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Friday, February 15, 2013

Cristoval; The Seeds of Relationship Sprout

I now know why Cristoval is the highlight of the year here on the chacara.  For four days and three nights we partied, played games, had sleepovers, got muddy and ate food together.

photography lessons

Experiences like these are like relationship greenhouses; they speed up relational growth and create great memories.  Like rain and sunshine on newly planted seeds, it helps relationships germinate.  And we had both rain and sunshine in big doses during Cristoval.  Our family had an amazing time sharing this experience with the people we are getting to know here in Marabá.

Adjusting to a new culture and surroundings has been the easy part for us, it seems we're built for this kind of thing.  The difficult part has been missing the relationships we invested deeply in at home.  You can't rush friendship.  But things like this definitely help to bring us closer.

There is also the 'cup runneth over' reward of hearing these kids laugh, seeing families have fun together and knowing it provided an alternative to the streets during Carnival.

Luke and Marcos on the trail race
I even had some times of understanding full conversations and being able to add in with some humour! I'm still a long way from where I would like to be with the language but I am seeing progress, which is encouraging.  

One of the women told me that Luke speaks Portuguese very well-this is also such a positive sign, that the unique 'chicka-hauh' language he and Marcos have developed is not the only language he is learning.  A few times I heard him speak and was blown away (and a little envious!) at how he is able to effortlessly conjugate verbs! 

The relationships we had at home are irreplaceable.  Being transplanted from your home garden means you can't take all the flowers that bloomed around you, you have to plant new seeds and wait for them to grow.  After five months we are seeing the sprouts begin to emerge and take great comfort in knowing the flowers of true friendship will bloom before we know it.

Emily was sharing her sucker (like it or not) with Phil
Here are a few more photos:
'Ski Race' three people strapped to one ski-races the other teams
Generations old and new
Faith is beginning to make new friends

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Quiet Miracle: Nialsons' Story

Have you ever had a near death experience or know someone who has?  Often it makes a person re-evaluate their life and how they're spending the precious and finite amount of time they have been given on this earth.

What if you had THREE near death experiences?  Would you start wondering if maybe there's a reason your life has been saved?

Meet Nailson.  He has been shot in the head and the bullet exited through his left eye leaving him blind, but still alive. His throat has been slashed.  He's been shot in the stomach.  Any one  of those things could have killed him, but he's still here.

Rick invited him to attend Cristoval after giving him and his friends a ride to the cemetery to help bury his friends 24 year old daughter who had been stabbed trying to defend her sister in a domestic fight.  As they went to the cemetery, Nailson was drinking hard liquor straight from the bottle.

On the first night of Cristoval, Chris Wiens, who is visiting from Canada for this event, asked if anyone in the crowd had pain or anything in their body they would like healing for.  From behind us a man with a cane limped to the front of the church-it was Nailson.  He had stepped on a nail a few days earlier and it had become very swollen and infected.

I've been a Christian for ten years.  I've seen God heal many times.  But every time I wonder if He will do it again (forgive me God for my unbelief!), ever hopeful that He will-knowing how it builds the faith of those praying as well as those healed. 

Chris asked all the children to come to the front, they crowded around him, laying their tiny hands on him.  It was a touching scene.  Rick Bergen knelt at his feet, where the problem was.  It was quiet and undramatic, no-one shouted, cried or fell on the floor, they just quietly, but with authority, prayed healing over his body. After some time, Rick asked if his foot felt any better.  He said, 'A little' so they continued to pray.

By the end of the service, he had abandoned his cane and was walking with only a slight limp, the swelling had already decreased.  The next day he was walking completely normally with no pain, all traces of swelling were gone.  He went on to participate in the events which were all extremely physical.  Healed.  Thanks Jesus, for doing it yet AGAIN.

Nailsons' story isn't over. I'm confident that God has saved his life so many times for a reason, and brought him here to this event and this church for a greater purpose.  There are many others that have similar stories here in Brazil who have had their lives make a complete 180 degree turn to a new way of life.  Like the healing of his foot, overnight, it can't be explained simply by logic, there is a greater force at work, one that can move mountains with a single word and change lives with power of His love.

In this video, Nialson shows his scars: