Saturday, July 11, 2009

"Hi Friends!
Shortly after sending the last update, the Internet went down here and just came back on line today. So, sorry you’ve not had an update till now. Everything is going well. All are healthy – some colds and allergies giving a few people problems. The folks have had several hours of training in a multitude of areas – Discipleship, Spiritual Warfare, Theology of Missions, Mission Team Dynamics, Inductive Bible Study, Member Care, Cell Group Ministry, Ministry in Islamic Areas. Yesterday we began the topic of “Cross Cultural Challenges,” which will comprise the bulk of the time spent in training sessions – a total of 24 hours by the end of next week! Pray for endurance for your friends and family!

The weather has been wonderful – usually chilly and foggy in the morning, but up to about 65-70 by noon with clear skies. Some folks take the afternoon free time to walk, run, play games, or take naps. Evenings are chilly – I’d guess somewhere in the low 50’s. After all, it is winter in Brazil!

Tuesday we had our first excursions into the local communities of Teresopolis. Like many large cities in South America, poorer people often build on the steep hillsides surrounding the city, creating these poor communities knows as favelas. The purpose of the outing is to help the trainees learn to observe surroundings, identifying cultural markers, and to see what sorts of needs might be there. Tomorrow we will do a similar outing, but we’ll be making the 2-1/2 hour drive to Rio and visiting some favelas there. These communities in Rio are very large areas – we’ll be going with church workers who minister in the communities. They know the power-brokers and arrange for us to enter the communities in relative safety. This sort of direct observation helps the trainees think about the radically different settings that people live in and come face-to-face with the challenges it would be to minister in such places.

It’s been great to see how the American trainees and those from Brazil have connected. In spite of language difficulties, a good bond has been established as we learn about cross-cultural ministry even as we experience it first hand with one another.

For prayer focus – please pray for safety as we head to Rio tomorrow – safety on the road and in the favelas. Pray for continued endurance as we hit the half-way point. Grace and Peace, Jim"

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Sunday, July 5th Update

Just a quick note to say that our first two days of training have gone very well. This past year a few of us on staff received some training on using experiential learning activities, so we’ve been applying some of those here.

Yesterday we had a special treat. As a staff, we decided not to make a big deal of the July 4 holiday – we wanted to have the trainees experience what it is like to have a holiday come and realize that it is just another day in this place. So we made no mention of it and did not acknowledge it as Independence Day – after all, it isn’t a holiday in Brazil. But the Brazilians knew it was a significant day for us, so for the evening meal, they decorated the cafeteria with red, white, and blue balloons and other decorations and prepared an American-style meal of fried chicken and apple cobbler. They didn’t even have black beans and rice, which is served with ALL Brazilian meals! Then afterwards, they shot off some fireworks for us. It was a nice gift – and the implications were clear not only for missionaries, knowing and celebrating local holidays, but the blessing we can be for foreign guests in our own country if we make note of their cultural holidays and celebrate that with them.

We’ve had training sessions all morning today, this afternoon will be for a Sabbath rest, then we’ll head to a local worship service this evening. Please continue to pray for endurance for the folks being trained. We have lots of fun, but it is very intense.