Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Couple of Random Thoughts from California

Random thoughts from California where we are on home ministries during September:

Some one who once was a missionary kid exclaimed that as missionaries we really do ask a lot of our children. Our lifestyle asks a lot of them just because they are part of our family. Here are just a few of ours from home ministries. How many of us......

Ask our children to live with a different family every few days all with slightly different rules and patterns of living. The cups and toilet paper are never in the same place; every faucet seems to operate differently. Just how do you get the right amount of hot water for your shower?

Sleep in a different bed – maybe just on the floor – in a bedroom - or the living room or wherever there is an extra place changing every few nights. Maybe mom and dad don't even know where you will spend tonight.

Live on the road without a home, out of a suitcase with just a backpack full of toys for six months.

Leave home and country for six months to accompany parents while they work.

Live with just their family and without close friends nearby.

Eat lunch with other adults.... and then sit and wait while their parents talk for two hours afterwards... not just once , but three days in a row.

Stand up or speak in front of groups of strangers...sometimes asked to say a few things at a moments notice.

Another random thought:

All he had spent his whole life working for had ended when he retired. When he retired he was replaced at work, his programs wrapped up, and the company moved on almost like he had never been. There was little except retirement to show for the years of his life. He had not been involved in a church for years until recently. It was empty and he had realized that. How sad to spend your life working for that that doesn't matter and will not last.

The one who prays has faithfulness and love to show.
The one who gives has sacrifice and generosity.
The one who goes has also sacrificed and loved.
There is nothing given that will not be noticed by the Lord.
No minute nor penny he does not see.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


As missionaries one of the questions we are sometimes asked is,"Do you eat bugs?"

This year at Momentum, the Grace Brethren youth conference, some youth and their pastors are enjoying the pleasures of Cricket and Meal worm Lick-its, Crick-ettes, and Scorpion pops. Each lollipop contained either a cricket, meal worm or for the youth leaders, a scorpion for those who like a little protein with their sugar. If bugs are just not your thing, Jalopeno flavor or hot pepper pops were on the menu. For those with more classic taste, apple, watermelon, cherry and cinnamon hit the spot.

Josiah and Caleb shared a box of crickets, and to show that she could do it too, I downed one very crunchy cricket.

All to remind them about the challenge of missions and taking the church where it is needed most - where it isn't.

So did your youth pastor take the challenge?

What's that?

Sleepily Josiah poured himself a bowl of cereal and added milk. He was really looking forward to the treat. It is not often we ate cereal in Brazil, it is costly and the types are very limited. Suddenly, a look of concern crossed his face, something was not right. He left the bowl on the counter an came to me.

"Mom, something is wrong with my cereal, it's making noise."

He really looked confused when I chuckled. There was simply nothing wrong with his cereal or milk; He simply had no idea that Rice Crispies say "snap, crackle, pop".

Caleb grabbed his dads arm and pointed to the billboard up ahead. "Dad, what's that," he cried.

Wayne looked up at the big hot dog with chili and cheese. "It's a coney.

"But, dad what's a coney?" Caleb replied.

Jacob came to me with a blank look on his face and an envelope in his hand one morning. "Mom, how do you mail a letter here?"

Every day we are reminded by little things that we are not all American any more; things that are so much a part of the culture we don't even think about them, our kids don't know, things that Wayne and I don't know because they are new or have changed over the last few years. Some days there is the vague (or not so vague!) feeling of being lost in a familiar world.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

America, England, Scotland, Paris and Holland

If you are interested in reading more about our trip - chsck out our son Jacob's blog. He has posted some of the stories and a few pictures from our trip so far over several posts. Somehow he finds the time while Mom is taking care of her responsibilities! You can check it out at

Although there have been some challenges, losses and suspensful moments (begining with the question of can we leave here and get there on time at the aiirport in Belem!) our family has had a great time. The trip is giving our children a different view of the world and seeing how God works. ( Like a few days ago when the bag with most of our valuables in it was stolen, including the CD with all our pictures of getting here and England and the two weeks camping in Scotland. God didn't allow our friends in London to delete the pictures from there computer - so we are able to get a copy of them.)

We arrive in Dayton, Ohio the 5th and will be back at work, speaking in our home church, Centerville GBC that SUnday. We thank those of you who have been praying for us. Please continue to pray for us as we finish up our vacation and begin six months of home ministries.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

End of an Era

Friday our oldest, Jacob, graduated from Amazon Valley Academy in Belem, Brazil.

One of the trials that missionary parents face is sending their children off to another continent, to the strange land called America when they graduate from High School. It is a land and culture they do not know well. Since they are so far away they won't be home for the weekend-- or Thanksgiving, Christmas or school breaks – or maybe even for years.

Like my son they may have never driven a car or held a job because of visa restrictions, they may not know the latest teen talk or styles. Like Jacob they may look American, but they won't really seem American as they will do things like stand to close or use gestures or words in ways that are not understood there, but are part of life here. I know he wil have his struggles as he adjusts to life there. Jacob's cousin who also graduated this year said we ruined him by taking him away to a foreign country.

But, like my son, they have a different view of the world, they have experienced so much more of some areas of life and seen God work in ways that are so much different than if they stayed in the states. The three years we spent getting here and the first year here were tumultuous and the time since then not always easy. We moved from the states when he was half way done with 9th grade, a hard time to move a child to another land. Some missions won't even send families out with children over 12, because of the problems they often have.

Yet, in his graduation speech Jacob said he was glad he came here and he would not have choose another way that the time here was special to him.

A few weeks ago it really hit home as I watch the seniors, one by one, play their last play in basket ball and leave the floor during the last few minutes of their last game. But the proudest moment came when at aan after graduation party one of the other seniors told Wayne and I that he really looks up to Jacob spiritually and admires his strength and maturity.

And so Jacob goes with us to the states to start a new life. He will be living with my parents in Ohio for a year and going to a community college nearby, partly in order to become an Ohio resident so next year tuition will be cheaper. We don't know when he will be home again. But our tears and prayers and love go with him.

Loose Ends - Orality, Vacation, Home Ministries

Well --- we finally are back online with our computers after receiving parts from the States -- just in time to shut it all down for a while. I was unable to finish the orality blog series. I will do so sometime in the future. In August we will be attending a training session at Wycliff in Dallas about orality.

We leave Brazil June 3 for Vacation and Home ministries. Please remember to pray for us during this time.

During June we will be visiting friends in the Netherlands and London with a side trip to Paris and camping in Scotland and Iceland. It all ends with a bang - the fourth of July in Washington DC! As we are used to nothing below about 74 degrees at night and days in the 90's with high humidity, we expect to freeze! (Iceland will be in the 50's). This will be our last family vacation before Jacob heads off to college.

July 5 we begin six months of home ministries. It has been over three and half years since we came to Brazil. Much has happened during this time. During most of home ministries we will be on the road with three of our four children. We will be at Momentum (BNYC) and Equip.

Because it has been four years or longer since we have raised support we are needing to raise over $25,000 in order to return to the field. Like everyone else costs have gone up. In addition the Real (the Brazillian currency pronounced similar to hey- al) has fallen from over three to the dollar to slightly less than two to the dollar and the cost of living in Brazil has risen sharply.

Please pray for our children during this time as we will be doing school on the road, for our support, and for safety as we drive thousands of miles.

Because we will be traveling, most likely there will not be another post until early July.

Thank you all for your prayers in the past. This ministry would not be possible without them.

Love In Christ, Ellen

The Birth of Two New Churches

Two days of celebration marked the baptisms and communion of new believers and birthed two new churches in two different towns a few hours outside of Belem, Brazil last weekend. Wayne & Ellen have been working with a number of lay leaders to evangelize in a number of interior towns. This past weekend we witnessed the fruit of this labor. A group of twenty adults and children traveled from the Marituba, Nova Uniao church led by Pastor Nonato to be a part of the celebrations. They have worked and prayed with Luis and Katia and Satuca in Peri-Meri and Val and Neti, Evaldo and Neci and Luis and Fatima in Capitao Poco over about the last two years to evangelise in these towns.

In Peri-Meri four new believers were baptised in the cool waters of a stream under the hot noon amazon sun. Some others who had expressed an interest hung by the edge of the stream, watching to find out what this was about. Afterwards several said they now want to be baptised.

After a celebration lunch of stewed chicken,
beans, rice and macaroni for about forty people and a time of rest, they along with some others gathered under the trees of Luiz's father's home to join in taking their first communion. As Luis, who has a servants heart, washed his father's feet for the first time, their faces glowed. No longer will these feet go to find crabs, but to spread the gospel he told his father as he finished. Indeed his father has already begun to help evangelise a near by town. Vatapa, a thickened mixture of shrimp, a special palm oil and spices was served for the fellowship meal.

At the end of the service, as Nonato spoke of the beginnings of the Grace Brethren church in Germany, under a tree and without a building Wayne linked each one together with another, arm in arm, others stood and joined in till ten people stood together to become the new church of Peri-Meri. Nonato challenged them as a body of baptised believers, the new church of Peri-Meri, to be bound together in love.

The next day in Capitao Poco, a group of six stood together at a shaded stream to be baptised. Over 25 came from the town to watch. Each testimony recalled something different that God had done to bring them to him. For Dona Raimundo, in her 70's it was seeing how Neci, who sometimes came with her husband, was different and wanting what she had. For another it was being able to buy a Bible and read it that made the difference. Although baptised over 40 years ago, he said it really ment nothing to him since he did not know the words of God. For another it was a hunger for God and to know the word. Colinho, Rosa and their daughter Marta were also baptised with Marta expressing the change she saw in her father brought her to Christ. Here as in Peri-Meri, others who have been studying the Bible expressed an interest in being baptised after seeing the people here baptised. After a cool dip in the water, churrasco (a type of grilled beef) for lunch and a nap in our hammocks we shared communion together.

Again as the time of communion ended Nonato challenged seven who stood and linked together arm in arm to be bound in love, to share fellowship together, to share the word and to grow.

For both our car and the van who carried the visitors from Marituba, the celebration continued for several hours as we sang songs of worship and praise most of the way home.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Prayer for Baptisms

Well we are back up with one computer working. I will continue the orality series later next week -but first let me tell you about this weekend -

Wayne and I , along with Nonato, pastor of the Marituba church, and his wife Rute and Luis, Katia and Nicolas and Eval and Evaldo and maybe their families and Luis and Fatimia and others will be traveling to the towns of Peri-Meri and Capitao Poco where the two Luises and Eval and Evaldo along with others have been evangelizing discipling and leading group and individual studies. We are going to be a part of the great event of Baptisms in both towns. Peri-Meri will be Saturday and Capitao Poco Sunday, both will be in streams in the towns. A communion service will follow each group of baptisms.

Please pray for safe travel for the two vans and our car as we drive 4 hours to Peri-Meri, several hours to Capitao Poco and 4 hours home from Capitao Poco. Please pray also for those who are taking this big step of a public commitment of their faith. Pray also for those who are being trained to help lead these spiritual families. Give thanks for those who have given their time and resources and prayers through the years so that these baptisms might happen.

Thank you for all your prayers, Ellen

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Intermission - Failed computers

There will be a brief (we hope!) intermission to the orality blogs for computer failure. Earlier this month one of our computers failed. This past week the other started failing. Wayne is trying to get all the information off of it before it fails completely. Since my orality work is on that computer it is currently unavailable. Please pray for us as there has been a number of things that have cropped up that have interfered with us getting ready for our home ministries (We leave here June 3 and return January 9).

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Orality: Part Six Types of Bible Teaching:

Orality: Part Six and Seven Types of Bible Teaching:

There are a variety of terms that are used to describe different methods of sharing Bible stories. Although western style theological education tends to validate exposition more and teach it as the pattern of training for leaders and pastors, all of these methods have been used to evangelize, disciple, train leaders and plant churches. As missionaries we need to take a critical look at how we are teaching and training on order to understand where these types of sharing may be most effective in our ministries.

Exposition - an analysis process related to a body of information. In general it produces a list of teachings, ideas, concepts points or principles that are them communicated to another. Requires both the listener and the presenter to be literate and communicate literally.

Bible Storying - A general term that includes various ways and forms of telling the stories of the Bible. Stories are told chronologically, in thematic groups or individually as opportunity and need arise.

Bible Storying Toolbox – A Bible story tool box would have a variety of stories available for various situations. There would both be long term story groups or tracks as part of a strategic plan and individual stories or groups for more limited times and opportunities of ministry. Generally, although long term tracks are chronological, limited engagement stories may take several forms such as thematic and may not be chronological. It is being prepared by having different story tools available to be able to use the one that best fits the ministry opportunity.

Chronological - sequential, arranged in the order according to time. When telling stories in chronological order one can look back and refer to whet has happened, but not forward and talk about what happens after the point you are in time.

Chronological Bible Teaching - Refers to stories in a chronological order but does not necessarily tell them as intact stories. Uses explanation and exposition as teaching approaches. The hearer needs to have a fair degree of literacy in order to readily understand the presentation. The presenter must be literate. Contains too much exposition for an oral communicator.

Chronological Bible Storytelling - Presents Biblical truth chronologically in a general story format. The story may be paraphrased or interrupted for teaching or emphasis. The story may or may not be presented intact. Some exposition and instruction may follow the story, but the storytelling and narrative is more emphasized. Adapted from Chronological Bible Teaching as people realized that it was too literate and because of this not reproducible among some groups. Some literacy is required by both the listeners and presenters.

Chronological Bible Storying - Telling stories as intact stories in a chronological format without interruption to explain, interpret or clarify. After the story, the listeners are led through questioning and dialog to discover the truths in the story. Avoids exposition. Developed from Chronological Bible Storytelling as others realized that it needed to be further adapted for use with oral communicators, especially illiterates and semi literates. Both listeners and presenters do not need to be literate. Can be reproduced by oral communicators.

The next blog will have more details about the ten steps given below for Chronological Bible Storying. Much of the ten can also, with minor variations be applied to the other types of storying also.

1. Identify the Biblical principle or truth you want to communicate.

2. Know the people you are teaching.

3. Identify important bridges, barriers and gaps in their worldview.

4. Select the biblical stories that will communicate the principle or concept you want them to understand and that take into consideration their worldview.

5. Plan the story and plan the dialog that is going to precede and follow the story so they learn how this biblical story addresses a critical worldview issue that they have .

6. Tell the story in a culturally appropriate manner.

7. Facilitate the dialog that will help them discover the truths and applications, usually by asking questions.

8. Guide the group to obey the biblical principle so that it can be lived out in their lives in practical ways.

9. Establish accountability within the group to help members obey the biblical principle.

10. Encourage the group to reproduce all of this by modeling the principle in their own lives and then telling the stories to other people.