Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Tennessee Christmas

We are gathered with the Taylor "fam" for a Christmas celebration in Gatlinburg, TN. This is the first time all the Taylors have been together for Christmas since 2001.

David and Sharon brought Brazilian Picanha (steak), Linguica (sausage) and one other meat. David grilled it to perfection, in true brazilian style! Sharon cooked up our rice and batata fritas. Can you figure out what that is?? (I'll put the answer later.)

UMMM! It was a great meal. For dessert we had grilled pineapple. You will have to come to Brazil sometime and join us for a meal. (Batata Fritas are French Fries.)

Today we were able to go for a hike in the Smokey Mountains. God's glory is so beautifully displayed in His creation. The water, rushing down the mountain. The buck bounding across the river. The variety of trees and plantlife. A hike can be a perfect opportunity to worship the Lord.

"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!"

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Snowy Scare

Sunday afternoon we were invited over to a dairy farm near Grand Rapids, MI. Although there was a lake effect snow warning, the roads looked really good. It snowed all day long and when we left for church that evening the roads looked pretty bad, (especially to a driver from Houston!)

As we approached our first stop sign we could tell we weren't going to be able to stop. James tried to make the turn around the corner but we slid off the road. God kept us from hitting a large tree just in front of us and from sliding down into a steep ravine. Right away people started stopping to offer to help. A friend we knew from college lived at the farm and he came with a rope and truck to try to pull us out. The first try the rope snapped. The second try the van slid further off the road and down into the ditch. The van tilted sharply to one side and James thought it was going to go over! Finally a bystander recommended driving forward into the ditch, turning sharply and trying to drive out onto a side road. With a prayer James did it and was able to drive right out! Praise the Lord.

James was scheduled to preach on Sunday evening. Although he was a half and hour late for church he was able to preach. Most of the congregation was unaware that he was even late.

We are so grateful for God's provision and protection. He has kept us safe on the road for almost 2 years to 80 meetings and for 65,000 miles. It is a miracle that we haven't been in a more serious accident.

Keep praying!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Our first attempt at a snowman

We are in Grand Valley, Michigan for a missions conference and God has blessed us with our first real snow! This is our second winter in the North and we are so excited to finally be able to play in the snow.

You may have noticed that our snowman is lacking at least 2 layers. Each time we tried to add another layer, the bottom would fall apart. This was our first attempt. We will try for more tomorrow.

The conference has been going really well. The people here at Grand Valley Baptist Church have been a real blessing. We began last night showing our presentation on our ministry in Brazil. This morning James attended a Men's Breakfast at 7am Eastern. This was very early for our bodies on Central time! Each of the four missionaries were able to share about their fields. Then at 1pm the Ladies held a tea. It was a great way to get to know the women. We then held a panel discussion about life as a missionary. Tonight we saw 2 more fields presented, The Lakes in Inner-City Cleveland, and the Joles in Hispanic Ministries in the Grand Rapids area. Tomorrow James will preach and I will teach children's Church.

We will be going to a dairy farm tomorrow afternoon. An old college friend lives here and we will get to see how he makes cheese. We have been give a block of Gouda!!!

Thanks for your prayers for us as we travel and minister.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Saying Good-bye

In January of 2006 we moved in to a furnished missionary home in Danville, IL. The home was provided by Calvary Baptist Church and we have lived here for the past 11 months. Tonight was our last night at Calvary. It is always bittersweet to say good-bye. Every time we leave we are moving closer to Brazil, but we say good-bye to those we love.

Our dear friend, Gretchen, invited us down to the children's Bible Club where we watched as the kids said goodbye to our son Daniel. Seeing these children circled around Daniel, with their hands on his shoulders, praying for us; I cried. The privilege of being a part of the family of God is amazing. No matter where we are from or how far away we are going, they love and accept us. There is a bond of that exceeds human comprehension.

When we first moved to Danville we were all lonely. The people of Calvary enveloped us with the love of God and made us a part of their life. Daniel and Hannah have both made lots of friends. James and I were given the opportunity to serve with the youth group and children's ministries. We have been so blessed to know these dear people. They were so helpful during the birth of Jeremiah. Keeping the kids overnight, bringing James food at the hospital, providing clothes, diapers, a stroller, and more for Jeremiah. God has used these servants for His glory.

Tonight in the youth meeting, the teens gave us notes of encouragement and prayed for us as we head out on Friday. They challenged us to trust God in all things and reminded us of the verse in Job 23:10,
But He knoweth the way that I take:
when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

We have said good-bye but we know that we will see these dear friends again. If not on this earth then we will meet them in the clouds and worship the Lord together forever.

My small group on Wednesday nights

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

As I was reading my bible Thanksgiving morning, I saw these verses. I thought they were challenging.

Hebrews 13:5a & 15a
"Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. ...let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name."

It is my hope that we will praise God for His many blessings continually. I have thought about all the things God is faithfully doing in and around us. It seems that I fail to praise Him or even recognize that He is working, (through the good and bad.) So often I am discontent and wishing for what others have. I am praying that I will be more aware of the Lord's provision and working in my life; having a heart that will "in everything give thanks" (I Thes. 5:18)

Let's give thanks to His name this season. Showing forth to the world the joy and peace that come from knowing and loving the Lord our God.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Support Increase

We praise the Lord for another huge support increase. We now have 64% of our needed monthly support. Because of some insurance changes and other proposed changes to our support estimate, BMM was able to lower our support estimate by $500. We also had one more church and one individual take us on for support. I have been trying to schedule meetings in Ohio for 2007 and ask that you pray for me. I have not had much success yet and just need wisdom to know what God would have me do. The fact that we've not been able to get more meetings makes me wonder if God is planning on giving us full support by the end of this year. At the same time, I believe it is my responsibility to keep on working and not to presume anything about God's timing. I appreciate your prayers regarding this.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Jeremiah Clayton Taylor

On Saturday, November 4th, we welcomed Jeremiah Clayton Taylor into the world! He came 3 weeks early but weighed in nicely at 6lbs 12oz. He had a beautiful head of blondish hair and was very alert and responsive during the first few hours we were with him.

He was born at 3:20 p.m.

Daniel and Hannah were so excited to meet us when we arrived home Sunday evening. Hannah just wanted to kiss him and Daniel wanted to show him all his toys. Daniel and Hannah are both a great help with the baby.

Thanks for all your prayers about the arrival of our new family member. God is so good!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Current Support Level

We are currently at 53% of our needed monthly support.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Missions Conference Report

Proclaiming God's Glory to the Nations was the theme of the missions conference at Campus Baptist Church in Ames, Iowa. We were so blessed to be a part of the conference. We were one of three missionaries represented. The Whitcher family was there sharing a burden to reach the hispanic population here in the U.S. Carol Bond was there reporting on God's work at Camp Ironwood in the desert of California. We shared the needs in Brazil, specifically southern Brazil.

We were so encouraged to spend time talking with several who have surrendered to serve the Lord in missions. A girl of 12 shared that she felt led to serve in Africa. Praise the Lord! "How shall they hear without a preacher?" It was also neat to hear testimonies of how God led others into His service. He seems to use those who are willing but maybe not the "most likely."

We were challenged to invest in the lives of people and to remember who we are: Ambassadors of Christ. James challenged us from I Cor. 1:17-25 to Proclaim the weakness and foolishness of Christ, knowing that the message of Christ Crucified is the wisdom and power of God to those that believe. There was a clear challenge to be sharing Christ as we live our daily lives. Looking for opportunites to proclaim our Great God!

The kids had lots of fun. Each day we had meals with different families in the church. Daniel and Hannah made lots of new friends. Daniel even learned to play carpet ball and did a suprisingly good job!

The theme song of the conference was O Great God, based on a puritan prayer from the book, Valley of Vision. I thought the words were so challenging.

O great God of highest heaven
Occupy my lowly heart
Own it all and reign supreme
Conquer every rebel power
Let no vice or sin remain
That resists Your holy war
You have loved and purchased me
Make me Yours forevermore

I was blinded by my sin
Had no ears to hear Your voice
Did not know Your love within
Had no taste for heaven's joys
Then Your Spirit gave me life
Opened up Your Word to me
Through the gospel of Your Son
Gave me endless hope and peace

Help me now to live a life
That's dependent on Your grace
Keep my heart and guard my soul
From the evils that I face
You are worthy to be praised
With my every thought and deed
O great God of highest heaven
Glorify Your Name through me

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Knowing Him

I was reading today in Jeremiah 9 and I was challenged and encouraged by verses 23 & 24.

"Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, Exercising lovingkindness, judgement, And righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight," says the Lord.

It is so easy to start to find pleasure and joy in my plans and accomplishments. I pray that my greatest joy in life will come from knowing and understanding the Great God of the universe.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

October Missions Conference

James and I will be sharing at a missions conference in Ames, Iowa later this month. Please pray for James as he is preparing several messages. The theme is "Proclaiming God's glory to the Nations." The conference runs from October 21st - 25th.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

September Prayer Letter

The Taylors
Magnifying Christ in Brazil
September 2006

Dear Prayer Partners,

We praise the Lord for raising our support to 53%. This month God has added one church and one family to our support team. It is exciting to finally be over the half-way mark! Please continue to pray that God would supply in His perfect timing. We have a full schedule of meetings in October and are still praying that God would raise our full support by the end of this year so we could get to Brazil by the beginning of 2007. Please pray that God would grant churches wisdom as they have their fall business meetings.

In our last letter, we asked you to pray for us as we vacationed in Colorado. We praise the Lord for a wonderful time with Christen's family. Once again we were amazed by God's beautiful creation. I was glad to have another opportunity to white water raft down the Taylor river. As some of you know, Daniel had his 5th birthday just last week. We thank you for your cards and gifts that you sent. He was thrilled to receive so much mail in one week. Christen has started home schooling him and he is already sounding out words. Hannah likes to listen in on his schooling and one day we expect she will start reading on her own. (Just kidding) Christen's pregnancy is going very well. She has about 8 weeks left to go, although she wishes he would come sooner!

We are starting to plan for next year and where we will go to raise our support, should God not supply by the end of this year. Will you please pray that God would give us wisdom to know where we should target for next year. We are praying about possibly going to Ohio. We have 2 supporting churches there and there are a number of churches that we could contact. A major issue would be finding a home to live in. We are confident that God will provide what we need when we need it.

Recently, I read a psalm that challenged me greatly. Psalm 62 says: "Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from Him cometh my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved." It was interesting to me that verse 2 is repeated in verse 6 of this same psalm. I was encouraged to make God alone my trust and hope.

Seeking to Magnify Christ,
James, Christen, Daniel & Hannah Taylor

Monday, September 11, 2006

Our Goals in Brazil

"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good Pleasure." Phil. 2:13 Through time in the Word and in prayer we believe that God is leading us to plant churches in Southern Brazil. Florianopolis, a city of over 300,000 people is in need of the true Gospel and God has given us a burden to show them that they too can have a relationship with Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:14,16 says, "...and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place...and who is sufficient for these things?" In our own strength we cannot accomplish this task but, 2 Cor. 2:5 says, "Our sufficiency is from Christ!"

How do we plan to diffuse the knowledge of Christ in Florianopolis?

First, by sharing one on one that all have sinned and we stand guilty before God as liars, thieves and idolators. Separated from Him because of our sins. God created us in His image and longs to have a relationship with us. In order to bridge this gap between our sin and His holiness, He sent His perfect, sinless Son, to die in our place. Christ Jesus conquered sin and death, rising again after three days and is now sitting at the right hand of the Father covering us with His righteousness. John 17:3 says, And this is life eternal, that they might KNOW Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

Second, we want to disciple them. Teaching them to study and apply God's Word in their daily lives, equipping them to share their faith and become leaders in the church. Each of those who trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior we will seek to involve in the church. Eventually having a new local church in Florianopolis, SC, Brazil.

Our long term goal would be for this first church to branch out and start churches all over the city, becoming a lighthouse to Southern Brazil, pointing men to Christ.

Saturday, September 09, 2006