Thursday, December 31, 2015

Photograph

I am not a photograph
I am much more than the moments captured on camera
I frown more than you see
I wake up looking much worse, and I go to bed looking more tired
The closer you get to the real me, the less you see in a frame

I am not a photograph
When you pick up that 4x6, or slide through an album
That is one moment of one day of one part of the rest of my life
Don’t make me a saint, don’t make me a devil
Don’t close me in farther than I already put myself

I am not a photograph
I might try to share myself through selfies
I might present myself to you in a way you’d like
But don’t let it stop there

Because only part of the truth is a lie—don’t let me lie to you

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Holiday Funday

Christmas started for me with the candles at the Christmas eve service
It had been a long, non-holiday filled with frustrations about how hard it is to work with a Sprint phone and rent a car. We almost didn't go to the service. But I am so glad we did. We came home to "Carina Christmas" (also with Emma and her family) and Christmas Wassail and the holiday on track. 
Lil lady's first Christmas
The day after Christmas we packed and left for Caid's family, staying with friends and speaking at their church about Brazil.
We are so excited to be with all 6 of Caid's siblings and their children. Ana Sofia is literally overrun with cousin love:). 
My favorite Christmas post about God paying for Christmas
Books to read (Can't get enough of these lists!)
My favorite New Years post--cool printable! I was reading about choosing a word for the year, and saw the first word on the printable and got no further: Embrace. Sounds like a good word for 2016! We love you all:),
The Fergusons



Monday, December 21, 2015

Safe and Sound

We are back in our Indy home, unpacked and happy. Our little lady did well traveling, except for deciding at 2:30am that it was time to play with all the people on the plane. She aced the first meeting of everyone with smiles and snuggles for everyone.
Basic rundown:
1. I don't have a cell number yet, as Sprint only unlocked the phone internationally, apparently. 
2. I am in love with wet wipes. Wet wipes for baby, wet wipes to dust and clean the house, wet wipes for general sanitation...wet wipes to clean the world's problems! And they are cheap. 
3. We are student loan free! God is so good!
4. Almost had a heart attack at the cuteness (and good price) of Ana's new boots at Goodwill
5. Found out, while leading a big group of kids, that I do NOT know the words to "Frosty the Snowman" after the first line...
6. Loved getting to see my "kids" from the youth center:


7. Loved, as always, my girls and our annual Christmas caroling party
8. Had a great time sharing with the kids from Shelbyville Community church: thanks for your support!
9. It has been amazing to see everyone--and so many more yet to see!
10. On to sending out Christmas cards and drinking eggnog!





Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ferguson Missionary Update (the long one)

1. What, specifically, have you been working on this past year?
Rachel: I had been in Brazil since 2004, but when we got married, we were not sure of what God had for us together. Over 2014, God made it clear to both of us that we were called to return to Brazil to serve, which we did in March, 2015. Ana Sofia Carol Ferguson was born June 25, 2015, and because she is Brazilian, we were able to receive permanent residency (ending lots of visa issues for us).
Caid: While Rachel was focusing on preparing our apartment and having a baby, I jumped into intensive Portuguese learning and ministry. I am the choir director at the International school, give voice lessons, and have been able to help/share music/choir training in some of the churches. We are coordinators for Living Stones, working weekly in the communities and local churches of Cajueiro Claro, Lagoa de Itaenga, Guadalajara, and Mussurepe. We have been equipping, assisting, and encouraging the leaders, and loving the kids through teaching English, music, and sports. I have also taken an active role in Glory Sports, something that will continue to grow as the Glory Sports complex is completed at the International school.
Rachel: This fall, Caid has taken the lead in meetings and training, while I work on writing for the blogs, updates, resources, and general paperwork at home. We love going as a family to Living Stones programs whenever we can. In September, the director for child sponsorships with World Help visited, and we have started a partnership with them and Lagoa Living Stones. We hope to have 32 children sponsored through World Help by 2016. We also work with Jeff and Lindsay Turner, creating videos/material/training for short-term missions trips, and working with trips when they come. Caid also helps translate and teach a martial arts outreach at local public school in a high crime rate area, and is concluding a ministry of helping coach a (American) football team in Recife.

2. What are your goals for the next year?  If applicable, please include a timeline for your plans.
Rachel: We will be on furlough in the USA from December-March. Our objectives are to spend time with family (they all need to meet Ana Sofia!), raise $15,000 for a car and plane tickets, and $300 more monthly personal support. We will also share about Living Stones, and hope to raise $400 monthly support for the children. We will be getting re-entry/marriage/parenting counseling to encourage and facilitate personal growth. When we return in March, we hope to jump back into things with Easter celebrations with Living Stones. We will be leading a mission’s trip in April with Shelbyville, and also in October (as well as being available to help out with any other trips that come).
Caid: I will continue leading the choir at the International school, and help out the churches with musical training. I will be working with Glory Sports, as well as our work with Living Stones. Our goal at Cajueiro Claro is to have more of an education focus, and teachers able to come regularly. At Lagoa, we hope to double to 60 children (32 supported by World Help), and perhaps expand our partnership with World Help. Next year, we hope to assist Guadalajara in becoming an official Living Stones program. We hope to continue to minister, in some way, to the Mussurepe and Trash dump communities. Rachel will continue to run the blogs and monthly updates of all the Living Stones ministries, and as a Fergie family we hope to continue to make vlogs and videos to help connect people in the USA with daily life in Brazil.

3. What financial needs do you currently have?
Rachel: Our budget hadn’t changed much since last year, but we started off a bit underfunded and some of the promised assistance hasn’t arrived. To make up for this, we need $300 more a month. We are also trying to figure out a good way to handle health insurance, and how to fund that. Our big, one time need is $11,000 for a car, and $3,000 for plane tickets (to return to Brazil in March). As coordinators for Living Stones, we are also working on raising funds for them. We need to raise $400 a month to start a new Living Stones program for the future.

4. What guidance, accountability, or mentorship do you currently receive?  How often?  Please include an example of how this mentorship was effective in your ministry in the past year.
Caid: We are sent through our church, Horizon central. I received guidance and mentorship through one of the leaders there, Jake Medlong. Our sending ministry is World Renewal International, where we have received guidance from Gary Wright and Steve Turner. In Brazil, we are blessed to have the leadership and guidance of Tele Moraes, whom we meet with periodically to “check in.” Most of our personal guidance, accountability, and mentorship has come through Jeff and Lindsay Turner, who also serve with World Renewal Brazil. They open their home to us (and many others) for Taco Tuesdays, something that has encouraged us greatly.  I have been grateful for personal conversations/mentorship from Jeff Turner, as well as Ricardo Silva, the pastor at Lagoa.
Rachel: One example of how our mentorship with the Turners was effective was with Lindsay’s help in the whole baby/becoming parents process. She set us up with our baby doctor(s) and doula, and was an incredible strength to me through pregnancy and becoming a mother. We always have so many questions for them about parenting, especially a TCK (third culture kid), and are so excited that the Turners are Ana Sofia’s godparents. I also share accountability/encouragement with my long-time friend, Karianne Charbonnel, through e-mail.

5. Are you planning on making any major changes to the function of your ministry in the next few years?  If so, please explain these changes.
Rachel: We strongly feel that we are here to serve and assist as God has called us. But we also know that God’s plans can change and look very different than we originally planned. We are dedicated to following Him wherever He leads. We are, in a sense, working ourselves out of a job—training the leaders at local churches, and enabling them to reach out to the poorest children in their community.
Caid: My ministry has expanded to include music and sports outside of Living Stones as well, and we are excited to see what God has for us in these areas. We are careful to evaluate every six months how the ministry is going, and what changes we feel that God is leading in (each semester the ways/times we serve in the churches changes, according to their needs). We also hope to have more children in the future, and this might change some ministry aspects.

6. Do you have unmet needs? If so, what are they?  How can we pray for you?
Rachel: It has been a monumental year for us: moving to Brazil and having a baby! We have been well supported by our USA team and Brazil team. I feel well-supported in my role in Brazil, after being here single for so long. Having those years in ministry has taught me how to ask for help when I need it. I would like prayer for wisdom as our family grows, and my role becomes more home-centered (and also the fund-raising that it would require).
Caid: I have loved being able to dive into life in Portuguese. It hasn’t been easy, but we have a strong support system. An unmet need I feel is close, deep, give-and-take relationships with Brazilians. Please pray for God’s leading in expanding my discipling/being discipled small group here in Brazil, and what that will practically look like. Please pray for both of us, and our consistent intimacy with the Lord, and in seeking more and more opportunities to share and be bold about God and having a growing personal relationship with Jesus.

Budget for 2016:
1. Personal: $750 monthly (Food/non-food: $385, Gifts: $65, Car insurance/car savings: $100, Health insurance/savings: $200, Car buying: $11,000-one time)
2. Housing: $400 monthly (Rent: $230, Water: $50, Internet:$35, Utilities: $40, Upkeep/house items: $45)
3. Ministry: $350 monthly (Mileage ($225 ish), Living Stones supplies/printing/postage: $70, Phone: $35, Ministry food: $20, Plane ticket: $3000-one time)
4. Total: 1500 monthly, plus 10% admin. Fee: 1650 monthly, and 14,000 (1,500 admin. Fee) 15,500 one time cost: total: 35,200 for the year

Ministry expenses from 2015 (not including December): $16,391
Donations for Fergusons 2015 (not including December): $16,355

Merry Christmas!

Two years ago when we got married in Brazil, we had no idea what was coming next. Last year, Caid finished his degree, Rachel found out she was pregnant, and they were commissioned as missionaries. This year, we moved to Brazil, had our daughter, Ana Sofia Carol Ferguson, and served Living Stones, a program that enables local leaders to LEND to the neediest children in their communities (buildinglivingstones.blogspot.com). We love training leaders and working with the kids through English, music, and Glory Sports ministries. Rachel does a lot of writing and resource-building (also with the Turners), and Caid jumped into intensive Portuguese learning and being the choir director at the International school.

In 2016, we will be in the USA until March, raising funds for a vehicle and monthly support. On returning to Brazil, Caid will focus more on in-person networking (with Living Stones, Glory Sports, Music and English ministries, and short term missions trips), and Rachel on internet resources/connections, including World Help child sponsorships. We are so thankful for our community and support in Brazil, and in the USA! Please pray for our family to grow in consistent intimacy with the Lord, and in seeking more and more opportunities to share and be bold about God and having a growing relationship with Jesus. Find everything about us at www.fiveminutesoffergie.com.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Knocks on the Door

We haven't been to the trash dump community as much as I wanted this year. I haven't (Caid has) been to the actual trash dump at all. First of all, I was pregnant for awhile, and didn't even want to go across the street. All of the walking was daunting. Then Ana was born--and you can't take a baby with no immune system to a dirty place like that. When she was big enough, we took her to the relocated trash dump community (still a dirty place, but definitely a step up). But I didn't get to see the kids like I used to. 

One day on our way home, two of the kids from the dump saw us and followed us home (literally). Once they learned that we live (almost) on their way between them and their school, pop-up visits became almost daily Now I love these little girls. And working with these kids is my LIFE. But...when the doorbell rings and Ana is just about asleep...when I hear a knock and I am not dressed yet, or just about to jump in the shower...it isn't easy. 

They are two sweet, darling little ladies, but they run around my little apartment and ask for everything "Tia, can I have this mango? I want that picture on the wall of you! What are you doing with all that change (we keep our loose change on the table)? Ana has so many bows--I don't have any!" And they don't want to leave. Ever. After finally insisting that Ana did have to go to sleep, and rustling them out the door (rustling is the perfect word), Clara turns to me with her big eyes and says, "But I want to live here." 
What do you do with all of that? You love. You break. You hurt and then you do it all over again. And sometimes you groan when you hear the knock on the door. But this is the life I want to live. This is the life I want for my family. I was reading this and saw this:
YES. Let's change this. 


More Sunday Funday stuff:
1. I find it easy (pretty much) to ignore Trump. But not this. Here is an article about it from Shane Claiborne...I really don't know where I stand on guns and war--at least not from a knock-down-study-all-Bible-passages-and-wrestle-with-it thing. Looks like I need to do that soon. 
2. This is my cousin (or something like that? we are related). Seems like EVERY. SINGLE. MISSIONARY I know (including myself) has some kind of breakdown in some kinda store when returning to the USA. Mine was Kroger. Trying to decide what kind of soy sauce to buy. 
3.I am really liking this lady. She also wrote the first link. 

Pray for us! We leave on Tuesday!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Be a Missionary Every Day (clap, clap, clap, clap)

He looked into my eyes, and with all of his seven-year-old self he asked, “Can I be a Missionary too?” Of course you can, was my teary-eyed response.
I refused to call myself a missionary until I was “on the field” for many years already. I had grown up reading biographies of great missionaries like George Muller and Amy Carmichael and Hudson Taylor—and I knew that wasn’t me. I was simply following the green lights God had on my path—and loving it—was I supposed to be enjoying myself so much?
Jump forward to speaking, as a missionary, to children’s church. Trying to lump 10 years of my life and thoughts and learnings into seven-year-old speech. They want to know two things: what is a missionary, and can they be one. Two HUGE questions for any of us.
I have heard that being a missionary is telling others about Jesus. That everyone is—and should be—a missionary. Yes, AND. And so much more. We all, as Christians, are called to tell others about Jesus. I have heard it amplified to say that being a missionary is GOING and telling others about Jesus. Yes, AND. Much of the current focus on being a missionary is going to a different CULTURE than your own. This could be your next door Muslim neighbor or to Muslims in Africa. Being a missionary definitely carries the idea of stepping out of your comfort zone and sharing Jesus.
Officially, I would say when most people think of the word “Missionary,” they mean someone who has moved (become a migrant) somewhere different (than their own culture) for the specific purpose of telling others about Jesus (direct spiritual ministry in some form), mostly being supported (at least partially) by Christians from their original culture/home.
I love being a missionary. It is my dream job. But like all jobs, it is hard, it has its downsides, and sometimes I just don’t want to get out of bed. My biggest struggle in being a missionary has been the money. It is hard to receive money (no, really). It is humbling and requires grace—both giving and receiving. God is my boss, but there is a lot more to it than that. I hate to say it, but many of our plans revolve around if the money comes in or not. How do you tell that to seven-year-olds?
I had a wonderful childhood, and wouldn’t change it for anything. But in middle school I looked around my life and realized I didn’t have any friends who didn’t know Jesus. I was so embarrassed when we were supposed to bring our “unsaved friends” to a church event…and I couldn’t find a single one.
I am all for telling our seven-year-olds that they can be missionaries. But let’s make sure it is true. Let us, as parents, as older siblings, as aunts and uncles, as mentors, make sure our children/the children in our lives have the opportunities to be those missionaries we told them they could be. Let’s choose to live in THAT part of town. Let’s choose to go to the church that doesn’t feel so comfortable. Let’s maybe even choose THAT school.
Here is a challenge a little closer to home: let’s choose to actively have other cultures as a vital part of our lives. Let’s have friends who don’t agree with us. Let’s have people over to our house that don’t look like us. Let’s not encourage/support people (especially in politics) who don’t love people who are different than they are (race, religion, sexuality)—but let’s still love and pray for them. If we are not doing these things: we need to stop telling our children they can be missionaries.
Stepping outside your comfort zone is scary. Not being “home,” not knowing if they will accept you, not knowing if they will be kind to you…these are all things involved with being a missionary. It is not safe. It is not being cautious. It is being so full of Jesus that you have to share or you will burst.
There is a lot of discussion lately about refugees and migrants and how we should treat Muslims. As a missionary, I am saddened where many of these discussions lead in the name of safety/caution. I have friends who have given their lives to go and minister to Muslims—to the applause of many people. Those same people are now discussing ways to not have Muslims anywhere near them. God is providing more and more opportunities to be missionaries without moving to another country: let us rejoice! Let us stand up and take the opportunity to share Jesus.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

December Sunday Funday

I am so glad to be able to take a moment to enjoy reading encouraging things this Sunday, Advent Sunday. I am hiding in the dark at the bottom of the bed, as Ana is still sleeping, and I was too lazy to move my computer. It has been a good week, and I am happy, even though my to do list is growing rather than shrinking, and I feel the sniffles coming on.
This was beautiful...and made me want to stop and try to figure out how my views on suffering have changed the past decade...but something I will save to do another day. I still love my questions...but am seeing the wisdom in how sometimes...it is time to lay them aside.
This post about being white and raising black children held a lot of insights. I need to revisit this as my kid(s) grow older.

I feel like the #wewelcomerefugees and that whole crisis has officially been taken out of the spotlight, and that is sort of a relief (as I do not like arguing, or my heart hurting), but is sad because it is still an issue. People still need help. Please keep joining me in prayer for those running from/unable to be home...especially for the holidays.

Leaving one home and going to another in a week and a half! 
Mom (I know you read this) another FiveMinutesOfFergie vlog is coming soon:)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

November Sunday Funday


Sundays: to relax and revel in Jesus. And when I am away from home, one of the ways I do that is by connecting with the familiar. We call family and friends, and I try to connect and catch up on personal e-mails. And...I read fun, uplifting, and spiritually challenging things on the internet.
Here are the good things I found today, that I wanted to share:
1. Serpents and Doves--the balance of wisdom and innocence Especially when I am told that (often) that I am too naive and innocent. Especially involving refugees #wewelcomerefugees
2. National Refugee Sunday--December 13th! I really wish they had their resources in Portuguese as well.
3. A HUGE list of cool travel coloring books I am a big fan of coloring books. yep.
4. As we get ready to return to the USA (a little over two weeks!) we are getting ready to receive counseling. Re-entry, marriage, parent, personal...all kinds of counseling. Because godly counsel and sharing is always a good thing! So grateful to be a part of this community!
5. For hard to understand issues, I like these short animated videos. This is on the vetting process.

I am really enjoying Hebrews right now (there is nothing like reading aloud Hebrew 11 to get you pumped up!) "Therefore (after all that was said in Hebrews 11) we also, since we are surrounded y so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." Hebrews 12:1

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Five Months Old

The biggest thing I have realized this month is that Ana Sofia wants to be invited into my life. She doesn't want me to create a life around her, she wants me to do all my stuff...with her actively involved. 
So at meal times, Ana gets a spoon. or a cracker. or her fruit-mushy thing she can suck fruit out of. 
So when I cook, she gets a little taste on her tongue, or gets to touch all the ingredients. 
So when I am working on my laptop, she gets to read (eat) her book in my lap. 
So when we go to Living Stones, she gets to play with all the kids too. 
I am absolutely sure that when she is in her baby carrier, facing outward, she believes it is her walking around and doing everything. At the grocery store, she reached out and held on to the cart handle, like she was pushing it along as we walked. When it started raining, she held on the umbrella with me, with a face of "Of course I am helping."
This reminded me of God and I, and Revelations 3:20, about inviting Jesus in. But the more I know Him, the more I realize I don't just want Him in my life, I want to be invited into His life. 
We have dived into preparing to return to the USA and Christmas (suitcases and presents are taking over the apartment), and Ana has begun to find her voice. Literally. All possible notes and sounds--and her favorite--screeches, fill the air. I feel sorry already for the people who will share the 10 hour plane ride with us. Please pray for our little lady, as everything (climate, home, stuff, clothes, food, people) she  knows will change. As I kiss her perpetually-non-clothes wearing belly, I wonder what she will think of snow. 


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

When Talking about Refugees...


1. When talking about refugees, the whole Syrian crisis gets brought up. My disorganized thoughts about ISIS boil down to this: these are people without Jesus. I have never been able to wrap my head around war, or killing people in general, but regardless of that, I should be on my knees in prayer for them. (Matthew 5:44 “Love your enemy, pray for those who persecute you…”) NEVER is the time to be happy that someone—anyone—dies, or is being killed.
2. When talking about refugees, immigration in general gets brought up. I am a migrant. Most missionaries are. For every migrant there is a different story. It saddens me that migrants are often looked down on. I did not choose to be born where I was born—I am grateful for being an American, and feel that with great blessing comes great responsibility to pass that on. (Malachi 3:5 “…I will come to put you on trial…(who) deprive the foreigners among you of justice…”) I wrote a lot more about this here: http://www.rachelsnewday.blogspot.com.br/2015/09/iamamigrant.html
3. When talking about refugees, it is natural to jump to trying to find solutions (LET them into the USA! DON’T let them into the USA!). But first, let’s all stop and let our hearts be broken for a truly terrible situation. This is a crisis. And people are dying . People are in fear for their lives- for their children's lives. So before we go all American and try to fix everything, let’s sit and feel. Sit in solidarity. And then slowly, through prayer, find solutions. Many solutions . There are as many different solutions needed as people fleeing. And this will not happen quickly (Romans 12:15 “…weep with those who weep.”) NEVER is the time to close our hearts off to others. I wrote a lot more about this here: http://www.rachelsnewday.blogspot.com.br/2015/09/i-want-my-kids-to-know-about-your-kids.html 
4. When talking about refugees, politics get brought up. Politics isn’t my area. Serving others is. And I know that politics are all tangled up in this, but I don’t think that should dictate our hearts, or be a reason for us to leave our Christian mandate to love. Truth without love is WRONG. Love without truth is WRONG. And in any discussion you have with me, I want to focus on what we can do, and what our (you, me, the church) responsibility is. I wrote a lot more about that here: http://www.rachelsnewday.blogspot.com.br/2015/10/politics.html
5. When talking about refugees, caution gets brought up. I understand caution. I also see caution moving into fear moving into hate. I understand needing wisdom. But I see wisdom moving into over-limitations moving into barring entry. This: http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/youre-not-a-bad-christian-just-because-you-want-to-be-cautious-about-syrian-refugees/ brought up some good points and some points I don’t completely agree with, but were good to think about.
6. When talking about refugees, people get crazy quickly. I was suddenly involved with a very long Facebook conversation recently, where things went places I couldn’t control—and it was on my Facebook wall. I have decided I need to make it harder for me to push the share button by taking the time to write out my perspective more thoroughly on my blog. It also means people are less likely to respond, since it requires more reading. It isn’t easy for me to disagree with people I love and respect, but it is a good challenge for me to show love and grace. 
7. When talking about refugees, Americans often lump together what is happening in the USA to what is happening in Europe/Middle East. The number of people in question coming to the USA is 10,000. The number in Europe/Middle East is in the millions. Different solutions are needed for a different amount of people. Here is a quote from my friend, Em, who works with refugees in Indiana: “The demographics of refugees flooding European countries and the demographics of refugees entering the US are vastly different. It is true that the sheer millions of refugees flooding the EU borders makes it difficult for those countries to screen, but those that come to the US are being thoroughly screened. I can only speak about the Syrian families we have worked with- an embarrassing total of 25 individuals over the past year because the screening process is so rigorous. We have resettled a few adult males, but mostly families including women and children.”
8. When talking about refugees, the vetting process is brought up. From my perspective (being a world traveler for the past 10 years), it has NEVER been easy to legally enter the USA from other countries. I have had Brazilian friends YELLED at by the American consulate, told they were just trying to sneak in, and then denied a visa. The USA has a very thorough process for legal entry. Around 85,000 are allowed in on a regular year (from what I have read), so I don’t see 10,000 more breaking the system. I understand that background papers and all are hard to get, and people can slip through, but rationally, ISIS would not spend the time to come into the USA through the refugee system—it would take too long. They would find an illegal way of entry. Here is a thorough post about the vetting system: https://www.facebook.com/BryanScottHicks/posts/1187326084630475?fref=nf&pnref=story
9. When talking about refugees, money is brought up. Although I see you still have enough money to go to Starbucks, here is what Em shared about that: “We have a strict time frame of 90 days to help our clients become "sustainable", meaning that they can support their families without our assistance. When a person has experienced severe trauma, doesn't fluently speak the language of the country in which they now live, and are experiencing culture shock while starting life from scratch, the truth is that it is very difficult to work. However, they do. Housing assistance is only guaranteed the first 3 months, refugee Medicaid the first 8 months. I don't specifically work with case management so I am not sure about the deadlines for food stamps, but I know that the services we provide serve only as a buffer for our clients to have food and shelter, refuge, while they actively make steps toward the life ahead. If you actually look at the numbers, each refugee is allotted $925 for the 90 days of support we give. Could you live off that much money for 3 months? We are resettling refugees into poverty.”
10. When talking about refugees, “helping our own” is brought up (specifically Vets/homeless). As my father is a veteran, I too believe that vets are important. I worked for Good News Ministries for many, many years, and they do an amazing job every day working with vets/homeless. I am glad that so many are now interested in helping them, and hope that they will get connected with hands-on opportunities to serve. But that does not take anything away from the refugee crisis.
11. When talking about refugees, allowing them to enter the USA is brought up as a bad solution. (http://www.nationalreview.com/article/427153/refugee-resettlement-immoral) I believe there are MANY solutions, and even more solutions that are needed in this refugee crisis. I believe we should be praying and working to help with as many of these solutions as possible. As an American, most of these solutions will not affect me directly. The one that might, is the idea of refugees coming to the USA. This is only a possible solution for a very few: but I believe it is a valid and needed solution for the few that can. This does not take away from other solutions (or the fact that Saudi Arabia is being a butt about things: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/sep/15/saudi-arabia-has-100000-air-conditioned-tents-sitt/ ).
12. When talking about refugees, I wish to speak as graceful as Ann Voskamp: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2015/11/when-you-want-to-live-love-large-in-a-world-with-terrorists-a-movement-of-giftivists/ 
13. Another thought from Em, which I wish I had said myself: “In all the discussion about refugees, I'm disheartened that we are not actually talking about refugees. We are talking about terrorists, blatantly ignoring the oppressed and the victims of the terrorists we also fear. There are millions of refugees- mothers, fathers, children, doctors, teachers, students, friends, ordinary people, who have been torn from everything they have known to be familiar. They are not looking for a better life or a chance to take advantage of our economy, they are trying to stay alive! I'm disheartened to see how the U.S. has exchanged nobility for cowardice, precious, innocent lives for the extremely selfish and, might I add, false notion of "security", and has gone so low as to accuse the victims of being the perpetrators from whom they themselves are escaping.”
14. Another thought from me, mostly regarding migration, since that is all I know about personally:” I see people suffering from deep poverty every day. I know them. I work with them. I love them. And if I were one of them, and had a chance to work my butt off and get my kid to a place where they would not be in the same place, I would fight tooth and nail for it. I think anyone would. And that is not even a refugee- that is the story of most migrants. We did nothing to be born Americans and receive all we have been give - we have no right to shut out others. As far as protecting our own- I am all for that. And yes, sometimes I tremble at the thought of terrorism coming close to my daughter. We are to be wise They are doing much more than you think to vet people. Is the system failsafe? No. But then again, neither is closing boarders or building walls.”
15. When talking about refugees, some things I hope we can agree on: God loves the refugees. We are to love the refugees. All Muslims are to be loved. Prayer is needed. Wisdom is needed. Action is needed.
16. When talking about refugees, I hope the end result is doing something loving. Perhaps you are not called to actively work with refugees—but you are called to actively serve others. I hope you reach out to the hurting where you are—the vets, the homeless, the children, the single mothers, the suburban families that are broken but refuse to admit it…the list goes on. And let’s sit and think about this: most of us can’t go to Europe/Middle East to share Jesus…but there are people from there working HARD to be able to come here—there are Muslims here—that need to see God’s love. I believe it would be darn near impossible to be a radical Muslim if every Christian I knew refused to stop showering me with love. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Naps and Minimization


I have been praying for Paris. Right next to praying for my family and Caid’s family and our friend and our ministries and our kids and the other things our other friends have asked us to pray for…it is a lot of prayer (that is a good thing). And I am nowhere near the “Praying without ceasing.” I am nowhere near dedicating the time I want to—and that others need—to prayer. I haven’t even seen “War Room” yet. 
My husband changed his profile picture to the French flag. I did not. I was too overwhelmed with so many tragedies, and took a nap instead. I think it is so important to let each one grieve for their own sorrows without calling into question their motives. 
The catch is this: if you say “Don’t (just) pray for Paris, pray for the world” you are hurting the people who need time to grieve specifically for Paris. It makes them feel as if you are saying their pain doesn’t matter. Their hurt doesn’t go away just because somewhere else was bombed as well. And with so many people actively praying for Paris, it makes other people feel left out and their hurt minimized (Beirut...).
To compensate, we generalize into "Pray for the world," and somehow no one is happy. 
This helped put into perspective the pain (and lashing out) that I saw from #blacklivesmatter and #alllivesmatter. BOTH are true. You don’t have to minimize one to care about the other. Focusing on one doesn't mean you don't care for the other. Sometimes we are just too overwhelmed with it all to be able to focus on more than one small thing at a time. Sometimes we should just go take a nap. 


Irritating Bible Verses


Last Sunday it was my Sunday to teach the teens. I wanted a real sit-down conversation about the Bible. Paulo couldn’t handle it very well. He is used to being taught AT: where he sits down and listens but doesn’t need to do anything else. So when I opened with, “Paulo, why do we have the Bible?” He looked shocked and scared and horrified all at once. Because he isn’t used to having to process. Having to participate. But that is what we need. That is how we LEARN.
I choose to share with the teens the things that God is teaching me. Lately, I’ve been learning that the Bible is irritating. It is frustrating and full of ugly things I really don’t like or want anything to do with (currently reading Ezekiel). AND YET.
And yet I believe it. And yet it is the inerrant Word of God. I don’t understand, but I still hold on to it. As my friend says, who loves to quote Chesterton: "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried." I am trying.
I asked the kids if they believed the Bible: of course. I asked them if they had read it all: of course not. (well that should eventually change) Then there were parts of the Bible they had never seen before? How did they know they believed it if they hadn’t even read it? What if they started reading all those in-between parts and found some weird stuff? I gave them a heads up—there is tons of weird stuff. Stuff about mother’s eating their babies. Stuff about wanting their enemy’s children dashed on rocks. And that is only the beginning.
I told the kids that there are a lot of smart people out there that will find those weird/hard parts of the Bible and throw it in your face. And you will have to struggle with it. But you don’t have to be embarrassed for God. He already knew it was there, and why it was there. And maybe someday you’ll understand too, or get to ask Him yourself about it.
And maybe you will never understand it, but you will get to know God better after you struggle. You will get to know yourself better after the struggle. You will be blessed in the struggle.
What about all that stuff that isn’t written in the Bible that you want to know? Like what to do when that guy asks you out? Or anything about video games (because I checked, “video games” are not in the Bible)? The Bible is there to help you get to know God, and as you get to know God, you begin to understand the principles about what He thinks and wants for your life. Somehow, and I don't really know how, everything we need is there, in that Bible.
It was a good discussion. It was real. Even if I had to drag Paulo into it. It wasn’t just “Read your Bible because it will help you” talk. It was “Read your Bible to get to know God. And even then you won’t understand all of Him because He is God. But keep going because it is worth it.”

Worth the Investment


I became a part of a Facebook conversation. One of THOSE. One that was long enough, I couldn't keep track of replies and comments and kept getting lost as I scrolled down. It was interesting, and informative, and I got to practice being diplomatic and giving thoughtful replies. And in the end, we are all still friends. But it was still quite a bit of drama. And after it was over, I realized that I don't have time for that.
On Facebook, people can't "read" the tone of voice you write things in. And strangers see your posts and take it personally. If you say something against someone they agree with, it can automatically become something you say against them--and normally taken farther than you ever intended. Most of the time...it just isn't worth it.
But what about when it is worth it? What about when it is something you are passionate about and you feel that bubbling up of words and emotions and you can't sleep until you get something out somewhere? Here is my plan for me. Because during this Facebook conversation, I didn't feel balanced, and that needs to change.
Instead of hitting "share,"which is so easy to do, I am going to blog about it. This makes me stop, think, and put time into it. Calm down a little. And, since I am a mom, will cut down on all the things I share. Will cut down on the drama. Because hey--not as many people are willing to read my blog (after 11 years of blogging, I know this to be true) as they are a quick headline and picture. And the people who do read my blog? They are probably are worth having the discussion with.

It has become so easy to share our opinion. Or even a headline of a story we think we agree with, without even knowing the whole story. Writing blogs won't solve this, and it won't make me magically informed. But it will help me make sure it is worth the investment before pushing the "publish" button.



Thursday, November 12, 2015

Two Years Married

October 31st is Halloween, but more importantly, it is Jeff Turner's birthday. Here is our vlog about it:

It is hard to believe that Caid and I have been married for two years already, and how much has happened in that time...Caid graduating with his bachelor's degree, us becoming missionaries, and us becoming parents are the three biggest things I can think of. But it has been all the little things in between that have been so special. 


Ana Sofia stayed with the Turners and Mackenzie, and Caid and I went to the "very cool" mall and then the beach to enjoy ourselves for our anniversary. It was our best date ever, but by 3:30pm I was seeing babies everywhere and missing my lil girl. I will never forget the amazing time, laughing and remembering with my husband and best friend. 
We aren't the same without this lil sweet pea. Here was two years ago:


God bless you from the Fergusons!



Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Antidote to Depression

While eating at a restaurant, my daughter (4 months) smiled the brightest, biggest smile she owned at each person who walked by. And as person after person passed without noticing, my heart broke a little more. I wanted to shake them as they walked, unknowingly, and say “Hey, my daughter is smiling at you. Smile back. NOW.”
Because I know what a brave thing it is to smile at every single person you see. Ana Sofia doesn’t know that yet. It is giving something—freely. It is putting yourself out there, not knowing what will return. Ana’s little world is full of returned smiles and care. But I won’t be able to control that as her world grows bigger.
And I grieved a small grief. With every un-returned smile. Because I know life isn’t going to be easy for my little girl. My friend, cousin, and fellow missionary Amy recently shared that grief is the antidote to depression. That it is to be welcomed as a friend. And so I pause to sit and give time to grieve.
This morning I scrolled through Facebook and found out that two boys (now men) who used to by my boys at the Youth Center are dead. And two more are in critical condition. I haven’t seen them in a while, and I am so far away, but it still hurts.
And so before anyone talks about violence, gambling, or gun control, let’s sit and grieve. We need to grieve a big grief. For these young men who we will miss. For the memories we will not make. For their families and loved ones. Let us let out our emotions in a safe and healthy way. Let us take all our burdens to Jesus.
Thurm and Jonte we will miss you! Doodles and Nate--our prayers for your recovery. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Four Months Old

Ana is giggling as she rolls over and waits for me to notice. I flip her back onto her belly and she smiles at her reflection in the mirror. I read in a lot of baby books about how three months is a big timeline, how it takes most of that time for the baby to get used to being outside the womb (“Happiest Baby on the Block”). It is like one long introduction to the rest of your life.

I thought the “newborn baby” thing would be the first three months, but really, it was the first three weeks. After that Ana began to be more than just a lump (sorry, baby lovers). I did enjoy the newborn baby thing more than I thought—I was happy with being done with pregnancy, and starting a new phase. Besides, everything is interesting when it is new. And the whole “so little” thing is ridiculously irresistible.

So from reading all my books, I wasn’t worried about spoiling Ana Sofia, or about getting on some ridged schedule for the first three months. They were about taking it easy and enjoying this new creature and phase of life. And that went well. And Ana slept through the night on her own, and got along well with our normal schedule, and loved going out with us to Living Stones.

Now I am beginning to see changes. Someone has decided she wants to be entertained. I find myself telling her, “If it isn’t a poop, sleep, or eat problem, you are now on your own.” We have a system of while I am working on the computer, she can sit in my lap, tummy time (now rollover practice), bouncy bed thing, or bouncy chair thing (attached to the door frame). She normally cycles through all of these in an hour. By then it is normally time to eat, sleep, or poop.

She cried for the first time when someone else held her. She cried herself to sleep (finally). Her personality is coming out. She laughs, she is ticklish, she complains, she is curious. I started snapchat to record things I am grateful for, and I find they most all revolve around her (add me: rachtheferg).  I am enjoying getting to know her: happy four months, Aninha!




More Creative Help Please

So the card has both pictures on it--one on each side (one side saying "Give Joy," the other "Doe Alegria"which is literally Donate Joy).
Here are the gift tags:
They have the white space to write the name of who it is for, and a tie. I really like the convenience of the elastic tie (top), but it isn't as pretty. What do you think?
I was thinking of having them in packs of 5 or 10, like this. How much should they cost? below are the ornaments--I love the gold and red so much better!
I have the simple red, simple gold, and then twisted together. I was thinking of having them in a pack of three? And then how much should they cost?
Lastly, here is an idea of what they would look like (on presents and on the tree). Any other ideas/options? 
I am getting so excited for the holidays:)




Saturday, October 24, 2015

Creative Help Please!

So Living Stones has these awesome cards (thanks to Craig Olson)
With them, we are going to make gift tags and ornaments. This is also going to be the cover and back page of our 2016 Calendar and Informational Booklet 2015 (coming soon!) 

For the gift tags, I am punching the top left corner, cover the bottom left with a strip of white (small blank address label), and putting in gold elastic (rubber band link thing) or red or yellow ribbon. They will be sold in quantities of 5 or 10, in small see-through fabric bags. How much do you think they should cost? Any other suggestions for gift tags?

For the ornaments, I have some first tries:
(plain ribbon)
(two colors twisted...I tried longer and shorter...I think somewhere in the middle would be good)
(fancy)

Which would you like to hang on your tree? Should I try to add green ribbon to make it more Christmas-y? Any other ideas? 

We are going to be putting together a booth to raise funds here in Brazil for Living Stones. Can anyone give me some hot tips for this? We will also make sure to have these available for donations in the USA, 




Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Politics

I do not identify with being liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat: I find it takes enough time to try to live my life loving others and figuring out what it means to be a Christian and to follow Jesus. The practical implications are astounding. But the government is a tool to use wisely, not to make up for the lack of what you yourself are willing to do. It is a tool to not take lightly- and so I vote when my mom reminds me it is time to vote.

But here is what it comes down to: police are being disrespected, and race is an issue because we the church have failed the black community- we have made Sunday morning the most segregated hour of the week.

Gay marriage is an issue because we the church have failed the gay community. We have not loved them. We have not welcomed them. We have not said that we will stand with them in their successes and failures as they learn what it means to be a Christian.

The Duggars are an issue because we the church have remained too silent on abuse/abusers and porn. Abortion and feminism is an issue because we the church have not stood with women in their hard times and embraced adoption as beautiful. Refugees/Immigration is an issue because we have not opened our homes- would you house a refugee? Healthcare is an issue because we the church have not cared for the sick.

And I know I am preaching to the choir, and perhaps you are offended by these words because they are not true for you. But they have often been true for me. The bottom line isn’t what person will become president, it is will I open my home and my life and be vulnerable and LOVE others. Others defined as the police, people of other races, GLBT, sex offenders, adulterers, abortionists, feminists, refugees, migrants, the sick and smelly: Democrats and Republicans and the rest of us lost somewhere in the middle or on some end.

I am telling myself to do it instead of fighting against the government doing it (conservative end), and I am telling myself to do it instead of making the government do it for me (liberal end).  To my political friends - tell me what you are for, not what you are against. Tell me what you are doing to make the world a better place - not what is sending this world to hell. And no matter how ignorant or rude you think someone who disagrees with you is, that does not give you the right to berate, threaten, or in general be mean to them. Show me you are bigger by loving them.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Three Months of Ana Sofia


My friend put together an awesome review of the main baby books out there, as well as some of her thoughts on becoming a parent. This is something to have bookmarked to share with new moms. This month I have been thinking and praying about the refugee situation, and what I want my kids to know about your kids. 
Ana Sofia is so much bigger/stronger/interestinger than I thought she would be at three months. The whole "newborn baby" phase only lasts a couple of weeks. You know, the part where you are scared you are going to break them and they look alien-ish and bleh. It seems like every day Ana shows me a little more of her growing personality and funny faces. There is also a lot of drool involved.
(Tongue out--her most common expression)
At two months and one day she rolled over for the first time, now making mom and dad nervous more than ever. 


With Brazilian holidays we were able to go to the beach and have a great time with friends:


I am enjoying this phase of baby-ness a lot, as we take her with us to Living Stones and let her join into our lives. On the days when Ana and I don't join dad at Living Stones, she is a bit fussy, and lets me know she'd rather be out and about. Here she is, helping us teach Portuguese and English. It is the kids (at Living Stones) favorite question: which language does she speak? 



She enjoys talking to herself, talking to us, and complaining. Her laugh has also evolved into the most show-stopping thing at our house. We then go running for the camera, which magically turns off her laugh the instant it turns on. Here is our attempt to capture this joy: 


Saturday, September 5, 2015

I Want my Kids to Know About Your Kids (to parents of refugees)

Every day my husband and I work with a different group of kids in Brazil doing different things, to share Jesus. But today I added one thing: I wanted my kids to know about your kids. So I pushed through tears and told a story:
A little boy, his brother, and parents running away. His father working hard, and paying quite a bit of money to get them on a small boat to somewhere better. The boat breaking, the life jackets not working, one by one—the father watching them drowning. Alan washed up on the shore and into my heart. Over 2,500 other Alans drowning.
Canada denying visas. Other countries denying sanctuary. What can we do? We can pray. We can use our voice to cry out to God, who is everywhere, and to people, who are His hands. We can let them know we care. And one very small way—we can use social media for good. And I said if they wanted to take a picture with me, to add to the sea of hashtags, they could. And they did.

They cried with me. As I stumbled over my Portuguese and whispered the thought I have over and over: “Did you choose to be born here in Brazil? Did I choose to be born in the USA? Did Alan choose to be born in Syria? That could have been me. That could have been you.”

I want my kids to know about your kids because they could have been your kids—I could have been you. And so I am not afraid to shock them with “that picture,” and I am not going to shy away from holding them when they cry for Alan too. I want my kids to know about your kids because I want them to know they can make a difference in the world by caring, by learning and listening and doing.

I want my kids to know about your kids from me—before they hear a derogatory remark about immigrants. I want them to love. I want them to “weep with those who weep.” I want them to grow up and meet your kids and share Jesus with them. I want my kids to know about your kids so one day they will see them in heaven.

#Iamamigrant

If you were born in a different country, or in a different state than you are now in; if you have ever moved from one home to another, you are (or have been) a migrant. Think of birds, migrating—it is simply someone “on the move.”
I have been a migrant for over 10 years. Before that, I was born and raised in the same home. And it was a good life. But I grew…I changed. I made choices that took me far from home. Every migrant has a story of change; reasons why, reasons why not.

I am an immigrant (?)
Immigrant adds “im” which means “in” to migrant. It denotes a more permanent (and out of country) move—a move you have chosen to remain in. I have invested 10 years of my life in Brazil. I love Brazil. I have a Brazilian (anchor) baby. Brazil will always be a part of my life. Will I always live here? I don’t know. My life is not my own, and I haven’t been informed of the future.

My husband is an immigrant from Jamaica. His whole family has the story that my family had a couple generations back. Immigration is what began, formed, and grew America--much to the pain and suffering of those already located here. Let’s not repeat that story—or build a wall.
 (Caid in Jamaica)

I do not have solutions for the current migrant/immigrant situation in the USA. I do not have solutions for the refugee situation in Europe. But I do understand wanting the chance to live in another country. I know each time I applied for a visa I silently begged, “Please give me this opportunity.” Brazil took a chance on me: they let me in.

I welcome refugees
Refugee is the term for someone who cannot return home for fear of serious harm. They are forced to flee. And as time goes on, I am sure more terms will be made for more reasons that people migrate—because for every migration, there is a story. For every story, there are reasons why, and why not.
I welcome refugees, I welcome migrants, I welcome immigrants. I don’t do this because they deserve it or don’t deserve it. I don’t do it because they are good people or bad people. Sometimes I don’t even do it because I want to: I do it because I am a Christian, and I have given my life to Christ, and two rules He gave me are to love Him and to love others.
I am not saying it is my governments’ job to take care of them: I am saying it is my job to love them—to love my neighbor. And my neighbor lives in Syria, In Mexico, in Afghanistan. And I don’t know what “love” will look like tomorrow—I barely know what it looks like right now—but I am looking for it. And I am doing what I know to do.

I am asking my government to welcome refugees, to allow them in. I am asking my friends, my family, my kids to welcome--and to love--their neighbors as they would want to be loved, as God has loved them. Because that is what I believe. Because that is the kind of world I want to live in.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Two Months of Ana Sofia


Caid and I still feel like pretty good parents, meaning we haven't had any accidents/emergencies/sicknesses. I have been learning a lot and enjoying even the middle of the night feedings, which don't happen very often anymore as she has been sleeping 11ish-6ish lately! The best part about this second month has been being able to go to Living Stones programs with Ana Sofia: sharing our joy with the kids, and seeing her do so well, surrounded by kids.
I must say, Brazil is a wonderful place to have a baby. Everyone bends over backwards to make sure she (and I) are taken care of--strangers even stop traffic to help me cross the street! We are so grateful for everyone's help and consideration. 



Currently on my kindle (best thing ever while breastfeeding!) from the library (I can borrow e-books online from Indiana in Brazil!) is "Surprised by Motherhood" by Lisa-Jo Baker. She is an incredible writer who had her first child in Africa. Here are some of the things she wrote that resonated with me: "Next time I’d do motherhood differently. I’d just revel in the daily, sleep deprived merry-go-round and eat a lot more chocolate cake."

"It is one thing to read about and imagine the birth stories of a hundred other women; it is quite another to witness a brand new being you have pushed out of your own body cough and gasp his way to a first breath as lungs that have never held oxygen before expand for the first time. It is one thing to understand with your head that man was made in his Father God’s image; it is quite another to look into the crinkly eyes of a wailing infant and hear his cries soften as you whisper, “I’m your mama” and you see your own image imprinted over his profile. It is sacred. It is bloody. It is real. It is truth that climbs off the pages of Scripture and leaps alive into your arms when theoretical beliefs in a Creator give way to experiencing the act of creation." 

"Mothers may want to find room to breathe, to weep, to panic. But they don’t want it to end---this delivering, shaping, cheering, loving, bringing life into the world. With this boy wrapped in my arms, this flesh and blood and bone that I had grown in my womb, clinging to me, I understood what the God parent feels for me. To die for this love-yes, it made sense."

"I cradled it in my arms—all this new life. the Creator’s Spirit lingered on her skin, in her hair. There was a reverence in the air; she was still so fresh in the making from the passing of His hands to mine. And me—I was so aware of my rough, scuffed self with skin stained from years of living on this silent planet that only stubbornly, in fits and starts, acknowledges its Maker." 
Ana and I did a photo shoot for Caid's first Father's Day (Father's day in Brazil is the second Sunday of August), so her "two month video" is in two parts--Caid's Father's day video and her official video;)


Two month video: