Hello All of my Friends and Generous Supporters!
I hope you are all doing well, even with the craziness that is happening in Boston right now. My heart goes out to the families who are suffering.
I loved being able to see you all at church this past Sunday! What a blessing. It felt like being home, even if only for a moment. I truly do love and miss all of you!
So, I want to tell you story to let you know what's been going on here over the past few months. Some amazing things are happening. But, first, I need to give you some back story.
I don't know if you remember or not, but not too long after I got here, we started a cell group for the single young adult women in our church. The first few months of the group went fairly well, but it wasn't exactly taking off. Then, I went traveling for a month, and the group pretty much stopped for that time period. Not only because I was traveling, but also because the month of January is sort of like our month of December where everyone is traveling or visiting their families and so forth. When I got back, I tried to bring the group back together without much success. Unfortunately, one of the other leaders (who was pretty much my translator) was very busy with school and work, and no longer had time to help lead the group.
I was disappointed. I felt like I was trying to do something, but I just couldn't make it work. Anytime that happens, I think its natural to question yourself about your purpose and abilities. In my heart, I had been praying, "God, I want to do something! I want to be apart of your Kingdom! How do I get my foot in the door?"
During this time, I had also been struck by the verse where Jesus talks about sharing your food with those who can't afford to pay you back. I decided I would have a "churrasco" (barbeque) and invite some people from my friend's neighborhood who I knew would not be able to afford such a party like that. I thought it would be good to try and develop relationships with them and just try to love them. So, I made the plans, bought the food, invited the people, and got everything prepared. When the day arrived, no one showed up. I had to call other people that I knew to come over and eat the food. I can't say that it was terrible. The other people were happy to come. But again, I was disappointed.
It's in my personality to get fired up about things. I want to do something. I need to do something. I can't just sit around waiting for things to happen. I need to be chasing after something, and I want my life to count for causes that matter. So, when I put my effort into a project, and get zero results, I get discouraged and feel a little like a failure.
After this happened, I went and talked to Steve, who is often the gracious receiver of all my frustrations and misunderstandings about my new home. He patiently listened, and then gave me some really good advice. He said, "Why don't you do something with the students at CDR? You already have a growing relationship with them. How can you develop that?" That made perfect sense to me, so I started toiling the idea around in my head about what would be the best way to engage them.
After a week past, I still did not have a clear idea, but I was talking about it with the Lord and asking him to reveal it to me. One day, I was sitting in one of the classrooms at CDR, preparing my lessons when another teacher, Marcelino, asked me a question.
"Allison, have you ever heard of Alpha Circles?"
"No, Marcelino, what is that?"
"Well, we used to have them here on Friday nights with some of the other missionaries. The students could practice their English and we would have talks about God and I really loved it. Do you think we could do that again?...."
Well, that was all it took. I knew God was opening a door. I got Marcelino to tell me all of his ideas for the group and everything he knew about the previous group. We started talking to the other teachers at CDR, as well as Elba and Steve, and everyone seemed to be on board to start making plans in that direction. I was getting excited.
About a week after that, I was at church one evening and the youth pastor, Cleiton, said he wanted to speak to me after church. He asked me how my single's girl's group was going. I told him, sort of laughing, that it was not great, but that we had another had idea in the works to do something with the students at CDR. Then I asked him what his idea was. He began to explain to me that God had also put on his heart the idea of starting something with the students at CDR! Now, I was even more excited and even more confident that this was God's idea and not mine.
Last week, we had our first Alpha Circles meeting. We had more than 45 students show up for that first meeting. We have had a great response from everybody, and anticipate having even more students the next time. It was a great success.
This has taught me a wonderful lesson. Mainly that, its not about me. I don't make things happen or not happen. It is in God's hands. I just need to be willing and available. He does intend to use me, in his way and in his time. What a amazing privilege it is to co-labor with the living God!
Bless you all and please keep with new group in your prayers as we grow and continue to think of ways to make the group better. Thank you so much for what you have already done, and for partnering with what God is doing here in Brazil. You are amazing!
I have some pictures in the link below of the recent Baptism at our church, as well as pictures from Easter and our group, Alpha Circles.