It’s a new and happy 2016, y’all, and already I’m looking forward to preparations for Easter! It’s never too early. Last night the family and I had a blessed conversation about dinosaurs, space, hell, and the Resurrection, and man, now I can’t wait for Easter. The Resurrection is our hope; it’s what defines us. We are sown in weakness, we are raised in power. As we have borne the image of the man of dust, so shall we bear the image of the Man of heaven.
Kimberly, the kids, and I have been settling into a rhythm of life here, although all is not yet complete. Still, thanks be to God, we’ve arrived at the point where we are ready to be active in opening our home and ministering through hospitality.
The three boys have started basketball (sports are done is “schools” here, “basketball school”, “judo school”, etc.) and Joffrinho (l’il Joffre) and George are set to become part of the first generation of youth players for Guasca Rugby Club. They’re very excited. We hope to have Renata involved in a youth activity soon as well; sewing and tennis have come up as possibilities. These social activities are very important. Since we are not sending our kids to school, they will become the primary means our kids will learn to speak Portuguese.
We have not yet begun full homeschooling, which we’ll start in mid-February. Schools are currently in summer break (that’s right y’all, it’s 102 degrees today, and Kimberly won’t be able to wear the scarf she crocheted until August!). This entire city of one million souls becomes a shell. Half the stores close, and it seems like everyone goes to the beach.
Nothing gets done until after Carnaval, which is in early February.
Work on development of the basketball ministry is in an exploratory phase. Lunches and coffee meetings so far. Beginning immediately I will be accompanying Guasca Rugby’s new director of development as he visits schools and youth programs and seeks to build a youth program for the club. I expect this to teach me a lot about working with social organizations and local government. I also have begun to make an effort to get to know the streetball scene here in Porto Alegre, but if I’m to continue to get to know it through playing, I’m going to have to lose some weight. Oh, my knees.
I turn 38 in two weeks.
Next month Kimberly and I will begin teaching twice-monthly Bible study geared towards families raising young children, but open to all who are interested. We have seen that there is a need for practical Christian instruction on family and family dynamics within the Brazilian church. Brazilian society is, we believe, more hostile to the mutual dependence and trust that the Gospel demands of us in our marriages than even American society. Married couples are encouraged by those around them to be independent from each other, and even to lead separate lives. Trust in marriage is foolishness, and divorce and unfaithfulness rampant (as in the U.S.) Couples seeking humility, mutuality, and service in their marriages are often left without teaching or role models.
We men of the church plant (Igreja de Cristo Porto Alegre) have begun a monthly men’s fellowship group, meeting at a pub in the Cidade Baixa, an ancient and hipstery district of the city. It is not officially associated with the church, and will be structured very much along the lines of The Bird & Baby Philosophy Club, a men’s group that those of you from South Carolina may recall with gladness and sorrow (you know, now that it’s gone). Every month one of the men will briefly present a theological or philosophical idea, and then the debate will flow. We’re all really looking forward to seeing how God will bless this group. We hope to see evangelicals and Roman catholics and atheists and agnostics and everybody make an appearance and participate.
Our church is receiving lots of visitors, for which we are very grateful to our Lord Jesus. I have opportunities every day to talk about the Gospel and about our church with people I meet. A marvelous thing about conversation down here is that people seldom get upset when you talk about Jesus. In truth, all things spiritual are of interest. I’ll be posting to my blog soon about the ubiquity of spiritism and witchcraft in this region of Brazil.
If you would like to give to our ministry, please visit joffre.omiinternational.org. You can give for any amount by using the buttons halfway down the right sidebar, or simply use the buttons for pre-set amounts at the top of the page.
Brothers and sisters, thank you for your prayers and support. We rejoice whenever one of you reaches out to us through email or social media, and thank you for that.
From St. Patrick’s hymn:
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
God bless y’all,
Joffre, Kimberly, Renata, Joffrinho, George, Ward, Mara