A Canadian family follows their calling to Brazil to serve as full time missionaries with the Xingu Mission.
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Friday, May 26, 2017
They Are My Daughters, Planting Seeds in the Concrete Jungle, Raising Bilingual Kids
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'They Are My Daughters'
'He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,' Isaiah 61:1
Our heart is to love our neighbours, whoever they are. We want to serve them as the Lord would have us serve them, because we know that only he can truly transform lives.
One Friday night we were driving back to our house and as we turned one corner a woman shouted out to us, we all turned and my son asked, ‘Mom, what is she doing on the corner like that? And why is she dressed like that?’
I said it was a conversation for later.
Another Friday night we saw five or six women and watched as a motorcycle pulled up and stopped in front of them.
My heart ached.
Another day, in another part of the city, in the middle of the day on a Tuesday we counted fifteen to seventeen women.
We started taking these routes purposely, at different times of the day. We started doing research. Prostitution is legal here in Paraíba, but many times minors fall pray to it, the average age of a girl starting is 12-14.
They are somebody's baby girl.
They've either left home or been turned out onto the streets. With little to no education or skills, it’s often chosen as a profession because they have run out of options.
We started to realize that we were both feeling pulled in a direction that we had no idea what to do with, but it kept tapping on our hearts, invading our thoughts, that still small voice was whispering....
‘They are my daughters.'
Only one problem. We have absolutely no idea how to start or what to do.
So, we prayed. ‘Lord, if this is you calling us into this, we can’t do it without your guidance, show us how to do this Lord’.
In our research Phil came across a website for a group in Recife, Pernambuco (the next state south of us) called Shores of Grace. They started working with prostitutes and others in the streets about seven years ago. They now have a comprehensive ministry who's priority is to show these women and men that they are loved. IF they choose to leave the work they are in, they have things in place to help them get trained and on a new path. But first, love them right where they are, no strings attached.
Last week I was able to make contact with Nic Billman, the founder of Shores of Grace. I told him how we had been feeling and that we would love to have a chance to chat with them, possibly learn from them. He invited us to come for a few days, receive training and go out with them when they minister.
We still really don’t know how this will look. Right now we have committed to praying for these women on a daily basis, praying that God would continue to show us what it is He would have us do.
Leaning on Him and not our own understanding. We will keep you posted as we move forward.
Living in the Amazon basin, seeds are easier to plant. In fact, we once had several different vegetables and fruits start to sprout up where a broken pipe from our kitchen spilled onto the ground.
Similarly, getting to know people happens more easily, walk around your neighbourhood as the sun is setting and you will find them sitting outside their houses, enjoying the cooler temperatures of the late afternoon and sipping cafezinhos. You sit and begin to chat, the seeds of relationship sprout.
Living here, in a big city, a concrete jungle, it’s difficult to find soil to throw seeds on, people tile the sidewalks. Walking around our neighbourhood here at sunset we find a few people, the ones with dogs, but our conversations are shorter, in passing. The seeds of relationship don’t sprout as quickly.
So, we have to have patience and be creative. Find ways to spend more time with people.
One of the ways missionaries in other parts of the country have done this is to fill a need by opening an english school.
Learning english is Brazil is a much desired skill. It opens many doors.
João Pessoa has as many english schools as any Canadian town has Tim Horton’s. Opening another one here isn’t really filling a need.
Saying that, having native english speakers to practice your english with is hard to come by. So, we’ve decided to use this angle to fill a need and also connect us to different groups of people.
The idea that came to us was to approach one of the english schools and offer a free bonus english conversation class.
Faith’s tutor mentioned that the english school she attends, Uptime, is a smaller school and run by a Christian woman, maybe we could approach her.
A few Sundays later, we were invited to attend an English service at a local Anglican church and started speaking to the minister. He has traveled to England several times and is very familiar with Alpha. Our idea about running an Alpha at an English school came up and he said, ‘well you should meet Erika, she owns Uptime english school!’
Well whaddya know....
We spoke with her and since their church is familiar with Alpha and eager to help us get started, she loved the idea!
Our hope of course, is that from this we can begin another small group and make more connections.
We have to break through the concrete here to get to the soil. It will take longer, but we have confidence in the one who sent us here that he is giving us the tools we need.
Raising Bilingual Kids
Recently the kids got what we would call interim report cards, kind of a dipstick look at how they are doing. They are doing amazingly well considering what we started with.
This is the result of many afternoons of blood sweat and google translate as we hack through the homework. All of us are learning more portuguese, spoken and written. We didn’t go to an official language school, we just sort of learned the language on the fly as we went, sink or swim, so this has been a great crash course.
It’s also been really tough, on all of us. It’s a big time investment too, it's almost like I'm still homeschooling but now in Portuguese! But we are already seeing results. Faith started as a blank slate. She struggles with reading in english as it is so we were concerned. But the crazy thing is, she is now able to read at a grade 1 level in portuguese and her english reading has improved immensely! On Friday, Luke tackled his Portuguese homework (by far the most challenging subject) by himself!! I cried real tears!!
We are so grateful that they are doing this, that they will come out of it on the other side fully bilingual. We have great peace that this was the right choice for our family. I love seeing them want to succeed! We are so proud of them!