Over the last few days I’ve realized how bad we’ve been at keeping everyone up to date on what is going on here. To be honest, not much has changed since our last post. The coronavirus continues to keep everything going at a snail’s pace.
We continue to go weekly to the rehab farm which has been a huge blessing to us. We counsel, we listen, we deal with problems, teach bible classes, meet with the leaders and are making some much needed changes to that ministry. We have a great team working together to talk about and implement these changes. The leaders at the rehab farm are excited about the changes and the men in the farm are, as always, a blessing to us. Please pray for all of us to have God’s peace and wisdom as we move forward.
We continue to wait for the city government to move forward with the Hope House documentation so that we can finish the house and begin that ministry. Please keep that on your prayer list as well.
We continue to be involved with different church ministries and have been asked, by our pastor, to do more things since the coronavirus started.
Our teammate Lyndsay got married to a great guy, Márcio, in August. Benay and I were blessed and honored to be a part of their special day. It was a beautiful wedding in a beautiful place, just outside our city, on a beautiful day. The day was beautiful in every way. Please pray for this new family.
Benay and I had our yearly physicals in July and one test of Benay’s caused a little scare. We, thankfully, have amazing health insurance. Honestly, it’s the best we’ve ever had and this allowed us to get some extra testing done and see a specialist all within 2-3 weeks. We praise God that it ended up being nothing. Lots of people prayed over my wife and we feel very blessed to have gotten good news at the end of everything.
About the same time that was going on we learned that Bronwyn, our oldest child, needed to have her gallbladder removed. After the surgery she wouldn’t be able to even lift her two little girls for 2 weeks. In God’s great mercy and timing He gave us an all clear on Tuesday with Benay’s test results and on Friday she was headed to the states for a 5 week stay with Bronwyn, Stephen and the girls. She got there 4 days before the surgery.
The day before Benay left I heard her crying with the women she prays with every morning from our church. She really wanted me and the boys to be able to come too but we just couldn’t afford it. Within the hour one of our pastors had gotten in touch with a man at our church who works for an airline. He was able to get three vouchers for us. They wouldn’t kick in for 10 days but we at least had an opportunity to try to go be with family. A week later through lots of hard work from this brother, Jackson, and from Benay, Bronwyn and Stephen looking online for an amazing God deal we had 3 tickets for us to go as well. Three days later we were on our way.
After we had been in the states for a couple of days I had a conversation with one of our pastors. I told him how I had not realized how much our family needed a break like this until we actually were on the break. God has blessed us over the last 6 months with staying busy with the ministry opportunities mentioned above but basically we’ve been stuck in our apartment without much contact with anyone. A couple of days after we were in the states I could see a difference in the boys. They were happier, laughing more and, well, free. I felt the same way. It’s not normal, nor is it God’s plan, for His kids to do most of life inside an apartment with no physical contact with others. We have no grass to play on, no park close to go play in and most of our kids friends parents have been afraid to get together. You don’t realize it so much at the time but it really wears you down mentally, physically, emotionally and even spiritually.
In our 3 week visit we were blessed to be with all the kids, both sons-in-law, grandkids, all 4 parents and my sister and her family. It was definitely a God thing because none of our kids live in the same city.
Giovanni was my faith man. When we got the vouchers, but it still didn’t look like we would be able to find tickets, he told Benay, “We’re going to go. Why would God give us vouchers and then us not be able to go?” That was like a faith hammer to my head as I admit I had been doubting if the trip would happen. I told him I was going to have faith like his from then on.
God blessed Giovanni’s awesome, simple, childlike faith with an amazing time. He prayed that he could celebrate his birthday in the states. We arrived at Bronwyn and Stephen’s house around midnight the night before his birthday. How cool is God? Giovanni got to celebrate on more than one occasion with lots of family which is so, so rare for him. He was in heaven.
On our last day in Memphis God, once again, provided, in His crazy, miraculous ways, for our ministry. He used His kids to bless us with a much needed ministry tool and covered the cost of part of our trip. Then 3 days later one of His kids blessed us with another much needed ministry tool. We were floored. We can’t tell you how often He has blessed us this way in our 18+ years in Porto Alegre.
The boys and I got home last Friday after a 36 hour adventure trip. We are still a bit jet lagged but happy to be home. Benay is on a plane right now coming back home. If all goes as planned she’ll be home tomorrow morning. I ask that you pray for her safety.
A little over a month ago I had no idea that we would be able to see our family. A little over a month later I’m just floored at how God blessed us in such unexpected ways. He always does it , sometimes in huge ways and sometimes in subtle ways, but I confess that my eyes are closed to it at times. Over the last 5-6 weeks God has just heaped blessing upon blessing on our heads. I know life will not always be as good as it’s been over the last month. Sufferings come, pain visits, death occurs and test results don’t always come back with good news. Life happens and with it comes very tough days. But we have a Dad who takes joy in blessing His kids in so many ways. So unexpectedly at times. We have a Dad who knows how we hurt and when we hurt and it hurts Him too. We also have a Dad who likes to see us happy and joyful and sometimes He blesses us with a month like the one we just had. It’s not always as obvious as our last month but sometimes it is. We’re going to remember this trip, His kindness and how He pulled all things together to refresh our minds, bodies, hearts and souls.
We will choose to praise Him in the blessings and the sufferings. Easy to say, I know, when we’ve had an amazing month like this last month, but our God is with us through it all and He is good……always.
“Believe that God is good even when life is not.” Dr. Tony Evans