Well, this was our last day in Brazil. The girls just finished their last concert and did a fantastic job. God has so blessed their ministry here in Brazil, provided, protected and answered prayers in so many way. We are sad to leave, but excited to tell all of you at home what God has done!
Some of the girls took advantage of some of the local services offered for good prices: hair and nails.
Here I am with Nega, the full-time cook for the Arca Bible Camp. She works tirelessly from early in the morning til late at night. She has been doing it since before the first time I came 10 years ago! (and her cooking is amazing!)
Here is Pastor Paul and Asher enjoying some ice cream together.
Here is the camp director, Yara, saying, "I miss you Sarah!"
This is the first church that Pastor Paul and Becky planted here in Curtitiba.
Liz Furrow sharing her testimony!
Heather McNeil sharing her testimony!
Sierra McNeil sharing her testimony!
Asher fellowshiping with the locals.
The banner outside the church announcing the concert tonight!
The rest of these are pictures on the bus as we drove the 90 minutes back to the Arca for the last time.
Many of the girls stayed in host homes last night because the Abels daughter works with an English school and they did something called "adopt an American". The families were very excited to have this experience to practice their English and ask questions. All the girls had a great time.
When they brought the girls back this morning, there was a program at the camp here with games, American food, conversations, etc.
Everyone had a great time!
Many helped in the kitchen to feed over 150 people!
Lacey wraps her foot as she continues to deal with a sprained ankle. :(
It was so fun to have a day to be at the Arca Bible Camp and experience all the vision and creativity of Pastor Paul as he has developed it into an amazing place! A full gym, a volleyball court, a soccer field, a zip line, a climbing wall, etc! Here are some pictures of the waterslide into a pool!
In the evening, we had the incredible privilege of participating in a very special service. Pastor Paul's father, Pastor John and Ruby Abel, started the work in Brazil over 40 years ago. They drove their young family in a station wagon down from the United States through Central and South America to Brazil and began to work in what was then the edge of the jungle. His visionary leadership was what God used to found a Bible School, Seminary, Orphanage, a beautiful Bible Camp and many churches. He as continued to return to Brazil year after year to lead evangelistic campaigns in spite of being 85 years old and in declining health. This year, he spent some time in the hospital here and came to the conclusion that this would be the last time he was able to come to this place that he has invested so much of his life into. The service was an attempt to honor the ways that God has used his life and to praise God for his faithfulness in the work here in Brazil. Many pastors and leaders came from long distances to be here, some driving 6-7 hours to come and then turning around and driving that long home afterward. The girls sang a number of songs and ended the night with "Any Road, Any Cost" which was such an appropriate description of the investment of his life.
Pastor John Abel giving the closing words.
As I write this, it is almost noon here but the day is just starting back home. This morning has been a tine of serving and help around the Arca Camp in preparation for a weekend of ministry. In the afternoon, we will be going to a church in Campo Largo (about 20 minutes away) and doing the Purity Seminars for the girls and guys. Luke will again teach the guys and Summer will teach the girls with the aid of skits and testimonies from the choir.
After the seminars, the girls will be doing a full concert at the church. This is the church that the Abel's daughters and their husbands attend and serve at.
The Abel's daughter teaches an English school here in Campo Largo and they have arranged an "Adopt An American" program tonight after the concert. So some of the girls will be "adopted" for the night to interact with a Brazilian family and be brought back Sunday morning.
Continue to pray for each of the girls and the mission here! Paul and Becky give of themselves in so many ways continually in the work down here. The choir has been a big hit and encouragement but also a heavy logistical load because of all the planning that is required for a group of this size. Becky is constantly working on transportation, lodging and food. She has been amazing!
As of now there are only two programs left but it seems like every time the girls do a program, they are invited to sing somewhere else. Pray that the girls will be a blessing to Paul and Becky as they have blessed us so greatly.
Grace sharing her testimony.
Kathryn sharing her testimony with Paul and Becky's daughter, Joanna translating.
Playing card games with English students at the Arca after the program.
Friday was a long day of travel from Foz de Iguacu to Bateias near Curtitiba. We got a later start than anticipated because the bus suspension was not working correctly when we were ready to load. Thankfully, when a repair man was called, it was a quick fix.
We had a time of worship and devotions in this pavilion while we waited for the bus to be fixed.
Asher taking his turn at the wheel with Pastor Paul.
At our bathroom break, one of the statues was having a wardrobe malfunction so I helped it out.
For the 10+ hour bus ride, we had every person on the bus stand up and share about themselves : what they have been learning, a favorite memory, etc. It was lots of fun.
Asher did not enjoy 10 hours in the carseat so he was happiest while sleeping.
Winter telling a hilarious memory.
Pastor Paul sharing about the beginning of the mission in Brazil.
We arrived at the Arca Camp at about 9pm and ate supper, moved in and got settled. It is a beautiful camp that is at the home of Pastor Paul and Becky Abel. There have been even more improvements and changes since the last time I was here and it is beautiful - a tremendous setting for ministry!
Today was an amazing day! As close to 9am as we could get with our passports strapped safely to Luke, we headed to the bird park after a devotion from Colossians 4. Upon arrival we got hit with the first rain shower they'd seen in a month (what are the odds?) Some of us ventured out while others stayed safely sheltered from the warm rain. The birds were awesome to see! We even found a parrot that spoke Portuguese!
Most of us were able to have a parrot perch on our arm and a snake on our shoulders (don't worry folks, not at the same time). Even Asher touched the snake!
You might recognize these travellers with us! Kathryn Norris...and...
After the bird park, we headed five minutes down the road to Igaucu Falls. It was probably the most amazing display of God's creation I have ever seen! On the lowest viewing dock we all got soaked but it was worth it with the view we got!
Brasil is trying to get Igaucu Falls on the list of the 7 great wonders of the world! We headed back to the hostel to get ready for our even concert. Sadly, Lacey slipped and hurt her ankle, so please pray for her healing! She's been such a great sport!
God sustained us as we did our whole program and two testimonies - Sarah Furrow and myself. I hope our performace touched many hearts! We headed back to our hostel and most of us jumped in the pool within a few minutes. Even Asher tested the waters! It's our last night here at the hostel and then we're heading on a ten hour bus ride to the ARCA in the morning. Tchau!
After our long day yesterday, we looked forward to a rest day today. After breakfast, devotion, clearing out of our rooms and loading the bus, we said goodbye to the Bible School that we had been staying at so far and headed for the city of Iguacu Falls. It was about a four hour trip and after we stopped at a castle ...
and the borders of Argentina and Paraguay for some shopping, we arrived in time for supper.
Supper was a real treat at a Chuhascarria (an amazing Brazillian barbeque feast) that you would have to see to believe. After supper we arrived at our hostel and got settled in just before 11pm. The girls squeezed in a late-night swim but before they were finished many in the pool area requested they sing a song. They sang "Strike Up The Band" in accapella harmony. The near-by bar turned off their music as the girls sang and everyone was awed by the performance. It was a powerful testimony to all that were there.
Our great transportation arranged by Paul and Becky!
Oi! We got up nice and early again today, 6am our time while our families were safely tucked in bed at 2am. I (Hannah) stood up wrong the night before and dislocated my knee. So, during our daily activities the team was so kind as to help me around everywhere.
After a breakfast of fruit and bread and coffee brewed in sugar water served in doll-sized coffee cups, we got on the road for Maringa (about 90minutes away).
We were thoroughly entertained with Judy's continuous fixation on a praise chorus we heard the other Sunday night; she kept thinking the lady was singing about Shamu (Sea World flashbacks anyone?) Seconds ago, Judy said: "Okay y'all, it wasn't a whale!" However "Chegar" was the actual word which means to arrive.
We arrived at a school in Maringa (last a needs an accent, unfortunately my IPod speaks about as good Portuguese as I do!) We had the priveledge of doing 4 concerts today for children, youth, and college students! (wow!)
First of five concerts!
The group of children gathered to hear our second concert
Our day started with breakfast at 7am, our first concert was at 9am and we didn't arrive back at Campo Mourao till close to midnight. Luke and Summer had an especially short night and long day because they stayed up until 3am rewriting their purity seminars which were presented today to unbelievers.
The last concert of the day was in a very large area that university students used for their 9pm break from classes. It was awesome! It was an incredible amount of people and they were very engaged in the presentation! The leaders of the university could not believe all the people that just stopped and listened the entire time.
I really feel like our team is being knit together in love on this trip and I know God is at work here! Thank you for your prayers and please keep us in your thoughts as we travel to Iguacu Falls tomorrow and move forward in this time we have been given to sing and to serve the wonderful people of Brasil!
Our luggage bay on our bus with all over our tour gear.
So sorry we have not gotten an update out. It has been non-stop and last night and this morning the internet was down.
On Monday, we did some work projects around the campus to clean and spruce things up a bit. Window washing, pruning, floor scrubbing, mopping tiles, dishes, yard work, etc.
In the afternoon, we had the opportunity to go to the local Bible Camp to swim in the lake for a little while.
Here are the beans and rice for supper.
After supper, we went for ice cream before heading to the university for a late-night concert.
The ice cream shop wanted them to sing for their ice cream.
A teacher that had been at the Saturday evening concert invited us to the university to sing. Many classes are late at night because people work all day.
The girls did a concert and testimony for a packed auditorium then divided up with small groups for them to practice their English on.
The girls had so much fun doing this as you will see in the pictures.
We arrived back at midnight.
It was a full day of ministry here for the choir. The day started early as they loaded on the bus to go to a church in town. They were the majority of the content of the service as they shared songs, drama and testimonies.
We then came back to the Bible School campus where we are staying, ate lunch and then had a few hours of rest and recreation before youth came from area churches for the seminar on purity. The girls shared a skit, teachings and testimonies with the girls and Luke shared with the guys.
Supper followed and then back on the bus to head to the big church in town. After another 2 hour service including songs, testimonies and much more, we packed up and headed back to the campus for some 11pm pizza.
Because tomorrow is more of a rest day, tonight was designated a "game night". Laughter is erupting from the next room over as they currently are playing telephone charades. Now for the pics.
Ministry in the church in the morning.
Samantha sharing her testimony.
Clara sharing her testimony.
Hildi sharing her testimony.
Asher wanting to join a game of volleyball.
...and then soccer.
Barefoot soccer game.
Song and drama at the Central Church at night.
Caitlin sharing her testimony.