I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year! I had my first Christmas and New Year in Brazil, and it was great! I spent Christmas Eve with the Dolans, and Christmas Day with another missionary family named the Bergquists. For New Years Eve, I went to the Central Vineyard church where they had a dinner with worship and dancing after.
After the holidays were over, I left with the Bergquists, that is Kelsie, Clyde, Makenna, Maddy, Hannah, and Nate, to spend a week visiting their missionary base. They live in a small river village called Maribel. Maribel is very remote, being a 3 hour drive from the nearest city by way of a rough and tumble dirt road. There are no stores, no gas stations--nothing in the way of commerce there. People rely on a line truck that goes into the closest town (Uruara) twice a day if they need supplies or a doctor. Most of the families in this area use fishing and hunting, as well as growing some of their own foods to manage their needs. There are also many farmers in the village who raise livestock and grow cacau trees (chocolate). These people are very simple and very generous. When they have something extra, either from hunting or from farming, they usually give it to their neighbors. It was a great pleasure to be among them.
I want to start off by saying how much respect I have for the Bergquists, and the work they are doing in this village. They have made many sacrifices both large and small to serve the people who live along the river. Each day, many of the things that we take for granted are an intense labor there. Kelsie takes all the clothes for a family of 6 to the river to wash them. The washing can take hours, and even after that, depending on the weather, the clothes sometimes takes days to dry. They have a generator that they use usually about three hours each night for all they electrical needs. Therefore, most of their food is dry food as they don't have the benefit of refrigeration. Clyde is always working around the house making improvements, but of course, there is no local hardware store, so it can require a lot of creativity and patience to get something done. Before I left, he and another man were working on building a fence to keep the cows and pigs out of their yard. Digging all the holes is done only with hand tools, and it is extremely labor intensive. Kelsie also has the responsibility of homeschooling the kids, cleaning, and cooking. The kids do help, but still the days are long.
All the while they are doing these things, they are working to build the community of believers around them. As of now, their church plant is the only church for the region. They lead a church service, small groups, and a children's ministry. They also spend a lot of time traveling by boat along the river to visit the many families who live there. And God is richly using their commitment and hardwork. They have seen many people come to Christ, and those who were already Christians are growing and being trained for leadership. Their hope is to grow the church over the next few years enough so that it can be taken over by the locals.
Even in the short time I spent with them, I learned so much about sacrificial love and what it really means to do the work of Christ. Their willingness to give up their comfort, their time, and their hearts to serve these people was a real challenge to me. I feel like since I have been in Brazil, God has really taken my spiritual walk to a whole new level. God is stripping away my flesh, encouraging me to step out into deeper waters, encouraging me to live a life of service and sacrifice.
Please, keep the Bergquist family in your prayers. Pray for their stamina and endurance. Pray that they are given favor as they bring more people to Christ and as they train up leaders. Pray for me as well that God continues to move me in the direction of service to him, that I would be able to fulfill the calling he has on my life with vigor and obedience.
I want to bless all of you as well. I ask God now to pour out his Spirit over your families, that he would richly bless them with his grace and mercy. I lift up your finances and ask for God's favor on them. I lift up your bodies and your health and ask that God would touch you with healing and protection. I ask that he would fight on your behalf against any and all attacks from the enemy. And lastly, I ask that he would continue to restore your souls, that you would know in the deepest part of you his everlasting love, and that all your hope would be in him.
Below are some pictures from Maribel, as well as a link that you can click on to see all the pictures.
God Bless you! I love you all!
|Snacks before our Christmas Dinner|
|Church Service with Clyde teaching|
|The Bergquist Home|
|Me and their son, Nate|
|Clyde on the riverboat|