Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Scenes from the Global Missions Conference

Last week we got to go to the Global Missions Conference in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.  We had never been to this conference and didn't know what to expect, but we loved it!  We went there kind of looking for a sponsoring church or supporting churches, and while we did make some good contacts in that area, we were encouraged so much more by all the other people and groups that were there.  So here are a few snapshots of what encouraged us.
 These guys work with a church in South Africa.  Their 200 member church has already helped establish churches in Cambodia and India.  Sometimes we think that Americans are the only ones sending out missionaries.  We are not.  We talked with these guys about partnering with them to help spread the gospel in Mozambique (where they speak portuguese.)  What a challenge for our church in Porto Alegre!
 Another portuguese speaking missionary who just arrived in Angola.  Super nice guy and maybe another opportunity for Brazilians to reach out.
 This is a family that Bronwyn got to know when she was in Rwanda.  They just recently adopted their little baby girl.
 Sweet Dottie who knows more than anyone how to love and take care of missionaries.

 We had some awesome praise and worship times each morning.
 Some Aggies for Christ who took us out to a fun lunch where I laughed my head off and ate way too much.

 Our former teammate, Sascha's, mom and dad who drove over to give us a hug.
Bronwyn met Natalie in Rwanda and then she spent Thanksgiving with us last year.  It was great to see her again.
Giovanni and Anderson had an awesome time in their kids' classes and were worn out at the end of the day.

We also saw this video about Made in the Streets - a mission outreach in Nairobi, Kenya. This is just a trailer - if you ever get a chance to watch the whole thing, you should do it. It was awesome.

There are SO many great works and people working to spread the gospel and God's love all around the world.  This is what encouraged me the most at the conference.  I wish everyone could go!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What is in your hand?

When I was young, I participated in the Lads to Leaders program at our church.  (Well, for girls it was called "Leaderettes").  I learned to make speeches and I am really grateful for what I learned in that program and how it has helped me in my life.  Anyway, one of the speeches I did was called "What is in your hand?".  It was about Dorcas:

36 There was a believer in Joppa named Tabitha (which in Greek is Dorcas[g]). She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor. 37 About this time she became ill and died. Her body was washed for burial and laid in an upstairs room. 38 But the believers had heard that Peter was nearby at Lydda, so they sent two men to beg him, “Please come as soon as possible!”
 39 So Peter returned with them; and as soon as he arrived, they took him to the upstairs room. The room was filled with widows who were weeping and showing him the coats and other clothes Dorcas had made for them.40 But Peter asked them all to leave the room; then he knelt and prayed. Turning to the body he said, “Get up, Tabitha.” And she opened her eyes! When she saw Peter, she sat up! 41 He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then he called in the widows and all the believers, and he presented her to them alive.
Acts 9:36-41

The idea of my speech was that we could use whatever we had to serve God and bless others.  Like Dorcas had a needle in her hand, others may have a pencil, or a shovel...  You get the idea.

Well, somewhere along the way, I must have forgotten the lesson of my speech, because when we were in training for our mission work, I remember a former missionary lady telling us that she had had a party ministry.  I remember inwardly kind of "scoffing" at this idea, thinking that surely I would be needing to do something way more "important" than planning parties.  Well, I was wrong and those thoughts were sinful and just show my ignorance at what was before me.  It's embarrassing even to write about it now.  

But, thankfully, I have learned a lot and God has reminded me of that speech long ago.   God can and does use parties, sewing, cooking, digging, whatever to grow his kingdom and to serve others.  Take for example a needle....

Last year, my friend Auristela, who was not a Christian yet (but is now) worked with her husband in their hardware store.  She had some free time during the day and so she began making arts and crafts - mainly with fabric and simple sewing.  I have always loved to do that, so we got a group from our church together to have a weekly crafts night.  Auristela had the idea to do this crafts night at the home of one of her aunts, an older lady named Claudette, who was going through a really hard time because her husband had left her.  Auristela knew that having a group of ladies at her house once a week would lift her spirits. This proved to be true and we loved getting to know Claudette and encouraging her and providing some moments of laughter and fun.

About that same time, we learned that one of our church members (in another house church) was going through a really really hard time.  Miguelina has had a hard life, and her 19 year old daughter had just gone through a period of rebellion and was pregnant with her second baby.  Miguelina felt hopeless, embarrassed and didn't really want to continue meeting with the church.  We thought about how we could help and decided to just invite her to our craft nights.  She came, and getting in with our group turned her attitude around.  She is a strong member in our church now and instead of being sad about all that she has been through, she is upbeat and positive and planning ways to make a difference for Christ in her new neighborhood.

Even though we loved our craft nights, we were unable to continue them this year.  Auristela got a different job, Claudette went to the US to visit her new grandson..... This year, we just haven't been able to get together like we did before.  Until last week.

Our daughter, Ansley, is going to Ecuador for 5 months starting in January.  I'll talk more about this on a future blog, but she will be working in an orphanage and school.  We decided to get together and make a little present for her to take to the orphans.  So, the ladies came up with the idea of decorated towels, and we got together for one more craft night.

This time it was at our apartment.  Some "new" ladies came, Cledi, a recently baptized sister, brought her two granddaughters.  Miguelina was there and some of the other ladies in our house church who had participated in craft nights before.  Ansley's friend from work, Camila, also came.  Camila is just getting to know Christ and the people in our church.  It was a great time for her to just hang out and build relationships.  We had fun.  We were blessed and hopefully the kids who receive the towels will be blessed as well.

A few days after the towel making night, Camila came by our house and asked if there were any unfinished towels.  Her mom, who we haven't even met yet, has struggled with depression for years.  When she saw the towels, she got so excited and wanted to help.  So we sent all the unfinished towels with Camila for her mom to work on.  I am really excited to meet her when we get back to Brazil, and invite her to be a part of our group.

Auristela, Claudette, Miguelina and her daughter, Cledi, Camila, her mom...... Just a short list of people specifically blessed and helped by a simple thing like doing crafts.  I can't wait to see how God will continue to use whatever is in our hand to grow his kingdom.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Starting up Again

Let's just say that this year in our lives has been kind of crazy.  I'm going to blame the negligence of my blog on that and just move on.

Right now, I'm not in Brazil.  We are in Dallas, Texas at the beautiful home of some of our friends.  (Here's the description according to Anderson's conversation last night with the son who lives here....... "Your house is a mansion - but it's not scary - and kids live here."  To which the boy replied, "Thanks.")  Anyway, right now Giovanni is hopefully sleeping off his jet-lag grouchiness, Kevin and the other kids are outside playing  basketball, and I'm alone (weird) in a house that I don't have to clean (weird).

Good time to update my blog!

So, since I last posted, here's a little of what has happened....

In September, we celebrated Giovanni's 3rd birthday.  It was low-key.  He's not fond of big crowds so we had a little party at home which he loved, and then a cookout with some friends the next day.

After that, we had some visitors from the states, Larry and Margaret Ann Bennett, who have a "power prayer" ministry that they trained us in.  We got to experience some literally life changing moments with several of our friends and church members as the Bennett's ministered to them.  If you want to know more details, just ask me and I'll fill you in.  But it was wonderful to have them here.  Like having some adopted grandparents staying with us for  a few weeks.

There was an Arts and Crafts sale at the kids' school at the beginning of October.  Remember when I asked for suggestions for Bronwyn to do to make $$ during the summer?  Well, she made a bunch of owl pillows (sold ALL of those and could have sold more!) , and some art notebooks and crayon rolls.  We had two tables at the sale and between the sewing and the cookies, we sold enough to almost pay for a plane ticket home for some college girls next year.  So yeah!

I started running. When we got the schedule figured out for our furlough, my runner girl sister in law invited us (Kevin and me) to run with her in the St. Jude Half Marathon in the beginning of December.  I was very doubtful of my ability to do that, but agreed.  I found the easiest training schedule on the internet that I could find and worked up to the point that I could start the schedule.  (That's how out of shape I was!)  My "personal trainer" husband has been patiently training with me and now I am up to running 2-4 miles on three weekdays, and 6 miles on Sunday.  If you know me, you can pick yourself up off the ground right now.  I can't believe myself, really, and am actually liking (instead of dreading) my training.  It has made me feel better all the way around.
(This is us after a 5K race a few weeks ago.  Look at my name tag "Benavy".  Cute.)

Well, that's enough info for today.  I'll try my best to be a much better blog poster for the rest of this year.  Maybe my break from cooking and cleaning, as well as grandparents who like to take care of kids will help me be a better blogger!