Friday, December 07, 2012

Benefits of being the "outsider"

No one likes to be the outsider, right? Do you? I remember when I spent three months in Tanzania during college. I was called the "mzungo"...basically, white man, foreigner, "alien"...whatever you want to name it. It's not necessarily a fun thing to always be called and have people stare at you as the kids shout it out while you walk through the market. However, you DO get used to it after awhile, and once you've been there for some time, you aren't a novelty anymore. People get used to you being there, they get to know you, and you become more a part of the local culture/community. In fact, you begin to understand some things about the culture that otherwise you wouldn't. And that's what I want to highlight here: not the downside of being the outsider, but the benefits.
For any missionary that's been overseas for a decent amount of time, he or she can relate to this. A missionary's job is to understand the culture as much as possible, become a part of it to the point that he or she can contextualize the gospel within that culture in an appropriate way. A missionary wants their audience to "get it", to understand the message. To tell you the truth, we ALL should desire this: to help our audience (the unsaved/lost) "get it", to help them understand the gospel message in their language, in their thinking, in their cultural framework/worldview. This isn't always easy, but it is always, ALWAYS possible. Why? Because God created culture, He is the source of culture--I believe it brings God joy when he sees the variety & diversity around the world in His created beings, us humans. In fact, I know it brings Him joy...otherwise, he wouldn't have initiated the creation of so many different cultures at the Tower of Babel through the instantaneous appearance of various languages. God did at the Tower of Babel what mankind wouldn't do in obedience to God's command in Genesis to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth.
However, all this to say...the benefits of being an outsider are sometimes a blessing, and sometimes they are not. For instance, I grew up in Brazil, yet spoke English inside our home (for the most part), and Portuguese outside of it. Now, I'm a missionary in Brazil with my "fully-American" wife and kids. She's learned Portuguese, and the kids have too pretty well. Now, as outsiders in Brazil, the longer we are there, the longer we can see into the culture, the church issues, and understand what is going on...when others can't.
Let me illustrate for you: when there is an argument in a marriage, or an athletic competition, or a trial in court...who is the one that those people listen to? Well, the psychologist or counselor usually helps folks with marital issues, a referee of some sort presides over the athletic competition, as does a judge in a court case, correct? What do all three have in common? They are outsiders. They all have a perspective that the ones deeply involved in the issue do not see. Of course, this is the way it should be, right?
Well, take the above illustration and put it into missions. The missionary can often see into a culture in a way that the nationals cannot. When the Apostle Paul was in Athens, he saw that the Athenian thinkers and worshipers had an unknown god they worshipped. Paul saw from the outside their hunger for spiritual reality, for truth, and pointed them to Jesus. So, sure, the missionary is involved in the context, hopefully very involved. However, being in Brazil, as missionaries, we can often see into the culture things that from the inside most people don't recognize. We call them "blind-spots". But here's something that I've noticed being back in the US for this time of medical leave: the missionary, due to the nature of his work, is often an outsider in his own culture when he returns from his assignment overseas. Being gone even for only a year, a missionary will quickly notice the major changes in culture. What is more, the longer one is removed from the host/home culture, the more the changes that this outsider will recognize. And often times, those observations are at the core of our cultural identities in the home-culture... They are not always "good" criticisms, they are things that should probably be submitted to Scriptural correction...and we don't receive criticism well on our "home-turf", do we? However, I think we would do quite well as the Church of Christ to seek the input of our foreign missionaries in helping us see our blind-spots, to help us grow and mature as the Body of Christ. Our missionaries have so much to offer us here in the US, as well as in their areas of service overseas. So, next time a missionary talks a bit about might want to listen. :-)  All to help us as a Body in growing into maturity in the Lord.
Talk back to the missionary: what do you think? Have you had a blind-spot pointed out to you from an "outsider"? How did you feel? What was the end result?

Monday, December 03, 2012

New blog for us

Hi all. Our mission agency has come up with a new website, a large "makeover" really, and we're excited about it. You should check it out! It's at Anyhow, we soon now begin using Wordpress for our blogging since it's linked to our mission agency's website...and we're hoping to be more consistent too. We'll get that new site to you as soon as it's live...for now, keep checking back here!

We hope you'll keep following what God is doing in and through us in Brazil, and how He's growing His Kingdom! Yes, even with us here in the Chicago suburbs for a short time of medical leave, God is using us in Brazil! We don't always understand all the ways in which is is doing this, but we are confident that He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it...don't you agree? God's never done with us.

Thanks for keeping in touch!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Macaws, a toucan, and a mutt puppy

We've now been in Brazil for over a year, wow! We thank God and YOU for helping us through all the God be the glory!

Please read our latest letter right here:

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Fireworks and cars honking all night...

Yes, it’s the 4th of July, but that’s not the reason for the noise outside as I type this (Video)! It is midnight, and one of the national soccer club teams here in Brazil (Corinthians) just won the South American championship called “Libertadores da América”…tonight we won’t get much sleep! This is the passion of Brazilians for soccer… But this passion for soccer also permeates the Brazilian believer’s passion for Jesus! What a privilege to be mobilizing, training, and sending these passionate Brazilians to spread the gospel to the Unreached!

We want to ask you to be praying specifically these next two weeks. I (Ben) am leaving Thursday, for a conference at our mission headquarters in Wheaton, IL. The first week I will be at the conference. It is an important consultation of our TEAM leaders from around the world July 7-14 in Wheaton (actually at Wheaton College).  TEAM needs the input of all its leaders as we determine how to move ahead in these next years to best help churches around the country to send their missionaries in this ever-changing world.  The second week I will be staying with my extended family who lives in the area. Please pray for:
safe travels, and more importantly, for Becky who will stay back with all three boys. Ask our Father to give her extra endurance, strength, patience…etc., with three boys under 5 years of age.
Also pray for Caleb and Samuel to be obedient to Becky and understand that Ben will be back soon.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to lead the time of consulting/interacting/praying among all the TEAM missionaries and leaders.
Finally, pray for our packing, as we leave this city (Campinas, São Paulo) to move inland at the end of July, less than two weeks after I get back from the US.

Thank you for your prayers and partnership, we need you more than you know!

Ben, Becky, and the boys...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


We continue learning some Brazilian values the hard way it seems. We are finding that most Brazilians will put relationships before other things...even if their kids are sick, they will still go out with friends if there is a previous commitment. Now, there are usually exceptions to the rule, but it is a general observance on our part. Basically, relationships are important!! This might be why our kids keep getting sick...they have had fevers for two days straight and going on the third day...because other kids at school have fevers, or kid at the park are really sick but their parents wouldn't dare keep their kid home from the park and not be able to play with their friends. So, a question for us to ask ourselves is: "if we don't show up for a social event, or Caleb or Becky don't go to school for the day, does that mean we are not good missionaries because we don't value relationships enough here??" Not necessarily. It's a difficult line to walk here in Brazil...but each culture has good practices, which are sometimes to the exclusion of others.

We Americans value our kids' health above relationships--that's an easy one. Well, at least for us, Americans. Does it mean there is a right or wrong in this, and yes. That's the challenge of living in a culture not your own. So, you can pray for our kids, and us too, to heal up quickly and develop strong immune systems by the Lord's grace--may he protect us from all these germs!! Thank you for praying for us!!

Friday, June 01, 2012

Mais mudanças...

It is now June as you read this post...which means a lot is about to happen in the next two months with our family (thus the Portuguese subject line of this email: More changes...). So, would you keep praying for us and the changes to come? Here is a quick update and a few things you can praise/pray about:
  • Becky is on track to finish her Portuguese language program around the end of June/beginning of July--praise the Lord! We know this doesn't mean the learning is over though. Pray for us all to persevere and keep learning.
  • Ben was able to lead a Bible study at our weekly small group and enjoyed getting some practice with Portuguese in that context. He was also able to start playing soccer with some Brazilian friends on a weekly basis, until a tree fell on the goal post this week--no more soccer for a while.
  • Caleb finishes his pre-school in June and will need to say goodbye to all his friends here--pray for him; this is hard to do.
  • Samuel is saying more and more words in English and Portuguese but is having a hard time with mommy gone at language school every morning - pray that he will be at peace and that the next month will go by quickly for him...
  • David continues to grow...he definitely is our son--large and sturdy. His giggles keep us smiling around here!
  • Ben is going to the US for two weeks to Wheaton, IL for a conference at our mission headquarters (dates are July 7th through 17th). This will be a time of strategizing for the future of our mission agency ( you ask the Lord's blessings over our time together as missionaries, home office leadership, and staff? Please also pray for Becky to have energy caring for the boys during this time.
  • After Ben returns from the US, we will be moving to our permanent ministry location (Anápolis) in central Brazil...we are excited for this move, but it once again involves transition...something we've done a lot of in the last few years. Please keep praying! Becky and all three boys will fly on July 31st, Ben will drive the next day (August 1st) with the car full of our belongings. Pray for safe travels.
  • Praise the Lord that our support has remained steady this last 9 months! We continue to ask you to pray with us that the Lord will bring the remaining amount in as we move and begin our ministry roles in August. Thank you for your continued partnership and prayers!
We could not be here without your prayers and generous giving--thank you so much! Please keep in touch as you are able...we miss you!

Monday, May 07, 2012

Days go by...

As the days go by in the routine of language school, there are little changes that we don't always notice, but that those of you who keep up with us WOULD notice. So, just wanted to give you a few of those things that you might find interesting...or fun, or just mundane.
-First off, David, our almost three month old, is wearing 9-month clothing. This is in keeping with Bacheller tradition...our boys are plain BIG. He's growing very quickly, and loves to hear and see his brothers playing, singing, and dancing in front of him.
-Samuel is now saying more words than we can count! Just today at breakfast he said "Superman" and pointed up to the sky (we made him and Caleb red Superman capes!) Last night, he was getting into the car himself and said "Okie dokie!" He counted to 10 in English the other day, and says many words in Portuguese without even knowing he's speaking a different language!
-Caleb speaks Portuguese and English interchangeably with Becky and I; we're trying to train him to speak Portuguese when there are Brazilians around us, and English when there are not. He has done amazingly well with the language adaptation--kids almost always do when they are living within the context.
-Becky continues her language learning--it's HARD! I, Ben, joke with people that Portuguese is going to be the language we will use in Heaven...because it seems to take an eternity to learn! She is doing well, but we ask you to pray for her as she has a couple of months left to finish the program. Pray for understanding and retention.
-Me, Ben...well, I'm a "stay-at-home-dad" for now, and until this language learning process is mostly complete. Language learning is never "over" for an adult, I myself continue to learn and grow in the language that I grew up speaking. I'm comfortable with the language, but still find myself forgetting a word here or there, having to re-learn it or learn it for the first time.

If you're interested in seeing pictures and videos, you can look for us on Facebook if you're on that; we post videos and pictures there occasionally.

Thank you for praying with and for us and faithfully keeping us before the Father.

Ben, for the family.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

At the beach

During the weekend of the 21st of April, on the 5th anniversary of Noah's homegoing, we went to the beach spend some family time, and to remember Noah's life. We had a restful time and were able to feel renewed enjoying God's beautiful creation! Here are Samuel and Caleb digging in the sand.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

In the window??

It's crazy being a parent walk into the other room for 5 seconds, come back, and there's your kid...doing....WHAT??? UP IN THE WINDOW???

Friday, March 23, 2012

Samuel grabbed Becky's running shoes the other day and started walking around the house!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

David Nathanael Bacheller

Baby David was born on Feb. 10th, at 8:08 am, weighing 8.2 lbs and measuring 20 inches. Thank you all for praying!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Change of plans...

 What was supposed to be a nice outing with the boys today turned out to be a visit to the urgent care center for Caleb...all because he decided it would be a good idea to jump from one end of the couch to the other...never mind that the "other" end of the couch was practically bare wood that had long ago lost its padding...The worst part? He dove head first...or shall we say, NOSE first? At least nothing broke in his nose or face...just a bad hit to the nose...and it was a relatively quick visit to the historically significant/architecturally attractive hospital!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

People and hard work...

Today we had a man, José (Zé), do some yard work. I saw him working on the neighbor's yard and we needed work done on ours, but we don't have any tools here, they're all stored away in Anápolis, the city we'll be moving to this next summer (winter here in Brazil—we're in the southern hemisphere!). So, I asked him how much he'd charge to do our front yard, he gives me the price, and says he could do it today. So, anyhow, after he's done with the neighbor's yard, he comes over to ours and starts working. What would have taken me an hour or less took him about 2.5 hours. Now, he did a great job, in fact, a marvelous job! It was so funny to me (not frustrating, but funny, yes!), how as he worked during this time, I could hear him out the front window talking every now and people who were passing by. Was I frustrated at this? Well, back in the US, possibly...I've got that old American hard-work mentality built-into me...after all, I sold Bibles/books door to door to pay for college, no easy task. However, I wasn't upset at him at all...and here's why I thought all this to be so funny: I understood what was happening. As Zé was working, many people would pass by, and they know who he is...he works as the grounds crew guy across the street at an apartment building property. Everyone knows him, and he knows everyone too! So, people would say hi, or he'd say hi to them, put his elbow over his hoe, and catch up on the latest with them...for 30 seconds or so. Then he'd get back to work. A few minutes later, someone else would stop by, and the same thing would happen again. It was so funny for me to observe a cultural practice (a very GOOD one a that) in “real-time”. It's a cultural lesson I'll hopefully learn the easier way. I've 'known' the lesson for my whole life...studied about it in college and seminary, but merely 'knowing' isn't enough, I've got to 'practice it'. So today I have seen it afresh: “In Brazil, people are more important than time.” This is a value that Brazilians have which puts us Westerners to shame. It's a biblical principle that we would all do well to learn. Thanks Zé for sharing the Brazilian culture with us today.