I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and were able to rest up a bit before heading back to work (and driving in the snow). Here is Brazil, the rainy season just started, which is the closest thing we will ever see to winter. The temperature goes down about 5 or 10 degrees, which I know, doesn't seem like much, but believe me, it makes a huge difference! The only down side to the rain is that the humidity goes up about 200%, so your clothes take days to dry.
Since I got back from my time in Altamira, I have been working again on preparing for the semester to start in February. I have been holding a time for sign-ups, which has been going very well. There are many people in the city ready to start learning English! It's going to be great to start teaching again on a regular basis, as well starting to build some relationships with my students.
While I was in Altamira, I got the opportunity to spend some time with Art and Cyndi Rae leading the group called, the Journey. The Journey is a introductory class for the Living Waters program. It helps the participants develop a better understanding of the process of healing and what the program has to offer. My hope is that one day in the future, we can bring the program to Portel.
I want to explain a little to you about the family relationships that are common in northern Brazil. It has been my experience that to meet a family that has a mother and a father who are married to each other and all their kids are from the same family is rare. I know that maybe you are thinking that this is becoming the trend in the States, too, but here, the depth of it is even more profound. In general, I meet a lot of women who have children from more than one man. Sometimes, one of those men are in the picture, but often not. Those women tend to be very young, having had their first child when they were still in their teens. Often when I ask those women where their parents are, they describe a similar story, except many of them were raised by their grandparents. Their parents basically gave them up to the care of their grandparents or an aunt or uncle. They have several half-brothers and sisters, some of which they have never met.
When I hear these stories, I feel heartbroken for these people. They have been abandoned and rejected and neglected. They have been handed off from one family member to another as if they were used clothing. They have not been celebrated by the people they needed the most. They have not been protected or valued. Few have received the loving kindness of someone guiding them and looking out for their future. They have been lost and orphaned. The women, in particular, I see as vulnerable. They did not have a father present to protect and honor their beauty and fragility. They run after any attention they receive, and in the end, are left alone with more responsibility than they can handle. And for their children, the cycle continues.
The problem can feel overwhelming, but I know that God wants to use us to bring healing to these broken people. Please, pray for them and pray for us as we tackle these great challenges. Pray that we will have a deep compassion and understanding for them. Pray that the Holy Spirit brings great waves of restoration and spiritual breakthrough in their lives. Pray that God keeps our hearts and yours heavy from them.
And please pray for me as well. Coming here to Portel by myself has been very difficult. I miss my friends in Altamira, and it takes a long time to make new friends in a new place in a new culture. Please, pray that God gives me strength and speaks to me clearly. Thank you all for your love and encouragement and support. I am truly grateful to have you on my side.
|"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." Matthew 5:4|