January has been a month of exciting things at Instituto Engrenar. We are three weeks into a Saturday kids’ club and are pleased with how things have been going so far. We had 19 kids the first week and yesterday we had over 30. It has been a real encouragement to see a team of helpers emerge and give up their Saturday mornings to serve there.
We have free play time followed by a bible story, a worksheet, games and snack. It’s not re-inventing the wheel but is a tried and tested formula! In Sao Luís, there is next to nothing available for kids to do for free and, some of the time, the youngsters don’t even have school if their teachers are on strike. But we hope to be doing more than babysitting or even entertaining the children…many of these kids know something about God, and might well tell you a bit about Jesus, but their home lives are chaotic and few of them have a living faith. Sao Bernardo is a needy area of Sao Luis, an already embarrassingly underdeveloped Brazilian state capital, and children here come from families where there is unemployment, substance abuse, witchcraft, broken relationships, domestic abuse, absent fathers, etc. etc. It really feels like a privilege to spend a few hours with the kids. Some come without shoes, others without having had breakfast or a wash, but all leave having heard some key truths from the bible and having enjoyed themselves.
In our increasingly multi-functional workshop, Tuesday afternoon is now the slot for a craft course for the ladies in the area. Maxsianne is teaching ‘Biscuit’ to a group of around 10 women. We are only 2 weeks in, but it is another exciting thing to see the women attentively hearing from the bible before the practical element of the course.
During the rest the days, the trainees continue to beaver away and learn each day.
We have had a few chaps not fulfilling their duties so while they take some time off, we have given a couple of other gents an opportunity, Marcos and Eduardo. Last week, Marcos made a profession of faith at Instituto Engrenar, something which we shared with the church on Sunday. He had heard the gospel before but had never bowed the knee. At 17 and already getting into soft drugs, we trust he has made the best decision at a critical time in his life. Praise the Lord!
Thanks to the addition of Márcio to the team, Daniel has a little more flexibility to get round to the some of the previously sidelined jobs, opportunities and hobbies. One of these is to get a Christian samba band together. The intention is to involve some of the guys on the fringes of church and use the band to encourage others. So far, the group has played at the church’s monthly prayer vigil and a youth service. Both nights went down well!
Some of our regular supporters might recall that Daniel’s brother José was involved with the project way back at the start, over a year and a half ago now, but he decided to choose his own path and a relationship which wasn’t good for him. It didn’t take long for him to fall into drugs and he has been up and down ever since. That is, until Friday of last week when he said he wanted help in a recovery house. Daniel and Márcio took José to the Casa de Davi and we really pray for a true transformation this time.
The rain has started to really fall this month and it brings with it all kinds of creatures, some of whom have come closer than I might like, like the time I opened the toilet lid to find a tarantula crawling up the toilet pan making his break for freedom. I was proud of myself for dealing with it (broom handle, flushing away, tartantula swims back, reflushing with soap powder). Poor Antonio found one a few days later in the same place but he wasn’t too fussed. Cockroaches and flying ants are never far away and I’ve seen rats too but a more pleasant visitor is a baby chameleon living in our back garden. We’ve named him Charlie. We think he may have fallen from the adjoining house’s mango tree. He has been around for a few weeks and I’m not sure what he is eating…we should probably set him free somewhere. Where’s the SSPCA when you need them?!
The pics below are from a trip to a waterpark and the recent wedding of Romulo and Andrea.