Saturday, July 31, 2010

I was driving home tonight and thought to myself "I feel like blogging." I decided to go ahead and take full advantage of that feeling, given that I haven't felt this way since, oh, maybe 2008? :)

After 9 weeks of constant reader and American traffic, our LST season is finally over. I say finally only because it lasted a long time, not because I'm happy about it. In the 4 years I have participated in LST in Natal, this year we had the most top-notch, cream of the crop readers that I've seen. They were a joy to be around and to host in our building. They were reliable and highly intelligent. They were kind and welcoming to our American workers. They took full advantage of the free English conversation sessions and expressed their gratitude. They came to the parties and had a blast. They showered our American guests with beautiful, authentic Brazilian gifts. They studied the Bible.

We hosted 4 different LST teams, 18 people total, from Tennessee, Missouri, Texas, and Oklahoma. They rode dune buggies and played in the ocean. They accumulated hundreds of hours studying the gospel of Luke in English. They made friendships, many of which will last a lifetime. Each of them took a small piece of our hearts with them as they went home, and I'm sure they feel as though they left a piece of theirs with us. Each of them promised they'd be back...and given the track record of LST teams in Natal, I believe them!

I often say I have the best job in the world. If it's not the best, (one of our LST workers is an elementary school PE's possible her job is the best in the world!) it's up there. Hosting American visitors, connecting them with Brazilians, and watching them develop relationships while reading the Bible is a privilege and blessing I don't take for granted. I've learned the pattern well of an LST project, especially when the workers are newbies. They are usually nervous to get started, and come out of their first session with a giant sigh of relief. They usually express surprise at how easy it was. For about the first two days they share with me about each and every reader, each and every conversation. I eat it up. I love watching them relax into their role as soon as they realize it is to relate rather than "teach." I love hearing about the reader who barely will say "hi" to me at the door, but shares his life as soon as he sits down at the table with his new, English-speaking friend. I get goosebumps as they tell me about the reader who "finally got it," and the one who got emotional as they prayed for the first time together.

A few months ago, as we were starting our advertising for LST, I shared with you about how I bargain with God regarding the response to our advertising, as if it somehow depended on me and what we do. Once again, I am humbled not only by the sheer number of people He brought to us, (over 100) but also by the way He worked in each of their lives. As of right now we have two readers who will begin studying the Bible in Portuguese with one of our ministers, and about 30 who will continue studying the Bible in English with me in group classes. I received a beautiful email last week from one of the readers who will begin a Portuguese Bible study, in which he said "I'd like to keep studying the Bible no matter what language."

Please remember us in your prayers. We are praying prayers of thanksgiving for the blessings that God gave us through LST, and we are praying prayers of petition for the lives of our new friends. We want to be used as instruments in God's hand, however He may choose to do that.

And since no blog post is complete without a picture, here are two shots I took on two different days this past week of my city at night. Enjoy!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Quick Update Round 2

Hello again. Remember me? I don't. I think I may have forgotten my own name in the last 36 hours. Although I'm a sucker for superlatives, I really do think that yesterday might have been one of the most tiring days I've ever experienced in my short 25 years on this earth!

LST team #2 from Westover Hills in Austin finished up their project on Friday and got a day and a half to relax, hang out, and see some sights. They had a great project and a great experience with their readers. We (the other missionaries and I) always feel so blessed when members of our supporting churches come to visit, and getting to serve alongside them is an added bonus. The Westover team just "happened" (thanks, God) to be here on a very important Sunday on which the church was presented with a financial plan for the congregation to start participating in the payment of the missionaries' salaries. That we had three real, live Westover members here to participate in the meeting, witness the response, and be able to go back with a good report to Westover was pretty remarkable. We were pleased!

On Sunday, as I dropped LST team #2 off at the airport, I got them checked-in and sent upstairs to board while I stayed downstairs to meet LST team #3 from Springtown. In addition to Westover, Springtown is my other supporting church and so we had a sweet reunion in the arrivals area of the Natal airport. We got all five of them and their bags (plus Paul Reding from one of last year's teams) into the cars, to the apartment at church, upstairs, settled, fed, and downstairs in time for worship. :) To call it a giant whirlwind for all involved would be a huge understatement, but this morning they all seemed to be well rested and ready to go, which I am thankful for. They already began reading sessions this evening and are very, very excited. Once again, it is such an ENORMOUS blessing to be able to serve alongside visitors from my supporting congregations. I love that they not only get to see the work they have invested in, but they get to participate and make eternal impacts, as well! I can't stress enough how encouraged I am by these visits.

So that's what's going on parents made it back safely to the United States and I think I miss them, but I haven't had much time to think about it. (Just kidding, Mom and Dad. I cried all alone in the car like I promised I wouldn't as I left the airport from dropping you off.) This is without a doubt the busiest time of year for me...but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world!

Please be praying for this team and for the readers with whom they are studying. Many of these readers are transitioning from the Gospel of Luke to the book of Acts, and our prayer is that as they begin to study about the teachings of Jesus being played out in the church, that they will continue to examine their own lives and how they can fit into that story.

Until next time....adios!