September 2013 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Once again, thank you so much for all your support. Your prayers, emails and financial contributions are so appreciated.

As I come up on six months in Brazil and considered what to share with you in the newsletter this month, I remembered that my dad told me he is frequently asked questions about how I am doing in Brazil. I decided to ask my dad to give me a list of the most common questions that people ask him, so I can answer them for you.

What has surprised you most since you’ve been in Brazil?
A very positive surprise has been how quickly I have formed such good friendships. People like my girlfriend, Denise , my next door neighbor and missionary friend, Allison (girl), my good friends Allison (guy) and Cleide (a great couple who live near me) & the Dolan family have helped my transition so much.

Denise and me

Allison

Cleide & Allison

The Dolan Family

What have you enjoyed most?
The newness of everything has been exciting. Everyday has its twists and turns, but I have tried to approach life as an adventure. I also love meeting all the new people.

What has been the biggest adjustment?
As you would assume, most everything is different and not just the location and climate. The culture of Brazil is very unique in so many ways when compared to the United States. It makes life a fun adventure, but the adjustment can also be a challenge. Going grocery shopping, going to the gas station, driving, proper etiquette all are different than in the United States. As an example, Brazilian etiquette would suggest that when you enter a home or a meeting, you would go up to each person present and greet them individually regardless of how many people may be present.

Rush hour traffic

My furry roommate

External picture of my apartment: this building houses three apartments including my own.

The inside of my apartment

How would you complete the phrase, “I’ve never realized being a missionary was so…”?

I never realized being a missionary would wear me out so much. In every way, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically I find myself depleted and always needing to be refilled.

Mentally: As I already said, everything is new: language, customs, geography, etc. As an example, every little exchange in Portuguese involves an enormous amount of thought and mental energy. I realize this is normal and will change with time.

Emotionally: In spite of the fact that I have made many new and wonderful friends, those I have been closest to in the U.S.A. were left behind. It is easy to feel isolated and lonely. I also feel pressure to be a "great missionary", whatever that is. In addition, as is true for anyone in leadership, I have learned quickly that people are watching me all the time. Because of all of these factors, I continually have to keep myself centered in Christ.

Spiritually: I never realized how much spiritual refreshment I received by being able to go to church weekly and fully engage in worship and hearing the sermon. Obviously worship and the sermon are in Portuguese now, so my ability to receive at church is limited. Beyond that, because of the communication challenges, my ability to communicate with my Brazilian friends does not flow as easily when talking about what God is saying and doing. For all these reasons, being in Brazil has forced me to be far more diligent in feeding myself spiritually. Even listening to sermons online is a challenge with an internet that can often be down or so slow that you cannot download a sermon.

Physically: Living in the Amazon region the constant heat and humidity and little if any opportunity to find air conditioning can wear you out. As I get used to new and different foods as well as unfamiliar bacteria, at times it takes its toll on my body. I am grateful that I have remained healthy, but there are still hard some days as my body adjusts. I have found that the sunshine and physical activity that I get regularly in Brazil have benefited me tremendously.

Spending time with my friends from the community

What do you miss most about the U.S.A.?
I miss my family. It’s hard not being there to watch my nephews grow up. It’s hard not being there when my first niece was born. It’s hard being away from my brothers, sisters, mom and dad. They are my best friends. Beyond those relationships, I have come to realize that in the U.S.A. there is a high priority on comfort (temperature, soft comfortable chairs, personal space, ready-made meals). This is not so in Brazil and I find myself adjusting to the absence of these creature comforts.

What do you love most about the Brazilian church?
I am continually amazed and encouraged by the hunger for God that I see within the church here in Brazil. There is a real desperation for His Presence and His Power. There is also an abandonment and a vulnerability in worship and conversations about the Lord. Americans are much better at suppressing their enthusiasm and emotions. In Brazil individuals are far more aware and honest about their need for a Savior, and are not uncomfortable talking about it.

What has been your biggest contribution to the Brazilian church?
It is easy for new missionaries to feel useless. We don’t have the language skills or practical skills to oversee projects or ministries on our own. The one area I feel I have made some small contribution has been encouraging a vision to reach outside the church into the community. Much of the church growth that takes place has been people choosing to come toward the church. Within my small sphere of influence, I have tried to encourage us to move towards the community and those outside its walls. I think it is easy for all of us to forget that the church primarily exists for the benefit of its non-members.

The Community Resource Center has been invited to speak in the public schools on the topic of sexual abuse.

Community Resource Center – English Class


What are the most necessary characteristic for being a missionary?

Three things come to mind: 1) Flexibility: You are in a new culture. To cope with the twists and turns, and culture shock you must learn to be flexible and remember that the only thing that is consistent for a young missionary is constant change and adjustment. 2) Patience: Being a missionary isn’t a sprint, but is a marathon. I came to Brazil wanting to make an impact. I am learning that this is a process. I am slowly accepting that I need to simply be faithful in those things that are before me and let God do what He wants in me and through me according to His timing. 3) Intimacy, Dependency, Obedience: My dad talks about this a lot, but what I’ve realized is that unless I am intimate with God on a daily basis, my life can easily unravel.

Top prayer request?
Financial Support – my support has dipped some since first arriving.

Language Acquisition – this continues to move along slowly.
Patience and Flexibility – reminding myself that it is a marathon, not a sprint.
Insecurity – regularly finding my peace and identity in Christ and not in what I do or how I perform.

A river community shelter

Thank you once again for your kindness in praying for me, supporting me and communicating with me. I love hearing from you.

In His Service,

Christopher

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