We came back running from our 21 day travel sprint visiting churches and pastors to be a part of the preparation for the Cristoval celebration this week. Carnival is Brazil’s annual “celebration of the flesh” before the initiation of Lent on the Catholic calendar. It’s a week- long party where “anything goes” and every city in the country shuts down allowing full participation by the people. HOWEVER, this year the city government here in Altamira did not have its annual carnival celebration. WOW!!! This is the first year in 14 years that I have been here that they did not have a carnival celebration. AMEN! and thank you so much for your prayers.
The Vineyard churches began “Cristoval”, a retreat for youth, away from the city, with a focus on Jesus and having a lot of good clean fun. It has been a great success throughout the years, drawing kids toward Jesus and allowing an alternative during Carnival. Here in Altamira, we had Jim Anderson and his team come back and speak about his book “Unmasked: exposing the cultural sexual assault”. This is such a great topic in this culture which is sexually charged and there does not appear to be many boundaries. It is also very timely because of its complete contradiction of Carnival and the sexual temptations that lures so many to having a sexual relationship outside of God’s will and purpose. Jim shared from his book the revelations about:
· God’s gift of sexuality
· The heart of a woman
· God’s true design for men and women
· How to be “men of honor” and “princesses of God” and to walk in the beauty of His creation.
It was really powerful in the lives of the hundreds of youth and adults that participated in the conference.
After Cristoval, we held a conference for the adults to talk about our roles as parents, wives, and husbands in the family. To encourage each of us to pray and bless our spouses and children on a daily basis. As well as reconfirm our roles and commitment to our spouses and family. This is really important because life has a way to suck us in and it is very easy to forget about these fundamental principles.
Camilly participated in her first Cristoval this year. The minimal age to go to sleep at the camp is 12 years old. She had a great time with her friends but was exhausted due to lack of sleep. We also have two new members in our family. Alyssa has been doing a good job as the caretaker to the Mommy and babies. We also got to go to a butterfly enclosure and the girls each caught a butterfly on their finger.
My older sister Shelly passed away on February 17th. She was a very sweet and loving person, and I will remember her as someone full of life. Below is a picture of how I will remember her. Unfortunately, these last several years had been very difficult for her health and dependency issues. Things went downhill very quickly. Please pray for our family during this difficult time.
Please also continue to pray for spiritual, physical, and emotional health for us.
Much love, Steve, Elba, Camilly, and Alyssa
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