October-February, transition, transition, transition

Without doubt, the last five months have been the most chaotic and stressful in all my life. I hope you will forgive me for failing to keep in touch as we prepared for the move. It is not because I didn't want to; its just because things were so crazy that I simply couldn't sit down and write. However, now I can.

First of all, we are all OK. We are renting my late Grandfather Cecil's house from my parents, which is a true blessing. Not having to worry about a place to live first thing really helped us settle in. We are very thankful for that. We took three weeks to unpack and rest, and to begin checking things out. I (Chris) have been working at Southwest, our sponsoring congregation. They have agreed to support us for one month here for each year we served, so until October. My first task is to write a summary of our work for the last ten years and what we learned from it. Southwest has been a fantastic support to us while we make the transition to a new career. I am working on my MBA, with a concentration in Human Resources, and looking for a new job in HR somewhere in the Northwest. I know recent hard times have made everyone reevaluate their giving, but I ask any of you that can continue to support us through the transition to please consider doing so. This will ease the burden of the church here that is watching over us as we make the transition and help them not to have to use finds that could go to the field.
Jonathan began Kindergarten last week. Stephanie participates in Southwests' preschool two days a week. Alessandra is busy learning a new culture, preparing to get a degree in Psychology or Communications, and handling many of the loose ends we left in Brazil like the selling of our things and the house. All in all, we are recovering from the stress of the last few months (and years) and getting settled fairly well. Shopping is still quite difficult because of so many choices. Many times, we get stuck
browsing in an aisle in the supermarket, finding many things we had looked for in Brazil and were unable to find. One time I got so distracted I just walked out of the store without anything. One big loose en din Brazil is our home. Please pray for it to sell, which will enable us to truly settle here.
I would like to fill you all in on some of the details of the last months and the current Church situation in Praia Grande.

On the 9th of October, Vera was baptized. Vera is Adriana's mom, and grandmother to Isabele and Leticia Guerrero. Vera had been catholic for a long time, but after studying first with her family, and then with Francisco, and visiting our congregation steadily for the last three years, she decided to obey the gospel. She was baptized in the ocean on a rainy and windy day, and all her family served as witnesses to her confession of Christ.

Vera's daughter, Adriana, is married to Carlos Guerrero. They were in our prayers a lot while we were in Brazil. You may remember Carlos was out of work for over six months. He did finally get a good job, and has even been promoted since he began to work. Since then, they have been trying to have a third child. Adriana found out she was pregnant only 1 week before we left, and was very excited about it! We just learned that there are some significant complications with her pregnancy due to high blood pressure. She may have to be on bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy. We ask for your prayers for her and a safe delivery of their new baby.

Adriana and Alex celebrate as their mom becomes their spiritual sister

As soon as the weather permitted we began to work on the house to get it ready to sell. I prepped the yard for turf, got the "for sale" sign made, and prepped the house for painting as well. Several walls had been broken to install our new wiring, and they had to be smoothed over before painting with something about like mud. There was a lot of sanding involved. Francisco helped a lot, working several days on the outside of the house while I prepped the inside. My mom also scheduled a trip to see us in order to help us with the house.

While she was here we all worked non-stop to get things done. In the end, we didn't
get everything done that I wanted to, but the house looked much nicer. The inside was completely repaired and repainted, including replacing some of the tiles on the bathroom wall. The outside also looked nice for the first time. Thanks, Mom and Francisco, for all the help.

Florinda, the second person that was baptized in Praia Grande, recently moved from her old house to a new place much closer to Francisco and Liduina's home. She had been wanting to move to a new home for years, but when Liduina challenged her to really ask God for what was on her heart, she began to ask for a two-bedroom house with a kitchen and some other things. After just a few weeks of turning this desire over to God in prayer, it happened. A builder offered to trade houses with her. He even helped her pay for the move, and so for basically nothing, she got the place she had been asking for, down to the specifics. She was so encouraged, and so impressed that God would care about the little things in her heart. She now is helping Liduina weekly with the children's class. Her quiet spirit and patience bless that group of vibrant children, and her willingness to serve strengthens the body. She truly loves to serve the Lord who saved her, and gave her her house.

The kids class remains impressive. We had between 12 and 24 in the little room, but thanks to Alley and Liduina's perseverance, Florinda and Adriana's patience, and the older helpers' preparation, the classes run pretty smoothly. Some of these kids are practically raised on the street, and can be pretty rambunctious. However, they need the Lord, and they need to be mentored by Christian men and women. This crowded kids class is one of the biggest long-term opportunities for the church to have an impact in the neighborhood. Please keep the teachers and kids constantly in your prayers.

Continent of Great Cities provides missionary care in most of South America, and in October Alley had the opportunity to attend their "Continent Care Connection," or CCC for women, which was very near to us on the coast. This free service to missionary women is a rich experience, led by leading professionals in missionary care--psychologists, counselors, former missionaries, and inspirational speakers. We are so grateful to CGC for providing this service. It has helped both of us as missionaries, and especially helped Alley prepare for the move. Thank you all for your service to missionary families In South America!

As part of our reentry, we saw Christian Psychologist Leonora Temple. Leonora fast became our friend as she helped us through some issues ranging from the assault three years ago in our home to reentry and what we might expect to find (or not) as we moved back to the US. We are thankful to her for her help, and to Southwest for encouraging us to take the time to get help before the move.

Alley's visa process finally ended after several months of waiting. The consulate in Rio asked us to provide a background check from Argentina since we had lived there several years. However, it took 3 months to get the documents from Argentina and have them translated. Once the Consulate received them, Alley's permanent visa and passports arrived in about two weeks. What we had been waiting on had finally arrived, and we began to scurry looking for good airfares. Our return had become a reality.

In Brazil, the "Sweet 16" birthday happens at 15, and parties for 15-year-olds usually resemble a wedding more than a birthday party. In December, Ariane, Jorge's oldest daughter, turned 15 but was planning not to have a party since they had no money. Jorge asked Alley if she would make a cake for her, so the whole church got involved to give her as nice a 15th birthday as we could. Alley made a butterfly cake (which was delicious). Ariane invited her boyfriend and extended family to worship, and afterward we all celebrated with her. She wept tears of joy and gratitude. We were able to

make a deep impact on her and her family, who still struggle with many questions after her mother abandoned them.

Jorge praying for Ariane at her 15th birthday party

One of the visitors we have reached out to is Fanny. Fanny is a neighbor of Adauto and Jane, members of the Sao Vicente congregation. She has a little boy and was expecting their second. She came to Alley to ask about a baby shower. Alley and Liduina put together a great baby shower, including games and food. It was such a success (and different from Brazilian showers!) that Fanny has now been coming to worship. She is hungry to grow in her faith, and excited to talk about it with anyone.

In a small congregation there are many opportunities to serve. Praia Grande is no different. Here are some pictures and videos of our worship:

Francisco leading "Create in me a pure heart, O God" and Carlos leading the Lord's Supper

Jorge prays for the offering; "With Christ as my Vessel" in Portuguese!

The congregation averages about 20 adults on Sundays (plus the 12-24 kids).

Cida and Marcia; congregational singing

Lucas helps pass the Lord's Supper Francisco always helps visitors find verses

Francisco preaching in his usual fiery way

Many Brazilians move across the nation as they seek work. Sometimes they lose contact with their families. Through social media, there is a growing trend in Brazil of finding lost family members and being reunited--they even have a reality show in Brazil to help families find each other. Francisco, in fact, hadn't seen his mother Dulce for almost thirty years. She lived in another state, and moved after they had lost contact. Recently, Alley made contact through Facebook with one of her cousins, and were able to find out where she and Francisco's brothers are now living. Alley wanted to meet her grandmother for the first time before we left Brazil, so she and Francisco made a quick trip to Recife to catch up.

Alley, Dulce, and Francisco

Together after 30 years

After almost 4 years working in Brazil, the day came to pass on the work: January 26, 2011. We had a wonderful experience working with this wonderful and beautiful people. We had the opportunity to teach and to learn a lot through the years. After saying goodbye to Argentines in 2007, it was very hard to say goodbye again to our Brazilian church family. But the work is continuing without us. We believe that God's plans are superior to ours, and we know that God is in control and helping the work in Praia Grande. Francisco and Liduina, together with all the members in Praia Grande, are taking this responsibility very seriously. We all know the mission doesn't belong to us, but to our creator. We are very happy that God gave us the opportunity to spread the seed of the gospel on the hearts of Brazilians and our prayer, daily, is that the seed grows and produces many fruits for the glory of our Savior. We miss our Brazilian sisters and brothers in Christ, but we are at peace knowing a lot of good news will come in the future, and one more time, God will have the victory.
We want to say thanks to each one of you that supported us through our 10 years of mission work in Argentina and Brazil, supporting us emotionally, spiritually and financially. You were on the mission field with us each time someone got baptized, or when someone came back to the Lord to reconcile after years walking in the darkness, and when our hearts were sad and feeling hopeless. Through your prayers, we made it through hard times, and you WERE there, rejoicing in moments of joy. We want to say thanks from the bottom of our hearts for your mission spirit and love for the lost.
Our new journey has started in United States. We won't be full-time missionaries any more, but our hearts still live for the mission to spread the gospel, no matter where we are. We are very thankful to our God for loving us and caring for us each day through this transition. We hope we will have the chance to remain in contact with you. We love you very much. May God bless you every day, and continue giving to us all the strength to continue being His ambassadors, because every thing we do is for the glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In Christ
The Kelley Family



In September, Alley began to train some of the older children to work as assistants in the children's class. We have had up to 23 kids at the same time in our little classroom since we moved in, which is a great challenge. The older kids have really stepped up to help, and take pride in wearing their name tags and getting supplies for the younger ones. These children are one of the most important ministries of the congregation, and a tremendous opportunity to teach about God's love. In a neighborhood characterized by adolescent drug use and the crime that accompanies it, the church is their only chance to see a different future for themselves.
Each assistant received a diploma and was recognized before the congregation after Alley's training session
The older assistants teaching the younger kids

Alley and I were required to travel to Rio de Janeiro to submit her application to the consulate for her US resident visa. While we were there we spent an afternoon walking around the city near the consulate, and enjoyed it immensely. Rio was the capital of the Portuguese empire during the Napoleonic wars, when the royal house of Portugal came to the new world. It is about 400 years old, and contains many historical buildings as well as the national library. Alley was thrilled to see this part of her history. Later, her visa and passport arrived by mail.

We were blessed with an invitation by the Gibbs, who are currently working in Itu, to come to their home so they could review some materials on culture shock and reverse culture shock with us. We had a wonderful visit with these dedicated servants, and we were encouraged and uplifted as they helped prepare us for what lies ahead in our transition back to the US. Thanks, Bryan and Becky, for your hard work and dedication to serving those who belong to the Lord!


August, Paul and Julie Hinds visit us

The Hinds, Liras, and Barrosos in our home

Julie took Liduina's trike out for a spin

Last month we were blessed by the visit of Paul and Julie Hinds. Paul currently serves as an Elder at Southwest, and as chair of their missions committee. We met with them as a couple, as a team, and I also translated for the Liras as the four of them met together as well. We had a busy week, but we were so uplifted by their loving spirits and encouraging words that we were very sad to see it end.
Talking about numbers in the Lira's kitchen
Preparing for Sunday's activities

Paul giving the special morning class on Sunday

Carlos, one of our members, passes out Bibles as class begins

Jorge leading the congregation in the Lord's Supper on Sunday

That Sunday we had to special classes before worship. Paul taught the first class, centered around what the congregation could expect as we leave Brazil, and also what we can expect as we move to the US. Julie and the ladies shared the second class time and talked about having a purpose and being beautiful to God, which was wonderful for the ladies and visitors. The guys took advantage of the break to rest up (in other words, catch one of the FIFA World Cup finals games). In worship we had 31 adults and 12 kids, including several first-time visitors.
Julie's presence was a special treat for the women of the congregation

The Ladies' class
We didn't let Paul and Julie leave without going to the beach. Although it was our winter, the weather cooperated and they enjoyed a nice 75-degree day in the sun.

Since their visit, attendance has stayed fairly stable, with about 25 adults and 10-14 kids every Sunday. The little kids' classroom is bursting at the seams with 14 kids, and we ask for your prayers for God to prepare helpers and teachers so that this class can go smoothly until He provides a larger facility. These kids also are bringing their parents. One woman, Regina, who has become a regular visitor full of questions and excitement has ten children, and her oldest daughter Vanessa has now visited with her 5 children. These opportunities are wonderful. In some cases the kids and the parents are very needy, especially of the unconditional love that God gives. But we pray that the church will grow as it church heals and loves on these people.

Vanessa and her five children

The attic/Francisco's study

Our newly-organized kids' class
The kitchen and attic stairs

Alley, Julie, and the recently-purchased Bibles

Some of the Bibles purchased with a donation from Southwest's VBS

The kids' class attendance list (it has since been expanded)

Julie was a fantastic resource for Alley and Liduina as well as an encourager!

We are proud of our little kitchen!

Chris, Francisco, and Manoel outside the new building, with the Lira's new car

As we prepare to leave, the church has begun to adjust to our departure as well. We began a series of sermons through the book of Acts, a need Francisco and I saw for our newest members and visitors. I will be preaching less frequently in order to focus on leading singing and preparing new songs, as well as training Lucas to begin leading singing. Jorge has stepped up at every opportunity to help, as well as Carlos. Carlos preaches well, and has a very to-the-point, practical style. They both will be helping teach adult class while Francisco is traveling. Jorge also helps count the offering with Liduina. Adauto from Sao Vicente has been a great help as well with the Thursday study. I pray that our departure will be a natural cue for many members to become more involved in the body, and reap the benefits of growth that come from increased commitment.
Francisco and Liduina left last week for some much-needed vacation in the norteast part of Brazil. They will return at the beginning of September. We pray they will have a restful time with family and safe travels.