I hope you enjoyed hearing from Ronã last month. Even though you haven't gotten to meet him in person yet, I hope you at least feel that you know him a little bit better.
We are both feeling settled back here in Altamira, and have been very busy. As I said before, Ronã has been working at CDR teaching English as well as helping with the worship team at church.
For those of you who don't really know my history, I would like to share some of my story. When I started going to Vineyard Tuttle Crossing back between 2006-2007, I was not in a good place in my life. It had been several years since I had gone to church. I was in a very difficult marriage with a man who was an alcoholic and verbally abusive. I also had my own problems with an addiction to marijuana. At VTC, I found a home and a refuge. Being there was very different from many of my previous experiences in churches. I felt that the people there really showed me love and grace despite my many failures. After about a year, I met a member of the church who was a recovering alcoholic. I asked her if she could help me with my addiction, and she agreed. She showed me how to the 12 Steps, and after that, my life was forever changed.
Through the process of the steps, I found freedom from addiction, but I also found a new way of life. I had a wisdom and a clarity that I had never experienced before. I understood how to manage my life and my emotions in ways that I never had before. I knew when to say no. I stopped taking responsibility for the feelings and opinions of others. I had boundaries! I knew how to protect myself in healthy ways. And I knew how to have relationships. How to be vulnerable and transparent, yet still an individual. It was a miracle.
Since that time, I have always wanted to help others in the same way that I was helped, but I wasn't sure if I would ever have the opportunity. When I came to Brazil, I really had no idea what would lay ahead for me. I just knew that I was following the call of God. The past 4 years have presented many challenges for me, and it seemed that the road was not straight.
Now, it seems that the road has led me back to where I started in Altamira. At first, it felt as though I was going backwards, but I have quickly learned that is not at all the case.
As I said before, I have been helping the missionaries, Art and Cyndi Rae, with a group called Living Waters. Living Waters is a healing care program designed to guide people to find God in the midst of their brokenness and pain. It helps them identify how the past is effecting their present. It touches on many of the same principles used in the 12 steps.
I have told you a little before about the dysfunction in families here in Brazil, but as I work with helping others in these groups, I realize just how profound it is. Many people were past around as children from their grandparents to an aunt or uncle or even to strangers who were willing to take them in. Very few grew up with both a father and mother present. They suffered severe neglect due to poverty and lack of concern. They were even sometimes treated like slaves, expected to work just as hard as adults. I can conservatively say that at least half of the women I have talked to have suffered some sort of sexual abuse as children. The stories that I hear break my heart on a regular basis.
I feel deeply privileged to have the tools needed to help these very broken people. I get to walk with them along the path to their healing. I get to see God touch these dark places with his profound compassion and grace. To be honest with you, nothing has ever felt so rewarding.
My current goal is to see if their is a possibility for me to start a 12 step program here in Altamira. I am already working with a few individuals, walking them through the steps. I am praying to see if this is something God would like me to pursue. Please, pray with me for discernment and direction.
Bless you all!
Love, Allison and Ronã