Friday, November 29, 2013

The Season of Thanksgiving

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.  For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. Psalm 95:2-3

This Thanksgiving season is so easy to say things for which you are thankful. I mean, everyone is doing it. But what if you don’t have the food you are used to? What if your living situation is not what you are accustomed? What if you were separated from your family and friends, for whom everyone says they are thankful?

Would you still offer thanks to the Lord? Would you still have a thankful spirit?

(Some missionaries have shared their Thanksgivings overseas…)

Many times, it is so easy for me to focus on the negative aspects of my life. But, that is not what God has called us to do. In fact He calls us to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

I am truly thankful for those of you who pray for us and over us. This past year (man, have we been with the company for a whole year, already?!!) has not been very easy for us. We’ve said goodbye to family and friends and the lives that we’ve always known. We’ve lost a sister. We moved to a foreign land, and we are in the process of learning a foreign language and customs (I don’t think you fully ever learn either). We got pregnant again. And on and on. But the one thing we have always relied on, besides Jesus, is our family and friends who keep us in their prayers AND who specifically pray for us by name and pray for the ministry opportunities that we are a part.

SO, what are some of our ministry opportunities that you may be praying over?

- David is in Vila d’Este (a suburb of Gaia with over 17 thousand people!) He is helping with an English homework group two days per week. Pray that a church be planted in Vila d’Este!
- This week David and I (and Gideon) have gone with a lady from our church (a Brazilian missionary) to visit people in their homes. These people have shown interest in God or church or anything spiritual on this site. It has been an interesting experience that has definitely taken me out of my comfort zone!  Pray that we would be able to share the love of Jesus boldly with those who need Him.
- We have also been more active in church activities. Pray that the local church would see the vision for planting churches throughout Gaia.  
- And, as always, we love throwing parties and getting together with friends! Pray that we would be able to build Bible studies with those who attend.

God is doing some really amazing things in Portugal! Please be in prayer for us, as we try to lead people to HIM. And let us know when you pray for us! That is really what has been keeping us going this year. Smile

If you need more ways to pray for us, or for any missionary, this website lists ten things to pray for missionaries. It is pretty accurate, too.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Doing Work, Work for the Lord


This past Sunday I was able to give a sermon over The Great Commission, Matthew 28:16-20.  I have now talked people to sleep in 3 languages (English, Spanish, and now Portuguese).  Seriously.  The worst part about that truth is the first person to ever fall asleep in my sermons was my brother, Confused smile.  LOL, They say family will let you know the truth.  However, I hope the Lord will bless the purpose of the sermon.  I tried to focus on application regarding the process of Going and Making Disciples.  If you could see all these apartment buildings, how they roll across the hills in waves that are unending, then you might have the daunting feeling ‘how can I reach all these Portuguese.’  The truth is I can’t.  However, I am not going to throw Jesus in a box and say He can’t.  So my hope in the sermon was the listeners would get the church planting mojo.  Having a 100 national-born missionaries going around Vila Nova de Gaia and trying to plant churches is my vision. 

Dream big people, pray bigger than my dreamsIn love

LOL, I know some people want to read this blog and see all the wonderful results we are having in spreading the gospel.  You want to hear about long lines of people heading into the water for baptisms.  You want to use a calculator to decipher all the spiritual numbers I am throwing on this blog. People, it’s not happening at this moment.  It’s a spiritual struggle.  That is why I am begging for prayer. 

So this blog is going to be short, and I think it’s pretty simple.  My holiday request from you is to pray specifically for Danielle’s and my ministries.  Pray that we can form more relationships.  Pray that the Lord will give the church in Gaia a unique heart to spread His message.  It can be discouraging to work for an entire year and not see much fruit from your labors.  A guy named William Carry was the first Baptist Missionary sent out.  He toiled for 7 years in India before someone believed the gospel.  I can’t imagine the difficulties that man must have endured, the loneliness, the frustrations.  I do know this, The Great Commission ends with a promise from Jesus. So however small my work might seem, however small the spiritual numbers I am able to present, I believe there is a purpose.  I hope you ladies and gentlemen will share with me in this work by praying.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Philosophical Words of Timon in the Lion King: “What’s Going On?!

Hey people Smile I thought it would be good to tell of some of the things happening in Portugal. 

Danielle and I finally got into Vila D’este! At the same time, we finally had someone accept our offer of helping with English lessons (sort of, ehhh).  I have went around to several places trying to either start English groups or help with existing establishments, but every place has been a no for some reason or another.  But a woman in the church, a past application, and the local pastor haveGargamel hopeful provided an opportunity to tutor some high school kids in Vila D’este.  It is not the big group that I had envisioned, but I guess that sometimes the Lord only gives a person a little bit to manage (Matthew 25:13-30).  I am hoping that this volunteering role can lead to other opportunities within the community.  As Gargamel said in the first Smurfs movie: “Cautiously excited!”

Danielle and I are starting to build a good relationship with the only Baptist church in Vila Nova de Gaia (A city on the south side of the Rio Douro of Porto). We are trying to start of couple of projects in the church. This is the only Baptist church in Vila Nova de Gaia, and the city has a population of almost 200,000 people in the inner city.  Think about that fact! There is not much of an evangelical presence in this area.  We are hoping that we can help train others in the local church in some evangelism and discipleship techniques.  That way, instead of just Danielle and I working alone, there would be several of us working together on spreading the gospel in this populous place.  A little army of believers fighting, hehe Ninja like a bunch of spiritual ninjas. 

The ministry with the football team is a work in progress.  There are around 30 or so guys that go every practice.  It has been more difficult this season to get connected with guys off the football field.  Sometimes spiritual conversations happen at practice, but a lot of the time they happen outside of practice.  I keep trying and hoping to do things with the guys, and hopefully the Lord will bless in this area and bless these guys with the knowledge of His love. 

The café mission is hit and miss.  Sometimes I am able to start up random conversations with people that lead to discussions of spiritual things.  This past month has not been one of those times.  I am going to chalk it up as a dry season in the field, and hopefully good things will start to happen.  I still keep visiting and reading my Bible in certain cafés near my house.  The owners and some of the normal workers of these places have not had any spiritual discussions with me in a while, but who knows when the Lord will start a good work.

Just simple prayers this month for us… Anything.  We will take them.  And, if any of you have time to drop an encouraging word on Facebook, that would be awesome Open-mouthed smile Some simple words can fuel our tank and keep us going… Read an article this week that had a quote that I appreciate more now, than ever: “Keep sawing wood.”  Makes sense to me. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Faces of War

by David
Danielle and I want to share our lives with people and express the variety of ways God is teaching us. Sometimes I am stubborn and a slow learner.  Yes, sometimes stubborn, not all the time hehe Smile.  It has been clear to me an issue that keeps arising throughout my time in Portugal is Spiritual warfare.  I am not writing about casting demons out of a person, or something that involves that clear a manifestation of a believer’s war with darkness. However, I have never been challenged in such a variety of ways as I have been over the past 9 months.
Paul said in the book of Ephesians, “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” 
In the states, I did not notice this truth reveal itself strongly.  But after living in Portugal, I now realize how subtle spiritual war can be.  The effects can be frustrating, prolonged, and if not addressed… devastating to a Christian’s witness. So, here are some different faces of Spiritual battles.
AngerSteaming mad – I am one of those types of people that will simmer on a thought.  If I feel cheated in any form, I replay the perceived injustice through my mind (I don’t believe continued thinking on negative things is biblical by the way, I should control my thoughts better).  Since I have been in Portugal, I have noticed that I do not avert my thoughts to a different subject after I become angry.  I simmer for hours.  The anger can influence my schedule and how I interact with people. Does it seem peculiar to anybody that these incidents occur when I am going to talk to people about Jesus?   Here is a prime example.  This past season in football, when I was about to go to a game or even practice and interact with players, trying to show Christ to them, Danielle and I would argue.  The argument would put me in a negative mood.  Danielle and I started to notice this pattern after a while.  We realized that these arguments could be spiritual warfare.  The realization allowed us to focus on the problem.
       A side note:  Anger affects relationships with teammates and friends.  It causes me to isolate myself so I can ignore situations.  It creates so many problems. It is a mighty tool for the Devil, and I am just now realizing how difficult the battle presents.
Distractions – I am a worker.  Now that is.  When I was younger, I would lazily allow my brother to rake the leaves and do the outside yard work, hehe = strategy.  So, I enjoy having things to do.  I enjoy going to cafes and talking to people about Christ, or studying on particular subjects.  However, I notice that things I have never enjoyed before have become more intriguing to me, for some odd reason… T.V., Internet, etc. I am checking my Facebook way too much (oh the irony of this blog being posted on FB). I love football, but when I start to watch a meaningless game of teams I have never even heard of existing, I realize I am allowing distractions take me away from my mission in life.
Past problems –  Before I was reborn, I lived like a sinner, shocker! The problem with my former lifestyle, is I don’t think the Devil’s workers have forgotten about my past DevilAnnoyed.  My former lifestyle was focused on women in all the wrong ways. Now that Christ has made me a new creation, I have a wonderful wife and can enjoy that blessing.  The fact remains, as James says we stumble in many ways, I am in a constant Spiritual battle with lust.  I hate it.  Absolutely hate it.  But, I sowed these seeds early in my life, now I have to struggle with the fruit I produce from that lifestyle.  This spiritual battle is not going away.  It is a daily battle that has to be won… I realize that everyone does not struggle with the same thing.  Whatever your battle is, you probably know that the Devil has not forgotten your difficulties.  Keep battling my friend. Keep battling.  
Emotions –  I feel like I am on an emotional roller coaster, all the time!  And I don’t like heights.  The more I feel compelled to share Christ, the more I notice my mood is tested.  Anger has already been discussed, but shame from failure in any area, a feeling of being overwhelmed and helplessness, sadness from certain situations, thoughts of insignificance, and many other negative emotions Sick smile are constantly having to be battled.  Funny, but these emotions can be complete contradictions of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  It’s crazy to me how simple our emotions seem, but I would not be shocked if many times it is Spiritual warfare.  Spiritual warfare trying to inhibit our witness, our joy, or focus. 
I asked for prayer to combat this warfare.  Jesus has already won the war on sin, but battles remain until He returns.  Pray for me to  be constantly outfitted in the armor of God:  Truth, Righteousness, Readiness of the gospel of peace, Faith, Salvation, God’s Word (Ephesians 6:10-20).  As Paul asked, I ask, “Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel… Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should.”

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Barker Family Adds One

This sounds like the title to a children’s book. One that you think will be cute and funny and have a good moral and a happy ending. But it really is an announcement!

If you have not heard the news: We’re pregnant! (Ok, my Portuguese friends. I am pregnant. David, technically, cannot be pregnant.) So let me restate: We are going to have another baby!

We are extremely excited about our new addition. And, yes, this baby was “planned”, or as “planned” as a baby can get (all babies are planned by God, but that is a subject for another day.) Actually, in my mind, I should have been seven or eight months pregnant by now. But, God had other plans. And His timing is perfect, as always. 

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:13-16)

I almost titled this blog, “God, what were You thinking?” Because even though I admit that His timing is perfect, now, I am afraid that I have missed so many opportunities because I worry and obsess over my desires instead of focusing on what is before me. Now that I am pregnant, I wonder how much I have missed being thankful for the child that I do have, instead of being sad over the child He had not given me, yet. How much play time or book reading time or smiles did I miss out on because I was thinking of my selfish desires?

Or even more convicting: How many people did I not share Jesus with because I was thinking of what God had not given me instead of thinking of what God has given me? Have I been walking around mad at God? If I have, how can I share His love with others?

Now, I have not been mad at God, really. I just question His timing. On many things. After my blog last month, why does He choose now to give me a child? When He knows that I struggle so much with the job I have, why does He choose to bless me with another? I am so very happy that He has chosen to bless us in this way. He tells us that children are a blessing, and we want a LOT of children.

Even though waiting was a little difficult, I know it was well worth it. I did not have to worry about morning sickness while in language class. I did not have to worry about strange smells bothering me in the supermarket (now they are not so strange smells bothering me in the supermarket.) I have already seen my doctor, and she was able to direct me to her colleague who speaks English. I was able to enjoy a nice summer without being as big as a whale.

Now that I have shared the news, and admitted that occasionally I have questioned God’s timing and wondered what He was doing, there are some things that I need to pray about and would ask that you be in prayer over them, also.

Pray that I would allow this new situation to cultivate new relationships in order to share the Gospel.
Pray that I would not neglect any relationship in order that the Gospel will be shared.
Pray that I would continue learning the language in order to speak to the Portuguese people in Portuguese.
Pray that I would have an increase in energy and a decrease in the “yucky” pregnancy feeling of the first trimester. (Only a month to go before it should be gone!)
Pray that I can continue to be the wife and mother my family needs me to be during this time.
And, lastly, pray that I will not be too homesick during this pregnancy. I know it will be hard to be away from my parents and all of our family during this pregnancy and when we have the baby.

That is our big news! Do you have anything that we can be in prayer for you???

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Here is my cape…I am not a super mom…

When I signed up for living oversees as a missionary, all I had was a job description and the knowledge that this was what God had for my life. The job description, however, was targeted more toward David. I think our job was actually for a single journeyman, and we had to get permission from the supervisors to come because the job said “no children”. The job description for the wife part was pretty generic, basically whatever ministry you can find – university work, children’s ministry, prison ministry, etc… So basically, I did not have a clue what I would be doing here. Only that I would be a mommy and wife and a “missionary”. My goal was to be “Super Mom!”

Now that I am here, I still do not have a clue what I am supposed to be doing here. I only know that I am mommy, wife, and “missionary”.

It is pretty daunting, really. Knowing that you have the job of being Super Mommy, Super wifey, and Super missionary all rolled into one. How on earth do you actually do that? I have never done these things before, let alone all at the same time.

At our company meeting last month, I got to meet some really great women who have the same roles that I do. With more kids. A whole lot more. Like, three and four more. Who seem to have everything all figured out. I wanted to hang out with them and learn as much as possible from them. Do you know what I learned? They really don’t have it figured out, either. Sure, they have ideas. But their main point was to fully rely on Jesus.


So, in fact, I can’t be super anything. Not without some serious help. Sunday school answer, I know. But oh so true.

I still really have no clue what I am doing. And that is frustrating. And depressing. Most days, I consider it a victory that I brush my teeth and get dressed that day.

Other days, I get the house cleaned, take the baby to play at the park, have a coffee with someone, and be home in time to cook dinner for David. Those days are few and far between. Let me tell you. That would be my dream day.

Right now, in my short almost nine months of living overseas, I have realized that it’s ok not to know what I am doing. As long as I know that I am a wife, mommy, and that I am supposed to share the Gospel with people. I have also learned that to be a good missionary, I have to be a good wife and mommy. That is my main ministry. That is where I feel God has called me first. And that will be true no matter where I am on earth.

What I do day to day might be different day to day. Some days, I go to the gym and have a coffee date with a friend. On those days, David and Gideon have daddy-son days. And I need to know that I need days like that. And I should not feel guilty. Other days, we stay at home and play in the morning, and in the afternoon we go buy supper or go to the park or go swimming. And I should not feel guilty for not meeting with a friend from Portugal. When people come over from game night, Gideon is getting big enough to play by himself. But when it is time for bed, I miss thirty minutes to an hour by putting him down to bed. And I should not feel guilty. I think that is my biggest enemy: guilt. I feel guilty so often for not doing everything, and often because of that, I end up not doing anything. (That is the depression rearing its nasty head…) There was a resounding theme with all of my friends last month: almost all of us feels like the worst missionary in the world. Or the worst mommy in the world. Or the worst wife in the world. Or, in my case, all of the above. But that is a lie.

No, I should not get complacent in where I am. I should always strive to be a better wife, mother, and share Jesus with as many people as I can. All too often, I find myself blaming other people or circumstances for my frustrations or about not learning language or not getting the house cleaned. But it is at those times, I realize that I am not where I should be with Jesus. I have not spent time reading the Bible that day. I have not sat down and prayed that day. I am at odds with my husband. That is when I feel lowest.

So, I guess those other women are right. I have to rely fully on Jesus. I am not a super mom.

So, you ask how you can pray for me? Just. Pray. Pray that I will be a great helper to my husband. Pray that I will show the love of Jesus to my son and tell him about Jesus at every opportunity. Pray that I will know when to open my mouth and tell people about Jesus. Pray that I will know when I need to step away from my child and have some “me” time. Pray that I will not be plagued with guilt. And mostly, pray that I will spend time in the Word every day. Also, can you let me know that you are praying for us? We love hearing back from people. How can we be praying for you?  

Friday, August 23, 2013

Who says ‘Don’t Talk to Strangers!’?

By David

So, the Café Takeover has commenced. 

Within a radius of about 1 1/2 to 2 km around my house is where I am 'strategically' visiting certain cafes. That’s right people, I used kilometers, welcome to European distances. I have rapidly expanded the area in which I visit.  I am making it a mission to go to cafés so I can improve my Portuguese, but more importantly, I want to sow the gospel throughout the community. 

Here is how the process works.  I sit down at a cafe, hoping I have followed the guiding of the Holy Spirit.  First, I usually read my Bible in English then Portuguese.  At this time I either have worked up the courage to talk to a complete stranger or not.  I then ask a stranger to help me practice my Portuguese.  Some say no, making no eye contact (brings up ol' memories of me asking girls on a date Hot smile and then promptly being turned down Crying face )  However, many have helped, and a few of my conversations have turned into multiple conversations with people.

This atteDSCF3723mpt to get into the community has helped tremendously.  My Portuguese has improved.  I now have the capability to communicate like a 4 year old Confused smile with bad grammar.  Lol, but it has helped. Here are a couple of things I have learned through this process: 

1)  Going to a café is the best place for me to have a quiet time, reading the Bible.  I cannot focus well at the house, but put me in an environment where I cannot understand a single word unless I focus, and it is surprisingly peaceful. 

2)  I am growing more spiritually from reading the Bible in another language than English.  When I read in English, I can gloss over areas because I have read the passages already and it easy easy to read in my heart language.  When I read the Bible in Portuguese, I have to slow down to make sure I am interpreting the words and meaning correctly.  I marvel at the Lord’s ability to communicate through different languages.  I find it extremely interesting how my Portuguese translation might convey an idea differently than my English translation ( the thought never fails to cross my mind, I can solve this conundrum, I will just read the original Greek or Hebrew; that is my inner nerd thinking).  I love the way some ideas are communicated by the Portuguese language.  I found it hilarious that the word Pregar can mean ‘to preach’ or ‘to hammer.’ Lol, I believe to some people those thoughts in English are synonymous. 

3)  Having random conversations at cafés has really allowed me to work on evangelizing methods.  Not being able to speak Portuguese well has actually been a blessing in a certain way.  I have an excuse to talk to anybody I see.  I see an elderly lady, I have a way to start a conversation.  I see a teenager with a weird haircut and baggy pants, I have a way to start a conversation.  I see a guy who looks like he is part of the mafia, I keep sipping my coffee… I have found that needing to practice my Portuguese is my way into random peoples’ lives. The hardest part of a spiritual conversation is starting the conversation.  Sometimes it may take me an hour to gather the courage to speak, while other times I walk into a café with boldness radiating from me.  The Lord has given me a simple way to transition a conversation from normal to spiritual.  All a person has to ask me is what I do for work.  It is that simple.  The conversation immediately turns spiritual.  I tell them what I do for work, and I usually know immediately by the person’s reply if he or she wants to progress with the spiritual conversation.

4)   I actually am able to like coffee, just not he American style. I abhorred coffee in the States. The Portuguese café is more my style.  It is an espresso.  It has a bitter taste, not a burnt taste.  It is small, so I don’t feel like I have to endure a bucket DSCF3735of bitterness to get my caffeine jolt.

5)  Sometimes I feel complacent with accomplishing the good, instead of the Great. A lesson I learned from Lonnie Reynolds is to move beyond the good and not settle.  The good in this case can be ‘just’ having a spiritual conversation. Praise the Lord for a spiritual conversation, but I believe Jesus sent me over here for more.  Sometimes, I feel good about the conversation flowing to a point where I share the whole Gospel with a stranger (believe me, this is no trivial thing considering I normally have to communicate the gospel in Portuguese).  But, great at this point in Portugal would be for a person to want to learn more about Jesus. So I want to move from the good to the great.  I know it is in the Lord’s time, but Jesus said there is a harvest ready to be reaped, and I believe Him.

  • While these words were given to Jeremiah, the Lord has given us all a mandate to share His Word. I feel like Jeremias’ plight with words, not being the ideal person, and lack of courage is what many of us have to struggle with overcoming:  O livro do Jeremias, capítulo 1, vesículo 6-8 = Eu respondei: << Ah! SENHOR, meu Deus, eu não sei falar: sou ainda muito novo! >> Porém o SENHOR replicou: <<Não digas que ainda és muito novo, mas vai aonde eu te enviar, e fala como eu te mandar.  Não tenhas medo de ninguém; eu estarei ao teu lado para te proteger.  Sou eu, que to digno!>>

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Six Months to Think (that can hurt the head)…

- By David

The summer has come to Portugal.  Life has slowed.  People have dispersed for vacations and beaches.  In the absence of the hustle I have time to reflect on the first six months I have spent in Portugal.  The reflection has positive thoughts and areas that need improvement.

The Good Thoughts… Smile

I had the unique experience of learning a new language.  This past week I even spent over and hour talking to a café owner regarding the Bible.  The entire conversation was in Portuguese! Imagine trying to explain to someone the concept of how the Old Testament being connected to the New Testament is a simple idea (Jesus); all in a language that you started learning six months ago. Good times my friends, good times.

I have been able to pour into a group of amazing guys.  Working with the Portuguese in football has been a blast.  Through these particular relationships I have been able to tell some stories from the Bible.  I love being able to share the wisdom and truth of the God’s Word.  I have been able to teach old and young guys a wonderful game and play it with them.  It is special to see how guys develop over a period of time.  The Lord is blessing with my current team.  He is opening doors into new communities and new people.  It is an exciting time.

Improvement Areas Annoyed

While ministry with football is great, I have been struggling to find avenues into other parts of the culture.  I tried to volunteer at a local school, but the director said I need to bVila Destee employed by the city to help… one door closed.  I have started to go around to local cafés and read my Bible in Portuguese and English.  I am hoping someone could help me with the Portuguese language by reading the Bible to me. Brainstorming for any method to start Bible studies has commenced.  Feel free to FB me with suggestions.  I think the Lord is teaching me that wonderful word, perseverance.

There is one community I am trying in particular to start a Bible study, Vila D’este (see the picture). Look at all those people Sarcastic smile


Prayer Requests

  • Ask the Lord for Bible Studies to start in my surrounding communities. I am dreaming big.  I want several Bible study groups to start, but it is way bigger than me.  I need prayers for the Lord to do this BIG thing.
  • Ask the Lord for a productive attitude from Daniele and me.  We don’t want to slow down with the summer.  We want to continue the work the Lord as laid before us.

Final Thought

Lucas 18:9-14… Jesus propôs mais outra parábola para alguns que se julgavam pessoas muito justas e desprezavam os outros: “ Dois homens foram ao templo para orar.  Um deles era fariseu e o outro cobrador de impostos.  O fariseu, altivo, orava assim: “Ó Deus, agradeço-te porque não sou como os outros, que são ladrões, injustos e adúlteros, nem como este cobrador de impostos que ali ésta.  Jejuo duas vezes na semana e dou a décima parte de tudo o que ganho.” Mas o cobrado de impostos ficou à distância e nem sequer se atrevia a levantar os olhos para o céu; apensas batia com a mão no peito e dizia: “Ó meu Deus, tem compaixão de mim, que sou pecador!” E Jesus concluiu: Afirmo-vos que o cobrador de imposotos foi para sua casa justificado aos olhos de Deus, ao contrário do fariseu.  Pois todo aquele que se engrandece será humilahado e todo o que se humilha será engrandecido. 

The Parable reminds me of my role with people.  A Pharisee is not special because he acts religious, and I am not special because I came to Portugal.  I am a sinner saved by Jesus, and I still need the grace of God for this work.  That is why I ask for your prayers, because Danielle and I are not going to accomplish anything of value without prayer support.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Hello, Summer!

Summer is here!!! In full force! It has been around 80-90 degrees this week, after a high of 60-65 degrees. YAY!
Hello Summer! Putting away the boots and jeans, and getting out the flip-flops and sun dresses.

However I may feel about summer, the Portuguese also have a love for summer. And everything else comes to a halt. Afternoons are spent at the beach and evenings are spent walking outside or sipping coffee at a café outside with friends. This is a great way to meet people or to meet up with people. It also can be frustrating when the Portuguese are, well, absent or sloooooowwwwww in responding to meetings.
Pray that we will be able to maintain relationships with the Portuguese during the summer as well as start new relationships and ministries.

But I can cope with the slow-pace of summer in Portugal.

My biggest prayer request this summer is for the purity of our minds during this season.
The dress in Portugal, or lack thereof, reminds me of late 80s and early 90s movies. Lots of neon. Lots of stomachs. Lots of leggings. Lots of see-through shirts showcasing colored bras. Lots of booty shorts. Lots of guys without shirts. And this is just the Metro…We won’t go into what is on the beach. The advertisements and TV shows in Portugal also are pretty scandalous, especially during summer. There are no ratings or censors in Portugal…things that I could watch because things were bleeped or blotted out back in the states, I can’t watch in Portugal.
Please pray that Christ will keep our minds and hearts pure for him… 

Language. Sometimes it seems like a bad word. We are meeting with language helpers and trying to speak with people at church, people that are in stores, and that we meet randomly. We are also trying to study from home.
Please pray that we will be motivated to learn the language, that we can find people to meet with us for language study, and that we will be bold in speaking (although not perfectly) Portuguese to people we meet. Our goal is always to be sharing God’s love with people, and preferably in their own language. Pray we will remember, always, that goal.

My last prayer request is that God will allow us to be a part of great ministries here in Portugal. We are trying to figure out another ministry, other than football, that we can be a part of to start new Bible studies. ESL, Game nights, English club, ESL, University ministry…There are so many options! Please pray with us that God will direct our path and show us which ministry to pursue.   

God is doing so much in Portugal! Thank you, Jesus, that we are able to be a part of it!

What ministries are you a part of this summer? VBS? Church camps? Mission trips? We want to be praying for you this summer, like you pray for us. Let us know how we can best pray with you!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Here are a few prayer requests.

  • Continuing relationships and Bible studies that have already been started.
  • Three people have given their lives to Christ so far! Pray for a yearning for the Word and for us to disciple them.
  • Pray for us as we have been dealing with sickness and homesickness. (I wrote another blog about our homesickness.)
  • Pray for us as we continue to learn the language without going to any formal school!

These past few months have been super busy!

We have finished language school! This means that we still need to learn the language, but without going to class. It also means that starting next month, I get my baby with me full time! That excites as well as frightens me! I will have my hands full with language, baby, and ministry!

We have finished football! Football season is over, although they still have practices twice a week. 

We have met with several people. These meetings are lunches, coffees, general hanging out, game night, and Bible studies!

We have several teams coming this summer. Pray for these teams, that they reach the lost people in Portugal and build bridges for us to start Bible studies and see more people come to Christ!

Thank you so much for all your prayers and support! We would probably be home if we did not have such a good support system!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Possible Teacher - Very Real Student

Hey everyone. It has been another month of living and growing in Portugal.  I say the word growing with a humble grin.  It’s amazing to me how the Lord teaches.  I move across an ocean, confident of my ability to teach wonderful things about the Lord.  And now, I am only beginning to realize that Jesus has still labeled me… Student.  How can this be? Well, I am finding in Portugal wonderful people.  They are generous, loving, and genuine.  I find myself learning to love a people I am just beginning to know.  I dearly long to teach them God’s word.   At the same time, God is showing me that I still have much to learn about investing in their lives. Much to learn.  So this trained man still has short-comings and faults, even as a teacher.  That is a humbling thought when I view myself as a teacher.  It’s not so daunting or troublesome when I think of myself as a student of Jesus.  Always learning. Always.

Pray that my colleagues and I have hearts that are always willing to learn. We want to stand confident in God’s Word first, and then grow and expand our visions and love of the Portuguese based on God’s teaching, the Bible.

What is life like in Portugal this month?  I would say that is a good question, but that would be a little self-praising for the author Smile.  The rain has discovered this nation again.  Apparently, I need to invest in a manly umbrella.  My wife has a rainbow colored one, and a pink one.  Carrying these two around a bunch of football players seems to draw chuckles and quips.  So, I have learned, acceptable social norms in America translate accordingly in Portugal… yeah for me.  Language is still difficult.  We had test of grammar that simulated where we should progress by May.  IT WAS TOUGH! I was suppose to hear a story in Portuguese and answer questions by filling in the blank sections. Ghhh, here is to hoping the next test is multiple-choice. 

  • Pray for energy and focus for Brandon and Tiffany Hodge, and Danielle and I as we strive to learn this language.

How is the football ministry?  Awesome.  The Celtics are now 3-2.  One more win and we make the playoffs.  The team has great chemistry.  There was a volunteer team that came during their spring break, from Alabama.  They had many struggles getting here and returning.  However, they were able to coach different teams in a camp in Northern Portugal.  The first ever for Northern Portugal.  It is something special to see the sport evolving from its infancy 8 years ago.  For those who are coaches, we ran 7-on-7 in the camp.  This was the first time many of them have seen such intricate combination routes.  Wow! That was fun to watch.  The Alabama guys brought gifts: jerseys, pads, shirts, etc., but the best gifts were their testimonies and New Testaments.  They even lead a Bible study with some of the Portuguese! Hopefully, a first of many.  My hope is that the love of football expands across the entire nation and its people.  More importantly, as football spreads, the love of Jesus Christ does as well.

(Can you spot the Americans?)

  • Pray for another team we have coming in this week to teach football.  Pray for the Portuguese guys to have free schedules and lots of energy so teaching and learning can take place… about football and Jesus.

Here is a challenge for you, the reader.  Where in your life are you normally a teacher, where you could you say ‘I will try and be a student this month?’ It seems to me that Jesus still has a bunch He is teaching me.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Baby Steps

Thank you for all your prayer and support! Some specific prayer needs:

  • Teams from the states: There are several teams that have come in from the states this month and next. Pray that relationships will be built and strengthened from these teams. And that they will share God with the Portuguese people.
  • Relationships: We have so many new relationships and friendships through football. Football is almost over this season, so pray these relationships are maintained throughout the summer. Also, pray for an avenue that we may gain relationships outside of football.
  • English Clubs: We have an opportunity to help with an English club in a public school this year. Pray that details may be worked out, and hearts of teachers and students will be open to God’s love and His word.
  • Bible studies: Several people have expressed interest in starting Bible studies with us. Pray that we may be used as God needs us, and that we may not be a stumbling block to those trying to seek His face.
  • Language: We are supposed to take a language proficiency exam this May. When we went to sign up for it, it was already full. Pray that we may get into the one in July. Also, pray that we can find language helpers to help us this summer, as we end formal school in May. Also, pray we learn enough to pass the test!

This week, my son decided he wanted to take a few steps on his own. Just to try it out. He did it at daycare, and we persuaded him by holding a rock he wanted to play with out in front of him. He’s a pretty simple kid.

But that got me thinking about my time in Portugal. We have almost been here three months. It seems like we have been here forever, though. Everything is becoming very familiar and almost like home. It definitely has not been easy, as there have been many transitions in all aspects of life, from the weather to the transportation system to the food down to the plugs we use here. But in this whole transition period, the biggest stressor I have is the language.

No, Portuguese is not the hardest language on the planet. But starting from scratch makes any language seem like the hardest language on earth.

It is frustrating because so many people speak English, so even if I wanted to practice Portuguese many times they get frustrated and I get frustrated and one or both of us switches back to English. So many people also want to practice English with you. And let’s face it, many times it is more convenient and effective to just speak English.

It is frustrating because I don’t feel like I know enough quite yet to speak. I am, contrary to popular belief, a bit of a perfectionist. If I don’t feel like I can do it, I won’t do it. Language is the same way. Sometimes if it will take me forever to construct a sentence, I just won’t say it. And I’ll let David say it. It is not his personality to feel that way, and he is constantly making me get out of my comfort zone and speak the language. It makes me want to punch him and hug him…after punching him.

It is frustrating because I feel like I should be so much further in my communication skills than I actually am. Portuguese people will tell me all the time, “You do so well for the amount of time you’ve been here!” Inside I’m screaming, “NO I don’t! It’s not good enough!” Yes, I can order food and survive in Portuguese society, sometimes just by blank looks and the kindness of strangers who help when they see I’m lost. But, let’s face it, most of the time I cannot carry on conversations with toddlers. And I can only understand when people speak really, really slowly.

If you really want a lesson in humility, go to another country to live, not vacation, live. It is the most humbling experience of my life. And this is coming from a woman who has given birth naturally, and experienced all the glorious aspects that come with it!

But I have to remind myself at the end of the day, when I want to weep with frustration because I cannot understand the butcher or the bus driver or the sermon on Sunday morning, this is all for a purpose. Yes, it would be easier to just be complacent and get by with the phrases I know. Yes, it would be easier to study for the test I have to take and function as an American who knows some Portuguese. Or, I could study to the best of my ability for God’s glory.

The end goal, as God has reminded me so often, is for others to see Him. I can’t do that well without learning the heart language of the people.

As I read in Acts 8, Philip is speaking to the Ethiopian eunuch and asks, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The man replied, “How can I unless someone guides me?” That is my desire. To guide people to the Word of God.

Again, thank you for your prayers and your encouragement!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Nothing but the Good Times


Hey everybody. I hope all is well with you…  This is my first blog, ever.  Danielle and I decided to write 2 blogs a month.  She will write one while I write the other.  We have decided to make one blog compelling and exciting, a real page turner.  And the blog I write, who knows. 

I thought it might be helpful to give information about life in Portugal.  That way you can know how to direct your prayers… Life here is different and very interesting.  Although, sometimes I feel like I am back in Oklahoma.  One day is windy, rainy, and requires a big coat.  The next day is sunny and feels wonderful.  It is like a roller coaster. The architecture is amazing.  Each building is built unique.  They are beautiful as they sit on the sloping hills near the river.  Most of the city roads are made of bricks, and the roads are so slim.  I use to wonder why they drove such tiny cars, now I know why.  And almost all parking is parallel parking. Wow! I actually like riding the bus and metro to places.  

porto (415x332)

                                      Porto city

They economy is pretty bad here.  The unemployment is over 15%.  Minimum wage is just a little over 2 euros per hour, which translates into a monthly salary of about 470 euros a month.  Most apartments cost that much.  Now imagine that you have to get around the city, pay utilities, eat, live life, etc.  I bring up this point because I am associated with several people who are looking for jobs.  Life is not too bad yet for the unemployed, but it could be heading that direction.

- Pray for jobs for my friends.

Danielle and I are learning the Portuguese language.  I think Gideon has already surpassed us in this endeavor, that overachiever.  The difficult part of this challenge is that English is easily accessible in Portugal.  Many of my friends speak English, the television actually has more channels in English than Portuguese, and the malls even play American music!

- Please pray for our learning of the Portuguese language.  Who knows, maybe the Lord will bless us with minds like he blessed Daniel’s in a foreign land.

So, how is my life going with the Portuguese? How is the ministry growing by God’s work?  I truly think I am in the most blessed situation of all new missionaries.  I came to a field that is white for the harvest.  The football team that I play for and help coach, futebol americano that is, – NOT SOCCER, is perfect for ministry.  Instead of having to invest months building one relationship, the Lord set up multiple relationships for me.  Andy Milam, my colleague and supervisor, is the head coach.  Together, we have been able to tell biblical stories, have multiple spiritual conversations, and share the good news about Jesus. The guys on the team know what we believe and how this belief affects our lives.  If you have a chance, look for the team on Facebook. Our team name is the Canidelo Celtics. 

- Pray for our ministry with the team.  We are thankful to know these guys.  They are amazing.

Football Team pic of Celtics

I love this country and the people that live here.  They are wonderful people and worth investing your prayer so that they can know how much Jesus loves them.  As Paul wrote… the one who plants and the one who waters the seed of the gospel should not be the focus, what matters is that the Spirit gives growth.  Pray that the Spirit works beyond our limitations and hopes in Portugal.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The First Month

The first month here in Portugal has been a whirlwind!

We’ve been to the doctor twice with Gideon. I (Danielle) have been sick for about three weeks; this last episode with an ear infection.
Pray for renewed health and energy so we may focus on building relationships and sharing Jesus!Photo1Photo4(Gideon at daycare during carnival!)

We’ve been in language school for a long, long, long time, now! There are many frustrations associated with language. We have 16 hours of school per week, and we are required to get another 24 hours homework and being out in the community using our language. And the added pressure of passing a test in May! Pray that we will not stress out over language, and that we will be like sponges and learn how to speak effectively. The main goal is to be able to share Jesus with others…not pass a test.
265535(Our language teacher, Clovis)

We finally feel like we know our way around the city, and can effectively communicate if we need something (directions, food, etc.) I have even ventured going to the butcher shop! Love it! It is finally feeling a little more like home. Pray that we will meet people with whom we can build relationships and share Jesus.
(Some of the city where we do language)

David’s third game is tomorrow! We’ve hung out with several of the football players, already! Pray that we will continue to build relationships and show the team that we are about more than just football.


This month has been great! We are slowly becoming acclimated to the culture and the city. I know I may seem a little negative in this post, but we really do love it here. And we can definitely see that God is moving in mighty ways in Portugal!

Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.                         Isaiah 43:18-19

Esqueçam o que se foi;
não vivam no passado.
Vejam, estou fazendo uma coisa nova!
Ela já está surgindo! Vocês não a reconhecem?
Até no deserto vou abrir um caminho
e riachos no ermo.                                    Isaías 43:18-19


Friday, January 11, 2013

We’re Here!


We've made it to Portugal!

We have been here about a week now. We have gotten:

  • Metro passes
  • Bank Accounts
  • Cell Phones
  • Signed up at the DayCare
  • Bought groceries at the big store and at a small market in between the metro station and the bus stop.

I feel so accomplished!

David has started working out and practicing with the guys. They have already had one game! Pray that he will be a light for Jesus and that good relationships are formed.

We start language school Monday. Pray that we learn the language quickly.  Also, that Gideon and I will be able to adjust being apart for so long.

Our teammates arrived a little after we did. We love them so much!

Porque Deus amou o mundo, de tal maneira, que deu o seu Filho unigenito, para que todo aquele que nele cre nao ereca, mas tenha a vida eterna. Joao 3:16