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Monday, August 29, 2011

When Do We Leave? What Do We Need? And Answers To Other Questions!

The time is drawing nearer.  On Wednesday night, during the worst storm of the season some of our best friends came to help us pack up all the belongings we had put in boxes into a trailer and Thursday the rest of our furniture on a truck and moved to our new home-for now.  Although it is 1,000 square feet smaller than our house on William Street it feels HUGE. This is probably partially because most of our 'stuff' is still in boxes in the garage and partially because there are now only four of us.  I keep waiting for people to come home.

Why did we buy a house when we are supposed to be leaving the country in a few months?


The expression on peoples faces is predictable when I tell them we bought a house, it goes something like this 'oh, that's goo-wait a sec, you bought a house? Aren't you leaving for Brazil soon?'
Yes, we are planning to leave for Brazil soon but the reality is we still needed somewhere to live in the mean time and, although we feel like Brazil could be a long term commitment, we are trying to be obedient to God and He doesn't always give you the full picture, usually just the next few steps.  If, for example we feel like we are supposed to come back to Canada after two years, buying a house will be very difficult after two years with no credit history.  This gives us a place to land should we need it and at the very least it is an investment.


So, when DO we leave for Brazil?

As plans stand right now we will leave for Brazil in January.  Here's how things look:

The Bergen family who have lived in Brazil for 17 years have come back to Canada for a 1 year leave while they help their two eldest daughters, who will persue their post secondary education here, assimilate into life in Canada.  Rick Bergen, will take a few trips during this year to make sure things are going smoothly and to help the two missionary families (us and the Raes) get settled.  The Raes leave in less than 1 week, they will be working with the same mission and on the same base as we will be.  When we arrive in January they will leave for a few months of language study while we have a chance to get our landlegs in Maraba.

This is the plan, but in order to make that plan a reality we still need to raise the funds.

Why do we need to raise funds?


The question has been asked, more than once, how will you live? Will you work there?

A few people have asked what we need, if there is anyway they can help us with our preparation.

We will be going to Brazil on religious workers visas, this DOES NOT permit us to be employed in Brazil.  In order for us to be able to go, to live and to do the work we need help.  We will need to raise 15-20,000 in start up costs (for flights, to furnish the house we will live in, buy a motorbike for  transportation) and $5,000 a month in support. I realize that seems like a really large number, and it is for a few reasons.  Some of the money will support us as a family so we can eat, pay rent and utilities (which are surprisingly expensive there) and the rest goes towards supporting the work the mission does, helping youth find hope for a future, changing whole families and eventually the community-it has been done before in several different areas where the mission has reached out in love to hurting people.

There have been individuals who have had enough passive income at home to support themselves-but it doesn't work.  Why?  When the going gets rough -the self supported get going.  That has been the experience over the years, not having a team of supporters just doesn't work.  When you are backed by a team of people who believe in you, invest in you and support you-you are buoyed up, by more than just their financial support, but by knowing there are people at home who will pray for you when you are down, who will encourage you.  You have a team of people to be accountable to.  Also, not everyone is able to pack up their lives to move to another country to help those less fortunate, but by supporting us to do the work you get to be a part of the big picture-and stay in your neighbourhood! 

What exactly will we be doing there?

This is a tougher question to answer, and it feels like I should be able to rattle off a laundry list. But it's not that clearly defined.  The base in Maraba is in it's fairly early stages, which means everyone does a bit of everything.  In the early days, we will be spending half our days learning to speak Portuguese (which will make us much more useful!) and the other half of the day will be spent working for the mission.  For Phil this will most likely mean building at first, and for me I will spend time homeschooling our children in the afternoons, and helping with whatever needs to be done for the evening church services and youth groups.  As we learn the language and get a better lay of the land, we will have a clearer idea of where we fit.  What we can't do is arrive in a new country, with an agenda.


Most of the kids we will be working with are coming from homes where abuse is common, addictions are part of every day life and no one has ever told them they are worth believing in.  Although it doesn't seem as tangible as some other forms of work, teaching and showing children that they are loved, that they have potential and that they can believe in themselves is the foundation that changes families, communities and cities.  It's a mission of Hope and we would love for you to be a part of it.


What about England?

This is still up in the air.  It depends largely on our personal financial situation.   It is a big priority for us to be able to get to England, see friends and family that we haven't seen in many, many years and may not see for many, many more.  But, we are holding it with an open hand and at this point it depends on how many houses I sell between now and then.  It also depends on whether or not we have raised the necessary support to get us to Brazil.  If we haven't raised the support, we need to stay to continue fundraising until we reach our goal.

What do we need?

What we really need right now is interest to transform into action.  We have many friends, family and collegues who have been following our story, some have even been inspired to make life changes of their own and this is awesome and overwhelming!  Can we ask, if you have felt this stirring something in your heart, if the videos and pictures and stories of what goes on in Brazil and what we will be helping with seems like something you want to support, can you turn your interest into action by deciding if you would like to be a part of the team that will launch us and carry us in Brazil?  It is a tough question to ask, but without you we can't go.  And for us to be able to know what the next few months look like we need to know where we stand in terms of financial support.  Ideally, we would like to have commitments from people by the middle of October, this would help us a lot, we can then better prepare our kids as well for what the next few months look like.
The other thing we need is prayer and lots of it! This is a rather tumultuous time in our lives, lots of change and transition for all of us-we could use the cover!

To set up regular donations or one time, just click on the link at the top of the page and you will be directed to a secure pay pal donation page.  

We really appreciate all the encouragement and support we have had from all of you so far.  Your words and comments on this blog are extremely powerful!!

Thank you!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Taking The Bait

Almost immediately after I hit the 'publish' button on my last blog it felt like the walls came tumbling down, like my faith in "God can do anything" was about to be tested.  I have to admit, I buckled in the force of the storm, I stepped out of the boat to follow him across the water, took a step and then realized I was walking on water-how could that be?   I began to sink, the water and waves crashing around me, enveloping me and sucking me down into the deep.  It's dark down there.  I didn't like it.  I was angry at God, I blamed Him for putting me into this crazy situation of giving up my home, my family and friends.  I was consumed, even if just for a day in the foggy haze of hopelessness.   We had no prospects of where to live and funds coming in to send us to Brazil have been slow and time it seemed had sped up days flying off the calendar.  I began to doubt our path, had we really heard right?  Is this really what we are supposed to do? I spent the day wallowing in self-pity and self-doubt-I cried out to God in anger in a way I have not done since I gave Him my whole heart nine years ago.   Friends rallied, prayed for us.  Slowly, I felt my anger drain.


Over the course of the next week things took a turn.  We managed to find the perfect investment property that we can live in until we leave for Brazil and rent while we are gone.  This seemingly huge decision that could have felt like a burden seemed to lift off a lot of stress.  We now had a place to be until we leave and a garage to store the things we aren't ready to let go of but can't take with us.


So, what did I learn in that storm?  I learned I have a long way to go on this faith journey, and that in the midst of the turmoil if I had kept my eyes focused on what I know to be true instead of my inward worries, doubts and fears I would have avoided a lot of anger, distress and despair.


One of the scriptures that helps me to keep that focus is Jeremiah 29:11


"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."


There is another force at work in this world, and his sole intention is to pull us away from God, he uses our fears, doubts and troubles to try to make us believe that God does not want what's best for us.  Often when we step out in faith to follow God we become a target for attack, the dark enemy baits the trap and waits in the shadows to devour us.  I took the bait...this time, but next time I hope I will recognize the signs sooner, and not succomb to the temptation to turn inward but instead cling to the promises I know to be true.  I am so thankful to have friends around me, who were able to cut the snare, shine a light into the darkness and get me free from the trap.


Recently, I was at a huge worship concert at Darien Lake.   It was amazing to see thousands and thousands of people, hands raised and united in their beliefs.  One of the performers sang Amazing Grace, a song that always, even when played on the bagpipes, makes me cry (it was played at my mothers funeral).  During that song we all held candles that in the wind kept blowing out and friends or strangers would turn and relight your candle each time the fire turned to smoke.  It struck me at that moment, that that is what it is like living in a relationship with God, and other believers, each time the wind comes to take that light out there is someone there to help you light it again, it's up to us to receive the gift.


We still have an uncertain future, we still don't have the funds necessary to support the work we will do in Brazil, the difference between now and two weeks ago is that I have hope again and not in the things seen but in the things unseen.  If any of you are struggling right now, and life seems dark and without hope, don't stay in the trap, reach out to someone for help, for prayer.  You don't need to fight the fight alone.  


This is the version of Amazing Grace, sang by Chris Tomlin have a listen: