Thursday, June 27, 2013

Off We Go...

As the early morning dawns, I crack open my devotional, bleary eyed and clinging to the sleep that I left behind way too quickly.  Many mornings, I read through it acknowledging its truth, but with little of it penetrating my heart.

Then there are the mornings when the Spirit grabs my heart after the first sentence, saying "This one is for you dear one." Wednesday was such a day for me.

"Stay calmly conscious of Me today, no matter what. Remember I go before you as well as with you into the day.  Nothing takes me by surprise. I will not allow circumstances to overwhelm you, so long as you look to Me..." Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

As I read it, some Scriptures and prayed, I couldn't help but wonder what the day would have in store...

I didn't have to wait for long.

Shortly after my prayer time, I checked my email and found one email letting me know of a group of Americans coming to Brazil this Friday to do an evangelism project and that they needed an additional person for their team. Would David or I be interested in joining them?

David and I talked about it...and off I (Wendi) go!   Regardless of the short timing, the craziness of this being one of our last weeks here, arriving back the night before we leave for another I go...

Because God has gone before me....people here in Brazil and the US have been praying for this time for over a year.  It is quite humbling to know they have been praying for me even when I had no idea of the trip.

Because nothing takes God by surprise...while this has only just landed on our radar, God has ordained this time and the people with whom I will be sharing since before their was time.  Again a very humbling thought. 

Because He will not allow circumstances to overwhelm me...Life is incredibly busy this week as the boys finish school up and David and I finish language school classes...not to mention preparing for our time back in the US and for later on in Moz.  My heart and brain are jumping from thought to thought and it is easy to feel overwhelmed.  This trip adds more, but it also forces me deeper into His arms and reminds me to look to Him.

Because He goes with, in Japeri, in Nampula.  He is with me and He is for me.

Because we are all dead without in our sins and for an eternity without Him...

Because a Savior has provided the way to life with God...Jesus, God's Son, sent, killed, buried, yet defeating death through resurrection that those who believe in Him may know true life in and for eternity. 

Because of all of this and simply because He is worth I go.

Better yet, will you consider going WITH me this week?  Join the team by praying for me, my teammates, those with whom we will share and for our families?  May we say, off WE others may know of the glory and grace of the One who loves us so well. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Festas Juninas

Enjoying "cachorros quentes"

This past weekend we were able to celebrate the "Festas Juninas" at the boys' school.  Festas Juninas are a Brazilian holiday that celebrates the lifestyle of the "interior" of Brazil...think farms or country living and you won't be too far off.

A great spot to watch the action
Festas Juninas originally were celebrated by the Catholic church to honor the holy days of three prominent saints, Saint John, Saint Peter and Saint Anthony.  Now, it is a time of festivals and parties that occur throughout the month of June.  While many of those outside of Brazil associate Carnival as the premiere Brazilian holiday, we had at least three different Brazilians tells us that Festas Juninas are the "most" Brazilian holiday of all.

Nathan's dance's theme was fishing (for girls?)

Caleb's dance celebrated "o noivo e a noiva," the bride and the goorm

Festas Juninas are celebrated by the entire family or even community.  Schools, sports/social clubs and some cities host the events that include dancing, bingo, bonfires and yummy "country" food (hot dogs, grilled meats, cotton candy, uniquely Brazilian sweets like pasoca and doce de mouth is watering just thinking about it.)

In many ways, the Festas Juninas are like an old fashioned hoedown Brazilian style.  The boys had a blast dressing in the capeira (country) style and showing us the dances they had been practicing for  weeks.

They also enjoyed playing the fair-style games.  (We learned that Nathan's puppydog looks are a universal language when he sweet-talked is way into a larger prize by batting his eyes at the kind lady leading the games.)  We all loved trying the different foods, even bringing some home with us to continue the yumminess.

Overall, the Festas Juninas were a great and memorable experience for the entire family! Hope you enjoyed this small taste of the is almost as sweet as all the doces we ate...

Friday, June 7, 2013

Finish Well

"I really don't want to be here today," I mumbled as tears began to well up in my eyes.

"Here, as in this apartment?" He asked kindly as we all left to make our way to church on Sunday morning.

"No, here as in all of it. At this moment, I am kind of done."

"That is no good, because you aren't done yet..."

As worship began, our conversation trailed off.  Until the sermon that is...

"Finish Well"

An elbow, "Do you think there might be a message here for you?" he asked with a wink.

"You think?"

Finish well.  Such a basic concept, but one that it is important on all levels of life.  Have you ever noticed it is often much easier to start something well than to finish it well?  Take a new year at school for example- new crayons, new clothes, the excitement of new friends and a new teacher.  Then there is the end of the year. The crayons have long worn out, the clothes show their use and both friends and teacher are all pretty much done long before the last bell rings.

Our time in Brazil has been amazing.  The friendships we have formed and the experiences we have lived will never be forgotten.  Still, unfortunately, sometimes the excitement and energy with we started this part of our journey wanes and our hearts jump ahead, focusing on what is to come instead of what is to be enjoyed in this very moment.  As we are finishing our time here, we are striving to finish well- heads up, eyes focused on Christ, continuing to seek all that He desires for us in the present moment of the next seven weeks.

This thought of finishing well is not unique to our time in Brazil, but is truly a central part to the Christian walk.  Throughout our short journey on this planet, our hearts long for the eternity to come spent with Christ.  The journey is difficult, daunting and often discouraging.  Although we might look around, saying "I am done," the Spirit whispers, "Not yet, beloved.  Finish well. Head up. Eyes on me.  I have more for you yet. Finish well."

Finish well...Cherish every day.  Today is a special time ordained by the Creator of the Universe.  Never again (that we know of) will we live in this apartment, in this city, maybe even in this beautiful country.  There will always be days when our hearts long for the comforts of our home culture- be it heaven or the US (oh, how we miss you Dr. Pepper and Chick Fil A!).  Still, we must not allow this longing to rob us of today through the fruit of discontentment. 

Finish well...Be fully engaged in the present, while preparing for the future.  It is so easy to check out early when we have something to look forward to.  For us, we know that we have time with friends and family coming up.  We know that after that, we will be reaching the destination for which we have been planning for two years now.  Still, we strive not to live in that future time, but to live fully in the present. This can be hard as we need to make lists and take steps toward preparations for Mozambique (like buying plane tickets!  EEK!).  Finding this balance of being engaged while making preparations is one which we continue to strive for moment by moment. 

Finish well...Make the most of every opportunity.   There is always more to explore, more to live, more people to love (and more Portuguese verbs to learn).  When we fail to finish well, and we move on too fast, we run the risk of missing much of that with which God wishes to bless us.  There is a purpose for every day of every season of life. We have truly enjoyed our time here in Brazil and have benefited greatly from the loving friendships, the cross-cultural experience, and not to forget the great food!  If we fail to cherish our remaining time here, we will miss out on even more amazing opportunities. 

Friend, whatever season you are in, whatever season you are finishing, finish well.  May each of us echo the words of Paul,

"For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith..." 2 Timothy 4:6-7
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