Saturday, December 20, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Hello Friends!

Merry Christmas! 2014 was a busy, busy year. We had so much transition that it’s felt like our 2014 was really 15 months long! So we’ll start way back 15 months ago, back in November 2013.  

Here was our 2014:  
November 2013 Stefan was born November 4, 2013 (at 9 lbs!), arriving two weeks after Lindsay’s EDD and two weeks before we hopped on a plane to the US.  While most people rest at home after having a baby, we ran around Recife in a car with no air conditioning during an early Brazilian summer heatwave. We had a lot of documents to get together before traveling with our newborn and three year old.  Should you have a baby and then jump on an airplane for international travel? No, no you should not, but we did it and lived to tell the tale. It was all worth it when we settled in to be pampered by family and friends back in the US for the holidays!

IMG_9269.jpgDecember 2013 Then, it got cold: ridiculously, absurdly, cold. Remember last year’s winter? Of course you do. Well, that was Jeff’s first winter in five years. Yup, we came back to Indiana for furlough during the worst winter EVER. We joked that he was making up for five missed winters all at once. Being stuck indoors really helped us to slow down and rest (ha!).  We had so much fun running around making ourselves exhausted visiting family and friends. We were able to visit most of our supporters/friends around Indianapolis (well… after it warmed up, at least by springtime) and worship again with the Mosaic and Brookville Road Community Church.  

IMG_9304.jpgJanuary 2014 It’s hard for us to believe that we hadn’t spent much time in the US since 2008. While back in the US we had goals of rest, reflection, and renewal.  We had some time for personal development, too. Jeff started studying for a Cloud computing certification, while Lindsay looked forward to a springtime Community Health Evangelism training. We also benefited from counseling with a close pastor friend of Jeff’s sister. We didn’t have an official debriefing, so it was much needed and very helpful.  

IMG_9509.jpgFebruary 2014 We first lived with Jeff’s parents for a few months and then Jeff’s sister and her family. It was cramped living, but such a blessing to be able to be a part of our family’s daily lives. We had so much fun living on the East Side with Jeff’s parents and within 5 minutes drive of some close friends. Then, we had just as much fun living with Jeff’s sister in Fountain Square where we enjoyed being within walking distance to a lot of fun restaurants and venues. The best part was that we were still about 10 minutes from Lindsay’s folks at either location!  
2014-04-09-179.jpgMarch 2014 Winter dragged on, but we found plenty to do.  Melody really enjoyed playing in the snow, playing with cousins, and developed a typical toddler addiction to Ranch dip!
We took a road trip with Lindsay’s parents to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Melody loved spending time with Grammy and Papa! Stefan was already sitting up, rolling over, and watching his sister have lots of fun by this point! He was quick to want to keep up with her!

April 2014 A major highlight of our furlough was the prayer and vision meeting we had with family and supporters. We know there is so much we could be doing in Brazil, but nothing we could do really will make a difference if it’s not God’s will for us! God really impressed that idea upon us. So much of what we were studying at the different churches we visited (and in our personal devotional times) focused on waiting on God, listening to what He wants us to do, and then make plans.  We had some struggles with burn out over the years because we hadn’t listened to God before proceeding with our own great ideas. For our meeting we wrote lists of what we could do for God in Brazil: everything we have ever done and everything we wanted to be doing. Then we prayed and talked with those who care about us. It helped us to put everything in perspective and seek God’s will!  It was such a blessing.

IMG_9699.jpgMay 2014 We got back to Brazil on May 1st, the same day the ministry had their 20 year celebration. It was an incredible emotional and spiritual high day for Jeff. For Lindsay back at home with the kids, it was probably the worst most trying day as she tried to re-adjusted back to Brazil life. It was a good reminder that we need to be centered on God, pray against Satan’s attacks, and always put family first, right behind God. We were also reminded that we have to constantly ask God what he wants us to be doing, one time of prayer (no matter who it is with) doesn’t cut it. He has taught us that lesson over and over again this year.
2014-06-14 21.36.40.jpgJune 2014 We got to switch roles with family and host all of Jeff’s family at our house and at his parent’s beach house as we enjoyed the World Cup together!  It was such a fun, busy, crowded month! We got to experience being a busy household of nine in our little house for the month and we loved it!  It was such a fun time to experience the world in our backyard (literally one of the World Cup stadiums is 20 minutes away).  

2014-09-18-1045.jpgJuly-August 2014 The first few months back are really a blur after family went back to the US.  We focused on settling back in and figuring out what life is like as a family of four. In these two months we also received two missions teams and two interns.  We have gone through a lot of spiritual ups and downs, but God is good and is at work.

2014-10-12-1153.jpgSeptember 2014 Lindsay mostly focused on life at home these early months back, while Jeff got back into the grove of helping at school, ministry, and figuring out how his role in the ministry changed.  Lindsay decided (after much prayer) to continue to stay home for the rest of this year instead of going back to school full time. She did pitch in where needed for training of the new teachers. Another big change this year in ministry is that we decided to not to go back to worshiping at the church in Lagoa de Iteanga regularly. This was a difficult choice, we have been there for the last five years, but because Jeff needed to be more free to visit all of the churches in the ministry (who also meet on Sunday nights) we decided to spend more time worshipping at the Acacias Community Church that meets on Sunday mornings at the Alcance.
IMG_1203.jpgOctober 2014 The Brandywine Community Church group’s mission trip came along around the same time as a group from the Community Church in Shelbyville, Indiana. Shelbyville focused on Living Stones Ministries, while Brandywine worked with the church in Lagoa de Itaenga. They trained the kids in Lagoa on how to lead worship and play as a band. Then they had a worship conference open to all of the churches. At the end of the time Lagoa had formed a band of youth and even played a song with the Brandywine band. The kids are excited about their training to this day! It was amazing to see since Lagoa had been our home church for so long.
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November 2014 Jeff and two other pastors from down here were able to do the same training that Lindsay did in the US (Community Health Evangelism, CHE) at the beginning of the month. And since they have been very excited about where God is leading to incorporate CHE principles into short-term team training, special projects, and other aspects of church planting.  A lot of our ministry focus since this has been focusing on how we can improve the short-term mission trip training. We have been working with a great team to prepare training videos that incorporate those CHE principles. If you are involved in missions we highly recommend you check out !

December and...
In other areas of ministry...
The ministry is growing much:  A new church plant on a street named Desterro in between Pauldalho and Carpina has started, the International School has seen more people come to Christ this year, and the Glory Sports Complex construction has started at the Alcance.

This was also our least active year on our blog! We have enjoyed keeping up with friends on Facebook more than ever this year and so time spent updating the blog was shifted more to time spent interacting on Facebook. Although we are not shutting down our blog, we will probably keep up with this trend of spending more time on Facebook instead of the blog. If we hear from you, our supporters and friends, that you would like to hear from us on the blog, we will of course step up our game on the blog again!

Merry Christmas to all! We look forward to hearing about your 2014!

Other random pictures below.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Why I am not going to the P.O.D. concert this Saturday (being a missionary at age 30)

P.O.D. was my favorite band in high school. I first heard them went to the Icthus music festival in Kentucky.  They stood out to me right away, with their reggae-rock blend and their attitude about what it meant to be Christians in a band.  They didn't want a Christian record label, but wanted to be able to tour with hardcore secular rock groups like Korn and Ozzy Ozbourne. In doing this they have been able to be an amazing influence on their fans and tour companions (Doctor Who nerd here) even to the point of helping win over members of Korn to Christ. This interview shows why I like Sonny the lead singer so much.(  
Songs like "Without Jah, Nothin" (featuring H.R.) and "Strength of My Life" (featuring Matisyahu)” have really spoke to me in my prayer times. While songs like “Boom” and “Lights Out” just get you pumped up and are so much fun!
                Now, it has been about 15 years since I started listening to them and I will still buy any new albums that come out, but what does it look like when you are a missionary in a foreign country and your favorite band comes to town?  It is the end of the month and we just reconciled our budget.  Although we could, pull a little extra recreational money from here and there, there is technically no more money left in our "entertainment" envelope.
               But I had made plans to go with friends from the Pauldalho church. Suddenly, they can't go. Why? Because it is the anniversary program for the church this Saturday. They chose to be responsible and support their church over going to the concert for fun, which is very awesome to see. Now, where does that leave me?
Being 30, a dad, and a missionary (or as they call it everywhere, maturing) changes your outlook on life. If I was still in high school I would jump for the chance to go to the concert, now I get an uneasy feeling about if it is the right thing to do.  Once issues (money and no friends going) happened the feeling got stronger. Is it right for a missionary to go to a concert for pure entertainment? Absolutely! But perhaps just not this time. 

Why even write about this? It is not a big deal, it is not a life changing decision. I wanted to somehow still show my support for P.O.D. as a band.
Keep on representing Jah and showing the world love.
Warrior Jeff

Monday, June 09, 2014

9 things we missed while away from Brazil

Jeff and I enjoyed our time in the US immensely, but there were just a few items that made us homesick for the country where our children were born.
9 things we missed while away from Brazil:

1.  Warmth! Jeff and I survived the Snowmageddon (aka - Snowpocolypse or SnOMG) winter 2013/2014. We made it. We laughed constantly about how God chose THAT winter for us­ to come back to the US. Shesh. I mean really, why did we have to suffer that horrible winter?! So in the end, we felt like great warriors who triumphed over... boredom?

2. My sweet neighbors! We have the three best neighbors on the planet: Pastor Ricardo (Kattia & 2 awesome kiddos), Pastor Assuerio (Miriam & 2 awesome kiddos), and Pastor Anselmo (Carmem & 2 awesome kiddos). Hmmm, notice a trend? All of our neighbors are pastors and all have two kids. Wait... and all of us have a boy and a girl. Eerie... well, we're missionaries, not pastors... so yeah , it's not that much like a commune...  

3. Dear sweet friends! We have great friends who we missed dearly! Lots of ministry people, lots of special times we've had! Lots of inside jokes that we tried to explain to people in the US that didn't make a lick of sense. Flirates. Bungalow.  Monocle. See you tomorrow.

4. Fruit! Mangos, pinapples, guava, graviola, pina, shall I go on?

5. The mosquitoes! Ha! Just kidding! For real though, nature. So beautiful here. Watching the horizon at sunset turn from blue, to orange, to pink, to gray over the tops of palm trees as swallows and sparrows dart across the sky. I actually have no idea what kind of birds they are, but they sure are pretty. And from all the swooping they do, it looks like they're destroying the mosquito population.

6. People offering to help when I'm out with the kids alone! Seriously. One of the best things about living in Brazil. Strangers aren't worried about offending me because I might be that doon't-you-dare-help-me-I'm-perfect-I-can-do-it-all-my-self-mom. When I am out juggling the shopping cart, a screaming 3 year-old, and a 7 month-old strangers help. Every. Single. Time.  They might push the cart for a second. Try to talk to my whiny little darling. Or a store clerk (who I've seen dozens of times) might offer to hold my baby.  It's nice.

7. The strangers I see smile at me! Maybe it's because I walk around with two of the cutest little kids ever, but I prefer to think it's because eye contact between two people warrants a smile.

8. My bed. my couch. my table. my rocking chair. my hammock. A bit materialistic, but you get the point, right?  When you go without something like your own home for a while, the gratitude you have to God when you return (and finally settle back in) just explodes out of your heart. :)

9. Watching God work in amazing ways! Have you heard us say that God's work is ON FIRE in Northeastern Brazil? Because, dude (may I call you dude?), it is like God is setting the hillsides of people's hearts on fire like sugar cane in harvest season...( okay that metaphor might not translate... to anyone... what I'm trying to say is that God is moving in amazing ways in Brazil and I can see it.  It's powerful and amazing, just being present to witness what He does is a gift. I love hearing about the sports ministry stories of our Athletes in Action friends,  who got saved at church,  what God is doing with the school, the Living Stones Ministry, and in the lives of those around me.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


We had an amazing time in the US with friends and family. Our furlough goals of rest, relaxation, and renewal were accomplished! Check, check, check. To ensure that we would really stay inside and take it easy God orchestrated the worst winter in the history of Indiana. It was our first winter in 5 years! It  made up for lost time in no time at all!
Our top 5 highlights:

1. Spending time with family. Before we went to the US we decided we would spend our time between Jeff's parents house (the first 2 1/2 months) and Jeff's sister's house (the last 2 1/2). We had so much fun with all of them, but wanted to make sure to spend lots of time with my parents too! We took a trip to Tennessee with them and also to my family farm in La Grange, Indiana. Yeesh, not to mention getting together with extended family! It was great!

2. Spending time with friends. We decided to continue our Brazil Taco Tuesday ritual with some of our friends in the States! It was so much fun to have choices and variety that we don't get in Brazil and to spend time with friends we don't get to see! We went on outings to parks (when the weather got better), the Children's museum, and just visited at their homes! It was fantastic to spend time with so many people!

3. I (Lindsay) went to an AMAZING training program called Community Health Evangelism (CHE)! It absolutely blew my mind! If you have talked with me for more than 10 minutes since I went, I have probably tried to convince you to take the training too. Seriously, the most revolutionary stuff going on in missions right now! - check it out!

4. Date nights! Grandparents (and friends/family) are amazing! It was so nice to ship the kids off to people who really want them. I know our friends here love them too, but there is ZERO guilt involved when their at your parents' house. Jeff and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary knowing that Melody was in great hands and had lots of other fun date nights exploring Indianapolis!

5. Spending time with Godly, amazing people in their Church homes. BRCC and the Mosaic (and Christ Our Shepherd!) are filled with some of the most encouraging Godly people we know. We got to go to small groups, parties, lunches, etc with a lot of these great people. We really could have included this number five under number one or two since most of those folks are our family and friends. We also wanted to especially mention the great counseling we got through another family friend. It was just the debriefing and thoughtful guidance we needed to hear!
God is amazing and provides just what we need when we need it. The only thing that we hated, was saying good-bye, of course! 

We had fun, but it's so good to be home. You know that feeling you get when you have been away for five months and you finally collapse into your own bed in your own home? No? Well, believe-you-me, it's great.  ...