Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it
From December 27, 2017 to January 5, 2018 a team from Derwood Bible Church (www.derwoodbiblechurch.org)
, an Open Arms partner, joined with Open Arms’ founder, Mike Meyers, for a combination VBS and construction mission to the village of Lagoinha
in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. Lagoinha is a village of the Terena people, a tribe of roughly 20,000 souls, that lives in scattered villages in the Pantanal region of Brazil, bordering with Bolivia and Paraguay.
Open Arms’ Agent of Hope, Sarita Romeiro
, has been serving in the Pantanal
region of Brazil since 2009 where she has planted 5 outreach missions. The mission at Lagoinha is in partnership with the UNIEDAS church (Union of Evangelical Indigenous Churches of South America) and was the second OA outreach in that region.
The team of 14 from Derwood Bible Church arrived two days after Christmas and went right to work on the construction of the Open Arms Center for Children. The center is adjacent to the church that has hosted Open Arms since its inception in that village. The team brought the unskilled labor. The teens and adult leaders got a crash course in mixing concrete and mortar, digging a septic tank, and even in the proper way to feed block to the skilled stone masons from the tribe. They picked it up quickly and kept a team of 5 stone masons very busy. Progress surpassed the goals of the trip!
After ringing in the New Year with our hosts in a 4 + hour worship service and then a feast lasting into the early morning, the team spent the first day of the year walking from home to home in the village praying over the sick and those struggling in other ways. It was an amazing experience to hear the prayers in multiple languages (Portuguese, Terena, and English) being lifted up with such fervor before the Lord. An unforgettable experience.
As construction continued through the first week of January, part of the team led a Vacation Bible School outreach. Bible teaching, crafts, games, and snacks, just like back home! What a blessing to encourage these young souls to lean on the Lord and to follow Him against the flow of this world.
Left to Right (Pastor Colin – Derwood Bible, Pastor Emilio – UNIEDAS, Pastor Mike – Open Arms & Reston Bible)
As the days passed, the fellowship enjoyed between brothers and sisters from two very different cultures, blossomed. We all gathered to dedicate the new center and place a Bible, an Open Arms t-shirt, and a declaration of the event, in the foundation. People wrote notes of praise and thanksgiving and placed them in the walls of the building. Later we gathered for an evening of praise and thanksgiving in the church, and topped it off with a presentation of Terena culture that wowed everyone. What we discovered over the many days of living with the Terena believers is that the culture we share, Jesus culture, is so much more significant than the cultures we don’t. The team looks forward to returning to celebrate in the inauguration of the Open Arms Children’s Center of Lagoinha.