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Dear Friends and Family,
What a blessing it has been to have so many of you reaching out to us and encouraging us along this journey. God has blessed us with such amazing partners. Your prayers and support have carried us through some tough moments the past few months.
A recent Sunday night reminded us where we really are now, and why God called us here. Brandon dropped the family off at church early and then went to the airport to pick up a visiting professor from Canada who will be teaching at the seminary for two weeks. After picking him up, he took a wrong turn out of the airport and found himself in the middle of a favela (slum). He quickly turned around and headed in the right direction. As he made a turn to go down the street toward the church, a “lady of the night” was standing on the corner. These scantily clad ladies are also seen on a nightly basis on the way home from picking up Olivia from school and after class around the corner from the Seminary. After worship that night, we approached an intersection where a ceremony for the Afro Brazilian religion was in session. We were forced to a stop for a moment for a man dressed in white to walk slowly right in front of our car while dropping pieces of popcorn as a sacrifice to the spirits. Behind him on the sidewalk, a group wearing similar clothes chanted and rang bells. Many people here live in darkness, and we need all of you to pray that God will revive this land.
Mid-May marks six months of our arrival in Brazil. Looking back we can see so many places where God has carried us. We have had days of deep sadness, when everything we did that day seemed so hard. We have pushed the girls way past their comfort zones by having them go to a Portuguese-speaking school. We have struggled with their teachers, trying to find the best way to help our now special-education kids. We have struggled with trying to figure out how to get our kids the extra language tutoring they would need and how to fit that into our already crazy schedule. We have battled tears, anger, fears, regrets, and lice… twice. Through it all God has been faithful. He sustains us every day, giving us the encouragement and the strength for the next day.
Along with adjustments as a family we have had a busy season with the start of a new year at the Seminary. We have had two visiting professors come to teach classes at the Seminary. NAB Executive Director Dan Hamil was also in the area for a weekend while carrying out duties for Chain of Love.
Brandon is currently teaching one class per semester during our language-learning time. This semester he is teaching Contemporary Theology. There are 20 students enrolled in the class. He also has a teaching assistant, who helps him interpret as well as with translating group assignments. She is a graduate of the seminary here, who also spent time as a missionary in Asia.
There have also been great opportunities to travel and get to know the work that God is doing in the southern state of Brazil. Brandon had the opportunity to travel across the State to Uruguaiana in February, where there is a strong network of church leadership and church planting. He has also preached several times at churches closer to the city.
Please continue to pray for this region. It is common to hear stories of demon possession. Satan has a large foothold here and the power of darkness is evident. We stand in the confidence that he who lives in us is greater than anything in the world. We enjoyed this important reminder as we worshiped our risen Savior with God’s precious church here on Easter Sunday.
Opportunity for more involvement here in Brazil. Is your church looking to become more involved in the work God is doing here? We are looking for North American churches who would be willing to build sister church relationships with the churches here in southern Brazil. One established sister-church partnership is between Pittsford Community Church in New York and First Baptist Church of Uruguaiana. The core of this partnership has been the church leaders building relationships with one another by visiting and encouraging each other both in Brazil and North America. If God lays on your heart that your church would be interested, please contact us for more information.
Brandon and Marci