Shores of Grace – Margens da Graça

An excerpt from a message to family…
(Jess) Tonight I went to street church again (but a different location). In this location most of the people carry water bottles and sniff glue. There were about ten people sitting together on the steps of the shops. The first lady I saw was probably in her 40s. She was crouching on her legs sucking her thumb. I offered to paint her nails and led her by the hand to a step. Later as I painted her very dirty toenails I thought of Jesus and the women who washed his feet with her tears. I thought about loving ‘the least of these’. I joined the others as one Brazilian man played on the drum. His wife asked me (through a translator) if the drum was my husband. I ended up painting her nails and just sat next to her for a while. There was a 5-year-old girl who was lapping up our attentions. I gave her pony rides and when we pretended she was my baby, I prayed over her like crazy. As I passed her to someone else, I sang a lullaby I sing over Amy every night…

Bye, bye baby, rest your little head
Bye, bye baby, angels guard your bed

Back at the base that night I thought of that precious girl, sleeping on the door step of a shop and wonder what chance she has. Can she avoid being sexually abused (if she already hasn’t). Can she avoid becoming addicted to glue when everyone around her (including 8-year-olds) are? These are complicated questions with no simple answer. Yet again, I think that the work these guys (Shores of Grace) do there… Their consistency and love they show is a light to where no other is shining.

This is….

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Shores of Grace is a worship and missionary ministry located in Recife, Brazil, led by Nic and Rachael Billman. Their focus is setting those in prostitution and abuse free and walking them through restoration; taking the love of the Father to the poor and the broken and helping them see their true value, and equipping and serving the church in Brazil.

For more information about the ministry click here: Shores of Grace.

We have had two weeks serving and observing this great ministry here in Recife. We have been living on the Shores base with many others and doing ministry alongside the team. We were able to be involved with church at the base, church in the streets, street ministry, helping at Bethany House (rescue home), connect with the local community and much more. Realistically, it’s not about what ‘we have done’, it’s about what God is doing here and will continue to do here long after we have left.

We don’t take photos of the ministry experiences here to look after the privacy of the people who are being ministered too. The photo’s below are from the local area and setting up a banquet we were a part of.

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Excerpts from messages to family…
(Tim) A few of us drove into the local favela (slum) in the morning and visited the poorest family who live under a sheet of metal with rugs on the floor. So very poor. I fell in love with the mum and I got to sit with some of her family. They were beautiful. We were able to pray for a few of them and invite them to the banquet being held for the mums that night. I was a jungle gym for three very cute little kids.

(Jess) I’m totally exhausted today, probably because I was up with Amy at 3:30am and went all day without a break. Thank you God for your Grace! The banquet for the mothers from the favela was truly amazing. I was able to sit with the girls that Tim met during the morning and we talked about our dreams. One of them dreams to live in a house and another wants to live with her husband for the rest of her life. This is big… The men often don’t stay around for long. We laughed and talked as best as we could with the language barrier. We ate well and they had their make-up done. It was a fabulous night and the ladies loved being served by the men because in their culture it’s always the other way around.

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God has done so much in our hearts this last two weeks. We are learning to trust Him, learning to lean into Him and learning how He loves the unloved. Shores of Grace has been an amazing place to experience all of this and learn from people who have given up their lives to bring love to the least of these.

Thank you Luke and Alison Billman and all of the Shores team and volunteers for this opportunity.

Love Tim & Jess

Travelling overseas with a Toddler by Jess

“What about Amy?” many people ask me. I understand their curiosity and concern about taking a not-yet two-year-old half way around the world and back.

You know what it’s like when you see a child under 3 (or honestly, anyone under 10) standing with their guardian at the terminal waiting to board your flight. Whether or not you believe in God, most people will pray a few desperate words which usually end with “… please, oh please, not in my section.” I know I’ve said a few of those prayers myself over the years. Being stuck in a large metal cylinder with someone else’s child for 12 hours can be terrifying.

I’m about to join that very… shall I say ‘courageous’ group of parents who endure the interesting hurdles and hazards of taking their wee ones overseas with them. Needless to say I’ve read a lot of blogs looking for tips about travelling and flying with toddlers. They all say one thing, expect the worst and prepare for the worst. Great.

So, why would we do a trip (especially one like this) with a toddler? A few reasons really, 1. because it’s the right time in our lives and 2. we believe that having Amy on this crazy adventure will make it all the more fun. Honestly, life is just more fun with Amy. More tiring? Yes. Messier? Definitely. Truthfully, sometimes I do go a little mental, but life is still richer and better with Amy in it. I could never imagine doing this adventure without her. It would be easier if it was just Tim and me, but not nearly as much fun.

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Taking a little person overseas also means taking little people things and catering for little people needs with a few Government regulations on the side. I thought I’d make a detailed list of things we’re taking. Who knows, maybe this will help someone else like me.

A few trip details:
In case you’ve just stumbled across this blog, here are the basic trip details.

We’ve heading off overseas at the end of March 2014 for about 16 months.
> 1 month in the USA (3 states, two internal flights). This will include a road trip, a few mountainous hikes and goodness knows what else
> 3 months in Brazil (3 cities, 3 internal flights). We’ll be having a two-week holiday plus doing about 9-ish weeks of volunteer/missions work in three different locations
> 3 nights in Istanbul. We’ll be staying close to the main sights, so we’ll do a lot of walking
> 1 year in Thailand (mainly 1 city, but we expect a few internal flights). We’ll be renting somewhere, so once we reach Thailand we won’t be travelling around as much.

We estimate there’ll be a minimum of 12 flights by the time we return to Australia.

Airplane:

I won’t go into all the tricks you can use (other mamma’s have hilarious and informative blogs about those), I’ll just say what we’re putting in Amy’s carry on bag:

  • IPad mini – filled not only with games and TV shows, but also videos of family, us and any animal we come across
  • Child ear plugs
  • Toys – Light plastic figurines (with no small parts), her favourite stuffed teddy and turtles, colouring books, pencil case and stickers
  • Food – As Amy is under 2, she won’t get fed by the airline, so we’ll have to do that
  • A spare change of clothes
  • A realisation that there’s not much I can do once we’re up there. I just need to take it easy on myself (and Amy). We’ll eventually get to each destination

Handbag:
After realising that the $10 hand bag I had been using for the last 6 months or so was about to die, I knew I would have to get a new one. Here’s the thing… I don’t actually technically have my own handbag anymore; I’m a mum, so I have a mum bag now. With this in mind, I knew that I’d have to have a multi-purpose, secure and easy to wear bag, suitable for a variety of locations and situations. I’ve ended up buying an anti-theft cross body travel bag made by Travelon (off eBay). I wanted a cross body bag, because without a proper pram, I know I’ll be wearing it a bit. Sure I could probably get something smaller, but not only is it a mum bag, it’s also an all-day tourist/volunteer bag. That means water bottles and passports, maybe the iPad mini or camera, food and toy etc. This bag… has got to be a goodin’.

I’ve been using this bag for a little while and I’m a happy buyer. There are only two things I’d say. The first is that it’s not as large as the video makes it out to be. The second is that there aren’t any ‘secret women’s pockets’. You know the kind inside the bag that you put your Panadol and other miscellaneous things in. There is one, but it’s see through. No secret about what’s in there.

I’ll keep you updated on how this bag goes during the actual trip. If it’s crap, I will absolutely let you know!

Portacot:
Tim did the research on this one. He read a lot of reviews, thought a lot about the weight etc. and finally decided on the Phil and Teds Traveller portacot. We also got it on sale which never hurts.We’ll pack this into our checked baggage when flying.

Kid Carry pack:
We’re doing some hiking and a bit of touristy walking in ares where a stroller is just not practical. After reading countless reviews, I found a great Phil and Ted carrier on eBay for a bargain. Once again, this will be packed into our checked baggage.

Luggage:
Thinking about flights, until Amy turns two, she won’t have her own seat, hence no luggage allowance. This means we will pay the extra for her little bag and that’s ok, we’ve incorporated that into our budgeting.

Stroller:
After one false start we have bought a Babylove Maxima stroller on sale. It’s light weight (which we need for our flights) and not too expensive. That way if something happens to it, it’s ok. We’ll take this as a carry-on when flying, so it has to be an umbrella stroller.

Car seat:
This one is the trickiest. We’re hiring a car seat while in California and probably when we head to the East Coast. In Brazil we have no idea, but we may have to buy one for the 3 months. In Turkey, we’ll just walk and in Thailand… we’ll see. It’s very much a make it up as we go kind of thing.

One more thing – Potty training:
Ek! I was chatting with my mum about this recently. I saw this Baby U Potette Plus at My Baby Warehouse and thought it would be a great idea, however once I got it open, I was disappointment with the quality. So, I’m not sure what we’ll do for potty training. I’ve just decided not to stress out about it too much. There is no official completion or award for how soon you learn to use a toilet, so we’ll probably wait until Thailand and see how we go. With Amy experiencing so much change, why would I put more pressure on her and myself? I wouldn’t 🙂

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So folks, that’s some of the stuff we have organised for our little one. I hope it’s useful for some, eye-opening for others and amusing for those who have been before and know what’s in store.

Love Jess xxoo

A Merry Update

Merry Christmas everyone! We thought we’d end this year with a more detailed update of our trip plans. We have been so overwhelmed and blessed by people’s love, words, excitement and support for us at every step of the way. We have amazing family and friends and we feel like we’re doing this with you.

So, what are we planning?

A quick snapshot: USA – April, Brazil – May to July, Turkey for 3 nights, Thailand for a year – August 2014 to September 2015….

Travel Map

USA – Northern California & Florida (1 month)

Time for a holiday! We’re going to stay in San Francisco for about 5 nights before doing a little road trip up north to Redding (including a few days near Yosemite).  Although some of the destinations are only a few hours apart, we want a relaxing trip and have to keep Amy in mind. We’ve never done a road trip together before, so it’s bound to be lots of fun. We’ve paid for a some of the accommodation and hire car and pretty much know where we’d like to stop along the way. After 12 nights in Redding catching up with friends and celebrating Easter at Bethel, we’ll be heading over to Florida to connect with an amazing couple we met in Pennsylvania in 2011.

Brazil – (3 months)

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When Tim went to Brazil earlier this year, he fell in love with some incredible people and we’re so excited to stay with Hangar7 for about 3.5 weeks. We’re hoping to serve and observe in any way we can during this time. It’ll be a great opportunity for us to be exposed to a different church culture. Hopefully we’ll get some Portuguese lessons too.

Rio
Jess turns 30 in Rio, so we’re meeting up with her folks and sister to spend two weeks exploring the city and filling up the family love tank. After this we’ll be spending a month partnering with Exodus Cry during the FIFA World Cup. We’re so excited to connect with these guys and learn as much as we can from them. This will involve a lot of prayer and worship as well as street outreach. Between us, we’ll spend 6 hours a day in the prayer room while the other person looks after Amy. How involved Amy will be in this venture will depend on the atmosphere and environment. We will be connected with a local church (we think) and hope/pray that they will be able to host us… otherwise, we’ll have to look for our own accommodation eeekkk! If we’re lucky, we may even attend a soccer/football match.

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Recife
The end of our Brazil leg will be a two-week visit to Shores of Grace. The leaders of this great ministry were Tim’s trip leaders when he was in Brazil in March. This incredible couple (Nic & Rachel Billman) and their team have a huge heart for Brazil and the women and children in Recife effected by poverty and abuse. This will be more time of connection and learning.

Turkey – Istanbul (3 nights)

It’s about a 12 hour flight from Sao Paulo to Istanbul and then another 7 hours or so to Bangkok. If we were just travelling as a couple we may not have scheduled this stop, but once again, we need to keep Amy in mind and be fair on her. So a stop over in Istanbul for three nights is our plan. We haven’t booked our accommodation yet, but we have somewhere in mind. We looked into making a trip down to Gallipoli, but it’s a 5 hour drive one way and a two-year old in a car for 10 hours in one day is probably not the best idea. We’ll stick to easy things and we know we’ll enjoy our short time there, now we just wish it was longer!

Istanbul

Thailand – (1 year minimum)

This is the least organised part of the trip so far. Here’s what we have on the cards at the moment. We’ll fly into Bangkok and then head over to Phuket. We’re hoping to attend the Australian Christian Churches (ACC) International conference where missionaries come together with Australian pastors to connect.

After this we plan on serving with Destiny Rescue, taking a single volunteer position between the two of us. Once again this will mean that Amy will always be well looked after. How this will look we are yet to work out.

We hope to get a 2-3 bedroom apartment whilst in Thailand to host any family and friends who may want to visit . There is always room at our Inn (nice Christmas reference there) if you want to check out what Destiny Rescue are doing or just want to come and hang with the Greenwoods.

Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves!

When we think about all the different destinations of this adventure, we want to be at all of them now. We want to be holidaying in the USA, praying for people in Brazil, walking through the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, and partnering with Destiny Rescue in Thailand. How exciting and challenging at the same time! There’s so much more planning (and spending) to come and of course that can be stressful, but we’ll just keep going at it and enjoy this part of the ride.

Once again from our family to yours… Merry Christmas!

Love Tim, Jess & Amy