Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Girls Retreat

November 8 and 9 the pastors wives held a special mini teen girls retreat complete with nail polish and chocolate!  In the days leading up to the retreat, emails and phone calls were flying faster than frisbees between all of us.  When it seemed like only half the amount of girls we had planned on would actually be able to come, the first reaction was a sinking feeling about how things would turn out.  The next thought was, 'the Lord is in control'.  And He was, in a mighty way. 

In the end we had between 10 - 12 girls ranging in age from 12 to upper 20's.  We had such a sweet spirit.  Inevitably when a group of young people are put together there is always at least one who wants to cause a stir.  That was not the case this time at all!  The group was made up of girls who had grown up for most of their lives in Christian families and in solid churches.  This gave us as pastor's wives the unique opportunity to take what we had to present to them one notch higher. 
After everyone arrived by bus, train and car we relaxed with some games and snacks.  We repeated the taco dinner we served at winter retreat this past winter, as they all loved it!  (tacos is NOT a normal food here in Brazil contrary to what you might think).  We started off the night with a talk on integrity in internet and media use. 
Next we went into modesty and how it really is something we as girls need to take to heart in consideration for our Christian brothers.  The girls were so receiving of everything I had to say on the subject.  We divided by age groups at the end of this talk and watched an excellent video by CJ Mahaney reading letters from college age Christian young men to Christian young women about what modesty means to them.  Wow!  If you ever thought modesty was only for your granny, think again!  As Christian young (and old) women revealing our bodies in ways that are acceptable by the world's standards, we are killing our Christian brothers around us.  We ended this discussion with a beautiful story about a purity bracelet given by parents to their 16 year old daughter.  One of the pastor's wives made bracelets as remembrances for each girl.
The next day, this lovely pastor's daughter came and spoke on the importance of having a heart right with God no matter our circumstances.  She knows firsthand as she is still recovering from an aneurysm behind her eye.  She has experienced in a powerful way the grace of God in a very difficult situation.

We ended the day with a fancy tea.  The girls absolutely loved it!  (so did we!)  It was so fun to dress up, eat mini food and learn about proper etiquette from this lovely lady (below).
The final talk came from a beloved pastor's wife (below) who just recently had her first baby and has been called with her husband to help a struggling church about six hours north of Rio.  She challenged the girls to stand up for Christ in their schools, workplaces, colleges, to not be ashamed of the Gospel. 
As the girls headed back into the lion's den of a city gripped with evil, our prayer was and is that they will be firm in their decision to stand for Christ in each aspect of their lives and that they will impact their generation in such a way that would bring much glory to God!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Educating MK's

Living overseas is exhausting.  The dollar menu, Hungry Howies, Meijer and Horrocks are all just a dream.  Driving anywhere raises the stress level to high as you dodge people, buses, bikes, motorcycles, horse drawn carts and other cars.  Defensive driving takes on a whole new meaning.

Add homeschooling to that and it is exhaustion overload.  This our third year of homeschooling solo. We are still working out the kinks, but this may prove to be our best year yet.

Two things have changed: we do school in the afternoons and for the first time we have a school room!

We live in a country where everything happens late at night.  It is a rarity to be home from anything church related before ten p.m.  It took two years to figure out that doing school first thing in the morning was not the best plan for us!

What a difference having a school room has made!  No more setting up and taking down!


Myla is in fifth grade this year at Abeka Academy.  Upper elementary is a whole other level and can be tough for her to focus on all the work required when everyone else is in lower elementary or kindergarten.  She enjoys her science and history classes and is an avid reader.  She also enjoys writing poetry.  She is in her second year of piano.

Ellie is in second grade at Abeka Academy.  She is super good at staying on task and has beautiful penmanship.  She is very creative at recreating what her class makes at art time with our limited arts and crafts supplies, nothing stands in her way.

Daniel started kindergarten this year with teacher mama.  He has no favorite class because he likes it all!  He was quite worried if he was even eligible to enter kindergarten since he did not know how to read or write!  He is having an excellent start to the school year.

Flavia thinks she is in kindergarten and we all just play along.  She loves to join in and is constantly asking if it is school time yet!

Please pray for the teacher (mama) that she would remember to be calm and patient with her students.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Shining Moments

These are proud days if you are Catholic and Carioca (person born in Rio).  The Pope arrives in Rio tomorrow.  Traffic proves that an extra two million people are in the city.  Everywhere billboards have been transformed into pictures of the Pope with the Christ Redeemer statue.  The next two weeks will be shining moments for the youth who will follow him around the city and at some point honor him with the world's largest flash mob. 

Shining moments.  We all want them.  Those who trust Jesus Christ as personal Saviour want Him to shine forth in all His truth into this world.  As missionaries we want the truth of His life changing Gospel to shine into our religion darkened city. 

As we walk the path of church planters it is becoming more and more obvious that shining moments are happening less and less here on this earth.  When the gates of Hell seem to be storming through the church doors four out of the seven days in a week, it is hard not to wonder what is happening. 

When we drive past a beautiful, bigger than big catholic church crammed to capacity on our way to a faithful Gospel preaching church in existence for 16 years to find barely fifty people there, it's hard not to be disappointed. 

When we read glowing reports of missions in other parts of the country, it is hard not to compare.

And then we have to take a step back and look at the life of Jesus.  In His greatest shining moment, completing His Father's mission on the cross, it looked anything but shining to the world. In fact, it looked like a big mistake.

That's the thing, we don't always understand how God works, but in the end it will come clear.  In fact, we have an eternity of shining moments waiting for us.  An eternity to discover every single little and big way that God wove His plans while we labored here on earth. 

These next two weeks will be the biggest shining moments for some people, but in the end that is all they get, nothing more. 

May the Lord find us faithful~ no matter the cost, no matter the circumstances, no matter.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Helping Blind Men See

Monday we were on our way to a monthly pastor's meeting.  We were excited to get there and take part in the surprise baby shower that was being hosted for one of the pastors and his wife who are expecting their first baby.  Suddenly without warning our car just stopped working.  We were on a very busy stretch of city traffic loaded with buses and cars.  BJ was able to get the car off to the side of the road just in front of a bus stop. 

Our first reaction was, "What?  Why today!!"  We hadn't been stopped for more than 10 minutes when a blind mad stumbled into our car, then past us heading into oncoming traffic and was nearly hit by a bus before our very eyes.  BJ sprinted from the car to rescue him and find out exactly where he was going so BJ could help him get there.  Come to find out, he was not only blind but drunk.  A deadly combination on the stretch of road he was on.  After helping him get to where he wanted to go, BJ took off for some help for our car.  The Lord protected the kids and I as we sat in the car waiting for him.  Busses careened past us, mere inches from our car, while foot traffic on the other side streamed past.  After a mechanic did a few things in the engine we were on our way...only to have the car die again about ten minutes later. 

At this point we were questioning whether we should even try to continue to the meeting.  After another very long walk for BJ and some gas we were once again on our way and arrived safely, but several hours late, missing the baby shower.  It was a great lesson for us and for our kids that God sometimes chooses to use us in unexpected ways and that everything doesn't always work out the way we want it too.

After a not so cheap car repair, the car seemed to be normal once again, only to die on Thursday night late on the highway just minutes from the exit for our house.  BJ had been taking a seminary student home from our church that night so he was by himself, thankfully.  Moments after he called me to relay what had happened, a tow truck "happened" to be passing by and towed him home.  BJ had the chance to share the gospel with the tow truck driver.  He doesn't see himself as a sinner since he does some many good things to help other people.  After all, he has chosen for his profession to be an all night tow truck driver that just drives up and down the highway looking for stopped cars that may need his services.  He has been blinded to what his true condition is.

This morning the car went back in to see what could be happening and why.  The mechanic said there was nothing he could do until it died again and then he could diagnose the problem.  He gave BJ his cel phone number and told him to call when it died again and he would come to us to figure out what the problem was.  We decided to make the Walmart run we've been trying to make all week and see how the car would do.  We arrived at the parking lot without a problem!  After shopping and loading up on chicken nuggets and smiley face fries for a certain seven year old's birthday today, we tried to head for home as it was already past lunch time.  The car would not start!  A phone call to the mechanic and an unexpected lunch at the restaurant inside Walmart while we waited is what followed. 

Turns out it was the fuel pump.  The mechanic took our whole family and our groceries home from Walmart and then went back with BJ to fix our car right there in the Walmart parking lot and then gave us a discount on top of that!  Once again BJ had the chance to explain the whole gospel to another blinded soul. 

God turned the frustration of a car repair into two one on one gospel encounters. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Life and Death

I am the kind of user that facebook probably hates.  I log on, check my messages, scan through the posts for anything life changing and log off.   There are days I have probably logged on for the grand total of 2 minutes and 53 seconds.  I can only take so much screen time.  I am more of your real life, face to face, read it in a book kind of person. 

Yesterday was different.  The kids were happily playing outside and I was having some quiet moments, twenty-two of them in fact.  So I followed my sister-in-law's link to a utube of a teenage boy who just died of cancer and what he did in his last days. 

It was tear jerking listening to him and his family talk about his life.  The biggest tear jerker for me was hearing him talk about death at the end.

 "...yeah, it's scary, but the only reason it's scary is because you don't know what's next or if there is a next, so it's kind of like sitting in the dark, so you can either choose to be freaking out in the dark and thinking, 'okay, what's out there?', or you can just relax and fall asleep."

While he was talking about death, a pop up came up saying he passed away on May 20, 2013.  Flavia turned three on May 20, 2013. 

While we were celebrating one more year in our sweet baby girl's life, he was staring death in the hard, cold face.  Death for him was hopeless. peaceless. joyless.  The thing is, I do know there is a next and I know what that next is. 

On the utube, one of the producers makes the comment that he didn't know he would have his life changed by a 17 year old boy.  If someone who does not know Jesus as their personal Saviour can change someone's life for the better, how much more should my life and your life, who do know Jesus as our personal Saviour be changing other's lives for the better?!?!

In this last year, within one week, my paternal grandmother and BJ's maternal grandfather passed into eternity.  While there was sadness at their going, there was greater joy in knowing that we will reunite one day with them because of the common bond we share in the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  Death is not scary for me because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is ABLE to conquer death and sin in my life.

My silent prayer in the last twenty-four hours has been, "O Lord, help me to be bold with the message of hope and peace and joy that your Gospel brings."

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Birth Days

We will always remember the birth day of Word of Truth Baptist Church ~ Daniel shares it!  Our first services were held March 3 - 4 and Daniel's birthday is March 4!

We celebrated one year of services on March 3.  As a church group we met the week before to flood the neighborhood with tracts and special invitations to our service.  Special letters were personally delivered to all the visitors who had come throughout the year.  We prayed for people to come out to hear the gospel.  And so we arrived Sunday night with great expectations of what God would do. 
From a human perspective, it was disappointing that no one out of the normal group that comes, came as a result of our invitations.  The neighboring nightclub did not cancel their show to join us.  All the people that said they would come, needed to come, didn't come.  Despite these facts, we had a special time remembering all that God had done in the remodel of the building to get it ready to be a church, in the faithfulness of those who have come from the begininng and continue.  The joy of baptising our first church member who was saved as a result of our initial Bible studies. 
The most exciting part was, the girlfriend and daughter of a young man one of our deacons has been discipling, came for the first time!  What an answer to prayer.  Please pray with us that they would come back and realize their need for Jesus Christ.
As usual, one of our church ladies made a beautiful and delicious cake for the celebration and even brought a candle for Daniel to blow out for his birthday.
We praise the Lord for all that HE has done in this last year, the first year of life for Word of Truth Baptist Church.

Monday, March 11, 2013

To the Amazon (and back)

prayer header

To the Amazon

Dear Friends,
Lord willing, early tomorrow I will board a plane with fellow missionary Nathan Patefield and we will fly to the Amazon region of Brazil for a ten day trip to visit our friend Rober Guerreiro, a Native Brazilian pastor. Pastor Rober has invited his tribe and other tribes along the river to attend a three day conference which his church is hosting. Between Nathan and I, we will have the opportunity to preach about 8-10 times and hold question-and-answer workshops with pastors and leaders of several tribes. Pastor Rober has also set up opportunities to visit other villages along the river's edge. Our goals for the trip are the following:
1. We hope to use this trip as an opportunity to encourage Pastor Rober and his family as they have just completed their first year of ministry and have faced many difficulties (malaria, rejection, delays, etc.).
2. We want to give a series of biblical messages in areas that will be helpful to the growth and edification of the churches there.
3. We want to learn from the people and discover practical ways that we as the body of Christ can help them with theological training, construction projects, etc.
Please pray for wisdom and strength and that God would be glorified there among the people of the Amazon Rainforest.

Please pray for the safety of our families while we are away too. More when we return...............
Love in Christ,
Brendan Holmquist
blogger email

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My Brazil

I'll be honest, Brazil doesn't always feel like home to me.  I mean, I grew up eating peanut butter and jelly, drinking water out of the faucet and running barefoot in the grass.  I forget that Brazil is home to our four little people.  Myla was three and Ellie 10 months when we first came to Brazil.  Danny and Flavia were born here.

 Myla and Ellie can't understand why on their homeschool videos it's all about America.  What is so great about America, they ask, what about Brazil?

Peanut butter and jelly?  Not interested.  Grilled chicken hearts and grilled goat cheese?  Fights break out as to who gets the most!  Comfort food for three of them is beans and rice. 

Did I ever once check the shower drain for centipedes when I was a kid?  Nope, not once!  They do it everyday!

I thought it would be fun to interview these bi-lingual, bi-cultural missionary kids on why (or what) they love Brazil.

Myla:  I love Brazil because we get to go to conference (our yearly missionary conference with the BMM missionaries).  There is a park about 15 minutes away from our house that is called Parque Madureira.  It has a children's park, gardens, a skate park and every other thing you can think of.


Ellie:  I love Brazil because it is so large and beautiful and because there is everything.  I like conference.

Daniel:  doors, houses, mountains, christmas trees, beds, tv, books and toys

Flavia:  She just gave me lots of shy smiles and giggles, so I take that to mean she loves Brazil. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Carnival Camp

Thank you for your prayers for our teens at camp.  It was a very hot week and there were times without water and a swimming pool, but the living water refreshed and made anew many thirsty hearts.

 We were so thankful for our speaker, Pastor Ben (and wife Dani) who really connected with the teens in a special way.


The teens spent a lot of time in the Word attending two chapel services a day plus a special time set aside each day for them to personally dip into the well of God's promises.



There was also plenty of time for fun and games!
Please continue to pray for the teens that they will be firm, with God's help, in the decisions they made to live for Him.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


The doors are closed, the windows shut, the air conditioner running, but still the beat of the music and the blast of fireworks comes through. The official holiday is Tuesday, but the party always starts early. And I wonder, why must my children know that such evil exists, right on their very doorstep. And the questions come all day long about what is happening and why. Most of the time I answer that the Bible tells us to be innocent concerning evil so we don't need to waste any time thinking about what is happening out there. Except for church in the morning I don't plan to leave my house until Wednesday. The groceries are bought, gas supply replenished, we are bunkering down for a blizzard of wickedness.

When I think of what my kids know because of innercity ministry, things I would have never wanted them to know about, then I think about the children who are right there in the very midst of the Sodom and Gomorrah that is happening outside my door. Their parents have a lust and will fulfill it at all cost, even the cost of their children.

Recently we completed a course for Baptist Mid-Missions through Darkness to Light on child sexual abuse prevention. The stats are astounding and sickening.

I have no words except for the words of the apostle John in Revelation 22:20:

"...Even so, come, Lord Jesus."

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Family Day

Today was family day, like every other Tuesday.  We have set this day aside each week just to be with our family.  BJ doesn't do anything church related.  The kids don't have school (they make it up on Saturday).  We just aren't available that day.  There was a time when our schedule simply did not permit us to take this day.  BJ was doing construction at the church and he had to be there on Tuesdays because our hired construction man was there and he needed BJ's help.  Not having that day really hurt our family.  I almost had an emotional breakdown.  After that time we have let nothing get in the way of this day.  We see it as a vital part of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.  Most days of the week our kids wake up with the question, "Is it Tuesday?" 

Sometimes we go the beach.

Sometimes we go to the zoo.
Sometimes we go to the air museum.
Sometimes we go to the park.

Sometimes we stay home and play games, eat popcorn and watch a movie.  It's always something different, but it doesn't really matter what it is because we are together and it helps our kids feel important and part of our lives. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Eleven and a half cents

It was a miracle really, not that I should have expected anything less than that. I had 23 reais in my purse (about 12 dollars). I carefully weighed in my mind which grocery items would be the best buy, make the most meals, etc. At the register I had my two or three items I held back to the end, thinking I would have to leave them behind. She rang up one and then another and then another and then I stood blinking at the total: 22.77! Once again I was floored at how God pays attention to the smallest details in our life and I set out on the walk home praising God for his faithfulness once again in my life.

Our future ministry plans look like a blank slate to us. We are open and willing to be used how God wants to use us, but as of yet, he hasn't let us in on the details. Honestly, I have no anxious feelings or thoughts, I know WHO controls the universe. I have no doubt that he has the perfect plan in mind and that in his perfect time and will, he will show us the next step to take.

No, my problem lies in the five short hours after my grocery story miracle when the
and four squirrely kids aren't doing what they are supposed to be doing and the eyes bulge and hair stands on end and I am begging God for help.

Is this my calling?

I feel completely and totally inadequate!

Wouldn't I be of better use ministering to the street people?

And then the phone rings and it is my mom with just the encouragement I need and the reminders I need that YES indeed this is my calling and it is a worthy one. Yes it is exhausting and I feel inadequate most moments, but HE is able to get me through, one dish at a time, one diaper at a time, one squirrely moment at a time.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Spiritual Battles

The world is poised and panting, eager to enter into Sodom and Gomorrah and fulfull every fleshly lust for a few short days. The thought process, the planning, the money that goes into such an event is astronomical. Even the very air is electric with the anticipation they are feeling.

But what of the aftermath.
No one talks about the virginity that is lost.
The diseases that are contracted.
The fatherless children that are conceived.

As with any sinful activity, only the beauty and "you must have it now" side is advertised.

"The thief cometh not, but for to steal and to kill, and to destroy; I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
Please pray for the believers. It is easy for us to close out the sights and sounds, we are foreigners. It is not always so easy for the new believers who may have participated in the past, but now they are on a new path.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand."
~ Jesus
Our six churches and congregations have a teen retreat planned to counter attack the fiery darts of the enemy. Please pray for the pastors and wives who have put so much planning and prayer into this event, that they would have the strength and energy they need. Please pray for the teens themselves. No doubt there will be those that come who do not know Jesus Christ. No doubt those who DO know Jesus Christ will come also, but the world is whispering, enticing, tempting. Pray for recharged spiritual batteries. Pray for our speaker that God will use him in a mighty way!

Friday, January 25, 2013


"It is always possible to be thankful for what is given rather than resentful over what is withheld - one attitude or the other becomes a way of life." 
        ~Elisabeth Elliot

He had seen me gasping for air, for life, for something.  I myself didn't know what.  In a dinner exploded kitchen, the love of my life handed me clean white paper with crisp black letters, "I thought you would like this."  And the water balloon my head had been swimming in pops and I breathe and it is air and not water anymore. 

My mother-in-law must have sensed my gasping for air, for life, for something too ~ through the phone, through the emails thousands of miles away.  She brings me One Thousand Gifts.  Said she read it twice, thought I'd like it.  It sits by my bed for weeks before I open the first page.  Once it is open, I can't close it and I feel life again and I stop gasping. 

Eight months later I am gasping for air, for life, for something.  I see One Thousand Gifts on the shelf and grab it again, this time as I sit each morning waiting for physical therapy.  Why am I so hard headed when it is right there in front of me ~ being thankful for gifts God gives me each day.  The trip to the clinic each day is short but full of lessons.

The bus screeches to a halt and I climb on.  Stomach flutters to throat and I transport back to the fear I knew that day I was crushed on the bus, my swollen pregnant belly screaming with every crush and the driver oblivious to my call to get off at the bus stop and the yells of others to stop that bus so we could uncrush ourselves and breathe.  Fears must be faced and so I face it and get on.  Careening around corners we whiz past broken up sidewalks, graffiti covered walls.  And I hear the hiss in my ear ~ what is there to be thankful about all this? 

The ride home is slower ~ a volkswagon bus, my style of public transportation.  Now I can see the green that has pushed itself up through the crack in the cement and is a flourishing tree.  Its roots must go deep, I think, to be able to live like that.  And I need to dig my roots deep, deeper into His Word so I can live like that too.  But I see the drink too, the drink to the lips and it isn't even noon and there is the truck that brings the drink and it claims in big bold letters, "Great times are coming".  And with every drink they think the great times are coming, but they never do and so they drink on looking for them.  And the faces I pass with the drink on the lips, in the hand, at the table are innumerable on that ten minute ride home.  And I hear the hiss in my ear ~ you really think you can make a difference?

And it hits me hard, like every other time, that I am in this battle for life and I will struggle daily to keep my perspective, to stay thankful, to stop the negativity that seems to flow naturally from my lips and crush my family.  And I know the answer to the hissing in my ear, "YES, I can be thankful for all of this and YES I can make a difference but ONLY by relying on the One who called us here!