Friday, April 30, 2010

Getting Lost, Among Other Things

I wish I just meant we got LOST, the TV show, but unfortunately I mean lost lost. Last Wednesday we took the wrong van on our way to help out with the evening church service in Rio das Pedras. The van actually said "Rio das Pedras" on it, we just didn't realize it was going to be their final stop after traveling all over kingdom come. When we were all the way across town and everyone else had gotten out already, they asked us where our destination was and chuckled at our reply (cold). We tried to go from the yellow house to the green church, but instead the van took us all the way to Gavea, so we got off and walked back home when it drove back by our house going to Rio das Pedras because we were already 30 minutes late. Just to give you a visual, check out the map below-

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mercy and Sin

Excerpt from A Body of Divinity, by Thomas Watson, page 97:

To sin because mercy abounds is the devil's logic. He that sins because of mercy, is like one that wounds his head because he has a plaster... Mercy is not for them that sin and fear not, but for them that fear and sin not.

Friday, April 23, 2010

One Crazy Month!

We haven't written a post in a week, sorry for our absence! It has officially been a month since we moved to Brazil. Beauty and misery have never been so close as they seem to be here. Here are some random reflections of our first month in the Cidade Maravilhosa-

We have spent lots of time with Pastor Sergio, pastor and church-planter in Rio das Pedras and Sitio. We hope to do a blog profile on him soon. He has been a joy to work with and for some reason keeps speaking to us in Spanish.

Friday, April 16, 2010

This mound of mud is a cemetery...

Last Wednesday, the 7th, a giant mudslide swept over a large portion of a slum community in a city on the outskirts of downtown Rio called Niteroi. This community was Morro do Bumba, and there were no survivors. On Sunday night, Christy and I along with members from the NGO, Rio de Paz, had an opportunity to mourn for the dead and cry for justice, so let me tell you my story-

After driving for an hour or so, we came to a roadblock in the road. A short Portuguese dialog took place between our Brazilian friends in the car with the guard, then he let us through but warned us to not park too close to the site. We drove up to a storefront church, got out, and started making memorial candle holders out of clear plastic cups. There were hundreds of people inside the church, hundreds outside as well. When we entered the church we were met not by "meet-and-greeters", but by a ten-foot-tall mound of donated clothes stuffed inside an innumerable amount of garbage bags. I overheard that some people had been sleeping and receiving provisions there at that church for the past eight days. Next thing I knew, a man with glasses handed me a blank white mask. Antonio, the Director of Rio de Paz, was looking for ten people wearing black shirts to don masks for the protest, and I happened to be wearing a black shirt. I hurried down to the front of the crowd to receive instructions about what to do next.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Natural Disaster & Gospel Ministry

We have seen a lot the past couple of days as record rainfall has destroyed many slum communities with flooding and landslides. Make sure you check out our latest photos and videos in the Media and Resources section above. Our emotions have been stirred as we have surveyed the aftermath of the already poverty stricken communities of Rio das Pedras and Sitio in City of God slum. People are in desperate need. Many if not all of their possessions have been washed away or ruined. These friends, without very much to start with, are now trying to make due with even less. It would be impossible for them to carry such a load without the grace of God, and He has called the church into action in order to address the burdens of the downtrodden. (Acts 20:35; Galatians 6:2)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

He Sends Rain on the Just and the Unjust

"For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." Matthew 5:45

The rain has been pouring here for two days now, and both the just and the unjust are suffering. I bet you never thought of this verse like that before. It's referring to God's common grace, in other words, how He graciously sends rain to water the crops and replenish the land of both those who love Him and those who don't. But in the past couple of days as I watch the torrent through my front door,  I've been thinking about this verse in the opposite sense. The rain and subsequent flooding we have been experiencing here in Rio has been debilitating to both the rich and the poor, the aristocrat and the slum-dweller. God reminds us through these powerful acts of his might that HE is in control of his creation and that we are all but humble humans that cannot even make one of our own hairs turn white or black. (Matt. 5:36) Our prayer is that this disaster will cause the city to turn to Jesus. Please pray with us for that. You can click the Media and Resources link above for more video and pictures.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Egg Hunt

In the States Easter, along with Christmas, is the time of the year where the most people usually attend church. To accommodate the crowds, churches have to put on special services such as the sunrise service, service the day before, and/or an extra night service celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. Here in Rio, it's just another Sunday, and I didn't notice much of an increase in attendance at the churches. No special service or signs or egg hunts, and I kind of liked it. Every Sunday is Resurrection Sunday.

One fascinating thing is the chocolate egg craze here. These chocolate eggs line the ceiling of every grocery and department store and can range in size anywhere from a normal egg to a football. It's hard to understand the significance of these eggs, but everyone buys them for each other. There were even people hounding a discounted grocery basket of them today, the day after easter trying to find the perfect egg. Something special did take place at the Easter service in Rio das Pedras slum when the children sang a song from the Prince of Egypt. See the video below. I'm enjoying getting to know the kids more each week.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Good Friday!

Hi everyone! I hope you're all having an awesome Good Friday remembering Christ's crucifixion. I can't wait for Sunday to celebrate the next part of the story! Here they exchange giant chocolate eggs as an Easter tradition, so I think we're going to have to buy each other a chocolate egg (darn!). The weather's getting a little cooler here now so we made sandwiches and walked to the beach. It was absolutely beautiful, and the waves were HUGE which was really fun! Such a nice, refreshing day. Again, we still don't have internet at our place so we're posting this really quick from Jay's apartment. We should have internet by Monday so we're looking forward to uploading some pictures and chatting with you all face-to-face on Skype! Our new skype name is Giulian.Christy so look us up. Here's a little video to give you a picture of the 30 second boat ride we take to get to the mainland. There's another boat we take often and it's about a 2 min boat ride. Miss you all and talk to you soon!

-Giulian & Christy