July 20 – A Very Good Day

Yesterday was the first full day for the full team on the ground in Brazil. The work has begun! So what did we do? We had a picnic. It may be the most important day of the trip. God’s call to the team is to listen and learn, encourage and engage. A picnic is a good way to answer the call.

Today we begin the work of EBF, Vacation Bible School. By Saturday afternoon we may have reached over 300 kids from the favela. But the work of EBF work is side by side work, following our leaders work. It is work to be done by friends in the family of Christ. So as we hiked and sang and talked ate, played a little American baseball and Brazilian Corta Três, seeds of friendship were planted. The work at EBF and, who knows, for years to come, is the work that only friends are able to accomplish.

Listen and learn, encourage and engage. Pray for the bonds of friendship to grow strong as we work together.

Em Cristo,

July 18 – A Parable

IPJA members practicing for next Monday’s match against LPC’s best

Becky and I have been in Brazil for five days now while the rest of the team has been on the ground for just a couple of hours – still one flight away from Belo Horizonte, as they await a noontime flight from São Paulo. It turns out that they did make any of their scheduled three flights – you can ask about the trip across New York from Newark International to JFK or how they ended up in São Paulo instead of Recife. In fact, they will arrive here just a couple of hours behind schedule, and we can hardly wait to see them all.

I don’t want to assign cosmic significance to flight delays, mixed connections, or rebookings. But I am more than willing to thank God for Brian Jennings good leadership of the team on their great adventure and for the great spirit on the team as Brian has reported it in our text messages over the past many hours. Maybe more than a theological account of providence, our team’s trip might be a parable of grace and sovereignty. Not a single flight on our carefully made reservation was ever used, but God’s purpose is being fully accomplished – his destination achieved in his time.

As we continue into the week, I pray that each of us on the team remembers the Parable of the Great Flying Adventure. I pray that we will be willing to lay aside our carefully made plans, our ideas of how things should go, and be open to the amazing, and better, things God has in store for us.

Now off to the airport in an hour or so. I can hardly wait to greet the team.

July 7 – Sometimes a Friendship Surprises

Our Brazil Mission Team leaves for South America on Monday, July 17, still ten days away.  As they travel, the team members will be under the able leadership of Brian Jennings, since Becky and I won’t be with them on their flight. We will be in Brazil awaiting their arrival.  Becky and I are leaving for Brazil this coming Wednesday and will make a stop in a small city north of São Paulo before taking a short flight to Belo Horizonte to be in town in time to greet the rest of the team as they arrive for the week of mission and ministry; learning, encouraging, and engaging.

For four days we will be in Hortolândia enjoying an amazing friendship with Renato and Karem.  We first met Renato in 2004 and Karem a year later.  Renato, then a young Presbyterian elder, along with his pastor and another elder, had made a nine hour overnight car trip from Hortolândia to Belo Horizonte for a two hour meeting where we would discuss congregation to congregation mission partnerships.  They were hoping I might be able to do some matchmaking between their church and a church in the United States. Continue reading

June 30 – Beware Dancing Elephants

Our Brazil Mission Team leaves for Belo Horizonte late afternoon, Monday, July 17, arriving some twenty hours later around noon on Tuesday.  But the work of our team does not begin that Tuesday morning when ten bleary-eyed Americanos emerge from the baggage claim area at Aeroporto Confins.

For the past two months, the ten of us – Fred, Beau, Mark, Sue, Jake, Eva, Brian, Cathy, Becky, and I – have been about the work of the team. We have been learning language and singing songs.  We’ve been challenged to think that the work of our team is not so much working as it is being; being a listener, a learner, and an encourager, being a friend and a follower. We have used some amazing materials that may help us avoid the pitfall of hurting as we try to help.

We’ve been warned about being a dancing elephant. Continue reading

June 23 – What’s the Story?

They began work on the new house just around the corner from our house months ago. It’s up on Maple Avenue near the Friends Meeting House. The basement was dug, a foundation laid, framing completed, the roof shingled; the windows went in and the backerboards and vapor barrier were added. Then everything stopped. The garage and front door openings were boarded up and weeds grew high on the construction site.

It’s been at least two months since any work appears to have been done on the house. Of course, when I went to take photo of the place this morning there were a couple of vans in the driveway and a ladder reaching to the eaves. By the time I snapped the final photo, what looked like a building inspector drove up in his government car, the red Crown Victoria in the photo.

What’s the story? Continue reading