International Ministries

Lessons from the Conversational English for Mission Course 2008

April 3, 2008 Journal
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"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set out before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Dear Friends,

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Another group of new missionary candidates here at JAMI has survived an intense month of "Conversational English for Mission!" The course ended with a grand celebration of their accomplishments and God's faithfulness in seeing them through it all. Everyone was stretched to (and beyond!) the breaking point by non-stop exposure to English through classes, homework, fun learning activities, movies, music, devotionals, and lots of conversation. One student even woke up during the middle of the night speaking English. When his roommate asked him what he had just said, he replied, "I don't know. I don't speak English!"

Our students learned much more than English along the way. They learned that immersion in another language messes with our self-image and sense of competence at a very profound level. They learned that sometimes we encounter barriers that God wants to help us clear out of the way-if we let Him. They learned that this is only a faint preview of what they will confront when they actually immerse themselves in the foreign language and culture that God is preparing for them outside of Brazil. Most importantly, they learned that God is faithful and ready to give them all they need when they realize that their own strength and wisdom isn't sufficient for the task.

Don't think that it was only out students who learned - and relearned - these lessons! Once again we as organizers, coordinators, and instructors confronted the same realities. And God was faithful in so many ways. Most visibly, we saw God at work through the support we received from the leaders of JAMI, Pr. Ronald and Cecília, and their daughter Isabela who volunteered to help us every day for the whole 4 week process. We were also blessed by the 4 fantastic volunteers we had from ABC churches in the US. Without them, the learning experience would have been far less rich and we personally could never have made it through.

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Thomas Foran of Middletown, CT gave us two weeks of his energy, joy, and wisdom, and once again made a huge contribution to the lives and language abilities of our students. This was Thomas' second volunteer stint with us, and he has now become a very important part of this place. Thomas is a blogger and a poet, and while with us he composed a series of poems about his experiences. You can find the first one at http://tjjfpoems.blogspot.com/2008/03/first-afternoon-at-jami.html with links to subsequent poems under the "March" heading.

Larisa Spitzer, Rachael Quick, and Gabriel Familiaran invested their college Spring break to spend a full and intense week with us. We usually say that a week is too short for a visit or volunteer experience, but these young adults poured so much of themselves into the time that they contributed and learned in very significant ways. They are now back at the grind of school and "normal" life, but it is clear that God isn't finished with them yet! Read about the experience in their own words on our blog pages hosted on the website of American Baptist Churches of NJ
http://www.abcnj.net/content/blogcategory/83/357/

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One of our traditions in the English for Mission course is to read letters of encouragement that were written by the previous year's students. These letters remind everyone during times of discouragement and frustration that somebody has already gone through this and made it to the other side. With our student's permission, we will be sending you translated versions of two letters as a follow-up to this newsletter. We are sure you will be blessed.

So now that our intensive month of March is over can we kick back? Not a bit! Next week, we begin teaching a course called "Vida Missionária" (The Missionary Life) that focuses on how a cross-cultural missionary can maintain healthy and faithful relationships with God, with their national partners, with missionary colleagues, and with their family and supporters back here in Brazil.

We are scheduled to do mission programs at two churches this month as well. The weekend of April 19-21 we will travel about 4 hours south to the town of Varginha where we will lead a retreat on God's mission in the world and the church's role in it for a new Baptist church there. Then the next weekend we will travel about 3.5 hours east to the town of Ipatinga where we will do a Sunday School workshop and preach twice on mission themes at Shalom Baptist Church on April 27.

We are grateful to God that you are with us on this journey, and that God is using you in this way to strengthen the Brazilian church's response to God's call to mission. We depend daily on your faithful prayers and your financial gifts (given through International Ministries ABCUSA). Thanks for your support and involvement!

Que Deus os abençoe,

Ann and Bruce Borquist, and Asa

Prayer requests:

* Praise for a successful English for Mission program in March, and for the five wonderful volunteers who helped: Isabela, Thomas, Larisa, Rachael, and Gabe;

* For full recovery for Bruce, who came down with Dengue Fever just as the English course was finishing. He needs to be back to 100% for the activities of this month;

* For wisdom and good Portuguese as we once again teach the "Missionary Life" module April 7-11, and for God to move in our students as we present the material;

* For Tirol Baptist Church in Varginha and the church mission retreat we'll be leading April 19-21;

* For Shallom Baptist Church in Ipatinga and the mission messages we'll be bringing on April 27;

* For traveling mercies and protection as we do all this, since the highways can be treacherous!