When Life Is Normal

“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God….If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”  – 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NKJV)

Playing the Violino at ChurchAfter Semana de Musica and the 2 weeks at camp, the last 5 weeks have been more of what I would call “real life” or “everyday life in ministry.” I think that individuals often think that missionaries are always busy doing some major project or activity. However, while those major activities are part of missionary life, missionaries often spend each day as “normal” people. They study for classes or sermons that they are teaching or preaching, spend time with other people, clean their houses, go grocery shopping, and serve the Lord in other ways.

In the last 5 weeks, I have had many opportunities to be involved in various areas of ministry and activities, such as attending several churches, playing my violin, attending Crizelite’s missionary commissioning service, attending a church retreat at camp, going to prayer meetings and chapel services at the seminary here in Crato, and attending seminary classes. I have also had opportunities to work with children and learn more about the school system here. I have spent time watching three kids who live near the seminary, gone to kids club at a church in the area, observed and participated in a private English class, and attended a few schools. These activities have all been great experiences. It has been a lot of fun to interact with the children, and they also make great Portuguese tutors.  🙂

High School Kids at Colegio BatistaAs I mentioned, I have had the opportunities to attend some schools in the area, and because this activity is especially important to me, I will talk a little more about it. The teaching opportunities here in Northeast Brasil are amazing. Schools here often try to have English classes, but the teachers themselves do not know much English or the proper pronunciation, so there is a need for English teachers.

One thing that is different in the schools here than in the United States is that people are allowed to share their religious beliefs in the classroom. If one’s degree is recognized by an institution in Brasil as being a valid degree, that person can go into any of the schools and teach, bringing their beliefs about God and religion with them. This aspect is positive in that Christians are allowed to share the gospel, but it also means that Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and other religious groups can share their beliefs too.

Signing Autographs for the CriancesAnother thing that is different down here in Northeast Brasil than the States is the age of children when they begin school. Children often begin school at the age of 2 or 3 (sometimes even at around the age of 1). Mothers often have a job outside the home, so they send their kids to school and go to work. Schoenberg, one of the schools that I visited a couple times, is a private school that hopes to eventually become a bilingual school. Beth Willson teaches English at this school to 1-4 year olds, and I observed and participated in a few classes.

Another school I visited is Colegio Batista, a large private school which is connected to a Baptist church in Juazeiro. I was able to see all the classes (2-year-olds through high school), tell one class about myself, my family, and Iowa, and sit in on another class. On two days last week, I had the opportunity to visit Esperança (Hope) school, another private school in Juazeiro. This school teaches children ages 2 through 9th grade. The first day I went to Esperança, I sat in on an Ethics class and then went to a 2nd grade class and told them about Iowa, did a couple games with them, and did an acitivity where I told them some English words. The second day that I went to Esperança I was in the same 2nd grade class, and I taught a Bible lesson and played games with the children.

I really enjoyed being able to visit and help at Esperança, as well as at the other two schools. Who knows, maybe someday God will bring me to a school to teach, whether it be teaching English or teaching another subject, or whether it be at Esperança, at a school in the United States, or at a home to my younger siblings or another homeschooling family. Only God knows, and until then it is my job to trust in God, pray, and follow God’s leading.

As I sit in Brasil typing this blog post, I have mixed emotions, and my heart is saddened to think that I only have 3 days left in Brasil.  Tons of things have happened in the past 59 days, and it is hard to believe that Joshua and I will be leaving on Thursday. However, I am so thankful for the opportunity God gave us to come here and minister. This experience has been amazing! I have learned a lot about the culture here, God has taught me so much in my spiritual life, and He has continued to open doors and direct me in what His will is for me regarding long-term work.

While I am sad to have to leave Brasil, I am also excited to continue life in the U.S. and to serve where I am in my hometown community and church. I am also so excited to see how God will continue to lead me and where He will take me in the next few years. Right now I need to strive to follow God each and every day, trust Him with my future, and wait for His leading (Psalm 37:1-7).

Here are some praises and prayer requests:
1. Praise God for the multiple opportunities He has given for me to serve and participate in camp, in the seminary, and in the schools.
2. Praise God that the Portuguese language is no longer as much of a barrier!
3. Please pray that Joshua and I will be a blessing to the Leonards and the other people here, and that we will finish strong in these last few days in Brasil.
4. Please pray that God will continue to guide me and make clear to me His will for my life in regards to long-term work.
5. Please pray for me as I prepare for college classes. I begin classes when I get back to the States, and I will have to make up the first week of classes that I’m missing. Pray that I would rely on God’s strength instead of worrying.
6. Please pray that Joshua and I will have safe flights back to the U.S. on Thursday and Friday, and that everything will run smoothly.
Thank you so much for all of your prayers and encouragement.  I greatly appreciate it!