Today I delivered an announcement which in turn made 15 young people very happy. They found out they would be going on the reward retreat next Thursday to Itanhaém for two and a half days. I've been thinking, dreaming and praying about this for a very long time and now in less than a week we will be living it. Yesterday Menezes, Izabel and I sat down and chose the kids that would be going and in the weeks leading up to that moment my prayer had been, "Lord, You know the kids that need to have this experience, please help us to choose the ones that need to go." You know it's interesting how things turn out when we leave things in God's hands. There were some students whose parents wouldn't let them go which resulted in the choosing of others. I honestly believe the 15 we have are the ones who need to go. Now I'm going to ask you to get involved. We leave next Thursday morning on the 14th and will be returning in the afternoon on Saturday the 16th. Would you consider choosing one or two specific students to be praying for during this next week? While we will be having lots of fun there will be a spiritual emphasis as well.....and my hope is that seeds will be planted which can be watered and nurtured for an eventual harvest.
Here are the names:
Gustavo dos Santos
If you choose a particular boy or girl to be praying for please let me know so I can write updates regarding who has a prayer sponsor and who still needs one. You can leave a comment here or send me a private message on Facebook.
Exactly a week ago today I did one of the most difficult things I have ever done to date. I preached about following Jesus then I told my Brazilian church family that I was leaving them to answer the call of Jesus to return to the States. Since the summer of 2000 when I sensed in my heart and spirit that Jesus was calling me to follow Him to Brazil He has asked me to do some very demanding things. The calling to do these types of things hasn't changed.....however the way in which I respond to His calling has. I used to "freak out" at the idea of change or anything that would upset my "comfortable" little life I had created for myself. But God had to call me out of that life in order to expose my heart, my insecurity, my woundedness and my fear. He used Brazil to do that. Now when He calls, my response is less fear and more trust.
So this chapter called "Brazil" is coming to a close......in fact almost in exactly three months on December 17th Brazil will end and a new chapter will begin. The Author has indicated to me it's time to write new material and where the story will lead well.....that's up to Him. I will say this...my heart has been very heavy for the United States for the last four years. I have had a great burden for the spiritual condition of things there. My desire is to continue ministry in the Pacific Conference in some capacity. I am waiting on God's timing and leading. My hope is to use what God has taken me through and taught me to help other people. I still have much to say regarding God's healing in my life and I'm hoping for the opportunities to share these things. If any of you serve on committees that plan retreats or special church events and are in need of a speaker I would hope you would consider me.
This past week has been spent sharing my "news" with my students in Vila Esperança and at Life English Center as well as with other individuals. Needless to say people's responses have been the same.......wanting to know why I am leaving and expressing sadness that I will no longer be living here. I can't adequately express how difficult it has been to look into their eyes and see the sadness and disappointment. Yet I must admit....up until a week ago I was experiencing doubt about whether or not I had made any kind of impact here. You know friends, I knew exactly where that doubt was coming from yet it was hard shaking it off. It wasn't until God said to me in no uncertain terms that my time here had "not been in vain." Looking back at the responses of this past week has been the evidence of that fact. This process of sharing my news has felt like an "unloading" of this secret I was asked to keep. Physically I feel pounds lighter and as if a heavy weight has been rolled off my back. When you are asked to keep quiet about something for 14 or 15 months it can be difficult at best and excruciating at worst. This is part of the reason I have been silent here for the last nine months. When you are experiencing things for the very last time it kind of makes it hard to write about it so forgive me for my silence. Now that all of this is out in the open I can be more forthcoming about what I'm experiencing in these final months.
Before I sign off I want to take some space for some "shout outs."
David Dormaier - for being God's mouthpiece and the first one to say, "Shelly, you should go to Brazil to teach English."
Priscilla Lamm - for telling me that "missions could change my life" and physically putting that short term application in my hands.
Duane Erickson - for taking a second chance on me after a disasterous first short term experience and continuing to believe in me when very few others did.
Barb Sangren - for being that friendly voice on the other end of the phone and being like the big sister I never had.
Shirley Roehl - for being that voice of encouragement and knowing when to push me when I needed an extra push.
ECM office staff - you know who you are and your work in the office has been invaluable! Without you what I do simple would not have been possible.
Luciana and Riva Rocha - I may not have lived up to your expectations the first time.......but you gave me a second chance and God has used it to His glory.
My students in Vila Esperança (past and present) - it has been a privilege to have been allowed to be a part of your lives. I am so proud of your efforts. Keep practicing your English!! Love you guys!
Students and staff at Life English Center - It has been a joy to be a part of this experience together with you. You all will always hold a special place in my heart. Keep learning and practicing your English!
Vida em Cristo Church - My Brazilian church family you welcomed me and made me feel at home. You are my "Brazilian" family. You will always be close to my heart. Love you all!
Friends and Supporters - Without you all I would have never made it to Brazil the first term much less this second term. Thank you for answering God's call to impact my life and the lives of those here in Brazil.
My fellow co-workers - A. Brakefields, D. Warrens, D Kochendorfers and J Kochendorfers - I thank my God for the opportunity to have worked side by side with you all! You are more than co-workers you are family. I will forever treasure the memories of our time together.
Yakima Evangelical Church - Church family you were there at the beginning and you are with me now at the end. Thank you for hanging in strong and being such a strong back of support during all these years away from you. I look forward to worshipping with you again in the future.
My family - Thank you for trusting Jesus during this past decade as He deemed it necessary to take me to another part of the world to do something incredible! Your daughter, sister, sister-in-law and Aunt return to you a much different person. Thank you for trusting God through this transformation process. I love you!
My God, My Jesus, My Precious Holy Spirit - To You and You alone be all the Glory and here's to the next chapter.....I Love You!!!!!
It was just a typical trip down town to Mano's salon to get my hair cut and pay a couple of bills.......and at the same time some thing not so typical took place.
My stylist, Dalton Mano, owner of Mano's and I had a long conversation.
You see usually when I go to get my hair done the salon is full of people and Dalton is attending to two or three clients at the same time.......or there are those times I'm just not in the mood to talk. Well today was different. It was my first time back in after arriving from my vacation to the States for Christmas and New Years. So of course he asked how my vacation was and just exactly how cold it had been.
From there the conversation launched into what Americans think about Brazil, airport security, how I liked living in Brazil, the situation about Sandy Brook elementary and guns. I was amazed that in the midst of our discussion on guns that this Brazilian, non-believer could see that the true problem doesn't lie with guns per say, but with the individual.
Needless to say as I was leaving the salon Dalton said he was looking forward to future conversations with me. You know, you never can predict where a conversation will lead and the possibilities it will unveil for future conversations and seeds to be planted.
So.......buy those opportunities to plants seeds and then watch to see what God does next.
friends......I know.....I know......it's been too long........way too long.
I had the best of intentions a few months back when my folks were here to post about their time here......yet with them being here there just wasn't the time. Then they left....and time got away.....then I just felt uninspired to write about anything.
You see I've been fighting some difficult things which I'm not going to go into because I don't believe the internet is the place where we share everything.....there are just somethings that are meant to be shared face to face with people who are closest to us.
But let me say this.......I've been passing through some sad and difficult moments and would appreciate prayer as I continue to battle through these things. However in spite of my circumstances I can honestly say that I have never felt God so closely as I hear Him whisper from time to time in my spirit...."You're not alone in this"........"I'm right here with you in the middle of this." I know I'm not alone......even though there are times when I feel alone.....He's right here in the middle of what I'm going through.
God with us.......Immanuel.....sound familar??
Isn't this what we are looking towards?? Isn't this what we are celebrating??
Immanuel.....God with us.
Do you really believe it?? God with us....right here.....right now.....in the middle of everything....the good....the bad.....and the ugly??
I pray that as we start our journey toward Bethlehem......that this phrase has new and immense impact on your heart and the hearts of those around you......because.....
He is with us......and is waiting to be invited into our circumstances.......whatever they may be.
"One of these days some simple soul will pick up the Book of God, read it, and believe it. Then the rest of us will be embarrassed. We have adopted the convenient theory that the Bible is a Book to be explained, whereas first and foremost it is a Book to believed (and after that to be obeyed)."
I had just put the chicken I was preparing for lunch in the oven and was back at my desk doing some things online when all of a sudden I heard the sound of something hitting glass and when I went out to the kitchen I found broken black and clear glass down on the floor in front of my oven. I was a bit shocked to say the least. I couldn't imagine how in the world it had happened. I was just thankful that I hadn't been in front of the oven cooking something on the stovetop when it happened.
So now my stove has no glass front and as you can see what's left of the insulation is now exposed.......so for now no baking or cooking........until we decide what we are going to do.
The sad remains of the front of my oven door.....now it's just a pile of broken black and clear glass......in the garbage.
I might end up with a new stove.....because quite frankly we don't know if there are people here who can rebuild a glass front for an oven door.....we simply have never had to deal with anything like this before.
But man..........some times doesn't it seem that when it rains.....it pours?????
6 viewed apartments and two days of waiting later.......
we found out today that we will be able to rent the apartment I looked at two weeks ago and for a good price.
While I am extremely grateful.......now the real work begins for there will be two apartments to clean and paint and clean again.....and of course pack up all my belongings for the move. Doing this under normal circumstances is challenging enough but we are up against a time deadline. Not the deadline of my parents arrival but the expiration of the contract on the apartment I'm currently living in. Everyday after the 10th of August that the apartment remains not ready to be handed over to the owner we will have to pay a certain amount until it is. Asking for prayer that the process will go smoothly and quickly. Promise to post pictures of the new place but first I want to clean it up first.
It was about a year ago that I moved into my apartment here on Rua Nossa Senhora da Lapa and now it looks as if I will be saying goodbye. We found out late this afternoon that the owner is not willing to negotiate price with us and now we have no other alternative but to seek other housing for me.
I looked at an apartment about a week and a half ago that I really liked and when I walked past the place Sunday afternoon I saw the for rent sign still in the window. Tomorrow Aaron and I will be heading down to the real estate office to speak with them and hopefully contact the owner. Please be in prayer for this. We really need a quick and smooth transaction especially because my parents will be arriving here in Brazil for their visit in 5 and a half weeks. We are hoping to have the move completed by then. So please be in prayer for all aspects of this situation. I know that God is in control and I told Him last week that I was ok with whatever He has in mind. So I'm trusting Him in this situation........but honestly I hate moving.......maybe He can help me with my attitude as well.
Just a short post asking for prayer for our Brazilian friends here. Robberies and muggings have been on the rise as of late. A nephew of one of the owners of Life English Center was robbed right outside of the English School Monday evening. This afternoon we received a strange call from one of my private English students telling us she would need to cancel all her English classes for the next month. Then I found out that the dentist office where she works was robbed today. Please be in prayer for everyone's safety and vigilance as we go about our daily lives. It just shows we are living in evil times and people are becoming increasingly desperate and brazen. Yet we know who is still in control as we entrust ourselves to Him and continue to do good.
Vila Esperança retreat to Itanhaém on the 14th, 15th and 16th - My liquidation sale of all my furniture and things on November 22 & 23 - Sorting, packing and getting my apartment ready to vacate - Making the most of my final 5 weeks in Brazil