Thursday, May 11, 2006

HS Trip

Thank you for your prayers for the High School Trip. 19 students and 6 adult leaders went to the Amazon River delta island of Marajo. We partnered with Sociedade Bíblica do Brasil who took us on their boat to 4 towns along the coast of the island. In each of the towns the students presented Christ--usually in the public schools and the town praça (square in the center of town). Our first day was probably the busiest presenting 5 times in schools and once as part of an all-but-rained-out public event in the praça in Ponta de Pedras. In a town called Curralinho, several of the students shared from their hearts—testimonies, songs, teaching--during an hour-long Christian radio program.
I would estimate that in all for the trip, a thousand people were able to witness the gospel through large group and individual presentations using paint talk, dramas, music, testimonies and more. We pray that some of the seed would find good soil and those who professed faith would connect with one of the churches we partnered with. The greatest blessing for me was to see God work in and through the students themselves. I was moved to tears on more than one occasion when I saw students using their gifts for God out of their own inner passion for Him.

Sunday Service

For Easter Sunday we had the opportunity thanks to Fox to show Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ in the gymnasium. We pray that some of the seed that’s being spread by the AVA English Sunday Service will find good soil as we continue.
Our staff volunteers have gotten to know many of the attendees on a more personal level this year. Some attendees have begun to help lead worship. One attendee from the island of Marajo, who comes when he’s in town on Sundays, was our primary contact our high school’s mission trip this year for the town of Ponte de Pedras. He’s an English teacher there and set up school presentations allowing us to share with hundreds of students.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

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Mission Trips

Got to go on a couple of trips—one in December and one in January. More like what you think about when you think of missions in the Amazon. Small plane landing on a little landing strip or vacant airport, sleeping in hammocks, riding on boats, etc. Andy, a friend who is with the IMB graciously took me along. The first trip was to the "island" (size of Switzerland) of Marajo. We’re planning on going there for our High School Mission Trip this year and Andy will be helping to lead us. I got to help judge an English competition where students from the public schools had worked on worship songs in English to present (pictured). Yes, worship songs! The person who invited James (another teacher at AVA) and the rest of us and organized the event is someone who attends the Sunday Service at AVA when he is in town. He’s a music teacher in a town called in English "Peter’s Point" and also teaches at a school on the river. This town has traditionally been Catholic though perhaps nominally. There is a radio station there that was eager to interview us—almost like aliens arriving in the town by plane. But the priest was a bit wary of having evangelicals in town (pictured in black). After spending the night in the school (pictured--very cool with a nice strong breeze all night), we rushed to get back in time for the Sunday Service—I had to preach and James had to lead the music. We hitched a ride on an Acai (local seed made into purple drink—Whole Foods may have some if you’d like to try it) boat until we realized that it was not going to make it in time and were finally able to flag another boat to get us back to town and then to the plane.
The other trip was down to a strong Catholic (Bishop's "house" pictured) town called Braganca. We met with the pastor, gave resources, and helped to initiate an Experiencing God study with the leaders. I was pretty much just along for the ride with my limited (very) language abilities, but it was cool to get an idea of what these pastors have to go through (it’s an older Baptist church that has struggled but is seeing some growth now) and gain some experience with the missionaries. The pastor would like for Karina and I to come sometime to work with the young people about dating and relationships. There’s not much to do in the town other than drink and you know what. Something wild, this is town that we talked to you about that Karina’s friend Tatiana’s dad has land nearby and he knew about these social problems as well. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The God who did not spare His own, spared ours.

I will have mercy to whom I will have mercy.

A few days ago, Joel, Phillip, Stella and I headed to the local pool, for a lunch at the pool/ family time. We packed our lunch, headed for the pool and while we were taking the lunch out of the bike's basket and putting it on the table, Phillip sneaked into the pool WITHOUT HIS FLOATIES. I was talking to Joel about why he should not have ripped the plastic bag with our lunch in it (you know one of those stupid/pointless exchange of words), and then, Joel (directed by God's merciful hands) turned his head and said out loud: Phillip and we both looked at Phillip's sunken upright body inside the pool drowning. Joel jumped into the pool, grabbed Phillip who came out gasping for air and then Phillip spit up some water and hugged me crying and just stood like that for a while.
Needless to say... it was God's grace and we are here sharing this with you for a couple of reasons:

1. Praise: to tell you that it was the Lord who turned Joel's head and thoughts to Phillip.
Today I was reminded of the wild mercy of the Lord. A friend has since told us about the drowning of the son of a missionary couple in Nigeria a few days ago (New Year's).

2. To tell our friends who are parents/caretakers: it is true! it only takes a few seconds. Water has no mercy. Paranoid mothers are ok and good.

3.The Lord is faithful when we are faithless. Obviously, it was our lack of care, plus a two year old being a two year old that caused this accident.

Phillip is fine, he was scared by the drowning but had no physical consequences from it, praise be to the Lord who kept him from all harm.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

please pray for HS mission trip plans for the spring

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Had a great meeting with Andy Kennedy--and a couple of our student leaders. He's a Southern Baptist missionary and parent of some younger kids in our school who is graciously helping to coordinate our trip. It was really neat to talk to Andy about the trip. He is really knowledgeable and very interested in helping us. He suggested a trip down the river that would take us to several towns on the huge island of Marajo (largest freshwater island in the world, size of Switzerland--the delta of the Amazon). He does not often get to go down to some of these towns because boat trips take so long and some of these towns don't have any (baptist) churches and perhaps any churches at all. This trip may also help in the process of laying some of the ground work for ministers like ones from the Word of Life seminary here who may choose to go down to do their internships in some of these towns. It is really neat to think about being a part of such a significant work in such remote places.
We also talked about what some of the ministry would look like. We talked about going to an elementary school each morning and working with the kids. We might share about American (or Canadian) or other cultures our kids are from (this is something our kids did today for their "English Day" fundraiser and plan to do again in the spring--so they should be prepped) and try to share the gospel there as well. Then in the early evenings, we could try something similar at the high school in the town and then go to the plaza where people congregate as there is not much else to do in the town and do some music or dramas to draw attention and then do short gospel presentations, these same things could even be repeated as the people tend to flow in and out. Topics we might deal with in skits might be some of the common struggles--alcoholism and the impact of sexual relationships outside of marriage. We may take along some things to give to the people, though he said sometimes groups bring so much it ends up being a problem and distraction to those who they minister to. He said perhaps children's and even adult clothes and of course Bibles we can purchase from the Bible Society would be great. Also, some have also put toys and tracks in empty water bottles and thrown to children along the banks for them to retrieve from the water.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Mother - Daughter

Thanks for all your prayers and greetings. Karina is recovering well, in fact barely stops entertaining visitors and well-wishers between feedings.
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Stella Dalva Yonekawa Blest, all 8 pounds, arrives 11-17-05

Big brother and friend Sarah have a closer look on day 2.
Daddy tries some different looks...

Monday, October 10, 2005

Pray for our "fall" HS and JH retreat--that the Spirit will really move in the lives of the students...We pray the students will make steps to speak truth to each other--even when it's difficult. Posted by Picasa

lots of Japanese in Belem Posted by Picasa

AVA girls mentorship meeting

I (Karina) am glad to let you know that we have had a lunch party for the HS and JH girls! It was the first meeting of what I called a mentorship group. They had a great time together and it was so amazing to see that some of them have been longing for a safe place to talk about what is really going on. So, we will hopefully be meeting every other Friday or talk about life. The amazing part is that even after I told them how little patience I have, and how superficiality would not be allowed in our meetings, and how they had to be commited to this thing...they still did not back off.

As we went around and introduced ourselves some of the girls poured their hearts out. That my friends was such a blessing to me and the confirmation of the need for something like this.

Praise be to our God who uses broken vessels like us to be His hands, His voice of comfort, His feet.

How fried food gave us our new church : )

Our second semester here has been filled with answers to prayers... As you read about in our last blog, a lady I met last semester and her husband have started a church plant in their home which is right beside our condominium walls... solving our transportation problem to go to church : ) and giving us an opportunity to integrate "Sunday Service" goes into a church...

I was really thirsting for some community and true fellowship with other believers..and our new church which does not even have a name or official denomination yet (they will became part of a baptist church by December) has fulfilled my needs in so many ways..

Salgadinhos...that is the beginning of the story...

I first met Fatima because I needed to order some salgadinhos (brazilian petit ouvres or appetizers served in parties here) for Joel's welcome party/get together to meet the student's parents.

Fatima impressed me with the quality of her salgadinhos and her neatness. She looked like such a Proverbs 31 housewife to me and I like her from the start. So we became friends and I invited her to our Sunday English service. In talking to her I found out she was a believer with a passion for discipleship and small groups. And that so rang true with my heart too...I told her that was exactly what we needed to offer the people at the "Sunday Service". I thought to myself: wouldn't it be neat if they came over here and started forming small groups from our Sunday Service people or just being here to preach the truth and support us in our small breakout sessions after the preaching....

Upon returning from our Summer Trip to the States, Fatima called me or I called her, I can't remember I think she called me, anyway, she told me that for 4 months they had been meeting with a group of people and that they met on Sundays at 6 PM, which is right after Joel's "Sunday Service."
So the next Sunday, I went there, I had had a fight with Joel and was hungry for the Spirit.
The praise and worship was great and I confess a bit intimidading b/c of its charisma. It was so refreshing to hear people praising and worshiping God in Portuguese. So I kept attending...every Sunday there were people accepting Christ. That was so refreshing for me. I had not seeing someone giving their lives to the Lord in a long time! It was like: this is a miracle right here!!!!

On the first service God spoke to me powerfully and I can say I am being fed through the evangelistic preachings but most of all by being corpo or body... Joel and I participate on Sundays at the service, on Tuesday on the leadership/discipleship meeting, I am discipling a lady also named Fatima on Tuesdays right before the leadership meeting, and we have in the past once but would like to participate in other meetings they have across town, but transportation has been an issue to us.

Right now this is what our church is and does:

Tuesday: Discipleship of leaders/leadership meeting at Barbara's place. We ride with the pastor and his wife.

Thursday: Ladie's prayer meeting at Pastor's Jorge's house. We just started that for those who expressed an interest in praying together. So far we have met once this past week and due to the rain it was just me and Fatima. But we are hoping many from her condominium will come : ) and share in this wonderful time of prayer.

Friday : Prayer meeting at Mrs. Antonia's house. We would love to go and will once we have a car, or someone offers to give us a ride.

Saturday: Service with praise and worship plus teaching...evangelistic in nature at Mrs. Lourde's house. We went to it once...but again transportation issues are keeping us from going there also.

Saturday to be moved to Sunday mornings: A new convert who is being discipled by one of the church core group members (Nalva or Nalvinha), has opened up her home in a very humble and needy spot of town. There are many children that are so hungry to come to Rai's house and just participate in the service...People who love to work with children are needed. Our pastor is very aware of the spiritual darkness of that place and the need for mature believers to be working together there. Right now leading this new mini church is Marcelo and Nalvinha, both wonderful members of our church.

Sunday: We have moved the church meeting from Pastor's Jorge's house to the same spot at our school where we meet for the "Sunday Service" with the hopes that some who attended the English service and are hungry for the Lord will stay for this other service.

The setting is no longer as cozy as Pastor Jorge's varanda but we are trusting the Spirit to move and bring many to Him from the English Service.

In about 5 months the church has grown to about 50 people and many are coming to Christ every week...those who are trusting in Christ are being discipled or going to be discipled by those who invited them to church. The Lord is doing a great work of setting the captive free, and putting families back together.

Pastor Jorge is such a man of God. We are so happy to serve alongside with him. He still has his full time job as an engineer at a local paper plant. His job is very nice but he can't wait to be in ministry full time. He has already planted one church and handed over the pastorship to a friend. He is an evangelist at heart and man, he goes for it!
One of the blessings of being in this church is the strong emphasis they have of being body. It's something else...being in each other's lives during the week and praying for one another daily. I also love the emphasis on discipleship. Someone you invited to come to church makes a decision for are the one responsible to disciple that person and love her unto the Lord. In the discipleship we teach basics of the faith such as repentance, baptism, being a new creation etc.. as well as have time to talk about personal issues.

Please pray for the lady I am discipling now...her name is also Fatima and she has been involved in the past with some umbanda...african black magic very popular here in Brazil. She also attended a catholic church and even some evangelical churches but has not "firmed" with any.

She has made a profession of faith but is very confused in her mind and has not shown in her conversations with me a real understanding of the gospel I am still waiting to see her grow in the Lord and really have the Spirit's understanding of the Word, etc... so please pray for her.