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Sunday, October 28, 2012

A New Normal

It has been seven weeks since we first stepped off the plane in Marabá, suitcases loaded with life, hearts loaded with mixed emotions.

Since then we have begun to get accustomed to a new normal.  Sometimes that includes an iguana on your head while doing math.

Our day to day lives have developed a rhythm of work and homeschool, language lessons and getting to know the many, many children who come here to collect mangoes or fresh drinking water, play soccer or volleyball or to come to church.

We are blessed to have children who are brave, outgoing and resilient.  For the most part they have grabbed their new life by the horns and are enjoying the crazy ride.  Sometimes, however, the changes they have gone through over the last two years do show themselves in their behaviour.  After all, they are kids and we have just undergone a major life change.  We are surrounding them with love, boundaries and prayer while we ride out the ebbs and flows of adjustment.  If they cross your mind, would you consider praying for them too?

It's mango season!
As parents we question all the decisions we make in life that affect our kids, and seeing them upset is indeed unsettling, but we have to believe that the plan God has for us is also for them, for their lives.

Art and Cyndi have also moved here from Cambridge, in fact we lived on the same street for a number of years and now find ourselves neighbours again in a very different setting.  Their son David commented one day, "I wish I had grown up here".  Comments like that help put things into perspective.  That and seeing them surrounded by a group of local kids, playing and laughing, shooting mangoes out of trees, it all helps make us see the good in such a huge life change.
George and Faith 'share' a mango

The language is coming along, and as it does so do our relationships with the Brazilians.  We have begun to develop a friendship with the pastor Ivanildo and his wife Monica, using the language we have and translating apps on our iPhones we are making our way through conversations, having laughs and finding out some of the things we have in common.  It's encouraging to have this friendship develop, we know it will blossom as we gain more use of the Portuguese language.

We can definitely feel your prayers and appreciate all you have done and continue to do to help us continue here.

Are We There Yet?

Do you remember driving in the car with your parents as a kid to a new destination?  The journey felt like a lifetime, you ached to just be there.

The mission here is on a new journey, taking things in an exciting direction, the vision is there, but the pieces of the puzzle need to be put together to get to where we want to be.   Some of those pieces are financial, some are logistical.  Are we there yet?

There has been a lot of construction going on to get us to that next place, a new wall around the front of the church creates a focused 'courtyard' where people can gather, sit in in the shade of the mango trees while they collect safe drinking water or just talk about life.
We are working on creating a community centre which will offer a number of different programs that kids and adults can get involved with.  Some programs will open up opportunities for them to break the cycle of poverty (e.g.English lessons, computer training) and some just for fun (e.g. movie nights, wii nights).

We are here to serve the community, to meet needs, build relationships, to love them like Jesus would.
 The front of the church will have a new addition, creating a church office, meeting room for bible studies and other meetings.  We will have someone available at the reception and in the courtyard to answer questions, and just generally be a presence so their is a sense that we are ready and willing to help or just talk.

Currently, the front of the property has a large gate and a wall (see photo below) from the street it's difficult to tell if you don't already know us, what happens in the chacara.  We want to open this up, take the wall down that separates us from the community and instead have a wrought iron fence, so the church, the courtyard and all the activity is visible from the street-a much more welcoming appearance.

There is an incredible amount of need here.  It can feel overwhelming if we step back and look at the big picture.  But when we take time to look at the individuals, to get to know them, to pray for them and start to see changes we have hope, and we give them hope.

Children's Day (Dias de Crianças)

Beautiful smiles tell us we're brightening their day
October 12th in Brazil is 'Dias de Crianças' or 'Childrens' Day' it's a day all about kids, they are given gifts, there are parties and special events.    I was told that it's something like Santa coming for kids in Brazil.We celebrated Childrens' Day here at the mission on the friday before.  

We put the word out that we were going to have an afternoon of games, songs and prizes and weren't sure how many kids we would get, it's hard to tell with these sorts of things.

We had almost two hundred children turn up.  It was incredible to see that many small kids in our church.

Games with water balloons, funny dances and musical chairs helped keep them entertained and we followed up with a 'cachorro-quente' a brazilian version of a chill dog and a cup of pop.

Who doesn't love a water balloon toss?
Waiting for their 'cachorro quente'
There is very little for children in this neighbourhood to do, so anything on offer is exciting and special, it makes them feel included and loved.  This is why we are here.