Monday, September 29, 2008

A Black Heart Turned White

Sara (age 2) is the little girl who now lives in the house we will be moving into mid-December. She and her parents went on a little trip and were gone for the past couple of weeks. They got back late Sunday night. Monday morning, they knocked on our door and her mom said that Sara had missed us so much and wanted to come play. Fun...and so sweet. We had a good time with her.

At one point though, Hadley needed some adjustments (of course, I'm not talking about chiropractic work here). :) We went to her room and I was explaining to her that her actions were not right. She was basically being a bully to the others and I had to give her a spanking. We talked about how she was being and what she should do instead. I always try to paint a clear picture of what they are doing that is wrong. So, this time I told her she was acting like the soldiers who killed Jesus and it made Jesus very sad (I didn't just pick that story out of the blue; they are seriously mesmerized by the story of the cross; when they play the whole 'good guy vs. bad guy' game, the bad guys are always 'the soldiers').

It didn't do any good. We got done with the spanking and I was asking her questions about what she should do in the future. She said, "I don't want to...I want to be mean."

At all times during times like this, I am begging God to tell me what to do. :) Seriously, you just gotta have help, you know?

She said that and I was like, "God?" :)

I immediately knew what to say (good job, God).

I said, "Hadley, your heart is black."

Now, let me back up here. I have NO idea where the kids heard this, but that is THEIR explanation for the condition of a heart (or whatever else) when something is BAD. I'm not sure if Joel explained 'sin' to them in this way at some point. Even if that's the case, it's funny...must've made a real impact because we never say this. They do though...and whatever they are talking about is always BAD when they do.

So, I said that and it literally took her breath away. She gasped and looked at me instantaneously with these worried eyes...and immediately she started crying. She asked me, as she 'came up for air' during her sobbing, "Can Jesus make my heart all clean?" Ahh, relief...I knew she'd gotten it. It seriously scared her when I told her that...and I am so glad that she takes that so seriously that it did scare her. I told her that we could pray for Him to make it clean. She immediately started nodding her head that that's what we should do. I prayed and Jesus forgave her. She then asked, "Jesus made my heart all clean?" I said that He had, that it was all white...her face beamed immediately and she threw her arms around my neck.

Man, the change in her little spirit (and her actions). I am always amazed at what some time in discipline can do, but today was a great scene. And, such encouragement...they really are getting it, bit by bit. The eternal things that we are trying to instill in them...that take what seems like eternity to teach them (over and over and over and over again, right?) is so worth it...and it really is working. Victory. So encouraged today. So proud of you, Hadley. And thanks, is YOU at work in her.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Brazil in the News - Part 2

(the pre-written 2nd half of yesterday's post):

It totally excites me that this was a part of an ABC news report. It puts this all on the map, on the radar of others there in the states...even if only for a few minutes on a Wednesday night.

I also found it interesting that there were no Americans interviewed (except the pilot). Who were these missionaries...Brazilians themselves. I think that's awesome...that the Brazilians are reaching their own people.

And I do completely understand the skepticism and almost-paranoia of some in the world (of course the non-Christians, but also even Christians sometimes) who question the motives and actions of some missionaries. As with EACH AND EVERY position/job/organization/religion, etc., there has been 'corruption.' There have been (and continue to be in some instances) 'white man' (which translates really into anyone not indigenous) who arrive on the scene, literally with the attitude of a Superman...saving people from their own 'backwards ways,' pushing the white man's ways on the people who, if not violent and agressive/assertive and who, if they don't just outright kill the Supermen, do sometimes become dependent. If you haven't seen the movie Hawaii (with Julie Andrews), I recommend. It is very interesting and addresses this very thing in a way (in more of an entertainment forum obviously).

I think that is super rare these days. Maybe I'm a little naive and optimistic, but I just don't think that's the way missionaries see their jobs anymore and the people of this generation in particular just flat out detest that attitude. I may be wrong, but that's kind of what I see (in us and our peers, our age and younger especially).

The question of culture...this is two-fold I think:

1. There are certain things in a culture that are pretty dadgum insignificant...things like being late habitually; brushing teeth several times a day; when receiving a gift, doing so with both hands so as not to offend (with a one-handed reception); piercing a baby girl's ears; burping after a meal, etc. Who really cares about these things? Does it get on some people's last nerve? Yes. But, is it wrong? As much as you think your way is better (or even the only way), these aren't wrong. Sorry to bust your bubble. (I personally have no problem with nudity either if that's part of your culture...although, I've never lived within a tribe where nudity was present...maybe, in reality, it is a problem)

2. But there are certain things that are just wrong, no matter who you are, no matter what your religion. Well, I guess that isn't totally and completely true, but you know, the extremists muslim groups who consider it an honor for one to become a suicide bomber? Nobody thinks that's cool. Nobody is fighting for their right to continue this practice. I mean, it's their beliefs, it's part of their culture/religion, is it not?!?!?!?!? Why do people try to stop innocent blood being shed by these suicide bombers instead of protecting the bomber's rights? BECAUSE IT'S WRONG!!!!

I guess I'm not quite sure why this (the situation in Brazil) is viewed differently. The report says that the government admits that infanticide does happen, but that the missionaries are "distorting an ancient and diminishing pratice that happens only among tribes so isolated from the modern world that severely deformed children are believed to be unable to survive." The lady from Survival International (more on SI here...interesting what the director said...I'm sure he's probably talking about us missionaries) stated (along with stating that she could not defend infanticide) that for people who have no medical care or any means or understanding of the condition which would enable them to take care of anyone that is born with a debilitating medical condition, that is the kind thing to do. Understood. BUT, even if you do agree with 'shooting a suffering horse' (or in this case, a human), that's really never been the reasoning given (that I've heard of...even in this news reel) for their actions. What is the reasoning...bad/evil spirits, a curse, possible punishment of the parents, or some other tradition/custom. Being a twin or born of a single mother is not a medical condition someone needs relief from. And the report that it is 'diminishing' that supposed to make it better? Oh, O.K...since it doesn't happen as much as it used to happen...that's O.K. then. Um, no...even if it happened only once, ever...not right, not O.K.

What needs to happen? Obviously, the goal of missionaries is to introduce others to Jesus so that they can have true abundant life here on earth...and have a home in heaven when their abundant life here on earth is done. 'Abundant life' does not mean a westernized life. :) But, the only way to truly have an abundant life here on earth is to incorporate God's principles into your way of life (your culture, if you will). Now, at the risk of sounding pious and uppity here, let me just say that those last couple of sentences is not my opinion. That's just the way it is. Jesus said that He is the only Way, the only Truth, and the only Life. I like to include people. I don't like for people to be left out. So, truly...I honestly hate having to say that. I am not narrow-minded, but I have found the truth and that is just the way it is...Jesus is the only way. (Even most successful non-Christians are only successful because they have unknowingly incorporated God's principles into their dealings...those principles just work, period)

So, of course missionaries are going to share Jesus...He is the cornerstone of their very beings. He is the cure for 'what ails you.' He is the only Way. Some are offended by the fact that Jesus is shared. But, it's not the Indians who are offended by's others looking in. The Indians are grateful for missionaries. Why? Because we offer other things to them...medical care, dental care, chances to learn so much more that will HELP them in THEIR WAY of living their lives the way they already live. Guess what? The Indians are free to take it or leave it when presented with Jesus. Nobody is pushing this on them, obviously. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Of course, even that is a bad analogy because it's not like we (Christians, missionaries) have put harnesses on people or anything. But, you get my point.

Do we bribe them with our services? No. We provide them. That's it. We don't say, "If you come and listen to us and receive Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then we will fix your teeth." :) Come on. Do we share Jesus with them? Yes. But, we do that just in loving them, talking with them, showing the Jesus film (attendance not mandatory of course), etc.

People are people are people. No matter who you are, what economic background or status you have, what language you speak, whether you work on Wall Street or live in a hut in the Amazon...doesn't matter. People can sense genuine-ness. If you lack it, that's when you lose your 'audience' no matter what you are talking about. When missionaries are genuine...when they meet people's physical and emotional needs, when they love like Jesus loved, when they just generally emulate Him...that's when people listen. Not because we push our stuff on them. Besides, it's not us and our agenda's God's power that ultimately takes effect. His Word does not return void. Wow...enough about missionaries.

What else needs to happen? Of course, I'm not the one with the answers, but I guess I'm just wondering why in the world this is even an issue, really. Babies/children are dying...not just dying, but being killed!! Those of you in the US, just think of it in terms of Native Americans (because they are the only 'indian' group we have to relate to). If they had had the practice of killing babies for certain things, would we still be defending their right to do that today? We wouldn't. (then again, not sure what the difference in that and the horrible shedding of blood in abortion and partial birth abortion and just laying babies aside to die who failed to die during an abortion...ohhhhhhh, the blood that is on our hands!)

I guess I'm just wondering why not protect these lives? Sure, protect the people of the tribe, let them live their lives the way they want...but, protect innocent lives from death for heaven's sake. Anyone who did the same thing in Anapolis (our city) that the people in the tribes do to their young who 'don't make the cut'...they'd be facing consequences. Somehow it's against the law for us living outside the tribe. I say educate them regarding LIFE...of course, as a Christian, my idea of that is through Jesus. But, even in the natural, educate them about disorders, twins, etc. Give them options. ASK THEM for heaven's sake. Did the government ever think about that? Do they enjoy killing their babies? No, they don't (read some of those testimonies on that website referenced in the last post). Would they appreciate other options? Probably so. Then, of course, after the education (which would probably do the trick), if they continue in these practices, hold them to the laws, esp. concerning murder. Why is that not an option in the eyes of the government, to provide that service and then other than that, leave them and their culture alone.

Seriously, why is that not an option? Just because something is their custom, their culture, doesn't mean that it is the best for the people. How many times, in the American culture, have we learned something new that has helped us tremendously? Apparently the government sees this kind of growth detrimental to the Indian tribes? Would they themselves (the Indians, that is) see some of these same things (that the government is 'protecting' them from) as enormously helpful (even in the natural)? Is the government helping them or just stifling them? Hmmm...maybe we should be investigating the motives of the government instead of the missionaries. Now that I think of it, isn't it apalling that we ARE investigating missionaries (who GIVE life) instead of the government (who is trying to protect the right to kill)? Wow.

Alright, I honestly planned to provide the link and be done. But when I got to typing, wow...apparently I had a lot on my mind about this situation. There is much more that could be said, but please just pray for this situation...and for the eyes of the government officials to be opened. Pray for the missionaries involved firsthand in all of this. Pray for the babies that will be born in the future (today, tomorrow, next week) who will be killed simply because their 'condition' is misunderstood...and their government refuses to protect them. Pray for God's purposes to rule and reign here in Brazil.

P.S. I loved how the missionary that had lived within the tribe on and off for 12 years responded when asked if she shared Jesus with them. What a feisty little lady there, huh? That's great perspective she has...and she knows her mission, no matter what people say. May we all have that boldness and tenacity.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Brazil in the News - Part 1

Aimee let me know that there was a fascinating piece on ABC News last night (thanks so much Aimee). I had to google and there you go...the link above. It is SO great in that it really gives you a glimpse of what is going on here. I really wish I could just embed the video here, but I can't, so just click on the link above to get to it.

Go see it and then come back for my thoughts.

So, my thoughts?...

{Update since I first wrote this post: I just realized that the couple they interviewed in Brasilia, Edson & Márcia Suzuki, (Brasilia is about 2 1/2 hours from here) actually have strong ties with many of our friends in the mission (Asas). They have been here several times to speak at the Monday morning devotions held at the hangar. Check out their website, English version, here. Wow...that's about all I have to say. I URGE you to read the stories of these children, the survivors.}

{Another update: There is so much information here already and I truly want you to check it all out. Therefore, I am going to be posting my thoughts, that are already written out, on another day. It's better that way anyway. I want to know your thoughts, uninfluenced by mine, here in the comments section.}

So, please...leave me your thoughts. This is a huge issue and I'd love to know what you think.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pancakes, Giggles, and an Interview

But first, look at this video that CBS broadcasted of the dire situation all across Haiti. Remember the Hands and Feet Project...also in Haiti, plummeted by Gustav? Well, then Hanna and Ike hit after that. Craziness. Check out Brock's blog to see the latest. Please do what you can, if you can.

Watch CBS Videos Online

We have so much to be thankful for, esp. in light of that. Now for some home videos that show you just what we have to be thankful for...

Night before last, Grady had the request of pancakes for supper. Sounded good to us, so we all worked at it. Mama made the batter and then Hadley, Eissa, and Mama washed dishes while Grady and Daddy (mostly grown up) made the pancakes. Cass just sat there watching and being cute.

Giggles all around yesterday at lunch.

And this is Eissa yesterday afternoon. The way she says some things is just so very cute. I had to capture some of it the best I could. She's such a cute little mess.

Oh, and yes...eissa's flip-flops are mismatched. They are hand-me-down loners from Hadley and do just fine here around the house. We are getting some new flip-flops (all of us) at the end of the month. Just wanted to acknowledge that...I'm sure some of you will notice.

Also, the video is pretty bad quality and you can't hear her very well. But, flip-flop, for instance, is 'bip-bop'...cute huh? And her 'water' and 'I love you' sound very much the same. Sometimes we think she is being so sweet and loving when she is really just asking for something to's funny. :)

I'll be packing again non-stop this weekend while Joel is here to be with the kids...he will also be trying to fit in other things to get ready for the move. We hope to be finalizing where we are going to stay from the first of November (when the family that owns this house returns) until mid-December (when we will be able to take over the house we are moving into for the next year). Please keep us in your prayers concerning that. Thanks. Have a great weekend!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

It Was Time

This weekend we did a couple of things, just because it was TIME.

First of all, remember this post about my hair? Yeah, well it was time to plunge into this. Yep, got it chopped. I was actually going more for this cut, but ended up with a much shorter version. The one thing Joel said was that he doesn't like it when the hair is right there curving into the chin. Now, he wouldn't balk at it if that's what I wanted, but I happened to not really want it quite that short. Well, we got it anyway. :) I'm totally fine with it though. Actually am kind of glad that it ended up this short...remember how I don't like the feel of it when it's touching my neck. It's fun and feels really good. Now, I got it done on Saturday, so I haven't even washed it yet (that will come tonight), so we'll see how it looks when I don't blowdry it and I don't have someone else to style it. :) But, still...I like it and am extremely glad to have it done.

The video below (after a few pics) is of the guy (Luciano) cutting my braid. I will be donating to Locks of Love. Grady, for the 24 hours leading up to this, was saying how he DID NOT want me to get my hair cut. Poor guy. He kept running his hands through my hair and talking about how pretty it was. :) But, he was good to go by the time we got to the salon. No biggie. I think he appreciated being included in the process though. By the way...I think that's why I ended up with a shorter cut than originally discussed. I think Luciano put the ponytail a little too high. But, I could care less...really. And just more hair for the Locks of Love people...he ended up cutting 12 inches off. Love it.

By the way, I am actually rarely on here in pictures. But, today...well, you'll see. :)

The long stuff.
The kids were kind of taking turns with the camera.
Me and Hadley had to make braids one last time. Then we just had some fun as you will see in the next few pics.

Like I said, everyone was taking turns with the camera. This was Eissa's turn. While someone else was taking the pictures, she had managed to get in the cabinet and unwrap some soap...then handed them to Hadley saying "here you go" when it was her turn with the camera.
Then Grady took the braids out and played with it some more. Seriously, I think he had a bit of a hard time with it. I did even contemplate not getting it done...I didn't want to traumatize him. :) But, in the end we talked it out and he was good to go.

A view of the length in the back.
Getting the braid all ready to cut.

What it looked like after the chop.

Cass, of course making friends.

Look at Grady in this picture.
Still keeping an eye on things. :)
The ladies there doing nails wanted to paint Hadley's nails while she waited for me...of course, she LOVED that.

And the finished product.
I told Joel, I look like a Q-tip in this picture. :) Ha ha ha.
You know how after a big haircut you go home and look in the mirror several times...putting your head this way and that...investigating what you got done? That's what this was...only I did it with the camera.

Then I had some help.
And today...I'm sure this will be the reality of everyday.
Back...somehow...always back. :)

The other thing that we did this weekend was FOOD. We gave Cass cereal for the first time. She is about 5 1/2 months now and it was time. She's been really eyeing our grub lately. I could also tell she just wasn't quite satisfied with "my milks" (as Hadley says) alone anymore. So...we plunged into that too.

Playing with big brother.
Me making the rice cereal. Thank goodness I have a Vita-Mix I can grind it with. They don't have rice cereal here...they have "cereal" but it is really just sugar in a can. So, I'll be making my own. We always make all our baby food anyway (fruits and veggies anyway) we'll just make the cereal too.

Grady happy with his food too. :)

Also last night. Every time the girls put on their clothes (esp. dresses), they have to go show Daddy. They twirl, of course.

And today...just because I haven't shown you yet. Cass got her first tooth on Fri., the 5th. Well, her second one (the front left bottom tooth) came in on the 10th.


You can even see the teeth in this one.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Treat From a Saint

There are many stories that touch us and inspire us. But, there are two stories in particular that have really, really impacted my life in a huge way.

The first story was that of Corrie ten Boom and her family during the Holocaust. Mama gave me 'The Hiding Place' as a gift when I graduated. She inscribed in it "May you always have the faith of Corrie ten Boom." Amen to that. is such a powerful story (true of course). If you haven't read it yet, go get it NOW!! I'm serious. It will inspire and challenge you like no other.

The second story was that of the five missionaries in the 50s that were killed while making contact with an indian group in Ecuador. A-mazing! The story didn't stop with just that bit of history. No, a few years later, one of the wives (and her toddler daughter) of those slain missionaries and a sister of another of the missionaries went in to live with that same indian group. The story goes on and is still being 'written''s literally incredible what God did (and is doing) through the killing of those missionaries. "I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." John 12:24

I first came into contact with this story by reading Elisabeth Elliot (I have pretty much every book she's ever written on my shelves...Corrie ten Boom also). Joel and I had the great privilege of having breakfast with her and her husband some years ago (I was pregnant with Grady at the time). It was amazing.

Well, this week the son of Nate Saint (one of the 5 missionaries...the pilot of the group), Steve Saint, was in town. Asas de Socorro and a college here brought him in. He's actually speaking several places around the country...about indian rights and such. Seriously, what a refreshing it was to hear him speak. He's so simple, but yet so very dead on. Powerful!! He is so very wise. I could write a book just on some of the things he talked to us about.

We also had the awesome privilege of having Steve in our home for lunch yesterday...just him and us. It was SO neat. I'm not one to get star struck. Let me clarify: I do get very excited when meeting/seeing someone who I've admired or looked up to for a long time. But, I do know that they are, in fact, just people like I make it a point to act like and treat them like they are just an old friend from Saline, LA. :) But, truth is that people like that aren't old friends from Saline, LA. :) Ha ha ha. I joked around with Eliane (our house help) yesterday about how, for me, it was kind of comparable to the story of Zacchaeus. :) I've been reading about and being encouraged by and following this story of these missionaries and the after-effects for years now. To have one of the key players come to our house was pretty incredible, I have to say.

There is much to tell...maybe I will get to it at another time. But, I do want to show you some pictures of this week...and our time with Steve. He left and Joel remarked that he felt like we've known him for he IS just an old friend now. It's true...he's just that kind of person. Very personable, very friendly...very just one of us. He was great with the kids (has 12, soon to be 14 grandkids of his own). He's really, really funny too.

What a great treat God gave us this week!

Steve spoke all week long at many, many different meetings. This was Tuesday night at the college next to our house. The man in front of Steve (who is the 3rd from the left) is Pastor Rocindes, the president of Asas de Socorro.

Joel and Steve pulled in for lunch and we just hung out on the porch for a while. That's Steve in the hammock.
Meanwhile, Grady was riding around with Eliane's helmet on. :)
Getting a little relaxing in.
The girls decided they needed to hang out in the hammock too. They were just mesmerized by that scratchy stuff on Steve's face (I seriously don't think they've ever touched facial hair before...and it showed; they kept touching it over and was funny).
Carol (Eliane's daughter and our babysitter) was here too. She took the pictures and didn't realize it was just really zoomed in, so that's why all the different pictures from different try to get everyone in a picture. :)

Me and the kids.

Steve had some henna tattoos on his arms that the kids were really admiring (and coveting). So, he grabbed the sharpie and said, "this is what we'll do" and started drawing to make them some of their very own (with permission from Mama of course). :)

After lunch, he had another meeting (talk about a busy speaking schedule) and then he spoke to all of us at Asas.

With our Asas president, Pastor Rocindes.
Having a good laugh.
Being prayed for by Milton (the director of the school).
All of the students and faculty of the aviation school took a picture with Steve.