Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Let Go and Let God

Once again, I find myself in a humble place when God works and He uses me to help. I woke up and had my shower and was eating breakfast by 7:15. I am thoroughly convinced that God sustains people and literally gives them the strength to do what He asks of them.
At little kids time, we had amazing time loving on the kids. By then time the pre-teens rolled in, Jordan talked to 3 or 4 of them, each time it ending with tears and a big hug. I'm so glad to see God being able to work in major ways through Jordan! Carlyn and talked about the disciples and how they followed Jesus. It was amazing how quickly the 12 dropped their entire lives: their family, job, friends, and former life... all to follow Christ.
We then took the pre-teens to the basketball court and played 1 on 1 (kids vs. lakewood players) and 3 on 3 (Nate, Jo, and I vs. 3 kids) and we won pretty easily. Unfortunately, we mishandled the ball or missed a shot and the kids ended up winning a few times (sorry Coach). We then passed out the candy as their prize and prayed. It's so cool to see the enthusiasm to pray in these pre-teens. They all grasp the concept of prayer in its most basic and beautiful form: Talking to God.
I then got the opportunity to speak at night. I wasn't prepared, but Jordan gave me a few ideas of what this community needed to hear. One of the things she said, which I saw a need for as well, was forgiveness. Fortunately, God blessed me with some experiences that helped me prepare (Jacob Rose's lesson on forgiveness and the week after that when I taught about the Good Samaritan).
Anyways, after lunch we got time with the teenagers. We got to tell the kids what we enjoyed about our time here and what we learned. I taught the lesson about Saul/Paul again. I also confronted the kids on them never wanting to pray. Every day, we'd ask "Who wants to pray?" and no one would raise their hands... So I confronted the problem. They said that they were afraid of what people would say and that people would distract them during prayer. So when we prayed, I made sure they realized that it's one thing to disrespect us, but another thing entirely to disrespect God. We then messed around with basketball for a while. Then came soccer time. I took soccer time to prepare for the lesson. It's amazing how God gives people the words to say.
Following a delicious hot dog dinner, we went over to Groupo CEO. After some good worship time, I spoke. I used the kids to act out the parable of the unmerciful servant and the good samaritan. I truly believe God worked through me during that time, and much more than even before! For the first time, I believe I spoke God's Word more boldly than ever before. After the message, everyone hugged each other, and I mean everyone! Erica and I got to talk about missions and her life. It was a blessing to hear about how God was working in her life.
I'm really going to miss these kids, miss this place that I've fallen in love with, but this time I realize what I didn't last time: the need for God is different, but still present here AND at home. Also, God works at home JUST AS MUCH as He does here. Please pray for these kids, that as we leave that they will continue to stay strong in their faith, and that when trouble comes, they will stand firm in God's love for them.
Until next time,
Gal. 2:20

Signs of Change, Signs of Life

Welcome everyone, one and all!

Wow… what a day, what a day!!! After waking up a little late and having a little breakfast and a shower, it was off to go with little kids. We played with the Chuck Cheese balls for a while and danced. It was amazing!! I taught the kids about Saul/Paul, and how he was changed. The shadow question I then posed for the week was “How does your shadow change?” They seemed to understand pretty well, but they’re all between the ages of 4 and 8, so they could only understand so much…

Anyways, the pre-teens came and then we did the same thing. We danced for a while and I taught of Saul/Paul. We then went to the basketball court and we played a “game” called Mass Stance. Coach Davis, if you ever read this, I definitely won the “game”. Jordan tried several times to sabotage me, probably because I sabotaged her.

After lunch, we chilled at the house for about an hour until it was time to leave for the VQ. The 5 of us (Bill, Brian, Tami, Nate, and I) all packed into a 4x4 and were off. Most of the way there, I was “drifting in and drifting out, catching up on sleep.” After stopping at a gas station for a bathroom break and some Gatorade, we turned off the main road and traveled the final leg of the journey into the VQ.

After many bumps along the way, we arrived to see Dona Mosina (with all the following names, I will probably spell them wrong). Dona Mosina loved the Lord and it was very evident. We then traveled to the house of Dona Illmar and Haraldo. These two lost their daughter in a drowning accident a few years back. God used the tragedy for His glory, and through their daughters testimony many people in her family have come to know the Lord! When the ladies left to bathe in the river, Brian got to talk to Haraldo about God being the Good Shepherd, and this guy really understood. We also had the best Café de Leche I’ve ever had!

We then went to the house of an older couple named Fatehima and Edmilson. Edmilson was the picture-perfect gaucho. If you think gaucho, you think of what he looked like. Anyways, after some coffee, squeaky cheese (don’t worry about it), and cookies, Brian talked to each of them, asking what they respected about each other. Fatehima said her husband was a man of character, and Edmilson said that his wife is a good wife, a good mother, and obeys his authority. It was so amazing! These people don’t know the Bible well at all, and they are exactly obeying what God wants for them in their marriage! Brian then encouraged them that they will be the leaders and examples in the community as more and more people are saved.

Our next leg of the journey had us travel to a house of an old lady named Elisa. She has been a Christian for some time, and she was very happy to see us. She couldn’t get out of her chair because of the arthritis she’s suffering from, so she asked Brian to pull up a chair and hold her hands and pray with her. It was one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever experienced. As Brian started praying and talking to God about Elisa’s glorified body, it made me cry a little bit realizing how much God loved her and how much she trusted in God. All she wanted to do was to be able to walk around her own house, and she was fully reliant on God for that to happen.

After Brian prayed, Nate, Bill, and I went to a man’s house that was located about 1 minute away. There, Bill and Dona Illmar (through her testimony about her daughter dying) led 3 people to Christ, including a young married couple. Yes indeed, at that moment, Francisco and his wife Aparecida, along with another man named Vitor, gave their lives to Christ! Also, Bill told us that Dona Illmar’s daughter, Jaine, decided to give her life to the Lord as well! Praise God!

Brian then gave a sermon which ended up basically becoming two sermons. His “first” sermon was about baptism and why we should do it. It was the best preached sermon on baptism I’ve heard to this day. The second sermon came from a question that one lady asked Brian. Brian then explained how we are justified by Christ, and how God doesn’t see our sin, but He sees Christ in our place. Many people understood, and several people made decisions to be baptized in a few weeks. After the service was over, a little girl named Maria said she was too shy to ask God into her heart earlier, but wanted to now, and right there and then, she did! 5 people in 1 night are now a part of God’s family!

After a dinner where Brian and I ate fish heads (yeah for real), we left. Before we left, we circled up in the living room and sang the Doxology. If you’d like to know anything about the car ride back from the VQ, please ask Tami Doden. I cannot say what happened, because it is her place to explain. Let’s just say that Tami wins the Rob Lauter Guarantee Award for the next two weeks, as voted by Brian and Bill… Anyways, God is seriously working here and it’s great that I can be a part of it. Hope to talk to you all soon!


Gal. 2:20

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Long Time No... Blog

Hello to one and all. Sorry for the time between blogs, because of our busy schedule, it has almost been impossible to find time to do it. Since last tuesday, we've continued splitting up the preteens and teens into groups with the guys and girls. I have seen so much growth in the guys since we started; God is really at work here!
On Thursday, we went to the beach market, where Nate, John Paul and I walked around for a while before having an amazing pizza dinner. We ended up getting back at about 1 a.m. and then had to wake up for the 3 day pre-teen retreat!
Regardless of lack of sleep, God sustained us and we started off the retreat. There were about 30 kids there and my team had 7 kids and 1 teenage helper. The theme for the week was The Armor of God, and we all taught a lesson throughout the week. I taught about the Shield of Faith, the Helmet of Salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. We all played "The Amazing Race", and my team (the white team) won it. Saturday night, we had a dress up (or possibly dress down?) party called something along the lines of Noite do Vixi. The kids really showed a passion for God that was evident regardless of what language you spoke. The kids were a blast to have and a blessing to be with.
Brian ended off everything on Sunday with a talk about being filled with the Holy Spirit (which was extremely well done considering it was gauged toward pre-teens!). A few of the kids shared a testimony, and the same ones shared later on at church. After an amazing chicken burger dinner and the awards ceremony, it was off to Groupo CEO for church. Jordan talked about hypocrisy, and gave one of the best sermons I've heard in a long time (and I'm not just saying that because I like her). The kids all did a dance that they learned, and Brian spoke about how these kids are the future of Groupo CEO. It was amazing to see God work in such real ways with these kids!!
Anyways, that was Friday-Sunday in a nutshell... I know it's tuesday morning, but Monday will need a post all its own. Thank you so much for all of your prayers. I look forward to seeing you all soon.
Gal. 2:20

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Really Getting Traction (Tuesday)

Today was awesome and very, very long! It started with a 4:35 wake up time and a quick banana smoothie for breakfast. Then Nate, Brian, Bill and I went to Tieba, a town near the ocean. We looked at real-estate there for about an hour and a half. After that, we had an amazing brunch at a café. I had a Kuat (soda) and a sandwich with sun-dried meat, cheese, and bacon! So good! What Nate and I didn’t realize was that Bill had us arrive about an hour late to the pre-teen time. So we snuck in the door and quietly sat down with them. After their lesson, we played with the Sky Ball and basketball. I also made the “Rob Lauter Guarantee”, which got an award now named after it. (Lucky me right?)

After an amazing lunch, I prepared with John Paul (one of our translators) about teaching the teenagers. We then went to the teens. We did the handshake game, and then went to talk with the boys. We really got somewhere with the guys as we talked about making wise decisions. We also made great progress talking about sexual temptations. Tomorrow looks to be very promising with theses guys. Please pray that God will work in their hearts.

After our talk, we went to play basketball with the teens. We played dribble tag and knockout. I beat Brian (a.k.a. BBB) in 1 on 1. We then went on to play soccer. I scored two goals in the first game (but only 3 goals all day). We played forever! We had an amazing dinner and then it was off to church at Groupo CEO. I spoke about submitting to authority, and although I may have started off a little slow, I picked up toward the end and I think God used my words well. Praise God!

Afterwards, we danced and had a great time with the kids. It was an absolute joy, but I was so exhausted!!! After a long time learning new dance moves and having fun with the kids, I came back and wrote in my journal for a little while. Then, it was off to bed.

At the end of a long day, I was really tired, but in such awe of God and all of His wonders! Keep praying for all of us, that God would sustain us and would give us wisdom and the words to say, that He would be made much and we would be made little. Romans 11:36 (what has now come to be one of my favorite verses) sums it up all well when it says, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory for ever and ever! Amen.”

Monday, July 13, 2009

3 Nominations in the First Day?!?!?

Welcome One, Welcome All.

Well, we're finally here! Praise God! The journey here started back at Boston Int'l Airport on Sunday morning, but we'll start before that.

Before I left, I decided to make some eggs for breakfast. My dad, after I had already started, informed me that we were going to McDonalds, so I put the eggs away. Unfortunately, I didn't shut the stove off and the kitchen filled with smoke. ADT automatically informed the fire department, and a firetruck showed up at my front door! So, after all that we got to Boston.

After a relatively easy flight, I met with Nate and the Best family in Atlanta. After some pizza dinner with Nate, we were about to leave. The lady at the gate informed us that there was lightning spotted outside, so we couldn't leave. We ended up leaving over an hour later (during the wait we played Old Maid and Memory). On the flight, I watched the Movie Watchmen and fell asleep. When I woke up, we were getting off the plane, and without thinking about it, I left my laptop case on the plane. This was first mistake.

When we got here, we immediately went to the pre-teen time and got to hang out with the kids. After dancing and listening to the girls teach, we went to play knock out with the kids. From 12 to 2, we got to chill. We had an amazing pasta lunch with "hot sizzle" and then talked to everyone about what we are teaching.

From 2 to 4:30, we were with the teenagers of the area. We played signs, and that's where things went down hill for a bit. I wanted my sign to be "hook 'em horns", but Douglas had it already, so I made bull horns with my index fingers. Little did I know that it meant my girlfriend was cheating on me (I was kept out of the loop on that one). So after lots of laughs, I finally learned from Patrick what it meant and changed signs immediately. After teaching time, we played 3 on 3 basketball. Jordan, Nate and I made a team, and we actually got beat 2 times throughout the day.

After basketball, there was soccer. This is where things went down hill yet again. So there I was, playing soccer barefoot, having a good time, when all of the sudden I ran into the side wall with my foot trying to avoid a player, you know, just an average play. I look down at my foot, and my toe nail along with the top half of skin was almost torn off. It was bleeding profusely and Brian and Tami helped me clean the wound. Don't worry though, "it's only a flesh wound". After talking a walk with Nate and "John Paul", our translator, we came in for dinner and a shower.

Please continue to pray that God would work in the hearts and lives of the kids down here. Pray that we would be receptive to the Holy Spirit and take every opportunity for impacting the kids' lives. Also, tomorrow I speak for about 30 minutes to a group of people about submission to authority. Please pray that I say the right words and that God is glorified through all of this. You know, that's the point of all this, the point of missions: that God would be made known and be worshipped by all. I'm so grateful for your prayers and will talk to you soon.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Topa What?!?!?

Hey there again! No, I am not in Brasil yet, but I'd like to clear up some possible confusion about the website name. Some of you may be thinking to yourself, "What in the world is Topatudo?" Well, Topa Tudo is a Portuguese phrase. The way it was explained to me is that it's the idea of getting a certain task done no matter what! This means getting past any obstacle, and may include self-sacrifice... I really thought this phrase was cool and it stuck with me since the last time I was there. So... there you go: Topa Tudo. Tell your friends! Tell your mother! Heck, you can tell your friends' mothers too! Thanks to all those who are reading/following this blog! Keep Jordan, Nate, and I in your prayers.
Gal. 2:20

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

T-Minus 5 and Counting....

Hello to everyone who's stumbled upon this blog, live this week from New Hampshire. This is merely a test blog and is not about Brasil, yet... Please continue to pray for Jordan and those already down there and please pray for Nate and I as we leave Sunday to do the Lord's work with Jordan in Brasil. I'll try to blog every day and get a few pictures here and there to fill you guys in. Thank you for caring so much and I'll talk to you soon...

Gal. 2:20