fbio (the middle singer) and Marcos (on the violin).

Fbio also teaches the teen Sunday School class. He gave an excellent lesson on how attempts to discredit the Bible have been unilaterally unsuccessful.

In the afternoon we had choir practice at our home church, Peace Baptist. We made good progress on Mozart's Aleluia.

For the evening service I went to the New Juazeiro Baptist Church, where I was able to observe Francisco--one of our students from the Amazon region--in action, leading the Junior Church (with about 40 kids!). After the service, we went out for a Coke and talked about ministry.

These students always impress Itacyara and me with their attitude and dedication to the work. We are so glad for the privilege to be able to invest in their lives.


Posted by Andrew at 8:55 AM
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September 3, 2006

Congratulations Joe and Kalyn!

Yesterday I got a call from my "littlest" brother, Joe, informing me that he popped the question to Kaylin, the love of his life, and she said "yes". The wedding is in May.

My little brother is all grown up *snif*.


Posted by Andrew at 11:18 AM // Comments: 3 //
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Bank Robbery Foiled

About a year ago, a group of very creative criminals tunneled under a Bank of Brazil in Fortaleza and walked off with millions of dollars. Yesterday, they almost did it again.

Brazil Police Foil Tunneling Bank Robbers - OhmyNews International

Twenty-eight people were arrested by the Federal Police of Brazil, Friday, during an audacious robbery attempt. The gang was tunneling into two bank safes in Porto Alegre, in the south of Brazil, when police arrived at the bank building, located at the intersection of Maua Avenue and Caldas Junior Street.

According to police, the tunnel was already 80 m long (262.5 feet), just five meters (16.4 feet) shy of the target.

The robbery was planned for Sept. 7, the Independence Day holiday.

Unsuccessful this time, the gang's technique had already worked. On Aug. 5, 2005, a group carried out a similar plan, digging a tunnel to the Central Bank of Brazil safes, in the city of Fortaleza. More than 164 million Reals (US$74.9 million) were stolen and just 20 million Reals ($9.1 million) recovered. The eight men arrested today were part of last year's group.



Posted by Andrew at 11:15 AM
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Common Currency

Here in South America we are always paying attention to the development of Mercosur--kind of a Latin American version of the European Union. This interesting item was in my news folder today:

Economy - Dominican Today

SAO PAULO.- Brazil and Argentina have taken this week the first effective step since the foundation of Mercosur in 1991, towards the creation of a common currency, they have decided to elaborate a project aimed at not using the US dollar as a bilateral interchange currency.

The thought of Argentina and Brazil sharing a currency seems strange at this point. There is no love lost between the two countries. But, stranger things have happened. Who in 1940 would have ever suspected that within sixty years France and Germany would share a currency?


Posted by Andrew at 11:08 AM
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September 2, 2006

Zorro Goes to School

Yesterday Mikey celebrated his birthday (which is actually tomorrow) with his classmates at school. He was also able to open one present, which happened to be a Zorro costume (at five, Mikey is perhaps Zorro's youngest fan). Naturally, Mikey wanted to wear the outfit to school, which we allowed him to do--sans sword.


Posted by Andrew at 10:12 AM // Comments: 1 //
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September 1, 2006

Hurricanes and Hollidays...Bah!

The combination of "Hurricane" Ernesto and the "Labor" Day weekend have postponed the closing on my house until the end of next week, which means that I will still have to pay for it for the month of September. Argh!!!!!


Posted by Andrew at 2:52 PM
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