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!
December 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.
January 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.
February 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!
March 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.
May 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.
June 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).
July-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.
September 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.
October 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.
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 chenetwork.org !
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.