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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lots of Pictures... Few Words.

First order of business: Prayer Walk the community

Christian, Madison, Kami, Emma, Matt, and Blake at the "granja" (aka: Area where we spent a lot of our meal/rest time.)

These bracelets were a very hot item. We passed them out and used the beads to explain the gospel story.

This little boy 'took up' with our girls and followed them everywhere. He was such a little sweetheart who just wanted to be loved.

Matt talking with some little guys from the community. He didn't have a translator, so I'm not sure how much communication actually occurred!

Matt showing off his string trick skills... of which I have NONE.

The homes are rather intimidating with this lining the tops of the outer walls.

Here is an example of the streets we walked and homes we visited. They all look very similar.

Matt and I met this family on one of the days we went door to door. They were already believers and so precious.

I love this picture. It's one of the evangecubes in someone's back pocket. If you've never seen one, it helps tell the story of Jesus through pictures and helps tremendously with the language barrier. They went everywhere with us.

This is a picture of us with our coconut drinks and the man who offered them to us, along with his grandson. Loved this moment. (Could have done without the machete, but still....)

Matt and Lincoln, one of our translators. Lincoln was tall. Very tall. Not fun to play volleyball with.. unless he was on OUR team!

This is a picture of one of the Shiloh students, Alex, presenting the gospel with the bracelet.

This one breaks my heart. This is Camryn (Shiloh student) and Alan (Brazilian friend) saying goodbye. Alan's testimony is INCREDIBLE. I would love to share it but want to get his permission first.

Local boys at VBS getting a better view.

Shiloh kids. LOVE every single one of them.

Kids at VBS.
View from our hotel window. Don't be jealous. I only made it down to the beach once and only because it was the location of a quick meeting. We had neither the time or energy. On our last day, we had the opportunity to go, but I was just too tired.

HOME! This was a precious moment for me. I missed this little guy so much.

Holding them felt so good. How I love the Slaughter kids.

Monday, March 29, 2010


(Note: Yes, I wore a hat every single day. No blow-dryer. No CHI. A hat was as essential as sunscreen.)

I saw a quote once that said something like (this is very Angela-ized), A writer often does not know what he thinks of a subject until he reads what he has written about it. I am hoping that is true. Four days after returning home from Brazil, I feel as if I can’t fully wrap my head around the experience. The things I saw. The people I met. The lives I saw changed forever. The lives that I did not see changed forever. It all seems surreal… like a dream that never really happened. But it did.

I wish I could somehow paint a perfect picture of it all for others to understand. I am not even an average descriptive writer, but even if I were, I don’t think there are words to describe the look on the faces of the Brazilian people as we spoke with them and told them, some for the very first time, about what Jesus did for them. I can’t explain what it looked like to see hard eyes go soft in an instant, fill with tears, and beg for more of what we were saying. I can’t tell you accurately enough how it felt to hold a stranger’s hand and listen to them pray a prayer (in a language I couldn’t understand) that saved them. SAVED them. I can’t describe to you the power that consumed a tiny little room in a tiny little house in a tiny little community as a 70-something year old woman prayed to ask Jesus into her heart after a lifetime of believing no one can ever know where they will spend eternity. I can’t describe it, but I so want to. I so want everyone to feel what I was able to feel in Brazil last week.

I went there feeling completely inadequate. I left there feeling completely inadequate. But it didn’t matter. Because it wasn’t me. It wasn’t Matt or the students or sponsors. It was all God. He took a bunch of nervous Americans and just took over. That’s the only way I know to describe it. He took over amazingly and miraculously.

There are so many moments that stand out to me. Some that make me happy. Some that make me sad. I’ll try to share just a few.

Matt led an old woman to the Lord, and before we left, she sent us to another house where a young man lived who, in her words, “needed Jesus.” We found his house, and he also accepted Jesus. The man’s father did not believe salvation could possibly be a free gift and protested what we were saying… loudly. After we said goodbye, he began yelling at us in Portuguese from his doorway. I’ll be honest. I wanted to run. But our translator explained he wanted us to wait and drink with him. I was thinking, “Drink what?" Then the man came out of the house, and the first thing I saw was a very large machete. Again, I wanted to run. But then I noticed he was also carrying several coconuts. He proceeded to cut off the tops and hand them to us to drink. We spent the next several minutes with him in his yard, laughing and drinking.

On one of the days I went door-to-door, I met a young woman named Kathleen. She was beautiful, as are most of the Brazilian women. To be honest, I shouldn’t even have been talking to her. We were about to leave, and she came walking down the street out of nowhere. We stood and talked to her for a long time, and she explained to us that she believed all we told her about the story of Jesus and what He did for her, but she was too afraid to make a commitment to Him. I almost could not make myself walk away because I knew she wanted Him so badly. I told her that I knew she was going to make the decision very soon, and that I would love to pray with her when she did. The next day, my dear Brazilian friend, Suemmey, told me that she ran into a girl named Kathleen who was looking for me. I never saw her again.

On the last day to be with the people in the community, I noticed Suemmey talking with a group of 3 Brazilian women. I walked over not knowing what I was in for. The women were all very young, very pretty, and very happy with the way they were living their life. Suemmey is awesome at presenting the gospel, but when I walked up, I could tell she wanted me to try to help. Together, we led one of the women to the Lord, and another was so close. So close. And then, it began to rain. And rain. Buckets of rain. Everyone (and I mean everyone) got on the bus, but Suemmey and I stood there, getting completely soaked, talking to the women. Finally Matt ran over and draped a poncho over me to try to keep the camera from dying, but I didn’t care if it did. The sad news is that the woman could not say 'yes', but I was able to pray with her (with the help of Suemmey’s awesome translating skills), and I am believing she will find Him soon.

I will post some pictures very soon. There are so many I would like to share but already feel I am inundating everyone with Brazil information. But that’s ok. I don’t want to forget. It is an experience that has imprinted my life… that has hopefully changed my life. When I take a step back and look over my shoulder at the past several months, I truly stand amazed at His faithfulness… at all the times I didn’t think He was there, but not only was He there, He was holding me. Through pain and doubt and confusion, He has always been right here, helping, molding, whispering to me. I love the line in the song that says, "I may not see in front of me, but I can see for miles when I look over my shoulder. Lord, it's clear, you brought me here, so faithful every step of the way." It's not a path that was on my map, but it has always been on His.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

From Brazil

I have my very first moment of free time since we arrived in Brazil.  Matt 'suggested' (mandated) that I stay at the hotel tonight instead of going to the last worship service of the day.  Not sure why, but I haven't been able to get a good grip on my sugars while we've been here.  Maybe it's the 789,000 degree temps or humidity or busy schedule or the fact that some of of the foods I'm putting in my mouth are a mystery to me or a number of other things.  It's left me feeling a little out of sorts, and I'm hoping after this bit of rest, I can hit the ground running again tomorrow. 

We have had an awesome trip so far.  The Shiloh kids have absolutley amazed me with their readiness and boldness in sharing the gospel.  We have been doing VBS with the neighborhood children and door-to-door evangelism as well.  There has not been a single day that the kids have not led several people to the Lord.  The Brazilian people invite us into their homes and are grateful for our visit.  They want to talk and listen and are extremely kind and hospitable.  I have already made several Brazilian friends, and I am going to be extremely sad to them leave behind. 

There is so much to tell, and I am so tired tonight... but I will try to give a quick snapshot of some of my favorite moments so far.

*  One of the girls, T, walked into one of the local outdoor bars (along with an adult and translator) and shared the gospel with the woman behind the bar.  Certain the woman was more bothered than interested in what she was saying, T asked the translator to ask if the woman would like to accept Jesus into her heart.  T was already walking away in her head when the woman behind the bar nodded and said, "Yes."  T was so shocked and caught off guard she said, "REALLY?!"  The woman nodded again, and T prayed with her to accept Christ right there in the bar.  How.  Awesome.  Is.  That?

*  Another of our girls, H, has begun a relationship with a local little boy named Etson.  Etson is 4 years old, and roams the streets alone.  We have yet to see his mother or any supervising adult, although I think that is common here.  Wherever H goes, Etson goes.  He sat in her lap, coloring, throughout the entire church service last night.  He came alone, found H, and just settled in.  Today, H spent about two hours doing door-to-door evangelism, and Etson held her hand and went with her to every house.  If I had to guess, I would say that this little boy has never been 'loved on' or felt as special as he has this week.  His moments with H may very well impact his life forever.

*  Today, Matt, my new Brazilian friends, Suemmey and Juliet, and I met a young man, probably about 25, while doing door-to-door.  Matt shared the gospel story, and the man listened closely but afterwards told us he believed in Jesus and wanted to completely give his life to him but did not want to stop living the way he had been living.  He said he knew it was a life changing decision that he did not take lightly, and since he knew he wasn't ready to change his lifestyle, he wanted to "wait."  We stood in his doorway for an hour, sweating and talking, building a relationship.  I told him that I didn't want to push him, but that I didn't want to walk away, seeing in his eyes that he wanted the things we were telling him about.  He told us that we had "planted the seed," but he just wasn't ready.  Matt prayed for him, and we left.  I can't get him off my mind tonight.  He told us he was empty and wanted to be filled.  He had tears in his eyes, but just could not take the step of faith.  I cannot pronounce his name (or write it), but if you're reading this, please pray for this man in a tiny purple house in Brazil tonight.  I told him we would be around until Tuesday and that if he changed him mind, I wanted him to come and find me.  Pray that he does.

*  Today was the first day I was able to do door-to-door evangelism since I have spent most of my time with the little children doing VBS.  I was a little jealous that almost every had been able to lead someone to Christ except for me and the others from VBS.  I was praying today would be my day, and it was.  We met three young women who said they knew Jesus and were going to Heaven, but when we asked how they knew, they said, "Because we are good people and do good things."  (By the way, this is the mindset of most of the people we have spoken with.)  We explained that 'good works' is awesome but only Jesus can get them to Heaven.  They listened and asked questions, and before we left, I was able to hold their hands and pray the prayer of salvation with them as Suemmey translated.  It was such a beautiful thing.  As much as I miss my babies (and I mean DESPERATELY miss them), I wouldn't trade that moment for anything in the world.

More later.  Please pray for our team, especially the kids... for continued health and boldness and annointing from above.  They need all of them and more.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Room Complete.... Well, almost.

Well, the girls' room is not complete, but I have enough done to post some pictures. I still have a bit of sewing to do and some miscellaneous things here and there. I have one entire wall to complete, but it will have to wait a week or so.

Here are some pictures of their room BEFORE...

And here it is AFTER...

Like I said, it's not finished, but I really love how it's turning out. And so do the Slaughter sisters. I wish I would have had a camera to snap the look on their faces when they opened the door for the first time. Priceless and worth all the work. By the way, the headboards are a door I sawed in two. The locker you see is for book storage. Matt's dad gave that to us probably 5 years ago, and it's been sitting in the garage filled with tools. A few coats of paint, and it's the perfect storage for books. The dresser between their beds is their old dresser that Matt sawed in half, and I painted with zebra print and re-did the door. And of course, I've mentioned the chandelier a million times already.

Well, there you have it. I'll try to finish up soon and get the rest of the pictures out there, but for now...

Please please be in prayer for us. Matt and I leave for Brazil in just 7 hours. I am ready. I think. But my heart is hurting at the thought of leaving my babies. I know they will be fine without me. But it's hard leaving your whole world for a week. So, pray for me and them... that our hearts will be settled and peaceful. But more than anything, please pray that our team will make a real difference in the lives of the people of Brazil. I am feeling like Moses right about now. How can I, with all my flaws, do His work effectively? But I'm trusting in a God MUCH MUCH bigger than me.

"Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished. 1 Chronicles 28:20

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Wreath and Cycle

Belle made a comment the other day about the Christmas wreath that was still hanging on our door. I was ashamed. On my to-do list (as if it isn't long enough), I wrote, "Make girls an Easter wreath before leaving for Brazil." Max time I planned to spend on it: 30 minutes. And I succeeded. It's so simple and maybe a little tacky, but my girls are so proud of it. If you can't tell, all I did was buy 3 bags of 1/2 priced Easter eggs at Hobby Lobby and hot glued ribbon around each one. Then I hot glued them onto a wreath I already had. Like I said. 30 minutes. Maybe cost me $3. My kind of project.

I tried to get a shot of it hanging on our door, but the glare was too fierce, so I moved it inside. As I was snapping some pictures, I noticed Jeb jumping up and down at my feet saying, "Cheeeeese! Cycle! Cheese! Cycle!" Translation: he wanted me to take a picture of him and his new motorcycle. And ok, so I know he needs a haircut. Hopefully that will happen before we leave as well. He's still stinkin' adorable.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Almost there...

I NEED the girls' room to be DONE by the time we leave for Brazil... which is only 2 1/2 days away!! Everything is out, and yesterday I started painting the walls. I hope those girls love me because I am EXHAUSTED. But I'm having fun. I am just praying it all pulls together as well as I think it's going to. MAYBE by Wednesday, I can reveal it all. Fingers crossed!

The ONE completed item actually IN the room is the chandelier, and oh my... I want to marry it. I'm smitten.

Here's the blank slate.

Estella Dru (in her nice dress??) cleaning baseboards. I just slipped a sock on her hand backwards, and said, "Go for it, Kid." She actually helped me out a lot.

This is the staging area. I'll be glad to have my table back.

And here it is... drumroll....

I may love it so much because I put so much time into it. But I do. I love it.

Maybe Wednesday....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

More Fun Projects

I am living and breathing Project: Belle and Estella Dru's New Space at the moment. I finished two small projects today, and I must say, I am totally digging on them. The first... I just needed something big and round for one of the wall focal points. I looked high and low, and found nothing. Then, of course, it was Hobby Lobby to the rescue. I got this jewel at half price today.... exactly what I was wanting, except for the color. Actually, I loved it as it was, but it just it didn't the funky feel of the girls' new digs. So... I made it work. And I love it.

Next, I took an old lamp I bought when Estella was probably two and gave it a makeover. The only cost was the trim, which set me back all of $9. The soft beads were 1/2 off at Hobby Lobby for around $1. I already had the paint. Total cost: around $10 for this one-of-a-kind lamp. They loved it... which is all I need.

We have a lot to do this weekend, but we're almost there! Did you hear that Matt? I said, "WE!!!" Get your tool belt out, Mister. I've got a list with your name on it!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Girls' Room: Sneak Peek

I have been working away on the girls' room. There are still two big projects left, but things are going so well. I could not be more pleased. I am on a TIGHT budget, but hey... that's how we roll. And to be honest, it's just more fun that way.

My latest completed project is a chandelier. Matt's mom gave us an old one back in the summer, and I'm so glad we waited until now to put it to use because I am IN LOVE with how it turned out. I'm only giving a sneak peek here so I won't give anything away before the big reveal!

And here's another sneak peek at one of the pillows I put together. This room is all about cool, fun, funky. The girls can hardly wait, but I'm not sure who is more excited.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Weekend Story in Pictures

What. A. Trip. Home. Wow. We had quite the time this weekend. It all began on Friday afternoon. We packed our stuff and our kids into the Jeep and headed off for Grandpa's house near Russellville. And things were going great.... Until just before Knoxville when the Jeep began making some strange noises. It was almost dark out, and I asked Matt if I should panic. He assured me that I shouldn't, so I resumed singing along with the radio. And then... more noises. Much more serious, loud noises. And Matt said, "Ok, panic." The only thing he could do was pull/coast into a rest area, but I was yelling the whole time, "Not a rest area! Not a rest area!" All I could think of is the horror stories associated with crime, including MURDER, in rest areas. But there we were. In a rest area parking lot. In the dark. With a dead Jeep. And criminals lurking behind bushes and buildings.

Matt called Grandpa, whose neighbor happens to have a wrecker service. So, help set out after us quickly, but for over an hour and a half, we waited... and took iPhone pictures to pass the time.

After our rescue, we got to Grandpa's just in time to get to bed. The next morning, Matt got up and rode with a great friend who volunteered to take him to Ozark to meet our brother-in-law, Pat. Pat took Matt back home where another friend loaned us a great SUV until the Jeep gets fixed (and who knows when that will be). While Matt was gone, the kids and I took advantage of the gorgeous day. While they played in Grandpa's backyard, I went through several tubs of Grandma's clothes that have been sitting in the shed behind Grandpa's house. As I re-folded them all, I found this half piece of gum (a Grandma staple) in one of her shirt pockets, and I cried 'happy' tears for the next five minutes.

And then I unhooked the trailer all by myself and took the kids riding all by myself on G-Pops' rhino. I took this picture as we were riding through Grandpa's field. Poor Jeb got cut out, but I promise he's there. I almost got stuck in a creek all by myself, but that's another story....

Jeb and Pawpaw were so funny. Jeb kept crawling up in his chair with him and either telling him to "rock" or "move." On this occasion, Jeb had told him to move, and of course, Grandpa did. I love this shot. They look like two friends just chillin'.

At one point during the day, the girls came running in and said they had made a "picture of me out of nature." When I went to see, this is what I found. The face and eyes are rocks. The hair is old shingles off Grandpa's house. And the mouth is a squished jelly bean. I think I am just beautiful.

Later that day, we baked my little brother, David, a cake. His birthday is TODAY, by the way. Anyway, I'm not a skull and crossbones kind of girl, but I knew my bother would like it. The layers inside were black and white.

Matt got home around 5pm, and we were all happy to see him. The next morning, we decided to go to church with Grandpa, and, as a last minute surprise, our pastor asked Matt to preach. And whereas I would have totally panicked and said, "Are you crazy?" Matt hopped up and rocked it out. I mean, isn't that what you would do, unprepared and facing 200+ people? I love that man. He's got crazy, big things waiting on him.

And while I thought I was a fun mom the day before, the kids were relieved to have their daddy home so he could take them fishing. They didn't catch a thing, but Matt got some cute pictures. I love the Slaughter kids.

After fishing, we baked a cake for good friends who helped us out during our time of crisis. I call it the Angela Cake. I think I made it up, but I've been making it so long, I can't be sure. It's strawberry cake with white icing, drizzled with melted chocolate, and filled with chocolate covered strawberries. Estella just wanted to lick the spoon.

We had a great, great weekend. I miss my Jeep and am hoping it doesn't cost a kazillion dollars to fix, but I could not have asked for a better visit. Sometimes when things happens to set you back, it reveals how many people you have to lean on. And that's a great thing to know.