Thursday, February 22, 2018

February Amazon Update!

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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Saturday, February 3, 2018

January Amazon Update!

Thank you so much for your support and prayers.  We usually like to send our updates in the middle of the month but we have been traveling for the last 21 days and just got back.  It was a great time and adventure.  Bless you and pray that you enjoy the below update!

As I mentioned above we just got back from traveling for 3 weeks and it was an adventure as we slept in many different places and traveled via boat, planes, and automobile.  I did not do so well with the driving part.  OPPS.  Thankfully no damage….except to my ego. 


We spent about 2 week in Santarem and Jacarim.  During our stay there we spent time with their leadership and talked about current things that are happening within the church, and the future.  We also participated in ordaining 2 couples to be senior pastors.  The first picture is of Inilson and Enilda to be the senior pastors of Santarem.  The second pictures is of Ricardo and Cleury to be the senior pastors of Jacarim church.  Both of these couples are passionate for the Lord, and the lost.  Please keep them in your prayers. 


We also had the pleasure of being with Richie Bouthillier and his family in Portel.  We went to officially inaugurate their church building, and participate in ordaining Geise to be the pastor in Portel.  The Bouthilliers are doing a great job in Portel and it was a great thing to celebrate.  The mission is all about planting churches, and training leaders.  This moment was what we are called here to do.  Help plant Vineyard churches, and train local leaders to lead into the future.  Praise the Lord!


The girls are doing well.  They just started school on the 1st of February.  Actually school started a few days ago but since the girls were with us during our travels they were unable to attend.  During our trip, we had a chance to go to Elba’s hometown.  Camilly and Alyssa were trying to learn how to fly a kite.  It somewhat worked.  Elba also showed us the place that she used to get water every morning by bucket and then carry on their heads back to their house.  I was fortunate enough to be able to turn on a Fawcett and water came out. 


Please also continue to pray for spiritual, physical, and emotional health for us.  

Much love, Steve, Elba, Camilly, and Alyssa

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I found this English school in Santarem with this name.  A lot of my friends in Ohio would argue that this could not be a good English school with the name of Michigan.  J




Friday, December 15, 2017

Merry CHRISTmas from the Amazon!

One of the big highlights this last month was having a short term mission team come from Columbus Vineyard.  It is such a treat to have our friends come to work alongside us to reach the people of Brazil.  A majority of the members had been here the year previously.  This is a blessing because like last year they went to Pacajá to walk alongside missionaries Keith and Marsha Wilson.  This is important because the team is continuing to establish more relationships and are laser focused on a certain area.  We refer to this as going narrow and deep.  Narrowly focused to work a majority of their time in Pacajá and each year deepening their relationship with the Brazilians and the team.  We are looking forward to the many more years to come with this team. 

How about you?  Are you interested in coming?  We have many places like Pacajá that would love to have a team come and visit. 


On the way back home the team stopped in Altamira for 2 days.  During those 2 days we had the opportunity for them to come and preach at 2 of our churches.  Pastor Kent Irwin preached at our church, and Patrick Adams preached at the Independente Church.  It was a pleasure to have them share the Word.  In addition, a lot of the English students at our school wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving with the American team.  This was a treat and we had well over 100 people in attendance.  Patrick shared about the meaning of Thanksgiving, and how we should always be thankful to God and one another.  Then we had one of our students read Psalm 136 and then some English students sang “Set a fire”.  Afterwards we sat down with the students and ate a lot of chicken and potatoes while speaking English.  It was really special for the students, and for our team.


TRAVELERS BEWARE:  If you come to our house and it is your birthday.  This is what happens….A Brazilian tradition.  Smash eggs over head, and then throw flour into the face.  Betsy was a great sport.  Elba and the girls are ruthless and it is just a matter of time before they get you.   Elba got caught in the crossfire.  Please do not let this discourage you from coming and visiting. 


As the song goes “It is starting to look a lot like Christmas….WAIT…ok, let’s start over.  It is starting to FEEL a little bit like Christmas.  It is never the same here as it is in the States.  This may be a good thing in the sense of all the hurry around and such.  We try our best to get into the season and we just put up our tree with a few lights.  We are definitely far from the norm here in Altamira because the majority does nothing.  Here are some pictures when we were in the big city of Belém (which means Bethlehem).  We even saw santa. 


Again, Merry CHRISTmas and may our Lord Jesus richly bless you. 

Please also continue to pray for spiritual, physical, and emotional health for us.  

Much love, Steve, Elba, Camilly, and Alyssa

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Friday, November 24, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving from the Amazon!!!

Happy Thanksgiving.  One thing for sure is that we are so thankful for you and to God for bringing you into our lives.  You are a blessing, and we are very grateful that you are on our team as we continue to do the good work that the Lord has lead you and us to accomplish in Brazil.  Be blessed with the below email.

Bill and Dotty Christensen came to lead our missionary care retreat.  They were missionaries in Morocco, North Africa for 11 years and now Bill serves as the International ministries Pastor at Columbus Vineyard.  It was so nice to have them come and speak with us and lead us in reflective and spiritual care for our team.  It was helpful to have a former missionary leading us because he understands the daily challenges that exist for our international missionary team.  In addition, it was just great to be with one another again.  We all live scattered throughout Brazil and we have developed great relationships among our group.  We pray that we can continue to keep doing this once per year and that our missionaries will always be cared for in a deep and meaningful way.  Below is a picture of our XM family.  Unfortunately, Art and Cyndi Rae were back in Canada and unable to attend. 


Before the missionary care retreat, Phil Snell (in the middle with blue shirt) challenged all the men missionaries to grow a goatee.  I have never grown facial hair in my life and I did not want to participate.  However, I went ahead and did it anyway.  The process was horrible.  The girls and I were planning on ways that I could win the competition.  I needed a competitive edge….this is what we came up with.  In the end, we all won the various aspects of the competition.  It was such a relief to shave this off.   
  

Bill and Dotty Christensen, and Craig and Linda Heselton came to Altamira and then to Pacajá before going to our missionary care retreat.  In Altamira, we had a leadership meeting for the church and Bill shared some words to churches leadership group.  Then we had a powerful time of prayers and the Holy Spirit made His presence known.  The next day they drove 250km to Pacajá to be with the church and Keith and Marsha Wilson.  Craig was asked to lead a Holy Spirit night for the church.  As a part of training and trying to discern the voice of God, Craig asked a man to come up and stand before the congregation.  He then prayed, and asked the congregation if the Lord was speaking to them about this man.  God showed up and spoke with many in the congregation about the man's situation and state.  It was so reassuring because even if we are walking through hard times and not feeling God’s presence, it does not mean that He is not with us. 


Praise the Lord!!! The girls continue to do well.  At Camilly and Alyssa's school they put together some re-enactments of Jesus' life.  Camilly's class was responsible for the bible story where Jesus turns the water to wine.  In the play, Camilly played the bride.  She did a great job, but I soon found out when I watched the play that I am not even close to being prepared for my daughter to get married.  Alyssa is starting to play American flag football.  As a part of an outreach to reach the youth to Christ, our missionaries Ronã and Allison Moura started playing flag football and it has been very fun to watch and participate.  It is really taking off as an evangelical project. 
  

Please also continue to pray for spiritual, physical, and emotional health for us.  

Much love, Steve, Elba, Camilly, and Alyssa


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This big guy was right outside our window during our missionary care meetings.