It has been about a week since Ashley and I have been back from Brazil. Wow, what a blessing to have spent time with the people there. After a 27 hour travel time, we landed safely in Florida last Saturday. I have reflected much about what I experienced and have been processing a few things post trip. I am about to write about some of my experiences, convictions, and post trip thoughts regarding my time before Brazil, there, and now. These are reflections of a sinner’s heart who is striving to give God the glory in everything.
Before Brazil, many people would ask, “why are you going?” My response, “To give God glory”. What others would hear was that I (we) were going on a vacation. Mission trips are not vacations, it is hard work. One of my prayers was to identify if the Lord is calling me to tribal missions (with Ashley or without her). As of right now I do not believe the Lord is calling me to Brazil, but that could change.
Pre-Brazil, my prayer was to serve the missionaries in whatever capacity needed. Ashley and I were there to serve them. My role in Brazil was to shadow Don (a missionary). To walk with him through thick and thin (literally, spiritually, and physically as much as you can walk together for 16 days).
Adjusting is tough. You are surrounded by unfamiliar. You are surrounded by voices and languages that are foreign. Then comes the moment when you want to escape. But you can’t because you are committed and there is no way to leave (Deep down you wont follow through with leaving). Gracefully, after a few days you begin to get into routine of how things work and what to avoid (bugs and whatever else). Soon before you know it (it took me about 4 days) you begin to love where you are. You are struggling because it is unfamiliar, but you look past your feelings and remember the mission of God. That you are in this place to advance the Kingdom.
The students took about a week to start interacting with me more. They would say my name “kayveen” almost like a funky way of saying Kevin, and they would stick their thumb up. I would great them in their name and say “tudo beim?” (all is good?). I just want to say that 16 days is definitely not enough time there to understand and experience the culture in its full capacity. The school’s curriculum is to story through the Bible so that the students can take it back to their people and share the Story of the Bible; with the prayer of a birthed church. It was amazing to hear the story of Solomon and the temple in the Portuguese language (even though i didn’t understand it). What was even more incredible is that the students would go over and over these stories, then stand up and repeat them. Many of the tribes don’t have a written language, so it is vital that stories of Scripture are given. My prayer is that each tribe would formulate a written language, so that they have God’s Word not just in orality, but on paper.
Another class was to learn the Portuguese language. It was a great time to sit in and observe and listen. This class time included a video of Planet Earth on caves. I was amazed to see the reactions of the students, because they have never seen these parts of the world. It reminded me how much I take for granted God’s creation and how much I should enjoy it, because He is in control of it.
Each day I was out the door about 7 am, learning from Don, talking with him about life, and prepping for the afternoon. Sometimes we would lay brick for the corner joints of the duplex, so that in the afternoon work time, the students can come and fill in the middle sections quickly. Afternoon work-time (1-4pm) is designed for discipleship. At 1pm the men would meet and talk through the story learned that morning, then we would pray and be divided up to do farm work, duplex, or other smaller tasks that need to be done on the property. Much of my time with the guys was laughing with them. I was picking up the language quickly and I could tell by body language and certain sayings when the guys would goof off and/or when they needed more cement for bricks, or even a water break. Hard work in the sun, but it was well worth the sweat, cuts, and mosquito bites. Personally I faced the thoughts, “how can i be effective when I don’t know the language” or “I don’t know how to do this”. But as I searched the scriptures, I faced the truth that no matter how great the task or little, it was worthy for the Kingdom. Overall it was a tremendous blessing. I believe they ministered more to me than I them.
A thought came to mind as I rested my head for the first time in about 2 weeks in the States. “All I did was physical things in Brazil, nothing really spiritual”. I served mainly with helping Don fix the water pump, mowing (with an electric mower), mixing cement and laying bricks for a duplex, and mainly observing him in his business of life on life discipleship and ministry. On the field I realized that at first I was frustrated….as big-headed arrogant seminary student, I stuck out my chest in pride and wanted to teach the Bible or share the gospel with hundreds of people. The Lord revealed to me that if His will was that He wanted me to mow or lay brick for the rest of my life, then I would have to lay down my life doing just that. After about 5 days i confessed to Don my struggles, of my past and now. He told me to write down all the negative things and the positive things, then to give over the negative things to the Lord. Being on the mission field magnifies your sin and struggles; it exposes your heart. I am grateful for this time, because the Lord has brought to light what is an idol in my life and with a doubled-edged sword, He gently severs what does not belong.
One thing that has burdened me is the fact that there is a high need for laborers. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few”. Don was basically taking on three roles, I believe if it wasn’t for the sustaining power of the gospel through Word and prayer, and the fact that those who are there have a deep sense of community and accountability, it would be easy to burn out and want to quit. But praise be to God that He doesn’t call the qualified, but qualifies the called! As of right, I don’t believe God is calling me to Brazil, but I know this can change and through prayer I will be open to that. My prayer is that by reading this, someone will be driven by the Spirit to go and lay their life down in Brazil.
Brazil was not a vacation, it was hard work. My role was to be with Don, mainly working outside, and Ashley’s role was to serve Vera in aiding in ESL and devotions for the single girls on the campus. I would find my eyes heavy around 10:00pm and my ears awakening to the sounds of the first bell and roster crowing at 5:45am, daily. It was only 16 days, but I personally believe we needed more, I needed more time there. I love the people and my prayer is that I would hear stories of them growing more in the faith, especially one brother named David. I pray that I would hear of churches being birthed in the most hard places to reach. I pray that The Light shines in the darkness, bringing forth more laborers for the Kingdom!
As I sit here in my new apartment in NC on school campus, I reflect on how God has gently taken my heart and how He is starting to shake it of idols in my life. Idolatry is poison and it is crazy how we (I) think it is ok to hold them. So with once fists closed, demanding God for Him to give me what I want, I am now letting go…opening my hands and allowing God to take control.
Brazil revealed to me…reminded me of God’s mission and my role in making disciples. No matter how small the task, it is an important one in God’s eyes. Do I need anyone’s approval? That is a battle I am learning to let go right, because I am a people-pleaser and I squirm when I know people are in opposition of me. I only need God’s approval and He already approved of me when He died on the cross! My role now as a student preparing for the mission field is to focus on what the Lord is telling me, and finding my soul satisfied in Him.
Brazil….or should I say Brasil, has impacted me not in a drastic way, but in a way that has caused me to slowly allow the Lord to prune my life, so that I would look more like Christ.
Go…that’s all I can say…Go and see…Go and pour your life out for the Kingdom. For the advancement for our King’s Name!
If you would like to know more…just ask me!