April 29, 2011

The Silence is Broken!

The blog silence, that is.

There are several reason why I dislike long blog silences: people stop visiting, my own writing suffers from lack of practice, and--worst of all--it gives the impression that we are careless about keeping people informed about our ministry.

With regard to this last one, nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that the last two weeks have been a perfect storm of business and lack of reliable internet service. Fortunately, for the next few days I will have access to high-speed wifi (thank you, Cariri Shopping), so we will try to make a dent in the backlog of information.

First up, a summary of our activity since arriving in Brazil.

Our plane touched down on Tuesday, April 19, at roughly 3:30pm local Brazilian time in São Luís do Maranhão. After we had collected our baggage from the São Luís airport we were met by Pastor Francisco and his daughter Mical, and Itacyara's brother Paulo. By some miracle akin to the multiplication of the loaves and fishes we were able to fit all eight suitcases and three carry-on's into the two cars, and make it to Paulo's house in one trip.

Almost immediately we began the process of looking for a house to rent. After many dead ends (we discovered that rental properties are at a premium in Brazil) we finally found one that is very obviously the house God wants us to have. It meets our space needs (three bedrooms, large living room, spacious kitchen and dining area, proximity to a good school, a back yard and--to Michael's great delight--a tree) and the rent was well within our range. but the best part was that it is within two blocks of the Kerigma congregation, a church being planted by our Brazilian co-worker Francisco Bezerra. Thus, while we work to make contacts and develop relationships in the Araçagi area, we will be able to participate in this church-plant already in progress.

And, true to form, we have jumped in with both feet. I spoke at the church on Sunday and participated in special events on Tuesday and Wednesday. This Saturday Itacyara will take time out from painting the new house to bring a devotional to the ladies' society.

After a whirlwind trip through São Luís to take care of some final documentation for the house rental, Pastor Francisco and I boarded a bus to the Cariri--sixteen hours away. Many will remember that this was our home during our first term. My purpose here is three-fold: take care of some pending paperwork at the university where Itacyara studied (already done), get an official transfer from Michael's former school (stopped by, paperwork should be ready on Monday) and get a car (going to see the dealer after I finish this).

In between taking care of business, I look forward to attending at least part of the missions conference at the Cariri Baptist Seminary.

Though we have been unable to communicate (save by the occasional Twitter/Facebook update) rest assured that we are well aware of your prayers for us. God has shown incredible mercy and kindness to our family in this process, and all our praise goes to Him!

In the near future I will be posting long-overdue reports on the TGC conference and the latest book review, as well as some pictures we have taken since our arrival in Brazil...so stay tuned!

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April 20, 2011

Happy Landings

Just a note to let everybody know that yesterday, at approximately 3:30 pm local Brazilian time, we arrived in Sao Luis. All our luggage arrived intact (except for a stroller which mysteriously disappeared in the Brasilia airport).

True to form we have hit the ground running. An Easter weekend retreat is planned with one of the local church plants, beginning tomorrow and going through Sunday.

In the absence of any other news of substance for the moment, I leave you with this, a special (and I do mean "special") number done by Daniel and I in our last service at our sending church:

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April 18, 2011

Ok...One More

We are sitting in the Atlanta airport, awaiting our flight to Brazil. There is a beautiful Brazilian farewell song, that I feel might be appropriate here called "Está Chegando a Hora". Here is an old (and I mean ancient) Brazilian group called "Os Copacabana" playing it.

The words start at about the 1:20 mark.

Ai ai ai ai
Está chegando a hora
O dia já vem raiando meu bem
E eu tenho que ir embora

Quem parte
Leva saudades
De alguém
Que fica chorando de dor

Por isso eu não quero lembrar
Quando partiu
Meu grande amor

Rough Translation:

Ai ai ai ai,
The hour is coming
The day is dawning my dear,
And I must go away.

The one who leaves
Has a longing,
For the one
Who is crying in sorrow.

For this reason I don't want to remember
When my great love departed.

While obviously written with romantic feelings in mind, I the words struck a chord in me as we contemplated our departure for Brazil. Our time on furlough has been one of making new friendships and renewing old ones. Now, as we await the plane that will take us to Brazil and the ministry to which God has called us, we are forced to concentrate on the possibilities in front of us--because if we focus on all the loved ones we are leaving behind it will be too painful.

Leave it to Brazilians to pack this much feeling into eleven lines.

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April 16, 2011

Last Post Before Brazil

The bags are packed (almost), last minute details are cared for (almost), and we are on our way to Brazil (almost).

Most likely this will be our last post from the US. I know I still owe a summary of our time at the Gospel Coalition conference, as well as some other interesting things that are in the queue. Unfortunately, those will have to wait until after Tuesday. This morning I have to cut off our internet connection.

You will probably see the occasional Twitter update, made via my phone. However, barring the unexpected, this blog will be silent until Tuesday.

Your prayers, as always, are greatly appreciated as our family makes the trek south of the equator to begin this exciting phase of ministry.

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April 13, 2011

A Quick Support Update

I posted this on Facebook a few days ago, but thought it would be good to post here as well. Praise be to God, and thanks to many of you who have invested personally in our ministry, our support level currently stands at 90.8%.

Three weeks ago we were at less than 80%. In the past days we have been amazed at the swiftness of your response to our situation. And as we hurry about the process of packing and making final preparations for our return to Brazil, we stop every once in a while and reflect on God's unbelievable goodness and mercy to us.

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Book Review: Breath of Angel by Karyn Henley

A fantasy kingdom inhabited by dwarves, woodland creatures, priestesses and...angels? Such is the setting for the book Breath of Angel by Karyn Henley. Melaia, a young priestess in training, is suddenly thrust into the middle of a conflict between good and evil angels and their descendants(!). The angelology is based loosely on biblical angels, and some Christian themes are found throughout the story.

Despite initial misgivings, I found myself drawn in by the story about halfway through. I could even see myself reading the sequels as when they are published. Henley's writing is solid, and she maintains enough of a level of suspense to keep the reader interested. Another strong point is her character development, in which she masterfully leaves the reader wondering as to whether a good character might actually be evil, or vice-versa.

So if you into the Fantasy/Adventure genre you might enjoy Breath of Angel. Just don't develop your theology of angels around what you read.

Don't forget! This and other great books are available at our Amazon bookstore. A purchase there is a help to our ministry.

Exasperating disclaimer: This book was given to me free of charge by Multnomah Press in return for a review as part of their Blogging for Books program. I am in no way obligated to write a positive review.

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April 12, 2011

Conference Parentheses

Our sending church has graciously provided for me to accompany the pastor and youth pastor (aka my bro Daniel) to The Gospel Coalition conference in Chicago. So...a less than a week from our departure to Brazil...I find myself at the McCormick conference center in the Windy City. I am overdue on several exciting updates, and hopefully there will be time for me to get to them.

Right now I am listening to a conference on Church Planting...something near and dear to my heart! I am going to try to do some live-tweeting during the conference. If you are interested, you can follow them here.

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April 8, 2011

So That's What He Meant...

Pastor Smith shook the hand of the young missionary. "Son," he said, "You can count on this church to be behind you all the way."

And the missionary soon found out he meant that literally.

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April 4, 2011

Please Join Me...

...in wishing a very Happy Birthday to the Love of My Life, my Brazilian Bombshell, the incomparable Itacyara Comings!

Itacyara with the Cariri in the Background

Love you, "beibinha"!

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