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.