Monday, June 20, 2011

Rio Medical Mission Journey Update: WE'RE HOME!

We're home! It seems like we've been gone for 10 months and also 10 days. It went on forever and seemed like a dream—all at the same time. God moved. Lives were changed. We were changed.

Before we left for Rio, during one of our preparatory team meetings, Sharon Fairchild presented us with a Brentwood Baptist Missions Training & Education Manual. It gave us tons of information to prepare for the trip, including a section called "Reentry & Debriefing."

What's funny about this is that I barely skimmed through it before we went. I was confident I wouldn't have a problem re-entering my own culture and adjusting appropriately. That, my friends, couldn't be farther from the truth.

The booklet says, and I quote:
"Something has changed very dramatically while you were gone. YOU! Now you may experience re-entry shock, which is the unexpected confrontation with the familiar. You may find yourself wondering: Is everyone feeling the same way I am? How do I share what I've learned? How should these changes affect me?"

Ya think?! That lady knew exactly what she was talking about.

Today, as I ease back into American culture, I'm personally finding it difficult to return to normalcy. I find myself wanting to go back to the place where I saw God move, to the people who soaked him in, to the family of believers who embraced us. But that's not reality. This is.

Back at home, here's what we can do:
  • Cherish the moment and understand that our explanations of the experience may be inadequate to actually being there and seeing it. Just like Mary "kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often" (Luke 2:19, NLT), so can we rejoice in what God did and relish that moment with Him.
  • Be thankful for the experience and grateful for where God has placed us right now in life. I may not be called to sell all I own and move to Rio to minister full-time (like I kind of want to do at this very moment), but I can serve the least of these right where I am. A good friend reminded me of this: "When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required" (Luke 12:48, NLT). We live in a pretty, clean, manicured, middle- to upper-class area of the world. Without feeling guilt for what we have, we're to be grateful God has divinely placed us in this place at this moment in time, and with that blessing comes responsibility and action. That should be one reason for taking some action around this joint.
  • Share, share, share about your experience and what God did in the lives of others and you. Sometimes it takes flying across the world to move us spiritually and shift our worldview. However, in either place—at home or abroad—God has a heart for the poor, brokenhearted, and captives. When you spend time with them, serve them, and love them well, then you'll see Jesus face to face and walk closer to Him in obedience.
Thank you to all who covered us in prayers. They didn't go unanswered. The kingdom was expanded. Lives were transformed. We experienced sanctification. And His name was lifted higher. To God be the glory for all that happened in Rio de Janeiro!

Christ is all,
Kaylan Christopher

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Rio Medical Mission Journey Update: Day 8

This week...
144 people requested that a church member visit their home.
158 people requested to be placed in a Bible study.
196 people made decisions to follow Christ.
202 fluoride treatments were given to children.
402 people received eye exams and glasses.
596 people went through our medical clinic.
1,629 prescriptions were filled.

This is the end. Today was bittersweet. We embraced the least of these as they filed through the clinic—sharing Christ, healing wounds, giving sight. And we embraced our Brazilian family as we left in tears.

At the end of the clinic, we participated in a sort of closing ceremony. Raja O'Brien presented a love offering to the young 3-year-old church and Pastor Wellington. Then Ken Gross stepped up to give Pastor Wellington a stack of all those who wanted to be contacted by the pastor and church.

Many people who came through the clinic didn't recognize our host was a church sitting in the middle of their own neighborhood. And, anyway, Pastor Wellington said most of them would've never darkened the doors of a Baptist Church had they known.

Along with the church members, we were all able to shed a new light on the place. Once those in need entered the clinic and saw that our love was genuine and our care for their lives was sincere, many responded with gratitude and interest. Today, we're sad to leave behind so many that we can't journey on with, but the work will go on. The church is picking up where we left off to reach their community for Christ.

Portuguese Version:
Por tudo o que tens feito
Por tudo que vais fazer
Por tuas promessas e tudo tudo que és
Eu quero te agradecer
Com todo meu ser
Te agradeço meu Senhor...
Te agradeço por me libertar e salvar
Por ter morrido em meu lugar
Te agradeço
Jesus, te agradeço
Eu te agradeço
Te agradeço...

English Version:
For all that you've done, I will thank you
For all that you're going to do
For all that you've promised
And all that you are
Is all that has carried me through
Jesus, I thank you
Thank you for loving and setting me free
Thank you for giving your life just for me
How I thank you
Jesus, I thank you
Gracefully thank you
Thank you

During our last debriefing session as a team, I think Kara Herblin said it best in her devotion: "No, we couldn't understand every word they said. And, yes, we needed a translator to help us communicate. But the Lord was our translator for love."

By the way, remember the story on the Brentwood Baptist website about 10-year-old Cameron Powell who raised over $600 for Portuguese Bibles for our summer mission journeys? Here's the fruit of his labor. Some of the kids signed a soccer ball for him and another man went to each of our team member's and had us sign his New Testament.

Leia Mais…

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rio Medical Mission Journey Update: Day 7

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Rio Medical Mission Journey: Meet the Pharmacy Team


From Franklin, TN

What do you do back at home?

I'm the Catalyst Minister for Kairos at Brentwood Baptist Church.

Why did you decide to come on this trip?

Because Scott Harris begged me. No, I really came on this trip because I love the people of Brazil. I was here in 2006 and fell in love with the people. When this trip came up, I felt God's calling on my life to return.

What was your favorite part of the day?

I have fun with the patients when they come by for their prescriptions. We're dancing, singing, and waving at them. We have fun. And, also, spending my 32nd wedding anniversary with this team.

What are you most surprised to see come out of this week?

I do think it's really fun to be an eyewitness to what God is doing around us, not only in the new church and the people that we've attracted to the clinic, but also to the things that are going on in the lives of the team members and how I see them changing right before my eyes. It's transformation that only God can do.


From Texas

Currently lives in Franklin, TN

What do you do back at home?

I'm the Editorial Manager (writer and editor) at Brentwood Baptist Church in the Communications Ministry.

Why did you decide to come on this trip?

Because God created me to write and I want to tell the stories of God and his people all over the world. I've been praying for the opportunity to do this for about a year now. And he answered by opening up the chance to be on this trip to Rio.

What was your favorite part of the day?

Talking in-depth with two interpreters—Cecilia and Nilton—and hearing all about their stories, their families, and their jobs, and how they came to know the Lord, how they learned English, and how they're reaching Brazilian people.

What are you most surprised to see come out of this week?

The unity of Brazilians and Americans bonding over our love for Christ through worship, conversation, and service—even though some of us can't communicate in language with each other. My whole perspective has changed on the world and God's people around the world. I'm blown away by the warmth and kindness of these people. My love for these people already goes deeper than I can explain, after only one week with them. Also, visiting the leper colony this week and learning so much about it as it relates to Christ's love, compassion, and healing in our own lives.


Born in United States

Raised in England

Lived in Brazil for 27 years

Current resides in Brentwood, TN

What do you do back at home?

I'm the Missions Project Coordinator at Brentwood Baptist Church.

Why did you decide to come on this trip?

I love Brazil. I love the people. I love the ministry. And any opportunity that God gives me, I'm going to take it.

What was your favorite part of the day?

Holding the babies.

What are you most surprised to see come out of this week?

Yesterday, meeting the 9-year-old boy who just got saved named David and talking with him. The unity of the team and the excitement and the focus of the church plant of the church people…I think it just came together to make an incredible team effort.

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rio Medical Mission Journey Update: Day 6

21 people requested home visits.
22 people requested to be plugged into a Bible study.

32 people made decisions to follow Christ.

35 children received fluoride treatments.

61 people received eye exams and glasses.

92 people were seen in the medical clinic (50 adults and 42 children).

218 prescriptions were filled in the pharmacy.

It's called Wacky Wednesday for a reason. That because this day, in the middle of the clinic week, was extremely different from all the rest.

Today, we were open for business from 9:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. The word is now out on the streets and more people are stopping by to receive medicine, glasses, and teeth cleaning, and to hear the message of Jesus.

After closing up shop, everyone loaded the bus to stop by the leper colony that a recent Brentwood Baptist team visited a few weeks ago. While there, they planted a beautiful garden, poured concrete for a sidewalk, laid sod, planted flowers, and more.

The colony was established in the 1920s. Back then, lepers were ostracized from their family and friends. A glass wall in each home separated visitors and lepers. It was segregation at its worst. Until it was open to the public in the 1980s, the lepers living there weren't to be touched for fear of passing the disease on to someone else.

Here's the current reality that doctors have come to realize: this disease can't be transferred with a touch. It's not contagious like a cold. It's caused by a germ similar to what causes tuberculosis that develops from living in close quarters every day with someone who's affected.

If detected early on, a cocktail of antibiotics can cure it. However, if left untreated, it can destroy the ability to feel pain, so lepers have a higher risk of injury and infection. And, the longer the disease is left undetected, the more likely that person will develop deformities—noses shrinking away, earlobes swelling, blindness, fingers and toes disappearing, and eventually losing hands and feet.

Leprosy is a disease that affects more than 12 million people around the world, and Brazil has one of the highest rates. This statistic is attributed to the extremely crowded areas where people live in the slums, the lack of food, and the waning immune systems that come from unclean water and sustenance.

At the leper colony where Brentwood Baptist worked, we got to meet two women: Terazina and Angelique. Living among 5,000 other residents, they both paint for a living—flower pots and canvases. And their spirits are incredibly beautiful.

While the rest of the country abandons and ignores the least of these, believers in Brazil and Brentwood Baptist have embraced them.

The New Testament is full of stories that paints pictures of Jesus' compassion for lepers. For example, in Matthew 8, a man with leprosy approached him, knelt before him, and said, "Lord, if you're willing you can heal me and make me clean."

Jesus wasn't repulsed. He didn't shy away. He reached out and touched him and said, "I'm willing. Be healed." Then the leprosy instantly disappeared from the man's body. There's another account in Luke 17, and Jesus tells his disciples to do what he did and also heal the lepers, found in Matthew 10.

Amy Fairchild, a nurse who's been here just as long with Sharon Fairchild, her mother-in-law, mentioned a particular book yesterday after we left the colony called Gift of Pain, co-authored by Philip Yancey and Paul Brand. It chronicles Dr. Brand's experiences with leprosy patients in India and the United States. In the book, he talks about the mystery of pain and its importance in our lives.

The bottom line: pain isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes the numbing produces decay and death in our lives. Sometimes the pain is a reminder of danger or the fact that we need the help of another (i.e. Jesus Christ). God uses pain to refine us and awaken our senses to what's happening through different things: a numb perception, a scarred heart, an emotionless existence and reaction to the world around you.

Romans 8:28 says, "All things work together for good to them who love God." The Greek original text translates this: "In everything that happens to us, God is working for the good of those who love him." If we believe Scripture, then we believe that to be true all the time. If God is good, he's always good—no matter what. If God is faithful, then he's always faithful—whatever the situation. Even in the pain.

Most of the people we've seen at the clinic this week have come in for some sort of pain, sickness, or irritation, and almost all of them have also shared the pain that's been brewing in their hearts and lives. And we're introducing them to a Great Healer, one who has each day of their lives planned out.

Who better to know the kind of pain their going through than a Father who gave up his only Son and a Son who died for the sins of all?

Other pictures from the day:

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Rio Medical Mission Journey: Meet the Eye Team

Meet the Eye Team at the medical clinic in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this week! They're fantastic.

From Brentwood, TN

What do you do at home?
I'm retired and I'm a career, life, and financial coach. Before that, I was a healthcare executive.

Why did you come on this trip?
You want the real answer? Because Raja said I had to come, and I felt called to come. I felt like this was an area where I could be of service. I think this is my third mission trip to Brazil. My first trip, which wasn't a mission trip, was in 1969. I spent a month here with the goal to learn Portuguese, but everyone wanted to practice their English, so that was easier.

What was the most exciting part of your day?
I think they came in pretty nervous, unsure what was going to happen and very shy. By the time we got them fitted with glasses, they opened up and their smiles began to shine. I was able to share the love of Christ with them and how I hoped they would take that smile and let others see it as well.

What have you looked forward to most this week?
We've got two days left in the clinic, but I want to stay on the real high. Our whole trip has been effortless for me. As a team, we've gotten along so well. There haven't been any complications. For this eye team, primarily three of us did testing and dispensing, with the exception of the fourth who directs traffic and jumps in for some backup. We've seen an incredible number of patients and we don't feel rushed at all. We're very efficient and we get along. We have one person, Alecia, who's on her first trip and it's been like she's done this forever. I think we've done some good work fitting people with glasses and I hope that continues.

From Brentwood, TN

What do you do back home?
I'm a senior sales director with Mary Kay Cosmetics.

Why did you come on this trip?
This is my third time to come to Brazil and I was hooked from the first trip, so this is a great return trip for me.

What was your favorite part about working on the team today?
It's always about the people that we meet during the day and the stories that we hear from them. There's about three that stand out in my mind:
  1. One was a 95-year-old lady. She was so sweet and we had so much fun with her. I said, "Do you realize in five years you'll be 100?" And she laughed. And I said, "Are you going to throw a party?" And she laughed. It was just great to celebrate her long life and loving the Lord.
  2. The saddest moment of my week was meeting a lady who's 44 years old. She has twin 13-year-old sons, a 37-year-old son, and a daughter and son-in-law in between there who are both addicted to crack. She had just had surgery herself. Her husband had left the family because of the situation with the crack addiction. She felt like she needed to go get a job to support the family—and it just broke my heart. This lady was already a Christian. At the end of the day, I took my interpreter and we went to Pastor Wellington and I told him about her. He looked at me and said, "We have so many people like that in this favela all around us. I promise I'll go to her home and visit her and get her involved in a Bible study."
  3. The third lady I don't remember much about her, but at the end, she said, "Thank you for the attention." People just appreciate you taking the time to listen to their stories and pray with them. And with the eye team, every now and then, we get the opportunity to present the plan of salvation.
What are you looking forward to most this week?
It's the same. At lunchtime, I love going around and watching the children play. I love getting to know my interpreter and the other interpreters on the eye team. There's a lot of interaction between us. It's always about the people. There's one special lady on the cooking team. She came by and I fitted her with glasses. The pastor came by and I fitted him with glasses. I asked him if he had the love of Jesus in her heart and he just died laughing. Another little girl comes by every day and wants her picture made with me. Brazilian people are just so warm and kind and loving. They just love us giving them our time. The free glasses are wonderful, but I think they love the rest of it more.

From Nashville, TN

What do you do back home?
I'm an interior design for an architecture firm in Brentwood called HR Design.

Why did you come on this trip?
Because God told me and told me and told me and there was really no doubt about it.

What was your favorite part of working with the team today?
I've taken for granted eyesight. I'm 20/20, so being able to help people so they can read their Bibles. That's all they want to do is read their Bibles. The fact that they put on those glasses and say, "Oh my's perfect! It's perfect! I can read." It's great to see the smiles on their faces. Also, working with my interpreter. She's helped me so much to learn Portuguese and hold the very front end of a conversation with everyone who comes in the clinic.

What are you looking forward to or expecting from this week?
I was surprised to see how much I have bonded with the people at the church that we're working with. I didn't think I would bond as quickly as I did. And I wanted to get a broader perspective of what's beyond my walls of comfort at home. I'm really looking forward to Friday when we get to hand out all the gifts.

From Hendersonville, TN

What do you do back home?
I am a self-employed painter and handy woman. I do electrical, plumbing, and tiling.

What did you come on this trip?
My first trip was in 2000 and this is my 12th trip. Sharon asked if I could come down and spend a few weeks with her, plus my team from First Baptist Hendersonville is coming down next week to serve. I said, "Let me pray about it." The Lord said "yes" and my husband said "yes," so I did.

What was your favorite part of working on the team today?
What I've been doing up until today is herding people and making sure they come in and out like they should. Today, I actually sat with people and fitted them for glasses, and I got to share with every one of them. I was telling Sharon I made five ladies cry because when I asked them if there was something I could pray with them about they always say "their children"—a son that's in drugs, a daughter who's living with her boyfriend, or a husband who's an alcoholic. I could relate to having a son being involved in drugs and alcohol because my youngest son was for a few years. I would tell them as a mother I knew how their heart was feeling because my heart was broken when my son was doing that, but if you raise them and train them in the Word, then they'll come back. I was telling them it's not always in mama's time, but in the Lord's timing. It was good to share that with them.

What have you looked forward to most this week?
Working with your team. I've known Raja and Kevin and meeting the rest of your bunch. This is the third different team I've worked with since I've been down here—each one of them has been great and different. You all have been a joy and blessing to me. You all are so easy to get along with and so helpful and smiling, and it's easy for me to blend right in. Yesterday, Royce asked me if we had any 4.5 glasses. I said, "I've never seen any 4.5s, but I'll turn around and look." I did and there was one pair. That was a God moment for me because I've never seen any of those before. For me, personally, I've enjoyed getting to love on those babies, sing them to sleep in English, singing "Jesus Loves Me."

Leia Mais…

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rio Medical Mission Journey: Meet the Dental Team

Wake Forest, NC

What do you do back home?
I just made a move from Nashville, so I'm currently a domestic engineer.

Why did you come on the trip?
I felt led by God. As soon as I heard there was going to be another trip led by Sharon and Raja, I knew I'd want to go. This is my second trip to Rio with Sharon.

What was your favorite part of today?
Oh goodness, there were so many. Children's faces come into my mind. One of the most tender moments was when a girl ran up and threw her arms around me. It was just a couple of hours after I'd cleaned her teeth.

What are you looking forward to this week?
I look forward to seeing the accomplishments of what's happened this week—who got saved, how many people came through medical, etc. I love having my hands on people and being able to express love through tender touch. I would do this again in a heartbeat.

From Franklin, TN

What do you do back home?
I'm a dental hygienist for Dr. Sara Northcutt in Franklin.

Why did you come on the trip?
I felt like the Lord was calling me to it.

What was your favorite part of today?
Having so much fun with someone you can't communicate with and being able to show love without words.

What are you looking forward to this week?
I want to continue growing with the people who are around me and learning different lessons. For instance, when I'm in pain, I get cranky. It's amazing to see the amount of kids who come in with so much decay in their mouths and yet they're so full of joy. These kids have so much more peace, but come from so much more suffering. They're more than excited to get a sticker on their shirts. They come in hurting, and that's just a cavity. Who knows what else is going on with them? I love making their smiles brighter.

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Rio Medical Mission Journey Update: Day 5

25 people requested home visits.
40 people asked to be placed in a Bible study.
45 flouride treatments were given to children.
47 people decided to follow Christ.
92 eyes were checked and glasses were passed out.
178 patients were seen in the by doctors and nurses.
560 prescriptions were dispensed.

Becky Gross, Brentwood Baptist's Community Missions Minister, and her dad, Ken, split our morning and evening devotionals today. They synced messages to talk about thanksgiving and praise from Psalm 103 and Colossians 1.

"May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He's enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins" (Colossians 1:11-14).

Ken talked about how the Father has qualified, rescued, and redeemed us. It's a free gift to us from him. Now, that's something to be thankful for—especially when we're working in the clinic among people who have so little. This is a message of hope for them. It's a message to rejoice about!

Today was long. It was physically grueling. It was emotionally draining. It was hard work. And, right now, we're all ready to fall into bed. But it was so much fun. Our hearts are full with joy and love—and God is blessed.

A special shout-out goes to our interpretors, who are sacrificing so much to be with us every day. We know for sure one lady is commuting two hours each week just to serve. And, after helping us all day, others go on to their jobs, school, and home to take care of their families. They. Are. Rockstars. We couldn't do what we do without them.

Today's feature is the dental team, which includes Beth McDowell and Kara Herblin. This is the first trial run with this sort of medical center within the larger-scale clinic. You need to know how outstanding and passionate these women have been about their position on this team.

Working with minimal instruments, a makeshift dental chair, and humble hearts, they've posted under a shade tree in the corner of the church yard and have rocked and rolled from morning to evening. If they work this hard here, never once complaining, just imagine how hard they must work at home. Click here to check out their daily feature.

Please pray for us tomorrow as we reach the middle of the clinic week. Our bodies are tired, but our spirits and passion are alive and well. As always, thank you for lifting us up this entire trip. Your prayers have sustained us.

Here are some other photos from the day:

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