Kleber 2002 Prayer and Praise Archive

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2002 Archive


Name: Jord
Date: Sun Jan 6 16:51:47 2002
Here is something to consider (You tell me if it’s just a semantic trick): God loves us. Love wants to express itself. It wants to be active. To be fully love, it wants to do for its loved one. When its loved one is self-sufficient no room remains for love to express itself. There is nothing for it to add. Love cannot fully love. In other words, in a sense, when we are strong, it is impossible for God to love us. This is why weakness is such a critical element in the life of faith. It is why, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, God will not despise (Psalm 51:17). A broken and contrite heart is an empty vessel into and through which God may continually pour His love. #####We celebrated New Year’s Eve at church. Seven nations were represented. We began our countdowns just before ten, Braga time, because that’s midnight in Romania and the Ukraine, of the countries represented the two furthest east. Sadly, when it was time to count down for the U.S. most people had gone home. #####The week’s festivities continued with our switch to the Euro, Europe’s new common currency, for us a great leveling of the playing field. We’ve been struggling to calculate change and exchange rates and to decipher denominations of currency since we arrived seven months ago. Now everyone is doing it! Having been humbled by the effort, everyone is patient and cheerful. The tremendous relief I felt in response to this climate of goodwill made me realize how tiring it is to always play the stupid person. #####On Friday a man from our church, Alvaro, applied for the job of Construction Assistant at Habitat. This is a job we’ve been advertising for months, without response. Alvaro and his wife, Conceção, have no children of their own, but care for seven foster children, aged six to sixteen. I am very excited about the possibility of having his help. He has very limited construction experience, but is eager to learn. He is also eager to teach me Portuguese. His English is excellent. We could pray together. And we could get so much more accomplished than I am accomplishing alone. Please pray that God’s will be done in the interview process. #####After church today we drove northeast to Geres National Park, on the border with Spain. We followed directions from a wonderful book of walking tours called Landscapes of Portugal and had an enchanting afternoon of hiking amongst ancient, moss-covered ruins and isolated mountain villages. Thanks be to God for a glorious afternoon and for good knees and backs all around that took the strain without difficulty. #####Please pray for Drex’s reading. We have been warned that teaching a child to read a second language before he has learned to read his first will cause trouble, but we see no alternative—he attends Portuguese public school. He is doing O.K., and his spirits towards reading are generally high, but we have set him up to have a difficult, confusing time. #####Austin faces more sophisticated dimensions of the same problem in the Portuguese literature class she began this week. Halfway through the week the teacher asked her to read aloud to demonstrate how difficult the Portuguese "r" is for foreigners—a flagrant violation of the Teacher’s Hippocratic Oath. Please pray for Austin, too. #####God’s best to you this week. As always, we thank Him for you and your faithfulness towards us.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Jan 13 17:16:16 2002
I have been thinking and praying as if a change in circumstances—more subcontractors, not having to work every Saturday, land to build our next project—could improve my situation. Certainly it is appropriate to pray about such things, but I should pray in recognition of the fact that my well-being resides in the unfolding of God’s perfect plan and in resting in Christ Jesus continually as it unfolds. Unless I am being disobedient or am suffering spiritual attack, my situation cannot be improved upon, because my circumstances reflect God’s perfect will for my life. It is His will that He and I should colabor through my present difficulties. My trials are not strange to Him; He has engineered them for my edification and the edification of the other people involved. I may meet them with equanimity, delight, and joy in the Holy Spirit, knowing that my heavenly Father is disciplining and teaching me as any loving father teaches his son. #####Everyone knows that you can only get chicken pox once, but Austin is an unusual girl, so when, years ago, she came down with them for the second time, we were only a little bit surprised. Drex once said to me, as we rode in the truck together, "Dad, sometimes I hear strange music, because I’m a strange boy." How surprised can we be that he, too, has a second case of chicken pox? He’ll be out of school for a few days. Please pray for his speedy recovery and for his mother’s sanity, as she will be cooped up with him quite a bit. Please also pray for Drex’s adjustment to another new teacher. Professora Filimina has taken ill again, bringing the number in the parade through classroom 9 to about six. Please pray, too, for Professora Filimina’s recovery #####Because there is no new construction project in sight, it looks as if Habitat Braga will turn to smaller repairs, remodels and renovations in order to keep the ball rolling. Apparently, quite a few affiliates do this in order to fill in the gaps between larger projects. All the logistics, from family selection to project management, will have to be repeated for every job, and we will lose the efficiencies we gain when we have a single large project. Please pray for our planning and handling of all those logistics. Most of all, pray that ours is a ministry not just of building and repairing houses, but of building up people in faith. A new house may make someone more comfortable, but it is unlikely to transform their life. Transformation only happens through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). #####Towards that end, we had our second Associação Humanitaria Habitat prayer meeting Saturday, and it was wonderful, as prayer always is. Lord willing, the next one will be Saturday, February 9, and every second Saturday thereafter. It would be fantastic--supernatural, in fact--to have you join us, even if you can't make it to Braga (2 Corinthians 5:3). #####Thank you so, so much for praying with us. Please let us know how we can be praying for you. We love to pray. We love to see what God will do. Grace and peace to you.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Jan 20 06:33:58 2002
Austin is gaining momentum. As I may have mentioned here before, she’s taken on a Portuguese literature class, in addition to her calculus class, and it is challenging. She has been tutoring one high school student in English and may begin soon with a second. She’s still volunteering at Habitat each week where her work includes translating things like the monthly newsletter into English. Marta Pego e Pinto, the Habitat Executive Director, has asked Austin to help her with church relations, approaching priests and pastors and their congregations about partnering with Habitat. On top of all that, Austin is laboring in prayer about what course to pursue in college. Here in Portugal, it seems, one must choose one’s course prior to entering college and continue in it until death, so she’s taking the decision-making process pretty seriously. She’s said she’d like to finish college in Portugal. What a gal! Não é? (Is she not?) Please pray for her in all these endeavors. And please pray for all of us with respect to church relations, that God would give us wisdom and discernment as we try to make our way through the denominational, "ecumenical" maze. It has been said that appearing to be a Protestant organization has closed a lot of doors to Habitat here in Braga. Are those doors we want to go through? Or are they old wine skins? (Matthew 9:17). (Pardon my mixing of metaphors). #####Drex was delighted to get back to school Thursday, after being out with the chicken pox, and his classmates were very happy to see him. They swarmed him. Drex’s bedroom window looks directly out onto the school playground across the narrow Rua de Damão. Wednesday, when his classmates were doing jumping jacks in gym, he stood on his bed in front of the open window—it was 65 degrees Wednesday—and joined in, to the delight of the other students and his new teacher, Professora Graciosa, who laughed almost hysterically. Drex read his first book this week—A Panela Mágica (The Magic Pot)—which was very exciting. He quietly passed another milestone recently as well: when he talks to himself while playing alone, he speaks Portuguese. His English is slipping a bit though. When he misses an irregular verb, Austin gently corrects him. #####Our church is in the midst of another of its’ "Prayer Clocks," during which everyone takes an hour and we pray around the clock. It’s fantastic. It’s transformational. They have been alternating Prayer Clocks and Nights of Prayer, praying together from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. (Luke 6:12), every month or so for about a year and a half. Imagine what God may do in response to such praying. Better yet, look what He promises to do: "If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14). How about that? Why don’t you consider joining us, and asking your church or neighborhood to do the same? Hey, you guys on 29th Ave. W. in Seattle, how about praying through the night with us? And Bethany Church, you would love it. You feel like doo-doo on Saturday, but it’s worth it. Who else? North Kitsap Baptist? Don’t let the Portuguese Baptists have all the fun. Littleton? Falls Church? Farmington? What are you doing Friday nights? Email me at [email protected], and I’ll let you know when the next one comes around so we can join forces (2 Corinthians 10:4)! #####Also going on right now is the Habitat Board Meeting during which it will be decided whether or not to hire Alvaro as the Construction Assistant. By the time you read this the decision will have been made, but YOU can keep praying until the uncertainty has been removed from YOUR mind. God is not constrained by time and can answer prayers retroactively. (When you think about it, all our prayers are retroactive, coming as they do long after God knows what’s going to happen (Psalm 139:16, Isaiah 46:10)). It frequently happens that what is most expeditious for the Kingdom of God is not what appears to be most expeditious to me, so I am prepared to yield here to the will of God, but boy, oh boy, would it be fun to have Alvaro’s help and to have him to pray with. Please pray as you feel led. #####Our Seattle friends the Vandervorts gave us a book by Peter Harris called Under the Bright Wings. No one is likely to find this book as hilarious as we have because the hilarity revolves around the Harris’s move from their native England to Portugal in the 1980’s: "Now we had finally arrived in Portugal, we seemed to spend hours in offices simply trying to overcome the bureaucratic obstacles to living here . . . The regulations were frequently wonderfully circular, and we survived by savouring each new problem like connoisseurs . . . Once at the door [to the local office of the foreigner’s department] there was a bench, and the meaning of the bench was all too clear. This is the place where you wait . . . Once we finally gained access to the mysteries behind the door, the message was as follows: If you want to apply for a residence permit, you must be living outside the country, but in practice you cannot complete the process without living in the country, which you cannot do without a residence permit." Austin was told exactly this, nearly twenty years later. "We tried to see it as good language practice, particularly in the use of the negative prefix to verbs, and the correct pronunciation of the adjective impossível." But what other people may find compelling is the Harris’s combining of Christian community with their concern for the environment: "With seabirds all around and carpets of thrift and campion making the air fragrant, people seemed to have space to think and to talk in a way that they could rarely do when they were surrounded by the normal distractions of their lives. Such a response to being out on the cliffs isn't surprising, because the natural world was created, in part at least, to give exactly that kind of prompting; to make us consider if there might be a God and, if so, what He might be like. The world around is studded with clues, even if some of them are hard to comprehend." This dual passion led the Harris’s to begin A Rocha Christian Field Study Centre and Bird Conservatory in southern Portugal, borrowing in spirit from Francis Schaeffer’s L’Abri in Switzerland. Reading the book I fantasize about teams from Bethany Church, led by Gil Ward, spending two weeks building houses with Habitat in the northern, Minho, region, and one week at A Rocha, in the Algarve. We had heard quite a bit about A Rocha earlier because a friend of ours from church does their website (www.arocha.org). #####The encouragement and love and support we have received from you has been overwhelming. We are so thankful to God and to you all that we are able to serve in this way. And it isn’t all work and no play: every now and then we look up and say, "Hey you guys, we’re living in Europe!" #####The Lord bless you this week.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Jan 27 11:11:25 2002
The Portuguese urban landscape is distinguishable from that of America because very few people here own clothes dryers. Consequently, one sees everywhere, fluttering in gardens, from balconies, and on roof tops, that proud banner of doméstica, the clothes line. I have come to love clothes lines for the same reason I’ve always gotten an irrational measure of solace from old-fashioned clocks in public places* that are still keeping time accurately: because someone cares. Every clothes- laden line and every operating clock is a proclamation that someone cares enough to keep things going. Clothes do not hang themselves to dry and clocks do not give the time for long unless someone attends to them, unless someone thinks it’s important to serve people in these very humble ways. And of course, it is upon just these sorts of small services that the Kingdom of God is built (Mark 12:44). [*I am not referring here to digital clocks. Digital clocks are entirely prosaic, lacking, as they do, all context. One is presented with a number, and that is all. Upon cursory examination, the number might easily be mistaken for a fluctuation in the stock market. A real clock, on the other hand, delivers its information in context, pointing to the present, pregnant with possibilities, saying softly, "This is now," without forgetting where we have come from or where we are going. A digital clock, on the other hand, seems only to blare, often in unnatural colors, "YOU’RE LATE!" It is impossible to derive any comfort from them.] #####Great praying, todos (y’all)! Not only did God get Alvaro hired for a six month trial period in response to your prayers, but it appears as if He is going to fly him to Budapest with me February 1 for a week of Habitat training! I’m not sure whether the Habitat leadership in Hungary agreed to pay his way just to be nice or because they are obliged to provide translation for Sr. Anibal Mechado, the Braga board member who will be attending for the first two days of the conference and who only speaks Portuguese and French. Either way, I’m excited about it, though being away from the family won’t be fun. Speaking of families, have I mentioned that Alvaro and his wife, Conceção, have no kids of their own, but parent seven foster children, ages 6 to 16ish? Maybe someday we can build a house for them. Alvaro worked with me today (Saturday) even though he doesn’t begin getting paid for work until the 1st, and it went very well. We agreed to make our work together a "safe place," where it is O.K. for him to make mistakes as he learns about construction and where it is O.K. for me to say stupid things in Portuguese. Please pray for Alvaro and our working relationship. Building houses is just a great big spiritual object lesson, an ideal setting for the building up of people. Take my brother-in-law, Lowell Alford, from whom I learned to build, as an example of someone who has used this forum to good affect. In his career, along with a long line of extraordinary houses, he has taken a succession of errant knaves like me, found as he used to find strange animals as a boy, and turned them into capable Christian building contractors. #####With all the kissing in Portugal, the beginning of flu season is like the lighting of a match in a granary--it spreads everywhere almost instaneously--and though our little American white blood cells are fighting valiantly, their microscopic Portuguese adversaries know tricks they never saw in Seattle. Consequently, everyone here except Austin is full of gunk. Please pray that the Americans regroup quickly and launch a successful counterattack. #####Speaking of infirmities, my right knee, like a royal footman, is again serving to usher me into the more sedentary half of my life in the Kingdom. Think of the wisdom manifest in the deterioration of our bodies, as we move towards the end of life in the flesh and the beginning of life that is entirely spiritual! Do you imagine that I would slow down, were I not compelled to do so, and desist from swashbuckling physical exertions long enough to pray? Do you think I would ask for help if I had a choice? Seldom. Rather, if my body were not in the process of falling away to dust around me, I would combine growing experience with the undiminished stamina of youth to produce unheard of heroisms, delighting thousands. Instead, a man of my age is forced to engage younger men for their assistance and in so doing, imparts his experience to them. At the same time, he must grow in wisdom and learn to depend less and less upon his physical abilities. "Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." (2 Corinthians 4:16). And so we transition from that which is temporary towards that which is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18). #####Sandra Costa, our Habitat volunteer coordinator, came up with just the right name for our new repairing, rebuilding and remodeling program, which until this week had gone by the cumbersome (in Portuguese) "Well-Home Program," borrowed without consent from Roger Ferris’s Phinney Neighborhood Center in Seattle. Sandra’s Portuguese equivalent: "Trabalha da Casa," which is Portuguese for homework. I think this is going to be a great program: meeting a real need in the community, providing volunteers far more direct contact with the poor, and giving everyone an immediate sense of accomplishment in completing smaller projects. Initial indications are that we will have plenty of work. Please pray that God will glorify Himself in all we do. And please pray for Sandra, who is suffering terribly from insomnia and other health issues, that she would find rest and healing through Jesus Christ. #####Debbie is busy with a number of things: designing Habitat’s next new construction project and looking for land to put in on, reading about non-profit organizations in order to better understand how Habitat works, preparing for tax training in Lisbon so that she can be a resource to other Americans living in northern Portugal, and gathering information for her book about travelling in Portugal with children. Please pray for her, that the Lord will cause her work to bear much fruit. #####As always, we are extremely thankful to God for you, your prayers and your encouragement. We are held up by them as surely as a house is held up by its floor. God’s best to you this week.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Feb 10 13:55:18 2002
Czeslaw (pronounced "CHESS waw") Czudek is just the sort of person you’d like to have building houses with Habitat for Humanity. He is big and bearded and smiling and Polish, and he speaks English perfectly. When I arrived at the hotel in Budapest he was looking for people who would swim with him in the morning. That meant trundling over heavy frost to the bus at 5 a.m., switching to the subway to travel under the Danube and arriving at the early 20th century steam-shrouded outdoor pool at 6 for an hour of dodging large amphibious Hungarian retirees in the dark. The casual way the natives breaststroked and played chess atop granite islands with only their heads above water belied my sense that hordes of Germans or Turks or Vampires might crest the horizon at any moment, putting an end to our frivolity. #####The Habitat Construction Management Conference in Budapest was a blessing in many ways. Six languages were spoken, so translation buzzed continually. It was exciting to hear from people that are doing things that work well, and it was comforting to find out that we are not the only affiliate facing difficulties. It turns out that it is not easy to eliminate poverty housing anywhere in Europe or Central Asia. It also turns out that one reason it is difficult to interest people in volunteerism may be that it reminds people of being forced to work without pay under previous oppressive regimes. But many countries also have some version of what is called, in Kyrgyzstan, "Ashar," and in America, "Barn-Raising." A man gathers everything necessary to build his house and then calls an Ashar. All his relatives and friends come and build his house with him in much less time than it would take him to build it alone. In Kyrgyzstan, that might take a couple of months, in the midst of other responsibilities. The consensus at the conference was that we will have to rely heavily upon traditions like Ashar until a new generation of volunteers comes of age. The conference was an excellent orientation for Alvaro. Please pray for us as we try to implement lots of new ideas. And please ask God to give me the self-discipline to speak no English with Alvaro. (I found out I am the only Habitat construction supervisor in Europe and Central Asia working in a country where he or she is not native, which made me very thankful to God that He has made a place for me here.) #####Along with our assistant director, Ana Claudia, and our family selection person, Filipa, I’ve been visiting houses that are candidates for our Trabalha da Casa ("Homework") Program. They are awful. Roofs are sieves and floors are rotten. People are crammed in. Wires are exposed. Water drips from light fixtures. They’re dark and moldy and cold. Bathrooms are outdoors or ARE the outdoors. People cry when they talk about how they live. Please pray we can help. God cannot want people He created and for whom Jesus died living this way. It will require money. People have little to pay. And it will require a logistical miracle: in most cases these folks are renting, so we would be improving houses for landlords. In Portugal, landlords may neither raise rents nor evict. So people stay put for decades, paying little or nothing, while houses fall further and further into disrepair because landlords receive no income with which to maintain them. In principle, Habitat gives nothing away—"A hand up, not a hand out"—and works only with homeowners or would-be homeowners. But principles will not stop rain from falling on children while they sleep. #####Debbie’s mom arrived today. We are all very happy to have her. The plan is for her to be here a month. Please pray that her time here is a blessing for everyone and that Debbie’s dad gets along O.K. in Seattle without her. #####It’s Carnival—Mardi Gras—week, so the city is full of kids in costume. Drex dressed as a clown for a half day of school Friday, and the entire morning was given over to partying. Thank you for your prayers for his reading. He is excited about it, and is reading a bit in both Portuguese and English, but only by the grace of God will he keep things straight as he progresses. #####Thank you for your love and prayers and encouragement. Their worth is beyond reckoning to us. The Lord bless you this week.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Feb 17 16:26:34 2002
Though I’ve appreciated the singing of birds before, until this week I would not have said they had ever spoken to me. But on Tuesday morning, as the eastern sky began to lighten, the birds said clearly, "You are in the right place. Your life in Christ is like a well-watered garden." Perhaps being surrounded by unfamiliar speech for so long has made me more receptive to other forms of expression generally. If so, I think it will be an advantage in the spiritual life. Perhaps I will be more attentive when God speaks to me in ways other than English. ##### Life is so busy and so short. The only thing that really satisfies is prayer and worship. Prayer and worship set the present in its proper, eternal context. Prayer and worship bring eternity to bear on the present. There is no time to waste in anything but prayer and worship. I want the rest of my life to be one long church service. "I urge you therefore, brethren, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship." (Romans 12:1). ##### We are operating an infirmary here. Debbie’s mom hardly had time to unpack before a nasty cough and cold put her to bed, where she remained for three days. Out of sympathy, Drex came down with a fever, which in the middle of last night reached 104.5 degrees. He has born it all heroically, but he looks pathetic with his little eyelids at half-mast. He’s been cheered a bit by the loss of a couple of front teeth. Debbie, though, is happy to finally be well again and, thanks be to God, Austin has stayed healthy while playing nursemaid to us all. ##### Tomorrow morning, Debbie’s due to be on a train to Lisbon about two hours before she likes to get out of bed. She’ll make the five-hour trip in order to attend five days of tax training so that she can be a resource to other Americans living in northern Portugal. Personally, I cannot think of anything that I would enjoy less than five days of tax training in Lisbon except, perhaps, five days of tax training in Hell. Her interest in going makes me thankful for the way that God has distributed different gifts to different people. Please pray that her time away is fruitful and that God is glorified through her tax ministry. Please pray, too, for the departure of Drex’s fever and for Mom’s health. ##### Inspired in part by the testimony of Peter Harris in his book, Under the Bright Wings, which I mentioned here a couple of weeks ago, Debbie and I have agreed to pray together and ask God if He would like to put us in a bigger place; a place where we could open our home to guests. Our experience, like the Harris’s, has been that bringing people into one’s home can be a very effective way to share the love of God. Please pray with us, that God would "enlarge our borders," (1 Chronicles 4:10), if it pleases Him to do so. ##### Alvaro and I had a great week at the jobsite. As expected, it was a delight to pray and work together. We agreed to approach construction more like a driving instructor and a student driver than like a conventional construction supervisor and assistant. I think it will be more fun that way and serve everyone, including Habitat, better in the long run. ##### We also did some planning with our Executive Director, Marta Pego e Pinto. We’re going to ask the board of directors for 40,000 euros (approximately $40,000) for our Trabalha da Casa (Homework) Program this summer. We’re also going to suggest they set aside 60,000 euros to buy land for four houses. Then we will have no money left. Eventually, we will need 20,000 euros per house if we are to build, or a total of 80,000 euros. There was some discussion about fund raising, and while there was some disagreement regarding method, there was agreement that whatever method we employ, we are dependent upon God to provide. I love to bring these sorts of things to God and say to Him something like, "Father, we would like very much to build houses for people in need and it certainly seems like the sort of thing You would like for us to do. But if we are going to do it, You will have to pay for it. If You do not, we will happily serve You in one or more of the other thousands of ways You have opened to us that cost less, but if You would like us to build houses, would You please give us 80,000 euros? In Jesus name, amen." "In the morning we lay our requests before You and wait in expectation." (Psalm 5:5). ##### Thank you for your prayers, your partnership and your love. The Lord bless you this week.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Feb 24 23:49:09 2002
In each hemisphere there is a staggered line around the globe, running roughly parallel with the Equator, on the Equator-ward side of which it is adjudged cost ineffective to install central heating in homes. The trajectory of this line is affected by the economic prosperity of the nations through which it passes. In more prosperous countries, the line moves Equatorward, and more homes in warmer climes enjoy central heat. In less prosperous countries, where a greater percentage of GNP goes towards daily bread, the line moves away from the Equator, and more households huddle around spaceheaters or fires in the winter. On its way across Europe, and across Portugal, the least prosperous nation in the European Union, this line passes through Braga, figuratively just south of the most affluent homes. Everyone else huddles. This phenomenon led Mary Engelking, vice president of Habitat for Humanity in Europe, who in her travels visits many cold places, to say that she has never been so cold as she has been in Braga. Bring to this setting a household of Americans, who are accustomed to moving freely about a toasty, centrally- heated home in all seasons and weathers, and you have a situation which draws upon a family’s reserves of good humor, as well as fortitude and money, to pay for bottled gas for the space heaters that reproduce themselves like rabbits about the apartment. For next Christmas, we are working together with Radio Shack to develop a space heater that will follow Debbie around the house. In the meantime, we are all learning to layer. ##### Except for a little lingering cough, Debbie’s mom, Doris, is feeling better, as is everyone else. Thank you for your prayers. ##### Upon returning a written exam, Austin’s Portuguese literature professora told her she wished her students who grew up in Portugal wrote as well. On the other hand, we got word this week that Austin’s closest friend here, Larissa Prado, will not be returning from Brazil, where she and her family went last month after the death there of her grandfather. On the other hand, Austin sang with the choir last evening in a special service at church. Singing brings her great joy, and through choir she has made friends of all ages who love her. Thank you for your prayers for her. ##### Debbie arrived Saturday afternoon on the 2:05 train from Lisbon. She enjoyed her tax class, the people she met, and Lisbon’s more cosmopolitan atmosphere. Lisbonites, speaking without the heavy northern accent heard here, sound just like our language-learning tapes, and Debbie understood them perfectly. Her cab drivers were very impressed with her Portuguese when they found out she has only lived here eight months. Word is that she will be very busy helping Americans with their taxes now that she’s embassy-trained, as there is no one else to go to in the north. Again, please pray Matthew 5:16 for her. ##### Yesterday, we took Debbie’s mom to see the ocean and a charming little seaside hamlet called Aguda that Debbie discovered when her train passed through. Drex and I romped on the sand until we had it in our KWEK-aj (underwear, phonetically). If life were really a beach, as some people assert, I might not have any trouble with my knee. ##### Habitat-wise, I allowed myself to get behind on sleep so that by Saturday, fatigue being the friend of despair, I was despairing of the whole thing. But Saturday was a fruitful day, with family members pulling together to accomplish much, and a good night’s sleep reawakened in me the spirit by which I cry, "Abba, Father." (Romans 8:15). Please continue to ask God (Luke 11:8) for land on which to build and for wisdom in planning our "Homework," home restoration and rehabilitation program for this summer. ##### Inspired in part by Ed Murphy’s (not Eddie Murphy’s) Handbook for Spiritual Warfare, especially pages 603-4, I want to pray more aggressively for people who do not know Jesus Christ. The power we have in prayer is unfathomable. We must stop squandering it. Again and again, thank you for yours. ##### The Lord bless you this week.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Mar 3 16:40:44 2002
In these updates, I like to share just enough about my struggles here in Portugal so that I come across as a real neat spiritual guy, but authentic. I figure that between mentions of spiritual difficulties, I ought to throw in at least two or three weeks of spiritual triumph in Christ Jesus. So it is with some consternation that I must confess to you that I was discouraged again this week. Last week I said I was despairing. Not surprisingly, it was the language that did me in this week. Friday afternoon, holding my head in my hands—literally—while my brain tried again to process what Alvaro was saying to me in Portuguese, I just couldn’t take it any longer. I began by admitting that I will never learn to speak Portuguese, which led very quickly, in my mind, to the whole project and everyone involved being a complete mess. I confessed to Alvaro that I was discouraged. After regarding me thoughtfully for a moment he prescribed the perfect remedy: "When we are discouraged, we must praise the Lord," he said in English. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Saturday morning I awoke still in a funk. But as I lay in bed worrying about all sorts of things, the light went on and I was able to see again what I’ve had to learn hundreds of times: our confidence is not in ourselves, but in God. And I was able to praise Him. Confidence in God is a wonderful remedy for discouragement and worry. ##### Speaking of encouragement, Drex got a report card this week that said, among other things, that he is sociable and kind. How I hope that kindness remains one of his ambitions. As a species, we seem to take every opportunity to convey to our children that their interests lie in besting their peers, when in fact the truth lies in the exact opposite direction (Philippians 2:3-7). We Americans do it because, "Life is competitive," which is a marketing success of which Satan must be most proud. Please pray that Drex uses his time in school to learn the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, humility, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). ##### FUSOB stands for something in Portuguese that has to do with taking care of kids. It is FUSOB, which is a branch of our church, that oversees the foster care program through which Alvaro and his wife, Conceção, parent their seven children. Debbie and Austin met this week with Carla Pego, of the Pego clan mentioned frequently in these pages, who is in charge of the foster care program. Carla was looking for help. Austin offered hers. The church is so small that just about everyone ends up helping out with the foster kids in one way or another. Time and prayer will tell what our involvement will be. ##### I hate to admit it, but I’m going to go watch a little Portuguese television before bed. Many people, including Debbie and Austin, testify that television is a great way to learn to understand a foreign language. Me, I understand little and just end up staring at women I have no business looking at twice. And then, of course, there is the obligatory nudity, because in Europe we men are more mature and are not sexually stimulated by visual images. To us, a breast is no different than an elbow, which is why you see so many billboards, selling everything from tires to laundry detergent, displaying elbows. ##### At Habitat, we are planning a dedication for the houses on March 23. Please pray that they are finished. Also, our executive director, Marta Pego e Pinto (another of the Pegos) went with our primary real estate guy, Pedro Andrade (a Pego by marriage), to see some prospective land Friday. I haven’t heard her report yet. Please continue to ask God to show us where to build next. ##### The Lord bless you for being such a blessing to us. Thank you.
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Name: Jord
Date: Mon Mar 11 02:42:25 2002
It is perhaps telling that when faced with a person who does not understand their language Americans and Portuguese are inclined towards opposite remedies. An American, it is said, is likely to speak more loudly, apparently hoping that if properly heard, they will be understood. A Portuguese person, on the other hand, may speak more and more softly, until at length they are emitting no sound whatsoever, apparently believing that their message has been missed because of noise. For my own part, I have noticed that, wanting adequate language skills here in Portugal, I have made more use of a broader spectrum of smiles. When I lack the words to connect with people—which is most of the time—I endeavor to connect with a smile, which even the lugubrious Portuguese seem to understand. Interestingly, I’ve found that a smile of appropriate hue may serve to convey far more than the simple, "Happy," for which we might ordinarily give it credit. For example, when dropping off children at school, one may look admiringly at the child of another parent, and then turn to that parent with the corners of one’s mouth upturned slightly in a way that says, "I am not a dangerous person, whose child your child should avoid if at all possible. I am a normal, sensitive person, who sees and appreciates that your child is of singular merit, as you must be yourself." (My credibility is augmented, too, by the confidence of the fourth grade boys in the classroom next to Drex’s, who shake my hand each morning and say, "Olá Senhor Torre Eiffel!" ) ##### Debbie’s mom left Saturday. We will all miss her, but certainly Drex will miss her most of all, as no one else is likely to soon demonstrate her indefatigable interest in everything he does. It helps that his good buddy Jordy Dale will be arriving soon with his two younger sisters and parents for a two week stay. In Seattle, we lived as close to the Dales as I am to my computer. We are all very excited about their visit. Please pray that the Holy Spirit works powerfully among us, giving both families that fantastic, transcendent sense of fellowship in Christ, and grace to deal sensitively with the welter of excitement, expectation, disorientation, hunger, fatigue, energy, Portuguese, English, small apartments, small hotels, work, play, and brevity. ##### Austin turned nineteen Friday, which made all of us feel very grown-up. In extremely grown-up fashion, in order to head off the loneliness that might come from being an ocean away from so many loved ones on such an occasion, she bought herself a phone card and treated herself to a long, leisurely phone conversation with a friend in Seattle. She also received a considerable amount of attention around here, through the mail and in person, most notably from our church, where she is much loved. On a slightly less festive note, her Portuguese college entrance calculus examination was scheduled for June 19. Please pray for her preparations for that. ##### Of the twelve families who will soon move into new Habitat houses here, two have cars. José Alves, who will live in house number two, likes to throw open the doors of his and employ his potent sound system to broadcast traditional Portuguese folk music—an acquired taste—into our houses and into the homes of all the neighbors. The buzz of the radio and the buzz of activity, with almost all the families present, busily preparing for our dedication ceremony on the 23rd, made for a festive atmosphere Saturday. It may have been a breakthrough day for my language learning, too. For the first time, my abiding language sense went from, "I don’t have the slightest idea what these people are saying," to "There are some things I do not understand." It was really fun. I bustled about, going from one conversation to another, hardly ever having to put on that stupid expression that for a while looked as if it would become the permanent shape of my face, which says, ". . . Huh?" My confidence soaring, I topped off the day with a late-afternoon phone call—foregoing visual cues and risking the caprice of the mobile phone network—to my favorite Portuguese earth-moving guy, Manuel Duarte, to reschedule an appointment. It’s a little early to stop praying for my Portuguese, though, I think. I’d appreciate it if you would keep it up a bit longer. Thank you. ##### Debbie has assembled a Habitat real estate team, and they have been out looking at land for our next project. She has also begun making the fifty-minute trip to Porto on Thursdays to provide volunteer tax help to Portuguese-Americans, most of whom speak no English. Please continue to pray that God blesses and makes fruitful her endeavors. ##### You are very kind to read this and to pray for us. We thank God for you. May He bless you this week with a fresh sense of His power and His love in your life.
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Name: debk
Date: Tue Mar 12 02:48:58 2002
Recently I noticed that someone had, unbeknownst to us, deposited $3150 in our checking account. Now I don't know about you, but this doesn't happen to us every day. Three thousand one hundred fifty dollars is a lot of money. Pondering this for several days and vacillating between praising God and wondering if this was some sort of freaky bank error, I logged on to view our account again. Still there. Wow. Praise God for this giver and the gift! Yet it was all so unreal that, other than to repeat "Well, praise God" once we re-confirmed its presence in the account, Jordan and I never talked about this money. I considered it rather an awesome thing, difficult to comprehend. Perhaps you can imagine how humbling it is to receive such a gift, anonymously? Thus it was with a renewed sense of God-as-Provider that, last week, I opened an email from the company managing our property in Seattle which began "I hope you are sitting down..." ### The good news is that the tenants smelled the smoke and took appropriate action as our gas furnace and its related wiring began melting down. The better news is that no one and nothing irreplaceable was lost. And as you've probably guessed, the cost of the new furnace and emergency installation was almost $3000. ### May the person(s) who listened to God's call and sent us such an outrageous gift read this and praise Him, along with us, for His providence and for His promptings. Isn't it a blessing to glimpse God at work around us? ### O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago. Isaiah 25:1
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Mar 17 16:13:42 2002
It is impossible to resist the Portuguese women crowding the street corners now, dressed in black, their faces like leather, their pushcarts piled high with strawberries the size of a child's fist, the color of lips, a fragrance like flowers. Part of the attraction, to be sure, is that one knows one can consummate the entire transaction like a native: "Um kilo, si faz favor . . . Muito obrigado." I have never seen strawberries like them. They are so bright they make everything around them seem like a movie in black and white. When I got them home their bouquet filled our small kitchen. Quartered and piled on, they perfectly complimented my chocolate ice cream. ##### Speaking of allure, Portuguese men have discovered a way to unlock primitive feminine instincts. Male tourists may simply notice that the guys here seem never to actually shave. Very few Portuguese men wear beards, but nearly all of them, it seems, are in the process of growing one. You are the only one who appears to have shaved in the last three days. Guys show up for their own weddings this way! Female guests, on the other hand--I have it on good authority--will find themselves inexplicably drawn to the subtly dissonant signals of recklessness and respectability, civility and unpredictably, that emanate from these men. They might be safe, but it is impossible to know for sure. "I may have been doing almost anything for the last three days, and whatever it was, you may be sure of this: it has been so riveting that nothing as trivial as hygiene has even entered my mind," they seem to be saying. Excitement like this, women cannot handle. Alas, as great as it would be to wield this sort of power, it is lost to me, because not shaving for even one day makes me feel like a bum. But when Kurt Dale, our neighbor from Seattle who loves not shaving, arrives next week and discovers it, it will be difficult to get him to go home. In fact, if he stops shaving now, when he arrives, he will be mistaken for two Portuguese men, one standing on top of the other. ##### As recently as last Monday hooligans vandalized our portable toilet at the Habitat jobsite, unrolling one roll of toilet paper onto the ground and throwing another into the bowl. So when I rounded the corner of one of our buildings Wednesday and saw a gang of young boys from the primary school next door crowding around the Honey Bucket and one entering, I began bellowing the only word from my limited vocabulary that seemed remotely appropriate: "NÃO! NÃO! NÃO! NÃO! NÃO!" I thundered as I closed in. From inside the porta-potty emerged a tiny bespectacled boy of perhaps seven, legs tightly compressed, with an expression on his face I fear I will never forget and which made it obvious that he has never done anything mischievous in his entire life. The combination of pressure from within and terror from without looked as if it would cause him to explode. Meekly, he explained that he only needed to, "faz xi-xi," which rhymes with and means the same as, "go pee-pee." Needless to say, the only thing worse than the trauma he had already endured was the confusion he suffered when I tried to explain myself in Portuguese. Please pray that I have not done any permanent damage to Nuno, which turned out to be his name. ##### Next Saturday, Lord willing, we will inaugurate our Habitat houses. João Mouta, who will soon move his family into house number one and who I have mentioned here before, suggested cheerfully yesterday that I ought to wear a tie, and I intend to wear one, if only to honor him, and the wonderful way he has led the other homeowners and encouraged them to serve one another. When you are looking for him, you will almost always find him working capably on someone else's house. Before the inauguration, we would like to rent a paint sprayer and paint the wall in front of the houses and the small partition walls in back. For this we will need two days without rain for the stucco to dry and a third dry day to paint. This will require a miracle. We have not had a dry day in two weeks and they are rare here this time of year. Alvaro and I began asking God on Thursday for three days to paint. Debbie checked the weather report on Friday and it called for rain throughout next week. She checked it again tonight and it had changed, predicting rain Monday and Tuesday, and then sunshine beginning Wednesday and continuing through the inauguration. Would you please pray with us that God makes it so. And please continue to pray that these new houses are places where people put their trust in the Living God. ##### Drex missed a day and a half of school with his biweekly Portuguese fever--only a little over 101 degrees this time. Please pray that the cough it left behind when it went also goes and stays gone while his buddy Jordy is here. ##### You all did such a fantastic job praying for Debbie's back--she has not been stuck on the couch for weeks--would you pray, too, for Alvaro's wife, Conceição ("São," for short, pronounced, unflinchingly in Portuguese, "sow") who spent a day this week on the couch, discouraged and suffering from back pain. Please ask God to heal her and while you are discussing her with Him, ask Him to give her and Alvaro children of their own, which they would like very much. ##### It is great fun for us to be partners with you in prayer and in service to the Kingdom. God bless you for your willingness to colabor with us.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Mar 24 16:47:08 2002
Fantastic praying, you all, for our painting! The sun came out and it dried up all the rain, as the spiders like to say, on Wednesday, and it shined right through the inauguration. Even though we reserved the only rentable airless paintsprayer in town a week in advance, it didn't look as if it was going to be returned in time by the previous renters. Then it stopped working for them. The paint store got it put back together and delivered to our jobsite Friday morning at 10 a.m., giving us enough time before dark to paint everything we needed to paint. The houses looked great and the inauguration was a success by all accounts. Thanks and praise and glory and honor be to God. ##### Today is the birthday party of Drex's "namorada" (girlfriend), Ana Neri (pronounced, around here at least, "Ananeri," as if it were all one word; never simply, "Ana"). Drex is getting ready now. Debbie and I will drive him to the party and she will take him in while I hide in the car, for fear of small talk in Portuguese. Earlier this week I crossed paths with Ana Neri's mom while dropping Drex off at school. I was as nervous as a schoolboy, as if I might say something really stupid to her in Portuguese and ruin Drex's chances of having any future with her daughter. "Oh, yes, the boy is quite nice, but do you know what his father said to me!?" I don't think I offended her, but it's difficult to know for sure. ##### Tuesday was Father's Day here in Portugal. My children say that I am the best Dad in the world. This is very sweet of them, but it is not true. I am only 97th. And the truth is, I was only able to crack the top 100 this year because of a special extra dessert credit. Anyway, I had a very nice day, and Drex made me a beautiful polka dot clothes hanger in school. ##### The Holy Spirit has been giving me a hard time about my unnecessary use of the word "Hell" here a few weeks ago, making it clear that we are not writing only for ourselves here but for the Body of Christ, and that in doing so we ought to "Let no unwholesome word proceed from [our] mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear." (Ephesians 4:29). Please forgive me. ##### I think it is the Reverend Mother in the Sound of Music who says to Maria, "When God closes a door, He often opens a window." I think a strong case, both Biblically and empirically, can be made for the spirit of that assertion, if not the letter. An example from our recent experience has been all the locked school playgrounds here that forced Drex and me down the street where we made friends with all the fellas at the São José home for boys. Another example has to do with the libraries. There aren't any, which, aside from family and friends, accounts for the only real deprivation I have suffered here. But it turns out that Alvaro, who spent two years at the Bible Institute in Lisbon and loves to read in English, has an extensive Christian library that he is happy to share. Watchman Nee and Madame Guyon are softly calling from my bedside table now. ##### My younger sister, Kari, is marrying Horace Martin today in Florida. This is when it's hard to be so far away. Would you please pray that God blesses them in every way and that they put their trust in Him. ##### Please don't stop asking God to give us land on which to build new houses and wisdom with which to manage our rehabilitation of old houses this summer. And please ask Him to give us grace to trust that He will do so. ##### Thank you for praying. The Lord bless you this week.
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Name: Jord
Date: Mon Apr 1 01:30:34 2002
Blessed Easter to you. Christ is risen. Rising from the dead requires a great deal of energy. That same energy, that same power, ought to characterize our lives and our prayers every day (Ephesians 1:19-20, Philippians 3:10). ##### Easter is a big deal in Braga. We were singing hymns on a mount overlooking the city when the fireworks began in earnest at eight a.m. The beauty of the morning and the 360-degree view befit the occasion as church bells all around accompanied the explosions. Below, priests set out, going from house to house with a small entourage, blessing each home where people had put flowers on the doorstep. Please pray that God would pour out His Holy Spirit here, that there would be revival in the Catholic Church and that northern Portugal would "be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." (Isaiah 11:9). ##### When I wrote here several months ago that I have friendships in America that are like pajamas, one person I had in mind was Kurt Dale, whose XL hug fits me perfectly. It has been wonderful having him and his family here this week. Thank you for praying for their visit. The three DeForest-Dale children have handled the vagaries of international travel extremely well. Having to cross the ocean in order to play, rather than just the street, has not diminished the affection between Drex and his buddy Jordan Dale. Please continue to pray that their remaining time here is a blessing and that God supplies Kurt and his wife Delene with the superhuman energy required shepherding their flock the rest of the way. And pray for Debbie, as she serves as tour guide for them this week, that God blesses them through her. ##### Speaking of parenting, a point of clarification: When I wrote last week about Father's Day, I was, naturally, referring to the Only-Child Division, considered the Minor Leagues of Fathering and the only division for which I qualify, given the great age difference between my children. As everyone knows, one cannot even break into the Big Leagues with fewer than three children. Virtually all the elites have five or more. These days, most of your really great Dads are coming out of Latin America and Southeast Asia, and are parenting more than ten kids with wisdom, humor and grace on less than a dollar a day. Pray for them. And please don't stop praying for Habitat construction assistant Alvaro Azavedo, that next Father's Day, he is a father indeed. ##### Because I was not afraid of the turbulence during our flight to Budapest in February and because I don't mind working way off the ground, Alvaro has concluded that I am not afraid of anything. I've explained that I struggle with other fears. For example, I am afraid of facing a team of Global Village volunteers that has traveled half way around the world to build houses only to find that we do not have enough work for them. I am tempted to worry about it. Instead, I must rebuke that spirit of fear in the name of Jesus Christ, and replace it with a spirit of prayer and praise, asking God to direct us in doing everything we can to find land on which to build and houses to repair, and trusting Him to provide. I'm also tempted to be fearful of sounding foolish speaking Portuguese. Again, I need to rebuke that spirit of fear and timidity, and carry on in the spirit of power and love that God has given us (2 Timothy 1:7). If you are not too tired of praying for the same old things, you can pray with me. ##### We've scheduled our next Habitat Local Volunteer WorkDay for Saturday, April 20, and our goal is to get six local volunteers, at least three of them new. As I've mentioned here before, getting local volunteers has been difficult. Please pray for Sandra Costa, our volunteer coordinator, who will do the recruiting, that God would bless her and enable her to succeed. ##### The novelty of being in a strange, exciting new place has worn off a bit for Austin, so that now at times Portugal seems more strange than exciting. Please pray for her, that she will learn all that God would like to teach her and enjoy greater intimacy with Him. ##### The Portuguese countryside is belching cataracts of Wisteria. Rounding the corner, one comes upon them, like a family reunion of Americans: huge, happy and aggressive, singing the Hallelujah chorus of spring. God be praised.
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Name: Jord
Date: Fri Apr 12 00:33:23 2002
On Monday the 1st, five DeForest-Dales and four Klebers piled into a rented station wagon and our little red Renault, Jane, and headed for Lisbon. I was only along for the ride. The group dropped me off at a cab stand so that I could take a taxi to the train station and the train back to Braga. Debbie was right about people being easier to understand down there. (The cab driver said that I speak Portuguese well for an American, which proves that cab drivers say that to everyone). I spent the week home alone, working, while most of the others capered about the beaches and palaces of Cascais and Sintra. I say most, because one member of the party was on a serious mission. Austin had reached the point some time ago, with respect to her high school equivalency certification, when it becomes necessary to fight the Portuguese bureaucratic monster face to face, rather than merely through the mail. She went to Lisbon loaded for bear. After establishing a base camp with the others at a charming little Quinta, or farm, complete with animals and room for the kids to run, she decided, midafternoon Tuesday, to foray for purposes of reconnaissance into the jungle where she expected the battle to rage over the coming days. She did not anticipate contact with the enemy. To her surprise she met a tiny, elderly Portuguese woman who secreted her through the labyrinthine process, spread across three offices located throughout Lisbon, that very afternoon. Praise be to God for this small angel, a member of the sizable insurgency of helpful, sympathetic Portuguese government workers. ##### Home alone all week, I felt like George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge. I did not clean or heat the apartment. I ate tasteless, hastily prepared food. Free from time-consuming commitments to other people, I organized my time to maximize profits. But who cares? What’s the use of solving life’s little puzzles if you’re the only one who benefits from the solutions? Give me the inefficient adoration of children who delight when one climbs a ladder to replace a light bulb! Let me waste time washing dishes for a sated throng after serving them soup. Giving oneself to others, or love, is what makes life worth the trouble, and Christians are the ones in a position to do it: “God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:19), the Bible says, so you may devote your attention to sharing those riches with others. Christ is our life (Colossians 3:4, Philippians 1:21). Abundant, unlimited, inexhaustible. Our job is to spend that life on others. Miserliness has flown. The Morning Star has arisen in our hearts (2 Peter 1:19). Life is a spending spree. ##### Peter Harris, the British author of Under the Bright Wings, a book I have raved about here before, and cofounder with his wife Miranda of A Rocha, Christians in Conservation, (www.arocha.org) which began here in Portugal, was at our church last Sunday to talk about his work. Members of our church would like to begin an A Rocha center here. I enjoyed chatting with him briefly. Austin got advice from him about colleges, based on the experience of his children, one of whom is studying at the University of Coimbra now. Debbie, Delene and Austin got to spend the afternoon with him and a group of others, talking and looking at birds. They were very impressed with his spirit and his thoughtful approach to using earth stewardship as a means of sharing with people about the love and grandeur of God. Those of you in Seattle might consider attending one of his two week classes at Regent Seminary in Vancouver, British Columbia. ##### $3000 worth of power tools were stolen from the jobsite this week. It’s disheartening. I had been warned that our storage containers were not secure, but had not reconciled myself to purchasing new ones. It makes me feel very foolish. This, in addition to other recent minor disruptions to my routine, have left me with a power shortage in recent days, spiritually undernourished. Thanks be to God, I know the solution to the problem: spend extra time quietly waiting upon God, allowing His Holy Spirit to minister to me and remind me of all the things He has said to me (John 14:26). Please pray for the people who stole our tools, that God would bless them and bring them to repentance and salvation (Luke 6:27-30, Romans 12:17-21). ##### Thank you for your love and faithfulness and prayers. To take a nice expression out of context, they are to us “an eternal weight of glory,” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
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Name: Jord
Date: Mon Apr 15 04:45:55 2002
This week’s episode opens with our hero, Spiritual Guy, on the Habitat for Humanity jobsite in Braga, Portugal, working with the Habitat families digging trenches so that electrical wire can be run to each house. The homeowners are generally digging trenches to their own houses while Spiritual Guy digs a trench to the home of one of the single little old Portuguese ladies. João Mouta, the homeowner who has done so much for so many has not come to work today, though no one is sure why. Last time he missed a Saturday he was fixing his mother’s roof. Suddenly, Spiritual Guy gets the idea to dig João Mouta’s trench for him, thereby setting a neat spiritual example of cooperation and neighborliness for the other homeowners. He abandons the little old lady’s trench and heads for the other end of the jobsite. When he arrives at the Mouta’s, he finds two soon-to-be neighbors, José Alves and Alexandre Araujo, putting the finishing touches on the Mouta’s trench. Spiritual Guy will have to be quicker next time. ##### The DeForest-Dales left for the airport in the predawn hours Monday the 8th. At 8:30 that evening we observed that they still had about eight hours to go before arriving in Seattle. It’s a lot better than sailing, I always try to remind myself when making that journey. Our ancestors, who made it by boat and covered wagon, would not like to hear our grumbling about leg room. It was an enormous blessing to have the DeForest-Dales with us for two weeks, but the hi-light by far was that Jordan Dale decided to follow Jesus. He was born again, “into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for him, who through faith is shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time,” (1 Peter 1:3-5). He became a Christian. Now, he and Drex, who accepted Christ two summers ago on the island of Madeira, are not just like brothers, they are brothers (Matthew 23:8). When a child comes to faith, I always have the impulse to say, “But wait! Does he really understand? Does he know this . . . and this . . . and this?” But then I remember how much I understood of the Christian faith when I decided to put my trust in Jesus at twenty--virtually nothing!! Praise be to God that He takes the smoldering wick of our faith and fans it into flame (Matthew 12:20). ##### Thank you for your prayers for Alvaro, our construction assistant, who came to us 2 ½ months ago with no construction experience, but a great heart. He is making excellent progress and is anxious to learn more. He has been an inspiration to me in many ways. Spiritually and vocationally, Alvaro likes to supplement hands-on experience with reading. He has been devouring my old issues of Fine Homebuilding magazine. He wants to order the entire Fine Homebuilding Construction Library, so that he can receive a book each month for one hundred years. Instead, we are going to try to find some books on Portuguese building techniques so that we can jump ahead in our learning together. It is interesting perhaps only to me to compare the residential construction cultures of Portugal and the United States. The cultures diverge at the most basic level, it seems to me, because the primary material for construction here is concrete, whereas in the United States it is wood. Not surprisingly, this has ramifications throughout the building process. Concrete--as long as it is wet--is completely malleable. It will take the shape of anything into which you put it. Problems can be solved, mistakes can be erased, by--literally--throwing more concrete at them. This leads to a relaxed, artistic, intuitive approach to building. It doesn’t hurt that the concrete man’s “talosha” and trowel look so much like the artist’s palette and brush. Wood, despite it’s fantastic living qualities and capacities for being shaped, is not so malleable. You cannot just add more wood to make things right. You have to take things apart and begin again. This leads to a more systematic, linear approach to building. The carpenter’s tools will tear his digits off if he does not proceed in a linear fashion. In the United States, concrete, which is used residentially primarily in foundations, is permanent. Here, a fellow might mix up some concrete and use it to prop up one leg of his barbecue grill to keep it from teetering. I once expressed reluctance to break up concrete to move some pipes and our plumber responded as if I were behaving like a very old woman. I aspire to the Portuguese facility and familiarity with concrete. I fantasize about returning to our Seattle neighborhood for a visit and installing speed bumps on our street after dinner. In any event, please don’t stop praying for Alvaro, for his learning about construction, his teaching of Portuguese to me, his ministry to the six foster children for whom he and his wife provide care, and for the children that he and his wife would like to have. ##### Last evening was the monthly Habitat prayer meeting. As always, it was glorious to cry out to God together, even though a couple of regulars were missing. If you remembered to pray with us, thank you. If you’d like to join us on the second Saturday next month, it will be May 11, my Dad’s 66th birthday. Please pray for my Dad, that he has a Happy Birthday, that God blesses him and that his youth is renewed like the eagle’s (Psalm 103:5). Spending that hour praying with us (6 p.m. Portuguese time, 1 p.m. EST) each second Saturday would be one way to deal with all the prayer requests you accumulate here. ##### Drex will get another euro from the Tooth Fairy when he awakes, even though I have by no means reconciled myself to adding names under God’s to the list of characters our kids are to believe in but not see. It seems a dastardly trick, especially when we intend later to withdraw all the names but One. It doesn’t seem to me just a coincidence that the Almighty often ends up on the trash heap of childhood along with His cohorts, Santa and the Easter Bunny. I’d rather just give some cheesy but true explanation like, “You put the tooth under the pillow and Love transforms it while you sleep.” But I lost a lot of credibility around here when I tried to explain the Easter egg hunt that I still cannot live without because of my own fantastic memories of it from childhood by saying that we search for eggs just like the prophets of long ago searched intently for the Christ (1 Peter 1:10), which triggered Debbie’s sensitive gag reflex. ##### Austin may have a couple of new English students. Please pray that God blesses them through her. ##### Debbie and I are dealing with some pretty fundamental stuff about the ways we communicate and we could really use your prayers. ##### I guess you’re tired of me thanking you for your prayers all the time, but if you knew how powerful and effective they are (Ephesians 3:20, James 5:16) you might not complain. Thank you. The Lord bless you this week.
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Name: Jord
Date: Mon Apr 22 10:48:02 2002
One night last week, I was so preoccupied with what I will do with our teams of volunteers when they arrive that I couldn’t sleep, and I thought I could actually feel the worries pressing the hair out the top of my head onto my pillow. The following morning, desperate for time in prayer, I resorted to a tactic I’ve employed before with success-- spending my entire morning devotional time on my knees, reading my Bible and using it as a catalyst for prayer. One good thing that came of it was a restored spirit of humility. The Holy Spirit gently put me in my place. I had been thinking as if I wield tremendous power, as if my planning and decision making are of monstrous import. God reminded me that my contribution to the success of His plans in northern Portugal will be modest, and that He can be relied upon to let me know what I can do to help. I can relax. ##### Humility is like living in a small cottage. There’s a simple garden that provides beauty and sustenance, a guest room, usually occupied, a practical kitchen, and comfortable places to rest, but little else. A cupboard full of toys and games, perhaps. Maintenance is easy. ##### I got a thank you card today from Donna Rosa, one of the ladies for whom we are building a house. Because neither of us reads or writes Portuguese very well, she had someone write it for her in English. I was surprised at how nice it was to be thanked. ##### There’s a kid living at the São José home for boys named João Zulu for whom you could pray. I may have mentioned him here before because he’s the only person I’ve met there who speaks English. Like the other fellas at São José, his family life seems to have been, shall we say, miscellaneous. He’s bounced around: he’s from Mozambique via South Africa and Lisbon. He’s eighteen and restless. Would you please pray that God would speak to his heart, perhaps through me, and that João would give his life and considerable energy to Jesus Christ? While you’re praying for João, would you please pray the same thing for his friend Dave, who was born in Philadelphia but moved to Braga, where both his parents are from, when he was nine? I’d like to invite both Dave and João to our next Habitat Local Volunteer Day, May 18, when we are due to have a Global Village team from the United States. Global Village volunteers love to get to know the locals, especially when there’s no language barrier, and I think it would be a neat chance build relationships with Dave and João and to get them involved in Habitat. As always, please pray that “whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make know the mystery of the gospel, “ (Ephesians 6:19). ##### Antonio José is an Angolan man that became a friend when he was volunteering most of his Saturdays at the Habitat jobsite in hopes of getting one of the twelve Palmeira houses for himself. He didn’t get it and he has stopped volunteering. Happily, however, he still occasionally stops by our apartment for a visit. He is a widower with two daughters, ages nine and seventeen, and three nieces for whom he is responsible, all still in Angola, waiting for him to secure a home for them here. Please pray that his family would be able to join him here in Portugal quickly. ##### Austin is within two months of her June 19 national university entrance examination in calculus and she is not exactly loving math. But she got her certificate of high school equivalency in the mail today. It’s a big step and means that she has permission--if she does well on the test--to attend college here. Please pray that she would be encouraged and clear-minded as the test approaches, and that God would provide her with the help she needs. ##### Drex got another good report card last week, but his teacher did have to ask him and Ana Neri, his “namorada,” or girlfriend, to confine their displays of affection to the hours outside the classroom. First grade is a little sooner than I had anticipated needing to discuss with Drex the proper treatment of women. I explained to him, in an appropriately friendly, light-hearted fashion, that beijinhos (those Portuguese “little kisses” of greeting) are fine, but that a gentleman does not kiss a lady “as if they are married,” until they are. One of my highest hopes for Drex is that he is a blessing to all his friends who are women and that he always behaves towards them as if he is with another man’s wife, until, indeed, he is with his own. But I saved a lot of that for later. Please ask God to give me wisdom and Drex attentiveness when the time comes to talk further. ##### With summer just around the corner and the prospect of Drex being cooped up in our small apartment with nowhere to play looming, conversations about looking for a new place to live have gained momentum. Debbie, in fact, is out driving around looking at places now. Please ask God to direct our steps. ##### Every blessing in Christ to you this week (Ephesians 1:3). Thank you for your prayers.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Apr 28 15:15:03 2002
I want to be careful not to exaggerate about the blanket of roses that covers northern Portugal this time of year, so let me just say that only on very clear days is it actually visible in satellite photographs. Here on the ground, however, the roses lend such elegance to the landscape that one expects the Queen to appear at any moment--if there were a Queen. As a result, everyone feels a little more puffed up, unless one is a soccer ball, in which case one lives in constant fear of thorns. ##### Here was a lovely little miracle: “Are we going home now?” Drex hollered as we walked, skipped and ran through the central praça, with the Dale family, three weeks ago. "Do you live here?” asked a woman whose path, along with that of her four children and husband, paralleled ours. They turned out to be the Leaf family: Derrick, from England and a chaplain at the University of Minho, Eva, from New Hampshire, Andrew, 13, Jeremy, 12, Hannah, 7, and Benjamin, nearly 2. We had a cookout at their house Thursday to celebrate Portuguese Independence Day. Drex was close to paradise, playing ball and having water fights in the sun with the three older kids. For six years Derrick and Eva, who are affiliated with the Navigators, have been doing exactly the sort of work I want to do here in Braga: working among both Catholics and Protestants, finding ways to get beyond the things that divide us in order to encourage everyone in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Derrick has written the paper I might have hoped for as a primer to get me started, entitled, “Catholic and Evangelical Spirituality Contrasted.” They thought they would continue in this work another ten years. They found out the week we met that they must leave. Hannah is severely dyslexic and they plan to return to England in June to get the support she needs. We are sad they must go--for a moment there Hannah and Drex were going to be each other’s only local English-speaking peer--but we are very thankful to have met them before they did. We may move into their house, which has room to run, raise rabbits, garden and entertain guests. Would you please pray for the Leaf family: that God would bless, encourage and uplift them, and demonstrate His power to them in wonderful ways, in the midst of the high-speed-international-move-logistical-storm they face. ##### Two things have changed the way Debbie and I are thinking about how to handle our uncertainty over how long we’ll be in Portugal. One was the experience of the Leafs with respect to Hannah’s dyslexia. They thought they’d be here ten years. The other was the experience of the Prado family from Brazil, which I have mentioned here before. The dad, Mauro, had just accepted a position as an associate pastor of our church when his father-in-law died, leaving no one to care for his mother-in-law, who has Altzheimer’s. After six months in Portugal, the Prados have returned to Brazil. The point for us is, even if we thought we knew how long we were going to be here, we wouldn’t know. You never know. In light of that, Jeremiah 29:4-7 takes on new poignance: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles . . . ‘Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens, and eat their produce . . . take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there and do not decrease. And seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’” We are investigating the cost of shipping our furniture here. ##### Austin has decided that America is a pretty neat place, though. She took her high school yearbook along when she went tutoring this week so that her student, Natí, and her younger sister Sheila, both of whom are high school students, could have a look. Natí and Sheila are black, from Angola. (One meets many African Portuguese people who are white, owing to immigration from the former colonies.) Though Austin explained that much segregation persists between ethnicities at Garfield High, the girls were amazed at the diversity both among students and faculty. (Garfield is well over half non-white.) They explained that here, a black university professor had to quit because his students steadfastly refused to have class with him. This is consistent with other testimony that António José, who I asked you to pray for last week, is never going to get a job as a teacher here--though he is credentialled--because he is black. Drex says that first graders verbally abuse Marciano, our friend from the São José home for boys who is black and in Drex’s class, with impunity. God is so big and so powerful that we can even pray for huge things, like an end to racism in northern Portugal. ##### Drex and I were fishing on the Rio Cávado last evening when the sun set and didn’t catch a thing, though the trout were doing cartwheels. We suspect it was the Lord, who catches all the fish He wants whenever He wants (John 21:6), preventing me from breaking the law, as I have not yet managed to find the office where one gets a license, though I have searched for it in earnest. God loves us so much that we can even pray for very little things (Luke 12:7), like catching fish. ##### My parents are due here on Thursday for a week. Please pray for their rapid time-change adjustment and that our short time with them would be a great blessing to everyone. ##### Shortly after posting last week’s Prayer and Praise update that included the discussion of my spirit of anxiety over the coming volunteers, I was reminded by a friend that fear and anxiety are sin, just as contrary to God’s will and the spirit of power, love and a sound mind that He has given us as any other destructive habit (2 Timothy 1:7) . I was reminded that I need to attend, not to the spirit of fear and anxiety that tempts me, but to the Spirit of Christ, by which we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us (Romans 8:37). Almost as soon as I decided to do so, the Holy Spirit made it clear to me that my weakened condition was the result of some sloppy housecleaning (Joshua 7:11-12). ##### The Habitat land acquisition dialogue has intensified. It appears as if we may be able to spend a bunch of money on land if we do so before the end of the fiscal year June 30. Would you please pray that we proceed quickly and wisely. And please pray for our planning and preparing for the summer’s first Global Village team of volunteers, due to arrive May 17 from the United States. ##### Billboards here proclaim, “É bom viver em Braga”--It’s good to live in Braga. We like to say, “É bom orar em Braga”--It’s good to pray in Braga. Thanks for praying for us where you are.
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Name: Jord
Date: Mon May 6 12:27:09 2002
It’s 2002, and we—by which I mean the world—are far enough along with our technological revolution for a quick pulse check: How are we doing? How are we holding up? Well, it’s worth noting, I think, that all of our technologies increase our capacity to do the one thing that most undermines our effectiveness: divert our attention from what is immediately at hand. Nothing is so effective as focusing our energy, attention and prayers on the people and problems God has set before us now. Nothing increases your potential for good, the probability that you will bring the kingdom of God to bear, like your presence. But if your cell phone rings, you will forego the opportunity at hand in order to attend to the situation at the other end of the line. Or take email. If it is true that whether or not one is present is the single most important factor in determining whether or not one will be able to do good in a particular situation, then it follows that the relationship in which I have the greatest opportunity for good is my relationship with my neighbor. But where does the time I spend cultivating relationships via email come from if not from the time I might spend cultivating relationships close at hand? Email allows me to spread my relational energies over the entire globe. Obviously, I am going to have to spread them very thin. And my neighbor may get only crumbs. I am not suggesting that anyone forsake cell phones or email, any more than I would argue that it isn’t a good idea to keep a TV in the closet just in case there’s something you really need to see. I’m just suggesting that we proceed judiciously and prayerfully, set our phones on vibrate, and not answer them during dinner. ##### There will have been confusion, I think, regarding my statement last week that fear and anxiety are sin. Indeed, it would have seemed ridiculous to me not long ago. The confusion may derive in part from the widely held conception of God as our Disciplinarian and the corresponding belief that sin means, “a punishable offense.” It is more helpful and more accurate, I believe, to think of God as our Giver and Sustainer of Life, and sin as, “that which takes away Life.” Fear and anxiety are not so much forbidden as they are unnecessary. It’s not so much that a Christian must not be fearful as that he need not. God has made provision in Christ Jesus, for the casting out of all our fears (1 John 4:18). ##### I made a significant mistake in marking off the backyards of the twelve houses in Palmeira. I calculated incorrectly, so some houses currently have a couple of extra square meters and some houses are short the same amount. Now that we are aware of the problem, we will have to work out a solution with the families. I don’t know what the final solution will be and I don’t care. What I am interested in is the way we go about dealing with the problem. Situations like this are fantastic opportunities for the Holy Spirit to work among us. We can proceed in a way that says to everyone what some people go a life time without hearing, that they are important, that their feelings and what they have to say is important, and that their opinion counts as much as anyone else’s. I love this part. It’s like shooting bolts of electricity at people. You respond to them in a way that says, “I hear you. I respect what you are saying and your right to say it. I may not agree with you, but that doesn’t matter. We’re trying to come up with the best solution to a problem and that solution is just as likely to come from you as from me.” Sometimes it has the same effect as those shock pads the paramedics use to thump people on the chest. People look at you as if to say, “Are you talking to me?” Hopefully the families will forgive me for my mistake, though land disputes can be bitter. If I had it to do over again, I would, of course, divide the yards properly and avoid the whole situation, but, as I am often reminded in parenting, my job is not to always get it right, my job is to point the way to Jesus Christ, and mistakes can be valuable opportunities to do that. “My confidence comes not from always getting it right, not from never making mistakes. I make mistakes every day. My confidence comes from knowing Jesus Christ, that He loves me, and that He will accomplish His purposes through me.” In conveying this, we help create an environment where it is safe to learn and to grow and to try and to fail and to make a mess and to clean it up. An environment where everyone can thrive. Please ask God to make it so in this case. ##### Drex lost sight of me as we walked home from church today. He was walking ahead of me along a moderately busy sidewalk in the center of town, when suddenly he wheeled about and walked quickly past me in the opposite direction, looking this way and that. He got to the last intersection we had crossed, and seeing him from behind, it was clear that he was in distress: searching about, tensed. I hurried back to him, calling his name as I went. When he heard my voice, he turned. First there was recognition, then relief, then he buried his face in my chest and cried. The whole incident hardly lasted a minute. How like him we are, or like Peter when he walked on the water (Matthew 14:29-31): cruising along, doing O.K., then suddenly losing sight. What distracts us? For Peter it was wind and waves. For other men it’s curls and curves. Drex and Peter may have lacked faith, but both handled their crisis well: they took aggressive action, they cried out, they restored contact quickly and pressed on. We should do likewise. ##### It appears as if we will move into the Leaf’s house (see last week’s update). With extraordinary grace, in the midst of their move, Eva Leaf invited us over yesterday so that my parents could see the house while they’re in town. It was the first time I had seen the whole thing. It’s wonderful. Houses like this do not get advertised because there are so few of them for rent in Braga. To get them, you have to know someone. When they found out around Easter they would have to return to England, the Leafs prayed for a Christian family to take the house, though they knew several families that would want it. It was around Easter that we asked you to pray for a new place for us and it was the week after Easter that we met the Leafs. “Before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear,” says the Lord Almighty (Isaiah 65:24). Thank you for praying. Please continue to pray for the Leaf family, that God would demonstrate His power and provision for them in the midst of their move, and that He would give them peace. Thank you for praying for our time with my parents. It’s been a good visit, but they leave Wednesday and need to pack a year’s supply of this set of kids and grandkids into the week. ##### Gladys, the morning receptionist at Associação Humanitaria Habitat and a believer, had a mild stroke a couple of weeks ago and spent several days in the hospital. She is in her thirties, I think—much too young to be having strokes. When not at Habitat, Gladys, who is Peruvian, works with her brother, a Christian pastor ministering among the gypsies. Would you please pray for Gladys, that God would heal her completely and bless her ministry. ##### Don’t forget to pray with us next Saturday, May 11, from 1-2 p.m. EST (6-7 p.m. Braga time), during our monthly Haibitat prayer meeting. Pray for the rapid completion of our current project, land on which to build, wisdom in choosing from among possible rehab projects, and the salvation of everyone involved. ##### Would you please pray that God would raise up renters for our Seattle house, which is unrented beginning in June. ##### Speaking of Seattle prayers, please pray for our Seattle friends, the W’s, who are planning to divorce, that each of them would seek God in the midst of their crisis and that He would work a miracle of reconciliation. ##### Pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6). ##### Sorry to pile it on this week, but you are doing such a fantastic job of praying that it would seem unwise not to take advantage of you. The Lord bless you this week.
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Name: Jord
Date: Mon May 13 16:33:15 2002
Two weeks ago Drex could not ride a bicycle. I know because a young girl allowed him to try hers and I had to chug alongside, trying to keep up and keep him up. But last Tuesday I looked out the front window of our apartment and he was racing up and down the sidewalk, taking turns riding and running with neighbors Alexandre and André, both of whom have bikes. He said he had learned to ride on Monday. It was amazing. He was zooming up and down like a champ. Apparently, he had reached the point on Monday where it was time to stop dilly-dallying—thinking about all the reasons why he couldn’t ride a bike—and just go. I realized I had reached the same point with my Portuguese. Drex still has a lot to learn about bike riding. He’s probably going to get banged up a bit. The same is true of my Portuguese, but rather than thinking of myself as a pedestrian trudging along, like Drex I’m going! Just as Drex is anxious to get back on a bike each day, I am anxious now to squeeze in opportunities to practice Portuguese. I’ve probably made more progress in the week since I began imitating Drex than I had in the previous month. ##### On Saturday I worked with the Palmeira families digging the footings for the concrete block walls that will divide the backyards. We pulled strings to mark the location and level of the footings. The taut level strings stretched in striking contrast to the waving grass. It is satisfying to build things that are level and straight and square and plumb because it demonstrates our mastery and control of our materials. We must do this, because in our creativity, our little imitations of our Creator, there is always some doubt. “Yes, he’s clever, but does he have his art under control? Is he able to accomplish what he sets out to accomplish with his concrete, or his brush, or his pen? Or is he a looney?” With our Heavenly Father there is never any doubt. His power is so magnificently manifest even in those blades of grass, His control of His medium so sure, that He may do anything. Like a child who stands on one foot and says, “Look at me!” we build things level to demonstrate that we can. He is, “I am,” (Exodus 3:14, John 8:58) and everything He has made says, “I can.” ##### We had a wonderful time at our monthly Habitat prayer meeting Saturday. If you joined us, thank you. Mark your calendar now for Saturday, June 8, at 1 p.m. EST (6 p.m. in Portugal). Please pray that God would continue to increase our numbers and that people from diverse backgrounds would come together and agree together in prayer (Matthew 18:19-20). ##### Our first Global Village Team of the summer is due to arrive Friday from the United States. Saturday should be a big day at the jobsite, as the team’s first day of work coincides with our monthly Local Volunteer Day, and we’re expecting a decent turnout for that. Please ask God to give Alvaro and me an extra measure of grace to handle all the acitivity and pray that we have opportunity to give an account for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15). ##### Owing to an accounting quirk, it appears as if Habitat Braga may have up to €70,000, from Habitat for Humanity International, to spend on land, if we spend it before the end of the fiscal year June 30. Things do not usually happen quickly here, and this would have to happen very, very quickly, so we’d better pray. ##### My parents left last Wednesday, leaving me with a sensation similar to the one I had when the DeForest-Dale family left, that of the thousands of things I had wanted to discuss we covered maybe three. You sure have to cram a lot of relationship into small spaces in life, huh? ##### We took the Leaf children (see last week’s update) on an outing yesterday in order to give the Leaf parents a little time to themselves, and the Leaf children introduced us to a wave pool not too far from here. We’ve added it to our book of places to go with kids. Please continue to pray for the Leafs and their move back to England. We are growing very fond of them—even though Andrew, the 13 year-old, made quick work of me in chess—and we wish they weren’t leaving. ##### One of Austin’s dearest friends, Sara Dwyer, is globetrotting and has landed in Braga for a bit. Austin is very thankful to get some time with her. Please ask God to bless them. ##### As always, we thank you for your prayers and your love. The Lord bless you this week.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun May 26 18:39:40 2002
Sorry I missed you last week. I really enjoy writing these Prayer and Praise updates and it’s extremely encouraging to hear from people who read them and pray, so I tried all week to squeeze one in. Knowing that my parents like to read them when they get home from church gives me a nice, motivating sense of obligation. I think of the updates as a substitute for the Sunday phone conversations I used to have with them. ##### God sent us the perfect team of Global Village volunteers to finish up our twelve houses in Palmeira. Dave is a retired IBM manager, Ray Bellamy a retired aeronautical engineer, and Karma a chemical engineer who owns a counted-cross-stitch store. Rick is retired from the CIA and his wife Janet builds call-centers for large companies to service their clients. Jeff is retired from the railroad in West Virginia. Larry built a house for himself in Indiana. Ray Schumacher owned a car dealership near Chicago for thirty years and a tennis club for fifteen while raising a girl and seven boys, one of whom is Benjamin, who took a break from building apartment buildings and owning and operating a large RV park in Texas to come here with his dad. Most have substantial Habitat experience. When they arrived last Friday, there was a sizable list of finicky little finishing tasks, but they have been eliminating them in a methodical way. Building with volunteers has its drawbacks. They tend to be relatively inexperienced in construction. But their motivation and intelligence make up for their inexperience and enable them to gain experience quickly. Arguably, houses could be built less expensively using cheap professional labor. Ironically, however, Habitat houses could not be built that way at all. The key to Habitat’s success is that it provides everyone with an opportunity to be part of solving the problem of inadequate housing. Without the enthusiastic participation and financial support of our volunteer work force Habitat would quickly disappear. By providing anyone who wants to help a hands- on opportunity to do so, Habitat builds the family of people who join hands around the world to make it a better place to live. ##### Austin and her Seattle friend Sara Dwyer, who’s stopped here for a bit on her way around Europe, played tour guide for the GV team today and took them to Bom Jesus, “Portugal’s most spectacular religious sanctuary,” so that Sandra, our volunteer coordinator, could have a day off. Please pray for the volunteers, that the remainder of their trip is a blessing and that God would reveal Himself to them in new ways. ##### Last Saturday, owing to a communication break-down that was as much my fault as anyone’s, the volunteer team had to run for the bus at the end of the day before cleaning up. That left Alvaro and me to clean up the jobsite alone, which took about another hour. On top of that, one of our families was being kicked out of their dilapidated home and because the one we’re building for them doesn’t have electricity yet it looked as if they would be out on the street. On top of that, I was frustrated with our Board of Director’s slowness in responding to our need for land. So while I went about cleaning the jobsite and putting things away, I stewed and simmered and slopped around in a spirit of anger. The remarkable thing was the negative affect that spirit of anger had upon my own spirit. It was like drinking paint thinner. It was poison. Even though I realized by the time I drove away that I was just being silly, the affects lingered. The following day, I still felt cruddy. Late in the day last Sunday, praising God finally lifted me out of my morass. The whole thing took me by surprise. There was a time when anger was a significant theme in my life. Thanks be to God, I haven’t struggled with it for a long time. Last weekend, I was like a former alcoholic that has lost his tolerance for alcohol—one little shot blasted me. It served as a poignant illustration of the effects of sin. It cuts us off from Life (John 15:5). ##### It seems to me that, if I were God, and I were going to move the Klebers to a new house, I would want to downplay the one really fantastically wonderful thing about their current apartment—the proximity of friends for Drex—so they would kind of forget the fact that they are packing up and driving away from Alexandre next door, André upstairs, and Francisco around the corner, not to mention the schoolyard full of chums directly across the street, all of whom, taken together, constitute the greatest single testimony to answered prayer in their entire Portuguese experience (see April 11, 2001, above). It’s been a miracle. If I were God, I’d want to downplay all that. I wouldn’t want to rub it in. Well, clearly, this is why I am not God. The Living God, the God of Israel, rather than have Drex’s friends fade into the background in anticipation of our forthcoming move, has made them more of a blessing than ever. They’ve been riding up and down the sidewalk for hours most evenings, alternating between bikes and scooters and rollerblades. Drex hardly finishes dinner now, asking to be allowed to carry the last of it outside so that he will not have missed any more of the fun than is absolutely necessary. As great as it is, it’s sad, because we’re leaving. History shows that, no matter how much you hope to maintain relationships after you move, there’s nothing like being next door. None of us doubts God’s hand in providing us with the new house. It’s as if He’s making a show of His capacity to meet our needs, the way he’s met Drex’s relational needs here, in order to say, “I have provided. I will provide. It may not look the same. It may not be what you expect. But you may rely upon Me.” Please pray again, as you did a year ago to such amazing effect, that God will meet Drex’s needs for friends. ##### Debbie has a summer job. She begins training this week at the Wall Street Institute, where she will teach English during June and July. The timing of the commencement of training is perfect, coming as it does just before Debbie loses her mind from having been unemployed for over a year. The timing of the work itself is bad, coming as it does during dinner, which has always been the centrepiece of our family life. Please pray that God, the Real Centrepiece, would work this out so that the family grows in power and love and grace during Debbie’s days of teaching. Pray, too, for her teaching itself, that God would bless many people through her. ##### You are a blessing. Thank you for blessing us. The Lord bless you this week.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Jun 2 02:48:58 2002
Debbie, Drex and I went on a hike last Sunday that was like a fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm. We began in a dark forest and soon strayed from the path. Our way led upward over desolate, rocky hills, along an ancient stone road. A river had decided to borrow the road for itself and ran between the stones beneath our feet. We passed over the skeleton of a horse. (It did not speak). A spring burbled up from the earth. We came upon a wild horse and her foal and followed them for some distance until they disappeared. We searched for a monastery that was shown on our map, but the skies were threatening, and we had to turn back before we found it. As we made our way home, a kindly woman gave us sandwiches of warm beef for only one and a half euros each. The moral of the story is that it is wonderful to get outdoors and books that suggest places to go can be a great help. ##### Thursday was a holiday here in Portugal—Corpo de Deus, Body of God, celebrating, I believe, the Ascension of Christ, forty days after Easter (Acts 1:3)—and Drex, a buddy of his from school named Zé Manuel, and I went to a beach we had not visited before. It was vast, as if the world had rolled up its shirt so the boys could play on its tummy. Because we arrived early, we were almost alone, and the great expanse was like an enormous outdoor room, where the boys felt free, with no intervening strangers, to wander far. The beach sloped gradually so they were able to skip and dance out into the surf. Beaches are more evidence that God loves kids. He didn’t have to make waves, and have them roar and crash in upon us at thrilling speed. He wanted to introduce us, at an early age, to His power and His magnitude and His beauty and His relentlessness, in a setting where we can also make mud pies. As with every great teacher, you get nonverbal lessons relating to character, along with practical application and hands-on experience. ##### Midway through the afternoon, there was a minor conflict between Drex and a little Portuguese boy that I became aware of when I saw Drex fleeing across the sand. Drex was laughing, but the Portuguese boy—who was a year or two older but who was not likely to catch Drex because he was built, shall we say, more like a launch pad than a rocket—was not. When the older boy realized he would not get satisfaction from Drex, he addressed himself to me. I understood that he was accusing Drex of malfeasance, but my attempts at a diplomatic solution in Portuguese were disappointing. Both boys, when they had taken in the full measure of my linguistic limitations, turned and walked away. It’s tough not being the heroic, go-to sort of dad. For Drex, it must be a little like growing up with a father with any other disability. One asks oneself why one chooses to expose oneself to such humiliation, rather than trying to order one’s life so that one is shown in a more favorable light. The answer, of course, is that those more favorable circumstances would be nothing but vanity, a house of cards. The sooner all of us come to grips with the fact that dad is wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked, (Revelation 3:17), the better off we are all going to be. ##### Like every city, Braga has its small community of people who make their living begging. Like every Christian, I have struggled to find an appropriate response in light of scripture (Luke 6:30-35, Matthew 25:40). Thanks be to God, I have come upon a reasonably happy solution that includes, first, trying to never leave the house without a supply of “granola” type bars, packed with excited anticipation of having the opportunity—Proverbs 19:17—to share them, and, second, saying to myself, whenever I come upon a brother or sister requesting alms, “Ah, here is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, cleverly disguised as a drug addict,” or a woman with a baby, or, one of His favorite disguises here, a Romanian man playing an accordion. May God glorify Himself through our response to people in need. ##### Debbie has enjoyed her teacher training at the Wall Street Institute for English. She’ll begin teaching on her own this week. Please continue to pray that she is blessed and that she is a blessing. ##### Austin is in the home stretch in her preparations for the national college entrance examinations June 19. Please continue to pray that she is diligent in her studies and that God grants her openness and receptiveness of mind. (Or you can just pray 1 Corinthians 2:16 for her. That ought to do it). ##### At the Habitat jobsite in Palmeira, we have become a regular target for thieves. Every day I go there anticipating the sick feeling of finding another house broken into, another hiding place for tools discovered and looted. That it seems obvious that the thieves know the jobsite intimately contributes to the discouragement. But we must not allow ourselves to be disheartened. Satan would love that. We must, “not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” (Romans 12:21). We must pray for those who have stolen from us (Luke 6:27-28), that God would bless them and bring them to repentance and salvation. And we must pray that He clears the way for the families to finally move in, which should put an end to the burglaries. (Move-in has been delayed because we cannot get electrical power to the homes without clear title to the land, which we do not have because of the sort of bureaucratic convolutions for which Portugal is infamous). Finally, we must rejoice in what the Lord is doing through the ministry of Habitat. ##### The Leaf family continues to bless us in a variety of ways. Debbie had coffee with Eva this week, and Eva spoke candidly about issues of spiritual warfare here in northern Portugal, like the prevalence of witchcraft and Satanism, especially in the villages. These issues must inform our prayers, as we intercede for people to be “delivered from the dominion of darkness, and transferred to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son.” (Colossians 1:13). Derrick Leaf took me last evening to a Catholic mass where he has found a warm welcome. He was saying goodbye, I was saying hello. The small, very informal gathering reminded me of the Catholic community at the University of Washington where I first hearkened unto the call of Christ upon my life. Please pray that we are able to build relationships within the Catholic community, in order that we “may be mutually encouraged by one another’s faith,” (Romans 1:12). ##### We thank God for you and for your faithfulness in prayer. May He bathe your steps in butter (Job 29:6).
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Name: Jord
Date: Mon Jun 10 20:31:43 2002
I confess I was rooting against the Americans in their World Cup soccer match against Portugal Wednesday. I figured a close Portuguese victory would earn us some respect, but still allow our neighbors to amuse themselves with jokes at our expense. I was also afraid our apartment would be fire-bombed if the Americans won. Thankfully, I underestimated both the American footballers and the neighbors. Everyone has been very gracious in the wake of the American victory. I was sorry to see that Luis Figo did not have a better day for the Portuguese side, however. He is all the rage around here, and I had figured that with a good showing against the Yanks he might land himself a spot in the next Star Wars movie. ##### When Alvaro Azevedo began work February 1 as the Habitat Construction Assistant, it would have been easy to anticipate that one point of cultural contention between him and his American Construction Supervisor would be lunch. The typical Portuguese construction lunch is a warm, leisurely, hour-long affair at a local restaurant, accompanied by wine or beer, and followed by café. In America, construction guys sit in wheelbarrows or on piles of lumber or overturned buckets and eat cold half-hour lunches from a sack. Alvaro and I talked it over. We agreed that, as much as we enjoy one another’s company, we’d rather go home a half hour earlier at the end of the day. So we agreed on a short brown- bag lunch at the jobsite. All went well until last Monday, when I figured, in an efficient, American sort of way, we could combine lunch with some errands by eating in the truck as we drove. We got about fifty meters down the road when Alvaro asked, with no little consternation in his voice, “Are you going to stop the truck so we can have lunch?” We had agreed to abbreviate lunch, not to eliminate it, and to Alvaro’s mind, lunch is not lunch unless one stops working in order to rest as well as refuel. We turned around and went back to the jobsite and sat and ate in the shade. It was a lovely day, which I probably would hardly have noticed if it weren’t for those leisurely few minutes. One of the reasons moving to Portugal was attractive to me was because of my sense that the Portuguese might be able to teach me something about living a little more slowly. Sitting there at lunch on Monday I realized that the reason I had been so anxious to combine lunch with errands was fear. I thought, too, about how fear accounts for much of the running around we Americans do. Let me explain: I believe that Christ is my life (Philippians 1:21, Colossians 3:4). Often, however, as on Monday, I fall into the temptation of believing that my life depends upon something else, like building houses or getting a lot done. We had had a seemingly unproductive morning. My response, rather than keeping in mind that God is accomplishing His purposes through us, even when it appears as if we’re not getting much accomplished, and praising Him for it, was to become anxious, and to believe—without realizing it—that apparent low productivity constituted some sort of serious personal threat. Without thinking, I responded to that fear by wanting to work more and faster and more efficiently. Sitting down to rest and enjoy the sunshine and the trees and the wind, helped restore my sanity: “See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30). ##### Back in the 1960’s, when Julie Andrews had a bad day—when she got bitten by a dog or stung by a bee—it was her custom to bring to mind things that made her feel better, things like geese and gifts. Then, one imagines, in her continuing efforts to lift her spirits, she may have prepared some of her favorite foods. Well, that’s fine, but if you’re feeling a little disoriented because you’re in a strange western European country where they have a different word for everything, don’t try to comfort yourself by baking! The measurements are different, the temperatures are different, the equipment is different, and those chocolate chip cookies you’ve baked 100,000 times, earning yourself the accolades of thousands and the affection of small children, are likely to come out like hockey pucks or wet cement. Because the first wave of the Leaf family is leaving for England tomorrow, I thought I would make them some of Karen Fergason’s chocolate chip banana bread, in order to express affection in the way that only chocolate chip banana bread can. The charred shell is laying on the counter now, the gooey center having been devoured by opportunistic family members. Maybe we’ll just call the Leafs to say goodbye. ##### Speaking of the Leafs, on top of everything else, they loaned us a book that both Debbie and I have enjoyed and would recommend to parents: How to Really Love Your Child, by Ross Campbell. Debbie says it comes pretty close to saying what she would have liked to say if she were to write a book about parenting. ##### We’re trying to work out the details of our move, whether to move mid-month, as soon as the Leafs leave, so that we can be at the house to care for Jiber, the Leaf’s dog who, in accordance with international pet-travel law cannot join them in England for six months, or whether to remain here so that Drex can finish the school year across the street from school. We also need to make wise decisions about other miscellaneous matters, like health insurance and the shipping of our belongings to Portugal. Would you please ask God to give us the wisdom we lack (James 1:5). ##### Please continue to pray for Austin’s national college entrance exam preparations. She is trying to keep her nose to the grindstone, and is finding it difficult. ##### It was a good week for Habitat in terms of lining up future projects. No land yet, but some promising rehab stuff. I’ve got lots to do to prepare for a July full of Global Village Volunteers. Please pray that God would glorify Himself in all we do and that many people would trust in Him in response to our testimony. ##### Thanks for praying for Debbie’s English teaching. She is enjoying it. Please continue to pray that God will show us how to get the family time we need around her teaching schedule. ##### Thank you for praying for us. It is a huge blessing to be connected with you through prayer.
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Name: Jord
Date: Tue Jun 11 00:06:33 2002
I forgot to ask you to pray for another important thing having to do with the mother of Alexandre, Drex's buddy who lives next door. Her name is Sameiro (sa MY roo) and the skin of her legs is inflamed in spots in a way that is causing her tremendous pain but that doctors have not been able to identify. She is due to see a specialist today, I believe. Will you please ask God to heal her right now. Thank you.
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Name: Jord
Date: Tue Jul 23 05:58:31 2002
Dear Friends, Owing to technical difficulties, we have been unable to post Prayer and Praise updates to the website for several weeks. This, combined with a level of busy-ness that has left me far behind on all accounting and correspondence, has prevented me from writing. One result is an uncomfortable sense of disconnectedness. Ever since our Portuguese odyssey began, correspondence has been for me a helpful tool for maintaining connectedness and equilibrium. I was talking about this with Carrie Mitchell, who along with younger sister Emily, traveled out of her way to Braga to see us while on European holiday celebrating their respective graduations from Duke University and Ballard High School. Like me, and like a bat sending out impulses in the dark, Carrie is emitting copious correspondence as she goes. We agreed that correspondence helps keep one oriented. ##### Just before the Mitchells arrived, Bob, Jenny and Ellie Peters, friends and neighbors from Seattle, were with us for two weeks. Our time together was a blessing, and we are thankful for their willingness to cross a continent and an ocean to see us. It was especially fun to have Drex and Ellie together, as they continue to take great pleasure in one another’s company. ##### I thought of another reason why I like clothes lines (see the January 27, 2002, P & P update). I was hanging laundry to dry recently when I was impressed with what a wonderfully sane thing it is to do. By sane I mean connected to reality. So many aspects of modern life are disconnected from reality. We buy food in supermarkets far removed from where it is produced. We live and work in buildings far off the ground. We fly across time zones and talk with people on the other side of the globe. These are disorienting, disconnected, mildly insane. But even in the midst of these unsettling developments, God in His mercy has so constituted us that we must engage in certain activities that bring us back to earth. We are not clever enough to impose these disciplines upon ourselves if they were not imposed upon us. They are eating, sleeping, washing, and going to the bathroom. They force us to stop and care for ourselves in ways that bring tremendous, one might even say luxurious, comfort. You may say, “Neither my bed, nor my bath, nor my repast is luxurious.” But one need be sleepless only a night or hungry only a day to discover how luxurious is any sleep or any crust of bread. One hangs laundry to dry today as it has been hung for millennia. It brings one into direct contact and dependence upon sun and wind. Therein lies another element of its genius. By subjecting oneself to the elements, one opens oneself to being frustrated by their caprice. Regular practice with small frustrations prepares one for larger frustrations when they come. ##### You will think me odd, but in order to give you the whole story, though, I must go further, and tell you of the strange and powerful significance drying laundry has taken on for me since moving to Portugal. It has become almost like a calling card of the Holy Spirit. I was in Lisbon a week ago, feeling the crush and cacophony of the city I hadn’t seen for two years and relishing it, when suddenly I saw clothes hanging out to dry, high above the street. I felt uplifted, just as if I were a sock myself, lovingly lifted from the wash tub and suspended upon the breeze. Saturday we went to watch a dance performance that included Drex’s little friend, Ana Neri, and which was held in a part of town where most of the buildings are crumbling and gray. Against this drab backdrop of neglect, a load of drying laundry, like a bouquet of freshly picked flowers, spoke from a second story balcony of immediacy and attention and care. For me, laundry fluttering on the breeze presents a striking contrast to the colossal churches that also make up a large part of the landscape here. It is a contrast, not just of texture and hue, but of the work of God. I do not care for the churches. Their dusty relics and gilded ceilings and unwashed blocks speak to me of death and decay and oppression. Drying laundry fairly sings of the work of the Holy Spirit now. Loving, serving, caring, cleansing, blowing where it wills (John 3:8). ##### I suffered this week from much anxiety about all sorts of things related to work. I’ve said this here in other ways before, but I realized that my anxiety level, like mercury in a thermometer, is an accurate gauge of my level of trust in God. Anxiety goes up because trust in God shrinks. When trust, like the air at the top of the thermometer, expands, anxiety goes down. In thermometers and theology, this is cool. I’ve got to set my mind on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2). Please ask God to give me the grace to do so, and also the ability to catch up on work in the midst of a month packed with international Habitat volunteers. ##### Debbie continues to enjoy her English teaching. Please continue to pray that we are wise and creative in handling our busy schedules. ##### Austin has been passing the time, while waiting for college entrance exam results, by building friendships here and in Lisbon. When we returned from Lisbon after several days there with the Peters, she remained, in order to spend more time with friends. God has been very gracious in connecting her to a group of young Christians there and in giving her great enthusiasm for the city and the university she hopes to attend there in the fall. ##### I feel as if we are in survival mode until the end of the month, when we’ll have a break in the flow of Habitat volunteers and more time to get settled in our new house. Please pray that our spiritual house will remain secure, even as it is buffeted by unusually high activity and transition (Matthew 7:24-25). ##### Thank you for your prayers and your love. May the Lord bless you this week.
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Name: Jord
Date: Tue Jul 23 06:01:39 2002
The Global Village volunteer team from Northern Ireland left Thursday and a different team of fourteen people from all over the U.S. arrived Friday. The Northern Ireland team was the most praying team I’ve had; this U.S. team appears to be one of the most secular. Working with these teams is by far my favorite part of the construction supervisor job, but packing them in like this is tiring. It’s a little like being a camp director and a building contractor at the same time. To further complicate things, we are now spread out over more than one jobsite. One job site is 35 minutes away from the others. This makes for a logistical circus. One of the more precarious acts in the show is the tool and equipment routine. Our problems with tool security are exacerbated by spreading them out all over Braga. We’re considering buying a used truck that could serve as a mobile job shack and carry all our equipment wherever we go. Without that, we’re constantly guessing what we’re going to need at the next site, and these guesses are always incomplete. Between translating languages and translating tools, we could expend the larger part of each day’s energy. Please ask God to solve our tool puzzle and to give us supernatural energy. Also, please pray for Lee, a member of the departed Northern Irish team, who is, at present, what we might call a spiritual inquirer. That is, intrigued (but doubtful) about spiritual things and open to considering them. Pray that God would “fan into flame” (2 Timothy 1:6) the little light of his faith. Ask Him to bless and reveal Himself to the volunteer team that is with us for the next two weeks: Jim, Kathy, Mary Lee, Betsy, Vincent, Jack, Marian, Susanne, Tiffany, Denise, Janet, Galen, Marie, Robert and Jeff, but especially for my conversations with Jim, who is returning from last summer and with whom I had extensive spiritual discussions, especially during morning walks we took together, and which we plan to take again this year. ##### It’s exciting to hear that our church in Seattle is considering sending a Global Village team of volunteers next summer. There are several other groups in the U.S.—-churches, colleges, athletic programs—-with whom I’d like to establish relationships so they regularly send us volunteers. A couple of weeks building houses for needy people in Portugal is such a sensible part of any European holiday! May the Lord prosper us in this way by sending us both the work and the workers. ##### Debbie filled in all week for a sick colleague at the Wall Street Institute of English. The Institute paid Austin to watch Drex. ##### Drex and I are planning to spend this afternoon at the beach along with Alexandre, our little former neighbor. Debbie’s going to stick around and see if she can get the website running again. ##### Austin expects to receive her college entrance exam results this week. ##### We thank God for you and your prayers. “On Him we have set our hope, that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” 2 Corinthians 1:11.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Aug 4 12:02:44 2002
Two weeks ago, Austin got the results of the Calculus and English college-entrance exams she took last month. On the calculus test, she would have been content with a 12 (out of 20). 14 would have been great. She got a 15. To put that in perspective, her grade on the English exam, a subject she knows fairly well in comparison to other Portuguese high school students, was 17. Armed with the test scores, she made application to the university programs of her choice, with Economics at the Novo Universidade de Lisboa at the top of the list. In what seems to the American observer like a mean trick, incoming Portuguese freshman do not find out into which programs they’ve been accepted until late September, just before school begins. So now Austin waits some more. But to reiterate what I think I have mentioned here before, we are all very thankful that Austin was forced to wait this year before beginning college. Not only was it great for her Portuguese, it was a chance for all of us to spend time with her after years of only occasionally crossing paths, owing to her busy schedule. Austin made the observation that the time she has spent getting acquainted with Drex this year may provide the basis for a lifelong friendship. Notwithstanding occasional differences of opinion, they have tremendous affection for one another. Had she left a year ago, they might have been virtual strangers. God be praised for the way He directs our steps (Proverbs 20:24). ##### We celebrated our children’s Portuguese academic accomplishments last night with a dinner out and presents. Austin received her very own cell phone (011-351-968-813-602), which was exactly what she wanted, as a small token of our esteem for having qualified for university and for having become sufficiently fluent in her third language to begin using it in pursuit of a degree. Cell phone in hand, she pronounced herself a “social butterfly.” Drex got a Super-Soaker squirt gun, which was exactly what he wanted, in appreciation for his hard work in becoming sufficiently fluent in Portuguese as to be indistinguishable—in reading, writing and speaking—from a native of the same age. In accomplishing these tasks, each of them faced and overcame great confusion, frustration and loneliness. They proved themselves to be true explorers and adventurers, and consequently, we have nominated them for membership in the National Geographic Society (see It’s a Wonderful Life, the young George Bailey, in the soda shop). ##### Our second July team of Global Village volunteers, this one composed of people from all over the United States, left on the last day of the month. Thank you for praying for their time here, and especially for my conversations with team co-leader, Washington, D.C. attorney Jim Rogers. Despite my carefully crafted arguments on God’s behalf, the counselor remains unconvinced of his need for Him. Please pray that a seed has been planted in Jim’s heart that the Lord will bring to fruition. Thank you also for your prayers for Lee, the fellow from the volunteer team from Northern Ireland who is open to spiritual things. He and I have traded emails and I’ve suggested he give his countryman, C.S. Lewis, a try, as well as the Bible. He’s already been by a bookstore looking for Lewis (to no avail, which I don’t quite understand). He doesn’t have a Bible. Please pray that God would, “Send forth His light and His truth, and let them guide him; let them bring him to His holy mountain, to the place where He dwells. Then will he go to the altar of God, to God, his joy and his delight. He will praise You with the harp, O God, our God.” (Psalm 43:3-4). ##### Habitat priorities for August include: evaluating our volunteer-filled July to determine where we can improve and equip ourselves to handle whole years filled with volunteers; finally, finally, finally getting our twelve Palmeira families into their houses; beginning work on a single family home in Padim de Graça, a part of Braga, for the family of Francisco Veloso; rebuilding a roof and moving ahead with several other small projects; and taking some time off, in my case in order to celebrate my twentieth wedding anniversary. With the Palmeira families still waiting for water and electricity well over a year after their originally planned move in date, there is a powerful temptation to think of the project, and oneself as the construction supervisor, as a failure. But that would clearly be focusing on the wrong things, so one must resist that temptation, and focus instead on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—anything that is excellent or praiseworthy,” (Philippians 4:4-8), and there are certainly plenty of those things associated with the project, foremost among them for me being the truly affectionate relationships I now enjoy with many of the family members. Please pray that God would make much of those relationships and that we might be mutually encouraged by one another’s faith (Romans 1:12). ##### Your ministry of prayer for us is far more precious to us than gold, more glorious than great treasure. You are accumulating for us and for yourselves an “eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Thank you.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Aug 11 07:54:44 2002
God in His wisdom has ordained that the actual turning back into dust of our corporal frame should be preceded naturally by a protracted migration of mass in that direction. So it is with a sense of Divine revelation that one watches one’s hair and one’s heft descend from the crown of one’s head and the breadth of one’s shoulders, to the lobes of one’s ears and the space at one’s center, respectively. (Some of these ear hairs, like passengers left alone on the deck of a sinking ship, panic, and throw themselves overboard at impossible angles). In the men in my family, this descent culminates in a profound congress of fluid about one’s lower legs, affording one the pleasure of admiring one’s grandchildren—a great blessing—from a comfortable chair. I confess some trepidation at the prospect of this process which the Lord has begun in me (Philippians 1:5), but in this, as in all matters of life and faith, one must trust in Him and His better judgement. Perhaps His purpose here is to counteract our natural tendency to take ourselves more seriously as we get older. He has endowed children and young people with their appealing forms in order that they may be given the serious attention they require. The aging figure assumes its more comical aspect in order that we may better forget ourselves. We do well to take ourselves lightly. The more serious our tasks, the more we may be sure that success or failure is outside our control. God has already finished all the really serious work (Hebrews 4:3, John 19:30). What He requires of us is childlike trust and joy and hope in the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13). At the same time, I have been trying this week to attend to all of my duties, even the most mundane, with a priestly spirit (1 Peter 2:9), as if each task, whether drilling holes or sweeping floors or sitting in traffic, is a sacramental exercise which I have been called to administer. This is the spirit of lighthearted worship with which I would like the rest of my life to be filled. ##### June we moved and enjoyed a visit from the Peters family from Seattle. July was packed with international Habitat volunteers. Now I’m trying to recover and establish routines in our new home. One must find new places for everything. Where will one sit for coffee and prayer in the morning? Where will one drink wine and talk with one’s spouse in the evening? Where will one write? Where will one keep one’s tools? All of these questions, and many more like them, must be answered, and until they are, the ordinary tasks that make up the larger part of daily life happen only fitfully. ##### Even in their absence, the Leaf family continues to bless us: we have begun harvesting vegetables from the garden they left behind. One evening this week, we dined outdoors on grilled sardines—purchased fresh that morning from the mobile fish monger whose blaring horn marks the beginning of each day here on Rua 5 de Outubro—grilled green peppers, grilled zucchini steaks, cut from zucchinis the size of small cannons, fresh bread and regional wine. The only cloud over the evening was my sense of impending loss, that our family of four will soon be three, when Austin leaves for school. Of course this is a mingled sensation of joy and hope and grief, along with delight at the appropriate passing from one season to another. I have been preparing for it from her birth, but there is still a certain blessed tearing involved. Who would have it otherwise? ##### Please pray for Austin this week as she is attending a Christian camp with her friends from Lisbon. She is very excited about the chance to further build these relationships. Pray especially for her speaking of Portuguese, as she will get little relief from it. ##### Our plans to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary this week have undergone a comical devolution since my original thoughts of a romantic weekend in Paris. They’ve netted out to several days in a rented house in Tras-as-montes, the Appalachia of Portugal, with our six-year-old. Tras-as-montes (literally, “Beyond the Mountains”) is currently on fire. Please pray that God makes it a worthy kickoff party for our next two decades and that Drex and I catch lots of trout (John 21:3). ##### Please ask God to give us wisdom in planning with respect to the length of our time in Portugal. Marta Pego e Pinto, the Habitat Executive Director, said this week she’d be happy to have me continue as construction supervisor indefinitely. We feel as if there is lots more for God to do with us here. We are considering bringing over our furniture and our car. ##### Thank you for your prayers. The Lord bless you and keep and make His face to shine upon you this week (Numbers 6:24-6).
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Aug 18 08:45:32 2002
After writing last week about Austin’s imminent, heartrending departure, I was reminded of another Dad who sent his firstborn away, not to earn a degree in Lisbon, but to be nailed to a tree. It is good to know that we have a God who understands our suffering (Hebrews 2:18, 4:15, 2 Corinthians 1:3-5). ##### Apparently, no one prayed as I asked you to last week, that Drex and I would catch trout on our trip to Tras-as- montes. That’s good, because had you done so we probably would have been arrested, because the trout season ended in Tras-as-montes at the end of July. Because of this, however, our proprietors, who include fishing on their website list of enticements, felt obligated to find us some, so they made an outing of it, invited friends that included a master fisherman, and led us twenty kilometers north near the Spanish border where the quarry was a finger size white fish. Drex delighted everyone with his perfectly accented Portuguese and the força with which he yanked four of these little fellows onto the beach. After the sun went down everyone dumped their catch into Drex’s creel, bringing his take to one- hundred-fifty-three, all of which I had to clean. Fried and eaten like corn on the cob they were very tasty. We will probably still have some in the freezer whenever you can get here for a visit. ##### On the day of our departure, in a powerfully symbolic gesture, Drex took the carefully wrapped tile mural anniversary present I had purchased for Debbie months ago and dropped it on the floor, modifying it from nine to twenty-nine pieces. Drex’s meaning in this, in a spirit consistent with his overall contribution to our anniversary celebration, (see last week’s update), was that, while we would arrange our lives along clean, orderly delineations that nicely reflect our tastes and priorities, God has other things in mind. Through our relationships, especially our relationships with children, and through our own brokenness, He creates a picture that is much messier and complicated and—-to His tastes at least—-more beautiful, than we would ever have imagined. This has been the story of our twenty years of marriage. I have aspirations of mounting the broken pieces of the mural on a piece of plywood and turning it into a serving tray, in another symbolic gesture. ##### Our friends Mary Beth Steele, Bob Oakes, and their three-year-old son, Griffin, arrived this week. It is wonderful to be with them and to be mutually encouraged by one another’s faith (Romans 1:11-12). Please pray for our time together, that it is a great and enduring blessing. Both M.B. and Bob have expressed a willingness to help out at the Habitat jobsite. Please pray that, too, is fruitful. ##### Thanks for praying for Austin’s time at camp. She’s due to return Tuesday. It sounds from brief messages and conversations as if she is having a great time. ##### Please pray for my work. Though I have caught up a bit on the most important things, I am still quite a ways behind. ##### Please continue to pray for the planning Debbie and I are doing, both long and short term. We’re trying to figure out how to arrange our autumn in order to best serve the various needs involved (Proverbs 16:9). ##### May the Lord bless you this week for your faithfulness in prayer for us. We cannot possibly thank you enough.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Aug 25 09:04:43 2002
One of the nice things about parenting a second child twelve years after the first is that one has had plenty of time to improve one’s strategy. Parenting in my twenties, I thought myself clever when Austin would say, “I don’t want to,” and I would respond with, “That’s O.K., sweetheart, you don’t have to want to, you only need to do it.” Now, however, when Drex says the same thing, I employ the vastly superior, “That’s great! It’s important for you to learn to do cheerfully things that you don’t want to do, and this will be perfect practice!” (perhaps adding, threateningly, “Can you think of anything else you don’t want to do?”) Now that Drex is accustomed to this response, when he says he doesn’t want to do something, it is often enough to summarize by saying, “Great!” or “Perfect!” to get him to press ahead so as to avoid the attending sermonette. We’ll celebrate Drex’s 7th birthday this Friday, the 30th. Please ask God to bless him specially and to give us wisdom in parenting him. ##### Alvaro and I are due to begin the reconstruction of a roof tomorrow, as part of our Habitat “Homework” program, together with a cadre of international volunteers consisting of Bob Oakes and Mary Steele from the United States and Kateline Pap from Hungary. Please ask the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom concerning the technical aspects of the job that need to be resolved, pray that it does not rain while the roof is off, and pray that we are able to finish in about two weeks, so that we have time to prepare for our next Global Village Team, which is due to arrive September 13 from the U.S. ##### Early in the week I was assailed by a spirit of despair. The world, in the form of my to-do list, closed in around me and nearly paralyzed me. For about twenty-four hours I had to concentrate just to get one foot in front of the other. But my family prayed for me and the Lord delivered me (Psalm 40:2), largely through Debbie, who helped me get a handle on my schedule. It is amazing the difference between the same to-do list looked at on the hand with a spirit of overwhelmedness and oppression, and on the other hand with a spirit of victory, power, love and a sound mind (Romans 8:37, 2 Corinthians 2:13, 2 Timothy 1:7). I am not unaccustomed to the feeling of being squashed like a grape, and I do not despise it (Proverbs 3:11- 12, Hebrews 12:5-11), but it is unpleasant. Paul says, “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” (2 Corinthians 1:8-11). Though Paul’s “ability to endure,” greatly surpassed my own (2 Corinthians 11:23-30), I share his appreciation both for God’s deliverance and for your prayers.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Sep 8 08:38:17 2002
It’s a good thing you’re praying it doesn’t rain too much on the house whose roof we’ve torn off. If you weren’t, I’d probably be scratching out this message from on board a life raft. We’ve gotten quite a bit of rain. We’ve been out to the house a couple of times on days off, including yesterday, to check on our tarps. After we put on a third one yesterday, Bob Oakes, who builds houses in Seattle and is part of the crack international construction consortium that has undertaken this project, observed that the house is probably dryer with the tarps than it has been in fifty years. Lord willing, we will have all the new tiles on the roof in a week and a half. ##### The Habitat volunteer of the week was Katalin Pap, a small, bespectacled Hungarian economics graduate, who has worked tirelessly. Kateline reminds one of another thoughtful, diminutive female who conveys a spirit of some timidity until presented with a power tool, Seattleite Audre Mote. At one point, Katalin fell partially through the house’s frail ceiling, but was undeterred by the significant abrasions she suffered. After collecting herself for a minute and a half, she returned to her task of cutting new rafters. On top of all this, last Saturday she presented Drex with one of the things he had hoped for most for his birthday, a hamster, though she had no way of knowing of his passion for little critters, figuring only that if the gift flopped she had space in her small apartment for a furry roommate. All of this is not to diminish the contribution of Bob Oakes and Mary Steele, both of whom have worked hard and gotten very dirty for the sake of Dona Maria Joiquina’s new roof. Dona Maria has been very appreciative of our work, even if we have made a tremendous mess and chased her—temporarily—from her home. Her five-year-old grandson, Bruno, who shares her house, appreciates us more when we bring Drex along. Please pray for Katalin, who has said that she would like to believe in Jesus Christ, but cannot. ##### The enemy of the week was a spirit of frustration, which seemed to assail me at every turn. The Portuguese often seem not just disinterested in efficiency, but seditious towards it, recognizing it as a threat to their languid, wholehearted approach to life. Perhaps the most familiar manifestation of this sentiment is the Portuguese propensity for parking one’s vehicle in traffic on narrow city streets, leaving other drivers to wait or contrive extraordinary means of circumnavigation. Double-parking is so common that parking spaces next to the curb are left vacant because they carry the risk of being hemmed- in by double parkers. Monstrous inefficiencies like these pose no small threat to the equilibrium of the American accustomed to having things organized for expediency. All the books on overseas living predict that a time will come when quaint cultural differences of this kind lose much of their charm, but few of those books endorse prayer as a remedy. When I forget that God will accomplish His purposes here in northern Portugal in His good time and not according to my ideas about efficiency, as I did a number of times this week, my body responds with a series of unhealthy chemical reactions. Please pray that the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). ##### Debbie and I saw very little of each other this week, owing to our respective work schedules, and that was difficult. We did have a lovely dinner out alone together last night, however, which almost made up for it. Please continue to pray that we get the time together we need. ##### Please ask God to give Drex great enthusiasm for school, which begins September 16. ##### Please continue to pray that Austin is accepted to the Universidade Nova de Lisboa. She will find out one way or the other September 24, and then, if she’s accepted, she’ll be expected at orientation on the 25th. The short notice seems very strange to us, and makes planning difficult. ##### You are very precious to us. Thank you for your prayers. The Lord bless you this week.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Sep 15 15:36:31 2002
A fly landed on my Bible while I was reading the other morning. I watched him hurriedly brush his wings and rub his clever hands together like a greedy old man. I thought God must enjoy these little creatures He made. He must think it’s funny, the way He made them to imitate human gestures on such a tiny scale. I’ll bet they make Him laugh. ##### On Monday I attended the 30th Annual World Construction Congress of the International Association of Housing Science. I took along about thirty pounds of books to read during the four hour round trip train ride. I had no intention of reading all of them, or even from all of them. It’s something I do when I travel. It’s difficult to know what I may feel like reading en route. Portuguese? English? Light? Heavy? Encouraging? Newsy? Taking along a voluptuous array of choices builds anticipation for the hours of solitude. Lugging the books around is good exercise, too. ##### One of the people who presented a paper at the conference was a professor from Virginia Tech. His amiability and his being from the United States were enough to make me want to chat with him afterwards, but when he sat down I noticed that he wrote with his left hand, which made me want to talk with him more. I appreciate left- handedness. I’ve always wished I were left-handed, and not just because it adds fifteen points to your batting average. They’ve always been great pitchers, too (Judges 20:16). But the main attraction for me is that left-handers have an edge when it comes to creativity—and rebellion—as has been well documented, because they are forced from childhood to think differently as a consequence of their being oriented differently. Homosexuals are disproportionately creative for the same reason. The status quo never did them any good. Thinking differently, which is virtually synonymous with thinking creatively, is a fulltime job for them. It makes left-handed people, and homosexuals, interesting people to talk with. Sadly, the professor from Virginia Tech left early. ##### Please pray for the Global Village team of volunteers that is here this week from the United States. Beda, Ed, Jean, Anne, Joanne, Heather, Jen, Charlie, Bob, Janet, and Sharon are a cheerful, willing group and we should have a fun and fruitful week. Pray that God makes it so, and that all of them would be encouraged by our witness to trust in Jesus Christ. ##### Please pray for our neighborhood here in Braga, a part of town called Tenões. Pray that we would be a blessing to our neighbors and that God would show us how to serve them. Pray that God would open doors so that we can pray with them. Pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit here. ##### My older sister, Kendi, a Michigan attorney, is very sick and we don’t yet know the cause. Would you please pray for her spiritual and physical health. ##### May the Lord bless you this week for your love and faithfulness towards us. ##### Tune in next week when we consider the tricky moral question: Should a Christian athlete “fake out” an opponent?
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Sep 22 10:42:31 2002
Austin was accepted into all six university programs to which she applied, she discovered via internet yesterday (http://acesso2002.fccn.pt/col1res.asp?BI=22061203&Nome=&search=P rocurar). Thanks be to God, and thank you for your prayers. Lord willing, she’ll begin classes at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa this Thursday, the 26th. Please pray for her this week, as she prepares to leave, travels with her belongings to Lisbon and gets settled in her new home. She’ll be living at the Lisbon Biblical Institute and commuting an hour each way to class. That may seem strange, but it is the result of God having already provided her with a group of close Christian friends and a church in Lisbon, and those relationships leading her to the Biblical Institute. In order to live there, she’s required to take at least one class, in addition to her classes at UNL. My feelings about Austin’s departure are colored by recollections of my own departure from home in Michigan to the University of Washington in Seattle in 1979. I did not realize at the time the extent to which that move was indeed a departure. Flying off with my new trunk and typewriter didn’t seem earth-shaking, and when I went home that first Christmas little seemed to have changed. But I was henceforward a guest in my parent’s home. Their household made decisions largely independent of me, and I developed an agenda of my own. The countdown was over. I had been launched into orbit, screaming through space I knew not whither. Thankfully, Austin has a much better sense of direction than I. ##### Drex started school Tuesday, had an affectionate reunion with his friends and a great week. Please pray for his reading, that God will give him a passion for it and clarity between languages. ##### Debbie hopes to take advantage of Drex’s being in school all day and begin school herself, taking Portuguese classes at the nearby University of Minho. Please ask God to bless her in that. ##### At Habitat, we said goodbye yesterday to this summer’s last Global Village team of volunteers. What a blessing they were and what fun they had, replacing the roof, rebuilding the ceilings, painting and tiling at the home of Dona Maria Jouquina! She, her two children and her grandson have a dry home for the first time in many, many years, thanks to the team’s efforts. Please pray especially for team members Jennifer Wynn and Heather Lynch, good friends and colleagues at the Gap in San Francisco, whose interest in spiritual things was piqued. Please pray for our efforts to arrange a follow-up with a contact in San Francisco, and pray that they decide to put their trust in Jesus. Would you please also ask God to raise up Christians to serve on our Habitat Construction Committee and Board of Directors? ##### As I sat last Sunday evening in the central praça of Braga watching Drex play on the playground, the wind worried the trees and tossed the clouds, which in turn played tricks with the waning sun. Electricity accumulated in the air. A jillion marching rain feet could be heard, it seemed, on the hills. The unfolding drama reminded me of the Dramatist, who carries us from season to season as from scene to scene, filling us with anticipation, excitement and hope at the working out of His will in our lives and the lives around us. Thank you for walking with us. May the Lord bless you this week.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Oct 6 10:42:40 2002
This is a Special Edition of the Kleber Family Prayer and Praise Update. This week, for the first time, our readership includes our daughter Austin, who now lives in Lisbon, Portugal, and will use this update as a means of keeping up on the family’s hijinks here in Braga. ##### The Portuguese have a verb, aproveitar, of which they are extremely fond. They doubt whether anyone who is not Portuguese will ever understand the nuanced force of this word, but it is roughly translated, “to make the most of.” When our English Bibles tell us, in Ephesians 5:16, to make the most of our time, the Portuguese use this word aproveitar. Well, taking your firstborn off to college is certainly something that makes you want to “aproveita bem o tempo.” Your child’s annual school pictures, beginning with kindergarten, run together in your mind like a motion picture, over and over again, as your system tries to regain its equilibrium after having a significant portion of your family’s total mass removed. You leave your child, for whose welfare you would sacrifice anything, in a room not so small that two people could not occupy it simultaneously, providing they stand and do not think at the same time, and you realize that you are in a different league; the rules have changed. So when you get home and look again at the children that are still there, and the wife, you say to God, “Please give me the grace to be present, and to pay very close attention. In Jesus name, amen.” ##### It helps a lot that God has provided Austin with a great group of Christian friends—more than she’s had at any time in her life—and a wonderful little church, which we had the pleasure of visiting last Sunday. The music and worship were reminiscent of our church in Seattle. It was by far the best time of worship I’ve had in Portugal. Austin’s first full week of school apparently went well, despite an elaborate Portuguese ritual of freshman hazing. Please ask God to give Austin friends at the university and direction in choosing her involvements. ##### When we arrived home from Lisbon, Debbie cleaned the entire house thoroughly. This, she realized, is how she copes with change, and it made her feel better. In the process, she generated a box of junk, which I threw on top of a load of construction debris in the back of the Habitat truck. When Dona Maria Jouquina, the lady whose house we were working on, saw the box, she asked if she could have it and its contents. The following morning, she proudly pointed out the floor mat she had recovered, which has a new home just inside her front door. Debbie, like Austin, has begun school, at the University of Minho nearby, studying Portuguese. Being a student in the morning and a teacher of English in the evening is enough, even for her. Please continue to pray that in the midst of our busy-ness everyone’s emotional and spiritual tank gets filled, to borrow Ross Campbell’s expression. ##### With Austin absent, there is a discernable difference in the ambiance of our household. The balance of power has shifted. It’s as if Drex and I are camping, and Mom came along to read. Please pray that, as we reorganize and realign, God will arrange things so they everyone’s gifts are fully employed. ##### We are extremely thankful for your prayers and the connection we have with you as a result. May the Lord bless you this week for your kindness and affection towards us.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Oct 13 10:05:14 2002
I hadn’t thought much about the part of this job that comes after you’ve put a family accustomed to living in squalor into a simple, decent, affordable house. I went by the home of Dona Maria Jouquina at the end of the day Friday. She slept there Thursday for the first time in a month. With the furniture back in, a new roof, new ceilings, new tile floors, a new electrical system and fresh paint, the little house gleams like a palace. Dona Maria is ecstatic. When I reminded her that the foam insulation, donated by Dow for every house Habitat builds in the world and laid atop her ceilings, would make the house far more comfortable this winter, she called me a saint. It’s really a privilege to be able to help people. Dona Maria’s house was our first rehab project and it has been a triumph for our Habitat affiliate, thanks be to God. After the unending headaches and holdups we’ve had to deal with down the road in Palmeira, where we’ve just finished building twelve houses, how exhilarating it has been, drawing on the combined forces of international and local volunteers, to transform her little dwelling in a month! Though at times it looked as much like a circus as a jobsite, with the tiny rooms crammed with volunteers, I think everyone appreciated the opportunity to get to know the family and to see the problem first hand. Please continue to pray for Associação Humanitária Habitat in Portugal, asking God to give us the wisdom and resources we need to continue this work in His name. ##### A discussion arose recently in Drex’s classroom involving a teacher and touching upon the subject of America. “I was born in America,” Drex said to the professora. When he related the incident at dinner, Debbie and I looked at each other, both struck by his conspicuous choice of words. He had not said, “I am an American.” ##### Debbie’s brother and his wife, Butch and Julie Alford, gave Drex a guitar for his birthday. He has been practicing regularly this week and God has given Debbie and me “parental grace,” the supernatural parental capacity to hear and see tremendous beauty and find great joy in the rough beginnings of our children. It may seem a little trivial, but I would appreciate it if you would pray for Drex’s guitar playing. In a Christian home, where the joy of the Lord is, there ought to be music. Furthermore, I see music as potentially an important element in what Drex and I call his “Energy Management Program.” I have explained to Drex that he will probably always have extra energy and that it is his responsibility to manage it wisely. I expect there may be many times when having music as an outlet for his creative energy would come in very handy. ##### Debbie and Austin talked on the phone again this week until Austin’s phone battery died, long after I had gone to bed. She’s a little homesick, and her course load is tough—not to mention being in a foreign language—but I think she is well. Please do not let up praying that God would comfort and encourage her and be her strength. ##### A year ago I asked you here to pray for my balancing of work and family responsibilities (P & P Update, 10/14/02), and I proposed to keep careful track of my work hours in order to make sure that everyone was getting the time to which we had agreed. Well, I’ve accumulated about a week of overtime, which I need to give back to my family, but more importantly, I need to get better at being present with my family in mind and spirit when I am with them in person, rather than being distracted by work or other worries. Please ask God to give me the attention for my family that He Himself has for them. ##### It is extremely gracious of you to scroll through all of this in order to keep up to date with us and pray for us. May God deal graciously with you this week in return.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Oct 20 13:27:14 2002
Habitat got me a new cell phone this week which is roughly half the size of the old one which was roughly half the size of the one before that. At this rate cell phones will completely disappear in about ten years, or at least be invisible to the naked eye. They will probably be implanted in babies at birth so that parents can monitor and converse with their children continually. This will allow parents to work late and still get quality family time. Phone time will be free, paid for by advertisements that frequently interrupt conversations. Space will be packed with satellites. Sears and Roebuck will sell satellite kits. Satellite traffic law will be a growth industry. Many countries will use this as a means of disposing of their attorneys, sending them into orbit, perhaps colonizing other planets, the way England used to send people to Australia. In fact it will be discovered that black holes in space, previously believed to be masses so dense not even light can escape their gravitational pull, are simply colonies started by attorneys from other galaxies. ##### Someone asked me today if I enjoy living in Portugal. In considering how to respond I realized that if I ever really learn to speak Portuguese, so that I can operate at a deep level and really dig in in my relationships, I’m going to love it. The Portuguese people I know, I love. The superficiality of my language skills alienates me from the majority. But I would love to know the Portuguese soul and carry on with it in that exotic pantomime of dramatic gestures and rolled r’s. ##### One of the things I like about living in Portugal is the connection I feel with other immigrant fathers, especially men who brought their families to the United States during the 19th and early 20th centuries. I envision these men in undershirts and slippers, unshaven, shuffling around little dwellings in New York or New Jersey, struggling to make a new life for themselves and their families in a new country and a new language, trying to understand baseball, regarded with curiosity and amusement by neighborhood children who never understood what they were trying to say. I’ve always believed that must have been a difficult thing for those men to do, and I was right. But it makes me feel good to suffer a little, sort of like they did. ##### One of the things that makes Austin’s life difficult is that she is following an American cultural pattern in Portugal. It is not Portuguese to leave home for college. All the Portuguese kids she goes to school with go home on the weekends. Imagine being alone in a college dorm every weekend. No wonder she’s a little homesick. Thank God for the support He has given her—the friends and the church. Please pray for her, that God is very present to her, encouraging and comforting in special ways. ##### The time has come—earlier than anticipated owing to economic conditions—for Habitat for Humanity International to allow our affiliate to “sink or swim” on its own. For the past couple of years, HFHI has provided over $15,000 per month to fund our building and administration. Not any more. They are reducing their support to almost nothing. Aside from what we have been receiving from them, we receive less than $2000 in donations per month regularly. This puts us in a position, metaphorically, very much like the situation faced by Moses and the Israelites when they were looking at the Red Sea and the Egyptians were bearing down on them from behind (Exodus 14:10). Unless God does something dramatic, we are going to be crushed. We could be forced out of business at the end of the year. The Israelites did the right thing. They cried out to God. So are we. We are meeting Monday mornings, before our regular staff meeting, for special prayer seeking God’s direction and deliverance. We know God loves work done on behalf of the poor (Isaiah 58:10). He certainly has the resources to provide us with everything we need in order to carry on this work in His name (Psalm 50:9-15). Would you please cry out to Him, along with us, on our behalf? Moses said to the Israelites, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.” (Exodus 14:13). ##### “In the morning, O Lord, You hear our voice; in the morning we lay our requests before You and wait in expectation.” (Psalm 5:3). ##### Thank you for your prayers. May the Lord bless you this week.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Oct 27 09:47:09 2002
Sandy, like me a talkative person, is from Scotland, and until recently taught English with Debbie at the Wall Street Institute. He and I were discussing the sensual, fluid phenomenon of speaking in one’s native language. As quickly as ideas come into your head they become words and pour like honey from your lips. It is good for the soul. Too little of it leaves one with an uncomfortable feeling of both deprivation and excess, like being very hungry and needing to go to the bathroom at the same time. This is the condition in which we find Austin this week. Her friends at church are wonderful and patient, but at the university people quickly loose interest in attending to the faltering conjugations of the foreigner. They glance at their watches. They clear their throats. They politely excuse themselves and kiss you goodbye on each cheek. Please pray for her. If I were God, I would solve the problem for her in two ways: First, I would give her a powerful sense of My Presence with her and My great interest in everything she thinks, and secondly, I would expedite her apprehension of complex conjugations. But feel free to discuss with God any ideas you or He may have. Only ask Him to implement them “O mais rápido possível.” Also, please pray for Sandy, who does not believe in God, for his salvation and that of his entire household. ##### A year ago here (Prayer and Praise Update, Sunday 21 October 2001) I asked you to pray that God would raise up for me a Christian friend, that we might “be mutually encouraged by one another’s faith.” (Romans 1:12). I have learned to appreciate close friendship much more by being without it here in Portugal. But I am very thankful to report that the pastor of our church, an American missionary named Steve Mosely, and I have been meeting regularly for a couple of months for prayer, accountability and friendship. What a relief! The day after we met for the first time, I noticed within me a certain lightheartedness and thought, “What is that? Ahhh, yes, I remember, I have a friend.” ##### When playing soccer with Drex I find that I can run a little if I run with mincing steps, like a water buffalo in a tight skirt. It is a strange feeling, having enjoyed amicable relations with my extremities for so long, I now find myself in a position similar to that of the European Union in relationship to Portugal. “They helped put us on the map many years ago,” they say in Brussels, “but they aren’t getting the job done anymore.” For their part, the Portuguese, and my legs, would like to be more responsive, but they just can’t seem to get themselves going. ##### Drex and I have introduced into our soccer a move called, “The Spin of Death,” made popular on construction sites throughout Kitsap County, Washington, by a builder named Bob Cummings during the last part of the 20th century. Upon suffering indignities or injuries of any magnitude, Bob would through his arms out and spin in a manner reminiscent of Peggy Fleming or a screw being driven into wood. The Spin of Death closes with its author an inanimate heap on the ground. The significance of this in soccer is that World Championships turn upon competitor’s ability to convince officials that a felony has been perpetrated against them. Now, if you’re an American, you may be thinking of basketball, where the players are famous for their acting. But think about it: one goal in soccer is proportionately equivalent to fifty points in basketball. Soccer players bring to their acting energy proportionate to the value of their performances being favorably received. Break-dancers could take inspiration from the writhings of the “futebolistas.” We were disappointed to note during the World Cup this summer that the Americans demonstrated an alarming disinclination to carry on this way. This is nothing but pride and foolishness on the part of the Americans, and it is keeping Bob Cummings from the fame he deserves. Prior to the next World Cup, the Americans should schedule a retreat with Bob, who is now near Billings, where he can get them spinning towards glory. ##### As for Associação Humanitária Habitat, there’s not much new to report. Our Board of Directors is writing to Habitat for Humanity International in Budapest to ask if they will reconsider their decision to cut us off. I will be surprised if they do. Having built 100,000 between 1975 and 2000, the HFHI ambition is to build the next 100,000 by 2005. I’m afraid we build too little and too expensively to merit further subsidy. I do not have the feeling that Habitat Braga figures into long-term HFHI plans. What this means for the Kleber family, God knows and we will find out. We would like to stay in Portugal. If we remain, I will need to take time to focus on learning Portuguese as everything I can think of doing would require a measure of fluency. Beyond that, very little is certain. But thanks be to God, our house is built upon the Rock, and the rain may come and the streams may rise and the wind may blow and beat against it, (Matthew 7:24-25) yet, Lord willing, it will stand firm and songs of rejoicing will come forth from it (Jeremiah 30:19). ##### Thank you for your love and prayers. May the Lord bless you this week.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Nov 3 10:01:19 2002
For some reason this house frequently loses electrical power or water supply. When it does, we are reminded how much we depend upon our utilities. We have to spend virtually all our time and energy doing the things that indoor plumbing and electricity enable us to do without thinking, and all the things upon which we ordinarily spend our time must wait. The situation is similar in the spiritual realm. “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him,” (Psalm 32:1-2). There could hardly be a greater understatement. One reason the Old Testament is at times so remarkably tedious is that significant portions are given to the extravagant lengths to which people must go to procure forgiveness for themselves, apart from Christ. Christ’s work on our behalf provides us with the spiritual utilities we need to live. Our days are illuminated by the light and liberty of having been forgiven, but often we hardly notice. Imagine if suddenly the forgiveness went out because they were working on the lines. For a few hours this afternoon, rather than just confessing your sins and appropriating God’s forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9)—the spiritual equivalent of flipping the light switch and turning on the faucet—you had to gather your family together and work out of the book of Numbers: “This is the offering made by fire that you are to present to the Lord: two lambs a year old without defect, as a regular burnt offering each day. Prepare one lamb in the morning and the other at twilight, together with a grain offering of a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with a quarter of a hin of oil from pressed olives . . . “ (28:3-5). You could forget about the ballgame, that’s for sure. ##### Austin’s friends have forbidden her to make jokes in Portuguese. It’s difficult for nice people. They’re trying so hard to not laugh at your language blunders and then you go and say something deliberately funny. They just stand there, horrified, trying to smile in an affectionate way that does not belie their confusion. It’s funny how humor has become a standard by which we measure our cultural progress. It is thought that humor represents an especially high level of cultural sensitivity. If you say something funny on purpose and Portuguese people get the joke, you get special cultural points. If a Portuguese person says something and all the Portuguese people laugh and you know why, you get special points for that, too. ##### Austin was home this weekend, which was wonderful for all of us. I think she is well. Thank you for your prayers for her ongoing acculturation at university. Please also pray for her midterm exams, which are coming up. ##### A few weeks ago Drex and I were chatting about life and I mentioned to him that one difficulty many men face is that they think about women more than they should. “That’s a problem for me now,” he said in earnest. “It will probably get worse,” I said. “Don’t tell me that!” he cried in dismay. As I tucked him in bed one night last week, he said he could not stop thinking about Ana Neri, the doe-eyed little gal he was so fond of last year. After a few weeks of getting reacquainted after the summer break, they have decided again to be “namorados.” In part thanks to Ana Neri and his other friends, and in part due to some success in learning, Drex is enjoying school. Thanks be to God. ##### Debbie and I continue to pray and consider what we will do post-Habitat if the situation there does not change. The first thing to do is to find out how long one may remain in the country after losing one’s job. In the U.S., it’s thirty days. I’m also intending to stop by the Colégio Luso Internacional de Braga, the English language primary school whose acronym, CLIB, is pronounced KLEEB, to ask about a teaching job. Teaching jobs are extremely scarce, we hear, so it would take a miracle, but miracles are our bread and butter. Please continue to ask God to direct us. ##### When I say here each week that we appreciate your prayers, I am not kidding. Your prayers are powerful and effective. We sincerely thank you. May God bless you this week.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Nov 17 12:12:10 2002
Does everyone who has young children have a copy of Gladys Hunt’s book, Honey For a Child’s Heart; the Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life? Has everyone made sure there is a copy in the home of their young grandchildren, nieces and nephews? I’m sorry we can’t afford to mail a copy to everyone we know. The Gates Foundation could do worse. Our tattered old copy dates back to Austin’s childhood, but it has taken on new importance here in Portugal where there is no lending library, much less one with children’s books in English, to browse. The last third of Ms. Hunt’s book is an extensive booklist for children of all ages, which I used this week in conjunction with amazonuk.com to order a stack of books for Christmas. Reading with children has been one of the very richest parts of my life, and Gladys Hunt has been my chief scout. Currently, of course, we’re traversing the land of seven-year-olds with Drex, and thanks to Ms. Hunt, I’m discovering people and places I never visited when I passed this way twelve years ago with Austin. For example, until recently I hadn’t met Meindert Dejong, a Dutch author whose books have been around for more than half a century. We recently finished his unusual, very sensitive, Shadrach, about the inner workings of four-year-old Davie’s heart, as he anticipates and then receives the gift of a pet rabbit. Somehow, with Austin, we also overlooked Eleanor Estes, and her Moffats, a single parent household growing up in the Midwestern United States in the 1930’s, that I love because they make me mindful of what my parent’s childhood may have been like. Ms. Estes corroborates one of my father’s stories which I always found incredible as a boy: an ice cream cone once cost a nickel. ##### We’re having guests after church today. People have stopped by before for one reason or another, but this is the first time, since we’ve lived in Portugal, that we’ve planned and prepared for guests, the way we used to so often in Seattle. I’ve been looking forward to it all week, in part because of the particular people who are coming, but largely because it feels so good to be practicing hospitality. Maybe if Habitat goes out of business we should fix up an old quinta and open a bed & breakfast. ##### At Habitat this week we discussed the possibility of expanding our “Homework” program to include home repairs of any kind for any one, in order to use the tools and equipment we already own, make enough money to keep the doors open and increase public awareness of our work. I also had a meeting with some missionaries from Oregon who have been here for thirty years and would like to build housing for drug addicts. I explained to them that they would probably not get a hearing for such a proposal from our board of directors under ordinary circumstances, but that these are not ordinary circumstances. Given the fact that we are short of work, perhaps something can be worked out. The Construction Committee suggested to the board of directors that we begin building the house for the Francisco Veloso family if we are able to raise $15,000 of the $40,000 required to complete the project. That would give us enough to pay a subcontractor to build the house’s concrete structure. It is not uncommon in Portugal to begin building without sufficient funds to finish and therefore to see buildings sit partially finished waiting for more money to become available. There was a sharp divide down the middle of the Construction Committee between people who would like to proceed according to the building code and others who would like to build in the most expedient way possible. Please ask God to bring us together, to direct us, and to glorify Himself in all we do. ##### Thank you for praying for us. May the Lord bless you this week.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Nov 24 13:45:30 2002
The Portuguese have an elegant little word, “Já,” which they use all the time and which they pronounce like the first and second syllables of the name, “Zha-Zha Gabor.” It means, “Already.” They use the word, all by itself, to quell one another’s fears. “Já,” they say, in a warm, reassuring voice, to mean, “I have already taken care of it.” It reminds me of what God has already done for us. The key to life is partaking of what God has already done. Já. He has already made provision for everything we need (2 Peter 1:2-4) and given those of us who put our trust in Him His Holy Spirit, in order that we may be always animated by His Spirit of power and love and soundness of mind. ##### At Habitat, the Board of Directors approved the recommendation of the Construction Committee to go ahead and use the money we currently have to build the concrete structure of the house of Francisco Veloso and his family, even though we don’t know from where the roughly 25,000€ necessary to complete the project will come. We also don’t know from where the money will come to pay salaries during the project. On Thursday we met with Sr. Veloso to ask if he wants to proceed, given these uncertainties, and he does. So we will press ahead and pray that God provides. That’s always been His specialty (Genesis 22:14). ##### All of that leaves our family’s situation just as uncertain as ever. Debbie and I continue to seek God’s direction about how long we can stay with Habitat. For the moment, we’re in. We’re told that between thirty and forty people showed up at a meeting at our church in Seattle for people interested in coming here next summer to help build. I wouldn’t want to miss that group. God has certainly arranged things in a way that keeps us mindful of our need for Him. Praise Him. ##### Blessed Thanksgiving to you all. We will miss being with you. As everyone knows, the holidays make the discomfort of being apart from loved ones more acute. Please pray for Austin, who will be in Lisbon Thursday, surrounded by Portuguese people who have never heard of Thanksgiving. ##### As always, we are exceedingly grateful for your prayers. The Lord bless you this week.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Dec 1 10:59:16 2002
Prayer and Praise Update Sunday 1 December 2002 www.kleber.com Music is such a powerful weapon in spiritual warfare. Alvaro and I used it this week when the Lord gave us an opportunity to practice walking by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) by piling on the discouraging circumstances: Everything we’ve built seemed to be leaking. Families were threatening nonpayment. Even the families who are satisfied continue to live as they always have, using their yards to collect junk and common areas as waste baskets. Subcontractors were not answering their phones. We received news that we may spend the 290€ from an insurance settlement on a 300€ cover for our truck, only to find out that we are being fined 250€ for not having the truck’s circulation tax stamp. Because we didn’t have the stamp, the police seized the truck’s documents, making it illegal for us to drive the truck for perhaps a week, until we unravel what has become a typical Portuguese bureaucratic labyrinth of wrong addresses, misinformation and intransigence. Senhor Ezekiel, our mechanic, told us it would cost us over 400€ to get Jane, our 500€ Little Red Renault, running again. It was comically calamitous. So, after receiving the blows and taking a deep breath, we sang, “We’ve . . . got . . . the . . . love of Jesus, love of Jesus, down in our hearts,” “Where?!” “Down in our hearts,” “Where?!” “Down in our hearts. We’ve got the love of Jesus, love of Jesus, down in our hearts, down in our hearts to stayaaaayaaaa. And we’re so happy, so very happy . . .“ It felt great. It chased that spirit of discouragement right off the jobsite. (Incidently, I think most, if not quite all, of the leaks are attributable to condensation, which causes water to run inside every house in Braga). ##### Here’s a fun way to keep track of God’s answers to your prayers and the prayers of your kids: it’s a type of journal. Your basic equipment is a large three-ring binder, a smaller three-ring binder and 365 pieces of notebook paper. Put 31 pieces of paper in the smaller binder—this is the current month—and the rest in the big binder. At the top of the first page in the small binder, write today’s date, December 1. On the next line, write the year. Then stick in anything you like. Use words, pictures and artifacts to make a record of your day. Everything that is two-dimensional is fair game for inclusion. The idea is that you have one page for every day of the year. Next year, on today’s date, you’ll read what you wrote this year and, Lord willing, you’ll make a new entry beneath it. The key to this system is grace. If you don’t write anything today, or this week or this month or the next six months, you just start up again on the appropriate page when you have time. You’ll be back through the same pages next year, or the year after that, so you needn’t be concerned about skipping days. I tend to write very little during the summer, when I am busiest. I keep one of these journals for myself and one for Drex. Of course, for his, I get as much input from him as he’ll give. We always include where we are and draw a little weather picture. We can make an entry worth making in a minute if we must. Often, there’s time for more. We’ve got illustrated stories, pressed flowers, pieces of toys and tickets to the circus, mingled with our prayers and hopes. It is great fun and a great blessing to be reminded of what we were doing and praying a year ago, and to be able to see clearly now how God answered our prayers. ##### Austin has passed a couple of exams and, since passing is her goal, she is happy. She’s also exhausted and working very hard, but still loving it. Thank you for praying for her. ##### Debbie and I are alone together at the moment for the first time in over a century. Drex is attending the birthday party of Ana Filipa, a chum from school. “Now there’s a romantic guy,” you may be thinking, “Typing on the computer when he should be gazing lovingly into his wife’s eyes,” and you would be right. So I’d better go. But you can keep praying for us, that God will continue to direct us and provide for the continuation of our building houses and relationships in His name. ##### Thank you for praying for us. The love and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you this week.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Dec 8 15:13:16 2002
A year ago I was asking you to pray for Debbie’s back and Drex’s knees. Though I think both of them have suffered some discomfort of late, thanks be to God, neither has been disabled, the way they were last year. Thank you for praying. ##### I am encouraged by the week’s developments at Habitat. Early in the week, we in the construction department submitted a plan that outlines steps necessary to select and purchase land for new construction by July of 2003 and begin that new construction by this time next year. The plan is optimistic, given how slowly things have progressed up until now, but perhaps it is not unrealistic. It was received with some enthusiasm by our executive director, Marta Pego e Pinto. The Board of Directors has since met and, presumably, discussed it, though I am not aware of the results. Perhaps, if the plan is approved, everyone here will catch the vision, and Habitat for Humanity International will see that we are serious about building houses. Please continue to ask God to give us wisdom and direction. ##### Bethany Church, our church in Seattle, is thinking of sending two teams of volunteers to help build next summer. What fun that would be! Please ask God to bless those plans, to provide the resources that would enable people to come and to coordinate things so that their time here is as fruitful as possible. ##### Derek Leaf, of the famous Leaf family that lived in this house before us, is visiting this week from England. Last evening, He and Drex and I attended the little Catholic mass Derek took me to last June, the one that reminded me of the Catholic community through which I became a Christian back at the University of Washington. I would like to be more involved with this group, in keeping with my desire to build bridges into the Catholic community and to encourage both Catholics and Protestants in their relationships with Christ. Derek saw lots of old friends and I saw several people who participated in the Habitat Building on Faith week this summer, including Rui Campos and his fiancé Sonia, who are high school teachers and who would like to organize a group of people, that would include themselves and some of their students, that would travel to another country this August to help with a Habitat project. Please ask God to bless those plans, too. ##### Austin’s professors are piling on the work in anticipation of the Christmas break. She’ll have exams as soon as they get back. You can pray that anticipation of those does not completely ruin her vacation. ##### Blessed Advent to you all. Thank you for praying for us.
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Name: Jord
Date: Sun Dec 22 07:44:18 2002
It’s a good thing I didn’t finish last Sunday’s Prayer and Praise Update, because if I had, I would have been telling you things that weren’t true. I would have told you that the Habitat Board of Directors had approved the Plan of Activities we had submitted calling for the purchase of land for at least two new houses by July 15, 2003, in preparation for the commencement of construction this time next year. I’ve found out since that they still haven’t accepted the idea of actually spending money on land. They still want to wait, as we have for over two years now, for some municipality to give us land. It seems terribly ironic to me, because, on the one hand, the decision amounts to nothing more than a guess as to whether God will deliver us from death by way of a gift of land from a local government or by way of donations of money to buy land. A tiny distinction. On the other hand, it is a choice between continuing to sit and wait versus moving out with a purpose, looking for land and expecting God to provide the resources to buy it. Two very different pictures to present to people who would like to help. I haven’t completely given up hope of getting the Board of Directors to see the difference. Please pray that God’s will would be done, even if it means I don’t get my way. ##### We had dinner last evening at the home of Nadia, a Bulgarian chemical engineer Debbie met through her Portuguese classes at the University of Minho. Nadia’s husband, Zletan, is also a chemical engineer—the most jovial engineer I’ve ever met—a professor at the University of Minho here. Their sixteen-year-old daughter, Zlatomira, who was wearing a Barry Sanders jersey last evening, would like to be a translator. As they spoke (in nice, slow Portuguese) about the way in which no one talked or thought about God during communism and about the home they are building on the Black Sea but can’t live in because the Bulgarian economy is such a shambles in the wake of wars and tumbling states, I thought, with a rush, as I have many times before, “Wow, we’re living in Europe now.” Would you please pray for our friendship with Nadia, Zhletan and Zhlatomira, that we may encourage them to put their trust in the Living God? ##### Not knowing we are from Seattle, Eileen Weinstein, from Mercer Island, called last Wednesday from a Porto hotel because the embassy had given her Debbie’s name as an American living in Braga who might be able to provide helpful information. Eileen, a recent U. Penn. anthropology and French grad, is moving here to open a factory for a Spanish company. We invited her to come to dinner the following day. Thursday afternoon, a couple of hours before she was expected, while Debbie, Drex and I chugged along in the Habitat truck, having just left Jane the Renault at her second home, the mechanic’s, Eileen called to say her car was stuck. She explained that, in Braga, she only knew us and the real estate agent with whom she had spent the day, and thought she would try us first. We happened to be driving within about 500 meters of the spot where she was stuck when she called. It was probably not the first impression she had hoped for, but we found her quickly, rallied a group of passing youths to our cause and pushed the little car off the curb upon which it had been beached. Later we had a delightful supper and conversation and agreed to get back together after the holidays. Please pray for Eileen, for all the adjustments and challenges she faces, and that God would break through the busy-ness with a clear revelation of His redeeming love. ##### I made an internet fool of myself in November, but only discovered it yesterday. I ordered books for Christmas from amazon.com.uk. The prices were fantastic! In addition to the titles I had intended to order, others, classics I remember fondly from my own childhood and would love to share with Drex, like Lassie Come Home, and Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, were a buck and a half! I had to buy them. The grand total was daunting, but the value clearly justified it. I realized yesterday that the entire transaction was in British pounds, which means that we will have to negotiate a different payment schedule for our rent in January. ##### Drex has had some difficulty this week being completely honest and trustworthy. Please pray that we parent wisely in a way that establishes these things in him as governing life principles of the highest order. ##### Austin is home for the holidays. It’s fun and interesting to discern the subtle alterations in the family dance, now that she is living on her own. What a blessing it is to see her grow! ##### Debbie’s sister Cindy is due to arrive Christmas eve. Christmas day, we’ll try to drag her out of her own time zone and take her over to the home of our pastor, American Steve Moseley, and his family, for dinner. Please pray for Cindy, that she is able to sleep on the plane. ##### Blessed Christmas to you all. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,” (Romans 15:13). Thank you so much for your love and prayers.
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