Well, I had an interesting encounter the other day. I sat for 2 hours on the side of the street in downtown São Paulo. Through networking, sort of, I came into contact with a man who has known fame and travelled the world as a musician. However, those days have gone for him and he’s now at the bottom, nearly rock bottom. He expressed to me his despair and seemingly hopeless situation. Without details, he is in a tough spot to say the very least. I’ve never experienced anything close to what the man is living through. But I tried my best, through the power of the Holy Spirit to listen and be a friend. I’m truly concerned for the man. I also shared the Gospel as clearly and simply as possible. It turned out to be difficult to have the conversation with him, as he is a very talented and intelligent man. But He was somewhat surprised by the simplicity of the Gospel. His idea of Christianity was way off and when I shared what the Bible says about having a relationship with God – that it depends totally on the work of Christ and not on our works – he was in awe. He couldn’t understand how God, God’s Word and the local church could be of much help to his situation. But I tried to explain that it is the only source of hope that he has. I read this morning the following, which I shared with him via e-mail: “Because we are the handiwork of God, it follows that all our problems and their solutions are theological.” (By A. W. Tozer in “The Knowledge of the Holy”). Well, to make the long story short, we parted ways and he remains in contact through e-mail. I’m asking you to pray for the man. He needs it. He needs Jesus. Pray that he can come to the point where he rests completely in God’s grace and love and can follow Christ as his Savior, and find the solution to his greatest problem.
On Sunday morning many people from the church met to distribute tracts in the neighborhood. We had a pretty good turn out. About 15 people went out into the streets passing out tracts, inviting people to church, etc. The children continued with their normal Sunday school classes and Melissa taught so that the teachers could go out into the neighborhood. After we finished, everyone met back at the church and prepared a lunch. It was a great time! Please pray for fruit to come from this effort of spreading the Gospel. During the morning, I and another man (Raimundo) went to the feira (market). We stood at the entrance where he and I passed out 800 tracts between the two of us in about 1 hour 15 minutes. It was great. I ran in to a teen guy, Diego (18) who had come through a medical clinic at the church 1 1/2 years ago. At the time, I hardly spoke much Portuguese. But we both recognized one another and spoke for a while. He listened to the Gospel and promised to come to church, stating he was young but needed it. Please pray for Diego to keep his commitment to come to church where he will definitely hear the Gospel message again.
We had a men’s cookout at church last weekend. It was a great time of encouragement for the men of the church, as well as from other area churches. There were about 65 men present from 4 churches. Several brought special music presentations, including our men. We sang, “Faithful Men”. There was a great message preached from Proverbs 128, directed to the men and their work, wives, children, and church. It was challenging. Then following the service Jorge and Eduardo lit the grill and grilled the meat. It was fantastic! The men left with full bellies and full spiritual tanks!
We had a couples’ dinner at the church a few weeks ago. It was a good time. We enjoyed a great meal and a challenge from God’s Word about marriage. The guest speaker was a friend of mine and Melissa’s. He pastors a small congregation near our house and he did a great job challenging the couples from his own 23 years of marriage experience. He challenged them to “stay with your mate” and also encouraged them “not to try to change their mate.” Everyone commented on how well they enjoyed it. We also played a few games and gave away some chocolate and roses.
We have some kids from the church over for Sunday lunch this weekend. We had a great time. We wanted to fix them an “American” meal. So, we decided to fix an American Breakfast for Sunday lunch. We had biscuits, gravy, bacon, eggs and pancakes. It was sooooo good! We weren’t sure how it would go over, but the kids loved it! This is funny, though…they all put jelly on the biscuits and them smothered them with gravy. They loved it! Josh was very proud that they liked the southern style cooking but a little bothered by the ruin of a good biscuit with gravy that had jelly in the middle. Oh well, I guess we didn’t explain that you should choose one or the other! Another funny thing…in a hurry, Melissa put the napkins on top of the plates instead of beside the plates. When we told them to grab a pancake and pour some syrup over the top, they did – without taking the napkin off of the plate first. They thought it should have remained on the plate. It was funny. Troy, Eli and Alec loved having them over. They played all afternoon and then we got ice cream down the street at the little ice cream shop before we went to church that night.
This afternoon our family went for a little stroll/bike ride in the park across the street. It’s a large park with several play areas, a lake, etc. It is a great place for the kids to go. They had fun. While there, we encountered a man sitting by the lake. He pointed out some ducks to the kids. I struck up a conversation with him. I was quickly reminded of why the Lord has brought us to Brazil. The man, Antonio, is a Buddhist. He and I had a conversation about God, etc. I shared the Gospel with him. He, of course, was pretty resistant to it. We talked for a while, swapping ideas and thoughts about God and sin and Jesus. I’m so glad that I have a hope that is for sure. I’m sad that Antonio doesn’t have the same hope. I prayed for him before we parted ways. Who knows what the planted seed will become? The Lord knows. I’ve planted. Now someone will hopefully water. And God will give the increase. Thank the Lord for today’s opportunity.
We are back in Brazil. We arrived back on Wed. August 25 @ 8:35 am. It was a sort of eventful trip. Starting off in Atlanta @ the check-in counter we spent 1 1/2 hours trying to check in. The airline worker was saying that we didn’t have the proper paper work to get back to Brazil. Well, that finally got cleared up and we got checked in. Then, we went through the security check points and on to the terminal. We stopped for dinner – one last meal @ Burger King in the airport before leaving! At Burger King, I ordered with Eli and he touched some light under the counter and burnt his hand. Then, Alec was red – looking like he had a sunburn. He had a fever with bloodshot eyes. We were pumping him w/ tylenol and Melissa was calling the pediatrician. He had been to the Dr. the day before and had another ear infection (I think the 4th or 5th since June). The flight left 45 minutes late from ATL, thus pushing our 1 hr 15 min layover in DC. We took off running to the next gate, literally. We arrived at the gate about 40 minutes later (soaking wet w/ sweat). The airline employee at the gate was yelling – “Come on! LEt’s go!” She didn’t even look at our passports – just took the tickets and rushed us onto the plane. We were the last to board – with everyone staring because we were making them late! The boys were great! Melissa was running w/ the stroller and Alec and Eli was running, too. Troy was pushing a carry-on (the ones with 4 wheels are great b/c they roll forward). I was dragging 3 carry-ons and a back pack. Imagine the sight running through the Washington Dulles airport – lots of looks! Well, the flight was fine. Alec’s fever broke around 3 or 4 am and he was much better. Eli watched Toy Story on the plane @ 1:30 am. We arrived in Sao Paulo and 8 of our bags did not arrive with us. They were still in Washington. We finally got home and rested and the following day our bags were delivered to our house. Unfortunately some things were taken from them. Not much, but it is frustrating to know your things were taken. But, we are here and are so glad to be back! The kids are adjusting well. We are, too. We’re adjusting to the sounds of Sao Paulo, especially at night. Right now I’m listening to the neighbors – they are all getting home and their baby is crying. They are yelling at her to stop 🙂 Our kids are in bed – Troy started 1st grade (homeschool) yesterday. Mom is a great teacher and he is doing well, so far. Tonight after family devotions he read a little book. I love to hear him sound out words. Eli ran some errands w/ me today and loved one-on-one time w/ daddy even though it wasn’t very fun going from place to place. Alec isn’t so sure about this Portuguese stuff. He wouldn’t go to anyone at church on Sunday. And when we speak Portuguese he just looks at us as if to ask, “What are you saying?” All of that said – we’re back home. We love what we do!