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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Deep and Wide

In some places along the Amazon river and its' tributaries, the river is so wide that you cannot see the other side.  It's hard to imagine a river that wide.  For the people who live in these areas sometimes the hopelessness is like the rivers, so long and deep and wide that to get to the other side seems impossible.

Gangs are a big part of the neighbourhood culture in many areas of Brazil and Maraba is no exception.  Sometimes you have to chose to either run with the gangs or run from them.  Fransisco is a kid who is part of the Maraba church and before becoming a Christian he led a very different life.  When we decide to take the leap of faith and put our lives in God's hands, all our past wrong doings are forgiven, and washed away like they never happened in the eyes of God.  God does not hold grudges, but gangs do.

There are people trying to kill Fransisco. They have come to the gates of the property where we will live asking if he is there, they have gone to his house more than once.  The Brazilian pastor, Ivanildo has gotten him to safety, he has travelled far to work with another missionary family.

People often ask, 'What will you do in Brazil?' And I struggle to answer that question,  I guess I think people often want to hear tangible things like buildings and water filtration (which is part of what we will do) but it's so much bigger than that.  It's offering them a boat and paddles to get across that giant river of hopelessness to a place they can believe they have a hope and a future.

So although bringing clean drinking water to remote areas is extremely important and valuable, bringing them hope is priceless.

John 4:13

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

This video clip is of Fransisco, thanking the pastors for all their help:

Please pray for Fransisco and for all the youth in Maraba.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Diving In

Four months ago, getting our house ready to put on the market felt like such a huge mountain to move.  The list seemed to stay the same length as some things got taken off and others added on.  It was exhausting, frustrating and at times felt like the impossible.  But here we are, with a finished amazing looking house.

Four years ago when we decided to sell our little bungalow that we had also been renovating to move in with the Kilborns I am pretty sure our friends and family thought we were all nuts.  I know the same can be said for now.  My brother recently posted on facebook 'And you WANT to leave a house like that?'

How do you let go of the tangible, beautiful, financially valuable things in your life for the things unseen?  How do you turn from everything you know to follow something leading you in the opposite direction?  There are several elements involved, faith, trust...and yes a bit of courage I guess, and maybe a little bit of crazy :)

In the past 10 years as I have tried to walk alongside what God has wanted for my life instead of what I want, I am continually shown that He knows what He is doing and He knows what's best for me-even if it doesn't seem that way in the moment.

For example, when I was approached to work with Art Rae in real estate I was taken aback.  I had no plans of returning to work until my babies were in school, and even then only part time.  But I decided to consult, pray and ask God what he thought of the idea.  The word that came into my head was 'The timing is right'.  Really?  Are you looking at the same calendar I am?  Cuz my baby girl is only 2.  I decided to go for it and the results have been awesome.  Despite the fact that I officially became a licensed Realtor in November 2008 when the housing market took a nosedive, things worked out.  If not for that work our family wouldn't have been able to do the mission trips we have done and our two families (Raes and Snells) would not have the relationship we do now, a relationship that will be vital to our success in Brazil as we navigate the road there together.

A man by the name of Gary Best described what really trusting God looks like in a book called "Naturally Supernatural".  In it he describes a scene of climbing the ladder of a high diving board, inching to the edge of the board to peer into the pool that looks really tiny from your vantage point and to top it off it's EMPTY.  It's at that point that you hear God say, "Jump, and I'll fill the pool".

That image has been heavy on my mind this week.  I feel like I have jumped off the diving board head first and now I am waiting for the water (house to sell, support to come in) to fill the pool.

So do I WANT to leave a house like this?  Truthfully? NO.  It's comfortable, it's pretty, it would be nice to enjoy the fruits of our labour for longer than a couple of months.  But if I have learned anything I have learned to hold these 'things' with an open hand.  The things of life are not what's important and at the end of my days,  I will not take a house and all it's trappings with me.

Matthew 19:29
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

Our future is as uncertain as it has ever been.  As of right now we have no idea where we will live from November to January, or where the funds will come from to make Brazil a reality, and yet we feel a great sense of peace about going forward.

Matthew 6:25
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Letting Go of 'The Stuff'-Holding on to the Relationships

Moving is a huge task, moving to another continent is, well, a different sort of task.  When we left our last house to move into this 'crazy commune' as it has affectionately become known, we had a two month period between when we closed on our old house and when this house was ready for us to move into.  We needed somewhere to put all our STUFF while we lived in the Kilborns house and 'finished' this one.  Thankfully we chose to purchase instead of rent a 40ft storage container because it is STILL sitting where we had it parked it four years ago at the end of our driveway, and until recently it was still relatively full.

 The most common question about our ugly friend is 'What is IN there anyway?' The answer? We don't have a garage, so all the things you would keep in a garage, Phil's tools, Patricks' tools, camping gear, bikes etc.  The challenge now is getting all that out and into other places so the eyesore is no longer on our property when we have a for sale sign hammered into the front lawn.  Something we are hoping to have happen within the next week to two weeks.

We live in a society that puts huge importance on the acquiring of more and more stuff, better stuff, bigger stuff, the newest stuff....but it's never enough.  Like an itch you can't quite scratch it's never satisfied.  I was definitely a stuff hound many years ago and still feel sucked into it each Christmas-regretting it later when I feel like I have spoiled my kids.  Letting go of the stuff we have piled up over the last few years feels like lifting a weight off our shoulders.  I remember coming back after four years in Africa to sort through the boxes I had stored in my brothers basement.  On the way there I really struggled to remember what I had left there, aside from my journals it was a complete mystery to me.
All the things I had thought we were 'valuable' no longer held much importance.  

The 'stuff' is easy for me to let go of, it actually feels good, like putting something down you've been carrying for so long you didn't realize just how heavy it was.  Letting go of the people, the relationships..that's another story.

We are so blessed with great friends.  New friends that have become a huge part of our lives and old friends who have been there through so many of lifes' ups and downs.  I recently spent 4 days with 2 of my oldest and best girlfriends.  We have tried to do a 'chick getaway' yearly but as we have had children it's been increasingly more difficult to do and has become more of an every two to three year event.

We have been in each others lives for 25 years.  A quarter of a century.  We have been there through each others highschool crushes and first loves, the tragedy of losing two of our parents; a mother in September and then a father in November of the same year.  We navigated the rocky road of grief together, it was messy, it was painful but we came out the other side with an invisible bond that would act as a foundation for a life time friendship.  That foundation has created the kind of friendship that has spanned time and distance as we went on to University, marriage and the miracle of the birth of our children.

These are women who know everything there is to know about me, have seen me at my worst and my best and still love me.  When I embraced Christianity they saw a change in me, yes, but weren't scared away-knowing that the same 'Jenschell' was still there-just happier.

As I sift and sort all the stuff in my life into piles to sell, piles to throw out and piles to keep, I know there are people and relationships in my life that no matter how far apart we are, will always remain in the 'keep' pile.

Thanks Chiquitas for being more than friends for being sisters.