Learning to Love

"I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor." Psalm 140:12.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Ok. So, random title I know. Well, that's me. We'll not really, but that's how I feel like. Invert this guys missing teeth from top to bottom and that's where I am right now. My orthodontist told me that I had to remove my front bottom tooth. "Front?" You ask. Yes. Front. So off I went with my roommate Clara before our slum ministry to see my dentist who yanked off my bottom tooth. Supossedly the hole will soon dissappear as my orthodontist pulls the other ones together.

Well, after the dentist Clara and I rushed to the Umuarama and it was quite hard to sing all the songs with the little kids because I could feel myself swallowing blood the whole time! I kept pushing myself to sing, I felt awkward just looking at the words and felt like I was being a bad example or something...

We soon split up and I was with the teenage girls. I could barely speak, so I asked Juliana to read a bit of a book on purity that we are reading together. She did a great job reading about some of the myths that teenage girls believe about sex and their bodies. The girls listened with interest, although some could not help but giggle nervously. I think some might be too young for this talk, while others are visibly aged before their years.

When we were done Duane asked us to pray for her friend who had died this weekend. She had tears in her eyes when she explained that her friend had had some weird marks all over her body, had been taken to the hospital, and had died within 24 hours. I told Duane that we didn't pray for the dead, but that we could pray for the family and for Duane too. Wow, what a powerful reminder to these girls that life is so short.

After the prayer I sat with the girls and chatted a while but soon we were encouraged to leave (I found out that there had been a shooting and the moms were trying to desperately pick up their kids and take them back home).

Aline (my sister-in-law) looked at me and said that I looked like the Joker. (I guess my gum had bled so much that I got blood all over my mouth!)... that must have been an interesting sight for the girls to look at!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

One Story

Tonight I would like to tell the story of Duani. She is a a 14 year old girl who has been faithfully attending our small gatherings on Thursday nights. She is a beautiful girl, and I can tell that the boys are probably already running after her. I enjoy seeing her because she has a genuine interest in learning more about God and she does all the lessons that I assign the girls to do at home. She has been so faithful to memorizing the books of the Bible and she proudly told me that she is making her smaller sister memorize them with her!

This last Thursday, I was talking to her when her sister walked in. I made a passing comment that they didn't look much alike and they readily told me that they had different fathers. I asked if they lived with the younger sister's father and they said "No, we live with our little brother's father." Wow, three children from different fathers. I guess that is quite common in their circles, but it puts into perspective how much these girls have to go through. They live with men who are not their real fathers, and with siblings who are not fully their own blood.

I pray for these girls safety in regards to abuse that might come from within their own homes. I also pray that they would not follow in the footsteps of many of their mothers, who at times go from one man to another, without much regard to how hurtful or traumatizing that can be for their children.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Prayer Requests

Thursday night made me realize a couple prayer requests. A couple of minutes after we arrived a very tall man came in and stared at every kid and woman in the room. I suddenly felt very vulnerable. I looked around at every single adult and realized that we were all women. Not only that, it dawned on me that I was the BIGGEST woman, therefore, our defense lay on my hands. The creepy man just looked and looked and none of us women knew what to do or how to ask him to leave. That is when I realized how blessed we are for God's protection every week. Please pray that God will send two or three men to help out with this ministry. We are very vulnerable and easy prey to evil minds.

The second thing that really touched me was my talk with Juliana afterward. She told me that she is really excited because she has a new job opportunity. The new job? BEING THE PASTOR'S MAID. Its so sad to me, that a 23 year old woman who is so talented, who teaches these young girls so well, has to spend her life working as a maid. She is such a sweet girl, about my age, and yet her time is spent doing hard manual labor for a minimal wage. I decided to pray that God would give her the opportunity to go to college. I asked her about it and she said that she wants to go and its one of her dreams in the near future. She mentioned that working for the Pastor might help her to fulfill that dream because he has been encouraging her to run after that. Let's see how God works in her life in regards to this! Pray that she might be able to get out of this maid's lifestyle and go further in life with her great mind!

The girls were great! We talked about John chapter 1 and they participated a bit and thought through the passage a bit more... There were 10 girls this time-- the numbers keep growing!

May the Lord continue to preserve the lives of these girls and the women who work with them!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Back Again!

Tonight was the second night back at the Umuarama. So many things have happened these past months! Here are a few:

1. The girl who was feeling the spiritual oppression says that she has been freed from any pains in her chest. She told me that since the time she shared with us about them and we were able to pray for her, she has not had any more attacks. PRAISE THE LORD!

2. The girls kept meeting while I was gone and it’s so good to see that I am not vital to any ministry! They were strong and kept steady, and Juliana did a great job sharing weekly with them. They memorized more than half of the books of the Old Testament and were singing the worship songs I taught them with much vigor and passion! When I returned last week there were about 8 girls there- the largest number yet!

3. Last week I shared about my travels. It was so shocking to see how little they know about the world. I told them that I had gone to the United States and asked them if they knew where that was. No one volunteered an answer. I then asked if it was above Brazil or below… One girl shyly ventured: “Above?” Imagine me trying to explain my further travels around Europe! It was good to talk to them about it all, though, and I described some of my crazy adventures on the plane and in other countries. The part they liked the most, of course, was the Swiss Chocolate that I had brought them! Today three of them came running up to me and said: “Auntie (that’s how they call older people here in Brazil: “Tia”), tell our friend here that you gave us Swiss chocolate last week! She doesn’t believe us!” I laughed and confirmed that I had, in fact, brought them some chocolate from Switzerland. The little girl was amazed and they were super proud.

4. Juliana called me this week with a very scared voice. I asked her what was up and she told me she had bad news to tell me. She said that she had been so worried about the books I lent her (I gave her several teen books to use while I was travelling) that she put them away in a really safe place. In fact, it was such a safe place that she couldn’t find them anymore! She said that she had cried and cried looking for them and that she was so upset that she had lost them all. She said that she knew they were expensive and that she had separated some of her money in order to buy them again. I was so touched by her plight. I know that she is a maid and has no money. I know how much she must have worried about coming up with this money to buy these expensive books again. I can’t imagine how frightening it must have been to tell me that she had lost them all! I assured her that the LORD had provided the books and that they had been a blessing while we had used them. I also told her that she should keep her money and that if the Lord wanted them to turn up, He would allow her to find them at the right time! She cried and cried on the phone and I had to basically twist her arm not to give me the money and to try to convince her that she was way more important to me than a bunch of books. This experience made me realize how these people treasure books and how wonderful it must seem to them to actually touch and see a new book. How humbling to think about how I take my reading materials and extra resources for granted!

5. This week seven girls came and they are just so much fun to have around. They range from the ages of 11 through 14. I taught them a new song and we talked about what we are going to do next. We are going to start a study on the book of John and I asked them to read the first chapter this week and bring three questions about what they read. Let’s see how this works… If it doesn’t, we’ll try something else. I just wanted to move away from the topical studies I had been doing with them because I want them to get into the Bible and hear from it. Otherwise, I feel like they hear what I’M saying, and even though it might be biblically based, it comes out more as MY OPINION rather than what the Lord wants for their lives.

Well, that’s a quick summary of what’s going on. I held the cutest little girl in my lap before everything started. She showed me her dress and her shoes and told me all about how her dog bit her nose and her ankle. It surprises me that God is actually giving me a greater love for little kids! For those of you who know me, you know that I have the hardest time enjoying kids. I love teenagers and adults, but kids… It’s a lot harder for me to have the patience to hang out with them. But… I guess the more I do it, the easier it gets!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Missing the Kids

Well its been almost a month since I last went to the Umuarama ministry. I haven't blogged about my last day there because things have been absolutely crazy since I left Brazil (I went off to New York, then Idaho to see my little brother get married, then Seattle to hang out with family, and for the next three weeks I am in Germany working on my masters degree on International Education). I did manage to go the day before I left, and I do have a lot of fun stories about things that happened that night.

First of all, I was pleasantly surprised by a new girl called Taina. It was her second time there, and the week before I had told her about the plan we all had to memorize the books of the Bible. Whoever memorized the OT first would get a prize. My spirits rose when she came in this Thursday able to recite ALL of them! I was so excited and definitely not prepared, for I hadn't brought the prizes, assuming that no one would memorize the books that fast. (A lesson against low expectations, thats for sure)

I actually only had three girls come that night, but I think that it was the best night of all. The girls felt more comfortable to ask questions and we were able to discuss true saving faith in a deeper way than if the room had been crowded. One girl told me that she has recently been feeling a lot of pain in her heart. She said that her mom has taken her to the hospital several times in the middle of the night only to hear the doctors tell her that there is nothing wrong with her.

The previous week, she had been in school and had been singing "God songs" (as she put it). All of a sudden her pain increased quite a bit and she heard a voice saying to her: "I am going to kill you." She fainted and when she woke up she saw a Christian teacher of hers standing over her and praying for her.

She says that the same thing has happened several times since then and that every time someone prays for her she feels better. I asked her if she had ever tried praying about it to God. She said: "No, I am afraid of that voice that I heard." I told her that that voice wasn't God and that she shouldn't fear God's response to her prayer. I told her I would be praying for her and that she should seek God (especially since we had just finished talking about saving faith and true repentance).

Now for all of you theology buffs out there, I am not hear to discuss all the theological implications of spiritual oppression and demonic interaction with the natural world, I am simply stating the account as she related it to us. There is food for thought there and definitely a place for the realization that these girls are starting to think about the spiritual world around them. We did pray for her and I was thankful that she felt comfortable enough with the group to share this with us.

My prayer for them now, as I am far away, is that God will reach each of their hearts and their homes with the peace that so many of them seek and need.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Funny how we set out to do the Lord's work, and,in the end, he does a work in our hearts instead!

Well, tonight, the first creature to greet Clara and I at the Umuarama was the biggest rat that I have ever seen in my life! He nonchalantely ran across the road like he owned it and scurried away into the nearest gutter. After getting rid of the chills that ran down my spine I walked into the meeting area and was greeted by tons of little smiles. One two year old girl sat on my lap and we all started practicing for the Christmas musical (early, I know, but we have to train them early in order to present a nice cantata).

I was so discouraged and tired today. I was trying really hard to be pumped up for them and it was amazing how as soon as we walked into the room together I forgot all my "problems" and silly complaints and was able to focus on them and their needs. I am learning more and more that a lot of times my "issues" would be resolved if I just took a moment to take my eyes off myself and on others.

Tonight I decided to talk about SIN to my teenage girls. I think it was the night they most participated and the night they most understood. They left with a clear understanding that God is just and pure and cannot stand sin. They also left with the knowledge that our lives are filled with sin and one little sin is enough to separate us from God. One of the girls said: "WOW! I sin like more than 50 times a day!" :) I told her that I have those days too, and that the crazy thing is that even a small thing like a thought is a sin. I ended the night giving them an assignment-- they are to write out a list with their most grievous sins. No one will see this list. I will not read it and they will not have to share it with anyone. However, I want them to take the time to write out all the things that they know they did wrong and that they feel bad about. I told them that if they get to fifty things they can stop. What I want them to do is bring this list next Thursday and we will do something with that list (I will introduce Jesus' salvation then).

You know what was incredible? One of the girls, Karina, came in and I asked her how she was. She said she had a very big earache. Wow, I thought, she came all the way down even with an earache! Then, as soon as we started I saw her with tears streaming down her face. I knew I hadn't said anything significant or that moving, and realized that she probably was crying because of the pain. I asked her if it was hurting a lot and she said yes. I asked Juliana to find her some pain medicine and soon she was happily medicated. But you know what amazed me? This is a girl who doesn't know Jesus. She walked all the way from her house, in pain, to hear God's word and get a piece of bread in the end. This encouraged me more than anything else tonight and I hope that I can take this example of thirsting for Jesus despite pain and suffering.

Monday, May 19, 2008

My new "best friend"

This is Luis! We met during the Umuarama ministry on Thursday nights and he has been going to my church for the past few months. This Sunday, he found me in church and followed me around the whole time, making sure that he gave me lots of kisses and held my hand. So cute. He introduced me to his mom who had come to church even though she had a fever!! I am amazed by the dedication that these people show. I suggested to Luis that we take a picture together and he happily complied. And yes, I just got braces this week...