There is something very contagious and exciting about being around youth. For me it is those last teen years and beginning of adult hood that is perhaps most exciting. I remember as I was about to turn 18 taking our youth group to gleanings for the hungry, a ministry of youth with a mission that dries and processes food for hungry people around the world. While there the founder asked me to stay the rest of the summer and give a hand to hosting other groups and running the plant. My farm back ground made me valuable I suppose and as I had just graduated I decided to stay. While there not only did Wally have further impact in my life an Anglican priest called Father Rob and another man Dave Hebert both had extremely profound influence on me. This was the time in my life where my relationship with God had been transforming into an adult relationship. Dave really influenced me towards doing a school with youth with a mission. These were men influencing a young man, being used by God to place the foundations in his life that would eventually lead me to where I am today and where I will ultimately end up.
As we begin to experiment with an English business as a way to connect more deeply with the culture we have faced many struggles. Not the least of which was the passing of someone who had become a dear friend in a short time. We were home less than a week before we said goodbye to Sergio, someone who had been involved in nearly everything we have done. We have had a few problems with our house which somehow are the renters responsibility. We are unsure how to pay for the kids books, tuition and uniforms. Should we be investing more money in our VW Van to try and get it licensed, it really doesn’t work for us here and we need something else but without documents could we even sell it, how much of a loss would we take. English may or may not help, so far we have spent a little money and are looking at spending more. I believe it is what God is calling me to and believe it may eventually allow us to one day be financially able to support ourselves but for now remains an expense. I know things take time.
Those are just the normal challenges we face. Those things were pretty overwhelming when we first arrived in Rio. Today though they are just details, things that will work out with time. Largely because what we have seen so far as we attempt to get some English classes going is that we are engaging that age group. I am tired, spent and feel empty like all the energy I poured out this last week may come to nothing. It feels good. I have sat in a printing office with a bunch of youth from the community next to us laughing as they attempt English. Been at a church meeting with the Pastor about the classes we will start the 13th of February as a bunch of curious youth look on. He is excited to see his church used as a way to both bless the community and allow us to perhaps make a bit of money. He wants to start showing movies in English on Mondays with subtitles in Portuguese to piggy back on the English, to attract non church kids in a non threatening way.
I find myself both spent but rejuvenated. The flesh still hopes for failure at times, that I might have an excuse to see myself with a little cabinet shop back in the Midwest on a little farm with motorcycles, chickens and a cow or two. The flesh is always going to like the sound of winning the lottery. The temptation comes as I know that if I put out this effort in the US there will be a financial reward. Here I just am not sure.
The issue is though that we don’t labor for financial gain, we aren’t doing this to make money but to be more effective missionaries. As I do this I understand why Pr. Jeff Jackson told me if he could do his time serving in the Philippines again he would teach English, I understand now why he recommended it so highly to us and to others. I have done nothing in missions so far that has so instantly connected me with that wealth of energy, excitement and passion that is young adult hood.
We have had success, soccer schools, prison ministry, girls club Melissa is still doing the girls club and is very effective with a those girls. The thing is though as youth get older they don’t want to participate. They are too cool to go to the soccer school or a girls club. To involved in sex, drugs and whatever else. It is hard to grab them.
English seems to be bridging that gap, connecting us with the age that can and will change their nation. Connecting us with rich and poor, Christian and non giving us a voice in a generation that is active, alive and waiting on the possibilities life holds for them. It gives us an identity that business men and community leaders respect. It is opening doors at the kids school. It is early but it is exciting. I love being with 17-25 year olds and can’t wait to start tutoring Renato and Rafeal next week. I can’t wait to meet their pastor who has a church full of young people. I can’t wait to start at the Baptist church in Jardim Olympio and get to know that group of kids more. Who knows who will be the next pastor, leader, business man. Who knows if I can have a similar impact that those men had in my life at such a formational time. I am thankful for the opportunity to continue to learn.
We also are thankful that Moriah will be able to start school the 3rd of Feb. That they will continue to work with her through the year to finish her evaluations instead of her being forced to finish them all first. We are thankful that the church in Jardim Olympio will be starting these movie nights, that our ministry direction may prove to be part of the cure.
Please continue to pray
Moriah’s adaptation to Brazialian school and teen culture
Students for our English classes
Wisdom for where and when to offer classes
Finances as we need provision for school and a new car