Sunday, July 22, 2012
Friday, July 13, 2012
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Sunday, July 8, 2012
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Sue's Blog on Sol Nascente
If I wrote alll the things I have to say, it would end up being a book, so I will try to be brief. Saying goodbye to Sol Nascente last night was very difficult. We waved goodbye to a few of the closest friends beneath a huge full moon until our boat pulled away from the shore. Of all the villages I have visited over the last nine years, this is the village that I love the most. This is why I chose to come with the Alabama team instead of my home team who is heading to other villages in a few weeks. Of all the people in the world, I consider Erika one of my dearest friends even though we live at opposite ends of the earth. Getting to spend these days with her and Vanderley and Emmanuelle serving in their villages has been one of the biggest blessings of my life. I was astounded at the changes they have brought to Sol Nascente. Many of these changes have been possible because of Jay and the Eastwood Presbyterian Church. The village now has a beautiful church with a sound system and a small air conditioner. It has a full library for the people. Erika lives in the Missionary House that is attached to the church. I love the wonderful playground, Eastwood Parque, that the village children enjoy each day. It was so fun to see other playgrounds popping up in some of the other villages. This shows that Erika and Vanderley's ministry has had a far reaching influence over the entire lake area. These missionaries are the real thing! They not only talk the talk, but the walk the walk. Their level of committment to Christ has deeply touched my life and encouraged me to try to be a better person.
So many things happened at Sol Nascente during the two days we spent there. We tried some new things in VBS this year since this village has believers that are being discipled. The children learned how to pray using the 5 Finger Prayer and made fun foam hands with words on each finger in Portuguese. We improvised and made looped handles for the hands out of pipe cleaners. Children of all ages were totally fascinated with pipe cleaners. Who would have thought? The next day we gave each child a simple pipe cleaner and thrilled them! We let the children role play a wedding after hearing the Bible story about the Jesus' first miracle at the wedding at Cana of Galiee. We had a real wedding veil, donated flowers from a villager's yard, a bow tie for the groom (a fun foam visor turned around backwards and fastened in front), and of course pipe cleaner wedding rings. Each child got a Burger King crown to decorate. We hope it made them aware that Christians wait for God to choose their life mate and get married. There was a real wedding in the village not long ago which was an example for the people to follow. I think the highlight of VBS was the Easter Egg Hunt! After hearing the story of the Resurrection and opening a set of Resurrection Eggs (which they loved), we had a traditional American Easter Egg Hunt. It was the funniest thing to see these children run like crazy to find 300 eggs stuffed with Portuguese verses about New Life in Christ and some bon-bons. Of course the village children (and adults) were delighted with the Glo Bracelets that were given out after dark after worship services. We could see them glowing from the boat as the children darted back and forth on their way to their humble homes..
Another memory from Sol Nascente was the powerful service we had in the church on Tuesday afternoon. There was a dedication of the gifts brought from Eastwood: four heavy wooden rocking chairs for the women who hand craft colorful rugs and kitchen towels, a beautiful full communion set, and the most exquisite baptismal font built by Dr. Jack Hinton. The cedar came from woods behind their home. A whole family and precious little Emmanuelle were baptized. It was the sweetest moment, and I am so thankful I got to see it. The church was packed and many people stood outside the building. We concluded the service with a very meaningful time of communion.
The most unforgettable thing happened to me at Sol Nascente. God had a Divine appointment waiting for me. Years ago a relationship was built between some members of my Texas team and a woman named Nia. Julie Jackson, I hope you are reading this blog because this is for you, too. For two years in a row our team came to Sol Nascente, and this was before teams could choose their village destinations. Julie and Nia had many conversations about salvation and Heaven. After two years Nia fully understood the saving grace of Jesus Christ and was assured of her place in Heaven. Later that year, Nia died of cancer. On the first day of our visit here, I asked Erika to take me to Nia's family. I met Luis Carlos and his fourteen year old daughter, Rafaela, and one of his sons. Most of their children are grown and have moved away from Sol Nascente. Luis Carlos is one of the men who physically built the church building, but he does not come near the church now. He is not interested in the things of God but says he believes. We talked at great length about many things and about Nia. The son said he definitely was not saved and not interested at all. Rafaela is not saved at this time, but after all the conversations with me, the teenagers and young ladies from our team, she said she is not quite sure YET, but her tears let us know that her heart is softening and she is becoming less resistant. I was deeply touched when I looked outside the church on Tuesday afternoon and saw Luis Carlos all cleaned up, dressed up, and standing there a few yards from the open door. He stayed the entire time. Rafaela was inside the church and listened to the pastor's message which was excellent. It was dark by the time the service ended and all the family packs had been handed out. My heart was heavy, because I hated having to say goodbye to Sol Nascente. But Luis Carlos and Rafaela walked with us beneath the big full moon all the way to the Linda Esperanca. Luis Carlos pointed to the moon and said the Portuguese word for it and said, "Nia" and pointed up. He said, "Deus" and touched his heart. He said, "Hug Julie." The father and daughter stood on the shore by the boat for at least two hours and did not turn to leave until the boat finally pulled away. This action showed that our visit meant very much to them. I will never forget seeing them wave until the boat was out of sight.
We are now on our long voyage back to Manaus. It is the 4th of July and the girls have planned a big red, white, and blue party for tonight. It was been a relaxing day on the boat. A morning rain storm on the Amazon was the perfect opportunity for a nice long nap for our tired bodies. Tomorrow morning we will shop at "Stuckey"s. If anyone from Texas sees Timmy Lambert, tell him that I have not forgotten my promise of a stuffed pirhana for him! We will have a couple of rooms at the Tropical Hotel (now with a new name and new owners) for hot showers and some rest before our trip home. If we are lucky, we will get to go to the Brazilian steakhouse before our flight home.
I am so glad to said yes when God called me to the Amazon this summer. So many times I almost said no. I will return home a different person. I have never felt such peace and such joy and such assurance that God will always take care of me and my family just like he has all of my life. He is in control of every detail of our lives. Even in times of sorrow and uncertainty, I am reminded and amazed by His overwhelming grace. I am glad that I can recognize His voice when He speaks to me. I consider it a great privilege to have spent these last few days with this incredible team of missionaries. God bless everyone who took the time to read my blog which did not turn out to be short.
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Today was a great last day in Sol Nasciente!! We had our last VBS this morning, and last medical clinic. This afternoon, we had a service in the church. We witnessed the first baptisms and first communion. It was an awesome experience. Last night, we went on our 2nd gator hunt!!! I was almost eaten by a 15 footer.....just kidding!!! We did catch a 5 footer, and I held it!! That thing would make some awesome cowgirl boots!! Tomorrow we will travel all day. We are going to have a party rockin' 4th of July, while cruisin' on the Amazon River. HOLLA!!! Yes, we are going to stop at Stuckey's on the Amazon! We get the great privilege of scootin' around Manaus on Thursday. Holla, again. It's sort of bittersweet having to leave these people, but I will return if the Lord wills. Thanks to everyone for supporting this trip, whether through prayers, or financially. I hope all is well at home, and Happy 4th of July, everyone!! God Bless 'Merica!
P.S. Papa Jay (Big Bad Wolf) told me to blog for him, and say hey!
I'll be home soon,
George of the Jungle.
Well George pretty much summed everything up. And I agree completely that the being able to watch the first communions and baptisms was an awesome experience. It was so sweet, God is so awesome. Papa Jay informed us that a few years ago, the A team was standing around an empty foundation, praying for a church. This afternoon, we had a service in that church that the team prayed for two years ago. I dont know why we ever doubt God's power or ability. He can do anything He wills. This trip has been a huge reminder to me of just that. God is SO powerful and mighty. His purpose for me, for my team, for yall is so much bigger than ourselves. Going on a missions trip, always reminds me of how selfish I am. Ugh, it just makes me sick. These people, they have barely anything but yet are so content. I thank God for continuely bringing me to my knees and reminding me of how I am in desperate need of a Saviour. Trust. Trusting God is so important. Sometimes, I get discouraged. "Why wont ALL these people just believe? Why dont they get that God loves them so much and wants a relationship with them?" I need to, I have to, trust that God is mighty to save. Because He is. So, now we are on our way to Manaus. As George said, it is bittersweet. "Although we Ameicans are leaving, God never will." (Jordan quote) Anywho...boa noite to all.
Monday, July 2, 2012
It is amazing how simple things make such a difference. In the U.S., our kids and us are so caught up with the latest toys and the games only for them to quickly grow old and need to be replaced. Here in the villages, our trash (water bottles) have become instruments (with rocks inside), swords, balls, etc. It is so amazing to see these kids enjoy the simple things in life. This evening, I had the simple luxury of talking to two people: one was a brother in Christ who is needed someone to talk to and one is the most beautiful woman in the world, my wife. The wonderful gift of conversation and relationship is something that so often gets lost in the busyness of our lives. I am just grateful that I was allowed an opportunity to be in the middle of the Amazon river and be reminded of that gift. Lee Ann and my five incredible kids, I LOVE YOU and will see you soon!
- Chris Duggar
There is a white board beside the "buffet line." Every day, the list of the villages that are ministered to are recorded. As the trip has gone on, the list gets longer and longer. It is impressive to see the various places we have visited:
1. Divino - 6/29
2. Maranhao - 6/30 A.M.
3. Paraiso - 6/30 P.M.
4. Sol Nascente - 7/1 A.M.
5. Bucuzal - 7/1 P.M.
6. Sol Nascente - 7/2, 7/3.
Under this list, the people blogging that night are listed. Tonight it reads "BLOG OPEN TO ANYONE." So, I am taking advantage of this opportunity.
I hope y'all prayed today for the teenage girls of Sol Nascente like I encouraged you to do yesterday. Your prayers were greatly felt by Georgianna, Emily, Becky, Erika, Rosi, and I. All fears were calmed. The saving power of God's word and the testimonies of His love in our lives were given with power, love, and urgency. It was beautiful. It was amazing.
We started with 12 girls in Erika's home, excluding Rosi, Georgianna, Emily, Becky, and I. Once everyone had arrived, we decided to "break the ice" by introducing ourselves. We didn't even get through the Americans before we just jumped right into it. Becky told them the reason why we are here: because we are called by God to come down here to Lake Carara to minister to them. We shared our life stories of God's grace, mercy, and the continual struggle to focus ONLY on Christ...and no one else. Rosi, our faithful, amazing, translator, translated for us. Then, she jumped it.....telling her story and got "down and dirty" with those girls...telling them the urgency, the need, the sole satisfaction found in Jesus. It was amazing. By the end of the session, we only had 7 girls.....and only about 3 were really listening. But those that were were greatly impacted. Honestly, I can't wait to head back out in the morning to Sol Nascente to see what God did in their hearts during the night. HIS WORD NEVER COMES BACK VOID.
So, pray tomorrow that, as we continue to ask these girls hard questions, they will be open to us. Pray that God will remove the scales from their eyes so that they can see Him.
OH! Tomorrow, we are having baptisms at the church from the new baptismal font! AND Communion from the new communion trays. I cannot wait for those sweet moments of fellowship with my brothers and sisters from the boat, Igreja Presbiteriana de Sol Nascente, and with Christ.
Pray for strength. Tomorrow is our last day.....and we are exhausted.
Thanks. Love y'all! Solo Deo Gloria!
Jordan A. Holley
P.S. We went gator huntin again tonight.......and we caught a biggun! ;)
Sunday, July 1, 2012
There have been so many memories made on this trip. Georgianna fell out of her hammock one night...then Emily fell out last night. So many new inside jokes have been created. It is fantastic. But what is even better is the work God is doing here. I don't know if it is because I have been here now 3 times, if I am noticing it more, or if there is a real concentrated presence of God in my life and here in the lake. I believe it is the third one. There seems to be more hearts that are open and willing to receive Christ. Combined with people who are literally pouring their lives into and sacrificing everything for the sake of Christ, amazing sermons, and fantastic personal testimonies of God's goodness, the Word of God is making a huge impact. His work (even though it may take years) and Word NEVER come back void.
The translators and crew are fantastic. I think this is the best group I have ever worked with. I am building some amazing relationships. These people are incredible. Their testimonies of God's work is phenomenal. I am blown away.
Mom, I am fine. I haven't gotten sick, nor have I forgotten anything. Ok, I take that back. I forgot a flashlight...but then I realized I have the flashlight app on my phone. :) I did slice my toe open in the first village (Divino) right before lunch. I was walking past some tiles in the community center...and they went right between my 3rd and 4th toes. But everything is fine. :) You can see the scar when I return. And, if I come back with a child............don't blame me. I have already picked him out. ;) Oh, and I thought I had lice today. I was doing girls' hair in Bucuzal and several had lice. So, I skipped the service to treat my hair. Turns out that I did not have any. Huzzah!
Now, I want to encourage y'all to prayer. Whether you are family, friends, subscribers to the blog, etc....pray pray pray. It is so powerful. The prayers that were sent up before arriving have been answered...and are continuing to be answered. Be praying for continued open hearts. Tomorrow, we minister to Sol Nascente for 2 days. Georgianna, Emily, Laura, Becky, and I will be working with the teenage girls. This is the ministry that has been on my heart and quite a burden for me. These girls have no interest in the gospel....even after 3 years of coming here. Pray that the Lord will use us mightily for His work. Pray that their eyes will be opened. Pray it will be fruitful....whether to full fledge faith, or tiny seeds planted/watered. I am on my knees about it...and I encourage you to do the same.
It is hot. It is humid. It is cold at night. It is hard work. It is tiring. But, it is beautiful. I would not trade a single moment of seeing God's goodness for a moment of AC (even though it is tempting). I have so many pictures (no, Mom...I haven't lost my camera...aka phone. Ha.) and I can't wait to post them on Facebook! I may even put several on my blog along with stories. So, when we return, be looking for it!
Love y'all! PRAY!
P.S: Mom, can you please send this link to Elaine, people at Eastwood, and possibly David? Thanks.
Greetings from the J.U.N.G.L.E!
This has been the BEST trip yet! I can honestly say that the success of this trip is because of the constant prayers on our behalf. Please continue to pray ferverently, as we still have much work ahead of us. I am going to mirror Jordan's comment on the memories and inside jokes, so many have been created. It is a bit overwhelming to see the many ways God is working here in the Amazon. It is even more overwhelming to think that God is working in so many more ways that I cannot see. God has worked in my life these past few days with drawing me closer to himself, and falling deeper in love with him.
Mom and Dad, I am fine! Hopefully I will not come home infested with chiggers this year. I just returned from Alligator hunting. It was fantastic!
I love everyone so much! Keep praying!
Love your Amazon Woman,
We had a great day today! It was long and busy, but we feel as though our day was a huge success! This morning we dedicated the baptismal font, the communion trays and the rocking chairs to the church at Sol Nascente. This is the church that our missionaries, Erika and Vanderlay serve. The ladies in the church have a sewing ministry that supports the church and some of us bought rugs and dish towels. We had a service there this morning where Jay's mother and Walker Lee sang and Sadler accompanied on the guitar, "God is my Shepherd". It was great. We moved on to another village where we set up the clinics and had VBS. We had lots of folks that lined up to see the doctors and the dentists. VBS was standing room only!!! Emily, Georgianna, Jordan and Becky (our translator), acted out the story of Saul on the road to Damascus. I read from a big picture book and the girls made it come to life!!!! Academy Awards await them all. At this writing, I am recovering nicely from my shock at being handed an alligator straight from the Amazon River. Yes, it is true. It was a great adventure and I didn't even mess up my nails!!!
The people here are so hospitable and we are being blessed by their faithfulness in a place where there aren't many creature comforts.
We will have LOTS of stories to tell when we see you all again! In the meantime, please remember to pray for us!!!
Scarlett O'Hara aka Sonja
I am so blessed to be here again with Jack, Jay and his family. God has blessed us this week. I enjoyed praising God with our special music in the service this morning. We will spend the next two days ministering to the folks in Sol Nascente. It will be wonderful to see the baptism and to have communion with them.
Love to all my family and friends,
P.S. Attn: family of Sue Rolf. Please pick her up on Friday at the airport....she told you Saturday, but she was wrong. She does not want to be left overnight. The baggage claim will not allow her to sleep there.