It has been a long winter here in SP. Most people assume all of Brazil is hot all of the time and that the mild winters aren't really so bad. I would agree that the winters aren't so bad relatively speaking. Don't get me wrong, if you live anywhere in the Northern part of the U.S. or in Canada you have it much worse. The issue here in SP is that when its 55 degrees outside, its 50 degrees inside your house. Houses here are really modern caves in terms of their effectiveness in insulating from the cold of winter. The cold is damp and the days are grey and dreary. The fact that your surrounded by concrete inside your house and outside of your house throughout the city doesn't help your winter morale. One way or another, winter is technically over THIS WEEK, and I am praising the Lord! I am ready for hotter days and warmer nights.
Another reason I'm glad winter is finally over is because it kills our attendance. We meet in a big tent and its not an inviting environment at all during the winter months. The women at church regularly bring blankets to wrap themselves in, and most mothers with children just leave their kids home since we don't really have an appropriate space for all of the kids to meet. That all changes when it warms up. Warmer months ahead means many more visitors and a greater participation in all of our church activities.
Many of you might have noticed on our facebook posts that we were in the U.S. for the month of August. We were planning on coming home for Christmas at the end of this year. Tickets are always around $1000/person for that time of year so when we saw tickets for $350/person during the month of August we quickly changed our Christmas plans. Remember, there are seven of us so that is a boatload of money saved right there. We arrived on August 5 and returned to Brazil on August 30. The focus of the trip was really to spend time with family and friends at our home church in Nashville, TN. The kids had a blast fishing, canoeing, horseback riding, and just hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa Hardy. The week after we returned to Brazil the kids started home-school. This year Samuel is in 5th grade, Jesse is in 4th grade, and Abigail is in 2nd grade. Hannah and Benjamin just watch and disrupt mom as much as they can.
Nothing really new going on in our ministry. We are just focusing on our game-plan and pressing forward. Every week we teach, preach, and train as we try to move the church closer to maturity in Christ and closer to leadership autonomy. Sometimes it seems as if it is a two steps forward and a three steps backward process, but in the end I think we are making as much progress as God wants us to be making. There is no way to speed up the discipleship process through innovative methods or tactics because it is ultimately up to God. Of course we do what is within our power and responsibility to do, but God orders the rest according to His purpose and plan.
Here's something you can pray for and give towards: We have been raising money over the last 6 months or so for a building project. We have 3 building teams from the U.S. that are coming to Brazil to assist us in February '16. We have money for the footers but we need funds for the rest of the materials - rebar, cement, cement mixer, cinder blocks, roofing materials, etc.... We have ministry partners coming down to do the work but we need the materials. Would you prayerfully consider giving towards the building materials that this group needs in order to get the job done?
Right now is the time because we have a great opportunity to nearly double our investment in this project. The currency exchange rate between the U.S. Dollar and the Brazilian Real has nearly doubled over the last year. That simply means that everything is nearly 50% cheaper than what it was just a year ago. Your money will go twice as far as it would have gone a year ago. Give as the Lord would have you give.
As always we are grateful for your partnership in our lives and ministry.