Monday, August 16, 2010

God’s Lesson Notes:

Student: Randall York
Subject: Trusting Me
Current Grade: C

Randall is an excellent student. Even though we are less than half-way through his life lesson of "Trusting Me," he has shown some remarkable strengths and made progress far beyond many of his contemporaries, and yet he seems to revert to old patterns of self-reliance and doubt near the conclusion of each lesson.

Undoubtedly, this is one of the most demanding subjects I offer. By it's very nature each lesson pushes and stretches the student to limits they’ve not experienced and it may be the reason many students just stop attending the course. I have to note that those who continue in the study often excel to the bewilderment of those around them. My objective here has been recorded in James, Chapter 1 verse 12: Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Randall shows good promise at the beginning of each lesson, he communicates his situation with me and his brothers and sisters, he readily confesses and believes I will remedy the issue and he continues on in his work. Part of the lesson is simply allowing the situation to continue, not worsening or bettering, in order to examine how the heart of the student changes. While externally, Randall works to maintain a positive outlook and professes continued belief in my care; internally I see a veil slowly clouding his belief. He tends to react similarly as our disciple Peter did after he stepped out of the boat to meet us on the Sea of Galilee. (Matt 14:25-31)

I know that I am the reason for their thinking pattern. After all, I am the one who granted free will and choice to mankind. Ultimately, everyone will know that all I desired for them was a good life (Matt 7:9-11), and all I desired FROM them is worship and praise (Mark 12:30). I will not demand it, for a freely given offering is purer than gold refined in fire.

I will continue to refine Randall, for I have plans for him to use all I have given him in the furtherance of my kingdom. I will bless him as long as he follows my leading in his life (Jer 29:11) He just needs to know that it is always for his benefit that he should stand strong during these times (James 1:2-4)

Randall is passing the course right now, but he has the capability to excel at it. After all, my promise is right there in Matthew 6:25- 34 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Simple Necessity

I just realized this weekend; as I sat in my yard, behind several tables of my worldly possessions hoping someone would come and take it all away, that having yard sales is a Biblical principle. In the New Testament it tells how first century Christians sold their possessions and gave to the poor and the Church. Even today the occasional story of some radical young Christian getting rid of everything they own is told to the astonishment and head shaking of more seasoned believers. I mean, you have to be really super spiritual or nuts to feel called to do something like that. Right? It's hard to wrap your mind around the thought of anyone doing such a thing, isn't it?

I'll admit I'd probably be right beside the "Rich Young Man" who couldn't part with his stuff when Jesus told him to give it all away and follow Him. It's hard to go through the things that I've accumulated over the years. A lot of my stuff has sentimental value to me. So I can relate to the guy. Often in sermons the poor fellow is condemned for his unwillingness to obey and love of worldly pleasures and possessions. He's made out to be a terrible wicked evil person. After all, this was JESUS, God of the Universe Incarnate Himself talking to him. Duh, no-brainer. Right? I don't think so. How many times have we heard a word from God and not been willing to do what He told us to do? But even though the young man failed miserably that day because he wasn't at a point in his life where he could recognize God's voice, I'd like to think that maybe later in his life he sought forgiveness and was able to obey that command. It gives me hope.

Back onto the subject: There I was this weekend smiling and telling people as they asked for my prices that the way my yard sale worked was that if they wanted it, to take it and if they felt like leaving a donation of any amount, I'd appreciate it but they really didn't have to, just please take the item. The reactions varied from skepticism, laughter and amazement to one guy actually becoming disgusted and angry that I wasn't demanding a price. Come to think about it, there's some correlation to how people react to the gift of salvation in that. Hmmm.

Once I got the stuff out of the house and into the yard, I no longer cared about it as much and it was rather liberating and fun to get rid of it. And that's when it struck me; those early Christians were just average people like me holding big yard sales. Man, I would have loved to have gone to their yard sales. (Can you imagine how valuable their junk would be now? What deals! But I digress.) They were getting rid of their junk so that they could be freed up to do what the Lord wanted them to do. I'm trying to get rid of stuff because I don't need the baggage to do what the Lord wants me to do in Brazil. Giving away or selling your possessions is not as super spiritual as it sounds, it's just a simple necessity. Who knew that Christians are called to hold amazing yard sales?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Movin' Right Along...

Well it's hard to believe that we've been back from Brazil for almost a month already. Notice that I didn't say we'd been home that long because we haven't. It's been a whirlwind. We'd only been home a week and a half before it was up to Toledo for our church conference. It was good to make new friends and touch base with old ones as well as putting faces to some of the names I've heard over the years. But the really exciting thing was being notified that two slots had opened up for the Tropical Agriculture Class at ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization) in Fort Myer, FL the next week.

Those of you on our regular mailing list will remember that we had wanted to go to this training course and that the Lord had marvelously provided the means for us to go but that the May class was already full when we went to register for it and we had to be put on a waiting list. Well, as soon as we got home from Toledo, it was pack the bags and hit the road again. Isn't it funny how it sometimes seems like God isn't doing anything with you for so long that it just about drives you crazy and the next thing you know, you're running your legs off trying to catch up with everything He's doing?

So I can hear you asking, "What is ECHO?" and "What was it like?" Echo is a Christian organization whose mission is to teach missionaries and other overseas aid workers how to fight global hunger by showing them how to help improve local farming practices by using readily available resources. They also run a World Seedbank. Check out their website or better yet if you find yourself in Florida go for a tour. (

It was way cool. They had set up several areas to simulate various tropical farming conditions: Arid, semi-arid, etc; they had even built a "mountain" to demonstrate temperate zone farming. It was all very beautiful and all of the plants were edible or otherwise useful. I think one of the most interesting set-ups was the "Urban Area". There they demonstrated how to do roof top gardening using recycled tires, pop cans, old carpet and packing peanuts just to list a few of the more unexpected gardening materials utilized. There were even a couple trees growing in tires there! The only soil used was what was on the plant's root ball when they transplanted it. It just blew my mind that plants could thrive without dirt.

Another thing I really enjoyed was the way the instructors never made a distinction between teaching about agriculture and sharing God's Word. One instructor likened composting to when a person is saved; both processes regenerates "waste" in order to bring about new life. I had never thought about agriculture as a way to illustrate God's Truth before. How awesome is that?

Appropriate Technologies was a fun exploration of ways to use what you have to make the things you need. This was recycling to the nth degree. Did you know you can actually run power tools with a bicycle or purify water with sunlight or sand? We learned to make an oven with a cardboard box and foam rubber!
By the time the course was over I couldn't wait to come back home and start trying out some of the techniques I had learned.

We can see how much of what we learned is applicable to use on the field, but are not quite sure yet what we will implement in our work at Belo Horizonte or in the Amazon. We are praying for clarity.

The need now is to prepare for our return. We must decide what we'll keep/take, keep/store and how to get rid of the rest. Our house needs a new owner, shipping needs arranged and a multitude of other concerns. Pray that we stay focused and pressing forward!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Journey Back to Familiar

For those whose lives are too hectic and harried or who are just too impatient to read anything more than a couple of lines:

Randall and I got home from Brazil on Wednesday. We had a good time. The Lord is really moving down there and we can’t wait to return. Hopefully we’ll be going back in July/August. All depends on God’s timing and us selling the house and getting our vistas.

For everyone else:

The Journey Back to Familiar

Last year Randall and I read “The Dream Giver” by Brian Wilkerson. We found it to be so encouraging that we decided to offer a study on it in the fall with our small home group, (very small as there were only four of us with the occassional guest popping in). But we enjoyed it. Anyway, the book starts with an allegorical tale of a guy named “Nobody” who lived in the land of “Familiar” who had a “Big Dream”; that someday he would become a “Somebody”. It goes on to chronical his journey into “ The Unknown”. Very early on he has to leave his “Comfort Zone” and finds that the world is a great big strange and sometimes scary place. But I’m not writing a book review here. If you wnat to read “The Dream Giver”, I highly reccommend it. If you don’t, well that’s up to you.

But in this journey into missions that Randall and I have embarked upon there are many parallels to that story. Guess that’s why we found it so helpful and encouraging. We have had to leave our “Comfort Zone” many times over. This latest time involved going to a strange land that we never imagined we’d be going to until suddenly we were buying the plane tickets and packing our bags. They didn’t speak our language, their food was different (but incredibily delicious) and their customs were not the ones Randall and I grew up with. Even the night sky was different: I never knew the Orion Constellation could be viewed upside down.

So if you’ve been reading this blog from the beginning you have learned of some of our adventures in Brazil. It is a wonderful wild country of beautiful people. They seem to do everything they do with their whole heart and gusto. Being hugged and kissed like a long lost relative on the first meeting took some getting used to, at first.

Portuguese is abit tricky to learn especially when you throw in regional dialects. But most people love to help you try to get it right. Dr.Tom Russell often says “we should take every opportunity to celebrate our achievements no matter how small” and boy, do the Brazilians love to celebrate. Smiling, clapping and giving the thumbs up for us even getting one word or phrase right and when it comes to birthdays and anniversaries - the whole community shows up to help celebrate, sometimes more than once.

But Brazil is not a perfect place. There are areas that foriegners shouldn’t go or if they find themselves in such areas they should keep their mouths shut and let their native friends do all the talking. Prostitution is legal there and the basic “Human Rights” that we in America have taken for granted for years are not always observed; depending on whatever the government official’s mood is on any particular day.

But after two months of doing life in Brazil, we began to aclimate to the culture. I’ll admit I was beginning to feel more and more at home, still awkward and unsure of myself, but not afraid to venture out on my own either. Niether of us speak the language very well but at least we weren’t totally dependant upon our hosts. We made friends and were beginning to find ways to minister to them. We began to see glimpses of what God’s Will is for us. HE is really doing GREAT things in Brazil and we are so blessed to be a part of it. And so it was with sadness that our time there ended, for now.

One part of me said,”It’s too soon. It can’t be over yet.” While another part said,”Whew I’ll be glad to sleep in my own bed again and have the things that make home, Home, around me again.”

The first thing I noticed upon arriving in New York was a tremendous sense of relief. Ok so the trip back was not the best experience in the world and just knowing that we were almost done with it was a releif. But it was like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. Everywhere people were speaking English. I had never realized just how much the ambient buzz of human activity affected ones feeling of well-being. It was wierd. Maybe it was just NYC but no; the feeling continued into Columbus. The houses were different, the air was different, even the sunlight was different somehow. I looked at familiar sights as if seeing them from an outsider’s point of view, for the first time. No longer was the “Land of Familiar” familiar. It was like a strange new place that I’d only visited in my dreams or something. Nothing was the same as when we left two months ago. Well it doesn’t help that we left in the dead of winter and were returning at the height of spring. But even that familiar change of seasons seems different somehow. I guess the best way to describe this feeling is like when you first wake up from a deep sleep and don’t quite know where you are or if you’re even awake or not. Disorientation doesn’t quite fit. It’s that and something more. Maybe it’s because I’m not the same person and the me of Now is actually looking at the Land of Familiar for the first time.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Thoughts on Coming Home

I'm sitting here as worship is starting to kick off, listening to familiar tunes with unfamiliar words. This morning, around the world, believers everywhere are celebrating the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the day the gates of Hell were forever destroyed, and God confirmed His authority over all things for all time. Hallelujah!

Within an hour of the completion of this service, Paula and I will be on our way to the airport to start our journey back to Ohio. And while that is where I have resided for 36 years, I no longer feel I can call that "home" anymore. I am just a wanderer in this life now, always headed for my "home" with Jesus when my time here is completed.

Matthew 8:19-20 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

Paula and I have been called by God to serve Him, and an early attitude of my heart has been to go where-ever He draws me. At this time, we are convinced that He has called us to Brazil. The works that are starting to bring fruit here will sweep through Brazil. I have already witnessed how God has changed lives here, and the fire He has given young believers to reach out to more of the unreached people here with the Gospel of God's redeeming love.

A place has been prepared here for our abilities, talents and gifts. I lay all that I have at His feet, in submission to His calling. Nothing has or ever will catch God by surprise, and I can know that He has it all under His control. We return to the States, knowing that our time there will be finite, for we MUST respond to His calling to return to Brazil to fulfill the purpose He has for us here.

Thank you for your prayers. Pray for the work here and that we will withstand all attacks that Satan would launch to inhibit the work or our return.

God Bless each and everyone of you!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Reaching the Amerindian

Until now we’ve related to you our experiences as we have visited Brazil, but it sure doesn’t seems to be related to evangelical mission work. That is, the teaching and preaching of God’s saving love and redemption of lives through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to the unsaved masses of a remote group of people.

I want to challenge your view of mission work. What does it mean to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations?” (Matt 28:19) It has been said many times that the mission field begins right outside your front door. How we live our lives with the people we spend all our time is the greatest witness.

Reaching the indigenous Amerindians in the Amazon can be a delicate undertaking. By federal protection laws, direct, unsolicited evangelism of the Amerindian is strictly forbidden. So how can we reach them? To talk with these people, you MUST be invited to speak to them BY them. One avenue that Tom Padley and his team have found came from learning more about their quality of life. The tribes that live along the Amazon river depend on that river for just about everything. After a short time of observing a daily ritual, a pattern emerged. A resident of the village will come to the waters edge with a load of cookware to be washed. After rinsing it out and setting it on the bank to dry, the person would wade farther in and continue to wash themselves. A little downstream, there may be an ditch that drained some of the waste from the village into the river. Of course, they are careful to drawn water from UP-river for village use. But what about the next village DOWN-river? Or how about what has been done at the next village UP river? The tribal people are not ignorant of this, and know that the river water may cause sickness, so they find clean water sources elsewhere. Sometimes this source is over an hour’s walk away, deep into the jungle. Imagine scheduling two hours in your day just to retrieve the water you will need that day for cooking and drinking? Yet this is exactly what these people do.
So Tom learned what was involved in drilling fresh water wells. Through churches he has been partly responsible for raising up in the more metropolis areas, he raised the funds to purchase the drilling equipment. The word was spread that there was a “gringo” willing to assist the Amerindian in establishing a fresh water well at their village. Soon he was invited to do just this in a village a couple days boat ride into the jungle. Tom took a team upriver and over the course of several days was able to drill a well and provide a village with a safe, close water source. The chief asked Tom why he was willing to do this, and Tom told the chief that it was the overwhelming love of God that compelled him. This made the chief curious, because the gods he knew of were usually angry and vengeful types. He asked Tom to tell him more of this compassionate God. And just like that, a door was opened for Tom to witness, in love, to this village chief of the redeeming love of God and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for all the wrongs he had ever done. In time, the chief was converted and had Tom and other members of the team teaching the men and women of the village.

This is why we work to provide a quality of life service to the Amerindian. Meeting a physical need now allows their hearts to be open to hearing about the REAL need they have spiritually for the grace and love of our God. Just as Jesus did with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. He first addressed her physical needs and quality of life, then introduced her to the Water of Life.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Potential area of ministry

Brazil is an interesting country. The cities are large with all the modern conveniences we take for granted in the states such as safe drinking water, electricity, efficient sewage treatment, multiple restaurants and grocery stores and reliable healthcare. However the further one travels from these centers of civilization, the less available such services become. Even in Nova Lima, we have had drainage/septic tank/ sewer line issues, water shortages and power outages all in the last two weeks. Lashmani, malaria and dengue fever are a constant threat. And that is just outside of the third largest city in Brazil.

In the outlying areas living conditions become primitive. Drinking water is any water one finds, toilet facilities is often an open pit in the ground or the nearest available tree, healthcare is folk remedy at best, non-existent at worse and food is only what one can catch or grow on his own.

Part of IAM’s mission is to minister to the tribal peoples of the Amazon, by digging village wells to provide safe drinking water. But so much more could be done to help these people to learn to care for themselves. By introducing proper drainage and sewage disposal/treatment, teaching them more efficient farming practices using readily available, low impact, high yield sustainable resources and health education. But in order to teach others one needs the proper training.

It is IAM’s vision to expand our ministry into the area of sustainable technology and farming practices. To that end, Randall and I have been asked to look into taking an Introduction to Tropical Agricultural Development course at Echo in Fort Meyers, Florida. we would do this while we are back in the States in May, before moving here on a more permanent basis.

Echo is a christian organization that focuses primarily on providing agricultural information and training to overseas workers and also operates a World Seed Bank with the goal of helping to alleviate world hunger. Check out their website for more in depth information and serving opportunities.

Once the Brazilian get a taste of what can be done with the resources God has given them, it is IAM’s prayer that some of them will catch the vision and attend Echo’s more in depth training courses.

Randall has estimated that in order for us to attend this training will cost around $1,400.00 total including travel, food and lodging. If it is the Lord’s will that we go to Echo and get this training, we believe the means will be provided. Please pray for His will to be done and consider whether you could help make this a reality.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Brazilian Dentistry Pt 2

(OK, I've kept you waiting long enough…)

The weekend passed. Sunday was another beautiful worship service in Tom's home. James led in several songs that we knew, so Paula and I were able to sing along in English. The rest of the day was relaxful.

Monday morning, at 10am I returned to the Dentist's office for my root canal. Dra. Barbara was all ready for me right on time, so we walked back to her examination room. I had mentioned to a friend of mine (who is a dental assistant) that I didn't really dread the actual procedure, just the time I was going to have to sit in that darn chair with my mouth stretched open. She suggested to me that I take my iPod with me and listen to some music to help pass the time. I showed my iPod to Dra. Barbara and she smiled, nodded and asked what I was listening to. I had decided to listen to my collection of Billy Joel (by-passing "Pressure" if it came on), but she had not heard of him. I put the ear phones in and she started her work.

Those of you who have had a root canal know something about the procedure. If you have NOT had one, (bless you for taking care of those white pearlies), I don't think I can adequately describe it. I CAN say that the anesthetic was excellent, and only a couple times did I feel a little twinge. Dra Barbara did a wonderful job, and said I took it all very well. After about an hour and 15 min, it was pretty much done. She packed the area with a temporary packing that actually wore down quite quickly. Going back out to the receptionist, I was set up with another appointment on Thursday to have Dra Sophia cap the tooth.

All in all, it was not a horrifying experience. Even after a few hours, I felt no aches or pains. The temporary packing kept flaking away and it was somewhat annoying, but that was the worst of it.

On Thursday, Dra Sophia cleaned out what was left of the packing, and cleaned the area rather thoroughly. After filling the hole, she told me that the work was more than she could do right then and would have to take a mold (or two) to get a crown made. This she did rather deftly. In a week I will have a new prosthetic tooth.

I talked with Dra Sophia some more this time. She had worked as a dental assistant in Sydney, Aus for awhile, and that was when she decided to become a full dentist herself. She has also visited the states, having spent some time in Chicago and New York to attend conferences and training on different dental techniques. I also learned she is a believer in Christ, attending an evangelical church locally. She invited me and Paula to come to a home group she attends, which I look forward to attending.

In my opinion, the dental work here in Brazil is just as competent as any I've ever gotten in the states. From what I understand, the Brazilians focus quite heavily on dental care, thinking that it will lessen some of the medical needs later in life. Therefore, it is VERY affordable. All the work I've had done will cost less than $500, but the quality is superb!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Brazilian Dentistry

Ok, on Thursday morning we woke up to a beautiful day. As usual, I went out to the front porch to check my email and enjoy the gorgeous view with my coffee. Paula offered me a bowl of yogurt, "Sure," I said, "and add some of that granola you bought yesterday." The combination was delicious, though I noticed that some of the dried papaya chunks were quite hard and near impossible to chew, with a few just getting swallowed (Good thing they were small).

Shortly after, as we made our way down to Tom & Kathy's house, my tongue noticed the crown of one of my molars was gone. Huh? A little more exploration confirmed it, a majority of that tooth was gone. I mentioned it to Kathy who immediately said I needed to go to the dentist. Uh oh… I thought. Dentistry in a foreign (some would say third world) country. Tom explained that there is a dentistry school in Nova Lima where they would take care of that for free. I was not convinced. It's one thing to go to a hair stylus school for a free haircut (that grows out in two weeks), but something totally different when you're are talking about medical care. Right after that, James (Tom & Kathy's son) came in and we explained the situation to him. "No Problem" he said. He would call his dentists office (a private practice) and see if they could repair it. Still wary, I agreed, cause it was driving me nuts!

James called and they said they could take me that day! So we went into town, and after a minor search for parking (always an issue here it seems) we got to the office. It was on the second floor, but it was very nice and professional looking. James talked to the receptionist, and she indicated that we take a seat. (Nothing like waiting to build the anxiety!)

After a few minutes, a young (late 20's) gal in a lab coat came out and motioned for me to follow her. James mentioned something and she replied, "Yes, I speak some English." Wow! Ok, I thought, we can call James into the room if there is any misunderstanding. I followed this gal to a examination room. I thought she was the hygienist, but then I noticed her coat was embroidered with "Dra. Sophia" and realized she must be the dentist. She offered light conversation, asking where I was from and what was my purpose for being in Brazil. Her english, though laden with a heavy accent, was quite sufficient for discussion. We talked about my situation and then she examined. She told me that practically the entire crown and the filling that had been there was gone and what I really needed was a root canal before it could be repaired. (Happy happy joy joy) For the time being she could put a temporary cap on it and then we could discuss the rest. I agreed. A little novocain and plaster of paris, and it was done. Back in the lobby, she explained that we needed to get a full mouth of x-rays prior to the root canal, and then to come back the next day (Fri.) (At least that is what I understood.) The patch work she just did would cost 60 Reais (pronounced "hay´-eyes," about $33US) and the root canal would be 380 (about $210). The X-rays are done by a different group, so we walked up a hill to another office and I proceeded to get about 14-16 x-rays. (108 Reais, $60).

On Fri, it was back to the dentist office. Now, this would be the first root canal I've ever had done, and while I wasn't especially nervous, there IS a certain amount of anxiety about having it done. Another young dentist, Dr. Barbara (who also spoke halting english) examined the x-rays and agreed that a root canal was necessary. "How long are you going to be in Brazil?" Hmmmmm. I stated that I thought it was going to be done that day, and she shook her head. No, she was fully booked for the day and all her patients had confirmed their appointments. Looking through her appointment book (which I could see was really full), she pointed to one name and said something to the effect of "This one is not in a big hurry, they can wait. Can you come back Monday at 10:30?" What choice did I have? We set up the appointment and now I had the weekend to wait.

(To be continued).

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Adventures in Grocery Shopping

If you ever want to feel completely out of your element in a foreign country try doing something commonplace like grocery shopping. How hard can it be, really? You go into the store, grab a cart and fill it with munchies, right? Wrong. Let me tell you about going to the Extra store in Belo. Think Wal-mart Super-center on steroids and crack. It was a huge store with hoards of people scurrying every which way. I couldn’t read the signs to figure out if I was going to end up in hardware or produce and my Portuguese has not progressed far enough to ask for directions from the helpful sales associates.

Thanks to Kathy and Jen I was able to finally arrive in the grocery section. They were having a sale on fruits and veggies so the produce section looked like feeding time in the shark pool. Scary stuff let me tell you. But being the intrepid adventurer that I am I dove in and eventually came out alive, in one piece with some guavas, nuts and raisins. I could have gotten more but I thought the produce at the small local fruit market in Nova Lima looked better.

Then there were the pre-packaged foods like cereal and such. All in Portuguese and Braille and only a few familiar brands that were priced way beyond what I’m willing to pay. I mean, I know how much that product runs in the States and there is no way I’m paying twice that amount. (or is it really twice the amount since I’m still getting used to the exchange rate?) Anyway, I think I got some oatmeal with strawberries and yogurt but then it might be birdseed for all I know.

So after a harrowing two hours in the store trying to look like I at least have a clue of what I’m doing, we made it to the check-out. As the girl was scanning my stuff I thought I was home free. Wrong! That’s when the real adventure began. For some reason my debit card wouldn’t go through. Uh-oh. I only had R $50.00 cash and my purchase was more than that. What to do? I always feel like an idiot when that happens in the States it’s even worse when you don’t speak the language. The girl is looking at me like I’ve suddenly sprouted horns or something. I can’t understand what she’s saying to me and the manager came and took my card away. Jen said something about the system freezing up. Yikes!! Eventually the manger came back with my card and asked me to follow her. Now I’m starting to panic. What did I do? But the matter was quickly resolved. It wasn’t my fault and my card went through. So now to figure out just what it was I bought.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Missionary Life

Well, we've been here two weeks now. On last Thursday I really got into the work of being a missionary. Was is evangelism? street witnessing? meeting tribal members?…..


It was clearing a clogged septic line.

We had noticed that the toilet in Tom and Kathy's house was backing up badly, and at one point it started draining out the cleaning port in the yard. Running a pipe snake didn't find any obstruction (we later determined the snake may have doubled up), but the "water" would still not drain. So on Thursday we Tom, Robert and I started digging out the line to find the point of blockage. Starting at the septic tank, we dug back about 12 feet of drain pipe until we reached an elbow. We could tell by sound it made when we knocked on it that the clog was right there. The pipe was brittle in places, and we had inadvertently punched a couple holes in it while digging, so we knew it would need replaced. Rob and I went to the hardware supply and picked up a new pipe and took it back to the house.

We knew at this point there was no chance of avoiding a mess. As we lifted out the old pipe and broke the connection at the elbow, the clogged broke free and it was NASTY!!!! Tom turned on the water hose and diluted it out as quickly as we could. After that we got the new pipe in place and fitted just as a light rain began to fall. On Friday, Tom finished the patch and we shoveled the dirt back over it.

So why am I writing about this as REAL missionary work?

Whether we serve in a populated urban area, or in the jungle with tribal people, the lifestyle of a missionary really becomes a self-reliant one. We don't have the luxury of calling a repair professional for every little (or big) thing that stops working or needs adjustment. Even if the service is obtainable, the cost is usually more than we have spare. Part of my calling is to bring the knowledge and abilities I have, specifically as a computer technician, and generally as a jack-of-all-trades (thanks dad) to help lighten the load of the workers already here, so that their time and efforts can be more focused on using their gifting of teaching and evangelizing. I have a calling there as well, and will supplement as needed.

Yet, that self-reliance is only at the local level. We could never accomplish any of the work we are here to do without the prayers and support of our partners back home. Your contribution allows us to meet our day to day needs so that we can reach out to those around us. Please continue to pray for the work happening here, and for the people who's lives are being changed by the power of Christ's love.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ouro Preto

From Brazil Trip

Yesterday we went to Ouro Preto. It's an old-style town nestled in some of the most beautiful landscape i have ever seen. Check out the pictures if you've not already. ( Some of the buildings were over 500 years old. It's hard for me to believe that such beauty could result from blood shed and human suffering. Most of the historic buildings and roads were built by slaves. Ouro Preto was the seat of government for all of Brazil during the colonial times and has seen it's share of uprisings and revolutions. The statue in the square is of a famous revolutionary leader. There's a rope around it's neck because that particular leader was hanged and then pulled apart by tying his arms and legs to two teams of horses pulling in opposite directions in the square that tourists now park their cars. Kind of surreal if you ask me. But then that's how my mind thinks.

(This video was shot from the entrance of the building pictured above)

Anyway it was a wonderful day of sight seeing and shopping - not that we bought very much. It was still fun and even the short rain storm brought welcome relief from the heat. The were hundreds of little artisan shops everywhere. There was even a stone mart where everything was made from soapstone. If you couldn't find it there you wouldn't find it anywhere. I knew soapstone was versatile but never realized it was THAT versatile. It was really cool.

We visited a state museum which was in the old city building/ prison. There we got to see some marvelous examples of wood carving including one whole room devoted to the work of Aleijadinho. I studied some of his work in Art History. Unfortunately I wasn't allowed to take my camera into the museum so I didn't get any pictures. I didn't think much of his work in Art History, but his work was amazing in person. To think that he was able to capture such sensitive expressions in his portrait carvings while living with a debilitating condition- most modern scholars believe he suffered from rheumatoid arthritis or some other related condition- just boggles the mind.

We hope to get back to Ouro Preto in the near future, Tom and Kathy said we didn't even scratch the surface of all that town has to offer in Brazilian history and culture.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday happenings

Sunday evening, 8pm, finds me on the front porch in a hammock. It's dark here and about 82°F (28°C). I'm reflecting on the day's events and it all seems to have flown so quickly.

We had a worship service this morning, but it was different than I am use to. Tom and his son James have started an "organic" home church in Tom's house. About 20 or so people from the local area filtered in and joined James as he sang some worship songs. There were at least 3 people playing guitar, one on a violin and a couple tapping on bongos. I didn't understand any of the words, but I knew it was honest worship, so I listened and hummed along. At some point, I felt I ought to read a passage for myself, so I turned to the later chapters of Acts (I always enjoy reading about Paul's work), and read from chapter 25, where Paul testified to King Agrippa of the work of Jesus. I once again was marveled by Paul's boldness in speaking truth to this ruler of Galilea. After that, I resumed observing and listening to the worship. The singing finished and James spoke. Once again, it was nothing I understood, but I could tell that many there were learning from his words. Shortly after, Tom picked up his bible and started sharing a message. I just listened to the sound of this language I will be learning. All of a sudden, in the midst of his sentences, I heard Tom say "Agrippa"… "huh?" I said to myself… then again, he said "Agrippa" in his sentence, then "Bernice" and "Paul." It dawned on me… Tom was speaking from the exact passage I had read from just 20 minutes earlier! WOW. What a marvelous Lord we serve! Not co-incidence… it was a GOD-incident!

The rest of the day was spent visiting with the family of the Padleys. I'm learning many names, and I hope to keep them all straight!

Kathy and a couple of her grand-daughters made pizza tonight. It was delicious! There were about 10 people around the table and the talk and laughter was continuous.

Just before I started typing this, I had the opportunity to talk with Hannah, one of James's daughters about some of her struggles. And even here, she faces the same issues that our children have faced at home in Ohio. She wants to share her faith with her friends, yet is afraid of ridicule and rejection. I guess that goes for just about all of us. As I encouraged her, I felt a re-assurance in my own calling.

Pray not just for me and Paula, but also for Hannah, our children, and all our brothers and sisters, that we may have the boldness of Paul to speak the truth of Christ's love to all those around us!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Paula's Impressions

Well we've now been in Brazil for two and half full days and I have three pages of words that I'm beginning to get the hang of. I can now say "Good morning, Thank You and You're Welcome." I also know my colors- of course I had a little head start there since many of my paints have Portuguese names. Anyway, this morning I have to admit I took somewhat sadistic pleasure listening to the weather forecast for Mansfield on Randall's iPod. They were calling for a temps around 21° "F" there. It was probably already pushing 21° "C" here. What a difference a single letter makes.

We've been taking it fairly easy the past couple days, just adjusting to the time and culture change. Although Randall has been working on computers a good bit of time and I've been helping Kathy with projects around the house. Once Tom puts up a shelf in her kitchen, I'll be painting a border for her.

Today our new friend Sagraes took us to a nearby park. I made a comment about the beautiful orange and black butterflies and Sagraes said his favorite were the blue ones. I didn't think much of it until he suddenly pointed up at what at first I thought was a small bird but instead it turned out to be a Blue Imperial. Oh my goodness it was so gorgeous. I'd only seen little ones at the zoo in Cleveland and I had always wanted to see one in the wild. Now I had! Not just one either, so far today I've seen four! I think they're teasing me though because none of them have settled down long enough for me to get a picture, yet. But now I that I know they're here, I'm on a mission to capture one "on film", even though my camera is digital. But I did get a few pictures of monkeys. They're cute little stripy tailed gibbons.

After the park we headed into Nova Lima. It's a quaint looking city that really drove in the fact that we were "not in Kansas anymore." All the buildings have a distinct Latin look with red tiled roofs and brightly colored adobe walls. The shops didn't have any doors. I guess at night they just pull down a garage door and lock it for security. The roads are very narrow and extremely steep with cars often parked on both sides. Cars and motorcyclists zip around big trucks and buses at break neck speeds and people just walk out in the road. It was nuts and Sagraes said this was nothing compared to Rio de Janeiro. Yikes!

So far except for the mosquitos who detected my new blood and took an unnatural liking to it from the first night, Brazil is agreeing with me. Ciao!

(Sorry, I'm having a bit of problems getting pictures up. Will have more soon! -Randall)

Monday, February 15, 2010


Ok, so we have arrived. 14 hours after leaving Columbus,... bleary eyed from lack of sleep on the plane, and hungry. (Airline food just doesn't quite fill you up)

After church at Grace Fellowship, Andy drove us (Paula, Jared and I) to Easton Town Centre in Columbus. Jared's girlfriend Rachel met us there and soon Miranda showed up with her boyfriend Ben and best friend Alaina. The eight of us ate at the Mongolian BBQ there and had a wonderful time. Between Paula and I embarrassing the kids to Alaina making friends with a piece of calamari prior to eating it, we all spent a lot of time laughing.

From there we all went to the airport to say our last "so-longs" as Paula and I checked through security. Our gate was at the extreme far end of the terminal (isn't it ALWAYS!), and we had an hour or so wait until our flight to Dulles (Washington DC). We were on an Embraer RJ145 Amazon which seats 3 across... good thing it was only for an hour. At Dulles we had just about 2 hours to change terminals (A to D). We got there and I plugged in the laptop and found a free WiFi signal to pass the time.

At 10pm, we boarded a Boeing 777 (wide body) for the 9 hour flight to Sao Paulo. It was dark when we left and we watched "Where the Wild Things Are" (not highly impressed). We tried to sleep after that, and Paula was a bit more successful at it than I was. Eventually I tuned in another movie (Cars) while Paula fidgeted around trying to find a comfortable position. 5 hours after we took off, the sky started to brighten up in the east. It was weird, cause my body still thought it was only 3am. It was 10:30a on Monday (Sao Paulo time) when we pulled up to the terminal. We got our luggage very quickly and walked right through customs. We had an hour at that point to make our connection to Belo Horizonte on the national airline, TAM. But when we got to the check-in counter the line was a mile long... and it wasn't moving. After about 20 min I heard a attendant mention something that sounded like "Belo" so I raised my hand and repeated "Belo, Belo" ... he waved us forward and got us right to the counter. 5 min later our luggage was checked and we were frantically looking for our gate. We made it in time, but it was a closer than I cared.

An hour later we landed in Belo Horizonte. We met Tom and Kathy as we picked up our luggage once again. They took us to a nice "churrascoria" called "Baby Beef." It was a delicious treat. The servers would come to our table with a selection of cooked meat that they would slice off on demand. I had prime rib, sirloin, lamb, and even ... (shock) chicken heart!

Finally we got to their home in Nova Lima, and what a sight! The panorama at the top of this post is the view from their home... and the picture does NOT do it justice.

We both thank the Lord for safely delivering us to this place. Please pray that He will begin to reveal our purpose here over the upcoming weeks.

Also, please remember Miranda in your prayers as she left today (Monday) for a 2 week deployment to the Caribbean, followed by 6 weeks in Turkey.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Preparing for a new direction

Well, since Paula and I got home from North Carolina, we have been preparing for our departure for Belo Horizonte, Brazil. We will be leaving Sunday night, and all our efforts have been towards getting the clothes washed, sorted and some packed. Pulling out our summer clothes and doing the same.

Besides that, we are also getting things organized around the house. Emptying the fridge, instructing Jared on what need to be taken care of while we are away, etc...

On top of all that, we're sitting in about 16" of snow here in Mansfield.

We are both very excited for the trip, and somewhat anxious as well. We have a 15 hour travel time, but it's not too bad with only 3.5 hours of layover time. We stop in DC and in Sao Paulo.

Tomorrow we run to Elyria, picking up a parcel from a family member to deliver when we get there. Then spending the evening with Andy and Holly. Sat is final packing day and a farewell dinner with a Prayer Partner here in Mansfield.

I hope to post every couple days here while we are there, sharing our experiences and impressions.

Pray for us, for safe travel, for clarity in our purpose and that we may be a blessing for our hosts.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Act 16:6-10

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

(show map of area and describe the geography)

There is a term that military members dislike. It primarily is loathsome for those returning from a mission to their base or headed for R & R (Rest and Recreation).


In essence, it means a "change of plans." Those in decision making positions have determined that you are needed in a different location than the one you are at or headed to. Once in a while it may mean a break from the battle, but that is an extreme rarity. More often than not, it means additional work and toil and less rest.

Over the last couple months, Paula and I believe we have received a diversion in our mission.

For 2 years we have been committed and engaged in the prospect of going to Papua New Guinea to serve with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Our drive, focus and energies have been spent in anticipation of that goal.

At the beginning of December, we were becoming anxious since our support level had only reached 50% of our goal with only 1 month to go, yet we knew God could still open the floodgates, so we continued the walk of faith. We had high hopes for our gospel concert, yet it did not have the turn out we had hoped. Then we were invited to a church, but not given the opportunity to speak, but just have our table set up. Anxiety grew….

We wondered what God was doing,.. or even if he had forgotten about us (as silly as that sounds...)

Then one day we were talking with Rick Wiedner, who co-ordinates the ARC missions, and Larry. Expressing our frustration and non-understanding of what was happening. Rick mentioned that Tom and Kathy Padley were going to be back in Ohio for a few weeks in Dec and would we like to talk with them?

Well, we met for breakfast at 9:30 one morning, and by the time we got up to leave, it was almost 1. During our talk, Tom mentioned that he had been praying for a technician for over a year. They also said that Paula's abilities and talents as an artist would also be very helpful in their work. Would we be interested in coming to Brazil to visit and see in depth the work that they were doing?

Paula and I started to become excited again, but confused. Weren't we call to serve with Wycliffe? Hadn't we been through all our training for a single purpose? The Lord reminded me of my prayer and request that He allow me to use my talent and knowledge for His work, "Where-ever that would be."

We made a special request of our prayer team. We asked them to pray intensely over this situation and to offer us feedback on what they feel is God's will for us. Overwhelmingly, the response was that we should consider visiting Brazil, even if we were to stay with Wycliffe.

Since we had already been given an extension from our original Oct 1 deadline for raising our support, I believed God had called a "halt" to our support raising to get our attention. Wycliffe offered to grant us an additional extension until March 31, but my heart told me that the Lord had another direction for us. A Diversion. So with that in mind and heart, Paula and I have tendered our resignation with Wycliffe and joined IAM (International Association of Missions), who oversee and administrate the ARC missions in Brazil.

All the training we've had up to this point will NOT be wasted, it is very applicable to the work in Brazil. We have learned the breadth of needs in the mission "world" AND we have made a large amount of friends within the missionary community that will continue to sustain us as well as our supporters.

We hope to leave for a 30-45 day visit to Brazil in February and have prepared our paperwork for a tourist visa. We will come back in April and report to you of the work that is being accomplished in Brazil and whether we feel God has called us there to use our talents and abilities to HIS glory.

Thank you for your support up until now, and we pray you will continue to support and pray for us in this work.