Tuesday, March 22, 2022

The Needy & The Poor


Psalm 9:18
For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
    and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.

I've always enjoyed working with simple people. Nothing fancy about them, no advanced degrees, no fancy cars, technology. Relationship matters more than your job, or what you're wearing, or how much money you make. 

As of March 15th 2021, I've been working with Eden Reforestation Projects, and TEAM, as a missionary, to help start reforestation projects in Brazil. We work with the poor, helping give them jobs to reforest their lands, which will provide for their needs materially (food, lumber) but also environmentally as it will bring back the water to their communities (flowing streams, full wells), diversity to the ecosystem, wildlife that has disappeared for many years, as well as joy and dignity to their lives as they reduce and remove their dependency on others for their needs. 

God says that the poor shall not always be forgotten, and their hope shall not perish forever. What a privilege it is for our family to return to Brazil to help renew the hope of the poor, and to point them to Jesus, who is our ultimate source of Hope. 

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Dry and Hot

 I've spent two weeks traveling with the organization I'm working with. The first place was 5 hours away, the next place was another 7 hours past the first location.  There has been so much beauty in these places, and the people are wonderful to work with. I've had some good conversation with many people; speaking the language fluently has been helpful too, as nobody knows I'm not Brazilian. It's been refreshing to see people let their guard down when they talk with me, and I'm encouraged to be interacting with them and building relationship. Our purpose back in Brazil goes beyond just reforesting the land that so desperately cries for good stewardship and restoration, it is also about the silent cries for hope, for reconciliation to God that only Jesus Christ can bring.

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Caring for Creation...

What do you think? Is caring for creation anthropocentric (man-centered?) Or is it eco-centric? When I speak at churches, small groups, colleges, or any other gatherings, I always ask this question. Often times, I get blank stares, or confusion...but it's really a trick question! The answer, from Scripture, is that our efforts in caring for creation are to be Theo-centric...or focused on God! It is HIS creation!

To this effect, some friends of mine have written a scholarly article, very well done, about this topic. It's worth a read, and not super long. Here is the link to it: https://crdajournal.org/index.php/crda/article/view/463/339

Please, take the time to read it, and learn more about what our calling as believers is in regards to creation.

"The earth is the Lord's and everything in it!" Psalm 24:1

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Grieving before leaving

Maryville, where we've lived here for about six years, has become home to us. For myself, it's the longest I've lived in one place consecutively. Even growing up in Brazil, as a family we moved back to the US every four years and spent one year here before returning to Brazil. 

Whether it's the Redbud tree I planted in our yard a few years ago and its amazing pinkish/purple blooms,or the variegated willows grown from cuttings from my in-laws in NY state, or the weeping willow, apple trees, mulberry,  plums, or other things I've planted, I love my yard. I love working with my hands to make something useful and beautiful. Similar to a carpenter I'd say, who takes joy in the labor, in the sweat equity put into his work. He gets to enjoy the work when it's complete. I also get to enjoy the work of my hands, be it the literal fruit that grows from it, or the shade it gives, or the scent, and beauty of flowers in spring... This has been home. It's been a salve to our family to have one place to call home with all the transition and challenges we've faced over the years.

But God... God has opened another door for us..
Another door for the gospel, as the Apostle Paul wrote so many years ago. I'll write more about that soon, which involves returning to Brazil, but it's so important to grieve over the losses we will face. We already miss our home here even though we haven't even left. We have already cried over simple things and big things. This isn't to say we are sad to go! In fact, we are all, as a family, quite excited to go back to Brazil as missionaries! It wouldn't happen if all of the kids and we as a couple didn't agree that it was what God was telling us to do. We've prayed for months, and God clearly said yes to us through a variety of things, including His Word, His people, and His way. :-)

In the meantime, as we begin downsizing, selling off things that won't fit in a suitcase, and letting go of the worldly possessions that have bound us to this place in the world, we grieve. We cry. We remember. We smile, laugh and get excited too though! It's a mix, but it's good. Because our God is good, and His plan is always better. And even though change isn't easy, it makes it a bit easier to remember that God has called us, and that He goes before us.

If God opens a door, and tells you to walk through it, what are YOU gonna do? There's a great story in the Bible about this one guy who chose to run the other way...name was Jonah. Look it up. 😆 I'd rather obey God's plan than go the other way. What a blessing that this is something God has prepared for me to do...and something I've prayed about and dreamed about since my college days... God is good indeed. 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Beauty of God's Creation

Different places in the world have a uniqueness regarding the ecology God has placed there. For instance, here in central Brazil it's the end of dry season. It's basically a savannah type region. It's brown, dry, and dusty. Even still, there is so much life! You just have to have eyes to look for it! Thankfully it rained last night--a light rain--but it helps with the dust in the air. Here are some of the pictures I took this morning early. The birds were out and about, enjoying the cooler air and some of the moisture that stuck around.




Typical scene in rural central Brazil.

Mangoes are almost ready!

What I call an LBB, or "Little Brown Bird". Didn't identify this one. :-)


A Yellow-Chevroned Parakeet chilling.

This is a White-Eyed Parakeet, or White-Eyed Conure, and below as well.

I spy... How many can you find? Also very loud birds!

Toucans are common here, but I haven't been able to capture a clear shot of one yet. This one was flying overhead and I recognized it by the silhouette as well as the characteristic flight pattern. I'm hoping to see one closer soon, as well as a macaw.

This is a Buff-Necked Ibis in flight, and below.


Buff-necked ibis pair feeding. They are super loud!

The beauty of creation is all around us--unfortunately, the farther we remove ourselves from the outdoors, from being in creation, and instead stay in urban environments, the more disconnected we become from creation, and the less we remember about our role to be good stewards. I hope you take some time to see the beauty in God's creation, even if still in an urban environment.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Living with Alzheimers.

 I'm in Brazil for two weeks--arrived yesterday. I came to spend time with my mom, who's dealing with Alzheimers. It's such a difficult disease to deal with, for the person suffering, and for family and close friends. I'm thankful though that the place she and my dad live have people who are loving, kind, patient, and very understanding. My mom has ceased being able to communicate in Portuguese. Her brain just cannot put the words together for a sentence. It's not as bad in English for her, but some days are harder than others. I've already cried a few times, with her and on my own. It's so important to be able to grieve.