Dear Family and Friends,
I hope this letter finds you well. As some of you know, I am planning to move to Brazil at the beginning of September as a missionary with Open Arms Worldwide. I am writing this letter to you because each and every one of you is dear to me. I would like to share with you some of my story and future plans, and I would love for you to continue walking alongside me as a prayer warrior and perhaps a financial supporter.
Ever since I can remember, I have always wanted to serve. Growing up as an orphan in Brazil, I moved around a lot from orphanages to foster homes. Some of my most vivid and hopeful memories of that time are from meeting missionaries from other countries who came to love on us, hug us, and pray for us even when we had known each other for less than a day. To this day, I still keep in touch with the missionaries that I met as a young child. All of them have given me much wisdom throughout my life and I will never forget their love and heart of service. These were the people that shaped my formative years and started to instill in me a heart of service and a love for people.
At the age of 11, I was adopted by my parents Chris and Debbie Smith. I was happy that I finally had a family to call my own, a last name that had a meaning and a story, and a key to the front door, which meant I finally had a home. Throughout the years, my parents traveled as missionaries back to Brazil to help with camps and build houses that have blessed many to this day. As a young child, I already knew that I wanted to help those who were in need and that desire has certainly been strengthened by my parents’ own serving hearts. Through my teenage years, I continued to participate in many trips to Brazil. In all those trips, I felt happy and joyful to be serving in the country where I was born. While I certainly had many ups and downs in my teens and young adult life, I never lost sight of the purpose God has for me, which is to serve and love others.
The year of 2016 was formative for me: it was the year I meet Bruno and also when I decided to continue to work on my degree. I graduated from Liberty University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Social Work. I loved studying social work, because I felt that I was made to help those that were hurting. I had found a field that combined my purpose in life with my strengths and also my personal story. At the end of 2019, I started my internship at RBC as a missionary intern so that I could start preparing for the future as missionary, and a soon to be wife.
As I mentioned before, I met my fiancé Bruno Gomes in 2016 during a trip to Brazil with Open Arms. He began volunteering for Open Arms in October of 2011, where he started to learn and understand what it means to lovingly help others. In 2012, on a mission trip to Rio de Janeiro, he had the conviction that God was calling him for missions; he read John 20:21 which says, “Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” When he read this chapter and verse, he understood how God had sent Jesus for a mission and likewise, Bruno felt he was called to do missions fulltime.
At the time I met Bruno, he was a volunteer for Open Arms in Brazil. The image of Bruno that I will never forget is of him playing with kids with a plastic beach ball, laughing and having fun. His laugh is very contagious. When you hear it, you want to laugh or smile. I also remember him worshiping with his hands in the air, crying out to God. That’s something that I have rarely seen a young adult man doing. He made quite an impression on me and I thought, that is the person I would love to serve with for the rest of my life. After getting to know each other and praying with one another about having a future together, we started dating. Since 2016, with trips to Brazil at least once or twice a year, Bruno and I started dating long distance. In 2017 Bruno became a full time missionary for Open Arms.
(To hear more of Bruno’s story https://vimeo.com/243365259 )
The mission that Bruno and I will be serving with is Open Arms Worldwide in Assis, São Paulo. In that city, there are five community projects that work with at-risk children and youth. In our role as “Agents of Hope,” we will be building relationships with the kids and teens through our weekend neighborhood Bible clubs, mid-week Bible studies, camps, and sports ministries. With my background in social work, I will also be visiting families, assessing needs in the home, providing food support where necessary, and working with them to meet their emotional, physical and spiritual needs. My English will also allow me to help the rest of our missionary team to keep our US supporters informed about what the Lord is doing in Brazil.
One of my favorite verses is Matthew 25:35 and 36 which says, “ For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” These verses mean a lot to me because I know that this is my story. Now my passion and purpose is to do the same for many children and their families. I would love for them to know the God that I know, who has continued to walk with me in my ups and downs and continues to bless me every single day.
This year has definitely been unprecedented in my life, and I am sure your life as well. However, I am excited for what’s ahead for me and Bruno. We are eager to enter the mission field hand-in-hand and continue to walk in the path that God has laid out for us.
Please pray for the next few months as we get ready for our marriage at the end of the year, and for our future as a married couple and missionaries. We are also praying that God would provide $5,700 in one time support for my move to Brazil, and $600 in monthly support in the field. I hope to have each of you walking alongside me, not only blessing me with your prayers and perhaps financial support, but also being a part of my missionary life.
If you have any questions or would like to join our prayer-support team and get regular updates from the field, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to become one of our one time or monthly support team members you can either do so online via https://www.openarmsworldwide.org/ and click on the button “Support Our Agents of Hope,” follow the instructions, and select “Bruno & Abby” from the dropdown list.
You can also send a check to Open Arms Worldwide at PO Box 650153, Sterling, VA 20165, and indicate Abby & Bruno in the comments field.
Thank you again for your prayers and support.