Sunday, December 26, 2010

Servant Evangelism

Our December outreach was a type of servant evangelism, where you give something to someone asking nothing in return. It is a way to demonstrate the grace that God shows in salvation.

We decided to buy 96 traditional Christmas cakes, and ask each of our families to pray about people they would like to give to and join us in this outreach. We had a calendar printed up with all our church info on it and attached it all with a small card that wished them a Merry Christmas.
Some of our people were nervous about how they would be received so we had the privilege to go out with them. One lady that I went with was very nervous when we began but after seeing the warm responses that we got she got more and more excited, announcing as we arrived at the homes of her neighbors, "Santa Claus is here!" She took two for her daughters and they both expressed interest in visiting our church.

For us this was a great way to reconnect with older contacts. It was exciting to see their warm welcome and open attitude they still have to the Gospel. It was also excited to use this outreach to reconnect with families we met during our surveys this summer.

We praise the Lord for His unspeakable gift this Christmas season and pray that He will draw some of these dear people to Himself this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's Puzzle Time!!!

We arrived in Curitiba yesterday to spend the week with James parents. Last night we kicked things off with hotdogs & hamburgers on the grill and then after we put the kids to bed, we headed out to the patio to enjoy the cool of the evening.

This morning we got started on our 1000 piece tropical birds puzzle. This is a tradition my mom started a few years back in Texas. James really loved having this to work on during the week before Christmas, so we decided to try it here this year.

So far so good!

All the kids helped seperate the colors into bowls and then they got out their own little puzzles to work on while the adults worked on the bigger one.

We'll keep you updated on our progress!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Magnifing Christ through Christmas

We have been busily taking advantage of the season to magnify Christ here with the people God has placed in our lives.
Last week we continued our journey learning about the birth of Jesus. We took a trip around the block with our Sunday School class, arriving in Bethlehem just in time for Mary to have Baby Jesus. Then we helped the kids make their own little mangers to take home and put on their trees.

Yesterday Sharon continued the story with the lowest shepherds and the richest wisemen coming to worship the Lord Jesus. We finished up by having the kids make stars to put on the tree.

All the while we have been working with the kids on a mini Christmas program. Last night, we were able to do the presentation. We were so thrilled to have one of the Dad's come for the first time last night as well as a return visit from our October outreach. We had 33 last night and are just praising the Lord.

After the program, James had the privileged to preach and share the Good News of great joy! There were several there who are not yet saved and we pray for Gods work in their hearts to bring them to salvation.

We wrapped up the evening with a fellowship time with lots of yummy food.

This year was so different than our Christmas celebration last year, but mainly because this year, God has begun the building of His church here in Florianopolis. Thank you for your part in the building of His Church here through prayer and giving.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I've Got a Friend in You!

I just wanted to share how thankful I am for my friend and sister-in-law, Sharon.

I had a "difficult"week this week and was discouraged. James has been sick all week and it just hasn't been feeling like Christmas. Last night Sharon invited us over. She had made all the traditional American yummy foods that we love but don't eat very often. Tortilla chips with guacamole and Cheese dip, "little smokies" in barbecue sauce. Chocolate fondue with loads of fruits, homemade carmel corn, a huge, beautiful sugar cookie cake, 7 layer magic bars and fruit punch. We enjoyed all the yummy food together and then watched their old VCR version of Its a wonderful Life. It was like our own little Christmas Party.

It was such a neat time of fellowship and encouragement (It was definitely Christmas-sy!). I am not sure why Sharon did it, but I felt so blessed to have a friend like her in my life.

Monday, December 06, 2010

What We're Learning at Church

Sunday nights, our childrens class has been doing a study on the attributes of God. Last week they learned about God being our refuge and this week they learned about God being unchangeable. It has been so neat seeing the kids and the teachers get excited about our amazing God.

The beginners class has been learning about Christmas. It is so neat to see them learning where Jesus was born and why He came. It is funny because we sing in Portuguese that Jesus was born in Belem, but then I want them to know the word in English too, so we then have to try and say Bethlehem too.
This week they colored the donkey from the story because we have a little song about the donkey that takes Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem and they wanted to color the donkey.

In Sunday School, we started studying Christmas last week with a look at the prophecies. Each of the kids made a scroll with a prophecy regarding Christ's birth to hang on their Christmas tree.

Each week, we have also been lighting a candle. It is so special to teach the kids about the anticipation that Israel had as they looked forward to the coming of Emmanuel. Last week we talked about the passage in Isaiah 9:2 "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined." Jesus truly is the Light of the world, and each week the light in our class is shinning brighter as it gets closer to the celebration of his coming!
This week we looked at the angel Gabriel, who brought the announcement to Mary that she would bear a son, Emmanuel, God with us. The kids then made angels to hang on their trees. Each week we are making a ornament that will help them remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Teaching the True Meaning of Christmas

It has been really neat to see new believers gearing up for their first Christmas since coming to know Christ. Most of them have never read the Christmas story in the Bible. Many of them did not attach any special meaning to the day before coming to know Christ. It has been exciting for us to share with them the reason we celebrate Christmas.

The past few years I have used a homemade Advent Calendar that is based on the Noelle Piper Calendar. Each day you read part of the Christmas story and add a figure to the wall until the scene is completed on December 25 by putting Jesus in the manger. This year I decided to make it more durable as well as make them for the ladies of the church with children. After more than a month of making people and cutting out animals, it was complete.

Tuesday, November 30th I had an afternoon tea for the ladies and then presented them with their calendars. I challenged them to read the Christmas story in the Bible during the quiet times, to share what touches them with their children. They each have a copy of the Jesus Story-Book Bible, so I also challenged them to read the stories covering Christ's birth to their children. They all looked so excited. So far I have heard from two of them that they are really liking the calendars.
Tuesday was really a special time to see the ladies become "family." All of them are new Christians. Most of them are experiencing some persecution of harassment from their friends and family. It is neat to see how God is forming the bond of Christian sisterhood among these ladies.
Please keep praying that each of us will focus on Christ and why He came, as we celebrate Christmas this year.