Click here to view this newsletter as a PDF.
Every season brings its highs and lows, whether that is the weather, a calendar full of events, or even waves of emotions. Life on the mission field can intensify all of these things, so the highs can seem that much higher while the lows can seem even worse. Over the years, however, we have found ways to ride out these waves, trusting in God’s steady grace and goodness.
In Psalm 131, David, who experienced many highs and lows in his life, reflects on what it means to rest in the Lord. He compares it to a satisfied baby resting next to its mother. David closes the psalm encouraging God’s people to trust in the Lord both now and forevermore. And so, we too, as part of God’s people, are also trusting in him, no matter what the seasons bring to us.
The summers present a change of pace in Brazil. The whole world seemingly plows through December with all of their end-of-the-year work in order to enjoy some respite after Christmas. To end the year, in Sunday School we had a combined Young Adults and Teens class, where we competed in a form of Pictionary to review some of our biblical lessons from the year. Monica and Olivia warned us that their group was competitive, and they were right! It was a fun and fitting way to celebrate another year of Sunday School.
Our seminary’s semester ended well in December, with lots of grading for Brandon to complete before the Christmas break. Overall, the students shined in expressing some great thinking on sticky, ethical questions, as well as defending their own doctrines about the church. In March, we will celebrate our graduating students from the seminary’s pastoral formation program and from Kairos.
One of our pastoral students, Ricardo, and his family were able to spend an evening having supper with us. We were energized to hear more about their stories, as they both grew up in Catholic homes, met each other in a night club as young adults, and then later in their adulthood were seized by God’s grace in Jesus Christ! Ricardo runs a distribution company, and one of his employees introduced him to Jesus many years ago. And from there Ricardo introduced his wife, Marcia, to Jesus. And now Ricardo is introducing many others to Jesus as a pastor! Brandon has loved having Ricardo as a student, as this has been Ricardo’s first experience with theological training, and he has been an eager learner.
On Christmas Day, we welcomed Daniel to Porto Alegre! Thanks to the kindness of one of our partners who paid for his plane ticket, we were able to spend a couple weeks together as a whole family. One adventure for the five of us was to go white-water rafting in the Paranhana River just a couple hours away from home. During Daniel’s visit, we also enjoyed some down time in the apartment before sending him back to college for his spring semester.
Among the waves of missionary life, one vital characteristic is to be flexible and fluid to receive any opportunities God may be providing for us. One exciting development these past few months has been the possibility of partnering with Brazilian churches in North America to help them with their theological training and leadership development. A few weeks ago, Brandon introduced Tony Campos of Hispanics for Christ with Pastor Antônio Marques, who serves as a pastor to a church of Brazilians in the Boston area. We are praying about how our mission, our pastoral formation program, and perhaps even Kairos could help equip Brazilians living in North America to proclaim the good news of God’s kingdom right where they are!
As we look ahead to the fall, Monica and Olivia have already returned to school. In March, a new semester at the seminary will begin with Brandon teaching New Testament Theology. Marci is continuing in her Master of Divinity program, taking her first live class online this semester – Church History.
While rafting on the river, there were periods of stillness followed by frantic paddling only to encounter more still waters. The times of stillness allowed time to look all around: at the sky, the trees, the river, and the precious faces of our kids. As January has been a little still for us, we have relished in the time to consider the beauty of God’s grace and the privilege to be part of his mission here.
Thanks to you for your prayers and support through all our waves. We could not be serving here without you.
Trusting in the Lord,