September 30, 2010
The (puppet) Show Must Go On!
One of the most popular questions we get as we visit our supporting churches on furlough is "What happened to the puppet ministry?"
While our partnership with Cícero and Nice ended for geographical reasons (we each moved to different parts of Brazil), the work still continues. With the support of her husband Cícero, Nice has taken on puppet ministry full time. They recently put on a presentation at the mall in Porto Velho (capital city of the state of Rondônia). Here are some of the pictures they sent me:
Itacyara and I are thrilled at the puppet work we began in the Cariri has spread to the other end of Brazil. And of course, Lord willing, it will be expanding to Cape Verde next year!
You can see more of Cícero and Nice's continuing work with puppets at their website.
Talk back to the missionary: Any thoughts? Leave them in the comments section.
September 28, 2010
New Kids on the Block
These are interesting times to be serving as missionaries in Northeast Brazil. One of the most significant challenges we are facing as a field council (the group of missionaries serving with Baptist Mid Missions in our region) is a dramatic (and I mean DRAMATIC) reduction in manpower. Simply put, we are hemorrhaging missionaries. About twenty missionaries have left the field (for a variety of reasons) since we arrived (to my knowledge, none of the departures had anything to do with our arrival...just thought I'd clarify that...).
Needless to say, we are excited when we meet anybody who believes themselves called to ministry in Northeast Brazil.
Enter the Ruley family.
Daniel and Sarah (and their well-named son, Andrew) are currently raising support to join us as missionaries in Northeast Brazil. The just began their deputation process, and have about 10% of their support. We spent a delightful weekend with them which included a missionary conference at Brooktondale Baptist Church, a delicious chicken bbq dinner with a Brazilian friend and her husband, and getting lost in the hills of Upstate NY on our way back home.
As a missionary in Brazil, I am sold on this young couple. Please pray that funds will come in quickly for them, and that they will be able to join us soon on the field. If you would like to contact Dan and Sarah, you can do so by e-mail. Also, be sure to check out their website or meet them on Facebook.
Daniel and Sara Ruley are the cavalry coming to our rescue in NE Brazil. Please help speed them on their way!
Don't Bother, They're Here
For those of you who, like me, were appalled and embarrassed by the shameful performance of "comedian" Steven Colbert before congress, what I am about to report may help (a little).
Being out of Brazil, I am dependent on outside sources for news of what is happening there. Thus, I am grateful to RioGringa for calling my attention to this, one of the more popular candidates in Brazil's upcoming parliamentary elections:
This is Tiririca, and he has been a popular entertainer in Brazil for as long as I can remember. And it appears that he might be adding "Federal Representative" to his resume. In case your Portuguese is a little rusty, here are some of his campaign slogans:
"I want to be a Federal Representative to help the needy...including my family."
"What does a Federal Representative do? In reality, I don't know. But vote for me, and I'll tell you."
"Vote for Tiririca. It can't be worse than it already is!"
Talk back to the missionary: So, would you vote for this guy? Why or why not? Give us your opinion in the comments section.
September 27, 2010
Class of 2010
Someone "facebooked" a photo of the class of 2010 at the Cariri Baptist Seminary in their graduation outfits. Itacyara and I have a special bond with this class, as we watched them develop from freshmen until we left the seminary in the middle of their senior year (the Brazilian school year runs from February through December with a break in July).
We are very proud of them, and envision great things for them in the future.
Talk back to the missionary: What is your favorite graduation memory? Tell us in the comments section.
September 25, 2010
This is a new feature, in which we will highlight the most popular posts for this week. So, in case you missed them, here they are:
Lords of Passengers
Some things get lost in translation. And then, sometimes, the translation is much more interesting than the original.
Brazilian Musical Interlude
In which the incomparable Lisa Ono brings to us the relaxing strains of Tom Jobim's Corcovado.
A list of interesting and relevant posts from around the interwebs.
Growing Up Yanomamö
My review of the outstanding missionary tale by Michael Dawson.
What is the missionary drawing on that napkin? Leave your best guess in the comments section. I will post the answer sometime next week.
Those are the most popular posts (in terms of number of visits) from this week. Also deserving honorable mention are the Storm Trooper in Transit (which includes a caption challenge) and chapters fifteen and sixteen of the Missionary Max adventures.
Talk back to the missionary: Got an all-time favorite post from the Comings Communiqué? Let us know about it in the comments section.
September 23, 2010
Haven't done a collection of interesting links in a while, and I am a little short on subjects of my own today, so here goes.
Big, HUGE Family Announcement!
From my bro Dan.
Speaking of my Bro Dan...
His recent readings in Calvin's Institutes provided for an interesting opportunity for photoshopping.
And Since We Are Keeping This In The Family...
My Dad has come up with some new (and IMHO, better) lyrics for a well-known children's chorus.
Speaking of Children's Songs...
Remember the one that starts out "Nothing is Impossible"? I think I've found something that comes pretty close.
And finally, something for all you CSI Miami fans out there.
Will the Real Horatio Please Stand Up...
...and put on his shades?
Talk back to the missionary: Got something that would make an interesting link for a future Linking Log? Leave me a comment or drop me an e-mail.
September 22, 2010
Growing up Yanomamö--Book Review at Sharper Iron
The good folks at Sharper Iron have posted yet another of my book reviews: Growing Up Yanomamö by missionary Michael Dawson. I'll let you go there to read the review, but suffice it to say that this is one of the best missionary biographies I have read in a long time.
Talk back to the missionary: Read any good missionary biographies lately? Share them with us in the comments section.
September 21, 2010
Lords of Passengers?
Seriously, if you own a bus company, you might not want to rely on Google for your official translations.
I feel bad for the road that is "terminal", and I have never heard of a "metror", much less a "season" one.
Talk back to the missionary: Ever seen (or done) an unintentionally funny translation? Tell us about it in the comments section.
September 20, 2010
Brazilian Musical Interlude: Corcovado
It's been a while since we have featured one of these. The song Corcovado by the incomparable Tom Jobim is one of the most beautiful Bossa Nova melodies ever written. Few things help me relax more than this lovely piece.
And nobody sings it better than the Japanese/Brazilian vocalist Lisa Ono.
My favorite line from the song:
E eu que era triste,
Descrente deste mundo,
Ao encontrar você eu conheci,
O que é Felicidade, Meu Amor.
And I, who was sad,
Disillusioned with this world,
Upon meeting you I learned
What happiness is, My Love.
Talk back to the missionary: What do you think of this song? Leave your opinion in the comments section.
September 18, 2010
While having dinner at the Buffalo Head Restaurant with folks from Servants Baptist Church in Camden, NY, I was at one point obliged to take pen and napkin in hand and explore my inner artiste.
Talk back to the missionary: So how about it. Any guesses as to what I am drawing? Leave them in the comments section (except for the people who were sitting at our table...you already know).
September 17, 2010
The Empire Strikes...in Brazil (now with a Caption Challenge)
Notice how the storm trooper is being studiously ignored by the other passengers.
Talk back to the missionary: Been awhile since we have done anything with captions around here. Anybody have any ideas what the guy in the cell phone is saying? Give us your best shot in the comments section!
September 16, 2010
But Is It Art?
Yesterday Mikey finished his first art project of our one-year homeschooling adventure. Here it is, a collage of photos from his Grampa's flower garden.
Mikey took the pictures, then arranged them in an artistic sort of way using the ComicLife program on my laptop. I may be a little biased, but I think the final product is spectacular!
Speaking of spectacular, when Itacyara (aka The Brazilian Bombshell) saw how easy the ComicLife format was, she went kind of crazy with some of her photos. Below are three collages she did.
September 14, 2010
Camden and "Comics"
Servants Baptist Church in Camden, NY, has been one of our faithful supporters since the early days of our deputation. Thus we were excited to go there on Sunday and share our burden for Brazil. It was a pleasure to spend time with Pastor Waggoner and his family (pictured above), and get re-acquainted with many in the congregation.
Interesting note: There was one man in the congregation who remembered the "Andrew and Max" routine from way back in 1994 when I was raising support to go to Brazil as a short-termer. Apparently it made such an impression that his son still calls me "Andrew Comics". Hey, at least he remembers!
Talk back to the missionary: As always, leave your comments and questions in the comments section!
September 13, 2010
About that Support Level...
Alert readers will have noticed a drastic decline in the percentage listed in the chart above. When we came to the US for furlough we were at roughly 90%...now we are at 71%.
No, we have not lost any support between then and now. A couple weeks ago I sat down with the financial people at Baptist Mid-Missions and we hashed out a new support level. The dramatic increase (over $1,000.00) is due to a three major factors.
1. A growing family. When we set our original support level in 2002, we were a family of three. While on the field God blessed us with the birth of Nathanael, and so now we are a family of four. Michael is attending school and Nathanael will begin classes upon our return to Brazil.
2. A plummeting dollar. In July of 2002 the dollar was at an all-time high against the Brazilian Real. One US dollar could buy you roughly three reais. Now, due to a number of factors, one US dollar will get you R$1.71. Needless to say, this drastic decline wreaked havoc with our proposed budgets. Our new support level reflects these changes.
3. A rise in cost of living. Over the almost five years we spend in Brazil on our first term we watch the price of things like food, gas, and utilities steadily increase. In addition to this, our move to the city of São Luís from a comparatively rural area will bring about another increase in what we must budget for these daily items.
Please understand this: we are not saying "the mission is making me raise all this support or we can't go back to the field." First of all, this new support level was arrived at after the financial office asked us "what do you need to carry out ministry?" Second, although certain things need to be in place, we are not being held to this support amount in order to go back to the field. Lord willing, we will be back in Brazil by the end of April.
Knowing the economic situation faced by many churches today, we have been reluctant to do this. We only do it now because we believe you--the people most interested in what we are doing in Brazil--want an accurate picture of what it costs for us to do ministry. We are extremely grateful for those of you give sacrificially so that this ministry can continue.
In order to break this down further, I have made a pdf document showing an item-by-item breakdown of all our support (if we were at 100%--obviously if we go back at less than 100% we will have to make some trims here and there...). You can download it here. If you have any question please feel free to e-mail me
Talk back to the missionary:As always, please feel free to leave comments or questions in the comments section.
September 11, 2010
Nine Years Ago Today...
My perception is that the main-stream media is doing its best to erase the events of September 11, 2001 from our collective consciousness. Therefore, I offer this little video as a reminder.
Of course, as Christians what we need to take away from this is that Muslims need Christ!
Obs. I originally had a different video up, but liked the one Dan Phillips posted a lot better.
Talk back to the missionary: I had worked the previous night until early morning, so I slept through the event. What are your memories of that day?
September 9, 2010
Book Review: Jungle Warfare--A Basic Field Manual for Christians in Sales by Christopher A. Cunningham
Reading his grandfather's old Army field manual for jungle warfare, Christopher Cunningham realized that there were many spiritual applications he could make for someone in his own line of work--sales. The book he put together includes 22 entries all based on specific statements from the military guidebook. After a brief quote from the Army manual each chapter is divided into four parts: Verses (relevant texts from Scripture), Battle Plan (a short devotional), Prayer (a personalized conversation with God) and My Thoughts (questions with a space for the reader to write down answers).
There is also a second section which deals with special questions that come up frequently in talks he gives to salespeople.
The concept of this book interested me greatly. Scripture is full of references to warfare, and so a direct spiritual application of an Army manual seemed like a great fit. However, I must admit that I was a little disappointed. Perhaps it is because I am not in sales, but I found a few of the applications a little forced. I probably would have enjoyed it more if Cunningham had applied the principles of jungle warfare to the Christian life as a whole.
Having said that, there were a few parts I enjoyed. The chapter on Ants was worth the read. Also, the author's emphasis on Grace was encouraging and refreshing. The format made the book very easy to read.
Talk back to the missionary: Read any good devotional books recently? Tell us about them in the comments section.
Legal Nonsense: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
September 8, 2010
Burning the Koran, or How Not to Fulfill the Great Comission
Never mind the fact that it is just an insignificant pastor of an insignificant congregation in Florida.
Never mind that similar events would be a lot more common in the Arab world if the Bible were actually allowed in the Arab world.
And never mind that the whole thing is being blown out of proportion by a media desperate to find some sort of moral equivalency between Christians and the Imam who wants to build a mosque at (or very near to) Ground Zero.
Even considering all these factors, Pastor Terry Jones' plan to burn several copies of the Koran on September 11th is abysmal. Other than cheap publicity, what exactly does he hope to accomplish by this stunt?
Ever since hearing of this story I have been scratching my head as to what this guy could possibly be thinking of as a biblical mandate for his planned "bonfire of the koran-ities". The only thing that comes to mind is Acts 19:17-20
When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power. (NIV)
A couple observations:
1. The "sacred scrolls" they were burning were their own. By this I mean, the burning was a public testimony to the fact that they personally had come to Christ. It was not supposed to be a slap in the face to the community around them.
2. The scroll-burning was a demonstration of the power of God. The men who burned them had previously been involved in sorcery. By burning the scrolls they demonstrated that God was greater than the evil spirits they had previously served.
Thus Jones' planned Koran conflagration is in no way similar to the scroll-burning of Acts 19.
Pastor Terry Jones appears bent on this act of madness. Before he carries it out he should consider the grave consequences of his actions:
1. Jeopardizing the life and ministry of those brave Christian men and women working in the Muslim world. If General Patreaus is concerned about the welfare of soldiers, Terry Jones should be concerned about the welfare of his fellow believers.
2. Hardening Muslims to the Gospel. Seriously, burning the Koran is NOT the way to win the heart of a Muslim. As believers we were all shocked and horrified at the events of 9-11. It confirmed for us our own dedication to the true "religion of peace", led by the very Prince of Peace. The best way to make sure something like this never happens again is for more Muslims to accept Christ. And burning a stack of Korans will not help that happen.
In fact, if Pastor Jones really wants to demonstrate his own personal courage, he should grow a beard, don a turban, tuck his Bible under his arm, and preach Christ in the Arab world. He would probably die in the process, but the cause of Christ will much more glorified than with his puny little Koran-cineration.
In short, Christ commanded us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. Nowhere is burning the Koran listed as part of the great commission.
Perhaps Terry Jones should spend more time reading his own Holy Book and less burning the holy books of others.
Talk back to the missionary: Opinions are running high on this topic. What's yours? Vent in the comments section.
September 7, 2010
Middle America Meanderings, Part 2
This post is a continuation of part 1, which can be found here.
The Pond House
While in Fresno, Ohio, our family stayed in a guest house owned by the parents of members of the church. It was a great place for our family, and perfect for our two boys to be...well...boys.
Mikey and I did some fishing in the pond. As it turned out, the fish had nothing to worry about. Still, some great "Mikey and Daddy Time".
Front view of the house. As you can see, plenty of room to run and play.
One day the youth pastor of the church brought over a four-wheeler. We took it for a couple spins...including this one with me driving and the Brazilian Bombshell hanging on for dear life.
Our deepest gratitude to the people of Fresno Bible Church for their wonderful hospitality to us throughout that week.
While in Ohio and Michigan we had the special privilege of getting together with former classmates from my days at Spurgeon Baptist Bible College.
Our first reunion was with the Korey Loughry family. Korey and I studied and worked together while in college. It was great to see what God is doing in their lives and ministry.
Driving up into Michigan, we had the privilege of seeing the Trevor Guiles and Jeff Malin families. Trevor and Liz Guiles have been faithful supporters of our ministry since the beginning. We were grateful for these opportunities to renew old friendships.
Fun N' Stuff
When we visited Korey and Molly Loughry they took us to a mini-amusement park called Fun N' Stuff.
Daddy and NayNay in the bumper boats. If NayNay looks a little unhappy it is because Michal had just pushed us under the waterfall. We got soaked.
Daddy and Mikey navigate a curve.
One of the members of Fresno Bible Church took us to visit a friend of his who is Amish. Fresno is located in the heart of Ohio Amish country. We had a delightful visit with Robert and his family, and they gave us a nice tour of their little community.
Robert's son Arlan gave Mikey and NayNay a ride in a horse-drawn wagon.
We passed a school where the children were out playing volleyball. Apparently the Amish really enjoy volleyball. Who knew?
Amish buggies parked in a row.
On our last full day in Fresno, Pastor Chris convinced me to play my first ever game of golf that did not involve windmills and covered bridges.
Notice anything wrong with this picture?
This breaks it down for you...
Besides all the cool things we got to do, our time in Ohio and Michigan was one of spiritual rest and renewal. The churches in Portsmouth and Fresno were a great blessing to us, and very responsive as we reported on our ministry. A special highlight for us was being able to challenge the youth group in Fresno for missions.
Pastor Chris and Kathy Cutshall.
Talk back to the missionary: Have any thoughts about the photos above? Leave them in the comments section!
September 5, 2010
As Mikey and I wandered around the NY State Fair yesterday we came upon this booth, offering us (for $1 a piece) a view of this ferocious giant rat.
The picture paints such a disturbing portrait that one hardly notices the little sign off to the right, telling us that it is actually a "cabibara" (in Brazil it is called a Capivara).
That's right, underneath the scary picture (showing the rat devouring a cat) and inside imposing metal cage lay two capivaras. While they are indeed rodents (and the largest in the world) they are far from the ferocious beast advertised. In fact, the last group of capivaras I saw were gathered around a diminutive Japanese woman in the interior of São Paulo, eating out of her hand.
And she wasn't feeding them cats.
Talk back to the missionary: Seen any blatant examples of sensationalism lately? Tell us about them in the comments section.
September 3, 2010
Middle America Meanderings, Part 1
On Wednesday our family arrived, weary but rejoicing, from a week's travels in Ohio and Michigan (but mostly Ohio). Several days ago I posted about our first destination, Temple Baptist Church in Portsmouth Ohio.
After our stay in Portsmouth we traveled up to Fresno, where we spent the rest of the week. After an amazing time with the folks at Fresno Bible Church we visited friends in Michigan.
These days were so eventful for us that it would take me several blog posts to do them justice. So I am just going to post pictures of the highlights here.
The Rolling Ridge Ranch
This is a unique place where people ride in a horse-drawn wagon among exotic animals from all over the world. We were guests of Pastor Chris Cutshall of the Fresno Bible Church.
Pot-bellied pigs. Notice the herd of piglets in the background.
Mikey feeding a Zebra.
NayNay holding a very concerned duckling.
The Indians Game
Courtesy of a member of Fresno Bible Church, we were given front-row tickets to a Cleveland Indians game.
Mikey is ready for some baseball!
Just to give you an idea of where our seats were located...
At one point we were accosted by an overly-enthusiastic hot dog...
And there was some actual baseball that went on. Final score, Indians 3, A's 2.
Due to time and space constraints, I am going to continue this tomorrow. Stay tuned...
Talk back to the missionary: Anybody been to these places, or places like them? Tell us about it in the comments section.
Maybe They Will Add a Picanha Burger...
From the Portuguese section of the language-learning blog Transparent Language comes the news that a Brazilian firm has bought out Burger King. Below is the video (in Portuguese) that gives the news.
Here is another news article (also in Portuguese...sorry) that gives more details. Both the video and the article cite decreasing revenues at BK as a reason for the sale. Yet, in Brazil, Burger King seems to be booming.
Talk back to the missionary: Now that Burger King is owned by a Brazilian firm, I wonder if any of our Brazilian readers have any suggestions for menu changes (other than the one mentioned in the title). Put them in the comments section. Who knows, someone at BK headquarters might be listening!
September 2, 2010
Several months ago I contributed a story to Baptist Mid-Missions for a proposed compilation of real-life missionary adventures. Last week I was afforded a preview of the finished project, a book entitled Amazed By His Glory.
The story I contributed is there, almost in the middle. A quick perusal of the book showed many other great contributions by missionaries serving in the far-flung corners of the globe.
Release of the book is set for November. Stay tuned here for more details.
Talk back to the missionary: What is your favorite missionary adventure book/story? Tell us about it in the comments section.