Down the River, Oh Down the River

“Já chegou?”, (“It’s here already?”) I asked, surprised that anything in Brasil would happen 20 minutes earlier than scheduled, and on a Saturday morning, of all days.  Not a slam against this culture I love; that’s just the way things usually roll.  In this case the bus had arrived early, so I hurried out with my suitcase to board.  This was the second busload of 40-some people to leave from the mission house in the city.

After about 40 minutes we arrived at the dock where we transferred our luggage from the bus to a boat and then walked a plank to get on board.  I rode up top, taking the opportunity to introduce myself and chat with Janelle and her 4 children.  Her husband, Joel, is in charge of the mission’s aviation program.  IMGP4729Our boat moved quickly through the murky Amazon River, passing smaller boats, fishermen with their nets, and huge tropical trees.  The hot sun was tempered by a breeze.IMGP4733

IMGP4739After about 30 minutes, which passed quickly under the bright blue sky, we arrived at our final destination, a boarding school for missionary kids.  They are on vacation right now, so the mission uses the campus to house all of us missionaries from Western Brasil for our annual field conference.  We eat in the cafeteria, hold meetings in the chapel, sleep in the dorms and staff houses, and swim in the river.  It’s a beautiful location for a wonderful week of being together.  These days are filled with worship services, teaching sessions, assemblies and official business. Also moments in between for catching up, making new friends, hearing stories of what God is doing all around this half of the country, drinking coffee, playing games, and enjoying the beautiful Amazon River.IMGP4740

Saying Goodbye

Leaving people I love has never been one of my favorite things.  I’ve had lots of practice, and it doesn’t get any better.  Sunday was a wonderful last time of fellowship with my church family.  I had the opportunity to share with them from my heart, thanking them for their encouragement and support over the last six months, express my excitement about this new adventure, and show some new pictures from the village.  12506556_10153129368151307_1112047605_nThe special prayer time was unforgettable.  Person after person, including my dad, pastor, and many friends prayed for me, my fellow missionaries, and the people in the village where we’ll be working.  They prayed for my health and safety, our ability to learn the language quickly and communicate the Gospel, for the light of Jesus to shine forth brightly in the darkness, and for the people to believe the Good News and become pastors and teachers and evangelists.  My heart cried out “Yes!” over and over, hearing how my family understands so well the needs and the reality, and knowing that they will be holding the ropes in prayer – intentional, well-informed, effective prayers of faith.  And although they were gathered close around me in prayer that day, their prayers from thousands of miles away will be just as powerful, and will be answered by our great God.12516248_10153129367896307_619160870_nThen they took up a love offering for me and we had a delicious fellowship meal after the service.  That was followed by hugs, tears, goodbyes, more hugs, and dozens of pictures.  The rest of the afternoon, exhaustion overcame me, along with a desire to cry.  I am so excited to walk through the door God has opened for me, but I am sad to leave behind this amazing church family, these wonderful friends He has given me in Lewis County.  12512075_10153129368071307_561394293_nBut Wednesday, when I actually left, was the hardest goodbye of my life so far.  Waiting in the security line, zig-zagging between the lines of tape, took me farther and farther away from my dear parents, beloved sister-in-law and brother, and adorable nieces and nephews.  Glancing back, I could see tear-stained cheeks and solemn faces which matched my own.  The sorrow of realizing that I will not see them again for three years ripped my heart into shreds.  And the knowledge that my departure causes intense pain to these I love deeply hurt more than words could express.  My departure isn’t hard just for the eight people standing there, but to the rest of our family, and many others in my life.  IMGP4713For the first time, I contemplated the idea of turning back, before even setting out.  I thought of how easy it would be to turn around, walk back to my family, and return to Martinsburg with them.  People would most likely understand such a decision.  Probably very few would blame me.IMGP4719So what kept my feet moving through the security checkpoint as the tears fell fast and my heart screamed, “Turn around!” ?

Two reasons:

  1.  I love Jesus best of all.

“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.  He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”  Matthew 10:37-39

    2.  God wants everyone to be part of His family.

“And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” John 10:16

If it saddens my heart to be faraway from my family, how sad must God’s heart be?  He knows billions of individuals by name who are faraway from Him, who longs to be their Heavenly Father.  There are still over 1800 languages without even one verse of the Bible.  How many people is that who have never even heard of Jesus?  There are so many who still don’t know.  And God longs for each one of them to hear the Good News about Jesus, in their own language.  He wants each one of them to receive Jesus Christ, to believe in His name, and to become children of God.

And the opportunity for my family and church family and friends and I to be part of this, while it may be hard, is an honor, because it is for Jesus, whom we love best of all.  And it is a comfort to know that while this goodbye may be a rather long one, it is not forever.  We will see each other again.  And on that day there will be lots of hugs and smiles, wonderful rejoicing, stories of God’s goodness and answered prayers.

The Adventure Continues! (prayer letter)

January 8, 2016                                                                        Martinsburg, NY, USA

Hello again!  I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas season celebrating Jesus, His birth, and the gift of salvation He has given us.  And hopefully 2016 is off to a good start, as you look forward to all that God has in store for the new year.  I am definitely excited about 2016, and some huge changes about to take place.  Keep on reading for the details!

This update has been a long time in coming.  One reason for the delay is that my desire was to share the news personally with as many of you as possible – in your home, over the phone, at church services or other gatherings.  And doing that has been wonderful.

But unfortunately due to time and budget limitations, and my inability to be in multiple places at once, I have not been able to share the news with everyone yet.  However, now that plans have been finalized and a major transition is quickly approaching, the time has come to tell you if you haven’t heard, even if it has to be through an e-mail or letter.  Here is my phone number also, so if you have questions or would like to talk instead of e-mailing, you can call.   (315) 221-1098

On June 13th, our class of 12 graduated from Shekinah Missionary Training Center.  It was a special day of celebrating together, thanking Jesus for all He had taught us, and anticipating what He has planned for each of us, as we head off to follow His call.  Right after graduation, I spent  two weeks with Brasilian family, friends, and church in Itapecerica da Serra.  It was a busy, special time – reconnecting with friends from ABBA and their new babies, meeting my Brasilian family’s new foster daughter, helping host and translate for a Texan missionary team.

Then, since returning to the USA, I’ve been taking the opportunity to spend time with family, church and friends.  It was great to participate in Loving Lewis County (local missions trip), play piano at church, direct a Christmas drama, and teach at Good News Club again.  I also worked a couple days a week at Dunkin Donuts, and volunteered at my old (and favorite) workplace, Head Start.  Another activity was sharing with churches and others (nursing home, Sunday schools, Christian colleges, youth group, children’s groups) about missions and Brasil.

Next Wednesday, January 13th, I will be boarding a plane, heading for Brasil.  Old news, you say?  It’s true that I did that in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014.  But this time, it is for my first official assignment with New Tribes Mission Brasil!  A Brasilian missionary family, Wellington, Juliana, and their two little girls have been praying and waiting for other missionaries to join their team.  And God is sending me!

Together, we will live among an indigenous people group, who have been asking for missionaries for years.  They believe that God’s Word is true and transforms lives, but they do not have even one verse of Scripture in their language.  Through contact with other people groups and through speaking limited Portuguese, they have some knowledge about Jesus, and a few of the people may even be saved, but they have never had solid, consistent Bible teaching in their language.  What an exciting opportunity to serve!  I feel so blessed and privileged to go.

Our first project is to learn the language through relationships with these precious people.  We will live in a village with 39 inhabitants, doing life together and participating in their daily routines.  The whole people group numbers almost 800.

Although we five are the only official missionaries to this people group for now, the ministry team is much bigger.  Through this short period of what is officially called Partnership Development, God has raised up other people who have decided to be part of this endeavor, to reach a specific indigenous people group with the Gospel and solid Bible teaching.  Family members, friends and churches have committed to giving on a monthly basis to make it possible for me to go, pay living expenses, and give to others.  Men, women, teens, boys and girls have also pledged to pray for me, for the other missionaries, and for the people themselves.  This prayer commitment is the most important of all, because without the strength of God, the love of Jesus, and the direction of the Holy Spirit, this would be an impossible mission, a foolhardy task.

       “And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible,   but not with God: for with God all things are possible.”  Mark 10:27

And if you want to be part of this almost-impossible adventure along with me, it’s not too late to join the team!  The more people praying for us, the better!  Just drop a line or two saying you want to be on the prayer team, and I will send you more information about what is involved, and specific prayer requests.  If you want a prayer card, please send me your mailing address right away.  As far as finances go, I am only about 8% away from the full amount recommended by the field leadership team in Brasil.  So if you are interested in helping that percentage drop a bit closer to 0, just send an e-mail requesting more information.

If you have ever considered going as a missionary to an unreached people group, please contact me, as I would love to pray for you, send you info  about New Tribes Mission, and invite you to come visit us in the village sometime.

Actually, any of you are welcome to visit!  I would love to host you in the village, teach you a few words in a new language, and cook you a monkey burger if you are brave enough to try one!

Stay strong in the Lord,    Paulette

PRAISE

  • praise for getting the proper visa with no complications, and God’s provision
  • the prayer and financial support team who have pledged to participate in this adventure
  • this wonderful time with family, church, and friends, and many opportunities to serve

PRAYER REQUESTS

  • that I would walk closer to Jesus each day, obey Him in everything, and stay in the Word
  • safe travel to Brasil, and to the village in a few weeks
  • Field Conference – Jan. 16-23rd, for times of learning, renewal, fellowship & worship
  • great relationships and working together as a missionary team
  • for all of us to learn the language quickly and well
  • that we would be friends to the people, showing them Jesus loves them, and we do too
  • health and energy and adjustment to the hot, tropical climate
  • for my family here in the States, during the three years we will be apart