Thursday, May 29, 2008

Day 12, We're home. . .

. . .and missing our friends already.

We made it home, well most of us. My suitcase is somewhere between JF Kennedy Airport and Midway, hopefully here by tomorrow.

We are back safe and sound, showering and resting from our 18-hour trek. The way we were reintroduced back to the US, we were ready to jump on a plane and head back to our friends. Between the lady in immigration yelling at our Brazilian visitors, losing all my luggage, having our first attempt at take-off aborted in Cincinnati because the "computer sensed a problem", and almost getting a ticket while trying to get our stuff in the car in Indy by a Nazi Airport Security officer, our arrival was filled with fixed emotions. They were quickly matched, though, by the sound of our daughters voices and the use of our cell phones to "reconnect". Terry missed hers, I'm not sure whether I did or not. At any rate, we're back in Bourbonnais, and I hope my luggage isn't far behind.

I'll be reflecting on this trip for a while, so tonight I'm heading to bed; later on the thinking. I'm too emotional and tired right now. Just wanted all our readers to know that we made it back in one piece.

Thanks Fonseca's for one of the best weeks of our lives! Can't wait to be introduced to Juliana.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hats, hot dogs, and new friends

Our Last Night in Brazil

This is my friend, a pastor from northern Brazil. The first day he was at the camp, he had this really cool hat on. He was told I thought it was cool, and at the last service, he gave it to me. Again, putting the unbelievable generous spirit of the people down here on display. It's a traditional hat worn by them to keep their head cool, because where they live it is exceptionally hot. He if from the same part of the country where the girls who led worship with hats, gloves and winter coats on when it was 65 degrees outside. Cracked me up. Thanks Pastor, love the hat!

Had a great day. Went shopping in a little town called Petreira, known for their glass, and man did we shop. I have some pics, but will have to post them later, I'm having problems downloading them from the memory card. Technology.

Back to the shopping. Terry kept saying that we didn't want to take any of our money back with us, and I think she about kept her word. It was just another fun, relaxing day. I'm really glad we stayed around for another 3 days.

The evening was just as much fun, and now I'm working with Alex to get his blog set up so Toni's family can keep up with the what for here, and we will be able to as well. Writing this while he's playing with his.

How did I spend my last night in Campinas? Well, we went to church, ate prendado dogenos, pressed hot dogs. They basically take two hot dogs, and a whole bunch of ingredients, smash them together, and cook them like a calzone. Mine was stuffed with chili, except down here it's shredded beef, unbelievable. Another 10:00 dinner, again, more unbelievable. I've eaten later here, more nights in row, than I can ever remember doing before. We eat and laughed together, having an absolute blast. Tonight I was there with Alex, Gary Hartke, Walmir and his wife Daisy, Lico, Maria, and Pastor Pedro. We ate dogs, drank guarana, and told stories. I'm so glad that we were able to come to this place, and already can't wait until we can come back.

This is probably my last blog from Brazil. I'm meeting with the administrator from the new university down here, eating lunch, and then we have to get on the bus around 4:00 to head for the airport in Sao Paulo. Our flight leaves at 9:00 tomorrow night, or I guess that's later tonight where I presently sit. We arrive in New York at 6:00a, fly through Cincinnati, and then land in Indy around 2:30. The 2 hour drive home should be a blast after spending that much time in the air. I'll get you caught up on our flight as soon as I recover.

I'll recover from the flight, but meeting these people is something I hope I never recover from. Thanks Alex, Toni, Gabbi, and Becka. Like you said Alex, you're stuck with us. Thanks also to Tiago, Rachel, Lico, Debroah, Chris, Daniella, Alexandre, and all our other Brazilian friends for making this one of the best 10 days of our lives. We hope to see you again real soon.

Day 9 in Brazil; Bar-b-que

Sunday was another incredible day here, very relaxing, went to church in the evening. The young adult service was Saturday night, and we didn't get to bed until around 2:00a, not eating dinner until midnight at McDonalds. The young adult service was packed to the gills, with over 800. Their NYI here goes from 16 to 45, and they are alive, energetic services.

This is how their services run weekly: Saturday afternoon, their teens have their service; Saturday night, their young adult service, ranging in ages from 20-40; Sunday morning, very traditional service, orchestra, choir, running around 4000 in two services, 8:00 and 10:15; Sunday night, exciting praise and worship service for everyone, much like the Saturday night service, packed to the gills, around 3500 in two services, 6:00 and 8:30; Monday night, city-wide young adult service, around 5-600; Tuesday night, Prayer and Deliverance service, again packed to the gills with over 2800 in attendance. Wednesday-Friday, they recover and get ready to do it all over again. Alex plans all the services except the Saturday afternoon service and the Sunday morning service. Most of the young adults who attend Saturday services don't come to a Sunday morning service, and the teens just attend Sunday School. Being out as late as they are, I can understand why. Crazy week, huh?

Today we're heading to a village about 2 hours from here to shop. We're still loving it here. Terry and I were talking last night before we went to bed, and there is something special about this place and these people. You know how when you've been somewhere for a while, and you get antsy to go home? Well, if it wasn't for our family, we wouldn't feel that at all.

Yesterday, we had our first real Brazilian barbeque; chicken (flango), steak (filet), sausage, rice, beans, and guarana (Brazil's version of Vernors). Yummmo! We're really kind of sad this is almost over, and yes, it's for more reasons than just the food, although I will say we have eaten incredibly well here. The one thing that I've had to adjust too is the hours that we eat. Always late at night. I haven't been eating breakfast, lunch usually around 1:30, and then we eat after the services, which is usually around 10:00, crazy.

Terry, Gabbi and Becka made a blanket for Julianna, helping them as they prepare for the arrival of their new sister. They had a lot of fun as you can tell. You notice that Terry isn't in the pictures, that's because she hasn't been "Mary Miracled" yet, as Alex likes to say.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Dia a Cohleita

Don't have a lot of time tonight, we're heading for the closing service of the congress, can't believe it. This was an incredible day, working at the street carnival sponsored by Central Church, and the NYC. They call it the "Day of the Harvest". I'll let some of the pics speak for themselves. I will never be the same.

45 converts from the evangelistic teams that went door to door, in the area that Alex called the worst in the city of Campinas. We were 200 yards from the cocaine center, and 500 yards from the marijuana center, with a Nazarene church right in the middle of it all. Alex called the pastor of the church a hero, and I believe him.

Friday, May 23, 2008


What a day I am having in Brazil! It was an incredible privilege to preach this morning, and see the response of these obedient, tender people. I'm humbled again by their spirit, and by the fact that God chooses to use me; unbelievable. I don't know what else to say, except that I always come back different after traveling, and this is no different. I'm receiving so much here, that my life is richer because of my new friends in Brazil.

I told Alex after the service, that this a sermon I'm planning on preaching this summer at a camp, but I'm not sure I'll be able to speak, because I will recall the response from here. Alex said to me, that maybe what God is saying, is that it's time in the states we quit settling. Stop making living this life so difficult. Sometimes we complicate things so much it's next to impossible to live. We're numb to the truth, because we can't see it, when it's right in front of our eyes all the time. The problem may not be that we can't find truth, maybe we are cold and blind to it.

I'm going to chew on this for a while. In the mean time, I cry for the same passion in my church, with our young people, that I see here. May it be so, for the sake of the Kingdom.

Bon Dia! Ese quatro dia en Campinas (That's Portuguese Sissy)

These are pictures of our friends Toni and Alex, our hosts in Brazil. They are great friends. I've known Alex for some time through NYI, and Terry got to know him in South Africa. She said she had to meet the woman who lives with this man. Toni is a gem, and they have two beautiful girls, with a third on the way. The picture on the left is Toni with Gabriella and Rebecca. She is reading one of the books that "Miss Terry" brought for the girls. Toni has been confined to bed rest, awaiting the arrival of the third lady to the group, Julianna.

The picture on the right is me with Alex, standing next to me, and (from right to left), Christian Ventura, from Paraguay, SAM's Regional NYI coordinator, with Alexandre da Silva, SAM's Regional NYI president. I'll get a better picture of the Fonseca family later this week.

Well, as you can tell by the time of this blog, I'm adjusting to the two hour time difference. I woke up before 5:00, Chicago time. Again, its a beautiful day here in Campinas. The sky has never been anything but blue, and it's already 65. I could get used to this.

As you can also tell, I'm doing my best to butcher this beautiful language. I'm sure the conjugation is terrible for my greeting this morning, but wanted to impress you with what little I have learned to this point. There are some similarities between Portuguese and Spanish, but not enough to help, and the pronounciation is more like Italian, which I know nothing about. The syllables are different too, so in Spanish, you can still sing the songs, not here. In some ways, it's more beautiful; sorry too my Spanish speaking friends.

Wanted to post a few pictures as well so you can have some sense of what is happening down here at the conference.

These are a couple of pictures, one from the service last night, and the one on the right is their NYC staff. A little nuts, might I add, the staff that is. I speak this morning, so if you get this before 9:30 Chicago time, a pray shot to heaven for me would be appreciated.

This is an incredible trip, with an incredible group of people. I love Brazil!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Day 3, Campinas and NYC

It's been an interesting couple of days here in Campinas. Today we went shopping in the local mall, and it was like any mall in California, you go inside to be outside. The jewelry was really inexpensive, so Terry had a blast, and our girls will benefit.

Last night I went to my first prayer and deliverance service at Central Church. It was like nothing I've ever seen before. 2800 people on a Tuesday night, singing the praises of God, an anointing service, followed by a deliverance service, and then an invitation for new believers. There were testimonies read of answered prayers and miracles, with God being praised for his working in the lives of his people.

The anointing I've seen, the deliverance I've only heard about. When I walked into the church, a half hour before the service, there were people scattered all over the sanctuary, on their knees, praying for a move of God in that service. Their prayers were answered. When the time for the prayer of deliverance came, they called people forward to be freed from disease, illness, addictions, witchcraft, demons, etc. This was an incredible time of prayer, with people brniging their cigarettes, cocaine, crystals, and other periphenalia related to their cult worshipforward for deliverance. It was an incredible move of the spirit.

These people pray. These people sing with a passion I'm not sure I've ever seen. They believe in freedom in the spirit. It reminded me of stories my dad used to tell of what would happen in his church when he was growing up. I'm challenged regarding my prayer life because of these incredible people, our brothers and sisters in Christ. They are making me a better person.

On a lighter note for my friends back home. It was probably 65 tonight at the opening service to their NYC, and everything is open air down here. The service was in a building, but open to the outside. I wish you could have seen how the worship team, most of whom live north of here, near the equator in northwest Brazil, were dressed. Winter coats, hats, and mittens while leading worship. I couldn't help but laugh, as I long for evenings that are 65, while here they freeze. It was 80 here today, sunny, and clear as a bell. I was in short sleeves tonight, soaking the whole thing up, watching my friends almost freeze to death. Life down here is good.

The pao de queso (cheese bread) isn't to bad either.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Day 1, Campinas

We arrived this morning at around 7:20, an hour late, after a long night of trying to get my legs to fit on those blasted plane seats so I could sleep. Exhaustion finally won out around 1:00a, and I don't remember anything until breakfast was in my lap around 6:45a.

No pics today, just a day of meeting new friends, and reacquainting ourselves with old ones. It's always great to meet the spouse of my friends, and today Terry and I got to meet Toni, Alex's wife. She is a gracious host, almost 8 months along with her third pregnancy. I'd be in trouble if I didn't mention meeting Becka and Gabby as well, their 6 and 4-year-old daughters, cute as buttons, and remind me of two other young ladies we know well.

Our day started by our meeting Vanderloci and Loche (I'm sure I absolutely butchered the spelling), the two that picked us up from the airport, and long-time friends of Alex. We were relieved to find that Loche spoke very good English. We ate breakfast at Flango Appossa, which means grilled chicken. It was very good. Fango Appossa is kind of like a truck stop, except clean. You ate right at the counter, and they also sold bread, and it was kind of like a mini mart. The food was really tasty.

I'm going with Alex tonight to their young adult service, 7:30-10:00. He is the young adult pastor at Campinas Central Church of the Nazarene, they run 12,000 every week. It's the largest church in our denomination, and I'm excited to be attending a service at this exciting church. Later this week I'll be joining students and young adults from all over South America for their NYC. It's a real privilege to be here.

Check back for pics later this week. Oh, by the way, it's winter here, today the high was 78! Rough.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

On the Road Again

Well, tomorrow we head south, a long ways south, to be with our friends from South America. They are having their NYC this week, with young leaders in the church from almost every country in South America. I'm sure this will be another one of those life-altering experiences, again. I will do my best to keep you informed on our trip as we journey.

Tomorrow morning we head to Indianapolis, fly to Atlanta, and then fly through the night to Sao Paulo, where we will be picked up and taken to the city of Campinas, just north of Sao Paulo and the coast. Campinas Central is the host church, with my friends Alex Fonseca and Flavio Valvassoura serving as the hosts, and Alexandre DeSilva directing it with his staff. We'll be recovering on Monday, and everyone begins to arrive on Tuesday, with the event kicking off Wednesday afternoon. Whenever I have the privilege of being with our brothers and sisters around the globe, my prayer is that their passion will rub off on Terry and I.

God is there, and even now preparing us for what we will encounter through the general services, plenary sessions, workshops, service projects, and the making of many new friends. I'll let you know some time on Monday how everything is with us, if possible. We'll be taking a lot of pics, hoping to keep you as up to date with our experience as possible.

This is also an exciting time for Terry, as she will be going to introduce some women there to Mary Kay, something she enjoys, and loves sharing with other women what this incredible company has done for us over the years. Should be a fun, challenging week for her as well.

We will be staying with Alex and Toni, and Terry is planning some fun stuff with their two daughters. She has definitely fit into the role of Gigi, with no respecter of person.

We're very excited about this trip, going somewhere neither of us has been before, and blessed to be able to do it together. I'll talk with you soon.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Applying for a Visa

I was a Visa rookie. I had to go to the Brazilian consulate last Thursday to apply for a travel visa, the first time I've ever needed one for a trip. It was a trip in and of itself, and man did I learn a lot. Thought maybe my "mistakes" could possible save you some of the same pain. Here are a few quick thoughts.

One, don't go to the consulate unless you have everything you need; you'll spend a lot of time on your cell phone having people fax stuff to you.

Two, bring the money order with you.

Three, we're pretty fortunate here in the US. We can go just about anywhere, which can't be said for many of our friends around the world. If we have the money, we can buy a visa, if we even need one. I've been to Bulgaria, South Africa, England, Germany, Ecuador, Mexico, Canada, the Bahamas, and now Brazil, and this is the first time I've even needed to apply for a visa. It was memory maker, one our friends do all the time.

In case you haven't guessed, Terry and I will be blessed by being the guest of our Brazilian brothers and sisters later this month at their NYC; it should be a blast. My days serving the church have been responsible for my being able to go to all the places listed above, and to think, all I ever wanted to be was a youth pastor. I've been that, and much more, thanks be to God.