Let’s also find out some of the highlights of the trip from a letter Bonnie mailed out:
Our team of eleven set out on Dec 3rd, 2010. There was so much that God had yet to show us, including strength and perseverance in prayer, joy in the midst of chaos, and trust and full reliance on Him for provision, which my team and I experienced all throughout this trip to Brazil! I want to share with you some of my actual journal entries while in country so you can see how God truly shaped this trip!
One of the major highlights was from our time in Florestopolis. We spent several days there with the children and had a great time helping one of the families with some much needed repairs. Our team put up chicken wire fencing, cleaned out, repainted, and re-organized their storage shed, as well as lay down a large amount of sod for a play area for the children. Despite a few fire ant bites, we had a great time digging our hands into God’s earth and being covered in dirt … ha ha good times, brought me back to childhood! We also sorted through piles and piles of donated clothes for the clothing store in town; all proceeds went to Open Arms Brazil’s ministry. The clothes we donated were sold and being used after only two days. How awesome is God!
In between work projects we also went into town and visited the children at school, it was so neat to see their classrooms and eagerness to learn, they were so excited when we arrived, hundreds of kids surrounded us and wanted to talk to us … it reminded me of how Jesus and his disciples were welcomed into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday! So much joy and laughter these children have;they referred to us as the “Americanos” and Chia or Chio, which is Portuguese for “Aunt or Sister” and “Uncle or Brother”.
We also were able to hold a day camp for the children and they had a great time learning all about God and how if they entrust their lives to Him he will protect them and keep them from turning the wrong way … making a u-turn back towards God. My team put on a skit (see video at the end of this post by Open Arms) that displayed going against the ways of the world. We showed that if they entrusted their lives to Him, He will help them to face the challenges of the world and ultimately experience an intimate fellowship with God the Father. The kids loved it and we were extremely humbled that they truly could understand this message and wanted to live it out! At the wrap-up teaching, about salvation, redemption, confession, and desiring to do the right thing, the teens stepped forward to commit their lives to Christ. The Pastor even told our team, “This marks the beginning of a chapter in Open Arms Brazil ministry!” He was so excited to see such passion for the Lord displayed by these kids. We ended the night with an awesome praise/dance party, singing and dancing all over the place with glow sticks representing the light we receive once we accept the Lord Jesus into our hearts.
These children are so sweet and affectionate, and they want to be loved and cared for so badly, searching for love at this place, a family’s farm with a soccer field and a small house that a family of three lives in. This family showed Christ’s love as they sacrificially give of their time and energy to provide for these little ones, and also opened up their home to our entire team to stay in, after our tent fell apart during a bad rain storm. They even hung up all our wet clothes and brought in all our luggage while we were away at camp! It was so hard for us to leave that place, we shed many tears of gratitude and thanks.
We then packed into a van and drove about two hours south to Assis, for the last camp.
It was at this point that God really began to challenge me to grow. I learned so much about God’s character on this trip. He taught me a great deal about patience and perseverance in prayer; several events occurred that our team was helpless to fix. We had to just solely rely on God to provide, which He did most bountifully! Leading this trip was quite a learning experience, but I thank God for the opportunity and I’m so grateful for all of your prayers and support that made this trip possible for me. Nothing gives me greater joy than being able to serve God wholeheartedly. I cherished the quiet times that I had with Him in country. There are so many more stories that I would love to share with you all.
Go, Stay, Support, Mobilize!