Dear Faithful Supporters,
Happy Mother’s Day from Brazil! My first priority has always been to be a mom, and yet my two kids are 10,000 miles away on a different continent and have been for two months. I sadly wasn’t able to share in our daughter Bella’s birthday last week. In a couple of weeks, I’ll miss Marc’s birthday. Sigh… We’ve had electricity lapses, a very unstable internet, and a lack of educational resources to teach our kids during the pandemic, but God is gracious. Philip, my better half, is at the helm in the U.S. and I am here in Brazil, strangely at peace with it. I can see that this is the way it needed to be.
Please pray for us here at Hope Mountain: We continue to be in quarantine in paradise with our boys and our house parents. We have had limited staff, but on Monday we will welcome back some of our teachers. For the last two weeks, we have created three classrooms and divided our youth for “school.” The state did not supply curriculum until recently, so one of our staff created individual lesson plans for each child, who albeit being about the same age, are at various levels of ability. Amazingly, our Hope kids give us little resistance to school—and some are even anxious to get caught up. This is a total answer to prayer.
We are choosing to praise God for the good that comes from isolation: We see and hear the violence around us, and yet, we feel sheltered at the Mountain. Well, for two nights recently we did take shifts walking the campus as we received a threatening video insinuating someone was going to come and kill one of our boys who was wanted on the outside. Usually, we would transfer “Afrano”, but during Coronavirus, there is nowhere for him to go. Pray for the safety of all our boys, especially the ones who have run away.
Pray for wisdom from our leaders: With death such a reality already, it is hard for people here to get excited about the Coronavirus and take the precautions necessary to prevent its spread. I am so glad we are able to isolate ourselves while the world around us unwisely continues to go to the streets. Politically, our situation is similar to the States. The governors have one view and the president another. Brazil’s president’s “Brazil Cannot Stop” campaign was banned by a federal judge. Nevertheless, he was quoted as saying, “Some people are going to die. They are going to die. Sorry. You can’t stop a car factory just because you have traffic deaths.” He is encouraging everyone to go back to work even as the rest of the world believes that Brazil’s death curve is beginning to peak.
Pray for our new believers: We have six kids who have just made decisions for Christ, and we are starting a Baptism class. We’ve got time to help them to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Pray for these boys to understand the decision they have made.
Normally we have family visitation days twice a month, but instead, we have bought two new phones, allowing for WhatsApp video calls to families. This helps settle the hearts of our kids who are worried about their moms and siblings who are “out there” where the virus is. One of the saddest moments is when a mother refuses to take the call or no one answers. The reactions vary from tears to real aggression. Pray for our boys and their families.
Pray for the staff to continue to be rested, composed, loving, and even, when needed, confrontational in a positive way. Pray for unity. Just like a mother and father have to have a unified front, the 10 of us have to have one voice as well… Please pray for Lucilena, who was taking care of Amos. A few days ago she had a nervous breakdown.
Pray for our family: Our hope is to have our son Marc begin school in the U.S. at the end of May. It’s been stressful finding the right school for him. Afterward, the plan is for Phil and Bella to come to Brazil when travel restrictions relax. Please pray for Bella’s health especially.
Closing thoughts: Life here demands a lot from our faith. Some days are very hard while others are joyous. Your prayers and support are so crucial for us. Many, many thanks to all of you.
Before I sign off, I’d like to show you a glimpse of our Brazilian Easter: Did you know the sun rises at 10 a.m. in Brazil? Well, that is when we had our sunrise service. It was rainy and all of us in quarantine had been up late the night before watching The Crucifixion of Christ. It was very powerful, and since we couldn’t see the sun through the clouds, we decided to move our service back a bit. Anderson, our head house parent, shared Christ with our boys through a Navigators “box” that tells the Gospel story. Behind him was a rudimentary cross, swathed in purple and lavender cloth.
In the middle of the service, I was called away because our autistic boy, Amos, was having convulsions. We found out he had Dengue fever but has since recovered. The boys had an Easter breakfast, a large chocolate Easter egg, and a Beanie Baby sized stuffed bunny. It is so sweet to see these tough teenage boys be thrilled to get a stuffed toy. It shows they are learning to be kids again. They didn’t even care that the majority of the donated bunnies were pink! Late in the afternoon, we had our traditional hide the candy run. 3,000 pieces of candy were hidden individually all over the ranch. The boys were even using flashlights to continue to look after dark. We’re still finding candy. A good time was had by all.
In His Love, Corenne Smith
P.S. Enjoy the video update about life on Hope Mountain in Brazil during quarantine