April 20, 2012
Today I went to the camp property again, accompanied by two men from our church, Francivaldo and George. Our goal was to clear away the weeds around the remaining undefined boundary.
...the first "structure" raised on the camp property.
And this came in very handy because...
...it rained. No...it poured. Not that we ran for cover. In fact, the rain was a welcome relief from the relentless sun, and our productivity actually increased. But it did allow us to keep our food and water handy without having to scramble and put everything back in the car.
The boundary in question goes from the road to the top of a hill not quite halfway into our property. In the above picture, I am at the top of the hill, pointing towards the stake at the other end.
Here George and I look towards the road. The swath of cleared land you see stretching in front of us was cut out today.
A hearty meal!
After achieving our main objective, we set to the next task, which was to define the area where the first building will go. We cleared another path through the underbrush. Lord willing the first building--a multi-use structure that will allow us to have overnight activities at the camp--will be constructed to the left of the measuring tape in the picture.
At the end of the day we surveyed our work, with a great deal of satisfaction.
Our goals for our next trip to the camp (probably in two weeks) are 1) to set put up a fence on the land we cleared today, and 2) clear out the area where the multi-use building will go. We are planning a week-long "work retreat" for July, where we hope to make significant progress on the building.
March 15, 2012
Brief Camp Update
On Tuesday we went to Morros to finalize negotiations for the purchase of initial property for our camp project. Previous trips had been frustrating due to confusion over just what was being sold, and how much it was being sold for.
On this trip we walked over the entire property (what we have already bought, and what was still for sale) and marked out the official limits, measuring them as we went. As we cut through the brush and set the markers, it became clear that the price we were being offered was a very good one indeed.
So, we finalized the deal. Official signing of papers and transfer of funds will take place next week. Right now we are making plans as to where we will put the first structure--a multipurpose building that will allow us to begin holding events there, possibly as early as next year.
There is a lot of hard work ahead, but those who have been involved in camp ministry know that there is a huge spiritual payoff to be had. Please pray for the progress of this ministry!
As a side note, Itacyara had a talk with the wife of the man who is selling us the property, and she ended up pouring out her heart to her, giving my wife the opportunity to give her some solid biblical counsel. I am constantly amazed at how people are drawn to Itá, and feel the freedom to ask for counsel after only a brief acquaintance. Needless to say, her gift for empathy is a tremendous asset to our ministry.
December 22, 2011
In Deep Weeds, or Another Camp Workday
On Tuesday a group of men from the Kergima congregation made the two-hour trek from São Luís to Morros for another work day at our camp. What follows are some pictures of our progress.
Note: at the end of this post is a somewhat urgent prayer request, so be sure to scroll all the way down.
In all, we were very pleased with the amount of brush we were able to clear out. There is still much area to be cleared, however, and we are already planning a mega-workday in January, possibly involving the renting of two vans to transport all the workers.
Urgent Prayer Request
Pastor Francisco and I took a break from the deforestation process on Tuesday to visit the man who wants to sell us the adjacent lot. He had given us a price, and that money has been raised--thanks to the generosity of folks back in the US. Our intent in talking to him was to set up a date for the sale. However, we were dismayed when he started to balk at the original price he had given us (and repeated over and over), and began to offer us "alternate options" which all involved us giving him more money. We got the distinct impression that he was not dealing straight with us.
A couple of observations:
1. This is not uncommon here, especially when there is an American (me) in the process. Despite the economic crisis, many Brazilians have the impression that all Americans are "loaded". It gets old, but it is a fact of life.
2. We are not at all interested in playing this kind of game. He gave us a price, and we are going to hold him to that price, or we are not going to buy.
Our prayer request, then, is that this man (who claims to be a believer, and is actually a pastor in another denomination) will ultimately stick to his word and sell us all the property he said was available for the original price he quoted us. Also, pray for wisdom on our part as we navigate these perilous waters.
For those who contributed, rest assured that we have not accessed any of the funds as of yet. We will only do so when we have a bill of sale in hand.
For a missionary adventure that does not involve real estate, readThe Astonishing Adventures of Missionary Max, Part 1
August 22, 2011
Introducing Acampamento Elim
And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters. Exodus 15:27
Ever since before we arrived Brazil, we have been aware of the great need of our churches in São Luís for a camp. As it stands right now, when one of our churches wants to have some sort of retreat (say, during the yearly social upheaval that is Carnaval) they are forced to rent some kind of facilities for the event. The problem is that, during these periods, retreat centers (called chácaras) are in high demand. One of our churches was able to rent one this February, for over $1200 for the weekend. Most of the time our churches have to settle for sub-par facilities--like schools--that are not made for such events and are uncomfortable, to say the least.
In recent years even these accommodations have become scarce. Add to this the fact that there is no camping program available for our kids and no retreat program available for our teens and young adults. These advantages, which most churches take for granted--both in the US and Brazil--are unavailable here.
For these reasons we decided that one of our goals here in São Luís would be to start a camp program. And, in order to have a camp program, you need a camp.
Last month Itacyara and I were considering financing a piece of property here in São Luís. Our idea was to eventually build a house on it so we could get out from under rent. The piece of land was 10 by 27 meters (about 29,000 square feet). The price was roughly U$11,000.
As we were working through the details of the financing, we became aware of a property near the city of Morros, about an hour and a half from the city. It is 40 by 250 meters (or over 100,000 square feet, more than two acres). The front of the property is bordered by the highway, and the back, by a river--suitable for swimming. The price? U$6,250.
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When Itacyara, Pastor Francisco and I went to look at the property, we were immediately impressed with how ideal it was for a camp. When we got back home from that initial trip, Itacyara and I sat down and talked things over. We decided to forgo the purchase of a piece of land here in the city, and instead buy the land in Morros. A block of it--comparable to the size of the land we were going to acquire in São Luís--we will develop into a house for us, over time. The rest we will develop into a camp and, when ready, turn it over to an association made up of men from our churches here in Maranhão.
During the following weeks we secured the financing, made the final negotiations, and, this last Friday, we sealed the deal.
Here are some pictures of the property, as we found it on our first trip:
The scene above made Pastor Francisco think of the oasis at Elim, mentioned in Exodus 16:27. We all decided this would make a great name for the camp--whose purpose will be to serve as an oasis for our churches in São Luís.
Itacyara and I have never been so excited about a project as we are about this one. It represents the beginning of the fulfillment of a dream--one we have had for a long time.
You can be sure that you will be hearing more about this as we go along. For now, I leave you with two immediate prayer requests.
1. More Land We have an opportunity to buy roughly another acre of land adjacent to the one we already own. The price tag is U$6,000, which is not much, but it is more than we are able to afford right now. The purchase of this additional piece of land would greatly enhance our ability to develop this property.
2. Development Obviously, the development of this property into a working camp facility will take some time. Thus, we ask that you pray that God would provide funds and volunteers to work with us in this process. We are scheduling a work-day there next month with some men from our church to do some initial clearing of the brush.
If anybody is interested in knowing more, or in helping with either of the two requests mentioned above, please do not hesitate to shoot me an e-mail.