Videos about Living Stones

segunda-feira, 10 de setembro de 2012

Dirt, Trash, Puppies, and Soup

The trash dump. It is more impressive now because the city told them they can’t expand further. So now they are constantly sorting and then burning and sorting some more to keep using the same area for all the trash. When the garbage trucks come, they have to get close to help unload it, with all the liquid gunk pouring out over them, all the smoke blowing into their lungs and faces…all this without protection. Just simple people spending their lives in trash to make a living.
We drive past it and the smoke smothers the car. Even with the windows up. The barbwire fence holds a worn teddy bear—perhaps to be taken home after the man finishes sorting for the day. We drive past the sugar cane field, for they are everywhere, even at the dump, and see some houses. Some are basic homes, most are made from dirt and trash. Turn a corner and there is our little area. So dirty.
The dirt is inevitable. I teach the kids how to hold on my hands and step on my legs so I can flip them over. My shorts are covered with the dirt from their feet. They take me by the hand down the dusty road to their home. Puppies everywhere, “what are their names?” and they hold them up one by one for me. We play the stomp your feet game, where you go in a circle and when the word falls on you, you try to stomp someone’s foot—if you miss, they try, and so on…
We wait around and surely there must be some better way to do things, but I haven’t found it. Then one lady from the church tells a story with many interruptions and only quieted by the promise of popcorn and lollypops for those who listen. The boys run and hit each other in the background. I try to remember names and I sit on the ground to gather the kids to me to listen to the story. The mud cakes my shorts and hands and arms, and my legs fall asleep with two girls trying to squish into my lap. Chaos erupts when they both want to wear my sunglasses.
I am being poked from behind by a boy who is trouble, but just wants to be loved: Feliciano. So I love on him and he takes my bag of trash and empties  it out everywhere. It is a dump, I know, but must we always act like it? I want to pretend we are not here for a minute. Teach the children to put their trash in a trashcan, even though afterward the trashcan will be emptied out here. He is stubborn and wild, but returns to me where he knows he will get another hug and embrace. It is where he wants to stay. Until he is off to kick that other little boy.
Then the big pot of soup, and families and children from everywhere bring every container they have—every pot, and even a blender cup—to hold the soup that will feed over 30 families. Bread is passed out as well, and I introduce myself to the older boys. I forget their names quickly, and they move on even quicker. But some faces are familiar, and I remember from last time. More piggyback rides and flips and singing songs and “oh what more can I do?” feelings welling up in me. And then, me with my black feet and brown shorts get back into the car and drive home.
But not really. Part of me stays there. Part of me is frozen. Frozen by reality and time and wanting to do so much more.

Hong Kong to Brazil

Dashing around the world to China and then around the USA and then back to Brazil…it makes me wonder where my roots are. “Something about you sparkles, Rachel, when you talk about Brazil,” one of the students told me in Hong Kong. “Thank you for telling me those stories, especially about Brazil. They really inspired me.” Another student wrote.
Maybe my roots are with the children. One of the moments that touched me the most this summer was when I went into the office (in Hong Kong) and found two bags of clothes and shoes with my name on them.
In Quantum Writing, a breakout session I taught, we share why we write—what our motivation is. I shared that I write to understand—understand how there can be such differences in the world where one person has a house so big they never open the doors, and another has a house made of trash that is falling apart. Where we throw away food while others go hungry. I shared about playing soccer barefoot, because the other children didn’t have any shoes.
So some of the Chinese students came up to me and asked what they could do. Asked if after camp they could give me some clothes and shoes for the children. I was thrilled that they wanted to make a difference, but figured they would forget soon, with everything else going on.
But no—and so some clothes and shoes from one child in Asia traveled with me back to the USA and then on to Brazil. And every time I saw them they made me smile. Because this is what changes us—knowing we make that difference. And now there are some children in Brazil smiling as well.
They each took one shoe in our soccer game, so two could share the in the fun.
These are my roots.

Beautiful Soup

“I keep spare newspaper in the trunk to help with this,” Flavio says as he removes the soup covered paper. He is carrying 5 large containers of soup that will feed over 100 people. One of them has sloshed over.
Flavio began a friendship with the owners of a popular restaurant in town last year, who were looking for a place to give their leftovers. Throughout the day, whatever is not eaten is thrown into the soup pot—and then put into six large plastic containers.

Five of these go to Paudalho, where Tony, one of the elders at the church, distributes them from his home. It is an amazing ministry reaching and making a daily difference for around 50 families. The last container goes with Flavio: three days to Cajueiro Claro, and two days to Mussurepe.
Flavio worked at a pharmacy in Paudalho for many years, trying to save money and live a decent life. Then God called him to something more. In 2010, he began walking a couple miles each way to start a Living Stones for the children in Cajueiro Claro. In 2011 he was given a motorcycle to help him get around faster. In 2012, God provided a car.

This is election year, and the restaurant owner is running for a government position. Apparently doing things like donating soup isn’t allowed, so the owner has given the whole job to Flavio to continue. Just another blessing to add to his plate, and another grateful prayer that he has a vehicle.
Since Flavio wasn’t able to use the soup on the weekends, he has connected the Baptist church working at the dump with the Saturday and Sunday soup, meaning that all three Living Stones projects are now receiving over 100 servings of soup a week for the children and their families. Praise God!

August in Brazil

Father's day is the second Sunday in August in Brazil. At Mussurepe, they had a special church service, in honor of the fathers. Vovo Bel (Grandma Isabel), who has opened her farm for this ministry, has returned from her trip to Europe, and wants to begin having a church service once a month. We are excited to see the community open up and embrace Living Stones, as well as coming to church.
This has also become a neat ministry and outreach to Vovo Bel's family

It was a normal August day like any other at Living Stones Cajueiro Claro, and Pastor Flavio was tired. But he shared the devotional like always, and felt a special need to focus on forgiveness. Unknown to him, two of the boys had been in an intense argument just before the project. By the time he finished, not only did the two boys break down and ask for forgiveness right there in front of everyone, but the desire for reconciliation spread, and 9 boys from Cajueiro Claro asked to receive Christ into their heart.

These numbers do not reflect a sudden jump because emotions were high, but rather boys who have been watching Pastor Flavio and coming to Living Stones for almost two years now—and know what it means to make a decision for Christ. This was one of those days prepared for by the Holy Spirit. And there is still a long way to go. Please keep Diego, Paul, Paulo (s), Paulo (m), Alexandre, Edivaldo, Nino, Geu, and Lucas (Tampinha) in your prayers as they grow.

July in Brazil

July is Winter break in Brazil, and Pastor Flavio assured me he would take some time to rest, but during his break he also decided to build a garage:
It turned out so well, that he wants to also use it as a second classroom, so that we can have 0-8 in one room, and 9-16 year olds in the other. If you would like to help donate to make this classroom a reality, please give at

The Soares family brought baseball to Cajueiro Claro!
It was their first time playing baseball, and most of the children were unsure of what to do in a sport that didn't require kicking the ball with their feet :)

What a great day of learning and growth! Thank you Jerry, and all who participated!
The church at Cajueiro Claro, Santo Antonio, and the children from Mussurepe all got together for a special Gincana (day of games, competitions, prizes, and learning).

Everyone worked together, having games, puppets, singing, Brazilian karaoke...

Around 100 children were blessed and heard the Word of God. And of course outside games:

June in Brazil

June was a busy month, celebrating Sao Joao (St. John) and having groups from the United States come and give a special Birthday party for Jesus in both Cajueiro Claro and Mussurepe:
Sao Joao for Jesus was a full celebration at Cajueiro Claro, and as you can see, even the church dog attended:)

Full of food, fun, fellowship, and a churrasco (BBQ, Brazilian style).

We are so thankful to the Americans who came and gave of their time to get to know the Living Stones programs--and thank you for the presents!

They also got to meet the children at Mussurepe, blessing close to 100 children in one day. The presents that remained were passed out to 30 children in Gravata.

Gravata is a city about an hour away from Cajueiro Claro. Flavio has been ministering there once a month for almost a year. There are over 30 children that come and hear the gospel, many of them dealing with drugs, alcohol, and prostitution in this more urban area.

Thank you for giving!