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February marks the end of our summer break here in Brazil, so the past several weeks have offered a bit of a pause. But before any of the breaks, we had a busy November and early December. Of course, this is also a busy time in North America, but in Brazil it includes all the regular lead-up to Christmas combined with the lead-up to the summer break, which for professors like Brandon includes making sure final semester grades get posted in a timely manner for our graduating seniors.
Our seminary had a fantastic graduating class this year, with eleven students receiving their diplomas on December 9. Our graduates come from all over the state and are already serving God in various capacities in their churches and communities. We will continue praying for each of them as they commence on their next stages in life!
The week after graduation we had our first retreat as NAB Team Brazil at the system of waterfalls called Foz do Iguaçú. Special guest, Carol Potratz, taught a two-week class for our seminary and graciously stayed an extra week to lead our field retreat. Her theme was “A Pause That Refreshes,” as each day she prepared a time for us to reflect on Scripture together. With water abundantly flowing all around during our days, we looked at passages that focused on refreshing water each night, such as Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well in John’s Gospel.
We worshiped with our church on Christmas morning and then enjoyed a time for exchanging gifts and eating a traditional—well American traditional—Christmas dinner as a family. This was bittersweet because it was our first Christmas in 18 years without Daniel joining us, and we certainly missed each other throughout the holiday season.
Since summer is often a time of traveling, our pastor asked Brandon if he could preach in January, so Brandon was able to write up a manuscript in Portuguese and preach for only the second time in Portuguese.
When we returned in June of 2022, all four of us lamented that we felt our Portuguese had regressed a bit during a year-long home assignment, but we praise God that only half a year later we all feel that we are moving forward, even past where we were when we began our home assignment 18 months ago.
Monica and Olivia even attended summer church camp, where for five days they were immersed in a Portuguese-only environment. They both returned excited, making new friends and admitting that their language skills really are pretty good.
And so we return to the fall as February comes. Brandon will be teaching a class each week for the seminary in the fall and continues to mentor masters and doctoral students for Kairos Brasil. Marci is continuing her studies for her MDiv with Kairos University. Monica and Olivia are continuing ninth and seventh grades respectively at the Pan American School here in Porto Alegre. Daniel has already begun his spring semester at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. It looks like school is a big focus for all five of us!
But a bigger focus is the privilege of joining with so many partners to proclaim the good news of God’s kingdom in southern Brazil. Thanks again for your continued love, prayer, and support!